In the beginning God…Genesis 1.1

God is self-existent, he has always been and will always be. This is the foundational belief that we hold to be true and from this we understand our place and purpose. The only other option is to believe that matter has always been and somehow this matter came into being and had inherent power to change and create life. An impersonal substance somehow was able to create personal beings. If we hold this to be true there is no need for God and our lives can be lived by our own desires because we are free to act as we want. We are not accountable to anyone ,there is no moral code that we must submit to. Once we acknowledge that there is a God then we also must acknowledge that we are accountable to him. Our Creator is a kind and benevolent God who created human beings for his pleasure and to be the objects of his love. He is a good God and everything he does is based in his goodness. True life begins when we understand the first sentence of the Bible and place our lives under the rule of our Creator.

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Temporary or permanent gifts?

Then what am I to do? I will pray with the spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me] and I will pray with the mind [using words I understand]; I will sing with the spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me] and I will sing with the mind [using words I understand].
1 Corinthians 14:15 AMP
https://bible.com/bible/1588/1co.14.15.AMP

Paul distinguished the mind from the spirit. Believers can use both to pray and worship. The spirit gives utterances that are in the form of a language either of human or angelic origin. Speaking in tongues can be in either language but the greatest benefit to the believer or nonbeliever is the interpretation of the language. It is a gift given by the Spirit that is a benefit to the one speaking in tongues when done in private but when in public it must have an interpretation in order for it to be understood. Some would teach that the Speaking gifts are no longer needed and ended when the Canon of scripture was completed but that is their own interpretation that they have used to deny the existence of the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit has given to the church. These gifts are real and for the church today and when used properly are a great benefit to the believers. If speaking in tongues was to be done away in the future why would Paul even encourage them to speak in tongues and give thanks that he did it more than the people he was writing to? If his words were to be included in the canon of scripture it would be important for him to state that this was only a temporary gifting and not a permanent gift that would be in the church forever. Why even give the gift in the first place if it was going to be taken away? Why was the gift only needed at this time and would not be needed in the future? To restrain the gifts of the Spirit is to take human control over something God supernaturally has given to the church. The gifts are to be pursued not put away and rendered unnecessary today.

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Essential qualities

And now there remain: faith [abiding trust in God and His promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 AMP
https://bible.com/bible/1588/1co.13.13.AMP

Faith hope and love are three essential qualities of every believer that should set them apart from people of the world. Faith is a gift given to everyone to enable them to believe in God and trust him with their lives. Without faith we cannot please God because he wants us to place complete trust in him and be confident that he will fulfill every promise he has made. Hope is not wishful thinking but is the assurance that we will receive what we cannot see. Love is the greatest quality we have because it is the central character of God and everything he does for us is based in his unfailing love. The descriptions of love are the benchmarks we can use to measure the depth of our love for God and each other. Love involves sacrifice, commitment and service. Selfishness stifles love and quenches it. When we walk in love toward each other we place the needs of others above ours and we do something to provide the help needed. True love endures difficult times and hardships. It seeks to protect others at all costs. It does not hold grudges when offered but forgives and treats others with kindness that would be undeserved by the standards of the world.

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Gifts for the church

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:7 AMP
https://bible.com/bible/1588/1co.12.7.AMP

God through the Holy Spirit gives gifts supernaturally to his people. No one is left out and no one is less important than any other member of the body of Christ. The gifts are for the common good of everyone . When the gifts are used properly everyone benefits. These gifts are given to be used as God directs and are not to be abused or falsely imitated by imposters. The gifts were given to the church and were never taken away as some teach. If they were important in the foundation of the church why would they not be as important today? Some believe that when the Bible was completed there was no longer a need for the spiritual gifts of healing, miracles, tongues , interpretation of tongues or predictive prophecies . Yet these gifts have continued to function in the church and are a blessing to everyone. By denying the gifts of the spirit or reinterpretation of them it only serves to harm the body of Christ by not using them for the common good or worse attributing them to demonic powers or human invention.

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God’s order

For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man.
1 Corinthians 11:8‭-‬9 AMP
https://bible.com/bible/1588/1co.11.8-9.AMP

God gave Adam a precious gift when he created Eve from Adam. She was the perfect match for him and together they were to carry out their roles and fill the earth with children. They complemented each other to fulfill God’s plan. God gave responsibilities to Adam as the head of the relationship just as Christ is now the head of the church and God is the head of Christ. This is God’s designated order of relationships and with it come responsibilities to each other. When each party fulfills their responsibilities there is peace and harmony in the relationship. There must always be love, honor and respect for each other as well as submission to each other. When one tries to lord it over the other there will be resentment and disorder. Living independent of each other is not how God designed us to operate to fulfill his purposes.

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Craving and Murmuring

Now these things [the warnings and admonitions] took place as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did.
1 Corinthians 10:6 AMP
https://bible.com/bible/1588/1co.10.6.AMP

The Israelite people left Egypt but Egypt did not leave everyone. They murmured and complained about food, water, leadership and many other things. They craved the evil practices of the Egyptian people and were ungrateful to God for all that he had done for them. They were punished for their behavior and unbelief and an entire generation was banned from entering the Promised Land.

When we murmur and complain we demonstrate our lack of faith in God that he is in control of whatever situation we face. Many difficulties in life come from bad decisions and sins we commit. We reap what we have sown. But there are times when we have not done anything wrong and we are faced with situations that test our faith in God’s sovereignty. These tests will either strengthen our faith or cause us to falter and complain. We choose how we will respond and each choice has consequences either good or bad.

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Winning souls to Christ

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to everyone, so that I may win more [for Christ].
1 Corinthians 9:19 AMP
https://bible.com/bible/1588/1co.9.19.AMP

One of Paul’s goals was to win people to Christ. He did whatever was necessary to have the opportunity to share the gospel. He adapted to the people to make a connection with them without violating God’s standards of holy living. He was compelled by God’s call on his life to share the gospel and took his responsibility seriously . He did not do it for financial gain even though he was entitled to receive support from the believers. Winning people to Christ was his ambition, they were the fruit of his labor and proof of his apostleship. Paul set an example to the believers of the importance and priority of winning souls to the Lord. It is the responsibility of every believer to be sharing the gospel and bringing people to the Lord. It should be the goal of every believer and there should be a strategy of how to accomplish it.

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Bandage breaker

yet for us there is but one God, the Father, who is the source of all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things [that have been created], and we [believers exist and have life and have been redeemed] through Him.
1 Corinthians 8:6 AMP
https://bible.com/bible/1588/1co.8.6.AMP

This statement of truth is the foundation of understanding who God is and what Jesus has done for us. God is the source of all things and Jesus is the creator and redeemer of our lives. When we understand this and embrace it as truth the meaning and purpose of life is made clear. The Corinthian people believed in many gods and demonic beings and they brought offerings to them to appease them. They were ignorant of the understanding of the one true God and his Son Jesus. They lived in fear of what these gods and demons would do to them if they did not worship them and offer sacrifices to them. These false beliefs robbed them of experiencing the life God created them for and kept them from being redeemed and reconciled to him through Jesus. God’s truth sets us free to be the people he created us to be and enjoy the life we can experience through Jesus. The boundaries of false beliefs are broken.

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Slaves of Christ

For he who was a slave when he was called in the Lord is a freedman of the Lord, likewise he who was free when he was called is a slave of Christ.
1 Corinthians 7:22 AMP
https://bible.com/bible/1588/1co.7.22.AMP

During the Roman empire there were many slaves. When a slave became a believer there was the desire of many slaves to seek freedom when they understood their new status in Christ. Paul encouraged those who could become free legally to pursue it but if not to remain in their present state. If all the slaves sought freedom it would disrupt society and cause many problems. Even though the slave may have been in difficult situations, in Christ they were free in a different but more important way. The believer must become a slave of Christ, totally dedicated to serve him since they have been bought wroth a price. The believer becomes a slave by choice, compelled by their love for the Lord for all he has done to bring them into true freedom. Whatever external circumstances a believer is facing the fact remains that they belong to Christ and can never be separated from him. He will always be the master that truly loves his slaves and will always do what is best for them.

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Former lifestyles and freedom

And such were some of you [before you believed]. But you were washed [by the atoning sacrifice of Christ], you were sanctified [set apart for God, and made holy], you were justified [declared free of guilt] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God [the source of the believer’s new life and changed behavior].
1 Corinthians 6:11 AMP
https://bible.com/bible/1588/1co.6.11.AMP

Paul needed to bring correction to the believers that had returned to lifestyles of sin. The fallen nature will try to entrap the believer to lead them into committing sins that will destroy their lives and bring reproach to the God that saved them. Through the death of Christ his shed blood has cleansed us from our sins and set us apart to live lives in a way that is pleasing to him. Our lives are no longer our own to do as we please. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower us to live a life of holiness. We must allow him to teach us and show us how to walk in the way of righteousness. God wants us to be free from anything that will control and corrupt our lives and he has provided the way to do it. We no longer need to be slaves of sin, we have been liberated by the cross.

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Excommunication

But actually, I have written to you not to associate with any so-called [Christian] brother if he is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater [devoted to anything that takes the place of God], or is a reviler [who insults or slanders or otherwise verbally abuses others], or is a drunkard or a swindler—you must not so much as eat with such a person.
1 Corinthians 5:11 AMP
https://bible.com/bible/1588/1co.5.11.AMP

The church in Corinth had several problems that Paul had to address. They had tolerated sins that should have been confronted and corrected. These sins were committed by members of the church that should have known that they were in error and repented. The silence of the leadership only gave approval or consent to the sin being practiced. This could not be tolerated and Paul gave stern instructions on what needed to be done to correct the problem and purge the church. Excommunication was the solution to the issues he addressed. This was a necessary action to communicate to the violators that they could not be a part of the church if they were not willing to repent and seek forgiveness. The goal of the Excommunication was to emphasize the seriousness of the sin and the harmful effect it had on the church as well as the message that was being communicated to the world that was watching and bring restoration to the violators when true repentance was expressed.

This practice of confronting sinful behavior of believers today is seldom practiced and as a result the church has become corrupted. Unfortunately many churches today are unwilling to take a stand for holiness and righteousness and have failed to maintain the standards for believers God has given. Rather than confront in love they coddle the sinful behavior and are afraid to take corrections that will benefit the sinner and church.

People that do not know Christ need to be reached with the gospel message. They should always be welcome to come to church and to homes of believers in order that they will have the opportunity to hear the gospel message and turn away from their sins to receive forgiveness and become new creations in Christ.

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