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Problem Children (Corinthians and Galatians)

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 2:18 pm    Post subject: Problem Children (Corinthians and Galatians)  Reply with quote

We have often heardthe Corinthians describes as Paul's problem children. They had all sorts of troubles in the church. They were proud and haughty. They were divided into different "circles" or cliches. They had open sin that they tolerated then condemned in gossip. They  did not deal with it. They were irreverent at the celebration of the Lord's supper. They had erroneous teaching about the resurrection and the Lord's second coming. And we have not even looked at the second letter.

The book that immediately follows 2 Corinthians is Galatians. As as we start to read Galatians we are struck with on interesting omission. In nearly all of his books, Paul begins with a prayer and praise for the recipients of the letter. (V. 4-8 1 Corinthians) But search the first chapter of Galatians. You will find Paul's every-time greeting of "Grace and Peace." But the next phrase, v. 6 and 7) jumps right into the problem.
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

They were being deceived by a "different gospel" and diverted from the Gospel of Grace. Paul hastens to disclaim that it is a real alternative, but a distortion of the Truth. Why did he "jump into the fire" so immediately instead of going through some pleasantries? We can suggest that the Galatians were involved in doctrinal distortion, while the Corinthians were failing in their praxis.

Poor practice hurts our witness, but does not cost peoples' souls. You can know and believe the truth and not follow it. Paul addressed that specifically with them, but they were not lost. However, someone who believes the wrong thing, is in jeopardy of being lost eternally. Look at Paul's conclusion. (Chapter 1) If someone has believed something false, then they are still lost, even if they claim to be saved.
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

And for emphasis, verse 9, he repeated it. "Accursed,"is not a menial judgment. It means separated from God. The only other place Paul uses the term is 1 Corinthians 16:22 where it is applied to someone who does not love the Lord Jesus. (More warning to Jehovah's Witnesses?)

Notice the emphasis, "an angel from heaven." Many cults and false teachings rise from a visit with an "angel." There are two classes of angels. Those who followed Lucifer are fallen angels or demons. Those who remained, are "angels from heaven" and obviously would not preach a false gospel. But even if they could, do not believe them.

Paul continues his tirade against false doctrine in Chapter 3.
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

First, notice his affection for them. "Foolish Galatians." You might expect him to be more harsh and call them "dummies" or something. Instead this is a loving address to a child. He recognizes and categorizes this false teaching as bewitching. It looks attractive, beguiling, and even accurate. His definition was, "not...the truth."

The essential thread of the false teaching was that "faith is nice, but you need the real message of following and obeying the Law." Paul shreds that argument in chapter 3. He does a masterful job of appealing to, of all people, Abraham, and how he got saved. It was not by keeping the law. So if it didn't work for old Abe, how can we expect better outcomes for us? Answer: we cannot. If you do not do it through Christ, you do not do it. Period.

Chapter 4 concludes this treatise about the impotence of the law and the futility of following it. Chapter 5 makes a personal plea to get back on track with faith in Jesus. He finishes the book with more practical directions, partly to help derail any further incursions by false teachers. If we are busy doing the right things, we have less time to consider the wrong teaching that may be presented.

The Corinthians were not following diligently, but the Galatians were on a divergent trail, heading for spiritual disaster. Paul carefully and cleverly dealt with both sets of Problem Children, adjusting his teaching to match the tenor of their failure.

Paul reveals both his commitment to live for the Lord and to refute false teaching. Both branches of "ministry" are critical in developing and maintaining a strong, vibrant church. You cannot teach false doctrine, regardless of how pious and sanctimonious it sounds. But the same level of attention must be devoted to the actual practice of expressing our belief in actual life.

We might summarize it as, "Walk the walk, (practical) and talk the talk."(Theoretical) Little children, guard your theology and practice it diligently.

I'm Tellin' It Like It Is! ~
Reflections from Jim
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