I continue this bible study with the Book of First Corinthians, Chapters 1 through 4, which provides a lot of helpful information that I feel is relevant to evangelism specifically.
Notes on Chapters 1-4
- We should be thankful not only for our own spiritual gifts but those spiritual gifts that have been bestowed upon our brothers as well (1 Corinthians 1:4-7). I will also take this time to pray Paul’s prayer for you that in every way you be enriched in Christ Jesus in all godly speech and knowledge so that you may be lacking in no spiritual gift.
- Rest assured, the Lord Jesus Christ will sustain us to the end, guiltless, in the day of his return, for God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:8-9).
- Christ should not be divided but the Church should be unified in mind and judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10,13). Lord, I do pray that the Church be unified in mind and judgment in Christ.
- When we evangelize we should focus on the work of the crucifixion (redemption, salvation, atonement, etc.) and not try to evangelize with our eloquence, for to do the latter would mean we had robbed the cross of its power (1 Corinthians 1:17,2:1-2). It is the power of God to make believers not the power of any particular words that we say.
- The message of the cross is the dividing line, for those who are to be saved it is recognized as the power of God but to those who are to perish it is foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18).
- The wisdom of this world is made foolish because God is not an intellectual argument, the wise of this world believe they understand but God has intentionally confused the wisdom of this world so that it is no wisdom, though it may appear as such (1 Corinthians 1:20, 3:19-20). My belief is God does not want you to approach him as a problem to be understood or an experiment to be verified or proved, he wants faith, that is the only way to receive him. I will add that if someone tries to engage in an intellectual debate with you about God I do not believe you will be successful in attempting to convince anyone to believe in God in this way if they don’t believe in the necessity of the work of the cross. It’s about our sin not about the best philosophy or moral ethics.
- “Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:22). Notice that neither of these groups are looking for God, the former is looking for proof because of a hardened heart and the latter is looking for new information to satisfy their intellectual curiosity (see Acts 17:21 for more on this). I believe both of these groups mentioned represent two different types of unbelievers that the evangelizer will encounter in their ministry.
- Do not be self-conscious if you feel you are not “up to snuff” for God chose the foolish to shame the wise and the weak to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27). I think this can particularly apply to evangelism but really all aspects of Christian life. Do not believe you need degrees to have knowledge or wisdom nor that you need a specific anointing or to receive a spiritual blessing from a specific person to do the work of Jesus Christ. You have all that you need in Christ.
- When we are complimented or have achieved something we feel is of worth let us praise God and boast in the Lord and thank him for all gifts (1 Corinthians 1:31).
Paul, one of the most revered saints, faced weakness, fear, and trembling and his words to the Corinthians were not (from my reading) particularly eloquent, but this is so we do not trust in him but in God (1 Corinthians 2:3-4). We should look to our pastors to see if they follow Paul’s example and stay fixed on God and his word, not extraneous matters and we should look to see that they give no glory to themselves but to God, particularly if they have any special spiritual gifts.
- We receive spiritual wisdom not through the intellect but the spirit, when the spirit of another speaks to our spirit, whose words are confirmed in and by our spirit as truth because we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:6,12-16).
- No matter what efforts we make we should not boast because their effects (the “growth”) is only from God (1 Corinthians 3:7, 4:7). However, we will receive a reward for our efforts if they withstand the test of fire (1 Corinthians 3:8-9,13-15).
- If you think you are “wise,” that is that you possess worldly wisdom, then become again a fool so that you can become truly wise (1 Corinthians 3:18). I testify that the less assumptions I make the more able I find I am to receive what the Lord is trying to tell me.
- You already have it all! (1 Corinthians 3:21-22, 4:8). Because you have God you have nothing to boast of yourself but you already possess all that you need, there is nothing to be added to you, you have the fullness of God.
- Do not judge another nor even yourself (although you should heed what the Lord is telling you in terms of chastisement for he is the Judge) (1 Corinthians 4:3-5). Oftentimes (speaking for myself) we make surface-level assessments of people or events based on but a fraction of a fraction of all of the information that would be necessary to truly judge (notwithstanding our own prejudices). We must wait for the Lord to judge for he knows all the hidden things and the darkness that is in the hearts of all men (1 Corinthians 4:5).
- Paul, a man of Christ, experienced hunger, thirst, physical abuse, homelessness, revilings, slander as well as persecution and asks us to be imitators of him (1 Corinthians 4:11-13, 16).
- If there are false shepherds or false brothers amongst you who slander the true believers they may be exposed through a demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit because “the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). We saw in Exodus that the magicians of Egypt could not match the power of Moses for his power was from the Lord Almighty (Exodus 7:10-12).