Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Empty Chair - sermon notes

1Samuel 20:18  Then Jonathan said to David, To morrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty.

It’s okay to cry in church. Jesus wept. He knows our pain.

There is no one here, if they have lived long enough, who has not suffered the loss of someone they loved dearly, sometimes abruptly and unexplainably, leaving their hearts shattered into a thousand jagged pieces.

We talk about how we’ll see them again and how they are in a better place and I do think we believe that but they aren’t here with us. We won’t see their smile again or feel their hug and rely on their strength if they were our rock, their youthful exuberance, their wisdom and experience if older, or even their need for our care anymore in this life if we cared for them in sickness or old age. They are not here with us in body. We are grieving and we are sad.

We wonder what a young person would have done if they had lived. We imagine the family they would make, their career, their passions, their joys, or even what would have made them laugh or cry. Maybe we see someone out of the corner of our eye who isn’t there anymore. Maybe we catch ourselves about to call out to them. Maybe we see a flower they loved in bloom or a beautiful sunrise they would have loved and think we should tell them only to, in that instant, realize they aren’t there.
I want to talk about the empty chair in your house, at your table, on your deck, or in your den. I am going to talk about an empty chair in my life. When it’s over I hope you will understand that whatever the nature of your grief God understands and empathizes with you, cares for how you feel, and does not dismiss your feelings even though he’s standing there, in a manner of speaking, with your loved one watching, and waiting for you. And we need to wait on and trust in him.

First, let’s understand something that Paul made clear.

Romans 5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Death is part of the judgment on mankind and by extension on all created life.

Romans 8:22  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

Why? Because one man and one woman learned what the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil could offer them in their disobedience to God. It was something that was never intended for life which God created. This was death brought on by our first ancestor’s sin, their disobedience to God’s simple command. They broke fellowship with him and we’ve inherited their sin nature.

Look, death is not only ever-present and, in spite of our attempts to sterilize it with hospitals, nursing homes, and drugs to put us in a coma it still is a huge specter in our biological lives. One reason Christ came was to deliver us from it.

Hebrews 2:14 ¶  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

What really hurts about this judgment, and death is a judgment on all creation for our sin, is that no person is exempt from it. Look at this man of God, Elisha.

2Kings 13:14  Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.

Wait a minute! Why? Why did this great man of God who pleased God have to die? Couldn’t he have been translated/raptured like Enoch or taken away like Elijah, his mentor?

What about this obedient man of God?

1Kings 14:2  And Jeroboam said to his wife, Arise, I pray thee, and disguise thyself, that thou be not known to be the wife of Jeroboam; and get thee to Shiloh: behold, there is Ahijah the prophet, which told me that I should be king over this people...4  And Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age.

You see, even God’s people are under this judgment in their flesh. Why? Why can’t we be exempt?

1Corinthians 15:35 ¶  But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36  Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37  And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38  But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39  All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40  There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42  So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43  It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45  And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46  Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47  The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48  As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49  And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50  Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

    51 ¶  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

You cannot get there in this body of flesh. You have to leave it behind. Unless the Lord calls you out you will die.

Ecclesiastes 8:8  There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

Some of us have lost a loved one, a cherished one, a beloved one to old age, to sickness even when the doctors said they were getting better, to accident, even to violent death or suicide. If we admit it, we were crushed, in shock, disbelieving that it had happened, and heartbroken. There was a rip in the universe, time stood still, and nothing, not even the sun rising in the morning, made any sense for a time. And in time, the pain changed. It never goes away, it never can, but it does change and the sharpness by God’s mercy isn’t quite as jagged as it was.

I never understood, as a young person, how much a baby could change your life. When my daughter, Bridget, was born, well, it was an amazing time to me. I was fascinated by her. I was not a good parent, though. I behaved terribly in the world and had a particularly rotten character. I also did not provide the spiritual guidance she needed or set the example that a parent is supposed to set. I encouraged bad behavior on her part as she grew because I thought it made her tougher, which it did not. I adored her and I enabled her and I did not give her what she needed as an example either as a person or spiritually.

Bridget was rejected by her biological mother, not once, but twice, and her father, me, was too selfish and blind to steer her in the right direction or to comfort her in her heartfelt sorrow of life. One day, at the age of 17, she killed herself. She was pretty, very intelligent, and outgoing but she had no root, no foundation in life that could sustain her.

I wrote this poem after her death, a poor attempt to express my overwhelming grief and sorrow as my heart was shattered into a thousand shards of glass never to be put back together as any parent who has lost a child knows.

The house is silent, the room is cold,
And I am feeling very old,
There is no future, no plans to last,
But only hard memories of the past,
For days that are no more.
I clutch the bag that holds the clothes,
Close to my chest in sobbing throes,
I call her name so mournfully,
And pray to God so carefully,
For days that are no more.
The ones she wore that awful night,
When darkness overcame the light,
And hanging tree became the end,
Of promise on which we did depend,
For days that are no more.
Baby born with eyes so bright,
Held so tender through the night,
And laughed at daddy's dancing fool,
A little girl sent off to school,
For days that are no more.
Of love and hugs and kisses brief,
Of holding hands and missing teeth,
Reading stories, telling jokes,
And laughing over tickle pokes,
For days that are no more.
Sleepy nights and playful days,
Grandpa's love and hideaways,
Pestering brothers to catch their eye,
And pushing sister to make her cry,
For days that are no more.
Oh, daddy are you hungry dear,
Oh, daddy do I see a tear,
Oh, daddy you'd like a drink perhaps,
Or maybe for Bridget to sit on your lap,
For Days that are no more.
When you are old I'll care for you,
And when she's old, mommy too,
I'll buy a house right next to yours,
And I promise this, you'll ne'er be poor.
For days that are no more.
Of baptismal fount and heart's confession,
Little people can hear the lessons,
Running, jumping, leaping, laughing,
Learn to ride, fall down crashing,
For days that are no more.
As child grows into womanhood,
A dark cloud, a misty mood,
Consumes the heart of precious child,
And turns to pain every mile.
For days that are no more.
And still the lovely girl is there.
With laughing eyes and golden hair,
But one day she is no more,
As darkness smites upon the door.
For days that are no more.
My heart is ripped and opened wide,
No light enters my twisted mind,
I stumble crying in tortured grief,
With naught but memories of dancing feet,
And days that are no more.

We don’t have a lot of information on heaven. It’s not the main subject of the Bible because the main subject of the Bible is God’s revelation of his ministry of reconciliation for man, to bring back to him whosoever will. We don’t know what kind of reunion we’re going to have or what kind of relationship we will have with our loved ones in eternity.

2Corinthians 12:1 ¶  It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2  I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3  And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4  How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

1Corinthians 2:9  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Perhaps someone you loved dearly won’t be there like you hope, but I assure you God will give you understanding and you will accept his will.

 Better yet, you can imagine your spouse, sister, your son, your brother, you daughter, your mother, your father or someone else greeting you with open arms.

2Samuel 12:23  But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

What are we to do? In this body of flesh, the body of this death? We read Job and God does not explain to Job why he lost his family, his property, and his health for a season. The message is that Job must just trust that God has it under control no matter what. Just trust God.

What about the young Hebrew men threatened by Nebuchadnezzar? They acknowledged that God could save them but even if he didn’t they wouldn’t commit idolatry to save their lives.

Daniel 3:17  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

God has all things in his hand and all things are done in his time. We must wait on him and trust in him. That is all we have besides memories. It is enough.

He is beyond our finite understanding.

Deuteronomy 29:29  The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Isaiah 57:15  For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Psalm 145:3  Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.
Ecclesiastes 3:11  He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

Romans 11:33  O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

Will you see your beloved child, spouse, parent, sibling, or friend again? I can’t tell you that. It is a terrible thing for someone to die and leave others uncertain of their destiny. But, it happens all the time. I was blessed in that I had assurance that a little girl was saved on October 12, 1990.

All out of character for a little seven-year-old Bridget asked her step-mother to pray with her to receive Christ. We didn’t want to push her into making that decision which perplexed her so one day she simply asked, “don’t you want me to go to heaven?” So, she prayed, confessing her belief to God. She then got up in church on her own and walked to the front to tell the pastor she believed and wanted to be baptized. She went to the meeting with the deacon on her own to confirm that she knew what she believed. She went through the baptism. It was a joyous time for me and an incredible one for all of those things were out of character for her if you knew her. I realized that God had a hand in her actions regarding faith in Christ.

Over time, the world, bad examples from her elders (except for her step-mother who always remained a rock and a spiritual mentor), and poor decisions of her own dimmed her faith. She still showed signs of her belief, though, and others told me she never stopped believing. Those words and that hope I have to hold onto. After her death her sister, Marcie, bloomed, and I’m so proud of her, now out of the shadow of Bridget’s powerful personality, and went on to organize concerts for suicide awareness, have her own family, and even get advanced college degrees for her own success in the world.

Asleep, I dreamed dreams of Bridget, in which she had her own family, which I met at a picnic once. Very strange. Her stepmother had one where Bridget told her she was alright and when Beth said she needed to tell me and woke up Bridget, of course, was gone.

In the end, we must pray, wait, and trust. In the end, there is nothing left for us to do. But we must have hope.

Romans 8: 38  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The empty chair calls out to us. It raises the question for even the most militant atheist, is there something more, something beyond, and will I see them again? We talk about the mythical “rainbow bridge” for animals we loved and about how our loved ones have gone to a better place and how we’ll see them again. There is always hope in the human heart, hope for a reunion.

We Bible-believers who are learning to trust God and to have confidence in His mercy and in His kindness and in His eternal promises look to seeing the one who sat in that empty chair again.

Isaiah 64:4  For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.

We are called to trust God. He calls us to trust Him and wait on Him. He is our hope, our confidence, and our expectation. Believe through His love that one day we will be reunited. I want to finish with some verses I mentioned before, promises for the future.

Revelation 21:3  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Have faith. Trust God. Pray for mercy.

Friday, April 20, 2018

1Corinthians 2:6-16 comments: truths that come from above

2:6 ¶  Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11  For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15  But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

When you are a bookworm and you read the opinions of philosophers, theoretical scientists, experts in all fields of academia, politics, and religion you get the impression that ideas and concepts, conventional wisdom on all fronts, are as changeable as last year’s New York fashions. Mankind, particularly those of a European heritage, have changed through time in not just technology and practical science, but in manners and cultural practices, and how they have looked at existence itself over the years.

To many ancient and medieval minds life was a continuous miracle, and God and other supernatural forces were involved in every moment of life. Men were thought to be influenced by conscious forces they could not see, even at times controlled by those forces. Now, there were a great many errors in their thinking, but no fewer or less obnoxious than in modern thinking. Modern thinkers first reduced God to simply a first cause who wound things up and perhaps walked away or stood by in case something broke. Then, it was a short step to eliminating Him completely. “Natural” processes became the cause of everything. There became no will outside of a human’s and no purpose other than what a human being gave their life. But, the Bible teaches differently.

The powerful of the world, the princes, understand only their own glory. For a long time they even made themselves God’s agents on earth, acting in His place, as having a divine right to their office and power. This led to the devastation of a half-century of war in the 1900s that led to the butchery or displacement of tens of millions of people. Even today we totter on the verge of nuclear war, mass starvations and extinctions, and the destruction of our earth, the only place in the universe that we can be sure is habitable for our kind of life. Mankind is an ass who fancies himself a lion. He brays and kicks and has no realistic image of himself, considering himself the crown of creation, a magnificent beast.

 But God’s wisdom, a mystery invisible to the great and powerful, was ordained before the events of Genesis, chapter 1. Christ, the Lord of glory, the Word by which all things were created, walking in human flesh, was crucified by the princes of this world. It was not just the Romans but the entire power structure created by man that did the act. Remember what God said to Samuel when the Israelites demanded that a king should rule over them like other nations.

1Samuel 8:7  And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

The God who created all things…

Genesis 1:1 ¶  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

…is one God composed of three parts as we are…

Mark 12:29  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

1Thessalonians 5:23  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

2Corinthians 13:14  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

1John 5:7  For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

…and in His bodily form that we could see and touch came to earth to live as one of us with the Son of God referring to Christ as coming in the power and authority as a king’s son would come in the name of a king…

Colossians 1:15  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Hebrews 1:3  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Matthew 28:18  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

…and although we rejected God’s rule over us, God offered us amnesty through His own work of paying the price we ought to pay for our rebellion against Him, and providing us with a way out of the punishment due us by taking it on Himself…

1Corinthians 15:1 ¶  Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5  And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6  After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7  After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8  And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

…that all who believe should be saved from the punishment due them, God’s very wrath, and have eternal life with Him…

John 3:36  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Acts 16:31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
[see John 3:36 for the definition of believe on as in believing what Christ said about Himself]

Romans 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10  For with the heart man
believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

This brilliant plan is only revealed by God to those who would believe and to the rest of them it is pure foolishness. They are their own God. In their minds there is no greater will in the universe than their own, or at least that matters to them.

God required only one act to be saved from the destruction that awaits those who continue to reject His authority over them.

John 6:28 ¶  Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

God’s grace, His unmerited favor bestowed on those who would believe is an amazing mystery hidden from the world, although it is plain as day.

The natural man who does not believe cannot understand the truth of the gospel because that truth is spiritually discerned and that faith was given to them that would believe by God.

Ephesians 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

It is truly astounding that God dwells within those that believe on and trust in Christ.

John 14:23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Romans 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

The power that raised Christ from the dead lives inside of the believer and we have the mind of Christ even though our sin nature still demands of us and like Esau and Jacob there are two people in our hearts that will always contend in this life, the carnal man and the man of God.

Paul remarks here about how none of these truths can be understood by those who do not believe, who reject Christ. These truths are not of this world.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

1Corinthians 2:1-5 comments: the simplicity of the gospel

2:1 ¶  And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3  And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4  And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5  That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Paul did not come to the Corinthians with a clever speech, attempting to manipulate them with his eloquence and mastery of logic and rhetoric. He had a simple message which he will repeat again in chapter 15, as we will see. His intention was not to impart any knowledge, to declare any science, other than the crucified Jesus Christ. Here is a review of what he will write later.

1Corinthians 15:1 ¶  Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5  And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6  After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7  After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8  And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

It is the simplicity of the gospel of Christ that Paul taught and the necessity of believing it for salvation from an eternity of soul-agony that he stresses here and later.

2Corinthians 1:12  For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

2Corinthians 11:3  But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Romans 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Paul wants to make a point here that the gospel of Christ is not a long involved logical argument made by a debate team. The Holy Spirit works with a simple message that doesn’t involve sophistry, mentioned earlier. He warns against such things. That’s how divisions and cults came about even in his day.

Romans 16:17 ¶  Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.18  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

Even in his day there were those who would use the scripture and the gospel to further their own agenda.

2Corinthians 2:17  For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

He will give a warning about the willingness of naïve Christians to follow the diversion of division.

2Corinthians 11:4  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

The Corinthian church has already shown a proclivity to follow a person rather than Christ, to adore the messenger rather than the message. We are warned to be careful of that error so common in fundamentalism today.

1John 4:1  Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

It is a simple matter of being watchful and a faithful steward of the mysteries of God as Paul says in chapter 4 that so many preachers twist to mean church attendance rather than what the context says.

1Corinthians 4:1 ¶  Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3  But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4  For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5  Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. 6  And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

Our faith stands on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and not on any sophisticated piece of clever wordcraft or church membership. The questions are and always have been simply this, do you believe that Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead and that He was God in the flesh, the God who created you, and, finally, that He is the only way to salvation, to heaven and eternal life?