Ephesians 4:4-6, One hope of your calling: Eternal Reward, 1Co 3:1-17, part 3.

Class Outline:

Tuesday January 26, 2021


To discover our rewards in the spiritual life we have got to be free.



To discover the rewards of the spiritual life, the believer must be free to live the spiritual life to its fullest. He must know his complete forgiveness, his solid and unbreakable position in Christ, and he must walk in the spirit of Christ’s life.


The central theme of the Book of Galatians is freedom. It contains as verse that conveys this idea. 


GAL 5:1

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.


Christian liberty is the central theme of the letter, particularly as related to the believer’s freedom from the bondage of legalism which is the natural consequence of attempting to earn salvation by works. If man can obtain the favor of God by his voluntary fulfillment of the ceremonial law, then his salvation depends upon the completeness of his obedience. Any deviation from the law exposes him to punishment and jeopardizes his salvation. Each small choice in life, therefore, must be scrutinized carefully to ascertain whether it is in keeping with the law of God, or whether it will transgress some expressed divine command and so bring the doer’s destiny into peril. Such a legalistic attitude produces spiritual bondage because the person involved becomes so engrossed with attending to the letter of the law that he overlooks its spirit. He strains out a gnat and swallows a camel.


Liberty - the ability to spontaneously obey God without effective hindrance. Slavery - fear of loss of: salvation, blessing from God, reputation, earthly position or material.


All slavery is at its core, slavery to self (old self).


ROM 8:14-15

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"


As soon as the believer comprehends the possibilities that salvation presents to the development of the inner life, he desires to go on to the perfection of accomplishment and character. He does not, however, always realize the best method of achieving this end. Because he feels that redemption has freed him from the penalties of the law, he may take for granted that he is also released from the law’s standards of holiness, and so he may assume the attitude that “I am saved by grace, and my now do as I please.” On the other hand, he may imagine that he can achieve spiritual maturity through ceremonial or overt subjection to laws while ignoring the needed growth and strength of his inner man.


The spirit of the law of the Messiah is only found in the Person of the Messiah. When we follow Him, i.e. seek to be like Him rather than only overtly succumbing to laws of conduct, our inner man is transformed to the point of testing the perfect will of God and concluding personally, and without a doubt, that it is good and well-pleasing, and perfect.


We obey all the law of the Messiah while understanding that our inner transformation unto the harmony of the type of person God has made us to be through faith in Christ, the new humanity, is of prime importance.


GAL 3:3

Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?


The flesh, in the instance of the Galatians, was human effort to keep overt rules and rituals while ignoring the inner spirit, and therefore the Holy Spirit, of the spiritual life.


The flesh, for the most part, manifested itself differently in Corinth. It was partisanship and immorality.


1CO 3:1-3

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?


Still, Paul gave them milk, but because of their fleshliness, they were not able to digest it.


They were Christians who were nominally focused on Christ but in practice and stance still focused on the interest of self (fleshly).


The proof of their immaturity was their partisanship.


The hope of our calling, the confidence to know that we will see what the Lord has called us to be, is of prime importance. The fact that the Corinthians believers could be duped into continuing to pursue the self-life while thinking they were spiritual is a sobering and eye-opening reality.


It is an anomaly for a Christian to be jealous and have strife. He is unlike the world divided by parties who seek recognition and supremacy. Jealousy is the desire that the self may have the status, possessions, esteem, or honor supposedly accorded to others. Strife is the expression of this desire in active strategies to gain advantage for self or for the peer group of the self.


The anomaly is expressed in Paul’s shocked and indignant, “are you not behaving like any merely human person?”


Christians are people who have been reoriented and transformed on the basis of the cross. They cannot be mere persons if they live out the blessings that come with it.


1CO 1:18

For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.


Before the cross, everyone is weak. Christ is the only One with strength, but when judged for the sins of the world, even He becomes weak for a time so that we might find strength. The cross is the power of God, though when viewed through the lens of the pride of the world, the cross is foolish and weak. So then, to try and teach the cross eloquently is to attempt to combine human strength, which is pride, with the very thing that has been done to help human weakness.


It is the nature of the Cross that it cannot be taught eloquently, but only in weakness.


That statement is a foundational story of all of human history.


And the church is originated and maintained, not by men, but by God. Teachers and all others who use their spiritual gifts for the good of others are mere instruments in the hands of God, each having their own responsibility and part in the one work. 


1CO 3:2-3

I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?


According to the flesh is contrasted with according to the Spirit, which should have characterized their lives and ours. (kata sarx vs. kata pneuma)


1CO 3:4

For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men?


The continued theme of being mere men, or we could translate, “all too human,” is that they actually split from one another based on teacher preference. The world of men separate based on various preferences.


As for the Corinthians, Christ and the Holy Spirit have become decisive determinants for their lives, and yet they continue as if they had no horizon beyond the merely human.


They are believers, saints by calling, and we must avoid this trap at all costs.


1CO 3:5

What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.


The contrast in this sentence is between the “What” which is the low status of things, or tools that serve only the user (like a teacher) and the Lord which is the high-status of the spiritual life. It’s not that those elected to apostle and teacher are not important, but that they are fellow servants like the rest of us. They are instruments that the Lord uses to serve His body, as are all in the body since all have a spiritual gift(s) with the one purpose of serving the body for “the common good.” The gifts God has given each of us are for serving the user while all of us serve the Lord of glory.


The Lord gave “opportunity to each one,” but as he goes on to say, they work together in a corporate ministry.