THE CHRISTIAN’S BODY IS NOT HIS OWN

12 All things are permitted for me, but not all things are of benefit. All things are permitted for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, however God will do away with both of them. But the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 14 Now God has not only raised the Lord but will also raise us up through His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are parts of Christ? Shall I then take away the parts of Christ and make them parts of a prostitute? Far from it! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit18 Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin that a person commits is outside the body, but the [k]sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a [l]temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from [m]God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body (1Cor6:12-20)

I indicated in the last post that what may be permissible (or excusable) for the majority may not be so for the Christian. Even if something is technically permissible it may not be beneficial (v12). Why? Because the Christian should be mastered by the Lord, never his or her sensual appetites. Still more awesome is the fact that the Christian’s body is no longer his or her own but has been acquired by God through the shedding of His Son’s blood. It has become a temple for the Holy Spirit. None of these things directly apply to the non-Christian, albeit as I have been outlining, every person consists of body, soul and spirit (1Thes5:23). The latter is from God but it is not God whereas the Holy Spirit is God and the Christian alone possesses Him. So, if a man sexually unites with a harlot he becomes one flesh with her (v16), whereas the one who spiritually unites with Christ becomes one spirit [not of course one soul else he/she would become Christ and vice versa; likewise human sexual unions with respect to the body].

As Paul goes on to explain, sexual immorality is the most serious of sins because it is against one’s own body; at least that is the case for the Christian. Again, that is effectively because in their case it becomes a form of sacrilege. There is no sense in which the unbeliever’s body is a “part of Christ” (v15); they are certainly not betrothed to God’s Son and their body is not currently a temple for the Holy Spirit. To a degree, the non-Christian may legitimately say “This is my life and my body” – the Christian is not at liberty to do so: “You are no longer your own but have been bought with a price” (v20).  

Behold if you will, the disparate qualities, blessings and responsibilities of the proportional few whom God has chosen for Christ compared to the many who remain unbelievers – it is nearly as great as that disparity between the many whose souls have been planted by God (Mt15:13) – soiled by sin yet retaining the image and compassionate instincts of their Creator (cf. Mt25:40), and the proportionally few vessels fitted for destruction (Rom9:22) who like Cain belong to the Evil One, whose divine image/nature and the compassionate instincts that spring from it have been obliterated (cf. 1Jn3:12; Jude1:11; 1Jn3:9). The point I am making here is that whilst one is either a Christian or one is not, and one is either “of God” or one is not (1Jn4:7-8), these binary comparisons in no way overlap – resulting in three soteriological outcomes. All this is worked out in detail in “The Little Book of Providence” (free PDF HERE ). Paul’s point in summary is that the Christian in particular needs to shun sexual immorality and glorify God with his body, or as he writes elsewhere: “That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (1Thes4:4)

PAUL’S TAKE ON HOMOSEXUALITY

 

Don’t you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1Cor6:9-11)

A short but difficult passage for some, especially if they regard themselves as “a gay Christian”. A person cannot help his own innate sexuality nor be blamed for it, and as Paul writes elsewhere “I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to the one who thinks something is unclean, to that person it is unclean” (Rom14:14). So there will be some Christians living in a loving, monogamous, enduring yet actively sexual relationship with someone of the same gender who may in all good conscience understand themselves to be doing nothing wrong. It is surely vastly more excusable than a heterosexual choosing to commit adultery, which he knows in his heart is wrong, opposing God’s Law of love for it injures the cheated partner (Rom13:8). It could be argued that taking Paul’s teaching in Rom13:8-10, anyone who demonstrates love and fidelity towards another and hurts no one in the process has fulfilled the heart of God’s law. Indeed, I have been shown that such is the case in the context of the eluded Universal Covenant of life which determines who is “of God” and who is not (cf. 1Jn3:12).

But I speak now of that more glorious and exclusive covenant sealed with Christ’s blood, marking out who are as the children of promise are joint heirs with Christ (Gal4:28; Rom8:17) So, whilst open to being convinced of the Spirit otherwise, I currently understand Paul to be teaching that a sexually active homosexual relationship is not compatible with the sanctifying process required for those who are to “inherit the Kingdom”, especially in view of what the apostle teaches at the end of the chapter concerning the nature of the Christian’s body (vv18-20).

As already intimated, this teaching needs to be understood in the context of the broader benign providence I have been outlining. For this purpose I will briefly quote from my book** that commented on this passage in the context of the unforgivable sin:

“Inheriting the Kingdom of God” is not referring to the spirit going to heaven after separation from the body but to inheriting everything Christ is to inherit within a new body. Those who continue to practice the above will not be amongst the latter, even if currently incorporated in the Church. The one mortal sin that will NOT be forgiven as can be discerned from its context (Mt12:22-32) relates to knowing or sensing in one’s conscience that something is of God working through His Holy Spirit yet asserting it to be wicked or satanic as certain Pharisees did regarding Jesus’ miracle which they maligned for their own ends in order to preserve their own status and traditions. One may well have challenged the working of the Spirit in ignorance, but what is done in ignorance cannot be the unforgivable sin which is why even blasphemy against Christ can be forgiven but not what is said against the direct working of the Spirit where that is perceived within the conscience”. However, every other sin may be forgiven in this age and the next (v32).

[Extract from “The Little Book of Providence” – chapter 3]

** Free PDF HERE

THE SAINTS TO JUDGE THE WORLD

Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you anyone wise who will be able to decide between his brothers and sistersbut brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather suffer the wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves do wrong and defraud. And this to your brothers and sisters! (1Cor6:1-8)

Examining commentaries on this passage it appears most “conventional” commentators dismiss the idea that Paul is indicating that God’s elect (the “saints”) shall share in the judgement of the world and angels in any literal sense. Rather, they believe, the apostle is speaking metaphorically such as the idea of Christians being vindicated for their having “accepted Jesus as Saviour” putting to shame and “judging” the rest of the world who failed to do so. But such a view makes a nonsense of Paul’s reasoning and rebuke of the Corinthians in this passage. The point he is trying to get across pertains to personal assessorship, i.e. who is right and who is wrong in the various disputes that were occurring in the Church, and that the matter should be dealt with by the brethren rather than being subjected to the arbitration of unbelievers in the civil law courts. Why? because God’s chosen people are destined to judge people and angels – how much more should they be able to judge the relatively mundane matters of everyday life (v3). It therefore has to be referring to judgement in a literal sense otherwise Paul’s argument simply does not hold.

It is no wonder so many have difficulty with the concept of the saints ruling and judging, for the same people understand that everyone who is not a saint, and in Paul’s words has been “predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son” (Rom8:29) is appointed to Hell. In which case there will be no one left for anyone to rule nor any meaningful role for human assessorship. Thankfully, as I am in the process of demonstrating from Scripture, such a traditional reading of the “Good News” greatly demeans the Creator’s munificent providential purposes for the people created in His image (cf. Rev 10:10) – the matter is more multifaceted, not to mention wondrous and glorious.

The saints themselves shall be judged by Christ but they shall accompany Him when He comes to put the world to rights (1Thes3:13; Acts3:21). That shall encompass the “Day” of Judgement which Christ Himself has indicated shall be both fair and comprehensive (cf. Mt7:2). And given that it is the role of Leaders to delegate it should be no surprise that those who are to rule and reign with Christ, indeed be regarded as His corporate Spouse should have a role in the gargantuan task of assessing every word and action of all who have ever lived (Mt12:36). For returning to Paul’s description (Rom8:29), God’s elect are in the process of being transformed into the image of His Son, not so that they might eternally “rest in peace” but to consort and participate with the Divine Glory.

PAUL’S DRASTIC REMEDY FOR SEXUAL IMMORALITY

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and sexual immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, namely, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to turn such a person over to Satan for the destruction of his body, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord (1Cor5:1-5NASB)

Focussing on verse 5 which many find perplexing, I have utilized the New American Standard Bible translation which I believe comes nearest to what Paul is actually intimating. What the original Greek actually says is that the man in question should be handed over to Satan for “DESTRUCTION OF THE FLESH”, But this confuses many for they do not understand what Paul actually means by σαρκός (flesh). He is referring to the physical component of man AS A WHOLE (body and brain) that is procreated from our parents. It is that which the apostles Peter and Paul respectively refer to as our tent/tabernacle (2Pet1:13-14) or vessel (1Thes4:4), housing the God-given soul/spirit. As I have been adducing from Scripture it is not the eternal spiritual component but its temporary mortal housing that is the SOURCE of mankind’s problem with sin. As Paul well knew, such was the case with the immoral passions that were dominating the unrepentant member of the Corinthian church to whom the apostle was referring (v1). His drastic solution (which as some commentators have rightly observed is not a timeless injunction for churches but pertained to apostolic authority within their era) was to deliver the person to Satan, whom we learn elsewhere has authority over sickness and death (cf. Lk13:16 & Heb2:14). The “flesh” cannot be referring to the sinful passions per se as many understand it, for Satan would hardly be in the business of destroying them; rather he would wish to nurture such tendencies so that they would continue to war against the soul (1Pet2:11).

A similar principal may be observed with regard to Christ’s descent into Hades to preach to lost souls: “For this reason was the gospel preached to those that are dead, that having been judged according to men in the flesh, they might LIVE ACCORDING TO GOD IN THE SPIRIT” (1Pet4:6; see also 1Pet3:19-20). Peter’s teaching confounds the many who do not believe God ever gives second chances. But as I explain in my book this is not referring to God’s elect – the future Bride of Christ who must serve the Lord NOW and “put to death the deeds of the body” NOW whilst in mortal flesh (Rom8:13). Nor shall ALL the rest be willing to call on the name of the Lord and be spared from destruction on the “Day of the Lord” that Paul refers to in this passage (v5). For some who like Cain are the devil’s children (1Jn3:12) will never willingly bow the knee or come to serve Christ, the Source and Summit of all that is good.

The three soteriological categories indicated here and throughout my writing are not dependent on this or any particular passage of Scripture but can be traced from Genesis through to Revelation. Such I have done in The Little Book of Providence; a free PDF of which is available HERE

STEWARDS OF THE MYSTERIES OF GOD

This is the way any person is to regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of GodIn this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is an insignificant matter that I would be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself. However, I am not vindicated by this, but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before ]the time, but wait until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of human hearts; and then praise will come to each person from God (1Cor4:1-5)

The Corinthian church were inclined to put their faith in those they regarded as great men such as  Paul, Peter or Apollos. But Paul adjures them to regard someone like himself as merely “a steward of the mysteries of God”. The Holy Scriptures and the Good News they contain are by no means straightforward, lucid or as some have maintained: “perspicuous”. No one in the Bible utilizes the term “μυστήριον” (mystery or secret) more than the apostle Paul. There is the mystery of godliness (1Tim3:16), the mystery of the Church (Eph5:32), the mystery of the gospel (Eph6:19), the mystery of the faith (1Tim3:9), the mystery of lawlessness (anomias – 2Thes2:7), together with that which I am seeking to unravel – the fellowship (or dispensation) of the mystery, being the unforetold nature of Gentile inheritance and its implications to wider providence (Rom11:25, Eph3:9; Col1:27). Only when the latter has been apprehended can the final, yet more awesome mystery be appreciated,. It is summarized in Revelation (10:7) as “the mystery of God”. Its divulgence shall be sweet to the taste but will leave a bitter feeling in the gut with regard to what had earlier been assimilated.

SALTING IN FIRE

10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each person must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet only so as through fire. [1Cor3:10-15]

Rather like Paul’s opening remarks here regarding himself, the apostle had earlier exhorted his readers in Rome concerning spiritual gifts that it should be “according to the grace that is given to us, such as prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith (Rom12:6). I now apply this to myself, for as a result of a spiritual experience I had some years ago whilst studying for the ministry at Bible College I came to a radically new understanding of the Scriptures. That in due course led to the writing of “The Little Book of Providence” and these posts that complement it. The contents of that book I believe to be at least partly prophetic and intended to be shared with the churches. That is in view of the extraordinary nature of the spiritual encounter that preceded the writing, substantiated (at the personal level) by the fact that the new interpretations resolved virtually every “tension” I was previously aware of, thus enabling Scripture as a whole to cohere at last.  

Yet possessing a prophetic gift does not mean one has an unerring understanding of every passage of Scripture – and Paul’s teaching here concerning being saved through fire is a case in point, so I will merely make a few observations.  Firstly, it is not obvious whether Paul is referring exclusively to people like himself involved in the establishment and oversight of churches or all Christians when he speaks of “the quality of each one’s work” being tested (v13). It would be surprising if the same principles of judgement and rectification did not apply to all.  As for the fire itself, even if it is intended literally its primary purpose is not to hurt and punish but to test and to purify. For each one’s works shall be tested by fire (v13). It will burn away the dross (wood, hay straw) such that only that which is of genuine value (gold silver, precious stones) shall remain. In terms of the individual, Paul affirms that, at the very least, not all Christians shall be rewarded equally – some shall “suffer loss” (v15). But in some cases the individuals themselves shall be saved “as through fire”. I believe this to be akin to what Jesus teaches in the Gospels concerning the need for his followers to control their bodily members to avoid the need for more radical action. I commented on these passages in my book, from which I will now quote:

“The self-mutilation passages recorded in Matthew5:28-30 and Mark9:43-48 are referring to those who would be Christ’s disciples’ requirement to control their “bodily members” so that the soul or “heart” is not polluted. It is clearly allegorical for it is obvious that cutting off an arm does not make someone a better person: they will still find a way to steal if that is their inclination. Jesus is highlighting the need for a disciple to keep his bodily members under tight control otherwise the whole person will be damaged.

Note the reflexives: “If your eye OFFENDS YOU pluck it out; if your arm ENSNARES YOU hack it off” etc. As with Paul’s teaching in Romans chapter 7, this pertains to the disparate moral dispositions of spirit/heart and body. The “you” that is offended, ensnared or led into sin is the spirit/soul/heart, being that which is from God and survives physical death; the offenders or ensnarers are the bodily members driven by the physical senses processed through the brain pertaining to what Paul describes as our temporary earthly tent.  If the latter is not controlled, it pollutes the former and the soul may need to be purged or salted in fire (Mt9:49-50). In other words, Jesus’ references to being cast into fire pertain to purification as much as punishment. For note how the Lord adds in Mark’s account:

“For everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. SALT IS GOOD: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another” (Mk9:49-50 King James Version)

It should also be evident from another passage in which Jesus refers to hell that he could hardly be referring to eternal punishment:   

But I say unto you that whosoever is angry with their brother without a cause will be liable to judgement; and whosoever shall say to his brother Raca! [vain fellow] shall be in danger of the Sanhedrin; but whoever shall say Moros! [idiot or moron] shall be in danger of hell fire” [Mt5:22]  

The idea that calling one’s brother vain, a Jew may still go on to enjoy eternal bliss after a hearing with the Sanhedrin, whereas calling one’s brother stupid or foolish may result in eternal torment is clearly absurd. Given the gradation of insults outlined in the passage and the fact that Jesus is adamant about the reality of punitive fire, it is indicating the need for final purification for those who grossly insult and belittle a fellow Jew. Even where hell or punishment is specified to be eternal in the Latin Vulgate or English translations, the Greek text reads “aionian”, referring to an age – and there are to be numerous ages. Such linguistic issues may be studied in more detail on the internet.

Redistributive Justice

The one reference to an individual’s experience of the afterlife in the New Testament concerns the rich man and Lazarus, the text of which requires careful attention. The one stated criterion distinguishing these two men was that one had had a life of ease and comfort whilst the other had been poor and wretched. It can be deduced that the rich man was suffering partly because of the way he had utilized his wealth; failing to show care and compassion to the likes of Lazarus. Yet no reason is provided as to why Lazarus should be comforted after his death other than that he had experienced a life of poverty and sickness; so had he been salted. The redistributive and compensatory aspects of judgement at death are also emphasized in the letter of James who exhorts the oppressive rich to weep for the miseries that are to come upon them (Jam5:1), and by Jesus, particularly as recorded by Luke:

How blessed are you who are poor; the Kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are hungry now: you shall have your fill. Blessed are you who are weeping now; you shall laugh” (Lk6:20-21)  

   Whereas –

“Alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now. Alas for you who have plenty to eat now: you shall go hungry.  Alas for you who are laughing now: you shall mourn and weep” (Lk6:25) 

As well as redistributive justice this also relates to the role and necessity of human suffering outlined in the final chapter of my book. Luke’s interpretation of Jesus’ teaching needs to be taken alongside Matthew’s emphasis on more spiritual and moral qualities: poverty of spirit, hunger for righteousness, kindness, compassion and purity.

Excerpts from “The Little Book of Providence – chapter three [Free PDF HERE

Finally, note how Malachi describes the coming again of the Messiah. The “soap” referred to is clearly for cleansing, but so is the fire – so that those elected to the priesthood of God may present to the Lord an offering in righteousness:

“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like launderer’s soap.  And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.  Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old, and as in former years” (Mal3:2-4)


CONCLUSION

This is undoubtedly a perplexing area of biblical study and not surprisingly has been a catalyst for distortions in both the presentation and practice of the Christian faith. It ultimately pertains to the mystery I have been unfolding concerning that eternal law by which a measure of suffering must be endured by beings who are  to be elevated and  glorified. That applies to humanity as a whole (Rom8:19-20), God’s elect in particular (Rom8:17) and even to the Lord of Glory Himself:  
For it was fitting for Him for whom are all things and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory TO PERFECT THE ORIGINATOR OF THEIR SALVATION THROUGH SUFFERING (Heb2:10).

THE CHURCH – GOD’S HUSBANDRY

And I, brothers and sisters, could not speak to you as spiritual people, but as fleshly, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to consume it. But even now you are still not able, for you are still fleshly. For SINCE THERE IS JEALOUSY AND STRIFE AMONG YOU, ARE YOU NOT FLESHLY, and are you not acting like ordinary human beings?For when one person says, “I am with Paul,” and another, “I am with Apollos,” ARE YOU NOT ACTING LIKE ORDINARY HUMAN BEINGS? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now the one who plants and the one who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; YOU ARE GOD’S HUSBANDRY, God’s building. (1Cor3:1-9)

The Church at Corinth’s immaturity and carnality was especially reflected in their factionalism. But the language Paul uses to chide them is significant in the context of some of my comments concerning Paul’s letter to the Romans. The jealously and strife resulting from the church’s infighting showed that they were “fleshly” as opposed to spiritual. For here is the genuine dichotomy: not that at a cosmic level material is bad and spirit is good (Manichaeism) but as a result of the Fall, at the anthropological level the (material) part of man procreated from our parents has one set of laws and instincts whilst the spirit/soul given to us by God at birth has another: “For I delight in God’s law in my innermost being but I see a DIFFERENT LAW in my bodily members waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin that is in my bodily members” (Rom7:22-23).

Man by nature tends to be dominated by the desires of the flesh; the Christian is intended to put to death the deeds of the body and be led by the spirit (Rom8:13). Regrettably, that was not the case with many Corinthian Christians of Paul’s day. But note how he chides them: “You are acting like ordinary human beings!” (vv3,4). But aren’t Christians mere human beings: “an assembly of justified sinners” as I once would have depicted the Church? Not according to Paul: “God has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust”.  And as  hinted at by Paul in the previous chapter, that is just the start: “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not entered the human heart – all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1Cor2:9)

Such mysteries are examples of the “solid food” that Paul recognized the Corinthians in their current state could not digest (v2). They were acting like spiritual pygmies; like natural humans devoid of the Holy Spirit’s energies. They needed to remember that they were “God’s husbandry” (Greek: γεώργιον – v9) which speaks of the idea of a field that is being cultivated. Whilst by no means the sole recipients of God’s love or benevolent intentions, the context of the Church within divine providence is that she is  “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people FOR GOD’S OWN POSSESSION so as to proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvellous light” (cf. 1Pet2:9).

HAVING THE MIND OF CHRIST

A natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But the one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is discerned by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? BUT WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST. (1Cor2:14-16)

There are certain spiritual truths that only those whose spirits have been united with Christ’s can discern (1Cor6:17). Now if as Paul writes, the Christian has the mind of Christ (v16), it follows that he or she must also have the mind of His Father. Clearly that cannot apply to God’s omniscience or power of thought – only He could create a universe and He did so through the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ (Eph3:9). However, if Christians have the mind of the One who in turn has the mind of God it does mean that God’s nature is neither alien nor entirely unknowable. So, when a Christian knows in his innermost being that it is cruel and unkind to punish someone for failing to do what they are incapable of doing, that will accord with Christ’s own instincts and in turn with that of His Father. Yet that same Christian, for example if he or she happens to be a Calvinist as I was for 25 years, must believe that God intends to do exactly that; namely that our Creator is predisposed to bring eternal misery upon those who fail to do what both Jesus and Paul repeatedly affirm is quite impossible – to come to Christ as Lord and Savior unless God has predetermined it and subsequently enabled them (cf. Jn1:13; Jn6:44 & numerous Pauline texts). Whatever else He might be, such a God would not be kind or loving, let alone a God who could be depicted as love personified (1Jn4:8) – a quality that is itself defined in Scripture (1Cor13).

The potential meeting of minds should be no surprise since mankind was created in God’s image, a depiction that cannot relate to appearance but to nature and (ultimately) to function. At least the latter shall be the case providing the ravages of a sinful nature resulting from the Fall can be rectified. Thanks to Jesus Christ they can be, and in the Christian that process has already begun. He or she already partakes of the divine nature (2Pet1:4) but something more is required before any mere mortal may be adopted into the Divine Family, namely the redemption of the body (Rom8:23). That shall occur at resurrection, or for those living at the time at the coming again of Christ. As for the aforementioned “tension” between how the Bible describes God’s character and what many Christians currently understand to be His intentions towards the bulk of humanity, that is primarily what these posts and The Little Book of Providence** are endeavoring to elucidate.

**Free PDF HERE

HINTS OF GLORIES TO COME

We  speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of THE RULERS OF THIS AGE, WHO ARE TO BE RENDERED INOPERATIVE; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written: “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND WHICH HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HUMAN HEART -THE THINGS WHICH GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” (1Cor2:6-9)

Towards the end of his letter to the Romans, Paul urged Christians to regard the worldly authorities as “ministers of God” that were to be obeyed (Rom13:6). Now he is making the point that such leaders are ultimately to be abolished or made inoperable (Greek: καταργέω). “Ultimately”, that is in terms of God’s timetable for we are still waiting, and in a recent post I explained why that should be .

But that will not be the result of humanity transitioning into a spiritualized eternity, but as explained in that same post it is because a new order is shortly to be established on terra firma as the “Kingdom of God” currently inaugurated through the Church becomes fully established, That will be at the coming of the One Paul describes as “the Lord of Glory” (v8). Then it will not be the worldly wise who participate in the glorious reign of Christ but those who have received a wisdom from above such as Paul is about to impart to the Corinthians (v6). However, the precise detail of the elect’s involvement has yet to be revealed, but as the apostle infers it is likely to be spectacularly glorious: “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the human heart – those things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (v9).

GOD’S ELECT – LOSERS BY THE WORLD’S STANDARDS

26Consider your calling, brothers and sisters, that there were not many wise by human standards, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and GOD HAS CHOSEN THE WEAK THINGS OF THE WORLD TO SHAME THE THINGS WHICH ARE STRONG, 28 AND THE INSIGNIFICANT THINGS OF THE WORLD AND THE DESPISED GOD HAS CHOSEN, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no human may boast before God. 30 FOR IT IS DUE TO GOD THAT YOU ARE IN CHRIST JESUS, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification and redemption 31 so that, just as it is written: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1Cor1:26-31)

I referred to this passage when considering Romans 8 and the doctrine of election: i.e. that “those whom God foreknew, He predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers;and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified (Rom8:29-30). The apostle is saying much the same in this opening chapter of 1Corithians. Here he is emphasizing that the wisdom, righteousness and sanctification the Christian obtains is because he or she is in Christ. These qualities are not imputed to us as some believe with regard to righteousness (we could hardly possess God’s own wisdom either), it is that Christ has become the source and resource by which these qualities are nurtured as the Christian participates in His life (Rom5:10). Yet again Paul puts paid to the idea that God wishes all humanity to come to Christian salvation or that man by nature has any ability to do so: “for it is due to God that you are in Christ Jesus (v30; cf. Jn6:44). So whilst our Heavenly Father loves and desires the wellbeing of humanity as a whole (1Tim2:4), He does not intend that all should marry His Son (Rev19:7).

But what of these children of God that the Father has given to His Son (Jn17:6 nota bene)? As I previously observed, by the world’s standard they are a bunch of losers (vv26-28 of our passage). Losers indeed, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but WHOEVER LOSES HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE will find it” (Mt16:25). God is fair to all: those destined for unimaginable glory as Christ’s eternal Escort are in the meantime required to lose their very lives and what they might have wished for them in worldly terms – so that they might faithfully serve Christ. If only the mighty glory-seekers of this world were aware of what they were going to be missing in the ages to come (cf. Mt19:29-30).  That is why certain inessential mysteries of the Kingdom have been veiled through much of the gospel age even from the Church: so that the rich, the mighty, the proud and the glory-hunters might be detracted by the shame of the cross of Christ and humble cruciform service as His disciples; whilst the humble, the gentle, the poor in spirit and in material possessions who are rich in faith will be the true inheritors of the Kingdom and the Earth. Such is the wisdom of God.

Exploring the mystery of divine providence