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bible reading feb 15-16



Bible reading for February 15 -- 16

Feb 15 -- Job 14 and 1 Corinthians 2

Feb 16 -- Job 15 and 1 Corinthians 3

"Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one." (Job 14:4) 

IS THERE HOPE? (ch 14). Job fully believes the truth about the depravity of man, as well as about human mortality. But he wonders, what lasting good can come from such extreme suffering? As you read, take time to ponder the metaphors and images he uses. At the end of this speech, he feels his hope is being washed away like the rocks of mountains are undercut and worn down by the relentless action of water. But he also raises a question, "If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come. You would call, and I would answer you; you would long for the work of your hands." (14:14-15)  Is there a resurrection? Can relationship with God be restored? Can something clean come out of the unclean? The OT writers do not say a lot about the resurrection or the afterlife, but there are tantalizing statements and allusions. With such deep-searching questions Job is preparing us for the gospel!

ELIPHAZ PART TWO (ch 15). Now Eliphaz gives his second speech. Again, he treats Job's words as merely worthless wind. Like the other friends, he draws a straight line between sin and suffering, thus connecting the two. These men, in their statements regarding human sin and depravity, never stop to think, "Hey, wait. We're sinners too.  Why are we not suffering like Job? Are we really better than him? Is he really that much worse than we are?" Eliphaz is blind to that, but also to another truth. He says, "The wicked man writhes in pain all his days, through all the years that are laid up for the ruthless" (v 20). And, "It will be paid in full before his time, and his branch will not be green" (v 32).  He's wrong about that! One of the perplexing issues that wise people of ancient days dealt with was, precisely, why life in fact didn't work out that way: "Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches" (Ps 73:12; cf Eccles 9:11-12). That straight line connecting individual sin and individual suffering often was simply not there. Again, these guys are just not helping. 

THE TAPESTRY. We should always remember our very limited perspective when it comes to understanding why things happen, whether it's good things happening to bad people, or bad things to good people. Corrie ten Boom once wrote a poem, “Life is but a Weaving”, which considered life as a tapestry with two sides -- what we see, and what God sees... 

"Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow; / And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper / And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent / And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas / And reveal the reason why."   

================   

"For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2) 

RECAP (ch 1). The Apostle Paul, while staying in Ephesus (AD 54/55), writes this first letter to the church in Corinth, which he planted on his second missionary journey (Acts 18). This epistle (letter) predates Paul's letter to the Romans by a year or so. The church in Corinth experienced many problems, and this letter addresses those issues one-by-one. Paul's letter to the believers there is structured around their particular problems rather than by a doctrinal outline, as in Romans. But where he begins is crucial. Salvation is accomplished by Christ. (Jesus' name is mentioned nine times in the first nine verses alone!) And at the center of this work is the cross. Those called by God see the wisdom, power, and beauty of Christ's death. Unbelievers do not. The fundamental problem in the Corinthian church seemed to be their pride and divisiveness, which came from neglecting the truth of the gospel.  D. A. Carson writes, "The place where God has supremely destroyed all human arrogance and pretension is the cross.” (The Cross and Christian Ministry; Baker Books, 1993.)  

A CROSS-SHAPED MINISTRY (ch 2).  Not only Paul's life, but his very ministry was shaped by his understanding of the cross (2:1-5; cf Gal 2:19-20; 6:14). He relies upon the Holy Spirit to apply the truth to the hearts of his hearers. The gospel displays God's wisdom, but this wisdom can be understood only when people undergo a spiritual change. A born-again Christian in Paul's terminology is a "spiritual person" (v 15). The Holy Spirit gives this person discernment to understand the things of God, so that he or she has "the mind of Christ" (vv 15-16). The Holy Spirit has given us God's word through the apostles and prophets "that we might understand the things freely given us by God" (v 12-13). This word is clearly understood only through the illumination of the same Spirit. Spiritual persons understand the things of God, but they themselves are not understood by the world (v 15). On the other hand, those not born of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3) are called "natural persons" (v 14). 

CARNALITY IN THE CHURCH (ch 3). Paul says that he is writing to the Corinthian believers as to "people of the flesh" (vv 1, 3). That is, these professing Christians are acting like non-Christians with all their jealousy and strife. He still speaks of them as brothers (1:10). Their problem is divisiveness, or being partisan -- in the spirit of rival political parties -- about teachers in the church (vv 4-5). But the church is not a mere human institution, it is God's creation and work, and it is God who gives it growth (vv 6-9). The foundation is Jesus Christ (v 11), and there is no other foundation upon which to build. Here Paul teaches that the works of Christians will undergo judgment (vv 12-15; cf 1 Cor 4:5; 2 Cor 5:10; Eph 6:8). Those who destroy the integrity of Christ's church will themselves be destroyed (Acts 20:29-30; 1 Jn 2:18-19). The Corinthians needed to know that they -- and all Christians -- are themselves the dwelling place of God's Spirit: "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" (v 16) The work of Christ upon the cross, and the work of God's Spirit in enabling us to receive the truths of salvation, should shape how we live and work in community with others. When you look at your life, your family, your church, do you see your ministry being shaped by the gospel of the cross of Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit? 

RANDOM THINGS...  

-- I've been enjoying this song from Sunday's worship: "My Worth Is Not In What I Own." And here Zach White teaches you how to play this song. 


Image credit. Photo of Danforth Chapel window at Florida Southern College, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  About this newsletter: I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Another resource I recommend is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.   


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