Gossip vs Power - RR274D7b

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Gossip vs. Power
Course: Course - Godly Social Order - 1 Corinthians
Subject: Subject:Sociology
Lesson#: 12
Length: 0:31:17
TapeCode: rr274d7b
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Godly Social Order - Corinthians.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.

That will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart, wait I say, on the Lord. Let us pray.

Almighty God our heavenly Father we thank Thee that Thou who art the Creator, for us has made us for Thy holy purposes and hast ordained that we shall serve all the days of our life. We thank Thee that nothing is too great nor too small for Thee. Thou art ever mindful for us and of r all our needs and of all our hopes. We pray our Father that now and all the days of our lives Thou woulds’t govern all our ways, that we may please Thee, that in holiness we may serve Thee and in our lives we may realize the joy of our Lord. In His Name we pray, Amen.

Our scripture this morning is First Corinthians 4:14-21, our subject: Gossip vs. Power. Gossip vs. Power, First Corinthians 4:14-21.

“I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?”

In First Corinthians is both theological and pastoral. He deals with the basic philosophical premises of the faith and also it’s practical and legal requirements. He is both very blunt and also very loving. [00:04:00]

In verse fourteen he makes this very clear...[edit]

In verse fourteen he makes this very clear. What he is about to write is to their shame but it is written not to humiliate them but to warn them as his children in the faith. The word warn in the Greek can also be translated as admonish. Guilt is presupposed, it is evident, so the admonishment is a well-deserved one. Paul writes as their instructor or tutor. Also pedagogue and the word in the Greek is literally ‘pedagogue’ or the Greek form of it ‘(greek word)’. Meaning a slave of the father, here referring to God the Father. Well in Greco-Roman practice such a slave was a subordinate person, the pedagogue appointed by God was not. Paul was an apostle as well as a pedagogue; an apostle means a royal embassy. The ambassador of the King of Kings. Not only paul was their tutor or pedagogue, he was also he says in a sense their father. For in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. He was that much more to them than any other pastor. For this reason Paul can beseech them, be ye followers of me. He was more than a pedagogue or a tutor, more than an apostle, he was their father in Christ. They owed their conversion to his ministry. Because of the problems in the church Paul says he is sending Timothy (Timothius in the Greek), his beloved son in Christ. A man faithful in the Lord to remind the Corinthian church of my ways which be in Christ as I teach everywhere in the church. [00:06:52]

What Paul says here can be used by the Corinthians...[edit]

What Paul says here can be used by the Corinthians to charge him with arrogance. After all he says I’ve been your pastor, I’ve been your tutor, I’ve been the royal ambassador, I’ve been your father in Christ, I have the authority of God behind me. Paul deliberately reminds them of his authority and position. He doesn’t indulge in any false modesty. It is they who are arrogant and ignorant and with foolishness charging him with assuming too much power. They were the ones who arrogant. In first Corinthians 9:1-3 Paul lets us know that the Corinthians actually questioned his status as an apostle. In Second Corinthians 12:12 Paul reminds them that the signs of an apostle were brought among in all patience in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. In Second Corinthians 1:17 they had accused Paul we are told of lightness, of being a lightweight. Well anyone who has ever read Paul’s letters know that he was anything but a light weight! An exceedingly profound and penetrating thinker. In Second Corinthians 10:10 Paul tells the Corinthians that they referred to his physical presence as weak and his speech or his speaking ability as contemptible. In terms of the standards of the times in Corinth they did not find Paul impressive. We should not take these views of the Corinthians too seriously. Sadly a great many scholars do. Other churches did not downgrade Paul. They did not regard him as contemptible in appearance or a lightweight, far from it. Ever since Paul referred to these charges some scholars in the church too ready to criticize Paul have been ready to believe the Corinthians. I wish they were as ready to believe Paul and the Bible as a whole. [00:10:26]

They are less ready on occasion to take Paul as literally...[edit]

They are less ready on occasion to take Paul as literally as they do his critics. Paul was hurt by these charges. But that does not make them true! If someone accuses you falsely it hurts. Whether it is true or not. It still hurts. So a false charge can even hurt more. In verse eighteen Paul says that some are so puffed up in their arrogant opposition to himself that they believed Paul will not dare to confront them in person and therefore is sending Timothy. There was apparently a concerted effort in Corinth to undermine Paul’s authority. Paul never fails to confront sinners with their wrong doings, very firmly but lovingly. In reading this letter in Second Corinthians we should believe Paul and disbelieve the critics he cites. Paul was confronting them with their sins and their response was to attack his appearance and standing. Whom we believe will say much about our character and some Biblical commentators come off badly at times. Paul was not a young man by this time. He had experienced all kinds of harsh experiences, shipwreck for example, being thrown to wild animals but somehow miraculously surviving. Whipped by the Roman authorities, he was probably a scarred man. When Paul does visit Corinth soon he says he will confront his critics and he will reveal the falsity of their speech because the test will be the manifest power of God. He will surely go to Corinth if the Lord will. The Corinthians had been full of claims concerning their supposedly exalted religious state according to verse eight and Paul says he will put them to the test for the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. In First Corinthians 5:1 through 6:20 Paul charges the church with moral laxity. No wonder they were ready to attack Paul because he was putting the finger on their sins, on their moral failures. [00:14:11]

So what could these guilty persons, still unrepentant...[edit]

So what could these guilty persons, still unrepentant do but to attack Paul personally? This is a fact we’re all familiar with. You confront someone with their sin and they turn around and charge you with everything they can think of. Perhaps because of aging and his hard experiences Paul was not physically very strong. He was no longer young. Perhaps he was not the most eloquent orator. But from his writings we get echoes of the power of his presence and speech. Anyone who could write like Paul probably was a powerful speaker. Certainly we know that elsewhere he commanded audiences. Take your choice says Paul, what do you want. Shall I come to you with a rod or love and in a spirit of meekness? Paul was not a man given to speaking boastfully or unrealistically. When he threatens to come to them with a rod he means that he has the power to cut them to ribbons. They are sinners saved by grace, not angelical lords from heaven and he will not spare them. These sinners knew Paul’s grace, patience and love. They would see his wrath and judgment when he came. A hint of Paul’s wrath appears in First Corinthians 5:1 when he raises the moral question: one man sins in Corinth and the approval thereof of many. Paul has moral indignation on his side, the law of God, the authority of Christ, apostolic delegation. His is the anger of a righteous judge. Paul had been in Corinth a year and six months on his first visit. He had started a church next door to the synagogue in the home of Justice. In a vision Jesus Christ had encouraged Paul to a holy boldness saying: “Be not afraid, but speak. And hold not thy peace for I am with thee and no man shall hurt thee, for I have much people in this city.” This was recorded in Acts 18:9-10. [00:17:57]

This is the reason for Paul’s courage and boldness...[edit]

This is the reason for Paul’s courage and boldness. The Corinthian critics had behind them the desire to belittle and to hurt Paul. Paul’s bluntness is governed by a desire to heal and to reclaim sinning Christians. On whose side was the truth? Those who see any truth in the words of Paul’s critics tell us more about themselves then about Paul. In verse twenty Paul contrasts talk, meaning idle words from his critics, and power, the power of the triune God is manifested in and through Paul the Lord’s servant. It is dangerous to accept gossip as though it is God’s word and to forget who Paul is. Let us pray.

Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for Paul and for his word which still speaks to us, to our needs, to our hopes, to our fears, our joys. Make us strong by thy word that we may be more than conquerors in and through Christ. We pray our Father for our world today. Reclaim it from its evil ways. Be with the Christians who are being slain every day in Africa. To strengthen them and to enable them to conquer in the face of their enemies. We pray for those who are suffering in Asia and elsewhere, all the world over. Be Thou their strength, their shield and their deliverer. Open our hearts day by day to hear and to be guided by Thee, to be led by Thee in the way that we should go. Teach us to think, plan and do great things in Christ. In His name we pray, Amen.

Are there any questions now about our lesson? [00:21:06]

As you can see by now there’s a good reason for the...[edit]

As you can see by now there’s a good reason for the fact that Corinthians has been so often slurred over and misinterpreted. We have in Corinthians both letters, first and second, an unsparing critic by Paul of the lily livered weak kneed critical church people of Corinth. He rips them apart! Well there are too many people like that in the church today and they don’t like that kind of bluntness. And so they slur over these things or they say ‘well this just applied to the Corinthians a couple thousand years ago, not to us’. Anything to discount what Paul has to say. And that’s why it’s so important. In our time to know the letter of Paul to Corinth, to understand what he is saying and to realize just because we’re later in history doesn’t make us any better. Sin is sin in any age and sin doesn’t diminish with time. It isn’t something that has ever gone out of fashion or out of style. It’s very present. Often closer to us then we are to ourselves! So Paul’s letter is urgently relevant to our time and we need to regard it as one of the most appropriate passages or sections of the whole Bible. It is interesting that we have in the New Testament the four gospels and Acts, which is a continuation of the gospel of Luke to a great extent, and then Romans. It lays down the premise of the faith, justification through Christ’s atonement, and immediately after: Corinthians. Why? Because having laid down the premises of the faith now the weakness of those who claim to be Christians is very, very bluntly pointed out by Paul. So it’s well placed and most urgently in need of more attention in our time. Yes? [00:25:24]

[Man speaking] Since there is no statute of limitations...[edit]

[Man speaking] Since there is no statute of limitations on sin [Rushdoony interrupts: well put!] how can civil law, where does civil law derive the authority to place a statute of limitations upon civil crimes.

[Rushdoony] That is a marvelous question and point. Douglas there is no statute of limitations on sin in the bible. The whole idea of a statute of limitation is a modern thing. The only thing comparable to it in the Bible in biblical law is with respect to the cities of refuge. And that was not a crime! A man fled to a city of refuge to escape from avengers of blood. In other words, let us say accidentally he was responsible for the death of someone. The ancient illustration is that they were out chopping down trees in the woods and his axe head flew off and hit somebody, killed him. Now if the axe head had been loose and he was using it knowing it was loose he was guilty. But if it were not, if it were tight and it was an accident or somehow there was a defect in the wood unknown and the axe head just flew off then he could fly to a city of refuge so that the kinfolk of the man who had died would not kill him as was common in those days and still is in many parts of the world. Avengers of blood they were called. Then he remained there until the ruler died and then he was free to go and no one could lay a hand on him. Well that’s the only thing in the bible cited that has a statute of limitation. And it’s accidental death, manslaughter. Every other crime is a crime as long as the person is alive. So I’ve never been able to learn the history of the statute of limitations on penalties but there it is. One of the many, many things that leads to problems in our time. We have today for the first time in our history surpassed a million people in prison for crimes. Now when you realize that out of a million crimes committed a hundred and ninety thousand will go to court and result in a conviction and of those, over half will be released because they serve some time in jail and the jails are crowded so they turn them loose. So you can see how with the statute of limitations we have criminals out on the streets all over the country. And this is happening throughout the western world and in some countries more than others. And it is creating a crisis. [00:30:03]

Are there any other questions or comments? If not let...[edit]

Are there any other questions or comments? If not let us conclude with prayer.

Our Father we thank Thee that Thy word offers a correction to all the world’s ills. Thy word makes known the way of salvation. Thy word summons to serve Thee with all our heart mind and being. Thy word is truth. Teach us to love Thee and to love Thy word. And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.