The Carnal Christians - RR274C6a
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|This transcript is unedited. It was:|
|Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library|
|Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules|
|Posted by with permission.|
Let us worship God. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy. If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Seeing that we have a great high Priest that is fast into the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us therefore come humbly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Let us pray.
Almighty God our Heavenly Father who by Thy grace and mercy have made us Thy people. We give thanks unto thee that Thou art on the throne. That it is Thy government that prevails; not ours. That is Thy will that shall be done and not the will of man. Give us grace day by day so to walk and in all things we hear and obey thee. Serve thee, rejoice in thee and know that because Thou art God Thy will shall be done on earth. He that has it is in heaven. Teach us this morning by Thy word and by Thy spirit that we may grow in grace and understanding and establish the things of Thy kingdom. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Our scripture is from First Corinthians 3:1-8. Our subject: The Carnal Christians. The carnal Christians, First Corinthians 3:1-8.
“And I brethren could not speak unto you as unto spiritual but as unto carnal. He then as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk and not with meat. For hitherto you were not able to bear it either yet nor are you able, for you are yet carnal. For where there is among you envy and strife and divisions, are you not carnal and walk as men? For while one of you says that I am of Paul and another I am of Apollos, are you not carnal? Who then is Paul and who is Apollos but ministers by whom you believed? Even as the Lord gave unto every man. I have planted Apollos, watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, either he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one. And every man shall receive his own reward according to his labor.”
We come now to Paul’s use of a word which has in English translation led to much confusion. The word is carnal. In Greek in verse one it is ‘sarcanos’. In verse three [something different]. Both words are from [unintelligible] meaning flesh. However for us carnal has a sexual connotation which cannot apply here. [00:04:49]
Paul contrasts carnal with spiritual and says they...
Paul contrasts carnal with spiritual and says they are carnal because they are babes in Christ. Clearly carnal means immature. It means childlike, childish in their faith. In verse six the word has an i-o-k-o-s ending in the Greek meaning made ‘of’. Here made of flesh. According Leon Morse [greek word] applies to the young in the faith, those who are new and struggling, don’t fully understand, whereas [other greek word], the usage in verse three, refers to those who should be more mature but have not grown in the faith. In other words they stay babes in Christ. All they want to know is enough to be saved to qualify for heaven, more than that they do not want to know. There are too many people like that in the churches today; they come to buy fire and life insurance and no more. The Corinthian Christians are so called because of their envying and their strife. They place their personal feeling s about one another above their common faith. The Lord has redeemed them by this sovereign grace yet they refuse to manifest grace one to another. Christ did not save them because of their merit but they demand a high standard of merit from one another. Anyone who stands only by God’s grace is clearly childish, if they insist others stand acceptable to them by their works. Now Paul is not asking anyone to overlook sins against the law. He said that they do not do so. And it is a problem, sins against the law that he will deal with very soon. Their critical spirit one towards another rests on humanistic considerations. Paul is made a very fundamental distinction between the fallen world and its philosophies and the revelation on the other hand made by God. which culminates in the life and works of Jesus Christ. [00:08:15]
He is not now about to tolerate the petty divisions...
He is not now about to tolerate the petty divisions and dislikes of people towards one another. The Christian must not be a party to any such childish evil attitudes. They dishonor the Christian vocation. Most problems between church members are childish ones. [second greek word] is the term for them. People refusing to grow up. Paul had been unable previously as other than babes in Christ which is what he calls them in verse one. And he had accordingly kept his teachings simple. He fed them with milk and not with meat as it were. Normal adult food they were not yet ready for. They were not up to a mature diet in so far as teaching was concerned. Moreover he says in verse two ‘neither are you yet able’ as he latter says; they arrogantly assume a maturity they still lack. They are in fact still carnal. With envying, strife and factions among them and they walk in the ways of fallen man. They are childish at best Paul is saying. They see themselves as followers of men. That is of Paul or Apollos and this is carnal, childish. Paul and Apollos are ministers or more accurately servants. But it was God who gave them grace. Paul and Apollos did what God called them to do, I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase, so to who belongs the credit but to God alone? The Corinthians were viewing the church humanistically by giving undue credit to Paul and to Apollos they were giving undue powers to themselves because they were shifting the area of determination from God to man. [00:11:30]
And in so doing they were falsifying the gospel and...
And in so doing they were falsifying the gospel and they were viewing the work of salvation as man’s doing. The determination of things was shifted from God to man and nothing could have been more offensive to Paul. Predestination means far more than whether we go to heaven or to hell, it means that the very hairs of our head are all numbered, that God in all things is sovereign. Until the Christian recognizes this perhaps elite predestination and sovereignty of God and at the same time is total accountability to him he has not grasped the meaning of faith. Because of this absolute sovereignty it is not he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that gives the increase. At the same time God rewards his servants according to their labor. We may not in fact recap, penetrate the meaning of God’s predestination or human accountability and he rewards us accordingly. Predestination is not fate, a blind and impersonal determinism, but totally personal in purpose and detail. Fatalism and chance are simplistic ideas. Easily understood and equally senseless. Predestination supposes a world wiThout meaningless or brute factuality. Everything has meaning. All factuality for us is Go d created and God determined. We live in a universe of total meaning. Christian theistic meaning. Looking ahead briefly at verse nine we see that this means that we are laborers together with God, that is, that we are who are creatures made out of the earth and its dust are all also God’s co-workers. [00:14:23]
That by his grace we have been summoned to membership...
That by his grace we have been summoned to membership I n his kingdom, family and household. We then have a very great calling in Him. To exchange this very great calling for the trivial of our petty feelings about anything or about one another is a mark, Paul says, of babes. The childishness described by Paul is the mark of most churches including too often of the clergy. The church then resembles less God’s house then it does a nursery or playground where spoiled brats demand that their will be done. In the first house of the nineteenth century one prominent clergyman, bodily picked up a wife of a pastor under his jurisdiction and put her out of the house because she was telling off everyone so arrogantly. And he ordered the pastor to control her himself thereafter. Now I’m not saying that this is the solution. I’m citing this to say how very different things are now. I know that one oriental visiting in this country was horrified by the way men were routinely reprimanded and corrected by their wives. The arrogance of many ministerial wives today is startling. I once heard of one who did not attend her husband’s church and of another who was angry when she was referred to as the pastor’s wife but who as in her own person tried to rule him and the church. The church is not a nursery but the barracks where the armies of Gods people gain it’s training for the wars of the Lord. [00:17:20]
Now Paul began the letter to the Corinthians by speaking...
Now Paul began the letter to the Corinthians by speaking of the group there as a church. Ecclesia. A word which means they are the local governing council. The governing body in the sight of God. They are to bear themselves to take over the world in due time, not by revolution but by conversion. And they cannot govern themselves! So what Paul is here saying as he rebukes them: is that you are to be a world conquering people, this is the victory which overcomes the world, even our faith, as he tells the romans. And you are acting like babies! Thus the whole of Corinthians is a series of lessons, teachings, by Paul to prepare the Corinthian church for its duty. Let us pray.
Our Father we give thanks unto thee for this Thy word. We thank thee that Thy word is true and we pray that Thy church may wake up to Thy word, to its marching orders, and bring all things into captivity to Christ Jesus our king. Grant us this we beseech thee in Christ’s name, Amen. Questions about First Corinthians 3:1-8, the carnal Christian? Yes?
[Man speaking] Is Paul saying in verse eight that Christ gave you salvation wiThout you having the responsibility to grow in that salvation so that you only got judgment and reward?
[Rushdoony] yes, what he is saying is that you’re fixing all your attention on me and Apollos and you should not line up in terms of us because we’re simply relaying to you what God has laid upon us. Therefore you’re going to receive a reward according to your own labor, not in terms of your ability to criticize one another. So that your duty is to fix your attention not on ‘I don’t like what that guy is doing’ but on yourself, are you leaving your responsibilities under God or are you a spoiled brat fighting with these others because that’s one way you are showing you are better than others. So Paul uses the word carnal in the double sense first those who are new converts and are babes just beginning to understand but then he goes on to those who have been in the faith a while and are simply childish, brattish. Therefore you are fixing your mind on one another rather than on the Lord. Any other questions or comments about our lesson? [00:21:42]
As you can see, Paul is really moved and angry...
As you can see, Paul is really moved and angry. And he’s not mincing words, he’s always been plain spoken in everything he ever wrote, but in Corinthians he raised down the foundations of the faith and of the Christian responsibility in a tremendous way as we shall see. The further we go into this epistle. It’s really an amazing work. Yes?
[Man speaking] In the second verse of ‘for hitherto you were not able to bear it either yet nor are you able’ is the phrase ‘not able to bear it’ mean not able to understand or not able to deal with it?
[Rushdoony] A very good question. They could not bear meat, that is solid teaching, and they were not able to bear it because it was too much for them. You cannot give a baby meat to chew, it has no teeth. So you wait a while before you give meat to a baby. Paul uses that analogy to say you Thought as soon as you were converted that you were the judges over everybody but there are many of you that are even now not able to do more than take milk because you are immature and yet you think of yourself as mature. Now whether they are [greek word] that is unwilling to grow up then there’s another problem. They don’t want solid teaching. They want milk. And you have this problem in a great many churches today. All they want to hear is John 3:16 over and over again. And I recall one man who was regarded as a very prominent Christian basically because he had a lot of money whose attitude was ‘how dare the pastor preach at me! He’s supposed to preach that so and so are not really converted’ and he was thus present only to make sure that a large number were converted every Sunday. So Paul uses both terms [greek words] and it applies to both. But this is the problem in the church especially in our time. People do not think of being saved as being recruited into the army of God to take over the world for Christ but getting a ticket to heaven. So you’ve got your ticket just relax, lean back and forget about anything except to get mad at the preacher if he upsets your conscience by telling you that there’s more to being a Christian. Yes? [00:25:48]
[Woman speaking] How does all this fit with the criticisms...
[Woman speaking] How does all this fit with the criticisms that I’ve heard Reconstructionist people launch against the evangelicals or the charismatics?
[Rushdoony] Well, the problem of course with evangelicals is that they teach and preach to keep people covenantally babes and happy with being babes. I think I’ve mentioned this before but it horrifies me every time I think of it, now in the late fifties I spoke at a major Western university to the Christian group there, a very large group. But they were determined to remain babes in Christ. Their basic course required of every freshman was a Western Civilization course which is now dropped in most places including this university. But I went to it to point out that it was really humanistic and not anti-Christian in its emphasis. Well they were very upset because they loved their university; they didn’t want to hear anything unkind about it. So they sat there stunned when I finished because they all knew what I said was true. I had gone to their textbook in their basic course so they sat there in shock and finally the president of the group got to his feet and said ‘well, since there are no questions lets liven things up by singing some choruses, let’s begin with This Little Light Of Mine’ well you know that’s a little chorus for kindergarteners and Sunday school children. And that’s all they did, sing kindergarten choruses until they felt happy again. Well there are a great many churches that are like that. Evangelical and charismatic and that’s why they’re in trouble. They are full of people but they are going no place. [00:28:42]
Any other questions or comments? If not, let us conclude...
Any other questions or comments? If not, let us conclude with prayer.
Almighty God our heavenly Father we give thanks unto thee for this Thy word. We thank thee our Father that Thou has ordained that we should grow and summoned us to grow. We thank thee that by Thy word and by Thy spirit we can grow. Teach us always to be mindful that we need to change constantly. To conform ourselves more and more to Jesus Christ, to be ever mindful that we have been called to a task not to self-satisfaction. 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.