God’s intention is to make man His expression. In order to accomplish this, God desires to come into man to be his life so that man may live Him out. For this, God became a man through incarnation. Eventually Christ, God incarnate, died on the cross. Through His crucifixion He terminated the entire old creation. Hence, Christ’s crucifixion involved not only the death of the Lord Jesus, but the termination of everything of the old creation. By means of this all-inclusive death, the divine life, which is actually God Himself, was released and imparted to God’s predestinated, redeemed, and called people. By believing in the crucified and resurrected Christ, they have received the divine life and the divine Spirit. God’s expectation is that they will now live by this life and walk by this Spirit. This is to live Christ for the expression of God. Furthermore, such a living should not be individualistic; on the contrary, it should be corporate. Thus, God desires that His people be built together into His habitation, the Body of Christ. This is God’s intention.
The believers at Corinth, most of whom were Greeks, received the initial gifts, the divine life and the divine Spirit. But after receiving these gifts, they did not live by them. They did not live by the divine life or walk by the divine Spirit. As a result, they did not live Christ. They failed to take Christ as their life, their content, and their everything. Instead, they remained in their Greek culture and exulted in their wisdom and philosophy. This was their situation at the time Paul wrote this Epistle to them.
In writing to the Corinthians Paul seemed to be saying, “You believers there in Corinth should drop your Greek culture, wisdom, and philosophy. Instead of being Greeks, you should now be Christians. You should no longer live your Greek culture, exult in your philosophy, and boast in your wisdom. You have received Christ, and God has put you into Christ. Now that God has made you Christians, you should take Christ as your life, content, and everything, and you should live Christ. Furthermore, this Christ is God’s wisdom. Greek wisdom is shallow, and it is foolishness in the sight of God. But God’s wisdom, the genuine wisdom, is deep and mysterious. It is far beyond philosophical people to comprehend this wisdom, for it is a wisdom hidden in God and is even the depths of God. This wisdom, the depths of God, is the very Christ in whom you have believed and whom you have received. I urge you to exalt this Christ, take Him as your life and everything, and live Him.” If we understand this underlying concept, it will be much easier for us to understand the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians.
Both Catholicism and Protestantism have departed from the revelation of Christ in these chapters. Catholicism has assimilated many pagan, demonic, satanic, and devilish things. The practice of Catholicism is to take in and absorb heathenism and paganism. This is documented in the book The Two Babylons and in the writings of G. H. Pember. Protestantism has followed the practice of adapting to local culture. As long as the elements of a culture are not sinful or idolatrous, they will be taken in by Protestantism. For example, in China many Protestant missionaries adopted Chinese ethics, and in India, they followed certain aspects of Indian culture. As a result, the so-called church in China and in India became a cultural mixture. In China I saw that the missionaries were happy when the Chinese adopted western culture. The missionaries were also willing to take in the local culture. Therefore, Christianity in China became a mixture of Chinese culture and western culture. Apparently such a mixture is not as demonic or satanic as the paganism in Catholicism. In principle, however, both are the same, for both preach Christ, but do not help people to live Christ, to take Him as their life, living, content, and everything.
What kind of living did you have when you were in organized Christianity? Instead of living Christ, did you not live according to your culture? Surely no one taught you to live Christ, to take Christ as your life and content. Did anyone tell you to breathe Christ, drink Christ, and eat Christ? All this is foreign to most of today’s Christians.
In principle, the situation among believers today is the same as that among the believers in Corinth. The Corinthian believers received Christ, but they did not live Him. They did not have the concept that Christ should be their life, their living, and their content. Instead, their thoughts were focused on Greek culture, wisdom, and philosophy. Furthermore, they exulted in their wisdom and boasted in their philosophy. This caused them to think differently from one another and to have different preferences. Some preferred Paul, others preferred Cephas, and still others preferred Apollos. As a result, they were divided. This division was the root of the evil and confusion among them.
The situation among Christians today is the same as that of the church at Corinth. Therefore, all Christians, including us, need this Epistle. We need to be helped by this book to drop everything other than Christ. No matter what your culture or nationality may be, you need to drop it. We all must forsake our culture, philosophy, ethics, and traditions and center on Christ as our unique portion.
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