In the foregoing messages we have covered the basic principles in chapter seven concerning marriage life. In this message we shall consider the very important matter of the apostle’s teaching.
The Apostle Paul’s teaching is absolutely different from the teaching of the prophets in the Old Testament. We are told that when the prophets spoke for God in Old Testament times, the word of the Lord came to them and enabled them to speak on God’s behalf. Often the prophets would say, “Thus saith the Lord.” Many of those in today’s Pentecostalism follow this Old Testament practice. Catholicism brings people back to the Old Testament in ritual, but Pentecostalism brings the believers back to the Old Testament in the way of prophesying. Furthermore, according to my experience, Pentecostal believers more often sing portions of the Old Testament than they do portions of the New Testament. In particular, they sing verses from Psalms or Isaiah. Although they are New Testament believers, certain of their practices are according to the Old Testament. To say, “Thus saith the Lord,” in the Old Testament way is shallow and superficial. The New Testament way of speaking for the Lord is very different.
The New Testament has two outstanding characteristics—it is mysterious and deep. The New Testament is a book of mysteries and depths. It is very superficial to prophesy according to the Old Testament way. But to prophesy in the way of building up the church is deep. Likewise, to sing portions from the Psalms or Isaiah may be superficial, but to sing the third chapter of Ephesians, especially those verses about Christ making His home in our hearts so that we may be filled unto all the fullness of God, is to sing about things that are deep, profound, and mysterious. Do you know of any Christians today who sing about being one spirit with the Lord, or about their bodies being members of Christ? As we have seen, Paul speaks of such matters in 1 Corinthians 6. Nevertheless, to many believers Paul’s words are like a foreign language. These believers live on the surface; they have never touched the depths of the divine revelation in the New Testament.
First Corinthians 7 is mysterious and deep. In this chapter Paul never utters the words, “Thus saith the Lord.” The reason Paul does not use such an expression is that the apostles’ teaching in the New Testament is altogether based on the principle of incarnation. According to this principle, God speaks in man’s speaking. When the Lord Jesus spoke, it was difficult for others to discern who was speaking. To be sure, it was a man who was speaking. However, this man did not declare, “I am a prophet from Nazareth. Last night, the word of God came to me, and now I want to speak this word to you. Thus saith the Lord.” When the Lord Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, it seems that He was an ordinary person from Nazareth. There was no indication that He was different, and the Pharisees regarded Him as a man without learning. But the Lord Jesus is God incarnate. With Him there is the reality of incarnation. Thus, while He was speaking, God spoke also. Actually, His speaking was God’s speaking. God spoke with Him. This means that in the Lord Jesus God and man spoke together as one. This is the principle of incarnation.
On the day of Pentecost the apostles and disciples also began to speak according to the principle of incarnation. This is the reason the writings of Peter, John, and Paul recorded in the Bible could become God’s words. Furthermore, these words are among the contents of the New Testament. Although Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7 that certain things he says are not the Lord’s word or the Lord’s commandment, everything spoken by Paul in this chapter has nonetheless become part of the divine revelation in the New Testament. This is because Paul was a person absolutely one with God. Even when he says that he does not have a word from the Lord, the Lord speaks in his speaking. Because Paul was one with the Lord, when he spoke, the Lord spoke with him. Thus, with Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 we have an example of the principle of incarnation. It is very important that we see this principle and understand it.
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