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1. “ Paul an elect apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God.” “Called” in E.V. impresses the reader that it means “annunciated,” which is really not the meaning. It is a participle from kaleo, “to call,” from which ecclesia, “church,” is derived. Hence it means the call of the Holy Ghost responsive to which we become the elect of God, “nominated” in conversion, “elected” in sanctification (1 Peter 1:2), and “crowned” in heaven if faithful to the end. “And Sosthenes our brother.” Here we see that Paul honors Sosthenes even with a place in the authorship of this letter, showing that he was a preacher of the gospel associated with Paul in labor, and evidently standing at the very front. Sosthenes was he who received a flogging in Corinth when chief ruler of the synagogue in the succession of Crispus. Having become a most virulent persecutor of Paul, he with his Jewish comrades had brought him before Gallio, the Roman proconsul of Achaia, for prosecution, and the latter dismissing the case out of court, thus refusing to try Paul, much less punish him, the Gentile multitude, concluding that Sosthenes as prosecutor deserved a thrashing, set on him and gave him a good one (Acts 18:12-17). As in case of Peter Cartwright beating religion into the big blacksmith, who had flogged and run all of his predecessors out of the circuit, and then he got gloriously converted, became a roaring class leader, and Peter’s right-hand man on the battlefield; it seems that we have a parallel case in the history of Sosthenes, as he is only mentioned in these two passages. In Acts we find him there in Corinth, the chief ruler in the synagogue, doing his utmost to get the governor to kill Paul or run him off, but making a failure and getting a whipping himself. Then the next time we hear of him he is gone away with Paul to Asia on evangelistic work, and associated with him in writing this letter back to his friends and acquaintances who knew him so well in Corinth. Thus wonderful things transpire in the Lord’s battlefield.
2. “ To the church of God being in Corinth.” This word ecclesia, from ek, “out,” and kaleo, “to call,” simply means the people who have heard the call of the Holy Ghost, come out of the world and identified themselves with God. This is done only in the supernatural birth of the Holy Spirit. Modern church-joining has done much to deceive and debauch the popular mind, thus alienating the people from the correct apprehension of the essential character of God’s Church. You can not get into it by joining. God’s children are all born into His family, which is His Church. You would as well call a sable Ethiopian a blonde Caucasian as to pronounce a person a member of God’s Church who has not been born from above. It is simply an abuse of language, flatly contradictory of facts and calculated only to deceive and send people to hell. “To those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus and have it yet better than ever” this translation is necessary to bring out the force of the Greek perfect tense which here occurs, and unlike the English, which means an action complete in past time and developing a state which continues down to the present, but laying the emphasis on the past. The Greek, having the same definition, lays the emphasis on the present, hence it means that these persons have not only been sanctified in time past, but have it yet better than ever. “To the elect saints,” E.V., “ called to be saints,” “to be” not in the original. As above explained, we are nominated in conversion and elected in sanctification. We find these two prominent classes addressed in this epistle, i. e., “the elect saints who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus and have it yet better than ever.” Paul first addresses this class as above. Then follows another class, i. e.. , “with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus in every place, theirs and ours.” This class includes all the people who are in a state of grace; not only the converted who are not sanctified, but all truly convicted people, because such call upon the name of the Lord. Hence we find this epistle not only addressed to “the elect saints who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus and have it yet better than ever,” but to all of the praying people at Corinth. If you will remember these facts, you will have no trouble in the application of this letter to all of the diversified spiritual grades and classes which follow.
3. This is a very common salutatory benediction peculiar to the Pauline Epistles.
4. Here he gives thanks to God in their behalf in view of His grace conferred on the Corinthian saints.
5. “ Because you are enriched in him in all word and knowledge.” The E.V. gives this an active, whereas it has a passive, signification, meaning the simple fact that those Corinthians had the rich and invaluable treasure of God’s complete word and that priceless gift of the Holy Ghost (1
Corinthians 1 Corinthians 12:8) denominated “knowledge.” This spiritual gift means insight into divine truth, the omniscient Revelator revealing to the reader the spiritual meaning of His precious word, which He alone understands. Hence those Corinthians were wonderfully rich to have all the word and the spiritual knowledge of the same, i. e., insight into it, illuminated by the Holy Ghost, so they could understand it.
6, 7. “ As the testimony of Christ is confirmed in you, so that you are deficient in no gift.” The Greek word charisma here occurring is the very identical word used to denote those nine extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost (Ch. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11). Hence we see that some of them actually possessed all of these spiritual gifts which you find in that catalogue of nine, and which Paul expounds in chapters 12 and 14. “Expecting the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,” i. e., the same personal Jesus whom they had seen with their eyes, and whose voice they had heard with their ears, and whose body they had taken by the hand, having flown up from Mt. Olivet into heaven, is going to come back where we can recognize Him with our physical senses as before His ascension. Paul lived in constant expectancy of His glorious appearing, and made this great fact of the Lord’s return to the earth exceedingly prominent in all of his ministry, as we see unmistakably in every epistle. As we are eighteen hundred years nearer this glorious revelation of Jesus again on the earth, we should be on the constant lookout.
8. “ Who will also establish you unto the end unrebukable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What a glorious promise that if we are only true to the grace given, our wonderful Savior will see to the fact that we are washed in the blood, filled with the Spirit, robed and ready to meet our glorious King in the eventful day of His coming.
9. Here we are assured of God’s faithfulness who has called us “into the fellowship of his Son.” This word “fellowship” ( koinoonia) really means the co-partnership of husband and wife in their matrimonial alliance. Hence it involves at once the beautiful and profound problem of the Bridehood.
10. “ But I exhort you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you may all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you, but that you may be perfected in the same mind and in the same disposition;” not “judgment,” as E.V., which is a mentality and variant as the diversities of human intellect. We are not to be alike intellectually, but spiritually, in the fact that the Holy Spirit in regeneration has given us the mind of Christ, subduing the carnal mind and utterly destroying it (Romans 6:6), so that all truly sanctified people have only the mind of Christ, and consequently they all have the same mind and the same disposition, i. e., they are “meek and lowly in heart” and go about doing good like their Master, yet they are all liable to differ in judgment. In this verse we see that Christian perfection is God’s preventive of ecclesiastical schisms. Perfection is from the Latin facio, “make,” and per, “complete.” Hence it means “made complete.” Christ came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Hence when sin is destroyed we are made perfect, becoming what the New Testament denominates a perfect Christian. Where Christian perfection becomes the normal experience, religious schisms all collapse and evanesce. Hence all the divisions in the kingdom of God were born of depravity and die with it.
11-16. Here he alludes to manifestations of party spirit among them, and a disposition to focalize around a human leader such as Paul, Apollos or Peter. As Paul was their spiritual father, though plain, blunt and rough in his speech and manner, endeavoring to sink away into God so they would see Jesus only, many were disposed to adhere to him because of his spiritual paternity and say, “ I am of Paul.” Others, charmed and electrified by the powerful eloquence and irresistible arguments of Apollos, who evidently contrasted with Paul much to the depreciation of the latter, were very strongly disposed to choose him for their leader, while still another class cried out, “I am of Peter,” because he came with the flattering reputation of the senior apostle of our Lord’s own choosing, who had walked by His side three years, and been honored to preach the first gospel sermon on the day of Pentecost; and still others cried out, “ I am for Christ.” Of course these were right; hence we see they had not all fallen into these schisms. You must remember that these divisions were only germinal and never developed into organized parties, as about six thousand have since that day. When we see how Paul put his withering rebuke in the very incipiency of these schismatic tendencies, which have since filled the world with religious denominations and here he recognizes Christian perfection as the only remedy for the trouble what an inspiration should this Pauline treatment of the matter give to all Christians to seek perfection, and thus escape from the carnal entanglements of sectarian schisms.
17. “ For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.” Here we see clearly and demonstratively that while water baptism in some way or other with reference to quantity, quality, subject, manner, or administrator has been the bone of contention among the religious denominations through all ages, and really the hot-bed of schisms, here you see plainly that, instead of deserving such prominence in the gospel economy, it is in fact no part of the gospel, and never was, but merely incidental to it right in its place, but no part of the thing itself; hence, utterly unessential to salvation. This is clearly tenorable from Paul’s discrimination between baptism and the gospel. If it had been a part of the gospel, Paul never could have said, “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel,” “not in wisdom of word, in order that the cross of Christ may not be made empty.” Why is the cross the great salient fact in the plan of salvation? Because on it Jesus made the atonement and redeemed the world from sin, death and hell. Such is the historic truth of the cross. Again, because all of His followers must go with Him to the cross, be nailed to it and die; i. e., just as the humanity in Him, though sinless, died on the cross for sin, so must the sinful humanity in us i. e., Adam the first, die on the cross; otherwise we never can follow our risen Savior up to heaven. This is the experimental truth of the cross. Hence we find that even Romanism does not make the cross too prominent. It is all right to show it up externally in order that our senses may assist our faith. But the trouble with them is they stop with the externalities, retaining only the historic doctrine of the cross, having lost sight of the experimental, which is the essence, and is indispensable to salvation. Many Protestants clamor constantly about water baptism, which you see plainly here from this irrefutable truth is no part of the gospel, but merely incidental to it, and hence not necessary to salvation; whereas they make nothing of the cross, which is really everything.
18. “ For the word of the cross is to them that are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” So long as the wicked are in this world they are in a land of grace, and have a chance to be saved. Hence they have not utterly perished, but are only in a perishing condition. So long as the righteous are in this world they are not finally saved, but are exposed to temptation, still on probation, liable to forfeit all and make eternal shipwreck. Hence they are only in the process of salvation, i. e., being saved by the blessed Holy Spirit. Regeneration is primary salvation; sanctification, full salvation and glorification, final salvation.
19. “ For it has been written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to naught the understanding of the intelligent.” The implication here is directly to worldly wisdom and understanding, which is vain and futile, and destined to come to an end. It belongs to this old ruined creation, which is under the ban of condemnation, it being only a question of time as to when it shall go down. The only hope is in the new creation. The soul is created anew in regeneration, the wreck and ruin of the Fall being fully and finally eliminated in entire sanctification. This old body must go down in mortal dissolution and rise again in the bright glories of the new creation. Even this old world is to go down amid the consuming fires and rise again in the transcendent beauties and fadeless glories of the new creation.
20. “ Where is the wise man?” i. e., wise man in a general sense. He is simply nowhere; i. e., his wisdom is all empty vanity. “ Where is the scribe?” i. e., the wise man among the Jews, as he wrote the Scriptures and they were dependent on him for Bibles. “There were also the teachers in synagogues,” i. e., the pastors of the churches. But he is nothing in the things of God who is everything, and others only available through him. “Where is the disputer of this age?” i. e, the Greek philosopher. At that time the Greeks stood at the head of the world’s learning. But it is all empty vanity, destitute of substantial and available truth. “Hath not God rendered foolish the wisdom of the world?” This He has done by revealing the true wisdom in the Bible, which exposes the futility of the Greek philosophy and all the wisdom of the world.
21. “ For since in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God.” All the mighty researches of deep-thoughted Greece, the magical lore of Egypt, and the contemplative philosophy of the Orient never succeeded in sending a solitary scintillation into the dark realm of man’s true character, origin and destiny. They had the world at their disposal four thousand years before Christ came, and had never reached a syllable of primary truth nor sent a single ray into the problem of salvation. “ God was pleased by the foolishness of preaching to save such as believe.” From the standing-point of worldly philosophy, preaching is sheer folly. Truly it is literal foolishness to all the worldly wise, and is bound so to remain. God’s salvation is a Masonic secret to all the uninitiated, and never can be otherwise. You can not explain the Mammoth Cave without going into it; so you can never know anything about the kingdom of God unless you enter it. This you can only do by faith, which is not knowledge, but believing.
So the preaching of the gospel is utterly foolish to the unsaved; yet if they will believe it, they will surely get saved.
22. “ Since the Jews ask for miracles.” No wonder, for they were born and cradled amid the supernatural the Mosaic history of creation, the flood, the plagues of Egypt, the cleaving of the Red Sea, the burning bush, the brazen serpent, the dividing Jordan, and the shouting down of Jericho, the sun and moon standing still until Joshua ended his battle. So the Jews always demanded miracles. “And the Greeks seek wisdom.” The Greeks had no patience with miracles, but discarded them all as superstition, while they boasted of their intellectual power, and inflated themselves with the chimera of studying out everything, vainly believing they were so wonderfully smart that they could reach everything by the power of their intellect and education
23. “ But we preach Christ having been crucified.” This constituted the entire curriculum of the Pauline gospel message, i. e., the Christhood of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, the Shiloh of prophecy, the Redeemer of Israel, and the Savior of the world. The crucifixion, followed by the resurrection and ascension, constituted the grand salient confirmation of His Christhood, exemplifying and illustrating not only the great fact of the vicarious atonement by which a lost world is redeemed, but the ostensible and momentous experimental reality, confirmatory of the irrefutable conclusion that all who would avail themselves of this wonderful expiatory mercy must follow Jesus in the great salient facts of His experimental Christhood, i. e., to the cross, there to have the sinful Adamic nature in us crucified and destroyed (Romans 6:6), after the similitude of the sinless Adamic nature in our great Prototype. “ To the Jews indeed a stumbling block.” It is a matter of fact that the Jewish church stumbled over the crucifixion of Christ, then and there ejected by Jehovah from the election of grace, and plunging headlong into that awful apostasy which has culminated in infidelity, and even atheism. In a similar manner in all subsequent ages whenever the gospel church has rejected the experimental crucifixion of Adam the first in entire sanctification, which is the work of the Holy Ghost to prepare us for Heaven, in so doing she has grieved Him away (1 Thessalonians 4:8), following Judaism in the awful apostasy, plunging headlong into spiritual darkness, worldliness, rationalism and infidelity. “ And to the Gentiles foolishness.” The great Gentile world at that time was dominated by the Greek philosophy and Roman power. Crucifixion on a cross, being the normal capital punishment throughout the universal Roman Empire, standing precisely in lieu of hanging in America, was the shibboleth of popular odium and disgust. Consequently, the very idea that they were to be saved by an obscure man who had been crucified at Jerusalem, under charges of high treason, impressed them as climacteric folly.
24. “ But to the elect themselves ” [or the very elect], “ both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” This is conclusive, from the fact that God’s truly elect, i. e., those who not only hear the call of the silver trumpet, but gladly and appreciatively respond, nominated as heavenly candidates in regeneration, elected in sanctification (1 Peter 1:2), and crowned in glorification if they do not forfeit spiritual life before they get there are the only people who truly receive and appreciate Christ. To them He becomes “ the power of God and the wisdom of God,” i. e., everything we need in this world and the world to come. “Power” in this passage is dynamite, which blows all sin and devils out of the heart, mind and life, giving us complete and eternal triumph in Christ.
25. “ Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men.” It is a solid matter of fact that this gospel of God, which is an object of universal ridicule among the worldly wise as contemptuous folly, silly and ridiculous burlesque, after all, in point of true wisdom, infinitesimally transcends all the boasted achievements of worldly wisdom from the days of Cain, the inventor of counterfeit religion and atheistic philosophy, down through the sweep of intervening ages, beclouding in total eclipse the magical lore of Egypt, the boasted wisdom of Oriental Magi, the metaphysical lore of Greece and the lofty dictations of didactic Rome. “ And the weakness of God is stronger than men.” The Christian religion in all ages has been denominated mental weakness. The worldly churches with their boasted college culture, and the mighty eloquence of the modern pulpit, join in with a besotted world in the relegation of true Holy Ghost religion to the uncultured rabble and the illiterate lay preachers, thus turning away from the true life and power of vital Christianity, as manifested in the present Holiness Movement, with contempt and disgust, since they are too intellectual, refined and cultured to condescend to seek and appreciate a shouting experience down in the straw or the sawdust of a holiness camp meeting. Amid all their ridicule and contumely it is a demonstrated fact that the illiterate sanctified people, in contrast of true wisdom, i. e., a knowledge of God, the Bible and experimental salvation, have in all ages thrown a cloud of total eclipse over all the lofty pretensions of proud churchism and cultured clergy, as well as the boasted assumptions of infidelity and atheism.
26. “ For behold your calling, brethren, because not many wise after the flesh.” Jesus said, “The poor have the gospel preached unto them.” When the prophets and teachers at Antioch, responsive to the call of the Holy Ghost, sent out Barnabas and Paul to evangelize the heathen world, they laid but one embargo on them, and that was “to remember the poor,” which Paul certifies that “they were always diligent to perform.” The Lord’s people have always been among the lowly of this world, and doubtless always will be. During this dark age of Satan’s reign (2 Corinthians 4:4), the rich possess this world, and are so well satisfied with it that it is a miracle of grace for one of them to seek the world to come. As the poor have neither possessions nor emoluments to wed them to this world, they are the people who hail the gospel as a feast, rally under the banner of King Jesus, shout the battle cry, and aspire to a home in Heaven, which they never were able to possess on earth. “Not many influential.” It is a significant fact that the influential people in State and Church, as a rule, are not the custodians of the Heavenly treasury, but the contemners of perfect humility, radical unworldliness, intrinsic holiness, and a meek and unpretentious life, such as Jesus lived. When the Holiness Movement becomes “influential,” like Samson, she has left her locks of spiritual power in the lap of the world’s Delilah, and taken the fatal plunge into spiritual darkness, hopelessly gone in the track of fallen Protestantism, Romanism and Judaism. “Not many well born.” To find a European nobleman, an Asiatic nabob, or an American millionaire truly devout, humble, holy, meek and lowly, like the Man of Galilee, would create a sensation in popular journalism like the discovery of a planet.
27. “ But God elected out the foolish things of the world that he may confound the wise.” We see this Scripture verified in our Savior’s apostles, “unlearned and ignorant men” (Acts 4:13). He could equally conveniently have put His hand on the champions of Rabbinical and Grecian lore. Why did He select the heralds of salvation from the illiterate and uninfluential rabble? He wanted blank paper on which to write the message of salvation. The learned clergy would have been under great temptation to mix their human dogmata with the pure message of gospel grace, and thus adulterate it. Again, the popular mind would intuitively attribute the power to the gifted and cultured dispenser of the gospel benefactions, and fail to see the real Divinity in the plan of salvation. Hence Divine wisdom has in all ages utilized the elements regarded as “foolish” in worldly estimation to bear the message of redeeming grace and dying love to earth’s perishing millions. “ And the weak things of the world God elected out that he may confound the strong.” When a church becomes strong numerically, financially and influentially, God lets her slide away. He has no more use for her. The Holy Ghost retreats away and leaves her to enjoy her worldly power and glory. You must remember that the Holy Ghost is God in the Church. What an awful evacuation of the Protestant churches by the Holy Ghost in the last twenty years. “He that rejecteth sanctification rejecteth not man but God, who giveth unto you his Holy Spirit.” God gives His Holy Spirit to all His people to sanctify them. When they reject the work, in so doing they reject the worker, and fall into the hands of Satan, who then delights to play off on them, robed as an angel of light, passing himself for God, inflating them with wonderful enthusiasm in church work, thus employing and comforting them in the absence of the Holy Ghost. The churches are apostatizing fearfully in the trend of human power and worldly influence, and equally rapidly forsaken by the Holy Ghost and given over to the delusions of the devil. Consequently God the Holy Ghost is everywhere raising up an army of blood-washed and fire-baptized evangelists, male and female, from hovels of poverty, retreats of ignorance, slums and jungles of iniquity, and sending them out to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ “with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven,” thus rapidly laying in the shade the cultured clergy, who depend on their intellect and education, instead of the omnipotent Galilean.
28. “ And the base-born of the world, and those who are despised, God elected out.” This is signally verified this day in many of God’s most efficient soul savers. We are informed that the great George Whitfield belonged to this class, first appearing a little ragged shoeblack serving the students of Oxford University. Incidentally recognizing the wonderful brilliancy of his mental acumen and paradoxical susceptibility of learning, the students taught him his letters and gave him his first start in literature by way of sheer amusement, astounded at the wonderful quickness and perspicacity with which he would catch up and retain every little item they taught him. When preaching at Lowell, Mass., a few days ago I learned that the dust of this wonderful saint rests in the cemetery of a country church at the mouth of the Merrimac River. Oh, what a mighty man was George Whitfield in his day! unparalleled since the apostolic age. It was nothing uncommon for fifty thousand people to gather, not in a building, as England had none sufficiently capacious, but in an open field, while this champion orator, standing on a scaffold in the center, held them spellbound two solid hours, penitential tears coursing down their cheeks like rivers. He crossed the Atlantic seventeen times, using the English-speaking world in both hemispheres as his field of labor. We cite him and could give others innumerable, literally illustrative of this Scripture. “ Things which are not ” ( i. e., nobodies), “in order that he may confound the things which are” ( i. e., the somebodies). Therefore, if you are actually no account and nobody, look out, you are on shouting ground; you are the one whom God delights to use. You are in the most available and auspicious environments. Hence look out for the hand of the Almighty to rest on you, His mighty providence pick you up, and His grace transform you into a world’s wonder. I could write a volume giving brief notices of personal verifications of this Scripture. Revelation Stephen Merritt is accosted by a beggar in New York City asking him for a contribution. The man of God, flooded with the Holy Spirit, at once interviews him in the interest of his soul. The beggar responds: “I am the most unfortunate man you ever saw, just out of eleven years service in the Sing Sing Penitentiary; meanwhile all of my old chums and acquaintances have gotten away, so I am here alone without a friend on the face of the earth; have walked the city two days and nights hunting work in vain, and am starving.” “Oh,” says the man of God, “I am glad I met you. You are actually in the best fix of any man I ever saw. You are nobody, and nothing but a bundle of meanness and shame, having nothing on the face of the earth, no hope for time nor eternity; so you are in the best fix of any man I ever saw, for you are the very man God wants to bless, lift up and honor, thus verifying His glorious redeeming grace, magnifying His mercy and exalting His great name in the earth.” With this introduction the conversation continues, the beggar stating that he had never heard anything about religion or salvation in all his life, born at the bottom of slumdom, brought up in thievery, never having earned an honest dollar; and all the time in the penitentiary, when a Catholic priest came round, playing Protestant, and when the preachers called on him playing Catholic, so he had dodged between them and never in all his life been interviewed in the interest of his soul. Brother Merritt was then in his glory. Oh! how he preached Jesus to him the sinner’s Friend and the sinners Savior. Down on his knees the preacher prays, the beggar prays, both forgetting the contribution solicited. Brother Merritt goes on his way leaving the beggar in awful agony, like wrestling Jacob, crying to God. As the night watchers tread on their still and dreary march, the bottom of Heaven drops out, flooding his soul with grace and glory. He leaps and runs over the city till day dawns, and, seeing a man coming out to his work, he is again reminded of hunting a job. Therefore, accosting the man: “Ho! ho! don’t you want to hire a hand?” “Where is your recommendation?” “I have none.”
“Then I won’t take you.” “I was eleven years ” “Ho! ho! if you have followed any business eleven years, I will take you in.” So the beggar gets a good job, now full of religion and shouting happy; his new boss turning out to be a good Christian, they are mutually delighted. Weeks and months go by. They labor, talk and pray together, and fall much in love, like David and Jonathan. Ere long the beggar ventures to explain what he meant by the eleven years, that he was going to say eleven years in the penitentiary.
“Oh,” says the man, “the Holy Ghost moved me that moment to stop you so that you could get a job; for if I had known that you were just out of eleven years in the penitentiary, I would not have touched you with a forty-foot pole; but now I want you to stay with me eleven years.”
29. “ In order that no flesh may boast before God.” God is jealous of His power, grace and glory, and is certain never to let the devil have it. Men in all ages, manipulated by Satan through human learning, native genius, noble birth, respectability, and money power, have done their utmost to usurp and appropriate the Church of God. They have girdled the globe with their mighty ecclesiasticisms, and resorted to every conceivable stratagem to take the Church of God and run it their own way. They have succeeded to a charm in their own estimation; but in every instance, just about the time of their triumph, God the Holy Ghost retreats away and leaves them the poor old ecclesiastical corpse, now an awful dead expense on their hands, as they have to keep it alive by electricity, and pour out a bushel of money for aromatics to keep down the intolerable fetid effluvia, and expend a princely fortune on plug hats, pigeon-tail coats, silk dresses, flowers, feathers, toothpick shoes, donkey socials, grab-bags, broom drills, ice-cream suppers, strawberry festivals, and Satanic fandangos ad captandum vulgus. Meanwhile they are thus sweeping along amid climacteric success in their own estimation; they are actually laughing-stocks for devils in Hell, who, as in the case of Dives, delight to lash them with firebrands while their carnal pastor is delivering over their coffins his eloquent and complimentary sermon, preaching them up to Heaven while devils in Hell are kicking them for footballs around the black walls of the pandemonium. While the devil thus girdles the globe with his fallen churches, passes himself for God and sweeps the proud, rich devotees into Hell in platoons, God the Holy Ghost, having quietly retreated away from the great, popular churches, is still carrying on His work among the meek and lowly, “the foolish,” “the weak,” “the base-born,” “the despised,” and the “nobodies.” Hallelujah!
30. “ But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God was made unto us wisdom and justification and sanctification and redemption.” This wonderful climacteric sentence would be condemned by an English critic as bad grammar. Why? Too many conjunctions. It is a figure of speech peculiar to the Greek language called polysyndeton, which means many conjunctions. Why does the Holy Ghost in this sentence use this polysyndeton? Rest assured He makes no mistakes. The Greek Testament abounds in what an English critic would call grammatical error, from the simple fact that the English language sacrifices precision for elegance, which is never done in the inspired Scriptures, where all other considerations succumb to the grand predominating interest of truth. In this beautiful, wonderful and comprehensive verse the Holy Ghost has effectually fortified His truth against some very fatal heresies, which are this day endeavoring to undermine it. This polysyndeton effectually and eternally annihilates the Zinzendorf heresy that you get it all in conversion, by separately and distinctly specifying the different works of grace, laying them down in their consecutive order. “Wisdom” is here used in its general sense, and means conviction, contrastively with the egregious folly exhibited by the wicked walking straight into Hell. The highest behest of true wisdom is to keep out of danger. We all commend George Washington for his long, frequent, and (in the estimation of his foolish critics) disgraceful retreats before the British army, till the arrival of General Lafayette, in command of the French army, when he fought heroically and achieved American independence, which in the finale was due more to his judicious retreats than chivalric courage. Conviction is superinduced by preaching the Sinai gospel till the wicked get their eyes open, see Hell coming to meet them, and the devil dragging them in, and actually feel a prelude of Hell torment ( <19B603>Psalms 116:3). The reason why the churches are filled up with unsaved people is because they have never had a genuine gospel conviction, which is the foundation of every true work of grace, and without which conversion is impossible. The fact that we have a copulative conjunction here coming between wisdom and righteousness is demonstrative proof that they represent separate and distinct works of grace, i. e., conviction and justification, wrought by the Holy Ghost. Righteousness here, which is the true justification, is none other than the righteousness of God in Christ, which is imputed to the sinner when in the profound realization of his utterly ruined condition and his meekness for Hell fire he casts himself in utter desperation on the mercy of God in Christ. Then the loving Father, for Christ’s sake alone, counts him righteous, i. e., imputing to him the righteousness of Christ. Oh! what a wonderful Christ we have! He has three righteousnesses one peculiar to His Divinity, and essential to it, which He will ever retain and never impart to you or to me; another peculiar to His humanity, and essential to it, which He will ever retain and never impart to you or to me. Besides, He has a third righteousness arising from His perfect obedience to the Divine law, actively keeping it unbroken forever, and passively dying for it, thus perfectly by His expiatory atonement forever satisfying the violated law in our behalf. This third righteousness, which is neither essential to His Divinity nor humanity, He procured not for Himself, because He did not need it, but for us, who without it are eternally undone. This is the righteousness which the Father freely imputes to every truly penitent sinner who in utter desperation and self-abandonment, by simple faith, letting go every other hope, casts himself on the mercy of God in Christ, felicitously realizing his happy soul caught and safe in the arms of Jesus. While all sinners are full of sin, it is equally true that all Christians are sinful ( i. e., having inward tendencies to sin) until they are sanctified wholly. This is admitted by all churches, Papist and Protestant, the only question of controversy being the time and condition of receiving this complete and final expurgation of sinful proclivities out of the heart, Popery locating it in purgatory, hyper- Calvinism in death, and the Word of God now, through faith. The copulative conjunction properly translated, and here intervening between righteousness, i. e., justification and sanctification, is unanswerable proof that they are separate and distinct works of grace; e. g., you say husband “and” wife, meaning two distinct persons; horse “and” buggy, meaning not the same but different things; water “and” fire produce steam, meaning two distinct elements, both indispensable in the manufacture of steam. Here the Holy Ghost says “righteousness and sanctification,” the copulative conjunction distinctly revealing two separate works of grace. How we grieve the Holy Ghost, who made this revelation, when we mix up conversion and sanctification in the same work of grace, which always ultimates in the eclipse of the latter. It is the testimony of Christendom that people having been truly born of God, and enjoying the true witness of the Spirit to their adoption, ever and anon realize an inward conflict, “the flesh warring against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh,” so that they may not do the things which they wish (Galatians 6:17). It is a matter equally incontestably attested by myriads of witnesses, living and dead, that these sinward tendencies have been removed and perfect spiritual liberty enjoyed long before life’s end. About dinner time you speak to your chum, “Is it not time the bell would ring for dinner?” The tavern keeper overhearing you, responds, “Certainly; we always have dinner in this hotel, but do you not know that you ate your dinner along with your breakfast?” You settle with that tavern keeper and leave him at once, knowing that he has concocted a stratagem to cheat you out of your dinner. Equally inconsistent, thousands of preachers this day respond to the people, hungry for sanctification, sick of the inward conflict, and longing for full redemption, “Certainly, beloved; we believe and preach sanctification; that is all right, rest assured; but do you not know that you got sanctified when you were converted?” Good Lord, give you all a lot of the colored preacher’s “sanctifigumption” Then you will know that all this is a trick of the devil through the preacher (whom he has deceived) to cheat you out of your sanctification, which is to be convicted for, sought after, found, witnessed to, and enjoyed as a glorious work of grace, subsequent to and distinct from your conversion. This verse is really invaluable as a schedule of the different works of grace wrought by the Holy Ghost in the plan of salvation, severally and distinctly presented in their consecutive order, hence invaluable as a theological compendium. “Redemption” is also connected with the preceding link in this golden chain by the copulative conjunction “and.” Hence we see it is another separate and distinct work wrought by the Holy Ghost. This redemption means the glorification of humanity, soul, mind and body. There are two methods by which the body enters the glorified state, i. e., translation, which was evidently the Edenic economy, and will be the prerogative of all the members of the Bridehood in the Rapture, and I know again become prominent during the Millennial ages. The body also will be glorified in the resurrection. The mind enters the glorified state when the soul leaves the body in the physical death, or goes with the body the nigh way of translation. Much Scripture on perfection, ordinarily applied to the perfection of grace in this life, really appertains to the perfection of glory in the “age to come” (Hebrews 6:5). Justification saves us from guilt, sanctification from depravity, and glorification from infirmity. Multitudes of our unsanctified critics put sanctification where the Bible puts glorification, thus holding the professors of sanctification responsible for the standard of angelic or glorified perfection, which precludes all infirmities, and is not applicable to any person invested in mortal flesh, and which none of us will ever be competent to verify till this mortal puts on immortality. Wesley well says, “While in these bodies we can only think, speak and act through organs of clay.” Hence we are all full of infirmities, liable to a thousand mistakes, doing wrong, aiming to do right. We are constantly incident to mistakes through error of judgment, memory and failure of bodily organs generally. When our Savior was interviewed in reference to the woman who survived her seventh husband, “Whose wife shall she be in the resurrection?” He responded, “There will neither be marrying nor giving in marriage in that day, but all will be as the angels of God.” The Greek translated “as the angels,” is isoi aggelol. Isoi means “like,” or “equal.” Hence our Savior said that we shall be like the angels and equal to the angels in the resurrection. Hence we see that the glorified state confers angelic perfection, which is entirely different from Christian perfection. In the latter, infirmities abound in the former, they disappear altogether.
Absolute perfection belongs to God only; angelic perfection to the angels and glorified humanity in Heaven, while Christian perfection, free from sin, with Christ crowned in the heart and life, still abounds in infirmities which are not sin, but simply the effects of sin. The small-pox is cured so that your health is perfect; yet you are very ugly, because the scars disfigure you all over your body. The sanctified soul is glorified by the Holy Ghost simultaneously with the evacuation of the body. The countenances of departed saints lying in their coffins frequently shine with supernatural radiance, and reflect an unearthly beauty. It is the splendor of the glorified soul reflected back in the vacated tenement simultaneously with its triumphant exit; like the setting sun anon bespangling the Oriental skies with myriad tints and hues, exhibiting the variegated beauties of the rainbow reflected back while retreating through the golden gates of Hesperus.
31. “ In order as has been written: “Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord.” We see from these Scriptures the absolute necessity of letting the Holy Ghost manage the church in every respect, select the preacher, pastor, elder, deacon, receive the members into the church, sanctify them, and conduct all the services. If the members will not freely volunteer in the testimony, prayer and all other work for the salvation of souls and the glory of God, their place is down at the altar, seeking the Divine blessing and equipage. The regime of humanized, formulated, starchy church services is really an insult to the Holy Ghost, grieving Him away and letting them fall into the hands of the devil. I always have to break it all up, when I begin work in a church, before we can have the Holy Ghost come on the people and start a revival.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17