Plain Speech

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Plain Speech

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

In June of 1982, at the age of 19, I joined a Christian Musical Drama team. I was not particularly “sold out for Christ” at that time, but I was a Christ follower and loved music. We spent twelve weeks in the summer studying and learning programs. We studied music theory, voice, and drama, but also things like Bible, biblical fasting, prayer, and soul-winning. During summer training, God started tugging on my heart. Then, while we were on the road, traveling all over the country and ministering in churches, schools, malls, and even prisons, I gave into God’s call and started pursuing full-time ministry.

I spent a total of 3 years with this group doing full-time ministry. At the end of year one, I met Michelle, and we were married about 17 months later. We stayed with the group the rest of the year after we were married, then that spring the group disbanded, and we moved on.

For the next couple of years, we served in churches in central Florida as youth and music minister, but the words of the pastor I grew up under kept ringing in my ears. Pastor Humphries always said, “A call to serve is always a call to prepare.” Well, I had been spending all my extra time studying the Word, but felt I needed to go to Bible School. I found a job near a Bible College in Northern Florida, and we moved up there. When we arrived in town, we checked into a hotel with our 1-year old son, Joshua, and I went to the place where I was supposed to start working. When I got there, the manager apologized and said the person I was supposed to replace decided not to quit, so he didn’t have an opening for me. We stayed in town until we ran out of money, then moved to Indiana to stay with Michelle’s parents until I found a job. So, God shut those doors.

I tried several more times over the years to go to school, but God kept closing those doors, so I finally realized He didn’t want me to go to Bible school. My pastor was right, a call to serve is always a call to prepare, but that doesn’t have to involve some lofty diploma. I have been, and still am, preparing my whole life. Michelle and I read through the Bible every 90 days. I’m dyslexic, so I use an app called YouVersion, that reads it to me. We also do in-depth studies and pray over them that God will open our eyes to see what He is saying. Reading it in 90 days helps get the context of the entire Bible so we can study it literally.

In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Paul says, When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.” You see, Paul did have those lofty degrees. He was a Pharisee, but what does he say about that? I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.” Philippians 3:5-9a. So, Paul counts the education he received from men as garbage, refuse, dung! It is like the things you throw to the dogs.

So, why does he think so lowly of his education? Look back at 1 Corinthians 2. He says that he came to them with plane speech because he didn’t want to impress them with his wisdom. Paul consciously decided to forget everything he had ever learned except Jesus Christ and His crucifixion. He came to the Corinthian church weak and trembling, with plane speech. He didn’t want them to look at him and think how great he is; he wanted them to look at him and see Christ. He said he relied on the Holy Spirit, not his own clever speech, and he did this so they would only trust in the power of God. We see pastors every day trying to impress people with their lofty degrees, their doctorates and such. They try to woo them with their clever speech and humor, but Paul said we need to rely only on the Holy Spirit.

I thank God that he kept me out of Bible College because I probably would have relied on my education and my own wisdom rather than on the Holy Spirit. We talked a little about this last week. I am weak, but He is strong. I am poor, but He is rich. I am powerless, but He is omnipotent, He is All-Powerful!

These Bible schools and seminaries teach what men think the Bible is saying instead of teaching men to study the Bible literally and keeping it in the context of the whole Bible. This type of education is where all the division comes from in the Body of Christ. The Baptists say the Pentecostals are wrong and the Pentecostals say the Methodists are wrong. And, why do they say this? Because that’s what men have taught them. I have said it many times before, but it bears repeating; the only doctrine that should divide us is that of Jesus Christ and Him crucified! Literally nothing else matters!

Boast in the Lord

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Boast in The Lord

1 Corinthians 1:30-31

I used to work with a guy named Rob. I think we have all worked with a Rob or two in our lives. You know this guy, completely full of himself, confident that he is the best thing since sliced bread, and sure that the company could never run without him. Almost daily, Rob would bestow upon me the legends of his greatness and the great things he had accomplished for the company. Yes, Rob was a legend in his own mind. I often wondered how Rob was able to accomplish all this greatness since all I ever saw him do was sit at his desk and shop on eBay, but I didn’t dare say anything since he was my direct supervisor and regularly reminded me of that. Well, eight months later, after he had worked for two years with the company, he put in his notice and left. As he was leaving, he told me that he never stays with a company more than two years, I think that’s about how long it takes them to realize that he is full of hot air.

After Rob left, I was promoted into his position as General Manager. Right away I started realizing that all those great things Rob had said he did were actually executed by others, many of them before he even worked there, he just took the credit for them all. There were many things wrong with the physical building that he said couldn’t be corrected. But once our team realized they could do what it took, within reason, and that their opinion was valued, we were able to fix them all as a team.

We all know people like Rob, and we think, how can a person take credit for what others have accomplished, but don’t we, on occasion, do this with God? I would never ask God for the gift of healing because so many men and women who I believe God gave that gift to eventually started making it about themselves. I love something I heard at Bethel Church in Redding, California recently. One of the pastors said, “Healing is not about the anointed man of God, it’s about the anointed God of man.” Because of so many people who have made the spiritual gift of healing about them, many churches have pushed the Holy Spirit out of their gatherings. I grew up in a church like this. The Holy Spirit was talked about in vague terms, but you don’t dare mention His gifts.

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 1:30-31, 30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.’” Did you see that? God made Christ wisdom itself for our benefit. So, what exactly does Christ do for us? First, and most importantly, He makes us right with God. You see; the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the only thing that can make us right with God. No matter what anyone tells you, you can not be good enough to be made right with God. The Bible says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12. It doesn’t matter how good you are, or how much money you have given for starving children or aids, you are a sinner just by being born. Look at Psalm 51:5, “For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.” And, Romans 3:23, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” And, Jeremiah 17:9, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”

So, we can’t be good enough, but the beautiful thing is that we don’t have to. What does it say in Romans 6:23? “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” So, what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 1:30 is that thanks to Christ, we don’t have to try to get right with God. What else did Christ do for us? He made us PURE, He made us HOLY, and He made us FREE!!! It doesn’t get any better than that! Let’s look at those three words.

Pure: The Greek word in this verse translated as pure is the word, ἁγιασμός hagiasmós, hag-ee-as-mos; which means; purity, holiness, and sanctification. The blood of Christ washes us whiter than snow, look at Isaiah 1:18, “’Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.’”

Holy: the Greek word used here actually means equity, justification, and righteousness. In Christ, we are righteous, we are justified, and we are Holy, set apart. John 17:17 says, “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.” The word of Christ makes us holy.

Free: This word is used for a ransom that is paid in full, it also means deliverance and redemption. In Christ, our ransom has been paid in full. We are no longer a slave to sin…we are free! 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Also, in John 8:36 it says, “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” Christ has truly set us free from the bondage of sin, but, as with all freedom, this freedom came with a price, the shed blood of Jesus. Because of this great price we can’t take our freedom lightly, we are indebted to Christ and must live the rest of our lives as such. But we can never use our freedom as an excuse to sin, “For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.” 1 Peter 2:16.

Paul ends this chapter by saying, “Therefore, as the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:31. Paul drives this point home through this chapter. The entire introduction of his letter comes down to this point, God is God, and we are not! We can’t brag about anything, because everything we have comes from God, through Christ!

Putting the Strong to Shame

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Putting the Strong to Shame

1 Corinthians 1:26-29

Have you ever watched ants? No, not the movie, the actual insects. I know, that’s a strange question, but have you? We all know they can lift, what is it, like ten times their weight? But have you ever found yourself just sitting there watching them? Michelle and I go hiking every week, and on one of our hikes, after reaching the end of a long out and back trail, we decided to sit down and eat something before we headed back. This hike was more than five miles each way, a total of almost eleven miles. We were at the top of the Ice House Saddleback on Mt. Baldy here in Southern California and while we were sitting there on the ground looking at the spectacular view, some ants caught my eye. There was this seemingly endless line of little red ants walking along this old dead fallen log, no they weren’t carrying the log, but many of them were carrying things that were huge in comparison to their tiny size.

That would be like me carrying a car on my back. Now, I was carrying my backpack that, by this point felt like a car, but we could never do what these little ants did. I just sat there amazed at their strength.

Well, that’s the way that God works in us. He takes the weakest, wimpiest, strangest, oddest humans He can find and uses us in spite of our inabilities. Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. Paul starts in verse 26 by reminding us, “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.” Think about the believers you know who are truly sold out for and used by Christ. How many of them were wise, or powerful, or wealthy in the eyes of the world when God called them? Probably not many, right? I could go on all day about people I know like this, but I don’t have to go any further than my mirror. I gave my life to Christ at the tender age of 5. I spent my life studying and memorizing His word. I knew He wanted to use me to minister for Him but had no idea how. I tried on several occasions to go to Bible school, but God shut those doors every time, so I went on to get a degree in biology. Instead of having me spend tens of thousands of dollars getting a piece of paper from some humans saying that I know the Bible the way they see it, God showed me years ago that the Bible cannot be interpreted. You see, the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, verbally inspired word of God, so if we put our errant, fallible interpretation on it, it is no longer perfect. God showed me that we must study His word by taking it literally and keeping if in the context of the entire Bible. The thing about doing this is that it takes a lot of work, but if you love God’s word, then it isn’t work. Michelle and I try to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation every 90 days. Doing this gives a lot of perspective and context for our studies.

There is an app for your smartphone called YouVersion that will read it to you in whatever translation you want, so I try to switch it up every time. Currently, I am reading it in the NASB, the New American Standard translation. The next thing I do is, when studying a passage or topic, I don’t just read that chapter, I start by reading the whole book. Next, I look up keywords in the original language. You don’t have to be a Greek and Hebrew scholar to do this; I use BlueLetterBible. With this app or website, you can go to the original language translations, look at the Strong’s Concordance definition, and read commentaries on it. I will warn though, commentaries can help, but they are what that man thinks it is saying, so always test what they are saying with scripture. For that matter, test what I am saying to scripture.

Paul goes on to say in verse 27, “Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a family I know who most people would write off as being very backward but are truly genius and giants in God’s kingdom. You see, God loves to use those of us who the world sees as common to confound the wise. If you take a look at my twitter page, @tapearsonwriter, you’ll see that my bio says, “A Christ Follower. Author-fiction, non, screenwriter, blogger, & podcaster. Confounding the wise. 1 Cor 1:26-29” I know that I am not wise in the world’s eyes. I don’t have some lofty degree from men, and I am dyslexic but I have a passion for my God and want to see his word proclaimed. I love to study His word and worship Him in spirit and truth, and I believe He uses me because of that, and in spite of myself.

I love what He says in verse 28, “God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.” So, it’s not just the things the world sees as foolish or powerless, He also uses the things that the world counts as nothing, those things they see as useless and detestable, to bring them to nothing.

So, here’s the 100,000-dollar question. Why does God do this? Why does He take someone like me and probably many of you reading this, to confound the wise and powerful of this world? The answer is simple, and Paul tells us in verse 29 where he says, “As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” If I am not wise, but God imparts wisdom on me if I am powerless and God makes me powerful if I am thought of as nothing by this world and God uses me to bring the world to nothing, then how could I ever boast about that.

Take a look at the miracles done by Christ’s disciples in the New Testament. First, these guys weren’t anything special they were fishermen who were thought of as poor by the world, common people, and a tax collector who was despised by the world, and yet God used them to demonstrate His power, and as a result of those demonstrations, many came to Christ. Jesus told us in John 14:12-14, 12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” Because Christ has given us the Holy Spirit, we can do the same works Jesus did and even greater, but it’s not through our power. Always remember what John the Baptizer said, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30.

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