Grace Notes 2024-02-07

Wednesday, February 7th 2024

For those of us who have been involved in the study of 1 Corinthians we have learned that excessive pride is a leading problem in the Corinthian congregation. This congregation in one of the larger cities in the Roman Empire was a gifted congregation. They were said to be “enriched in all speech all knowledge”, but they were failing to recognize the danger that knowledge often “puffs up”, as opposed to love which “builds up”.

That a number of people were “puffed up” or overinflated (what a wonderful description of arrogance) resulted in lots of unhealthy comparisons, in divisiveness, in various factions and cliques forming, and in being dismissive of others deemed less gifted and knowledgeable.

I like three rhetorical questions the Apostle Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 4:7 when he writes, “For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” They are worth our consideration.

First, Paul asks, “Who sees anything differing in you?” What an indictment if others don’t see any difference in baptized believers who have been given a new birth, bequeathed the Holy Spirit, given “the mind of Christ” (1Co 2:16), and are led by God’s Word. Certainly, our thinking and actions should not be governed by the ways of the world!

Second, the Apostle asks, “What do you have that you did not receive?” In confessing God as the Maker of heaven and earth, we can’t possibly believe that we have given ourselves our body and soul, eyes, ears, all our members, our reason, and all our senses! If we know we have not, then why do we act like we have?

And third, Paul asks, “If you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” Good question. Prayer, praise, and thanksgiving would seem to be a better responses than boasting! Humility is good for the Body of Christ…


Since You Asked…

Do Lutherans Promote Private Confession?

“Confession has not been abolished by the preachers on our side. … The people are carefully instructed concerning the consolation of the Word of absolution (forgiveness) so that they may esteem it as a great and precious thing. It is not the voice of the man who speaks it, but it is the Word of God, who forgives sin, for it is spoken in God’s stead and by God’s command. …it is necessary for terrified consciences” (Augsburg Confession, XXV).

Private confession has two parts: First that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the Pastor as from God himself.

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