1 Corinthians – Belief and Behavior
The whole world is mournfully celebrating the passing of Billy Graham from life here to life with Jesus. We know where he went because we knew how close to God he was by the fruits of his life. Many quotes have been popping up in our social media. We just can’t get enough because of the respect we all had for this man. Even those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus respect Billy Graham.
I remember as a child spending nights and days on my grandparents farm when everything stopped, all work ceased, to sit in front of the black and white TV to watch Billy Graham speak to thousands in his crusades. Because of my grandparents and parents, I developed a high respect for him, too.
Years would pass. As school teachers we felt the call of God later in life to go into full time ministry but knew little about the responsibility that scared us to death. As poor as we were at that time, we were given a full scholarship to attend a Billy Graham School of Evangelism for a week. We jumped at the opportunity! This was life changing and so timely in our walk with God.
We arrived in North Carolina and were instantly loved, accepted and encouraged like no others had done before because they knew what we were going through and had been through it themselves. We were taught that God has all the answers. Stay focused and close to Him. Commune with Him daily, not just to study for the next sermon but for the spiritual health of our very souls. HE will bring out HIS best in you. Let God.
We were taught by humble people who were still in the trenches preaching Jesus, plain and simple, who He is and then what He did–Jesus crucified, just as Paul is telling the Corinthians in our next passage. In a Spirit of love, we were also taught how to stay true to what we have been given to do. Integrity is key. On the last evening at this event, Billy Graham came to encourage us as well. As an evangelist who comes in for a period of time and leaves, he knew we had the harder work of helping people grow in Christ each week without ceasing. He prayed for us. I will never forget his encouragement and the help from others. We laughed, cried and felt like we knew each other well by the end of the week.
As I, too, mourn and celebrate the passing of one of the most trusted men of God in our world. I spent time listening again to some of his sermons through the decades that was put together by the Billy Graham organization. His sermons were simple and clear. He knew his audience from people who have sat in church all their lives to those who have never heard. But more importantly, he knew Jesus with a direct relationship with God. His eyes reflected his Father’s eyes as he spoke the words of the Father.
As Paul writes about himself as a preacher, “…nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else”, I am reminded of Billy Graham, his life, his calling and his relationship to our Creator. He knew his power came from God.
Read the next passage where Paul is reminding the Corinthian church where our true power comes from. And be encouraged…
1 Corinthians 2, The Message
1-2 You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.
3-5 I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.
6-10 We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. That’s why we have this Scripture text:
No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—
What God has arranged for those who love him.
But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.
10-13 The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God—except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it. God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.
14-16 The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics. Isaiah’s question, “Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?” has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit.
What do we learn?
–Preach Jesus–Crucified for our sin.
–Follow Jesus–Example for life to the full.
–Love God. Love others like God loves us.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for grandparents and parents who set the example for me by their lives lived well because of their relationships with You. Thank you for the life of Billy Graham whom you have received into the place prepared for him by you! Thank you for other mentors in our lives who have nurtured us. Help us help others like you provided for us. May we always preach You–Crucified for our sin, dear Jesus. Transform me. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, Amen