The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: 1 Corinthians: Discern the Difference Between Man's Knowledge and God's Wisdom

The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: 1 Corinthians: Discern the Difference Between Man's Knowledge and God's Wisdom

by Warren W. Wiersbe


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781434703767
Publisher: David C Cook
Publication date: 03/01/2012
Series: Wiersbe Bible Study Series
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the Back to the Bible radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books, including the popular “BE” series of Bible commentaries, which has sold more than four million copies. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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Discern the Difference between Man's Knowledge and God's Wisdom

By Warren W. Wiersbe

David C. Cook

Copyright © 2012 Warren W. Wiersbe
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0491-7


Lesson 1

Calling and Message (1 CORINTHIANS 1—2)

Before you begin ...

• Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

• Read 1 Corinthians 1—2. This lesson references chapters 1 and 2 in Be Wise. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.

Getting Started

From the Commentary

"Jesus, yes! The church, no!" This slogan was popular among young people in the '60s. They certainly could have used it with sincerity in Corinth back in AD 56, because the local church there was in serious trouble. Sad to say, the problems did not stay within the church family; they were known by the unbelievers outside the church.

To begin with, the church at Corinth was a defiled church. Some of its members were guilty of sexual immorality; others got drunk; still others were using the grace of God to excuse worldly living. It was also a divided church, with at least four different groups competing for leadership (1 Cor. 1:12). This meant it was a disgraced church. Instead of glorifying God, it was hindering the progress of the gospel.

Be Wise, page 19

1. What caused the Corinthian church to fall into such disarray? What clues can we gather about this from the first part of Paul's letter? What are some of the typical root problems that cause a church to become "defiled"?

More to Consider: Read Romans 1:18–32. Paul wrote the Roman epistle while in Corinth. What does this passage reveal about the Corinthian church?

2. Choose one verse or phrase from 1 Corinthians 1—2 that stands out to you. This could be something you're intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.

Going Deeper

From the Commentary

Paul first attacked the serious problem of defilement in the church, yet he said nothing about the problem itself. Instead, he took the positive approach and reminded the believers of their high and holy position in Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 1:1–9, he described the church that God sees; in 1 Corinthians 1:10–31, he described the church that men see. What we are in Jesus Christ positionally ought to be what we practice in daily life, but often we fail.

Be Wise, page 20

3. Review 1 Corinthians 1:1–9. What characteristics did Paul use to describe the church in these verses? According to Paul, what is the church's holy calling?

From the Commentary

Having mentioned the problem of defilement in the church, now Paul turned to the matter of division in the church. Division has always been a problem among God's people, and almost every New Testament epistle deals with this topic or mentions it in one way or another. Even the twelve apostles did not always get along with each other.

In 1 Corinthians 1:13, Paul asked his readers three important questions, and these three questions are the key to this long paragraph.

(1) Is Christ divided (vv. 10–13a)?

(2) Were you baptized in the name of Paul (vv. 13b–17)?

(3) Was Paul crucified for you (vv. 18–25)?

Be Wise, pages 22–24

4. Why did Paul ask these questions in 1 Corinthians 1:10–25? What do the answers reveal about the church? What are some of the causes of division in the church today?

From the Commentary

The Corinthians had a tendency to be "puffed up" with pride (1 Cor. 4:6, 18–19; 5:2). But the gospel of God's grace leaves no room for personal boasting. God is not impressed with our looks, our social position, our achievements, our natural heritage, or our financial status. Note that Paul wrote many, not any. In the New Testament, we do meet some believers with "high social standing," but there are not many of them. The description Paul gave of the converts was certainly not a flattering one (1 Cor. 6:9–11).

Be Wise, page 27

5. Review 1 Corinthians 1:26–31. What did Paul mean when he wrote, "God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise"? What are the "weak" and "lowly" things he referred to? What does it look like to boast in the Lord?

From Today's World

Pride has always been an issue in the church, but today it has expanded beyond the walls of the local church into a sometimes-national phenomenon. When leaders in influential churches find success in publishing or blogging or speaking, they become the object of careful scrutiny by those inside and outside the church. With celebrity comes power, and with power comes the potential for abuse of that power.

6. How are the challenges facing churches and their leaders today different from those in the first-century church? How are they similar? What role does pride play in today's challenges? How can a church with a "celebrity status" avoid being puffed up with pride? What role does the congregation have in keeping the leadership humble?

From the Commentary

Paul reminded the Corinthians of his approach (1 Cor. 2:1–2). The opening words, "And I," can be translated "Accordingly," on the basis of 1 Corinthians 1:31—the glory of God. Paul had not come to Corinth to glorify himself or to start a religious "fan club." He had come to glorify God.

The itinerant philosophers and teachers depended on their wisdom and eloquence to gain followers. The city of Corinth was filled with such "spellbinders." Paul did not depend on eloquent speech or clever arguments; he simply declared God's Word in the power of the Spirit. He was an ambassador, not a "Christian salesman."

Had he used spectacular speech and philosophy, Paul would have exalted himself and hidden the very Christ he came to proclaim! God had sent him to preach the gospel "not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect" (1 Cor. 1:17).

Be Wise, page 34

7. How is Paul's approach to the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 2:1–5) like or unlike the way pastors deliver their messages today? Why is it so tempting to elevate oneself instead of Christ when preaching or speaking? How did Paul counter this?

From the Commentary

Salvation was purchased by the Son, but it was planned by the Father. Those who talk about "the simple gospel" are both right and wrong. Yes, the message of the gospel is simple enough for an illiterate pagan to understand, believe, and be saved. But it is also so profound that the most brilliant theologian cannot fathom its depths.

There is a "wisdom of God" in the gospel that challenges the keenest intellect. However, this wisdom is not for the masses of lost sinners, nor is it for the immature believers. It is for the mature believers who are growing in their understanding of the Word of God. (The word perfect in 1 Corinthians 2:6 means "mature." See 1 Cor. 3:1–4.)

Be Wise, pages 36–37

8. What attitudes or beliefs might Paul have been responding to in 1 Corinthians 2:6–9? (See also Acts 18:24–28.) Why did he address the issue of wisdom in this passage? What sort of wisdom might the church have been following? Name some examples of secular wisdom today that goes against God's wisdom.

More to Consider: How might Paul have been referring to the spiritual and demonic "rulers of this present age"? (See John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Rom. 8:38; Col. 2:15; Eph. 6:12.)

From the Commentary

First Corinthians 2:9 is often used at funerals and applied to heaven, but the basic application is to the Christian's life today. The next verse makes it clear that God is revealing these things to us here and now.

This verse is a quotation (with adaptation) from Isaiah 64:4. The immediate context relates it to Israel in captivity, awaiting God's deliverance. The nation had sinned and had been sent to Babylon for chastening. They cried out to God that He would come down to deliver them, and He did answer their prayer after seventy years of their exile. God had plans for His people, and they did not have to be afraid (Jer. 29:11).

Be Wise, page 39

9. How did Paul apply the principle in 1 Corinthians 2:9 to the church? Why is this an important message to a church that's in disarray? How is it applicable to today's church?

From the Commentary

Paul pointed out four important ministries of the Holy Spirit of God.

(1) The Spirit indwells believers (1 Cor. 2:12). The very moment you trusted Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God entered your body and made it His temple (1 Cor. 6:19–20). He baptized you (identified you) into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). He sealed you (Eph. 1:13–14) and will remain with you (John 14:16). He is God's gift to you.

(2) The Spirit searches (1 Cor. 2:10–11). I cannot know what is going on within your personality, but your human spirit within you knows. Neither can I know "the deep things of God" unless somehow I can enter into God's personality. I cannot do that—but by His Spirit, God has entered into my personality. Through the Holy Spirit, each believer becomes a sharer of the very life of God.

(3) The Spirit teaches (1 Cor. 2:13). Jesus promised that the Spirit would teach us (John 14:26) and guide us into truth (John 16:13). But we must note carefully the sequence here: The Spirit taught Paul from the Word, and Paul then taught the believers. The truth of God is found in the Word of God. And it is very important to note that these spiritual truths are given in specific words. In the Bible, we have much more than inspired thoughts; we have inspired words. "For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me" (John 17:8).

(4) The Spirit matures the believer (1 Cor. 2:14–16). The contrast here is between the saved person (called "spiritual" because he is indwelt by the Spirit) and the unsaved person (called "natural" because he does not have the Spirit within). In 1 Corinthians 3:1–4, Paul will introduce a third kind of person, the "carnal man." He is the immature Christian, the one who lives on a childhood level because he will not feed on the Word and grow.

Be Wise, pages 40–43

10. Review 1 Corinthians 2:10–16. Why did Paul focus these verses on the role of the Holy Spirit? What specific problems or challenges does this passage address? What does this passage tell you about Paul's understanding of the Corinthian church? In what ways does today's church face similar challenges?

Looking Inward

Take a moment to reflect on all that you've explored thus far in this study of 1 Corinthians 1—2. Review your notes and answers and think about how each of these things matters in your life today.

Tips for Small Groups: To get the most out of this section, form pairs or trios and have group members take turns answering these questions. Be honest and as open as you can in this discussion, but most of all, be encouraging and supportive of others. Be sensitive to those who are going through particularly difficult times and don't press for people to speak if they're uncomfortable doing so.

11. What is your current perspective on the local church? What do you love about it? What do you not love? Do you feel connected to the church in healthy ways? If so, what are those ways? If not, where is the disconnect?

12. What are some ways you've struggled with pride? What puffs you up? How do you deal with these prideful moments? How do you respond when others are puffed up with pride? What is a Christlike response to others who are prideful?

13. What are the nonbiblical sources of wisdom you refer to? Do you test these against Scripture? What are the risks of trusting wisdom from somewhere other than God?

Going Forward

14. Think of one or two things that you have learned that you'd like to work on in the coming week. Remember that this is all about quality, not quantity. It's better to work on one specific area of life and do it well than to work on many and do poorly (or to be so overwhelmed that you simply don't try).

Do you need to work on your pride or learn to trust God's wisdom? Be specific. Go back through 1 Corinthians 1—2 and put a star next to the phrase or verse that is most encouraging to you. Consider memorizing this verse.

Real-Life Application Ideas: What are the key things your church exists to do (for example, worship God together, care for one another, help each other grow to maturity, care for outsiders)? Take a survey in your church to find out how well it is accomplishing those things. You can do this informally or formally, but look for clues to help you see what the church is doing well, and where it might need improvement. Share your results with church leadership, but focus mostly on what you can do to help your church fulfill its mission.

Seeking Help

15. Write a prayer below (or simply pray one in silence), inviting God to work on your mind and heart in those areas you've noted in the Going Forward section. Be honest about your desires and fears.

Notes for Small Groups:

• Look for ways to put into practice the things you wrote in the Going Forward section. Talk with other group members about your ideas and commit to being accountable to one another.

• During the coming week, ask the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal truth to you from what you've read and studied.

• Before you start the next lesson, read 1 Corinthians 3—4. For more in-depth lesson preparation, read chapters 3 and 4, "Be Wise about the Local Church" and "Be Wise about the Christian Ministry," in Be Wise.


Lesson 2

The Church (1 CORINTHIANS 3—4)

Before you begin ...

• Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

• Read 1 Corinthians 3—4. This lesson references chapters 3 and 4 in Be Wise. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.

Getting Started

From the Commentary

Paul already explained that there are two kinds of people in the world—natural (unsaved) and spiritual (saved). But now he explained that there are two kinds of saved people: mature and immature (carnal). A Christian matures by allowing the Spirit to teach him and direct him by feeding on the Word. The immature Christian lives for the things of the flesh (carnal means "flesh") and has little interest in the things of the Spirit. Of course, some believers are immature because they have been saved only a short time, but that is not what Paul was discussing here.

Paul was the "spiritual father" who brought this family into being (1 Cor. 4:15). During the eighteen months he ministered in Corinth, Paul had tried to feed his spiritual children and help them mature in the faith. Just as in a human family, everybody helps the new baby grow and mature, so in the family of God we must encourage spiritual maturity.

Be Wise, pages 47–48

1. What is Paul's theme in 1 Corinthians 3:1–4? What are the marks of Christian maturity that the Corinthians lacked? How is maturity different from knowledge of the Bible alone?

More to Consider: Read the following: 1 Peter 2:2; Matthew 4:4; Hebrews 5:11–14; and Psalm 119:103. How do these passages use the metaphor of food to describe a balanced spiritual diet?

2. Choose one verse or phrase from 1 Corinthians 3—4 that stands out to you. This could be something you're intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.

Going Deeper

From the Commentary

Paul was fond of agricultural images and often used them in his letters. "Ye are God's husbandry" simply means, "You are God's cultivated field, God's garden." In the parable of the sower, Jesus compared the human heart to soil and the Word of God to seed (Matt. 13:1–9, 18–23). Paul took this individual image and made it collective: The local church is a field that ought to bear fruit. The task of the ministry is the sowing of the seed, the cultivating of the soil, the watering of the plants, and the harvesting of the fruit.

Be Wise, page 50

3. Review 1 Corinthians 3:5–9. Why did Paul choose this particular imagery to make his point? How did the image of the church as a "field" apply to the specific problems in the Corinthian church? How might it apply to churches today?

From the Commentary

God wants to see increase in His field.... Along with spiritual growth, there should be a measure of numerical growth. Fruit has in it the seed for more fruit. If the fruit of our ministry is genuine, it will eventually produce "more fruit ... much fruit" to the glory of God (John 15:1–8).

Those who serve in ministry must constantly be caring for the "soil" of the church. It requires diligence and hard work to produce a harvest. The lazy preacher or Sunday school teacher is like the slothful farmer Solomon wrote about in Proverbs 24:30–34. Satan is busy sowing discord, lies, and sin; and we must be busy cultivating the soil and planting the good seed of the Word of God.

Be Wise, page 52

4. Paul encouraged the Corinthian church as he did many other churches, challenging them to produce the fruit that comes with maturity. Read Romans 1:13; 6:22; 15:26–28; Galatians 5:22–23; Colossians 1:10; and Hebrews 13:15. What fruits or harvest do these passages describe? How do you know when a church is producing these fruits?


Excerpted from The Wiersbe BIBLE STUDY SERIES: 1 CORINTHIANS by Warren W. Wiersbe. Copyright © 2012 Warren W. Wiersbe. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction to 1 Corinthians,
How to Use This Study,
Lesson 1 Calling and Message (1 Corinthians 1—2),
Lesson 2 The Church (1 Corinthians 3—4),
Lesson 3 Discipline (1 Corinthians 5—6),
Lesson 4 Marriage (1 Corinthians 7),
Lesson 5 Liberty (1 Corinthians 8—10),
Lesson 6 The Church Body (1 Corinthians 11—13),
Lesson 7 Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians 14),
Lesson 8 The Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15—16),
Bonus Lesson Summary and Review,

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