NEXT LEVEL 1: READY TO GROW

 
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I CORINTHIANS 3:1

1  And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

The plan for your life concerning God in this earth right now is to get from being "carnal" to "spiritual". There is only one way- growth. The question is, are you ready to grow? Here we see the Apostle Paul's insight into the spiritual condition of the assembly at Corinth. Though he longed to share more with them, he knew they would not be able to handle it.

The word "spiritual" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #4152 divinely supernatural, regenerate. Would you describe your life, mindset, and occassional circumstances as divinely supernatural, at times? They are if you are spiritual. If they are not, they can be if you will grow and get to the next level.

The word for "carnal" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #4559 sarkikos from #4561; pertaining to flesh... bodily, temporal. We all have to live our daily lives in this world and in our bodies. But that does not mean that we have to dwell on the temporal things of this world and keep our flesh as our focus. Paul refers to them as "babes in Christ" in the sense of their level of spiritual maturity. Soon we will see why.

Do you ever get around people sometimes and you just cannot seem to find a way to have a spiritual conversation with them? It probably happens more often than not. Paul was having that kind of issue with this assembly. Even though they loved and admired him, they were not following his example of humility. Because of this Paul comes out with it as if to say, "It's time to grow up."

As much as we want to reach and teach our people, we must seek to be spiritually discerning as to where they are in their thinking. It's sad but most of our people are in fact "carnal" and even more so due to the consistent program of this society to dumb-down the white population. God has blessed us each so much in our lives therefore, we must pursue a higher level of spiritual maturity. The goal for every Christian is to be "spiritual" or to be one who has a lifestyle of having the eternal things of God constantly on your mind. Understand, the more spiritually-minded you become, the less you will be distracted and tripped up by this world. But we still should maintain contact with those around us we are to reach. It takes patience and forgiveness, but we must never give up on reaching our lost brethren.

The way we are to approach reaching others according to the Scriptures, is far different than the way most denominational pastors want their people to witness and minister. Those who want people to follow them, know it benefits their ministries in every way. A true man of God does it while knowing as long as he speaks the truth in love, God will always provide for him. Self-promotion and the political ladder in denominationalism has exposed both scandal and hypocrisy deep within their ranks. Yet when you serve God with no strings attached in the Spirit, you feel the Father's touch and know when it's time to take that next step of faith. There has maybe come a time in your life that you are ready to go to the next level with just you and God.

More than anything Paul wanted to see them grow. Anyone who appreciates God's creation loves to see growth, especially in the lives of those we love. 'How much more does God want us to grow. Everything has been provided. What is stopping you from stepping out in faith like never before?

I CORINTHIANS 3:2

2  I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

He was not able to speak to them as he should because they "were not able to bear it". He knew he would be forcing it by going into things which they were not ready for. It still is not going to stop him from admonishing them to overcome themselves to get to that point. This word "to bear" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #941 the idea of removal... to lift... endure, declare, sustain... receive... carry, take up. This speaks of a voluntary bearing:

LUKE 14:27

27  And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Remember, for a Christian to bear his cross is to daily take responsibility for his fleshly tendencies by controlling his mind. This is of a voluntary nature on behalf of the one who lives this way. TO BEAR OUR CROSS, IS A STEP TOWARD THE NEXT LEVEL OF RECEIVING THE MEAT OF THE WORD.

Paul had been with these people; he knew them. Since his departure it was reported that they had many divisions. This indicated they were still on the milk he had previously taught them long ago, yet he still couldn't give them any meat. Putting lots of time in a congregation doesn't constitute being a mature Christian. With God, when it comes to approaching what it means to be spiritually mature, it has more to do with quality, rather than mere quantity. Receiving the truth and wanting to live by faith did not come to you thru attending church services. But as you are now hearing the Scriptures and being encouraged to follow the Spirit, you will become ever-increasingly more able to receive the "meat". Yet there are more familiar mindsets and attitudes within the ranks of our race, who claim to be followers of Christ, which still are not "able to bear it". It takes humility and an unyielding spiritual appetite to arrive at a place of maturity in the faith. The next level awaits those who are ready to grow.

I CORINTHIANS 3:3

3  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

At times, the truth about how our people act and treat one another, is painful. But if we will learn to take our correction with dignity and make something better of ourselves as a result, we will begin to see this life beyond merely walking "as men". In this, Paul is proving how God expects more of those who have sat under great teachers. If you feel you've been blessed in this way and love the purity of the Scriptures, you should not be getting caught up in what trips up most of our race. ALL OF THIS COMES FROM NOT KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT IN LIFE.

JAMES 4:1-3

1  From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2  Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

If you know what you want in life and believe that God is the Father of Lights, you will be more than willing to change anything about yourself God's Spirit reveals- this is an essential part of growth. He does use others to communicate things to you as well, of course. But when you are focused on living fully for God, you begin to see that nothing or no one coming into your life is an accident. You begin to see how God can expose your need for spiritual maturity. Recognize some of the same things you keep repeatedly going thru are screaming out to you, "Grow up!"

For any white to be "envying" another white is completely foolish. Whatever any brother is good at, is an ability or gift God gave them to edify the body of Christ and to bring Him glory. The one who is envious needs to repent by discovering their own gifts and being thankful for the brother they envy, counting them as a blessing.

This "strife" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #2054, a quarrel... contention, debate. Strife is the next progressive step from one with an envious heart which gets carried away. The disastrous development of strife is causing "divisions", Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #1370 which is simply and plainly disunion. When brothers divide it is not just the parting but the loss of what once was bound together. Our race appears so weak today because we have legitimized non-whites and allowed their issues to divide us. Ultimately envy, strife, and divisions come from personal agendas outside of the purposes of God.

So they were "yet" or still, as carnal as they were when Paul departed from them. They were full of personal agendas which exposed their lack of spiritual-mindedness. Isn't it amazing how we allow petty, superficial things to keep us from maturity?! When we put a stop to our selfish agendas, God will begin to open our mind to His perfect will. But it will not be settled thru arguing with others and trying to force our way upon anybody. God wants us operating on a much higher level of perception. We must begin to see ourselves as members of one another in the white race. WE ARE NO LONGER HERE TO EXIST BUT TO OCCUPY AND LIVE IN HIS POWER, TOGETHER.

Paul explains the progressive cause of their lack of spiritual growth- "envying, and strife, and divisions". One of the main points of the Apostle John's first Epistle is: IF YOU'VE DONE IT TO YOUR BROTHER, YOU'VE DONE IT TO YOURSELVES. We must learn it is of no spiritual benefit to try and elevate ourselves above one another as brethren. This is what leads to fights, splits... even wars. The next level God wants to bring us to isn't in or thru the means of this world, but thru patience and love. As we see with Paul, love isn't always soft, but if it's real, it will endure and be effective.

The root of envying or jealousy is unbelief. That's why Paul describes them as carnal. One becomes jealous of another because of something the other has or can do. Think about it, whether the jealous person realizes it or not, they have a mindset which comes from a deep-seeded belief that God does not know what is best for them. In their mind, He gave something they wanted to somebody else. This then develops into strife, instigated by the jealous person who feels inferior, trying to elevate themselves in some way. The strife then spreads to family and friends turning into a division, even spreading into the assembly. All the while, the root of the problem goes completely unnoticed and is not dealt with: the jealous person's distrust toward God. This is carnal. Therefore one with a tendency towards a jealous heart must be dealt with individually by repenting of it and continually preventing it from turning into something far more devastating. This is what Paul is dealing with here. Regardless of how our life compares to someone else's, we should always try to be thankful for our brother and for what God has given us. For how could we ever expect Him to bless us any further if we neglect or do not appreciate what He has already given us?

I CORINTHIANS 3:4

4  For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

Notice, they had great teachers. This serves to illustrate that no matter how great the teachers, the student still remains personally accountable to God to learn, believe, obey, and continue growing. Yet they used having been under these great men as a platform to boast and argue. Paul is merely pointing out the undeniable evidence of their carnality. None could deny the validity of Paul's description of their fleshly boastings. All he is trying to do is convince them of how ridiculous it is for them to continue to do so. Choosing a side, picking favorites... all of it is carnal! In relation to one another, we are only as valuable as we are willing to help and respect one another. That's why there is only one Head and that is Christ. WE ARE TO GROW INTO OUR HEAD:

EPHESIANS 4:15

15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

We are on the next level when we are letting our Head Yahshua Christ do our thinking for us by His indwelling Spirit. When we do this, there are no agendas. There is no envy. There is only unity in the Spirit.

I CORINTHIANS 3:5

5  Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

Paul puts it into perspective when it comes to preacher worship. Though we should love, respect, and support a good teacher as much as we are able, we do not use them as a reason to boast in selfish pride. Paul nor Apollos had any desire for any of this to be going on. The last thing a true man of God wants is to be used as a point of contention or division. This is carnal, it must be pointed out and exposed in our day as well.

We should never under-appreciate good, sound men of God who have taught us the truth. Such a one requires no lip-service, but grateful actions towards them as God has blessed you. It must be the case that good ministers are most unappreciated, especialy when it says those who teach doctrine are worth double the reward or honor (I Timothy 5:17-18). Take care of the man of God and the God of that man will take care of you. Therefore, we should never seek to contend with one another employing such means.

I CORINTHIANS 3:6

6  I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

This "increase" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #837 to grow... enlarge. The only way to get to the next level spiritually is if you "increase" or grow. If you have truly been "planted" and are being "watered" in the truth, you should expect God to give "the increase". God wants to expand and enlarge the scope and realm of your Christian influence, opportunities, and substance. He deserves full credit and glory even for those He uses to cultivate and feed you to this end.

Ministry is nothing more than getting spiritually involved with your fellow Israelite kin. We all have a place in the field of God's service. It involves two things, planting and watering seeds. Paul had planted this assembly hoping their roots would take full hold on the Scriptures. Then came Apollos who watered them. Ultimately they knew that God is the Giver and Sustainer of life both physical and spiritual. What is your appetite, for more vitality in your spiritual life?

Again, we are to work together in the field for God. We are not to try to outdo or undermine a fellow brother, faithful or otherwise. There are to be no personal agendas. One plants while another waters, and God will make it effective. In between, we seek to form binding ties with fellow believers, becoming stronger together in the faith. God's will is for us to be in fellowship with other whites who want to grow spiritually.

I CORINTHIANS 3:7

7  So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON THE MOST HIGH GOD AS YOU FEEL HIS INFLUENCE PULLING YOU CLOSER TO HIM. How do we know if we are approaching the next level? The more we realize and are willing to trust God to bring the increase we await. Realize, if you are ready to grow, it is only what comes from God's increase which is going to bring any lasting results. Without the God "that giveth the increase", we are nothing. Though planting and watering are necessary, without God bringing the increase, we will not amount to "any thing". Therefore, only God deserves the glory or credit. We are priveleged to be stewards and caretakers of the Gospel, but it is still only God Who is worthy of any glory.

I CORINTHIANS 3:8

8  Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

To "labour" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #2873, a cut... toil (as reducing the strength)... pains-labour, trouble, weariness. If there is no sacrifice in what we call laboring for God, then it is not the same level of work Paul is speaking of here. Someone needs what you have to give. We must seek God's wisdom to know which way to direct our efforts. Once we commit, we must give it our all. We prove to ourselves we are ready to grow, when we go out of our way to help a brother who needs what we have to give. We are to be unified in God's purposes together when it comes to the Gospel ministry. We do our part and look to help our brother as we see him laboring. We are "one" with others who labour, not just receiving, but by giving, "and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour." God's "reward" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #3408 which is to pay for service, good or bad... hire, reward, wages. We can trust that our Father will be faithful to "reward" each of us "according to his own labour." God gives us every opportunity, all we must do is be faithful and ready to grow.

REFLECTION

Where there is pain there is still life. Though this assembly had many problems, they still had a great man of God interested in their growth. We cannot put a price on those who care enough about us to tell us the truth. The only thing left to do is respond the way the Spirit leads us to.