Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 74, 1899

Thoughts on 1 Corinthians 3


May 11, 1899 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in 6BC 1082, 1086.

The third chapter of First Corinthians should be read with careful and prayerful consideration by every church member. The first and second chapters of this epistle prepare the way for the third, and in this are lessons for every church in our world. The cause of their difficulties is plainly revealed. 14LtMs, Ms 74, 1899, par. 1

Paul longed to speak to the church in Corinth of spiritual things. But to his sorrow he found it in great weakness. The church members could not even bear to hear the truth concerning themselves. “I, brethren,” he said, “could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 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.” The spiritual growth of this people was so dwarfed that a plain “Thus saith the Lord” was an offence to them. Paul knew that by giving them the truth he would be ranked as an accuser and faultfinder. He said, “Ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one said, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man. I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” [1 Corinthians 3:1-6.] 14LtMs, Ms 74, 1899, par. 2

These professed converts were not converted. They carried into the church the same dispositions and character which they had before they professed to believe. They were not conformed to the Spirit of Christ. Paul declared to this people, “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” [1 Corinthians 1:18, 19.] 14LtMs, Ms 74, 1899, par. 3

In the year 1898 we find the same difficulties existing in the church which Paul found in his day, and which prevented him from presenting advanced truths to the people. The messages which the servants of God bring, condemning the selfishness, and the irreligious course of action, and exposing their defects of character, offend them, and they become enemies of their brethren and of the church. They pursue a course which not only leads to the ruin of their own souls, but which deceives others as well. These poor, dwarfed, spiritually feeble souls are under the spell of Satan. 14LtMs, Ms 74, 1899, par. 4

A noble, pure, true character, with all its grand possibilities, has been provided for every soul. But man has not an earnest longing for this character. He is not willing to part with the evil that he may have the good. Great opportunities are placed within his reach. But he neglects to take hold of the blessings which would bring him into conformity with the will of God. He works at cross-purposes with God and with all who seek his good. It is the Lord’s purpose that every God-given faculty shall be recognized and acknowledged by the one to whom the gift is entrusted, and put into the service of God. 14LtMs, Ms 74, 1899, par. 5

There are two classes brought to view in the Word of God—the wise and the foolish. “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine,” Christ said, “and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” [Matthew 7:24-27.] 14LtMs, Ms 74, 1899, par. 6

These two classes are again represented in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins—those who receive the oil of grace, and keep their lamps filled and burning, and those who feel no anxiety to be watchful of their words and careful of their behavior. Those who prayerfully study the Word of God, and with a heart of obedience choose to obey, will always have the oil of grace in their vessels with their lamps. They will hear, and be ready to respond to the midnight cry. 14LtMs, Ms 74, 1899, par. 7

God and man must co-operate in the work of character-building. “We are laborers together with God; ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon; for other foundation can no men lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” [1 Corinthians 3:9-13.] 14LtMs, Ms 74, 1899, par. 8