Skip to content
Aug 15 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

August 15, 2021



A Primer In Things Unseen
But I, brothers [and sisters] could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now your are not yet ready. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

Intro: I’m sure most of you know the history of my dad’s ministry

The explosive growth of a small congregation into mega-church overnight
– hippies poured into it from the streets, turning from drugs to Jesus
• during that time of the “Jesus Movement,” several strange spin-offs appeared
• cults and individuals who alleged they had been in Satanic cults
– one young man gained notoriety for supposedly being a former Satanist
• he claimed that his directors used him to infiltrate Calvary Chapel and attract hippies
◦ he also said that the church of Satan funneled money through him to start Maranatha! Music
◦ some churches were happy to hear his message
• mostly those who doubted Jesus’ love for hippie freaks

My parents got word of a church in Pasadena that hosted this person regularly
– Mom decided she had to hear for herself what he was saying
• so we drove up there with a couple of friends and my cousin (Chuck Fromm)
◦ hearing his nonsense, she found it impossible to sit back and do nothing
• she stood up in the middle of the church, she interrupted him,
◦ calling him out, she rebuked him, identified herself as the wife of Chuck Smith
◦ and then delivered a scathing message against lies and misrepresentations
– later, my cousin told me that Mom was awesome
• he said, “You know how your mom is when she gets prophetic
◦ Oh yeah, I knew — I almost felt sorry for the guy

You may have heard that Mom passed away two days ago
– I’m not going to talk about that or about her life right now
• but only say that at times she could be brutally direct
• many people who heard her speak appreciated that about her
◦ they knew where they stood and what they had to change
◦ I think they also knew she was open and honest because she loved them
– I thought of Mom when meditating on the verses I just read
• Paul is being brutally direct with his Corinthian friends
• he lets them know:
◦ what’s wrong, what needs to change, and the next step they need to take

Paul’s assessment: You’re not as spiritually advanced as you think

At the end of chapter 2, Paul identified two types of people:
– the natural person and the spiritual person
the natural is simply out of the loop regarding things of the Spirit
◦ these are normal human beings without any awareness of spirit
◦ natural translates psuchos: the soul or animal life-force
the spiritual discerns the realm of the Spirit
◦ beyond animal life, they have the mind of Christ
◦ this suggests the possibility of a direct awareness of spiritual reality
– now, in chapter 3, Paul identifies a third type of person
I could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh
• like natural (psukikos) and spiritual (pneumatikos),
of the flesh is one Greek word: sarkinos
◦ this is the lower level of human nature
• so the Corinthians were within the realm of God’s Spirit,
◦ but they weren’t living or behaving within it
For while there is jealousy and strive among you, are you not sarkinos?
◦ that behavior had stunted their spiritual growth

This is a miserable place for Christians to find themselves
– my dad would say,
“They have too much of the world to be happy in Jesus,
and too much of Jesus to be happy in the world”
• if anything heartbreaking has come to light in last two years,
◦ it is how much of American Christianity fits this description
• a retired Baptist preacher wrote Experiencing God Directly
(a work that I find uncharacteristic for a person of his background and education)
Marshall Davis, “Evangelical Christians are not born again. That is my assessment from ministering among evangelicals for most of my life. . . . I have known evangelicals–clergy and laity–for a long time. My opinion is that very few are ‘born again’ in the way that Jesus describes it.”
“I am not suggesting that evangelicals are not ‘saved,’ in the way in which they understand salvation–in terms of life in heaven after death. Evangelicals certainly believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and they trust in Christ for eternal life. If that is what it means to be born again, then evangelicals are born again. That is what evangelicals mean by the term ‘born again,’ but that is not what Jesus meant when he used that phrase.” “According to Jesus, being born again means to see the Kingdom of God.
“Would any evangelical say they see the Kingdom of God? Not too many that I know!”
– that may seem to have a hard edge, but it’s not any harsher than Paul saying,
You are infants in Christ
• it was the truth that needed to be told and the Corinthians needed to hear

Why were the Corinthians stuck in this condition?

They had not seen the problem in themselves,
– so without knowing any better, they were following the wrong protocols and using the wrong tools
Paul asks them, are you not sarkinos and behaving only in a human way?
• “behaving like every other human person?”
– I think this took them by surprise
• every day they would get up and go about their business
◦ doing their chores, going to work, shopping in the marketplace
◦ they would haggle with vendors, gossip with neighbors, and so on
• in other words, they were living normal lives in the world
◦ doing what had to be done in the only way they knew
◦ and that is how they approached life with God;
the same way as they took on every other human task

I mentioned last week – that when Jesus scolded Peter he said,
you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man (Mt. 16:23)
– perhaps it would help if we heard this from a different version
You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not Gods (NLT)
• Jesus and Paul use the same word, anthropos (the root of anthropology)
• there is nothing wrong with being a human person,
◦ but we trip up when we approach God’s things in our normal way
Francis Schaeffer, “We must do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way.
“There is no source of power for God’s people—for preaching or teaching or anything else—except Christ himself. Apart from Christ anything which seems to be spiritual power is actually the power of the flesh.
“A person cannot be a Christian without first recognizing his need of Christ. And as Christians we too must comprehend something of our need for spiritual power. If we think we can operate on our own, if we do not comprehend the need for a power beyond our own, we will never get started.
“If we try to influence the world by using its methods, we are doing the Lord’s work in the flesh.”
– Paul asked the Galatians, Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Gal. 3:3)
• he described for them how the Spirit and flesh work against each other
◦ as long as that battle continues, it renders us powerless (Gal. 5:17)
• do we realize how much we’ve been conditioned by our culture?
◦ the way of the Spirit calls us to transcend culture

How could Corinthians get unstuck and grow up?
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? Verse 16

Christian spirituality requires a certain kind of knowing
– it is not like the knowledge we get from school or books
• it is not something our brains think up, but that our spirits discern
• it is knowing more than we can gather with our senses,
◦ or than we have learned or can deduce through reason
• it is knowing that has a “special kind of contact with ultimate reality”
◦ an immediate experience of God’s transcendent presence
– almost every Christian I know has had a moment,
• when they had a strong impression to pray for some else
• this knowing is something like that

We need vital contact with God’s Holy Spirit
[God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ (Titus 3:5-6)
– as a child, I imagined that poured out would look like the day Pentecost (Acts 2)
• I had seen dramatic manifestations of emotional release in Pentecostal meetings
• looking back – it wasn’t as supernatural as I imagined — it was more like group hysteria
◦ Pentecostals and Charismatics want miracles, they want signs and wonders
– the Corinthians were also eager for manifestations of the Spirit (14:12)
• and they could produce noise and flash
• but Paul wanted them to find an energy in the Spirit,
◦ to change lives and build up other members of their Christian community

In the Titus passage, Paul says we receive the Spirit through Jesus Christ
– Paul stresses the centrality of Jesus here also, in 1 Corinthians 3
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ Verse 11
• spanning the dimensions of our universe and also the greater dimension of God’s realm,
◦ Jesus is always our bridge to the Spirit of God and the things of God

Conclusion: You know what? I am encouraged by Paul’s criticism

I am grateful for God’s correction
– when he names my problem, I realize he also has a solution
• he corrects me, because he wants me to live closer to himself
• it is frustrating to constantly resist the forces of culture, consensus and conformity
◦ but there are moments when I find myself not in a fight, but in a flow
◦ those moments are when I’m in a state of a fuller awareness of God’s presence
Then nothing in this world concerns or entices me

Floating is a different experience from standing on your feet in shallow water
Floating for the first time creates a new experience of water
And it can introduce you to a new world of experience,
swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving

Practice floating

Leave a comment