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Do Not Think Beyond What is Written.

By: Allan McNabb

As we begin our study of authority in the adult classes, I’m reminded of an important command that’s overlooked by man-made religions, “not to think beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6,NKJV).

No Division:

In First Corinthians, Paul is addressing a number of divisions that existed among the Corinthians.

One division was a result of Christians claiming to be of different church leaders. Some said they were of Christ, but others said they were of Paul, Apollos, or Cephas. Other divisions existed regarding the head covering, prophesy in the assembly, and the Lord’s Supper.

As Paul continues through the epistle, we see that divisions existed because some brethren were thinking beyond what is written. In other words, they were not limiting their thinking in spiritual matters to God’s word.

Today, we see the same thing. Men are religiously divided because of people who do not limit their thinking to things authorized in God’s word. Some add Mechanical Instruments to worship, some teach False Doctrines relating to salvation, and some change the day of gathering to partake of the Lord’s Supper.

Regarding such cases, Paul says divisions must exist so that those who are approved may become evident (1 Cor. 11:18-19).

The Mind of God is Only Revealed in His Word:

Without doubt, there are things about God which are beyond man’s comprehension (Eph. 3:20). Left on our own, without God’s word, we would be clueless as to the thoughts of God.

  • “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Is. 55:8-9).

In First Corinthians, before writing the command not to think beyond what is written, Paul explains that we can only know God’s mind to the extent He’s revealed it in His word (1 Cor. 2:9-16).

Just as we don’t know the mind of a man except for what his spirit has revealed, we don’t know the mind of God except for what His Spirit has revealed (1 Cor. 2:11).

Hence, we only know the mind of God to the limit that it’s revealed by the Holy Spirit, and recorded by inspired men in His word (1 Cor. 2:12-16).

Do Not Think Beyond What is Written:

1). Since we are limited in knowing God’s mind as revealed in Scripture, we are commanded not to think beyond what is written.

  • “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written. . . .” (1 Cor. 4:6, NKJV).

2). The Old King James and New American Standard translate this verse a little differently, which helps us understand the meaning.

  • “And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes;that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another” (1 Cor. 4:6, KJV).
  • “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other” (1 Cor. 4:6, NASB).

3). As in the case of the Corinthians, when people disobey this command, they become puffed up and cause divisions.

  • “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other” (1 Cor. 4:6).
  • “For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you” (1 Cor. 11:18-19).

4). This is because they base their faith on something other than God’s word.

  • They worship in vain, neglecting the commandments of God, and holding to the traditions of men (Mk. 7:7-9).
  • They base their religion on “philosophy and empty deception, according to the Tradition of Men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).

Imitate the Apostles:

I suppose it would be impossible to have a complete knowledge of all religious doctrines, including those of philosophers and pagans. But thankfully, God has made it simple for us, commanding us to imitate the apostles.

  • “I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4:14-17).

Conclusion:

To walk in the ways of God, we imitate the apostles, and learn not to think beyond what is written (1 Cor. 4:16).

We aren’t persuaded by “cleverness of speech,” or with the “superiority of speech or of wisdom,” because we’re determined to know nothing “except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 1:17-2:1).

Therefore; the word of the cross is the power of God to us, because we are being saved, and not foolishness, as with those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1:18).