Dave Williams preaching on 1st Corinthians 1-3. Dave reminded us of the important role context has when studying a new book. He discussed the call God has placed on our lives — that he has set us apart — and the grace and peace God extends to us in his desire to make us whole.
- Well it is good to be back! Our goal this term is to unpack the Book 1st Corinthians. We are coming full circle because we started out the year with a key passage: 1st Corinthians 14:12 “ So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.”
- I believe that this year we have strived to do that and one of the things that we felt like we should focus on this term is relationships again. It has been a couple of years since we discussed it and we thought that it was needed to be brought up again.
- We looked at 1st Corinthians, because there is so much text about relationships and how God wanted us to interact with others.
- Now I cannot preach the Word of God if I have not read it. There is no way that I could read the book of Corinthians if I have not read it.
- So we are going to dig into the book. This is actually the first time where I don’t have a stopping point but trust the God is going to take us as far as he wants by the end of the term.
Context – the Book // the City // the Author
- It is important for us to dig into the context of a book because without it we could not understand the gravity of many of the stories in the Bible.
- For example the story of the Prodigal Son. Without much context we would miss out on key elements of the story.
- The reason why that’s important is because of a phrase that we have used often here: Truth in context has power.
- When you approach reading God’s Word it is important to put it in context or you can draw out meanings that aren’t there.
- So, Corinth. First of all Corinth was a city in southern Greece that became a conduit of sorts for all the travel that flowed North to South in the region. Which meant that the city was alway full of people.
- This is probably one of the reasons why Paul went there. He must have known that the Gospel could have a great chance of starting in Corinth and spreading throughout the region.
- In Acts 18 Luke tells us of Paul’s experience there.
Acts 18:5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titus Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. 9 And the Lord said to Paul lone night in ma vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
- So, why would Paul see the people of Corinth that way?
- Well first off, the people of this city prided themselves on their abilities, wealth, who they were associated with, and by famous athletic events called the Isthmian games—which believe it or not just has highly touted as the Olympic games in that time.
- So essentially they would be a hard group to see a need for God.
- Secondly, Corinth was known for being incredibly immoral. In fact the name was used to describe immorality. So even if they were to be saved could they actually ever leave the lifestyle that is so deeply imbedded into this culture.
- Again, context is everything. I believe that when Christ spoke to Paul in verse 10 he was setting the stage for how ministry would go down in this city. He said do not be afraid, which implies that there were reasons to be so. He said I have many in this city who are my people, which implies that from the outset it would appear that there was no way that God could redeem these guys.
- Have you ever been there? Looking at a person or a situation with fear or no hope. God is saying the same things today – “Do not be afraid, what seems impossible I can do.”
- I met my biological family 7 years ago I sound learned that they were all believers because of my sister. She came to the Lord as a child and growing up, around the dinner table, my family mocked and ridiculed her. I am sure, at times, she was afraid and had little hope but she continued to pray and share the gospel with my biological family. And today I can say that they are ALL believers because of her.
- This is what Paul was facing but God said “go” so Paul went.
“1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Verse 1 – The Call
- Let’s look at verse 1. Paul reminds the readers and now us on why he is even writing this church. He was called and it was God’s will.
- Think about that. Do you see your ministry—where God has placed you—as actually being called by God? See sometimes I think we serve, or get involved in ministry because we were told to by our leaders, or maybe because it is fun or meaningful, but Paul approached his area of ministry as a calling.
- The reason why that is important is if you know that God has placed you there then it is harder to get out of it. So what has God called you to and how do you know? What’s cool is this book covers that! I will give you a couple of hints, it may not have anything to do what you are gifted in and it may not be to anything that makes you feel good!
- Jesus came down and became a man, which in a lot of ways hid his abilities from man. While dying on the cross he was asked to call down legions of angels to rescue him and he certainly could have but didn’t. He chose to appear weak so that we could be saved.
- Often times what you are called to do will go against what you want to do. Sharing your faith, for example, goes against a lot of how we feel. Yet we are called to do it.
Romans 15 Says this, “ We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
- We are called to sacrifice, to live unselfishly, to do what goes against what we want to do at times.
- Christ is the meekness person to ever walk earth. In all his power and glory he was unselfish and sacrificed everything for us. He is calling us to live in the same way.
Verse 2 – The Church in Corinth
“2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”
- So we know that this isn’t written to a city it is written to a church in a city. So the words in this letter were only for believers not just anyone.
- But he goes on and says that it is to those sanctified in Christ Jesus called to be saints.
- The word sanctified means being made holy or set apart. That is a verb, which implies that it is process. We are being set apart in Christ Jesus. Or to say it another way, we are being set apart for Christ Jesus.
- Now think about that. Jesus, throughout scripture, often refers to our relationship as a marriage. He is the groom and we are his bride.
- My role as a husband better reflect a married man. Even if I am still not the best at it there still should be enough to show that I am. When I go on vacation with my wife I always ask her how I am doing as her husband and what can I do better?
- Are you asking these questions in your walk with Christ? How am I loving him and only him? How can I love him better? What do I need to cut out of my life to love him more?
- Which means that we are set apart for him. Only him. No one else or nothing else can take his place. He is what we want.
- Now here is the cool thing: God is the one that is doing the setting apart. He is, over time, giving you more and more reasons to want to be set apart.
- God absolutely wants you and he wants you to want him in return.
- He says that he wants your life to then model a life that wants him in return. He deserves that doesn’t he?
- God calls us Saints. There is no question about that. Does your life model that? The outside world should always know that you are a Christian. That you are set apart. Does the world know that?
- Another amazing thing is that we don’t have to do this alone.
- In our marriage we set up some rules about fighting. One word we could never say was divorce. How long do you think that lasted. . . about a year, maybe.
- See here is the thing if it was just my wife and I, I don’t know if we would have made it. There were some dark days in my marriage when I said some jacked up stuff. BUT we had people around us who pulled me aside, knocked me upside the head and set me back on the right track.
- See this is why community and small groups are so important. They are crucial for our walk with the Lord. Do you have people who you are surrounding yourself with?
Verse 3 – Grace and Peace
“3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Grace means unmerited favor. Know that Gods grace is sufficient. When we live a life that is insufficient he gives us grace.
- But he always gives us peace. Peace is wholeness. See some of us take this salvation thing and put our identity in other things. We seek wholeness in things besides God. But God is the only one that will make us whole and give us peace. It is not status, athleticism, social hierarchy that give us peace but it is God who makes us whole.
- God wants to make us whole.