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The Solutions to Problems at Church

12/31/06 CC/AM

1 Corinthians 4:6-13

Introduction: I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that 2007 is a tremendous year for you personally and for us as a church family.  Thank you for your expressions of love toward our family throughout the year.  We love each one of you!  First Baptist is a great place to serve the Lord!

Not all churches have as much harmony as the Lord has blessed us with here.  The church at Corinth had several problems and Paul gave them some guidance as to how to get back on track.  Churches today would do well to comply with the same demands that Paul gave then because the same root problems still exist today!

This morning we will begin to address the answers to the problems that existed at Corinth and find that we need to adhere to the same solutions today.

1.   Submission to the Scriptures v 6

a.    Their first mistake came as a result of not following the Scriptures.

b.   That is where every problem is the church will begin.

c.    When a person or a group of people decide to act outside of the word of God, there will be problems!

d.   Paul tells them not to exceed what was written.  What was he talking about in this case?

e.    The issue was that certain spiritual leaders were being exalted above and beyond the intent of the Scriptures to the place where they were receiving the preeminence that is due Jesus Christ alone.

f.     Those that serve as ministers are to be honored and compensated for their work’s sake, but they are never to become the focus of attention.  Jesus Christ is!

g.    Paul would say that it was fine to honor God’s servants but it should never become the cause for division in the church.  Stay within the boundaries of the Scriptures.

h.   For individuals and churches to stay on track, we must follow the teachings prescribed for us by our Master.  When we fail to do that we will have trouble. When we are submissive to the word we will have a great foundation for the kind of worship that God is looking for.

2.   Eradication of  human pride vv.6b-8

a.    Failure to follow the word properly had led to the display of one of the most common ailments known to man.  PRIDE

b.   People had become arrogant and that resulted in a posturing of one person against another.  When that takes place anywhere it always leads to confrontation, division, and destruction.

c.    If you want to look at an example of that truth outside of the church just take a look at some of the teams in the NFL.  Some of the teams that are not doing as well as they would like are having problems with some of their players pointing the blame at anyone other than themselves.  The media loves to fuel the fires of controversy and are quick to stick a microphone in the face of a disgruntled player, coach, or owner.  It doesn’t take much for the whole team to be in turmoil.  When just one player assumes the position that he is more valuable then the rest of the team, the whole team will be in trouble.

d.   A superior attitude is devastating to any organization but none more than the church!

e.    Pride is always a problem.  Look at what God’s word has to say about it:

Psalm 101:5 NIV Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure.

Proverbs 6:16-17 KJV These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

Proverbs 16:5 NIV The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 28:25 KJV He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.

f.     Paul asks some very pointed questions of the Corinthians:

                                                            i.      Who told you that you were better than others?

                                                         ii.      What do you have that wasn’t given to you as a gift?

                                                      iii.      Since all was given as a gift, why would you take credit for it?

g.    Who died and left you king?  Ever hear anyone say that?  What they want to know is how did you get the authority or what make you think that you have to right to exercise dominion over the rest of us?

h.   There is no place for personal pride in the church.  Paul tells those at Corinth with just a hint of sarcasm that they need to get rid of their pride.

i.      We must realize today that church is not about us!  Pride is a very deceptive enemy of the cause of Christ and it must be kept on a very short leash!

j.      Our pride rears it’s ugly head anytime we exhibit a variety of responses:

                                                            i.      When we compare ourselves to others and judge that we are superior. i.e. I would never do, say, wear, act, drive, etc. what they are!

                                                         ii.      When we get offended because we don’t get enough attention for some service rendered, (for the Lord).

                                                      iii.      When we observe any indication that someone else has a pride problem and exalts themselves over us.

                                                      iv.      Most of the conflicts that we have with another person are pride related!

k.   We must rid ourselves of this most despicable quality.  It renders a church ineffective and devoid of God’s blessing.

3.   Demonstration of personal humility vv.9-13

a.    The only way to effectively battle our pride issue is to embrace its antithesis of humility.

b.   Before Paul continues with the sarcasm, he makes a few comparisons perhaps since that was at the center of their problems.

c.    He called those that were prideful kings and calls those that were apostles men condemned to death.  He was hoping that by the comparison of the two that the prideful Corinthians would see the error of their ways.

d.   When the Romans would return from a victorious battle or campaign they would parade before their king with the spoils of war.  First would come the dignitaries that they had captured.  These would generally be placed in prisons to rot until they died.  They were kept as the trophies of war.  Next, the parade would also feature many of the items that now would become the property of the emperor that had previously belonged to the newly conquered foes.  Last in the entourage would be the common fighting men and others who were taken prisoner.  Their fate would be to go into the theater, or the coliseum  and face certain death at the hands of the gladiators and wild beasts as entertainment for the Roman people.

e.    The contrast is striking.  Paul says that you guys see yourselves as kings and we that are the apostles of Christ are laying down our very lives for the cause.  What is wrong with this picture?

                                                            i.      We are fools, you know it all.

                                                         ii.      We are weak, you are strong

                                                      iii.      You are distinguished, we are disgusting

                                                      iv.      We are hungry and thirsty, poorly clothed, abused, homeless

                                                         v.      We work very hard, even though that was despised

                                                      vi.      When we are spoken evil of by people, we ask God to bless them

                                                   vii.      When we are persecuted, we just take it

                                                viii.      When we are lied about, we return kind words

                                                      ix.      We are considered as the scum of the earth, the bottom of the barrel.

f.     And Paul and the other apostles embraced this kind of treatment as being privileged to be called of God to represent Him in these ways. They humbly accepted the abuse of others in the name of Jesus.  They saw themselves as being appointed to death because they were faithful to the Lord.

g.    If we had the attitude that the apostles had when they were persecuted, there would be far less strife in churches today.  Paul by his example made a statement about what it meant to follow Christ.  The Corinthians must have been embarrassed when they realized what they had been doing in their pride.

h.   What does God think of the humble?

Proverbs 29:23 NASB95 A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.

Matthew 18:4 NCV The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven is the one who makes himself humble like this child.

James 4:6 NASB95 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

James 4:10 KJV Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Conclusion: Looking for a personal growth goal for 2007?  How about these?  Submit to the Scriptures. Eradicate Pride. Demonstrate Humility.  It would not only benefit you personally, it will also please the Lord and help build His Kingdom!

1 Corinthians 4:6-13 (NASB95)
6 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.
7 For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
8 You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you.
9 For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.
10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor.
11 To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless;
12 and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure;
13 when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.

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