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The Called Church

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The called church                                                1 Corinthians 1:1-9

We must know what kind of a church we are and what kind of church God expects us to be.

Introduction: What would you think if you received in the church mail a letter rolled up in a tight scroll. The return address read Ephesus, Asia Minor and the date in the post mark was AD 57. As you unrolled the scroll you realized that this was no ordinary letter. This letter had the name Paul in the very first line. You suddenly realize you have a letter from none other than the Apostle Paul. This is one of Paul’s famous letters that he had been writing to the churches which he had started and preached in.

In your excitement you call up your friends from church and everyone’s is so excited because at the next service the letter is going to be read at church. As you listen to the letter being read, you listen to it very carefully because you know in your mind and heart that this letter, although handwritten by Paul or taken as dictation by one of his associates, is in reality Scripture.

You know that Scripture is the divinely inspired word of God. You are paying close attention because you know that this is Gods word being read to you and you need to follow what God says.

Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Do you realize this is no hypothetical situation but in fact is a reality. What you hear read to you today from this book is the word of God. First Corinthians is one of Gods letters addressed to the churches. Do you believe this is Gods word? If you do raise your hand. Thank you.

Now if you believe this is Gods word, that this book is given unto us by divine inspiration, you must pay close attention and give heed to its message, even the parts that make you feel uncomfortable. If you really believe, and you do believe it don’t you, you will want to hear all of it you can. This means that if you truly believe this is Gods word, and you really want to hear from God, you will be here this week for each service as much as humanly possible.

The message of 1st Corinthians is the message to a church that goes from trouble, tragedy, tribulation to triumph. It is addressed to a group of Christian who lived in a culture that had some similarities to our own.

Corinth, as a city, was prosperous and important. You and I live in the richest culture and society in the world.

Not only does Corinth’s prosperity remind us of ourselves as a nation and a people, but Corinth was also very pagan. Until Paul had entered its streets and began to preach the gospel, there had never been a Christian among the people. Most of the charter members of the Corinth church were saved out of paganism. Most everyone of them had been at one time a worshipper of the goddess of love, Aphrodite. They had practiced ritual prostitution as a part of their religion. And now some of them that were saved were struggling with pride, sexual sin, idol worship, division and doctrines of demons.

It is no stretch to say the church in the city of Corinth was a very troubled
Church. It is without argument the most troubled church in the NT. As a matter of fact, Corinth is the model of how not to have church. Lets take a few minutes together and look at some of the first verses we find in this letter to the church that will go from trouble to triumph.

The key word in the verses will be read today is the word ‘called’. Lets look at how and what this church is called to.

As a Christian you were called to...

Salvation into Jesus (9)

What we are going to do is go in reverse order in our passage this morning. Paul began with service, then spoke of sanctification and then salvation, but we are going to start with salvation.

For everyone of us who is a child of God, it is because we have been called by God. (2 Tim 1:8-12)

There must be a call.

You must be called by the Holy Spirit in order to be saved. It is the work of the Holy Spirit of God to convict you of your sin. If the Holy Spirit of God did not convict you would not repent and turn to Christ from sin.

Jesus called His disciples. Jesus said ‘For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’ If Jesus would not have come to call us to repentance there would be no hope for us, but He came and He continues to call sinners to repentance.

Jesus said many are called but few are chosen. Like the two blind men in Matt. 20 who cried out for Jesus to have mercy on them. The Bible says ‘Jesus stood still and called them and said what would you have me do for you’? They said to Him, ‘that our eyes may be opened.’

My prayer for you, if you are not a child of God, is to cry in desperate need to Jesus. He stands ready, saying ’what shall I do for you’. Ask Him to save you. My friends if God through the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin do not resist but surrender to Him. Jesus wants to open your eyes so that you see and know Him as your Savior.

You must first be called and convicted by the Holy Spirit of God, then you must also respond to the call of God by calling upon Him. The Bible says, ‘whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ You will not be saved by your good deeds. You can be the greatest do-gooder in the entire world but it wont do you a bit of good if you are not born from above.

If you have been called by the Spirit of God to repentance and faith in Christ, you are a child of God and are part of the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ. If you have never been convicted and called by the Holy Spirit you are yet in your sins. The Bible says in verse 9 we have been called into the fellowship of His Son. Fellowship with ‘God means... the knowledge of his will, agreement with his designs, mutual affection, enjoyment of his presence, conformity to his image, and participation of his happiness.’ I want to give you several important truths about church life.

You have a common salvation.

Every one of you have the same Savior and have been washed in the same blood. You all share in a common salvation. That is the most important truth you have in your church life.

You all have a common mission in this world

It has been given by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is found in Matt. 28:19-20. You have a partnership with God and each other in proclaiming the gospel to the world around you.

You all have the same enemy.

Satan is the enemy of the church, not your fellow believer and not the pastor and not the Sunday school teachers. There is an old song that has a line that says, ‘Satan is a liar and he wants to make you think that you are a pauper when he knows you are a child of the King.’ The one who wants us to have trouble in the church is not the Lord Jesus but our common enemy, Satan.
Not only are you called to salvation and to fellowship but also to…

Sanctification in Jesus (2)

I want you to look at something with me in verse two. Notice how the Apostle Paul address his readers. He says ‘to the church of God’. He knew that the church at Corinth, as well as every church in every place, belonged to God. The church is not the brick and mortar but the people. You belong to God as individuals and as a congregation. Had we lived in Paul’s day, he could have just as easily wrote the letter to the church in (Fellowsville, Thornton, or the church at Newburg).

Not only did he address them as the church of God but also as having been set apart. He called ‘those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus’.

Do you know what sanctification is? It means to be set apart for a specific purpose. Take this building we are in. When it was built, it was built for the purpose of having a place where the church would gather to worship. It was not built to be used as a bar or a bowling alley but, as a place of worship. It is sanctified. It is set apart.

When God saved you He set you apart for Himself. That is the meaning of ‘them that are sanctified’. It refers to your salvation. And as long as you live you are continually being set apart so God can use your life. And, He is working to complete what He began in your life. This being ‘sanctified’ or set apart means we are holy unto the Lord.

You are a saint. If you are a believer you are holy unto God. You are not your own, you have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body.

Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?
Even though those Christians at Corinth had so many problems in their church, they were still Gods people and God still had a purpose and a plan for that church. That is why Paul always prayed for the church. (4)
B. Paul’s Prayer

The church at Corinth drained the Apostle Paul. The people in the church at Corinth had trouble balancing belief and behavior and doctrine and deed. Yet Paul kept right praying for these believers.

What was his prayer for them. His prayer was that their spiritual lives would be so enriched by the spiritual gifts they had received that they would serve until Jesus comes again so they may be found blameless.

Blameless does not mean that they were personally perfect, but that God would keep them and enable them to demonstrate a Christian character, to give evidence that they were his friends, and completely escape condemnation in the last day.

Paul had no doubt but that the Corinthians would be ready when Jesus came. How could he be so sure? How can we have any confidence that even in the middle of the troubles that exist in our lives and in our churches. It is because of a three word phrase found in verse 9. That phrase is ‘God is faithful’. We can trust the power and ability of God to complete his work in us He has began.

Having the knowledge that God will complete what He begins in us should spur us to press on, for each of us have been called to...

Service to Jesus (1)

Not only are Christians called to fellowship in Christ and called to be saints, but we are called to be servants.

It is God the Holy Spirit who equips us to serve the Savior. Paul’s place of service was as an apostle. Everyone of us are called to serve the Savior somewhere in the life of the church.

{Someone has well said ‘You cannot choose your calling. Your calling chooses you. You have been blessed with special skills that are yours alone. Use them, whatever they may be, and forget about wearing another’s hat.’}

No one place of service is any more or less important than any other. Every person’s service in the church and every person’s spiritual gifts are equally important. No one outranks anyone else in the church except in accountability before God.

The task of those gifted to teach is just as important as those gifted with great faith. The Holy Spirit of God has given you your spiritual gift or gifts. You are accountable to the Holy Spirit of God to use your talents and spiritual gifts in a way which will build the fellowship of the church.

This is Gods church and if this church is to be triumphant, God must be glorified through the life of every member who renders every act of service as a gift unto the Lord and not as unto humankind.

God will see to it that the work He began is finished but, woe to anyone who hinders His will from being done in the life of the church by causing division, dissension or disruption in the church.

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