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1 Corinthians 1:1-2 A message to our church / More than just another organization

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The first of the year is a time of reflection / evaluation / change
We need to do that individually – we need to do that corporately
The good news is that Paul often wrote for just these reasons.
We will begin a study where Paul wrote a letter to help us evaluate and change.
Actually the letter is written to another specific church, but God knew that every church has a bit of the same issues.
Paul had planted the church in Corinth during his second missionary journey, soon after preaching up the coast a bit at Athens. During the church plant he supported himself as a tentmaker, a trade he shared with fellow Jews Aquila and Priscilla, whom he had met in Corinth. As was his custom, he began by preaching Christ to local Jews in their synagogue, but upon receiving repeated rebuffs he moved to a nearby Gentile home and ministered predominantly to the non-Jewish peoples of the town. Paul remained a year and a half in Corinth, substantially longer than he had in any of the other communities he had evangelized to date.
Three years later, during Paul’s extended stay at Ephesus near the outset of his third missionary journey. Paul sends a letter to Corinth. It was a follow up to earlier correspondence (one not a part of scripture). Paul received an oral report from certain unnamed members of the household of a Corinthian woman named Chloe and received a letter from the church itself asking questions about specific issues which were dividing that congregation.
(ESV) 1 Corinthians 1 1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
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, both their Lord and ours:
As we examine the letter we will find instruction to the church at Corinth, but also a message to our church as well.

I. A message to our church: We are God’s people in a lost world

A. A community of God’s people

(ESV) 1 Corinthians 1 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, both their Lord and ours:

1. Group of normal people – mixture / nothing out of the ordinary / a microcosm of the city itself

2. Slaves / free, wealthy / poor, society folks / marginalized folks, educated / uneducated, moral backgrounds / immoral backgrounds

3. But belonging to God

B. In the midst of a lost culture

(ESV) 1 Corinthians 1 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, both their Lord and ours:

1. Major city

a. Greece
1) Map Greece – Overland routes / see routes / Strategic location splitting Greece into two parts commercial shortcut / avoid dangerous sea journey all the way around Greece if going to Rome
b. Major crossroads
1) Pic Narrow ismus area (5 mi across) cutting Greece into two parts / Two major artificial harbors 2) – idea of building a canal but never accomplished – in 600 bc a stone portage road was build to haul ships and/or their cargo across manually. --- manual transfer enhanced the value to Corinth – people had to disembark / get supplies / house the workers to pull the ships / etc. --- military forts controlling the two halfs of Greece 3) Cosmopolitan / rich / destroyed in 150 BC and rebuilt by the Romans in 46 BC – A roman colony , many Roman freeman (freed slaves) / latin the official language but the population was still largely Greek 4) Cross cultural / many different types of people, Jews/slaves/merchants from around the empire

2. Wicked city

a. Greek shaped people – materialistic / proud / self-sufficient
b. Pagan religious
1) Picture of temple of Apollo Imperial cult to Caesar / Egyptian temple to Isis Aesclepian (snake temple) offering healing and living accommodations Large Jewish population (Paul spent early time here till rejected) on the mountain in the background is the temple of Aphrodite – goddess of love & beauty – 1000 temple prostitutes lived there – city an Empire-wide reputation for immorality
c. Sinful / sexual

C. Infected with worldly issues

Not immune from the influence of their roots / baggage / surrounding culture

1. A response to the reports

a. Chloe’s folks
(ESV) 1 Corinthians 1 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.
b. Their questions
(ESV) 1 Corinthians 7 1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: …

2. Pride and self-centeredness

a. Division
(ESV) 1 Corinthians 1 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.
b. Consumed with personal freedom
(ESV) 1 Corinthians 6 12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.
c. Making a religious show
1) How to worship appropriately
(ESV) 1 Corinthians 12 1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. … 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

3. Focus on personal gratification

a. Sexual immorality
(ESV) 1 Corinthians 5 1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.
1) Sin of the culture found here – surprise 2) Worse sin – blatant sin
b. Public display of internal problems
(ESV) 1 Corinthians 6 1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?
1) Broadcast their issues 2) Facebook appeal to take my side 3) Unconcerned with the impact on the reputation of Christ
c. Not use money for ministry
(ESV) 1 Corinthians 16 1 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
1) Unconcerned with ministry and ministry needs / consume only on me / live the way I always have lived

4. Lack of wisdom

Unable to apply Christian truth to their new life in Christ
These truths should transform our choices / our lifestyle / our perspectives
Should infuse our lives with a new way of life --- a transformation that distinctly allows us to shine in the darkness.
a. Marriage and relationships / Using spiritual gifts
b. How to corporately worship Balancing freedom and restraint
c. Real nature of love / The criticality of the resurrection

II. A message to our church: We are a supernatural body in Christ

But while it may have had problems – it also was much more than its problems

A. Belonging to God

(ESV) 1 Corinthians 1 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, both their Lord and ours:

1. Called out by God

2. His possession

3. Intentional – not just any group of people / an organization and organism

B. Set apart in Christ

(ESV) 1 Corinthians 1 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, both their Lord and ours:

1. Separated for His use

C. A body of believers

(ESV) 1 Corinthians 1 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, both their Lord and ours:

1. A body / no longer merely individuals – but call together / a spiritual connection in Christ Himself

2. Universal connection – all believers united together

3. Local connection – manifesting the body of Christ in a specific place

4. The means for growth / worship / ministry – accomplishing Christ’s goals

D. Intended for wholeness

(ESV) 1 Corinthians 1 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1. God’s unmerited favor

2. Wholeness in your life

3. Independent of a the surrounding culture

4. Independent of circumstances – good or bad

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