Good to the ears, not good for the years!
Good to the ears, not good for the years! 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (NRSV)
The Introduction: The church at Corinth was founded by Paul on his second missionary journey. It had become infected with the evils surrounding it in a licentious city. The Greeks were proud of their learning and philosophy, but at the same time were addicted to gross immorality.
They were especially fond of oratory. It is apparent that Apollos, an eloquent Christian Jew, had come to Corinth and captured the imaginations of the Greek Christians (Acts 18:24-28).
This fact led to the drawing of comparisons between him, with his silver tongue, and other religious leaders. Especially to the discredit of Paul, whose bodily presence seems to have been unimpressive (2 Corinthians 10:10). ). The apostle Paul (Paul - Small; little.—Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names) Acts 20:7-12 (NRSV) 7 On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul was holding a discussion with them; since he intended to leave the next day, he continued speaking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the room upstairs where we were meeting. 9 A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window, began to sink off into a deep sleep while Paul talked still longer. Overcome by sleep, he fell to the ground three floors below and was picked up dead. 10 But Paul went down, and bending over him took him in his arms, and said, "Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him." 11 Then Paul went upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he continued to converse with them until dawn; then he left. 12 Meanwhile they had taken the boy away alive and were not a little comforted.
I – verse 4: I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5 for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— Grace: the believer's first resource is the grace of God. Very simply, grace means the undeserved favor and blessings of God. We do not deserve God looking upon us with favor nor God blessing us with His favor. But God loves us with an unbelievable love, so He favors us with the most unbelievable gifts.
1 - The church and its believers were enabled by God's grace to know and understand the truth of God's Word and to speak the truth to a lost and dying world.
2 - The Spirit of God had enriched their lives by giving them all the gifts of spiritual knowledge and spiritual speech. . Resource 1: the grace of God (v.4).the gifts of God's grace and Spirit (v.5-6). Resource 2: Jesus Christ Himself—His security (v.8).
II – verses 5 - 7: , 5 for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6 just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. The gifts and grace of God brought a full provision to the Corinthian believers (1 Cor. 1:7). They lacked no spiritual gifts whatsoever; in fact, when it came to spiritual gifts, they stood equal with the strongest of churches. They experienced not only the personal gifts such as faith and knowledge and tongues, but the public gifts such as miracles, healing, and prophecy; and they possessed them in abundance.
The believer is to "covet earnestly the best gifts" and to "desire spiritual gifts" (1 Cor. 12:31; 1 Cor. 14:1). But the believer must always remember that possessing the gifts of the Spirit does not mean that he is necessarily strong in the Lord.
There were no more carnal believers in the early days of the church than the Corinthian believers. They tragically abused their gifts and their abuse and subsequent judgment serves as a strong warning to all.
III – Verse 8: 8 He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1:8) Security— Assurance: the believer's third resource is the security of the Lord Jesus Christ, the assurance which He brings to the believer's heart. The word "confirm" (bebaiōsei) means preserve and establish, make steadfast and firm and secure. Jesus Christ will preserve and secure the believer from falling. Note the glorious reason: that the believer may be "blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
The word "blameless" (anegklētous) means unreprovable, guiltless. It means that no one will be able to accuse or bring any accusation against the believer when he stands before Christ in the day of judgment. The "day of our Lord Jesus Christ" will bring about the judgment seat of Christ, and only those who are preserved by the blood and power of Jesus Christ will be counted blameless (1 Cor. 1:8).
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6).
"For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Tim. 1:12).
IV – verse 9: 9 God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. When the gifts of the Spirit are active among a people, it is only natural that the return of Christ and of heaven is stirred within their hearts, for they are constantly experiencing the presence of the Lord in their midst and receiving a foretaste of heaven.
The more active the gifts of the Spirit are among a people, the more the people long for the Lord's return. The more a people talk and share about the Lord and minister to each other in the Lord, the more they long for the Lord and to be with Him.
Whatever we sow, we reap. The more we sow conversation about the Lord and the gifts of the Lord, the more we shall long to be reaped by the Lord. The believer's earnest longing for the Lord's return is clearly understood.
⇒ The gift of prophecy or of preaching proclaims what heaven will be like.
⇒ The gift of ministering demonstrates the loving compassion and care that exists in heaven.
⇒ The gift of healing demonstrates the power and will of God for man to live without corruption and pain.
The Conclusion: The strength and nobleness of Paul’s character was based on the confidence that he was “called of God” to be and to do the work of an apostle. A little thing will not make us lose heart in our work if we believe we are “called of God.”
The character of the Corinthians - They also were “called of God” “to be saints”—i.e., separated to God. They were not self-called, to be and to do what they liked. They were called of God to be like God, and to do His will; to be separated from their former selves.
They had been called out of a society—
(1) Where the Greeks sought for “wisdom” and the Jews for “signs.”
(2) That was morally corrupt.
The Corinthian converts came out of a factious and extremely corrupt society, and carried into the Church the savour of their old life, for the wine-skin will long retain the flavour of the wine.
Ultimately, it came down to Christian Unity. Christ was the Saviour of all, and His Spirit bound all together into a living and invisible unity. Each in their several ways contributed to fill up the same building on the same Foundation; each in their various ways were distinct members of Christ’s body, performing different offices, yet knit into one under the same Head; and the very variety produced a more perfect and abiding unity.
God is faithful. He will not leave his promises unfulfilled or his work unfinished (1Co 10:13; 2Th 3:3; Heb 10:23; Ro 8:28-30). New knowledge, new relationships, were born out of the Corinthian controversy.
Thank you, Father, for these tears that have carried me to the depth of your love. How could I have known your fullness without the emptiness, your acceptance without the rejection, your forgiveness without my failure, our togetherness without that dreadful loneliness. You have brought me to Gethsemane, and oh, the joy of finding you already there! Amen. - Bonnie Barrows Thomas