TWO CHURCH LADIES CHATTING–
FIRST LADY–my son is a saint, works hard, doesn’t smoke and hasn’t look at a woman in over two years.
SECOND LADY–well, my son is a saint himself, not only hasn’t he looked at a woman in over three years, but he also hasn’t touched a drop of liquor in all that time.
FIRST LADY–my word, said the first mother, you must be so proud.
SECOND LADY–I am, and when he gets paroled next month, I’m going to throw him a big party!
The Church of God (not a denominational idea):
“To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ–their Lord and ours:” (1 Corinthians 1:2 NIV).
Not a new idea–
All over the OT we see examples of people who were not what we might consider as…wonderful. Abraham and Jacob were not wonderful and yet, God declared them Holy as we do today in reference.
You see, God sees the future; He knows what we are not yet and He also knows what we will, not can, but will become. And God doesn’t do this in hopelessness. Those He declares holy, sanctified, He will accomplish His work in them.
God is not fooled–
God sees the future and so Paul, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declares the people in the church (assembly) of God in Corinth–HOLY.
WE ARE CALLED TO A BETTER LIFE:
We are called to be a part of God’s special people known as… the church of the set apart.
We should be different; we should stand out and therefore be different–recognizably different in our community where we reside. We see this in verse 2 of 1 Corinthians 1: Paul wants the Corinthians to be different.
The Salutations of a Letter–
Paul begins, “To the church of God in Corinth”, which doesn’t exactly sound particularly moving. It sounds like a nice hello. But Paul is choosing to address them as the church (assembly) of God in Corinth for a reason.
Paul uses the word e?kklhsi%a” in verse 2, which means church in English. At this time in the Greek language–which Paul is writing in–simply means “Assembly”.
If someone said they were going to church e?kkljsi%a”, it could have meant to others:
A Civic assembly,
The mayor was speaking,
Or really, any kind of religious assembly–Pagan, Jewish, Christian. There wasn’t Christian connotations as we have today.
So Paul chooses to make a distinction from other kinds of churches, that is assemblies, by calling them the Church of God in Corinth. He wanted them to know to specifically to stand out, and be unique among the other churches in the city.
Paul doesn’t always do this: 1:2…To the churches in Galatia–he doesn’t always say church of God, but here in Corinthians 1…he does specifically. He wants them to know how uniquely the church of God is to stand out from the others in town. Calling it THE CHURCH OF GOD has the implication that divine action formed it. Since it is not merely a gathering, it’s a gathering with the founding of God. Have I confused you? I hope not. Let’s go into the Word a little deeper.
‘What happens in Corinth, stays in Corinth’–
Where the city was located is at the end of a narrow strip of land called “the bridge of Greece.” Ships were moved over a narrow slice of land by rolling logs be slave power, so they could save time on their journey–time IS money.
While the sailors waited for their ship to be moved, they of course spent time in Corinth. Their philosophy wasn’t, “what goes on in Corinth, stays in Corinth.” That would be to tame. It might have sounded more like “Everyone knows what goes on in Corinth–and we don’t care!”
Think of the most morally corrupt place you can think of in the world–or perhaps in the community you might live in. That would be rated G next to Corinth. This wouldn’t be your first choice in raising a family, nor a place where you would think Christians lived.
Now as a church you would think it would be fairly easy to be different from everyone else living in your community. But incredibly we see the church here having a very difficult time being different. The same ‘difficulty’ can arise in the workplace too–being different. You don’t want to stick out, be called a religious kook–you just want to fit in.
But more than that, Paul says…, The Imperfect Is Perfect–God calls the imperfect–to be perfect. Now the Corinthian church was far from perfect. Probably farther from perfect than any other NT church…Very Far.
Yet Paul says, 1 Corinthians 1:2…, “to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy”–these folks, if you’ve just thumbed through the letter, is not acting sanctified–not acting holy.
Now Paul is very aware that they were not acting holy, yet he knows God declares them sanctified and holy even though they are not. And many times, what Paul says often makes no sense to some Bible commentators. How can he say they are holy then proceed to tell them in his letter how unholy they are? So they think Paul is being sarcastic with his words. Funny thing is, I found no evidence of this–in the grammar, the words chosen, context–nothing that would lead to sarcasm.
God does the unfathomable–
He call us holy, sanctified–even if all the evidence is to the contrary. You might be thinking at this point How can that be? We are holy because God says so! Not because of how good we are, but because of how good God is!
JESUS CHRIST is our Mediator and it is through His death and resurrection that makes us holy. We cannot SAVE ourselves. Only by God’s grace (unmerited favor) can we be saved, and in the same way we are sanctified–made holy–not making ourselves holy, but by the choice and grace of God.
“I thank my God at all times for you because of the grace (the favor and spiritual blessing) of God which was bestowed on you in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:4 AMP).
Now in observation, they’re sinners. But because of their position before God, they were pure saints. This is so important for us to remember our position in Christ because, we too are made holy; sanctified and set apart. Therefore, we are to ACT HOLY.
Because we are of Christ Jesus, we are to be different and live our lives matching to who we are.
Live Better Than A Bottomless Cup of Coffee–
1 Corinthians 1:5:
“[So] that in Him in every respect you were enriched in full power and readiness of speech…”
I love the words Paul uses here–ENRICHED IN FULL POWER. Merriam-Webster definition:
“To make rich or richer especially by the addition or increase of some desirable quality, attribute, or ingredient.”
Like a ‘bottomless cup of coffee–you don’t have to get from your place of studying God’s Word to get another cup of coffee in the kitchen–your cup is bottomless; it’s enriched!
The Greek’s Idea of Success–
The Greeks valued the ability to speak well and obtain a high level of knowledge. Most of the Corinthians never achieved this in society and today, most of us haven’t either.
Paul, here uses this phrase “…in all your speaking and in all your knowledge”–to show them they already have what is most valued. They don’t have to seek to obtain what the Greeks value. God has given them ALL they need.
So, “Lets Just Do it!”
God will give you the words to say.
God will give you the knowledge you need.
An Unlimited Power Supply Is Available–
1 Corinthians 1:7:
“Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed” (NIV).
The church in Corinth was not lacking in spiritual gifts. What they were lacking was spiritual maturity. Notice they were waiting…and in their waiting they had been given the ultimate POWER SUPPLY until the Lord Jesus returns. They needed to ‘plug in’ to the Source!
The Must’s In our Lives–Think and Act God Centered!
1 Corinthians 1:9:
“God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (AMP).
We like the Corinthians were not called into the greatest social and humanitarian group ever. We were called into a spiritual body founded by the greatest Person that ever walked the earth, who is coming back one day to reclaim His Bride; the Church.
This doesn’t mean we are to have our heads in the clouds; that we are not to be social or merciful–we are–but we are to be spiritual first. All of our social and humanitarian experiences are to be informed by the spiritual and led by the spiritual–our Lord Jesus Christ. All the rest–the giving, the sharing, the loving… will then follow.
This is what the apostle does…
In the Letter of First Corinthians, Paul knows the assembly gathered in a sinful city are SANCTIFIED; made HOLY–CALLED BY GOD. And yet–they needed to live a GOD CENTERED LIFE.
Unlike those around them–in the cities, in the community, in the work place–he tells them,
“And He will establish you to the end guiltless and irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:8 AMP).
AMEN and AMEN!