Summary: Introduction and overview to a study of 1 Corinthians using the Body and medical analogy to understand what it means to be a healthy and holy church.
SERIES: PRESCRIPTIONS FOR A HEALTHY & HOLY CHURCH:
A Study in 1 Corinthians Applied To The Church Today
I. A CHURCH’S MEDICAL HISTORY
Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, January 11, 2009 AM
It’s 2009 and what a world we have made for ourselves! Given the vast networks of information now available to us, it is rather easy to recognize that we live in a sick, diseased world that is breaking down all around us. We are an ailing people struggling amidst an ailing world. Nothing seems to function the way it was designed to or even used to anymore. Pain has become commonplace. Conflict is the norm and peace is the rare exception. Rather than healthy growth, there seems to be regression and even decay. Frequently, people use poison as medicine and shun medicine as if it were poison.
We, as a society, will pay obscene amounts of money, time and discomfort for cosmetic surgery to make us look better on the outside and yet continue to embrace that which destroys us on the inside. We sacrifice our children’s future to numb our symptoms, but refuse to acknowledge the actual disease or consent to the surgery necessary to achieve true health. It’s 2009 and what a world we have made for ourselves!
Therefore, as we join together in this new year, I want to challenge us as God’s church in Perth to truly be set apart for Him as a light and example to the world around us of what it really means to be healthy and holy!
Our community desperately needs Perth Bible Church to provide it with a genuine, faithful and consistent example and source of health and holiness. But, for that to happen, our families need to be healthy and holy. And, for that to happen, each of us must individually commit ourselves to all that is necessary to attain and maintain healthy and holy lives to the honor and glory of Jesus Christ!
But HOW? What does this really look like? How can we live in this world and yet avoid it’s rampant diseases?
Not only is this the situation and struggle that we face today, but it also describes the situation and struggle that the earliest Christian churches had to face. Nowhere was this more true than in the ancient city of Corinth, nor was the issue greater addressed than through the God-directed letters sent by the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth. In these letters, the LORD God guided Paul to doctor the sick patient that was the church at Corinth. Why was it sick? Because there was more of the DNA of the city in the church then there was the DNA of Jesus in the church or of the church in the community.
May I implore us to dedicate 2009 as a year in which Perth Bible Church commits to the full process of diagnosis, treatment, diet and lifestyle that is necessary to be a healthy and holy church?!
To this end, I ask each and every one of us to study the wisdom and truth of God’s words to the Corinthians and then apply these lessons to our own selves, families and church. To help us maintain this focus, I have chosen a “PBC Theme Verse” for 2009:
KEY VERSE: 1 CO. 15:58
“... Be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work,
knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
THE PRINCIPLES (1:1-3)
The Medical Care Team: God the Director,
Jesus the Great Physician, and
Paul, the assistant.
From the very beginning, Paul seeks to clarify that while the letter is coming from his ’hand’ it’s words and authority are that of Jesus the Messiah according to the will of God the Father (as perfectly given to Paul through the Holy Spirit).
Paul communicates to the church with great authority, not because of who he is, his intelligence, training, title or earthly achievements, but because he has been sent in this role by Jesus Christ and exercises it according to God’s will!
The Patient: The Church at Corinth & all Christians
Notice Paul’s emphasis on this being God’s church. They are not their own, they are His. They are not to live according to their own experiences and feelings, but by and in fulfillment of His will!
As Dr. Gordon Fee writes: “Thus, just as Paul is an apostle by divine calling, so the Corinthian believers are God’s new people by divine calling, who as such are to reflect God’s character. One might note in passing that this is not their strong suit; in too many ways they look far more like Corinth than they do God’s holy people in Corinth” (NICNT,, pg. 33).
But, as Paul here reminds, it is not just the Corinthians but ALL Christians in all places (and time) that need to understand and apply these God-given principles!