Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Setting expectations in a new ministry

A New Beginning

I Corinthians 1:10-17; 3:5-9

John Shearhart

February 28, 2010


Well, we’re finally here! It’s so exciting to start a new ministry, and I look forward to what God will do through us in the time to come.

To launch our ministry I want to set the expectations for…

A New Beginning

Open your Bibles to the first chapter of First Corinthians. In this text, the Apostle Paul writes to the church regarding their unity. I believe the principles he gives them can be used to help set expectation in our situation today:

1. Jesus, as the Messiah, is the only head of the church. (1:10-15)

Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you. 12Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ." 13Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so that no one would say you were baptized in my name.

Outside the church men were saying, “I follow Plato” or “I follow Aristotle.” They took pride in the personalities they followed. In the church they were making the same mistake. They took their eyes off the Master to follow some servant. They followed a man’s philosophy and his theology. They listened for powerful speech and watched for powerful presence.

Paul’s retort is that he is not their messiah. They were neither saved by nor baptized into the name of Paul; Christ alone is their hope and their Master.

This mistake really isn’t that uncommon today. Listen, if you have been coming to church simply to hear me preach or to follow my leadership, then you’ve been coming for the wrong reason!

Our purpose in meeting here is not to follow some weak, sinful man; the purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!

If you’ve come for any other reason, then you really need to reconsider your motives.

More than that, you are called to feed yourself as much as you hope to be fed from the preacher. What if? Are you capable of feeding yourself? It’s time for you to move from milk to meat and to take responsibility for your own spiritual health.

Don’t only pick my fruit. I spend time with God in the week preparing and growing spiritual fruit; I want to share it with you, but you should have fruit of your own.

When Jesus is the center of your attention, when you say “I am of Christ” rather than of some man, then you will bear that fruit.

2. The message of the church is far more important than the messenger. (1:16-17)

16Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

Paul didn’t have a cute little outline with clever little points. He didn’t alliterate his messages, recite lovely poems, or tell funny stories. There was no “step program” to a better sex life or happier times.

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (I Corinthians 2:1-5)

Paul went in preaching one thing: the gospel. The content of the gospel is substantive enough without man’s cleverness.

His ministry wasn’t focused on his abilities, and the church wasn’t centered on his personality.

If someone is here only because of the new pastor, you might as well join the Corinthian church; “I am of John.”

You don’t answer to me; you know that one day you’ll stand in front of your Master as a steward, and you want to be commended.

Get it in your head now, make it your philosophy that the cross and the gospel don’t need fancy preaching. What God needs is a willing heart to speak the truth.

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