Summary: The power of the Holy Spirit can transform lives, the power of the Holy Spirit can transform churches and the power of the Holy Spirit can change the world, one person at a time.
What do you think of when you hear the term “Rich Corinthian Leather”? That’s actually a misquote, Ricardo Montalban said “Soft Corinthian Leather” while referring to the Chrysler Cordoba in a mid-seventies advertising campaign. As it turned out this “Rich Corinthian Leather” was mass produced in a factory in Newark, New Jersey, not Corinth, but it helped sell a lot of automobiles.
The reference to the Corinthians is interesting. Two thousand years ago, you would have never used the city of Corinth in any advertising campaign. When the Apostle Paul wrote his letters to the Corinthian Church he was writing to a defiled church. Only twenty-five years after Jesus was crucified and resurrected, the church in Corinth was falling apart. People were engaged in all kinds of worldly activity, using the grace of God as an excuse for worldly living. It was also a divided church, with at least four different groups competing for leadership. This meant it was a disgraced church. Instead of glorifying God, because of pride, it was hindering the progress of the Gospel.
How did this happen? The members of the church permitted the sins of the city to creep into the local assembly. According to Warren Wiersbe, the city of Corinth was a polluted city, filled with every kind of vice and worldly pleasure. About the lowest accusation you could make against a man in that day would be to call him “a Corinthian.” People would know what you were talking about.
So it’s interesting that Chrysler chose “Corinthian Leather” for its interior. This image was enhanced by Hollywood, once again, as usual. Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Church could have been written to the church in America today. The Corinthian Church was filled with proud people with hidden agendas, and of course when you have proud people depending on human wisdom, adopting the lifestyle of the world, you are going to have problems.
Paul opened his letter by reminding the people of the church of their calling in Christ, He writes that we are called to be Holy – set apart by God. The word “church” in the Greek language means “a called out people.” Every church has two addresses – a geographic address (the city where our church is) and a spiritual address (in Christ Jesus.) We are to be sanctified or set apart by God. We are living Saints, that God can use on a daily basis.
This morning’s Scripture reference is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 3, verse 16; “Do you not know that you are the Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the Temple of God, God will destroy him. For the Temple of God is Holy.”
This is a severe warning to us all. We are set apart by God and we are to make sure God’s Temple remains pure, as individuals and as a church. The Spirit of God dwells in us, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells here in this church, and our church needs to be driven by this Spirit and nothing else.
In the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 18, Jesus gave us these words referring to the church as a whole. It was a lesson on humility. You’ll remember when the disciples came to Jesus, probably led by Peter, and asked Him who then is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them and said; “Assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter in the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My Name receives Me.” Jesus then went on to say; “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of these offenses.” During the time when Jesus walked this earth, a millstone was one of two stones used for grinding grain. It was a stone so large it took a donkey to turn it. Jesus is speaking of the church, to keep worldly sins out of the church, to keep it pure, for this is where God dwells.
So what drives the church? Two weeks ago I had mentioned that I was reading a wonderful book by Calvin Miller entitled “Loving God Up Close.” In it, Calvin Miller writes about how we can let the enormous force of the Holy Spirit bring us closer to God – and love Him more than we ever thought we could. We have talked about the force of the Holy Spirit a lot in this church. It is the force that drives this church and it should be the force that drives our lives. After all, God dwells in this Holy place, and He dwells within us, so the Spirit should be the same in our lives.