Summary: Exposition of the first nine verses of 1 Cor, regarding the nature of the church and those make it up.
Text: 1 Cor. 1:1-9, Title: An Epistle from An Apostle, Date/Place: NRBC, 6/13/10, AM
A. Opening illustration: Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, was angered by an army officer who accused him of favoritism. Stanton complained to Lincoln, who suggested that Stanton write the officer a sharp letter. Stanton did, and showed the strongly worded missive to the president. "What are you going to do with it?" Lincoln inquired. Surprised, Stanton replied, "Send it." Lincoln shook his head. "You don’t want to send that letter," he said. "Put it in the stove. That’s what I do when I have written a letter while I am angry. It’s a good letter and you had a good time writing it and feel better. Now burn it, and write another."
B. Background to passage: 1 Cor is the first of at least four letters that Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that he so dearly loved. Explain: one before 1 Cor, one after, but before 2 Cor. Paul spent 18 months in Corinth in about 51 AD. He had a deep love and concern for this “Troubled, Triumphant Church” and he showed it through the correspondence that we are about to begin a study on. This letter was probably written in early 55 AD from Ephesus, as he had gotten word to their situation.
C. Main thought: Today we will set the stage for the “Troubled, Triumphant Church”
A. Sender (v. 1)
1. Most of you know Paul’s history of persecution of the church that he now loves. Note that he is not the only former enemy of the gospel in this verse. Notice though his sense of calling. He says he is called to be an apostle according to the will of God. God chose Paul to be an apostle, a “sent” one, and he knew it. These were the ones who witnessed the resurrected Christ, and were sent on a foundational mission. The apostles were given to the church as gifts from God. And their calling was to found/plant the church. Their job was to preach, write, pastor, oversee, and disciple the early believers. When Paul and the 12 passed, the ministry of apostle was gone.
2. Acts 7:57-59, 9:1, 26:17-18, Philip 3:4-7, Rom 1:1, Gal 1:1, 1 Tim 1:1, 1Tim 2:7, Eph 4:11, 2:20
3. Illustration: In a cartoon some years ago a little guy was taking heat from his sister and friends for a newly found “calling”––patting little birds on the head. The distressed birds would approach, lower their little feathered pates to be patted, sigh deeply, and walk away satisfied. It brought him no end of fulfillment––in spite of the teasing he took from others. “What’s wrong with patting birds on the head?” he wanted to know. “What’s wrong with it?” his embarrassed friends replied. “No one else does it!”… If God made you a “patter,” then keep on patting to the glory of God. Philip Henry, brother of the well-known Puritan Matthew Henry, calling one day upon a tanner, found him so absorbed in tanning a hide, that he did not notice his pastor’s approach until he tapped him on the shoulder. In confusion the man said, “Sir, I am ashamed you found me thus.” “Nay,” replied Philip Henry. “May the Lord Jesus, when He comes, find me discharging with the same faithfulness, the duties of my calling.” Read of a church the other day that said it wasn’t unusual for a member to lead 70 people to Christ in a year’s time. the man in the white suit,
4. The gospel transforms sinners! Jesus didn’t come to save “good” men, but sinners. We must all fall at the feet of Jesus like Paul did in Acts 9, or else salvation will never come to us. Would to God that we all had that kind of a sense of calling. Do you understand the will of God for your life? We all have callings in our lives—to be a good father, to drive a truck, to serve our country, to love our parents. Some are more clear and permanent than others. But just because you may not be called to serve in this area or that, doesn’t in any way diminish the value of your calling. Viewing your occupation or daily life as a calling will help you find meaning and purpose and satisfaction, serving you Master, instead of drudgery. Remember, there is a sense in which we are all “sent” ones. Just because you haven’t been called to be an evangelist, apostle, or pastor/teacher, doesn’t mean that you are not sent out to carry the gospel. You are all missionaries to the place where you are called. We are all called/sent to take the gospel to others. And there may be some of you here today, that God is calling to the ministry, or to the overseas mission field.