Summary: Are you living up to the life God gives you? You’re endeared and endowed; now what?
In the eleventh century, King Henry III of Bavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch. He made application to Prior Richard at a local monastery, asking to spend the rest of his life as a contemplative (i.e., monk). "Your Majesty," said Prior Richard, "do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king."
"I understand," said Henry. "The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you."
"Then I will tell you what to do," said Prior Richard. "Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you." When King Henry died, this statement summarized his response to his high calling: "The King learned to rule by being obedient."
When we tire of our roles and responsibilities, it helps to remember God planted us where we are and expects us to grow in holiness and obedience. When we in Christ’s church are faithful and obedient God further sanctifies us, forming us increasingly in the image of his Son.
1. The apostle Paul spent some eighteen months in Corinth establishing a church. Some time later, he went to Ephesus and stayed there for a while. While he was there the Corinthians wrote to him asking him questions and sharing some grievances and concerns they had for their congregation. Some of this information was quite disturbing . . .
A. Apollos, an accomplished Alexandrian Jew who was “mighty in the Scriptures” and learned at the feet of Pricilla and Aquilla at Ephesus (Acts 18:24,26), came to preach the Gospel in the footsteps of Paul (perhaps with greater eloquence). No problem here—but
B. Other teachers, less friendly to Paul and with leanings to Judaism, also began to work. In a short time, the infant church split into parties, each claiming a teacher as its leader (apparently without the consent of that teacher).
C. As dissension within the church intensified, behavior within the body deteriorated. Eventually, members of the church reported this to Paul, which caused him to write them immediately. His letter we now know as I Corinthians. TWM to chapter one.
2. You may consider the first nine verses of this chapter rather inconsequential: merely a greeting and some “small talk” to open the letter. I hope to convince you otherwise.
A. The opening of Paul's letter establishes a framework for the admonition he must share, and in the next few weeks, we will come to understand his strategy.
B. Of particular interest to us in this text is Paul's use of the word call (klhto\ß), a word he uses four times in this brief passage. Such use implies emphasis; therefore, we should take note of this in light of the context of the letter.
C. I believe Paul used this word to establish the endearment and endowment of believers in the church, causing them to evaluate their behavior in light of God’s expectation.
[Are you living up to the life God gives you? You’re endeared and endowed; now what?]
II. A CALL OF ENDEARMENT (1:1-2, 9)
1. Paul: Called To Be An Apostle (v.1). Paul was not, of course, one of the Twelve. Yet, so important was his mission, so urgent his ministry, that God called him to be an apostle.
A. Archibald Robertson translates this called by divine summons equally with the Twelve, which makes clear the emphasis and intent of God’s summons. The word klhtos (call) can mean both to invite and summon, depending on the authority of the one calling. In other words, man invites, but God summons.
B. God called Paul to a special status, as though he were one of the Twelve. This meant Paul had absolute – in fact, apostolic - authority to preach the gospel, administer the sacraments, ordain others into ministry and preside over the affairs of the church.
C. This apostolic authority, coming from the laying on of hands, is the very authority we proclaim today as we ordain ministers in the United Christian Church. Only the ordained may lay hands upon another, preserving the apostolic authority to which Paul refers.
2. Believers: Called to be holy (v.2). Christ sanctified the believers at Corinth (set apart for his purpose and made holy by his continued work in their lives). They were part of a larger group of believers; in fact, all who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A. Here, as we discussed earlier, call assumes the meaning invite. In other words, as Christ sanctifies the believer, it is reasonable that the believer would invite Christ to be Lord over every aspect of his life and being.
B. God’s grace is so magnificent, Christ’s atonement so radical; it demands that one give himself completely to holiness, as his “reasonable act of worship” (Ro. 12:1-2).