Summary: God’s faithfulness to us in Christ Jesus should be center of our desire to be faithful to God.
1 Corinthians 1: 1 – 9 / God Is Faithful
Intro: The formality of letter writing hasn’t changed much since the time of Paul. The Greek format was: salutation, signature, body of the letter, date. Paul, however, added a little something to the beginning of most of his letters. He added a little “fluff” before he got to the heart of the issue over which the letter was written. In this letter to the church at Corinth, Paul turns the “fluff” into an opportunity for prayer.
I. We tend to look back at the church with romanticized ideas of what it used to be like. No church is perfect or without problems. The Corinthian church was no exception. It was definitely a church with problems.
A. A man in the church was having sexual relations with his father’s wife, there were church fights that were becoming court room battles, there were issues of sexual ethics, marriage, worship of idols and serious disruptions of worship services as well as arguments and divisions over leadership. Could almost be a portrait of any church today.
B. Here is a broken church, hurting, feeling pain and giving pain, confused about morality and ethics and yet, in Vs. 4, Paul begins his letter to them with “I always thank God for you . . .”
C. Paul might have seen the Corinthian church as JOB SECURITY. But Paul goes on to say WHY he is thankful, “Because of God’s grace given in Christ Jesus.” The grace of Christ Jesus shines through the brokenness of the Church.
II. Let’s go back a few verses to examine the salutation to see to whom Paul addresses the letter. Vs. 2 “To the church of God in Corinth.”
A. The words “church of God” appears only 3 times in the NT. Once in Acts 20 and 2 times in Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth. The word church, (ekklesiai) simply meant an assembly, not necessarily religious in nature. But Paul qualifies the “ekklesiai” as “tou Theou” or “of God”
B. 2 things distinguish the “assembly of God” from other assemblies: One, “sanctified in Christ Jesus” – cleansed or made worthy by Christ Jesus. It wasn’t of their own doing.
C. Two, “called to be holy” set apart or special again, something they could not do for themselves. Only through Christ were they different, set apart and worthy before God. They were being reminded that without Christ at the center of their life and church they were worthless and no better than the pagans of Corinth.
III. Paul reminds them any value they have is because of Christ. Any gift they possess is because of Christ. It is Christ Jesus that adds value and meaning to them all.
A. A man bought an old piece of junk motorcycle at an auction. One day as he worked to clean it up, he opened the gast tank and on the inside of the cap he read, “to Elvis, from Priscilla.” Suddenly, his worthless motorcycle became a valuable collector’s item based on previous ownership.
B. Paul wants the Corinthian Christians and us to realize that our worth is found only in Christ. Yet, we like to think god needs our gifts and abilities, that the church couldn’t survive without us. Insurance companies would like us to think we are worth $11K or 200K. The plain and simple fact is that without Christ, we are worth ZERO!
C. Fred Craddock, a preacher in Atlanta said, “We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table. Here’s my life, Lord. I’m giving it all. But the reality for most of us is that God would send us to the bank and have us change the $1,000 into quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid’s troubles instead of saying, “Get lost.” Go to the committee meeting. Give a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home. Usually giving our life to Christ isn’t glorious. It’s done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it’s harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul. It’s called FAITHFULNESS!
Conclu: Are we being faithful? How many of you have brought 100 new souls to our church? No one is asking you to do that. But have you been faithful in inviting a single person? --- How many of you have given half your salary to the church? No one is asking you to do that either. But have you given a tenth, or a tithe, as God instructed?
“God, who has called you into fellowship with his son Christ Jesus our Lord, is faithful.” ARE YOU?