Summary: This series starting with this sermon offers a sense of the connections that can be drawn from Paul’s struggles with the church at Corinth to our own church today.
“Dear Wakelee Church…Sincerely, Paul”
The Corinthian Connection Series
“Good Ideas Gone Bad” ~ I Corinthians 1:1-6:12
Wakelee Church ~ June 13, 2004
(verses taken from NKJV unless noted)
Introduction – Why study Corinthians?
While the individual circumstances (having sex with one another in the church, getting drunk on communion wine, etc.) are not necessarily problems that Wakelee is having (praise be to God), the culture which spawned those problems in the church is exactly the culture we are dealing with today in the US.
Corinth was a major shipping port, a hub for commerce between Italy and Asia.
Because of the trade there was a diverse ethnic population that exposed a variety of religions.
It’s commercial success was rivaled only by its decadence…
worship of the goddess Aphrodite was prevalent…over 1000 prostitutes served in her temple by day and into the streets at night
Corinthians were often depicted as drunkards and degenerates in Greek plays…in fact a word was made up just for them: to “Corinthianize” meant to practical sexual immorality.
But it was also a perfect place to grow a church!
Paul saw it as a perfect location to continue the church to Rome.
Acts 18:1-18 records Paul’s first trip as a Christian to Corinth…and there he received a vision from Christ himself…see v. 9-11 “Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Don not be afraid, but speak, do not keep silent, for I am with you and no one swill attach you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”
And thus, the Corinthian church was born.
But the church often looked more like the world than it did Christ….
Today I could make the same statement about the times in which we live.
God has had a bunch of good ideas for his people and his church, but just like in Corinth, some of those good ideas have gone bad.
That’s why I believe that by reading through and studying these two letters, we may be able to find some answers in ministering to this world we find ourselves.
I. Greeting – I Corinthians 1:1-9 – It’s God, Not You!
Good Idea: God working in the Corinthian church.
Gone Bad: The Corinthian church was not necessarily
working for God.
Key verse: “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ
our Lord.” – I Cor. 1:9
Connection: Focus what we do on what God does through us not necessarily what we do alone.
II. Divisiveness – It’s the Message, not the Messenger
Verses: I Cor.1:10-17, 3:1-17
Good Idea: Leadership
Gone Bad: Division
Key verse: “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak
the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” – I Cor. 1:10
Connection: (v. 11) There is only one foundation from which to build, and that foundation is Jesus Christ!
III. Power and Wisdom – Emptying the Cross of Its Message - Verses: I Cor. 1:18-2:16, 3:18-4:21
Good Idea: Resting in the power and wisdom of God.
Gone Bad: Resting in the power and wisdom of humankind.
Key verse: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him
become a fool that he may become wise.” – I Cor. 3:18
Connection: Embrace the message of the cross instead of emptying the cross of its message.
Immorality – Defiling, Judging, Hindering Grace
Verses: I Cor. 4-6:12
Good Idea: Living up to God’s standards in our relationships.
Gone Bad: Letting humankind set the standards.
Key verses: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me,
but I will not be brought under the power of any.” – Cor. 6:12
Connection: As Christians, we are washed (spiritually cleansed by God), sanctified (set apart as God’s people), and justified (declares righteous through Christ’s death on the cross), live like it!
This week we said good-bye to a man who happened to be our 40th president. During his tenure, he gave confidence in the midst of malaise. Through conviction, he facilitated the end of Cold War, and through his faith, gave our nation a sense of patriotic pride once again.
I believe that Paul was such a leader. When all others gave up on Corinth as a lost cause, Paul took 18 months and, with the Spirit’s guidance, formed a church. He loved the church. He knew that they could be something greater, and he never gave up on them even though they gave him every opportunity to do so.