Summary: God calls us holy even though we are not
Man On An Island
Marooned! A man swims from his sinking ship and arrives on a beach.
Turns out he is completely alone on the island. Two years later….he flags down a passing ship, he is jumping with excitement. The dingy arrives from the passing ship and the first question the sailors ask is,
Where is everyone else? Everyone else?, the man says, it’s just me – let’s go! Sailors won’t budge. Well, if you’re alone – What about The Three Huts. The three huts….well….the first hut is my house.
And the second hut is my church. What about the third hut? Asked the sailors. Oh the third hut (looking side to side and whispering), That’s the church I used to go to.
We Are Called To A Better Life. We are called to be part of God’s special people known as the church, set apart. We should be different; We should stand out and therefore be different and recognizably different.
We see this in our Scripture this morning in 1 Corinthians. Paul wants the Corinthians to be different. In verse 1Cor. 1:2 To the church of God in Corinth, that doesn’t sound particularly moving. It sounds just like a nice hello. But Paul is choosing to address them as the church of God in Corinth for a reason. Paul uses the word e?kklhsi÷aˆ in verse 2, which means church in English. At this time in the Greek language – which Paul is writing in it means simply, assembly.
If someone said they were going to church, e?kklhsi÷aˆ
It could have meant to others: Secular assembly, gladiator, a play, a Civic assembly, the mayor speaking, or really, any kind of religious assembly. Pagan, Jewish, Christian - there was no Christian connotation as we have today. If someone said they were going to church, it would mean they were going to an assembly - But you wouldn’t know what kind.
So Paul chooses to distinguish them from other kinds of churches, that is assemblies, by calling them the church of God in Corinth. He wanted them to know they specifically stand out, unique among churches.
Paul does not always do this. 1:2 …To the churches in Galatia: He doesn’t always say church of God, but here he does specifically.
He wants them to know they are uniquely the church of God, that they should stand out from the others in town. Calling it the church of God also has the implication that divine action formed it.
Since it is not merely a gathering, it is a gathering with the founding by God.
In addition we see that the church is not only founded by God, but is in the possession of God. First Presbyterian is in the possession of God.
Not in our possession. We are called to be a different gathering, than other gatherings in the city.
Saw the fireworks Friday night. They were great. All kinds of people gathered and enjoyed them, but it was not a gathering of the church of God. We were just watching fireworks, enjoyed them, went home.
Gathering of the church of God. Enjoy God and go home. Doesn’t sound right does it? We expect more from a gathering of the church of God – and we should.
So Paul sets up this letter of 1st Corinthians with this first expectation
You are different than any other assembly in this city.
About The City Of Corinth.
If you have you bible from home with you, take a look in the back and see where the City of Corinth was located. It is at the end of a narrow strip of land called “the bridge of Greece”. Ships were moved over this narrow slice of land, rolling them on logs by slave power, so they could cut time off journey. Time is money.
While sailors waited for their ship to be moved, they spent time in Corinth. Their philosophy wasn’t, "What goes not in Corinth stays in Corinth", That would be way to tame, "Everyone knows what goes on in Corinth – and we don’t care". Think of the worst most morally corrupt place in the world today, and that would be rated G, next to Corinth. It is difficult to emphasis how far morally corrupt this place was. This is not your first choice for raising a family, nor would this be a place where you would think Christians lived.
Now as a church you would think it would be fairly easy to be different than everyone else. But incredibly we see that the church here is having a very difficult time being different. Perhaps they don’t know who they are, so Paul tells them who they are: The church, the assembly of God.
But more than that he says…The Imperfect Is Perfect. God calls the imperfect – perfect. The Corinthian church is far from perfect. Perhaps the church that was the farthest from perfect of any NT church. Very far. Yet Paul says, 1 Cor. 1:2……, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy -these folks, if you have even just thumbed through the letter, are not acting sanctified, nor acting holy. In fact in some instances the people of the city of Corinth are appalled at what the church members are doing. Now Paul is very aware that they are not acting holy, yet he knows that God declares them holy and sanctified