Summary: In today's lesson we learn various instructions regarding living the Christian life.
We continue our study in The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in a series I am calling Challenges Christians Face.
One of the challenges that Christians face is the issue of Christian living. The Apostle Paul addressed a number of issues regarding Christian living as he concluded his letter.
Let us read 1 Corinthians 16:5-14:
5 I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, 6 and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
10 When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. 11 So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers.
12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity.
13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:5-14)
When I left home for the first time after finishing high school I went into the South African Air Force. I remember the day my Mom and Dad said goodbye to me. The kept saying, “Have you remembered this. . . .” And, “Don’t forget to. . . .” And, “Be sure to. . . .” And so on. It was hard for them to let me go without giving me all kinds of final instructions.
That is what Paul is doing at the end of his letter to the Corinthians. He was thinking of all kinds of things that he still wanted to say to the Corinthians while recognizing that it was time to finish and send the letter. In these concluding verses of the letter we read of Paul’s final instructions to the Corinthians.
So, in today’s lesson we learn various instructions regarding living the Christian life. Let’s use the following outline to guide us:
1. Doing God’s Work in God’s Way (16:5-12)
2. Principles for Powerful Living (16:13-14)
I. Doing God’s Work in God’s Way (16:5-12)
First, let’s look at doing God’s work in God’s way.
As you know, we are now starting to save money for what I am calling our “West Wing Expansion.” When that wing gets built it will be constructed according to the architect’s plans and all the required building codes. Before we can use the expansion it will have to pass inspection to ensure that all the building codes were properly followed.
In the same way, God’s work must be done in God’s way. Jesus is building his church. And he is doing so through us, his workers. Everything that we do in participating in the building of Jesus’ church must be done according to his plan and code, which he has revealed in the Bible, and must be continually subject to the divine inspection of the Holy Spirit.
In these verses the apostle Paul gives us six principles for doing God’s work in God’s way.
A. God’s Worker Must Have a Vision for the Future (16:5)
First, God’s worker must have a vision for the future.
You may recall that Paul had planted the church at Corinth during the 18 months he spent there in the early 50s during his second missionary journey. After a brief trip to Judea and Syria, Paul settled in Ephesus for three years (52-55 AD). While there he wrote two letters to the Corinthians, the first of which is lost. The second letter he wrote is the current letter we have and which we call The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, and was written between 53 and 55 AD.
Paul wanted to visit the Corinthian church again because he said in verse 5: “I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia.” Paul was the consummate visionary. He was constantly strategizing about how the gospel could be advanced.
God’s worker plans and strategizes, and looks to the future with a vision for seeing the gospel advance. One writer suggested that Paul was haunted by distant regions, and never saw a ship at anchor but that he wished to board it to carry the good news to people across the waters, and that he never saw a mountain range but that he wanted to cross it and build up the saints in the Lord.