God’s Grace - 1Corinthians 1.4-9
Paul opens up this section of his letter with a V4 The Prayer of Thanksgiving - towards God for the Corinthian believers; . What are the specifies of his Thanksgiving?
(i) It flows from a personal encounter with God I give thanks to my God.
(ii) It flows upward towards God , I give thanks to my God. Can I ask are you thankful to God this morning? Do you give Him thanksgiving? With your lips & with all your heart, Do you lay down the whole of your life before Him as an act of thanksgiving?
(iii) It flows outward upon the Corinthian Believers I give thanks to my God For You’ have encountered the Grace of God.
Where does it flow from? A thankful heart; Where does it flow to? To God Who does it flow upon? Others.
Consider your own prayers this morning do you see these three key elements of thankfulness coming from your own heart flowing toward God and being poured outward with thankfulness towards others. If our prayers are going to reflect something of Pauls then the pivotal truth principle must be that we must have encountered the grace of God in our own lives, this is something the Apostle Paul knew,
Oswald Chambers writes, the Grace of God is the overflowing favour of God and you can always count on it being available to draw upon as needed. But notice Paul here is referring to the Corinthians new birth as being an act of the grace of God ‘the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus’. This is where the overflowing favour of God begins.
1. God’s grace is a saving grace 4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus Eph 2:8
They had received God’s unmerited favour towards hell bent sinners who have been set apart as sanctified, saints.
1a. The Gospel - How do we receive the God’s saving grace? Paul says, it was given to you in Christ Jesus. Through His death & resurrection we have access to come back to God through repentance & faith, believing in Jesus Christ as our Saviour & Lord we can encounter the new birth, being baptised & filled with the Holy Spirit. This is the Gospel of Grace that saves;
In the gospels we see this fleshed out Mark 1:15 Jesus said, repent for the Kingdom of heaven has come near, John 3:36 Jesus said Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
(i) Paul’s Personal encounter of Saving Grace - Paul had encountered the grace of God which saves in his own life ( Acts 9 Pauls conversion) Truly thankful people towards God are those have encountered the grace of God that saves. Otherwise you might be thankful towards a god you have created, a god that you do not know, a god that’s removed & distant, a god you’ve never encountered or experienced. But the God of the Bible He is known, He is present, personal, He is encountered and his saving grace is experienced.
Consider the shepherd boy David, who later became King David. Psalm 23 The Lord is my Shepherd, The Lord is my Shepherd story ~ I recited the 23rd psalm, but this knows the good Shepherd. Do you honestly know Him this way? Are you able to say, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ like David & ‘I give thanks to my God.’ Like Paul.
(ii) Paul’s thanksgiving directed toward the Corinthians Paul is not giving thanks for his own salvation, but for the grace of God which had swept through Corinth, forming the Corinthian Church. God’s grace that saves through Jesus Christ had impacted this Church at Corinth big time, look what some of these people were before the grace of God saved....
1Cor 6: 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous[a] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[b]10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Life Application. Our Thanksgiving - for the Church community – Is it our desire this morning and every new day to give thanks for those of us who have received his saving grace in Christ Jesus. This is the Churches unique dynamic, it cannot be found anywhere else, this marks a true Church out, people are saved by Grace through faith. As a result we should always be able to give thanks to God for one another in bringing salvation to others as well as ourselves, others in our community will encounter Gods Grace that saves in Christ Jesus their lives.
(iii) V4 Ongoing thanksgiving - Gods grace that saves is of course a cause of thanksgiving especially when we see it happening (Awesome) but Paul here is giving thanksfor those who have already been saved by Gods grace. the grace of God that was given to you.
Life Application - What God has done for us should always whether it was today last week four or forty years ago be a cause of ongoing thanksgiving, Paul says, I give thanks to God always for you. Consider what God has done for each of us included us, into His Church. This should always be a cause of ongoing thanksgiving in our lives as individuals and as a Church. Let’s give thanks to God for what He has done and is doing amongst us through His saving Grace.
2. God’s grace is an enriching grace V5-7 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God has not only saved these Corinthians believers, by his grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ but He goes on to enrich their lives as a community of Gods people 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, they are enriched in Charismata gifts of Word based ministries speech, knowledge & not lacking in any spiritual gift - Charismata - Grace Gifts.
• Corinth as you know was a city thrived on rhetoric & knowledge. There is no doubt that God would enrich His church in this way in order to display His Glory & wisdom and power through the Church in to Corinth. Because rhetoric without power, no matter how eloquent, is emptied of all spiritual power. So when Paul came it seemed like foolishness but it was filled with power & the wisdom of God. 1 Cor 1:17-25 Read
(i) God’s Grace enriches Christians with spiritual Gifts for the benefit of the Church
Paul is seeking from the outset to lay his cards on the table, he knows of all the problems in this Church one of which is the inappropriate use of spiritual gifts. Here he is being a little bit ironic that in every way you were enriched, you are not lacking in any spiritual gift in particular gifts, speech & knowledge word gifts whether prophecy , preaching & teaching, wisdom, knowledge, tongues whether missional & ecstatic utterance to God with interpretation. Paul is not denying the fact but as a result some individuals had become filled with a spiritual pride which was outplayed in the life of the Church.
Paul wants them to know from the outset that all Charismata Grace Gifts are just that, grace gifts which have been given by God for the building up of the Church 12:4-7 14:26, & not its demolition exactly what these Corinthians were experiencing in the Church.
Wrong attitudes - Take a look with me ( 1:10 17 Leaders were quarrelling, cliques were forming 4:18 5:1-2 they had become arrogant from mistaken knowledge 8:1-3 This Knowledge was puffing up egos v10 superior individuals 12:29-30 Corinth had become a wash with spiritual gifts& bad practice 14: 9-12 tongues were being spoken without any interpretation v4 this was only building up the tongue speaker & not the church v12 Paul wants them to strive to excel in building up the church 13-19 rather than Intelligible words in the Church v23 outsiders would consider them out of their minds. And so it wasn’t enriching the church body. Corinth was in a state of confusion & disorder this being an utter contradiction to God. 14:33; who is a God not of confusion but of peace.
So Paul lays down correct practice for all spiritual gifts v26 which will allow the spiritual gifts to truly enrich the Church how God had intended.
(i) Enriching Gifts are a cause for thankfulness - Paul wants us to be thankful to see that these enriching gifts flow from God out to us they are for the enrichment of the Church Body and not a cause for any spiritual pride specifically pointing at the word based gifts (danger). Encourage others in their gifting to exercise those gifts given.
(ii) Enriching gifts must be handled correctly - second God desires that they are used correctly as and when they are manifested in accordance with God’s word and not abused as in Corinth, spiritual gifts are not a cause of spiritual extermination but enrichment & are God glorifying not self gloryfying .
(iii) Enriching gifts are for the enrichment of the Church - 1Cor 12:7, 14:12 , 26 Paul wants them to realise they are given by God, not merely for their own enrichment (God forbid we become narcissist in our thinking of spiritual gifts) the enrichment of the Charismata grace gifts for the building up of the Body of Christ, 1 Peter 4:10 that others will be enriched by the gifts that God has given to us in the Church 1 Tim1. 6-7 we would fan into flame those gifts . And that we submit to the correct procedure laid down for us in scripture, in this way we will bring glory to God and enrich the church community, giving thanks for God’s enrich grace towards one and all.
(iv) Enriching gifts are temporary - And I don’t mean just to the apostolic age and there not applicable today; I cannot see that anywhere from scripture. But notice what Paul says, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. This implies that all spiritual gifts are temporary that when Christ returns for his Bride there will be no further need for any spiritual gifts. And this concurs with 1 Cor 13:8- 13 when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. That We shall be perfected in Christ how more enriched in the grace of God can you be?
3. God’s grace is a sustaining & all sufficient grace V8-9
Not only have we been saved by v4 saved by Gods grace (past tense) in Christ , v5 enriched by Gods grace (present tense) in Christ but we will also be v8 sustained by Gods grace ( present & future tense). And presented before Christ guiltless on the day of judgement (In the day of our Lord Jesus Christ)
I once saw this advertisement on the side of a plumber’s van; There is no place too deep, too dark or too dirty for us to handle. What a wonderful explanation of Gods sustaining grace in our lives! There is nothing that we go through, that Gods sustaining grace will see us through it.
Sustaining grace - How can we ever go on in the Christians life, do you ever feel like throwing in the towel, jumping back into the world, after so much distraction , suffering, trials, contradictions, after all some people do ( Jude 4, 1Jhn2 :19 )
The reason a Christian saved by Gods grace, will never do that is that He/she is supplied with God’s sustaining Grace v8 who will sustain you to the end. Just as this grace gifts were theirs & confirmed in them v6 So will the believers be sustained and confirmed guiltless on the day of judgement V8. they will be taken to that point by his sustaining (keeping) grace.
• look with me what Paul thought about his present sufferings Romans 8: 18, 23 groan inwardly redemption of our bodies, 28-30 we will be like Him 35-39 nothing can separate us from the future glory through His sustaining & all sufficient grace.
J. Hudson Taylor wrote, It does not matter where He places me or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me. For the easiest positions, He must give grace; and in the most difficult, His grace is sufficient. So, if God places me in great perplexity, must He not give me much guidance? In positions of great difficulty, much grace? In circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength? As to work, mine was never so plentiful, so responsible, or so difficult; but the weight and strain are all gone. His resources are mine, for He is mine! -
Important to note - both his sustaining of us & the declaration of us being guiltless before Christ Jesus, are both fruits of GODS GRACE & absolutely nothing of our own doing. This is why as Christians await this great day of Christ’s return eagerly and not with apprehension and are able to be sustained in the present . Rom 5:1-2 .Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, andwe[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God.
David Jackman writes, the grace that saves is the grace that keeps, to the very end of the road, so that every one of his redeemed people will be presented guiltless in his presence on that day .
Life lesson - Paul mentions this sustaining grace because these Corinthians had become obsessed with the present experiences of enrichment, that they will be tempted to imagine that they already are enjoying all the blessings of heaven, as super conquerors already triumphant, victor conquering all enemies already, this is addressed in chapters 4 ,15. He wants them to look to the future grace and the grace that will sustain them .
Also we could get trapped into our trials and sufferings and even the fears of our own death which will rob us of the present Joy, the key is to look to his; Sustaining grace II Cor. 12:9 my grace is sufficient for You but also this future grace reality of being present before Him Guiltless.
A clear future focus will enable us to live healthy Christian lives in the present. The Grace of God alone sustains us into his future Grace on the Day of the Lord.
v9 God is faithful by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
• Gods grace saves in Christ Jesus
• Gods grace enriches in Christ Jesus
• Gods grace sustains in Christ Jesus