Summary: Lessons to learn from the church in Corinth.
Warnings, Exaltations, & Instructions: The Church at Corinth
1 Corinthians 1:4 ¡V 15
At 4:30am someone pounded on the door of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd¡¦s home. The physician listened to the man on his doorstep explain how his traveling companion had fallen from his horse en route to Washington and had badly injured his leg. The doctor invited them in. For the remainder of the day he tended to the wounded leg and allowed the men to rest. By 5pm, they were gone. That event would forever change the doctor¡¦s life and reputation. Why? It was because the man Dr. Mudd had attended to was John Wilkes Booth ¡V Abraham Lincoln¡¦s assassin. As a result, the saying, ¡§Your name is mud,¡¨ was born. Mudd spent four years in prison before receiving a pardon, and he died 14 years later at age 49 due partly to the yellow fever he had contracted in prison. Over the next century, Mudd¡¦s descendants bore his shame.
This story goes to show us how much power there can be in a name. When we call ourselves Christians and say that we are God¡¦s holy church, we are making a claim that forever links us to Jesus Christ. We are giving ourselves a name. We must make sure that the name Christian does not turn out like the name Mudd. How do we do this? We must make sure we live up to the standards that are laid out in God¡¦s Word for his church by heeding the warnings, emulating the exaltations, and following the instructions. When we do these things, the name Christian has great credibility, but that has not been the case for the last several years. The name Christian has a negative connotation with many people. We must make sure that we restore this name to its proper place of power and respect.
Last time we were together, we talked about living a life worthy of the calling we have received. This involves being people who are humble, gentle, and patient. Basically, this type of person is one who puts the second greatest commandment into practice ¡V the one that tells us we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. These were Paul¡¦s instructions to the church at Ephesus. This morning, we are going to take a look at some of Paul¡¦s words to the church at Corinth. If you have your Bible¡¦s, you can follow along in 1 Corinthians 1:4-15 or use your sermon notes.
I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way ¡V in all your speaking and in all your knowledge ¡V because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore, you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. I appeal to you brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe¡¦s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, ¡§I follow Paul¡¨; another, ¡§I follow Apollos¡¨; another, I follow Cephas¡¨; still another, ¡§I follow Christ.¡¨ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that none of you can say that you were baptized into my name.
This morning, we must follow these words if we are going to restore the good name of the church. In order to do this, we need to take a closer look at the church in Corinth, uncover some things they did well, and search out the meaning of a specific warning Paul gives them. Before we look any deeper however, we must ask the Lord to teach us and to guide us this morning. Let¡¦s pray.
The city of Corinth was quite a city in the day of Paul. With a population of 250,000 free persons and 400,000 slaves, Corinth had more people in its day than modern day Pittsburgh. Many scholars claim that Corinth was the chief city of Greece at the time ¡V even greater than Athens. Being a city of such size comes with its ups and downs.
This city had three major things going for it. First of all, it was the center of tremendous commerce. The city was located on an isthmus which meant it had harbors on both its east and west sides. On top of the two harbors, there was a paved road called the Diolkos. This road connected the two harbors and allowed for small ships to be hauled over land to the other port or for cargos of large ships to be pulled to the other port or into the city. This allowed goods to be shipped from Italy and Spain to pass through to places such as Asia Minor, Phoenicia, and Egypt. This city also had a rich culture. Although this city was not a university town like Athens, people nevertheless placed a great importance on gaining wisdom. Most people were very interested in Greek Philosophy, and this led to an emphasis on religion in the City. Corinth contained at least twelve prominent temple in which people could go to worship.