Summary: When God calls something that which it is not, it eventually becomes that.
In Romans chapter 4 the faith that saved Abraham is defined as that which believes that God gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. (vs. 17)
Throughout the scriptures, no matter the specific accomplishments of men and women of God, whenever we are given any glimpse of what about them made them acceptable to God, it seems that the very foundation of their faith, that manifested itself in action, was the belief that He creates and resurrects.
More specifically, He is the one and only Creator, and he alone can call the dead to life.
There are many expressions of this theme; some more apparent than others. But it is there, running like a thread throughout the Bible. Therefore we see it here also, in I Corinthians, and will continue to see it throughout the letter.
It is expressed in the interpersonal relationship between God and His church. When we look on one hand at the human side of the church, these many problems that Paul had to address and the struggles they were going through, and then on the other hand we study the whole thing from God’s perspective, as revealed to us in the things that Paul says to them about God, we see, over and over, death and resurrection. Grace in the face of gracelessness. The way we see ourselves and others, and the way God sees.
Now as we go, let’s be careful to keep our perspective. We aren’t here to simply pick apart the inadequacies of the Corinthians and marvel that God could be so patient with them, and we also are not coming here to see their faults, and parallel them with faults in the modern day church and then sit around and agree that the church today is a mess.
Rather, we come to once more be amazed in the presence of God, who calls the imperfect ‘perfect’, even as He is in the early processes of making it so.
And this is not some new idea; something introduced in the New Testament through the teachings of Jesus or Paul, or in the actual event of the death and resurrection of Christ.
In the Old Testament we see many instances of God calling something that which it is not yet, but that it shall be. He changed Abram’s name to Abraham, ‘father of many’, over two decades before his promised son was born. He called David the king of Israel long before David ascended to the throne. He called Gideon ‘mighty warrior’, while Gideon hid behind the wine press, trying to keep just a little bit of grain out of the hands of the Midianites.
The thing that should lighten our hearts as we go is to note that God never called something that which it was not, that didn’t eventually become that. God’s view of your future and mine is clear and true and perfect, Christian, and he calls you now what you will eventually be, by His divine intervention and the continuance of His loving, sanctifying work.
So let’s enter now into this study in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, and let God show us how He sees the whole picture.
THE IMPERFECT CHURCH (VS 10-17)
Skimming lightly over these verses, 10 through 17, the first thing that jumps out at me is that the first problem Paul addresses in this letter is divisiveness. Division in the body.
Whoever Chloe is, whether a member of the church or a prominent business woman in Corinth with whom Paul has had some acquaintance, she has ‘people’. Now these may be servants that she sends to do her bidding, or they may be employees or family; we don’t know.
They’re just Chloe’s people.
Now this is circa 56 or 57 A.D., and Paul is presently staying in Ephesus. So Chloe has sent her people to Paul, probably with a letter, filling him in on the latest in the Corinthian church.
It’s probably safe to assume that Chloe is a part of that church, otherwise she would not know so much about it, and would not be this concerned with what little she did know.
She informed Paul concerning the brethren, so she was probably a part of the body of Christ there.
So Paul is responding to this information brought by Chloe’s people, and as we go through we will see that there are a number of important issues to be addressed. But if Paul has responded in order of priority in his own thinking, which it seems to me the best course of action, then we can glean from this that he sees division as of primary importance.
Why? Well, if there is no unity, and no cooperation, and no agreement in thought or action, then there really isn’t much point in trying to fix any other problems, is there?