Summary: Ministry Can Hurt, Judgment, Arrogance, Correction
PAUL: A FOOL FOR CHRIST - We Are Fools for Christ!
April 22, 2018
1 Corinthians 4:10 (p. 795)
A few years ago Kari and I got to go on a cruise that was called “The Steps of Paul.” We had the privilege to visit Ephesus, Athens, Malta, and many other of the places from Paul’s missionary journeys. One of the most remarkable places we stopped was Corinth…It’s in southern Greece. The Bible calls this region “Achaia.” It’s located near the Sea on an Isthmus about 50 miles west of Athens.
When Rome conquered this city they made it their seat of government for Southern Greece…It was a rich city, a conduit as a seaport to the rest of the Roman world, but like other rich cities it was filled with vices…Corinth was the Las Vegas…Bourbon Street location of its day.
Kari and I witnessed the remains of a Pagan temple…
SHOW PICTURE OF TEMPLE
…within the city limits…It was dedicated to the pagan goddess Venus…(the god of lust). During Paul’s stay here it housed 1,000 prostitutes, they called “priestesses.”
Sexual sin was the norm for people in Corinth…Lust was celebrated and a part of worship for their idols. Corinth was one of the most ornate and architecturally beautiful cities of its day…but it was enveloped in sin to its very core.
Its during his 2nd missionary journey that Paul leaves Athens and travels to this city (around 50 AD). It’s during this time that he meets a couple named Aquilla and Pricilla…and works with them to spread the gospel of Christ.
ACTS 18:1-11 (p. 773)
The Christians at Corinth are a ministry of Jesus (like Aquilla & Priscilla) and Gentiles… “who believed and were baptized.” Some had a background where they understood the OT, prophets, and the promised Messiah…Some had a background of worshipping Venus and other Roman idols…it was an interesting dichotomy.
Paul stayed there teaching them the Word of God for a year and a half with Aquilla and Priscilla.
Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. (Acts 18:4) Silas and Timothy joined him here to help with the work.
Later another believer named Apollos would be mentored by Aquilla and Priscilla and lead to Corinth as well.
ACTS 18:27-28 (p. 773)
Think about the spiritual investment at Corinth…it’s teachers were Paul, Timothy, Aquilla, Priscilla, Apollos, Silas…and others.
But Corinth had the same major problem we all have…pride and arrogance…with all their different backgrounds and pasts…They foolishly divided themselves up in cliques. They lost sight of the big picture and focused on selfies.
I. A CHURCH DIVIDED
It’s why Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians begins with an appeal for unity.
1 CORINTHIANS 1:10-13 (p. 793)
These folks began to make the teacher more important than what was being taught…They began to fight about which group was best instead of rallying around the power of the cross.
What happens when believers begin to focus on themselves and the things that make them feel more important than others…“The cross is emptied of its power.”
Folks, the purpose of the cross is about reconciling us to God…The power of the cross is that Jesus, the perfect son of God, died for all sin so atonement could take place…Atonement means “to make one.”
That’s why Paul asks “Is Christ divided…was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
It’s breaking Paul’s heart that the Corinthians are quarreling over worldly issues when the very purpose of the cross of Christ was to make us one.
Kyle Idleman, in “Not a Fan” said,
SHOW PIC OF QUOTE BY KYLE IDLEMAN
“The greatest danger in life is anything other than Jesus that becomes a foundation for our confidence.”
The Corinthians, like many of us today…accepted the message of the cross…but didn’t pursue it…They stayed immature in their faith…believing they were smart enough to figure life out on their own…and when it came to their opinions and rights, they asserted them over the needs of others…no wonder the Apostle Paul reaches a point of frustration and says, “We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak but you are so strong. You are honored, we are dishonored.”
Paul, Apollos, Timothy, Silas and others are on the front lines…being persecuted, beaten, imprisoned. They’ve been hungry, thirsty homeless and brutally treated…He says “We’ve become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world in
But, in their relatively rich comfort, the Corinthians ignore sexual as a man sleeps with his father’s wife…They sue each other in court, they engage in relationships where they tolerate gossips, swindlers, drunks and greedy people who claim to be “church people.” They argue about insignificant issues like food…and hurt other believers…and even when they meet together, they’re not united around the cross…They are divided into cliques.