Summary: A talk on Paul's instruction to remain strong in the Lord amidst temptations in a worldly-culture.
Text: 1 Cor 16:13-14, Title: Where the Deer and Antelope Play, Date/Place: NRBC, 4/29/12, AM
Background to passage: All of these words are present tense imperatives.
Main thought: Paul gives them a final word of exhortation as he closes out the letter
Maintain spiritual alertness (v. 13)
The word Paul uses here means to stay awake. “This exhortation to vigilance presupposes that Christians are always in danger of reducing their full commitment to God through Christ and of allowing themselves to be seized by things of lesser value.” It also means to maintain a constant state of readiness or alertness. He knew that any church has the potential to grow complacent. They can become comfortable, and begin to lose their edge, their passion, their vigilance. And he knows how deadly this can become to any group, organization, institution, or business.
Pro 27:12, 1 Pet 5:8, 1 Thess 5:6,
Illustration: Picture a driver trying to wake himself up while drifting off, “Complacency is a blight that saps energy, dulls attitudes, and causes a drain on the brain. The first symptom is satisfaction with things as they are. The second is rejection of things as they might be. “Good enough” becomes today’s watchword and tomorrow’s standard. Complacency makes people fear the unknown, mistrust the untried, and abhor the new. Like water, complacent people follow the easiest course—downhill. They draw false strength from looking back.”
How many times as fathers do we think: what is short-circuiting my children’s faith? Am I accomplishing my desired end in being a husband? How many times do we think: I am going to love God less, or go to church less, or read my bible less? As a church, do we look out for ways that division might be creeping in? Or do we perceive how our love is growing cold or our vision growing dim? How do we do it? Have regular times of evaluation. Have brothers and sisters in Christ who will watch out for you and confront you. Will they help you see things from a different angle? How are your prayer times? Sense of God’s presence? Are you taking kingdom oriented risks?
Maintain spirtiual foundation (v. 13)
Next Paul says to stand fast or firm. The idea here is that hold diligently in a conviction or belief. He wanted the Corinthians to not forsake the things that they believe. He didn’t want them to step over into a works salvation, or a libertarian license salvation. He didn’t want them forsaking the essentials or majoring on the minors. Correct theology is not a minor thing.
2 Thess 2:15, Phil 1:27, Eph 4:14, 1 Cor 12:3, Col 4:2
Illustration: “Satan cannot take saving faith away from us, but he can, and often does, obscure the content of our faith, the sound doctrines of God’s Word. If we do not hold fast to right interpretations of Scripture, we are certain to slip into wrong thinking, wrong belief, and wrong behavior.” –JM, Charles Templeton and his doubt about the veracity of scripture, Rob Bell’s book that rocked the evangelical world a year or two back that teaches universalism because of his aversion to hell, the SBC’s drift in the 60’s and 70’s related to evolution and Genesis,
What we believe affects how we behave. Even minor errors in the gospel or in soteriology can make big differences down the road. Easy believism and decisional or baptismal regeneration are examples. Over time, our tendency is to drift, forget, mellow in our commitments to truth. Our culture embraces pluralism and relativism that scream against our absolute truth. This is why theological study is important. Reading the right books and authors is important. This is why not only sound, but doctrinally robust preaching and teaching ministry is important. Stay away from doctrinally shallow churches. Teach your kids, your students sound doctrine, else in coming generations it will be lost. And our ability to triumph in our culture will be compromised because we stand on a shaky foundation.
Maintain spiritual courage (v. 13)
Paul next says for his flock to be brave. The word for “man” in Greek is andros. So with the word for “brave” you can hear the connection, andrizomai. This word literally means “act like a man,” and many translations put it this way. It means to man up, to be courageous in the face of danger. He knew that the Corinthians would face the temptation to cower in the face of the culture and various trials. He wanted them to go on the offence, and not stay in a defensive posture. The word also has the connotation of maturity and self-control.
Illustration: They needed, as Chrysostom says, all these exhortations, for they were, “in Christian matters, drowsy, unstable, effeminate, and factious.” We could tell stories of missionaries who have conquered darkness in entire regions or countries or continents, giving their lives and those of their families for the sake of the gospel, but most true bravery happens in the homes, the schools, the offices, as you have opportunities to minister, witness, and confront for the kingdom’s sake. Some of the stories that bless me the most are on the See You At the Pole day at high schools and middle schools in tougher areas, and those of ministries that start down in the hard places because someone had a burden, and risked much to be obedient and win souls,