Summary: Presumption says God’s timing or His knowledge is insufficient and I’ve got to do something to fix the problem. But there is another form of pride… DESPAIR. Despair says waiting on God is a fool’s wait. God will not fulfill His promises.
“Jazzland”, a New Orleans-themed park, was built on acres of swamp-land outside of the city in 2000, was purchased by Six Flags and changed names in 2002. During Hurricane Katrina, Six Flags was completely flooded and an estimated 70-80% of the park was destroyed, leaving it much too expensive to fix. The park has been slowly rotting, decaying, and sinking into the swamp for the past five years since disaster struck. Churches decay without godly church leadership.
The diversity of American church leaders can even be seen in some of the more famous sermons in American history.
1. Massachusetts colony Governor John Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill” (1630) sermon – actually about “Christian charity” – is seen by many as a charter for the founding of America.
2. A century later, Jonathan Edwards’s “Sinners” sermon is viewed as the most eloquent of all Calvinist arguments (and Calvinism played an immense role in U.S. mental culture until the Civil War).
3. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream,” which spurred a great social change and, by being on television, first introduced Americans broadly to the cadences of black preaching.
The importance of the church’s leadership is incalculable.
The famous skeptic philosopher David Hume was once observed on his way to hear George Whitefield preach one of his five o’clock morning messages on Christ. The observer chided Hume: “I didn’t think you believed in God.” Hume replied, and referred to Whitefield: “I don’t. But I am convinced this man does.”
If the church is strong, it must have strong leaders. There is an increasing need for godly leaders. Christian leaders are pastors, Bible study leaders, and deacons among others. Some of these leaders were apostles and others were, apparently, local leaders, of varying degrees of effectiveness, which had risen to prominence following Paul's departure.
In this letter, Paul has been doing two main things. First, he has been responding to some problems that are troubling the Corinthian church. He is fixing a number of problems that arise in the life of the church. This is the work of the church leader. We are to untie the knots in the church and provide the church with a better future. Leadership is paramount in the life of the church. Second, he is responding to some questions that they have asked him. In responding to the problems in the church he has first tackled the problem of division, i.e., the way that they were forming cliques and factions which were, for the most part, gathered around various leaders.
“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things” (1 Corinthians 4:1-13).
There are three dangers that threaten the building of God’s church. Two weeks ago, we saw the first danger: defective builders: Church leaders who build with inferior materials on the foundation of the cross. There we said that there is only one foundation for the church: the cross of Jesus Christ. Yet, some church leaders build with inferior materials, shortcuts if you will. The second dangers to God’s church is deceived believers (last week). There we identified two ways in which we are commonly deceived: self-sufficiency and insecurity.