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1 Corinthians 1:6; The Testimony Confirmed

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121125_1cor1_6.mp3

11/25 1 Corinthians 1:6 The Testimony Confirmed

1 Παῦλος κλητὸς ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Σωσθένης ὁ ἀδελφὸς 2 τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ, ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐπικαλουμένοις τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ αὐτῶν καὶ ἡμῶν· 3 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

4 Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῇ χάριτι τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ δοθείσῃ ὑμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, 5 ὅτι ἐν παντὶ ἐπλουτίσθητε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἐν παντὶ λόγῳ καὶ πάσῃ γνώσει, 6 καθὼς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐβεβαιώθη ἐν ὑμῖν, 7 ὥστε ὑμᾶς μὴ ὑστερεῖσθαι ἐν μηδενὶ χαρίσματι, ἀπεκδεχομένους τὴν ἀποκάλυψιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ· 8 ὃς καὶ βεβαιώσει ὑμᾶς ἕως τέλους ἀνεγκλήτους ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 9 πιστὸς ὁ θεὸς δι’ οὗ ἐκλήθητε εἰς κοινωνίαν τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν.

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge– 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you– 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul opens this difficult letter to the church of God in Corinth with a note of extended praise. Paul is continually offering up thanks to God for the grace that God freely gave to the saints in Corinth. In this beautiful passage of thanksgiving, he lists 5 specific ways that God’s grace had been given to the Corinthian church, and then points them forward to the ongoing future grace of their faithful God. First, in verse 5, God’s grace was evidenced in that the Corinthian believers were enriched in every way; they were filled up with all the fullness of Christ, they were given every spiritual blessing, specifically in all word or speech or utterance, and in all knowledge or insight or understanding. In Jesus Christ, because of their relationship to Jesus Christ, they had been enriched in every way.

In verse 6 he looks upstream of this enrichment and looks to the source of where this enrichment came from – just as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you.

It is so easy to float over the words on the page and assume that we know what is meant without taking time to interrogate the text. If God’s word is nutrient for our souls, if all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable (2Tim.3:16); if every word of God proves true (Prov.30:5), if we live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Mt.4:4), then we must dig in to the words on the page to find the nourishment our spirit craves. We must take time to meditate on the words of Scripture, and learn to put them under the bright lights of investigation, to interrogate the text, to ask questions to draw out the truth that they carry. As I prepared to teach this passage, I breezed over verse six as if I already knew what it meant. It wasn’t until I was reading an older commentary interacting with the text that I began to slow down and ask questions of the text. Exactly what is the testimony of Christ? In what way is the testimony of Christ confirmed in you? How is this sentence connected with the paragraph, and how is this a ground for giving thanks?

The Testimony of Christ

What is the testimony of Christ? To understand this, we need to examine the word ‘testimony’. What is a testimony? Testimony translates the Greek word ‘μαρτύριον‘. It is translated as a testimony or a witness. This is a legal term that comes from the courtroom setting. When you are presenting the evidence for deciding a case, you call in eyewitnesses to testify or give their testimony of what they saw and heard. The person giving their eyewitness account is a ‘μαρτυς’ or witness. The deacon Stephen and many of the Apostles of Jesus were executed because what they testified about Jesus was unpopular and dangerous. So the word ‘μαρτυς’, from which we get our word ‘martyr’ came to mean someone who sealed their testimony with their own blood. The word ‘μαρτύριον‘ referred to the content of what the ‘μαρτυς’ said, their testimony, their witness, or legal statement. This testimony, the content of what the witness said, became legal evidence for deciding the case.

So what is the testimony of Christ? This could be taken in two ways; what is the testimony of Christ – what did Jesus himself testify, or what is the testimony of Christ – what did others testify about Jesus.

What did Jesus testify about himself?

Jesus claimed to be the promised Messiah (Jn.4:26). He claimed to be the bread of life (Jn.6:35, 41, 48, 51) who would give his flesh for the life of the world. He claimed to be the light of the world (Jn.8:12). He claimed to be the great I AM (Jn.6:20, 8:58; 18:5-6, 8) who pre-dated Abraham, and that those who do not believe in him would die in their sins (Jn.8:24). He claimed to be the door of the sheep who will save those who enter through him (Jn.10:7,9). He claimed to be the good shepherd (Jn.10:11, 14). He claimed to be the resurrection and the life (Jn.11:25), and that those who believe in him will live. He claimed to speak prophecy to authenticate his claims (Jn.13:19). He claimed to be the way, the truth and the life, and the only way to the Father (Jn.14:6). He claimed to be the true vine in whom we must abide in order to bear fruit (Jn.15:1, 5).

Jesus said:

Matthew 18:3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Mark 10:15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (cf. Lk.18:17)

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

Jesus claimed that his testimony about himself was valid because he knows where he came from and where he is going (Jn.8:14), but under law every testimony must be confirmed by two or three witnesses (Jn.5:31). Jesus bore witness about himself (Jn.5:31; 8:14, 18); John bore witness about Jesus (Jn5:32-36); The Spirit bore witness about Jesus (Jn.1:32-33; 15:26; Mt.3:16; Acts 5:32); The Father bore witness about Jesus (Mt.3:17; Jn.5:37; 8:18); the works of Jesus bear witness of Jesus (Jn.5:36; 10:25); the Scriptures bear witness about Jesus (Jn.5:39); the crowds bore witness about Jesus (Jn.12:17); the apostles would bear witness about Jesus (Jn.15:27; 19:35; 21:24; Lk.24:48; Acts 1:8, 22; 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39, 41; 13:31; 22:15; 26:16). In Revelation, Jesus is called the faithful witness (Rev.1:5; 3:14).

What did others testify about Jesus?

John bore witness that Jesus is the light (Jn1:7-8) that Jesus pre-existed (Jn.1:15); that Jesus was filled with the Spirit (Jn.1:32); that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn.1:34); that Jesus is the Messiah (Jn.3:26-28). After his resurrection in Luke 24, Jesus commissioned his disciples to be witnesses of the prophecies fulfilled, that the Messiah should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness in his name should be proclaimed to all nations. In Acts 1, when the disciples chose a replacement for Judas, they said:

Acts 1:21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us–one of these men must become with us a witness to hisresurrection.”

On the day of Pentecost, Peter testified

Acts 2:32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.

After healing the lame beggar, Peter testified:

Acts 3:15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. …17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…

When Peter and the other apostles were brought before the high priest and the council and all the senate of Israel, they testified:

Acts 5:30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

When Peter bore witness to the gentiles in Cornelius’ house, he said:

Acts 10:36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Paul testified in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch:

Acts 13:23 Of [David’s] offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. … 26 …to us has been sent the message of this salvation. …28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, …38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything 39 from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.

The testimony of Jesus, what Jesus said about himself, what his witnesses testified about him, was that Jesus is God, the Son of God, the promised Messiah of Israel, who died for our sins, and God raised him from the dead. All who believe in him receive forgiveness of sins. This is the gospel message, the testimony about Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 2:1, Paul says that he proclaimed the testimony of God, which is Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Confirmed in You

Paul thanks God that this testimony about Jesus was confirmed in the believers in Corinth. ‘Confirmed’ means to be made firm or solidly grounded, to be legally valid and guaranteed. The author of Hebrews uses this word to point us to the certainty and validity of the message:

Hebrews 2:2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable [steadfast] and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested [confirmed] to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

In chapter 6 of Hebrews we are told:

Hebrews 6:17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, …

God’s word to us is good. It is legally binding, valid and guaranteed. The gospel message, the testimony of Christ is true, objectively true.

6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you–

In what way was the gospel message confirmed among the believers? How was this firm solid valid message shown to be solid and legally valid in them? We have only to look down a few verses to see how the testimony of God was confirmed in them. Paul says that this gospel that he preached, this testimony of Christ, this word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing. Paul says that the message of a crucified Christ is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. But to those who are being saved, to those who believe, to those who are called, this offensive foolish message is the power of God and the wisdom of God and salvation to all who believe. Paul’s testimony about Jesus was proved to be genuine and solid and legally valid because when he preached this foolish offensive message, some of the Jews and some of the Greeks were saved. They believed in Jesus. The message worked! It was confirmed that it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes! Some of the sexually immoral in Corinth, some of the idolaters, some of the adulterers, some of the homosexuals, some of the thieves, some of the greedy, some of the drunkards, some of the revilers, some of the swindlers in Corinth believed the message of the cross and were transformed! (1Cor.6:9-11) Those who believed were washed, sanctified, justified, filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Sinners became saints! The testimony about Jesus was confirmed among you. This is where the enriching in every way in verse 5 came from. Those in Corinth were enriched in every way, they experienced the fullness of God’s blessing, they experienced the riches of the grace of God freely given to them as the message of Christ crucified was proclaimed to them, and their blind eyes were supernaturally opened to see the light of the good news of the glory of Christ (2Cor.4:4), and they believed. The testimony about Christ was demonstrated to be solid and legally binding to all who believe when sinners in Corinth believed and were transformed. This is grounds for rejoicing! This is grounds for thanksgiving! Has the testimony of Christ been confirmed in you? Has the gospel, the message of Christ crucified, been shown effective in your life? Have you believed?

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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November 25, 2012 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 1:5; True Riches

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121118_1cor1_5.mp3

11/18 1 Corinthians 1:5 True Riches

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge– 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you– 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Παῦλος κλητὸς ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Σωσθένης ὁ ἀδελφὸς 2 τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ, ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐπικαλουμένοις τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ αὐτῶν καὶ ἡμῶν· 3 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

4 Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῇ χάριτι τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ δοθείσῃ ὑμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, 5 ὅτι ἐν παντὶ ἐπλουτίσθητε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἐν παντὶ λόγῳ καὶ πάσῃ γνώσει, 6 καθὼς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐβεβαιώθη ἐν ὑμῖν, 7 ὥστε ὑμᾶς μὴ ὑστερεῖσθαι ἐν μηδενὶ χαρίσματι, ἀπεκδεχομένους τὴν ἀποκάλυψιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ· 8 ὃς καὶ βεβαιώσει ὑμᾶς ἕως τέλους ἀνεγκλήτους ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 9 πιστὸς ὁ θεὸς δι’ οὗ ἐκλήθητε εἰς κοινωνίαν τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν.

Paul, in addressing this train-wreck of a church in the city of Corinth, first of all gives thanks for the believers in Corinth. He gives thanks to God, because anything that is worthy of praise in the Corinthians is directly attributable to a work of God’s grace that was given to them, not earned by them. Paul had cultivated an attitude of gratitude in his life, so that he can say “I give thanks to my God always for you.” This had become his consistent pattern of prayer, so that when he writes this letter, in spite of all the difficulties and problems he must address, he is conscious that there is much to thank God for. Number one on his list, as we focused on last time, is grace. God’s grace had been freely given to an undeserving people. God’s favor and kindness had been extended to those who deserved his wrath. Paul thanks God always for the grace of God that was given to the saints. And then he lists 5 specific ways that God’s grace had been given to the Corinthian church, and points them forward to the ongoing future grace of their faithful God. We are going to focus on this first of these evidences of grace in the lives of the saints in Corinth.

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him

Paul says that one of the evidences that God’s grace in Christ Jesus had been given to the church in Corinth was ‘that in every way you were enriched in him’. We are going to focus today on the riches of God’s grace toward us who believe. In every way you were enriched in him. First, what does it mean to be enriched in him, and what are some of the ways we have been enriched in him?

Jesus on Riches

Jesus warns of the potential danger of riches in his parable of the different types of soil. He compares riches to weeds or thorns.

Luke 8:14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

Jesus calls this ‘the deceitfulness of riches’ (Mt.13:22; Mk.4:19). There is a deceptiveness in the pursuit of riches that can ultimately choke your soul and separate you from the presence of God forever. When a rich young man came to Jesus asking what good deed he could do to gain eternal life, he went away sad, because in clinging to his riches, he could not open his hand to receive a free gift from God (Mt.19:16-26; Mk.10:17-27). Jesus told him to exchange his treasure on earth for treasure in heaven. He invited him to ‘come, follow me.’ Jesus commented that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” So there is an attitude toward riches that can keep you out of the kingdom.

We are taught to exhort the rich of this world to not trust in their riches, but in God who is the source of all true riches.

1Timothy 6:17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

The riches of the rich are uncertain. Moth, rust, thieves, corrosion, stock market crashes, global downturns… (Mt.6:19-24). You cannot depend on riches. But God is certain. God is faithful. God is rich. God is the one who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. God is for our joy. We are taught to turn our attention away from riches and toward God if we really want to find joy and fulfillment in life. We are to be rich in good works, to look to our eternal future, and to take hold of that which is truly life.

Mary, in her song of praise to God says:

Luke 1:52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.

There is a contrast between those who are rich who are sent away empty and the hungry whom he fills with good things.

Material or Spiritual?

Paul highlights this tension in his own ministry and the ministry of the other apostles. He describes himself:

2 Corinthians 6:10 …as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

At the end of a long string of incongruities, he says he is poor, yet he enriches many. How can a poor man make others rich? How can he have nothing yet possess everything? There is a contrast here between what our culture categorizes as ‘riches’ and what is of true value and worth. As far as cash in the bank, he has nothing. Yet in the currency that really counts, everything is his. He has no financial resources, yet he not only considers himself rich, he has the capacity to spread his wealth around and make many others rich as well. He is drawing contrast between material riches and spiritual wealth. So when Paul tells the Corinthians that ‘in every way you were enriched in him’ he is pointing them to the spiritual blessings of the grace of God given, not material wealth amassed. As one sent by Christ to announce the message of the good news, Paul had the privilege of making many of the Corinthians spiritually rich.

This word ‘enriched’ is a rich word, meaning to make wealthy or rich, to cause to have an abundance. The root of the word ‘enriched’ comes from the word for flowing, pointing to that which is filled or full. Here it is a passive verb, pointing not to something they do, but to something done to them by another. They did not enrich themselves; they were made rich by another. It was the grace of God in Christ Jesus freely given to them that filled them up with everything to enjoy.

The Riches We Have in Christ

Paul tells us that we have been enriched in every way. What are some of the ways we have been made wealthy? Romans 2:4 warns us not to presume on the riches of God’s kindness and forbearance and patience, which are meant to lead us to repentance. In Romans 9:23 God makes known the riches of his glory in mercy toward us whom he called and prepared for glory. Romans 11:12 points to Israel’s temporary rejection of their Messiah so that salvation comes to the Gentiles. He says:

Romans 11:12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! …15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?

So he defines the riches that come to the Gentile world through the Jewish Messiah as reconciliation, or a repaired relationship with God, and new life from the dead. Then he extolls God’s mercy.

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Ephesians tells us that in our Beloved Lord Jesus Christ,

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ

Redemption, the purchase price paid in his blood, and forgiveness of our trespasses flow out of the riches of his grace lavished on us. He goes on to pray:

Ephesians 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead…

The riches of our glorious inheritance consists in his immeasurably great resurrection power toward us who believe. Ephesians 2 tells us that we who were dead in sin have been made alive by his mercy, love and grace, we have been raised up and seated with Christ Jesus:

Ephesians 2:7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

The gift that God is kind toward us, that we are saved as a free gift by his grace is a demonstration of the immeasurable riches of his grace. The immeasurable riches of his grace will be put on display in us for all eternity. Paul revels in the gift of God’s grace that was given to him:

Ephesians 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

What we are attempting here this morning is impossible. We are attempting to search out the riches of Christ to us who believe. Although we can learn much about the riches of his grace toward us, the riches of Christ are unsearchable, limitless, inexhaustible. We will spend eternity exploring and continuing to be amazed by the riches we have in Christ Jesus. Truly, we have much to be thankful for. Paul prays to the Father:

Ephesians 3:16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The riches of his glory; strength for the journey, the indwelling Spirit, the indwelling Christ, the indwelling fullness of God, strength to comprehend the inexhaustible unknowable incomprehensible four dimensional love of Christ for us.

To the Colossians he speaks about the mystery God revealed to his saints:

Colossians 1:27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

God made know the riches of the glory of Christ in you. He prays in chapter 2:

Colossians 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

The riches of full assurance of understanding and knowledge of Christ. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ.

How are we enriched? In every way. God’s kindness, forbearance, patience, leading us to repentance. God’s calling, God’s mercy, God’s preparing us for glory. Reconciliation. Life from the dead. Redemption. Forgiveness. Inheritance. Resurrection power at work in us. The free gift of salvation. Strength. The indwelling of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The incomprehensible love of Christ for us. Assurance. Understanding. Knowledge. We are enriched in every way with the unsearchable riches of Christ.

Enriched in Speech and Knowledge

Lets look back at our text in 1 Corinthians.

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge–

Here he specifies two ways the believers were enriched; in all speech and all knowledge. These are two things that Paul will have a lot to say about in the rest of his letter. ‘Speech’ is the Greek word ‘logos’. It means a word, a saying, a speech, an utterance, the living voice. The ability to speak is a great blessing. How are they to hear without someone preaching? (Rom.10:14). The word of his grace is able to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified (Acts 20:32). The gift of speech can be used for great gospel good. But speech can also be used for selfish gain and to harm others. In verse 17 he says

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Paul could use his words in a way that communicated the cross as the power of God for salvation, or he could by his words empty the cross of its power. Some in Corinth were more concerned with packaging and presentation than with content. They were more interested in high sounding wisdom than in the simple truth of the gospel. In chapter 2, he says

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.

1 Corinthians 2:4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

In chapter 4, he says “the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (4:20). Apparently the church in Corinth had some who were gifted by the Spirit with speaking abilities.

1 Corinthians 12:8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,

Paul thanks God for these gifts at work in the body, but he will encourage them to use these gifts for the common good and not for selfish gain.

Paul thanks God that the Corinthians were enriched in all knowledge. ‘Gnosis’ is knowledge or understanding. Knowledge is a gift of God’s grace. God gives the knowledge of salvation (Lk.1:77). Knowing Christ Jesus as Lord is more valuable than any other thing (Phil.3:8). We are to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2Pet.3:18). But knowledge can also be used for selfish gain. In chapter 8, Paul tells the Corinthians that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” and he warns that:

1 Corinthians 8:11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.

In chapter 13 he says that if I understand all mysteries and all knowledge but have not love, I am nothing. He says that knowledge will pass away, but love never ends.

There was abuse in the church in Corinth of God’s good gifts of speech and wisdom. Yet Paul thanks God that they were enriched in Christ in all speech and all knowledge, because even when these gifts were being abused, they were evidence of God’s grace at work in the lives of the saints.

In what ways are you enriched in Christ? Are you using your riches for your own selfish gain or for the good of others and the glory of God?

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

November 18, 2012 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 1:4; An Attitude of Gratitude

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121111_1cor1_4.mp3

11/11 1 Corinthians 1:4- An Attitude of Gratitude

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge– 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you– 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Παῦλος κλητὸς ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Σωσθένης ὁ ἀδελφὸς 2 τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ, ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐπικαλουμένοις τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ αὐτῶν καὶ ἡμῶν· 3 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

4 Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῇ χάριτι τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ δοθείσῃ ὑμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, 5 ὅτι ἐν παντὶ ἐπλουτίσθητε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἐν παντὶ λόγῳ καὶ πάσῃ γνώσει, 6 καθὼς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐβεβαιώθη ἐν ὑμῖν, 7 ὥστε ὑμᾶς μὴ ὑστερεῖσθαι ἐν μηδενὶ χαρίσματι, ἀπεκδεχομένους τὴν ἀποκάλυψιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ· 8 ὃς καὶ βεβαιώσει ὑμᾶς ἕως τέλους ἀνεγκλήτους ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 9 πιστὸς ὁ θεὸς δι’ οὗ ἐκλήθητε εἰς κοινωνίαν τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν.

Exhortation to Thankfulness

What we are looking at today is a section of thanksgiving. Paul repeatedly exhorts believers in Jesus to be thankful people.

Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

1Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Paul sets a high priority on gratitude. Thankfulness is an essential part of the Christian life. For those who have experienced the grace of God, we are to live lives characterized by gratitude.

And we are commanded to give thanks in all circumstances. This is God’s will for us. We are to give thanks always and for everything.

Thanksgiving in Paul

Paul is a man who practices what he preaches. He gives us practical examples of what gratitude should look like in the life of a believer. Paul begins almost all his letters with a section of thanksgiving. Paul thanks God that the faith of the Roman Christians is proclaimed in all the world (Rom.1:8). He gives thanks for the faith of the Ephesian believers and their love for all the saints (Eph.1:15). He thanks God for the Philippians’ consistent partnership in prayer and financial support with him in the gospel (Phil.1:3-5). Paul thanks the Father for the Colossians’ faith in Jesus and love for the saints (Col.1:3-4). Paul is thankful for the work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope of the church of the Thessalonians (1Thes.1:2-3). He thanks God that their faith is growing abundantly, and their love for one another is increasing, and for their steadfastness and faith in the midst of persecutions and afflictions (2Thes.1:3-4). He thanks God for their election to salvation, their sanctification in the Spirit, and their belief of the truth (2Thes.2:13). Paul thanks God for Timothy’s sincere faith and for his tears (2Tim.1:3-5), and he thanks God that he, Paul was the recipient of God’s overflowing mercy and grace and love, that God had given him strength, and appointed him to the service of King Jesus (1Tim.1:12-14). Paul thanks God for Philemon’s faith and love toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints (Phm.1:4-5).

When Not To Give Thanks

There are only a few letters that Paul wrote where he did not include a word of thanksgiving to God. To the Galatians, he wrote instead:

Galatians 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–

The church in Galatia was turning away from the pure and simple gospel; that sinners are declared righteous before God through believing in Jesus and not by earning righteousness through works of the law (Gal.2:15-16). There is nothing to thank God for in a church that is abandoning the truth of the gospel, but only stern rebuke. When the gospel is being compromised or distorted, this is the one good reason for not being thankful. All Paul’s thanksgiving flows out of the gospel.

Thanksgiving for Corinth

Surprisingly, Paul found things to thank God for in the Church in Corinth. In fact, this is one of his more lengthy sections of thanksgiving. This is amazing when we consider all the serious problems that Paul addresses in this letter; there were divisions over who followed whose teaching, there was sexual immorality tolerated in the church – of a kind that even the heathens found offensive, there were believers taking other believers to court, believers were so self-centered that they didn’t care how their actions affected their brothers and sisters in Christ, there was participation in pagan idolatry, there were people getting drunk at their fellowship meals, they misused their spiritual gifts for personal status, there was a pervasive lack of love, and even doctrinal doubts about the resurrection. But before Paul addresses any of these serious issues, he affirms who they are in Christ and gives thanks to God for them.

As we saw last week, he affirms that they are God’s church, they are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and they are called to be saints. He prays God’s grace and peace on them, and then he says

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,

Who Is Thanked?

Notice who is receiving the thanks. Paul does not address his thanksgiving to the Corinthians. He does not say ‘I thank you Corinthians for your giftedness, for your faithfulness, for your steadfastness. That would be misdirected thanks. When someone gives you a gift, you thank the one who gave the gift. When someone brings you a gift from someone else, you might thank them for delivering the gift, but if you thank the postman for the gift, it becomes rather awkward. He might say ‘I’m just delivering the gift. It’s not from me.’ You need to thank the giver. The one who gives the gift deserves the thanks. Paul addresses his thanksgiving to God, because God is the giver of all good things. Anything that is worth giving thanks for comes from God. Even when the church in Philippi sent him money, he writes ‘I thank my God …because of your partnership in the gospel’ (Phil.1:3-5). If he had sent them a note that said ‘I want to thank you so much for your generous support of my ministry’, the right response would be ‘no, it was God’s money; we were just the ones entrusted with the responsibility to deliver it to you. It is a gift from God.’ Paul rightly addresses his thanks to God. ‘I thank God for you.’

When Do We Say Thanks?

Did you notice when Paul says he gives thanks? He doesn’t say ‘boy, it’s a good thing I’m writing you today, because I’m in a much better mood. If I would have written you yesterday, I would have ripped you a new one’. Paul’s thankfulness to God is not dependent on his moods or external circumstances. He says “I give thanks to my God always for you.” He doesn’t say ‘well, I thought it would go over better if I started this confrontational letter out with a thanksgiving, so I’ve been scratching my head for the last three days trying to come up with something in you that I can thank God for.’ Paul is simply informing them of his consistent habitual practice. He didn’t start praying hard for them when he heard about all the problems in Corinth. His gratitude is not conditioned on circumstances. Even his frustration, even his disappointment, even his correction is saturated with an atmosphere of thanksgiving. He is able to thank God when things seem really good, and when things seem really bad. He never loses sight of the big picture. God is always worthy to be thanked because God is always good all the time.

What To Be Thankful For

We’ve looked at who gets the thanks and when he is thankful. Now let’s begin to look at what he is thankful for.

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,

Paul thanks God for the Corinthians because the grace of God was given to them in Christ Jesus. Gospel grace is the fountain out of which all thanksgiving flows. Grace is the undeserved blessing of God. In this passage we learn that the grace of God is a gift. Thanks goes to God because God gives the gift of grace. In Romans 3, Paul spells out why we need God’s gift of grace, and what the gift is.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

We need God’s undeserved favor because we have all sinned and fall short. The gift of God’s grace to sinners consists in being justified, or absolved of all guilt before God. This happens through the redemption, or purchase price paid in Christ Jesus. The blood of Jesus propitiates or satisfies God’s wrath against sin. This gift of God’s favor through the sacrifice of Jesus is received by faith. He concludes in v.28

Romans 3:28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

And then in chapter 4 he clarifies the difference between wages earned and a gift given.

Romans 4:2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

Abraham, who received the gift of justification, has nothing to boast about. The one who works earns his due, and has the right to boast. The one who depends on the generosity of God cannot boast. In chapter 6 he draws a contrast between what we have earned and what we are given.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In chapter 11, he states that grace and works are mutually exclusive.

Romans 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul recounts God’s spiritual blessings heaped on us that resound to praise the undeserved grace of God.

Ephesians 1:4 … he chose us in him before the foundation of the world,… In love 5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us…

In chapter 2, he describes our helpless situation and then this grace in action.

Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

God’s unearned undeserved grace toward sinners is the root of all thanksgiving. It is ‘to the praise of his glorious grace … the riches of his grace …by grace …the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness …the gift of God’. This is the good news of the New Testament. God is gracious toward sinners who don’t deserve it. Boasting is excluded by the gospel. Entitlement is inconsistent with the gospel. Only gratitude is appropriate to those who have received the greatest of all gifts.

How the Gift Comes to You

Notice, last of all, where the gift comes to us.

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,

The grace of God is given in Christ Jesus. There is no other source of grace. There is no grace outside of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the only Son from the Father, is full of grace and truth (Jn.1:14). From his fullness we receive grace upon grace. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (Jn.1:16-17). Election, predestination, redemption, adoption, justification, reconciliation, propitiation, sanctification, resurrection, all the good gifts of God are in Jesus Christ.

Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom.8:1). All good comes to us through our living connection with Jesus. We abide in him we bear much fruit. This is the sixth time in the first four verses of 1 Corinthians that Paul has referred to Jesus. ‘…called an apostle of Christ Jesus; those sanctified in Christ Jesus, with all who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; their Lord and ours; grace and peace from the Lord Jesus Christ; God’s grace given in Christ Jesus; the testimony about Christ confirmed in you; waiting for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ; called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.’ Paul refers to Jesus at least 10 times in the first 9 verses of this letter. It is really all about Jesus! Jesus is central to everything. Jesus is the source of all blessing and the root of all thanksgiving. If we want to learn gratitude, we must look to Jesus.

What Can I Learn?

What can I learn from Paul’s expression of gratitude for the believers in Corinth? I have been shown much grace. I have every reason to live life saturated with thanksgiving to God for all the blessings I possess in Jesus Christ. If my heart is not overflowing with gratitude, it is out of touch with the gospel. Even when things are not as I wish the were, there is ample grounds to be grateful.

I can learn to perceive the grace of God in the lives of others and thank God for that. Naturally we see the faults and flaws first. It will take focused effort to train our eyes to look for evidence of God’s grace at work in our brothers and sisters. But if Paul could find it in the Corinthians, I am confident we can find evidence of God’s grace in each other.

Maybe when we need to rebuke someone or confront them over sin, it would be good practice to pause and search for things we can thank God for. Maybe we could start the conversation by emphasizing the evidence of God’s grace we see in their life before we simply rip into them over everything they are doing wrong.

I think there will be some real practical benefits from consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

Joy. A heart tuned in to God and thankful to God for what he is doing will be a happy heart. Cast out the crusty cranky critical spirit and replace it with an attitude of gratitude.

Another practical benefit of thankfulness will be to check that my heart is in the right place before God. If I am actively looking for evidence of God’s grace, I am looking genuinely for the good of the other person in love, not to tear them down but to build them up.

Cultivating gratitude to God also gets me looking to the right source for change, because transformation is a work of God’s grace in the life, not a work of the person who is out of line. This kind of thankfulness keeps me humble – recognizing that I too am where I am by the sheer undeserved grace and mercy of God, that I have been freely given a gift I didn’t earn, and it all comes through my relationship with Jesus.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

November 11, 2012 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 1:1-3; The Saints in the Church in Corinth

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121104_1cor1_1-3.mp3

11/4 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 The Saints in the Church in Corinth

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Letter Introductions

Paul is writing from Ephesus to a church he planted across the Aegean Sea about three years earlier. Paul had sent them an earlier letter, which they had totally misunderstood. It has been reported to him from several sources that there are some serious issues in Corinth that demand his attention. This church has sent him a letter asking some practical and doctrinal questions. Today we will examine the first three verses, the greeting of the letter. Typical letter writing form in that culture started with the author’s name, then the recipients, then a greeting. Paul’s letters follow this general form, but are theologically rich, and he often lays groundwork for the key themes he will address in the letter.

Author; The Call of Paul

The first thing we have in the letter is the introduction of the author.

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,

Paul introduces himself as one who was called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. The word ‘apostle’ simply refers to one who is sent by someone to do something. The one sent is sent with the authority of the one who sent them. In Mark 3 we are told:

Mark 3:13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons.

The twelve were chosen by Jesus so that they would spend time with Jesus. He would send them out to proclaim the good news, and he would give them his authority. Paul claims to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. As an apostle of Jesus, he writes to this church with the authority of Jesus. But being an apostle was not his idea. He did not have as his life’s goal the aspiration of attaining the office of apostle. Actually, his life’s goal was much different.

Acts 8:3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Saul had approved of Stephen’s execution. Saul’s life goal seems to be to annihilate all the followers of Jesus.

Acts 9:1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

This is the context of his call to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.

Acts 9:3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

Saul was not seeking an experience with Jesus. And Jesus didn’t show up with an appealing offer persuading Saul to become an apostle. Jesus is King, and he gives commands. Saul was not invited to follow Jesus; he was called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. And he would be shown “how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16).

Paul writes because it is his God given duty to write and he writes with the authority of Jesus, not his own. And he does not write alone. To include someone else as co-author of a letter was highly unusual in Paul’s day. But Paul makes this his regular practice. In 8 of his 13 letters he included someone as co-author; Timothy, Silvanus, Sosthenes, the brothers who are with me. Paul did ministry as part of a team. He was not out on his own. Here he includes Sosthenes as co-author of the letter.

Sosthenes is introduced as ‘our brother Sosthenes’. He must have been someone well known to the Corinthian believers. The name Sosthenes only shows up twice in scripture, here and in Acts 18:17, the account of Paul’s first visit to Corinth. In Acts 18, Sosthenes is referred to as ‘the ruler of the synagogue’ who was seized and beaten in front of Gallio’s tribunal when the case against Paul was dismissed. Apparently Sosthenes was appointed ruler of the synagogue after “Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household” (Acts 18:8). This Sosthenes, if he also believed in the Lord, and was with Paul in Ephesus, would be familiar to the church in Corinth and need no further introduction.

Recipients: The Church of God, sanctified saints

Paul now tells us who the letter is written to.

1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God that is in Corinth,

This is amazing on several levels. This is Corinth. Corinth boasted temples to Aphrodite, Poseidon, Apollo, Hermes, Venus-Fortunata, Demeter, Asklepios, Isis, and one dedicated to the Pantheon or ‘all the gods’. There was a temple to Octavia, embodying the imperial cult of Rome. Corinth was a thoroughly pagan city with a reputation for luxury and immorality. It was into this city that Paul had brought the good news of Jesus Christ, and now he could address a letter to ‘the church of God that is in Corinth.’ The gospel had triumphed. There was now a church of the one true God in Corinth!

This is also amazing because of what we know was going on in the church in Corinth. From this letter, we see that there was division, factions, disunity, dissatisfaction with Paul’s leadership, open sexual immorality, incest, arrogance, public litigation among members, questions about marriage, participation in idolatry, abuse of the Lord’s table, misuse of spiritual gifts, lack of love, and even doubt about the doctrine of the resurrection. This was a church characterized by self-centeredness, pride, and autonomy. They were a moral and doctrinal train-wreck. Things have gotten so bad in this church that Paul says “when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse” (1Cor.11:17). And yet Paul addresses his letter ‘to the church of God that is in Corinth’. Although it is a church in crisis, permeated by serious problems, it is a real, genuine church. We would do well to remember, when we see flaws in this or any other church, that there is no perfect church, and even Corinth, with all her problems, was an authentic church, a church God loves, a church for whom Christ died. Although Paul founded the church, he does not refer to it as ‘my church.’ It is not Apollos’ church. It is not the people’s church. The church belongs to God. It is ‘the church of God that is in Corinth.’

Sanctified in Christ Jesus

But Paul doesn’t stop there. He says:

1 Corinthians 1:2 …to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints

He addresses the church as those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus. ‘Sanctified’ in the grammar of this sentence is a perfect passive participle; the perfect tense referring to a past completed action, the passive voice referring to something that is done to someone, rather than something that they themselves do. This is “not an obligation to be fulfilled, but a state which already exists in them, and that in virtue of a previously accomplished fact” (Godet, p.42). The messed up, self-centered, divisive, arrogant, sinning believers in Corinth are those who stand permanently sanctified in Christ Jesus.

What does it mean to be sanctified? The word literally means to be set apart. The furniture in the temple was dedicated, consecrated, or set apart to be used exclusively for God. A priest couldn’t take the altar of incense home and use it as an end table in his tent. He couldn’t take some of the holy incense and give it to his wife as perfume. All the furniture in God’s house had been sanctified or set apart for God’s exclusive use. The incense altar was made of wood overlaid with gold. Some of the same wood may have been used as firewood or to make kitchen utensils for someone’s home, some of the gold may have been made into jewelry; the table was made from common materials, but it was anointed with oil to set it apart to God, and once it was set apart, it could no longer be used for common things. Paul addresses the church in Corinth as ‘those sanctified in Christ Jesus’. How were they sanctified? In Acts 26, Paul is recounting how he was appointed as an apostle to the Gentiles,

Acts 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

Jews and Gentiles alike are sanctified or set apart by faith – by believing in Jesus. Paul refers to his calling in Romans 15

Romans 15:16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

The furniture in the tabernacle was anointed with oil to set it apart to God. We, who believe in Jesus are set apart by the Holy Spirit, who comes to live in us as God’s seal and guarantee when we believe (2Cor.1:22; 5:5; Eph.1:14).

Later in this chapter, Paul points the Corinthians to God as:

1 Corinthians 1:30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

God made Jesus our sanctification. In Jesus we are set apart for God’s exclusive use. In chapter 6, Paul points the Corinthians to their history as unrighteous, sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers, and he says:

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

These Corinthians who trusted Jesus were set apart, made holy.

When you look at a brother or sister in Christ who is flawed and imperfect, who might be bugging you, irritating you, frustrating you, someone you are ready to condemn and criticize, stop for a minute and realize that you are looking at someone who is set apart, sanctified in Christ Jesus.

Called to be Saints

Paul addresses

2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints

Paul takes the same word he used of his calling in verse 1 and applies it to all the believers in Corinth. Just as Paul was divinely selected and appointed to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, so each one who makes up the church in Corinth was divinely selected and appointed, called to be saints. Remember God’s encouragement to Paul to keep on preaching in Corinth because “… I have many in this city who are my people” (Acts 18:9)?

This word ‘saint’ is the root of the word translated ‘sanctified’. A saint is not a larger than life stained glass hero with a halo. Each of the Corinthian believers, including the guy who was sleeping with his mother-in-law, is here called a saint. A saint is one who has been sanctified, or set apart. This describes not performance but position. Paul says in 2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Your position, connected to Christ by believing, united with Christ, abiding in Christ, means that you are set apart. You are a new creation.

This is the polar opposite of performance based religion. Religion says that you need to live up to the standard. Members of our group act like this, so if you don’t act that way, then you’re not part of our group. Once you start acting like we act, we might let you in. Paul starts out by affirming that these sinners are indeed members of the group. You believed. You have been sanctified in Christ Jesus. You are called saints. Membership in the group is not contingent on behavior. Nothing can change your position in Christ. And now that you know who you are and whose you are, this will have natural implications on how you live. You have been set apart in Christ Jesus, you are called to be set apart, and since that is your identity, then a set apart life will flow from your identity in Christ.

Together with all in every place

But Paul is not satisfied in making sure they each know their identity in Christ. Remember, one of the major issues in the Corinthian church was factions and divisions. Paul demands that they be connected to the larger church, the body of Christ.

2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

It is healthy for us to see that we are connected to a bigger group. We have a natural tendency to think that we are right on everything, and that we are smarter than everyone else and that we do church better than everyone else. We might even be tempted to think that we are the only ones who really get it. We are inclined to separate from those who don’t see things exactly as we see them. This is pride, and it is sin. The Corinthians need to see that they are a small part of a much larger group. They are connected with all those in every place, they are saints together with all those in every place. They are members of a global community. What is the connection? What is the one thing that binds us all together in one body?

Those who Call upon the Name

We are those who call upon the name. This phrase is really interesting, because it has a rich Old Testament background. As far back as Genesis 4 (v.26) we see people begin to call upon the name of YHWH. Frequently in the Old Testament, this phrase is used to describe one who worships the one true God. In Elijah’s contest with the prophets of Baal, he challenges them:

1 Kings 18:24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” …

To call on the name of a god is to look to them for help. We find similar phrases that help us fill in the meaning; ‘love the name of the LORD (Is.56:6); fear the name of the LORD (Is.59:19); trust in the name of the LORD (Ps.20:7: Is.50:10); run to the name of the LORD (Pr.18:10); give glory to the name of the LORD (Is.24:15). In Psalm 116 the Psalmist says:

Psalm 116:4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!”

Joel prophesies:

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. …

Peter quotes this passage in Joel when he preaches the good news about Jesus in Acts 2 (v.21), and several times in Acts the believers are referred to as those who call on Jesus’ name (9:14, 21; 22:16). In the New Testament, calling on the name of YHWH becomes calling on Jesus as Lord.

Paul quotes Joel in Romans 10 (v.13) where he argues that God extends salvation to everyone who believes. He explains ‘calling on the name of the Lord’ as

Romans 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Jesus is YHWH, God of the Old Testament, the Lord. Jesus is King. He was crucified in our place, and God raised him from the dead. Paul takes us backward through the process of a missionary being sent to preach Jesus, and those who have never heard hearing, believing and calling on his name.

2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Jesus is our God and King. We are dependent on him. We call on his name for everything we need. We who believe in Jesus are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are just a small part of a much greater body. All believers everywhere have one King and his name is Jesus.

Blessing

What in ordinary letters was just a simple greeting, Paul turns into a rich blessing.

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

May you experience the richness of God’s blessing that you haven’t earned and don’t deserve; may you enjoy the wholeness and well-being of a satisfying relationship with your Creator; this only comes from God our Father and Jesus, the Messiah, our King.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

November 4, 2012 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment