An exposition of 1 Corinthians 1:4-9. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, September 19, 2010.
Every now and then someone says to me, “I wish we could just get back to the simplicity and purity of the early church.” That sounds nice doesn’t it? It would be nice to strip away all of the unnecessary clutter that has accumulated over 2000 years. Bloated bureaucracies and denominational structures have no doubt muddied the waters. Every time I get a mailing from the state or national convention pushing the latest program or imploring us to increase our Cooperative Program percentage I breath a sigh and wonder how the church ever got along without Oklahoma City or Nashville. When I hear of a church who did something new and wonderful – by getting out in the neighborhood and helping the people of the community through a “weekend of sharing” I wonder, “Do you really have to have a program to do that?” Can you not love and serve your fellowman without a slogan, a scheduled day and six weeks of preparation? You probably can’t tell that I’ve grown a bit cynical, I hide it so well.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we just lived our faith? Wouldn’t it be nice if we allowed the Scripture to mold and shape our lives. Wouldn’t it be nice if we simply sought to live out our faith together? It think that is what most mean by “getting back to the simplicity and purity of the early church.” But there are those who think that time has corrupted the church. They really do think that the early church was a pristine environment. That in the original blush of the coming of the Spirit those early followers of Christ didn’t struggle with the stuff we face. If you think that way you haven’t read the story. You’ve not looked closely at the book of Acts or the epistles. The story of the early church is filled with pettiness, sin, corruption, division, strife and scandal. Come to think of it if you want a return to the early church…I think we’re there!
The church is made up of people. Frail children of dust, the fallen sons and daughters of Adam so it has always been less than perfect. Given that the church of today looks a lot like the church of the first century maybe we ought to see what God had to say to them and consider how it applies to us. I can think of no better place to look than the church at Corinth.
Corinth was an important city in the first century. Because of it’s location on that narrow strip of land separating the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea it was a leading commercial center of the day. Good’s and services passed through Corinth connecting East and West. Rebuilt as a Roman city by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. Corinth, by the time of Jesus, had become a bustling metropolitan area comprised of many cultures and religions. Corinth was infamous for its immorality and paganism. In fact it became a verb. “To corinthianize” was to engage in evil and immoral acts. It’s population numbered 700,000, half of whom were slaves. At the center of its life and culture was the temple to Aphrodite, goddess of love, with its 1,000 sacred temple prostitutes. It was to this large, teeming, corrupt city Paul came on his second missionary journey to establish a church (Acts 18). Later, from the city of Ephesus, Paul wrote to this struggling congregation to address some of the issues plaguing it. This evening we begin a look at Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth.
1 Corinthians 1:4-9
Written by the apostle Paul.
From Ephesus – AD 56
Wilkinson and Boa divide the book into three large sections:
- Divisions – 1:1-4:21
- Disorder – 5:1-6:20
- Difficulties – 7:1-16:24
I’m convinced the book of 1 Corinthians is helpful for us because it gives us insights into a church called out of and seeking to minister to a pagan society. A society very much like what we are living in today – commercially motivated (it’s about money), highly sexualized, and anything goes.
In our text Paul reminds the corinthian believers and us that…
God abundantly provides the believers’ every need by His marvelous grace.
- The grace of God enriches the believer in every way. (1:4-6)
- The grace of God enables the believer for service and for living. (1:7)
- The grace of God establishes the believer in eternity. (1:8-9)