1 Corinthians #06: An exposition of 1 Corinthians 3:1-23. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, November 7, 2010.
You have to admit GEICO has some funny commercials. I love the one when the announcer asks, “Can GEICO save you 15%? Does a former drill instructor make a lousy therapists?” The man lying on the couch is talking about what makes him sad. The therapist says, “You know what make me sad? YOU DO…!” Sometimes you just want to say to people, “Grow up! Stop your whining.” I don’t think the apostle Paul was a former drill instructor but he seems to make the same kind of therapist. When addressing the divisions and strife in the Corinthian church he finally says, “Grow up!” He verbally slaps them in the face and says take a good look at yourselves. You need to understand what is driving all this bickering and understand its devastating effects. Our text this evening is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 3.
Text: 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
1 Corinthians 3 is one of the abused and misused texts of the New Testament.
It is used to justify the doctrine of purgatory by some.
It has been used to foster the spurious carnal Christian doctrine.
[As we’ll see Christians can be worldly but not in the sense of the modern day “carnal Christian” teaching. The lifestyle or behavior many want to point to and say, “that’s an example of a carnal Christian” is better described as, “that’s a lost person carrying some christian baggage.” More on that later.]
We have to see chapter 3 as part of a larger argument. One that begins in chapter 1:10 and continues through to 4:21. Throughout that whole section Paul is addressing a problem that is plaguing the church at Corinth. There is a divisive spirit tearing the church apart. Certain people from Chloe’s house have told Paul that groups within the church have formed around their favorite preachers. Some say, “We follow Paul” others, “We follow Apollos” – or someone else. Chapter 3 must be seen in light of this continuing argument.
At the heart of this problem is a misunderstanding about the Gospel itself – its cross-centeredness and the accompanying applications and a misunderstanding of Christian leadership. As we look at chapter 3 we are going to find that…
Thesis: Paul graciously warns of the devastating effects of spiritual immaturity.
I want to point out three things in our text.
- Divisive believers display a wicked, foolish, and entirely unacceptable spiritual immaturity. (3:1-4)
- Immature believers fail to adequately understand the nature of the church and the work of those who serve her. (3:5-17)
- Immature believers fail to appreciate the rich and glorious heritage that rightfully belongs to them. (3:18-23)