Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

Life Together (1 Corinthians 1:1-17)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Ben Casteneda (Guest preacher)

You have your bibles that invite you to turn to first Corinthians. We're going to be reading the first seventeen verses of Chapter One First Corinthians, chapter one, versus one through seventeen. This is the word of God. Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sostenes 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. Grace to you and peace from God, our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you, because of the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end guiltless. In the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, God is faithful, by whom you are called into the fellowship of his son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same judgment, for has been reported to me by chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, I follow Paul, or I follow Apollos, or I follow Sephis, or I follow Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul Crucified for you? Or you baptize in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except crispus and get gay us, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. I did baptize also the household of Stefanus. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else, 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. Amen. This is the word of God. May Be seated to say that the Corinthian Church had some difficulties would be a massive understatement. It'd be far more accurate to say that the church at Corinth was a spiritual train wreck. These guys wrote the book on how a church should not go, what it should not do. In this letter we find a group of Christians who are struggling with divisions, with a lack of love for each other, a lack of unity. They're not serving each other. They they are confused about sexuality, about marriage, about singleness. They're confused about spiritual gifts. They're confused about worship and what worship in the church should look like, and then, and then the list goes on and on and on, and it goes on a little bit more. I'm taking the youth at Ringkon Mountain through First Corinthians and weaken and week out there's something new that they're shocked by, that the church is doing wrongly hearing corinth. Behind all these practical issues you sort of surface issues and beneath that, on a foundational level, the Corinthians are also struggling with a deep, deep seated self centeredness and status seeking that they brought into the church from the culture. They're putting themselves first, and that's affecting then everything about the church, how they relate to each other and how they interact with each other, going first at the Lord's supper...

...and getting drunk while the poor and those who are lesser, of the Lesser Class sit hungry. So this, this church, is messed up. This church is far out, far out there. It's an outlier. And yet, given all that, given the mess of the Church at Corinth, when we open to the first chapter, First Corinthians, I would expect Paul to say, you guys are expelled, you guys are out of here. The presbytery has excommunicated this whole church. You are no longer among us, you are no longer with us. But that's not what Paul does. In fact, and I think we should actually be shocked by this, look at verse two. What does he say there? He says to the Church of God that is in Corinth the church belonging to God, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints. Just think about that for a moment. Despite the fact that they have messed up and sinned so horribly against God, against each other, Paul still says that they are sanctified in Christ Jesus they have been set apart to God as holy. In Christ, they have this calling on their lives still to be saints. Just as Paul was called in the to be an apostle, in verse one, they too are called still to be saints, to be those who are holy before God and living in a holy manner before him. They are ex septed in God's sight and even beloved. And that, as a result, then, Paul says, impacts everything else, everything else about the church, especially regarding unity. We're going to get to that in a second, because, you see, it's not until we are humbled by the Gospel, humbled by the good news of what Jesus has done for us in his life and in his death and in his resurrection. It's not until we realize just how little we bring to the table that we can then actually live at peace with each other, because we realize that in Christ we are equal. This is a level playing field. I've said this before, but but the ground is level at the foot of the cross. We all come with nothing, and that, haul says, is the foundation then, on which to build everything I wish to build the church and in particular, in which to seek out unity, because Paul's point here is clear that knowing who you are in Christ change is and how you live in community with each other. Knowing who you are in Christ then changes how you live in community with each other. And so, in the time remaining I just want to put before us just two simple questions here. Who Are you in Christ? And secondly, how then, do we live as a community, as a body of Christ? First, who are you in Christ? And the short dance that is found in verse four. So look at Verse Four. There he says, I give thanks to my God always for you, because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ, Jesus. So who are you? Well, the short answer, Paul says, is that if you're trusting in Christ, you are a recipient of grace. You're a recipient of grace. Everything you have, everything you are,...

...has been given to you in Jesus Christ. In fact, Paul will go on later in First Corinthians, chapter four and he will say they're what do you have that you did not receive? Everything about your Christian identity is because of what he has done for you, not what you have done, not what you have accomplished. It's not based on that. What do you have that you did not receive from Jesus? And then he goes on to describe you, giving us five, five descriptions in sort of a cascade, a blessing of what it looks like to be a recipient of grace. So the first one we see is in verse five. He said this first description is this. You've been made rich in Christ in every way. You are enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge. So Paul here is turning the values of the culture on their head. Corinth was a busy seaport. You Think Long Beach. All right, it's a busy seaport, tons of trade and commerce. It was a center of business and of Industry and, as a result, the mindset of that city was that your status depended on you being successful as a businessman, in the workforce, in industry, in commerce. You could stand on your own two feet and say, look at what I built with my two hands, look at what I've built from myself, look at all that I've accomplished. But, and so Paul is saying, it doesn't depend on that, it doesn't depend on your financial security or prosperity. Rather, he says you've been enriched in Christ Jesus. And then he says in particular, describing what that looks like. He says you've been enriched in all speech and all knowledge, and that too is part of the Greek society, because Corinth was a city in Greece and the Greek's prize oratory. They prize me the person who could stand up and give a speech and do it well, do it very fluidly and fluently and and it just tickling the ears, stringing the sentences in the sounds together. They would actually pay for itinerant speakers to come and to give speeches. I won't go there. I was thinking about politicians, but that they prize speech and you also, they also prize knowledge. Again, this is Greece, the center, that the origin of philosophy and of not this endless quest for knowledge. And Paul says that in Christ you've been given tremendous riches, tremendous wealth and all speech and all knowledge. You've been given the words that actually not just tickle people's ears but give life. You've been given the Gospel, you've been given a knowledge of God, not just at the world around you. What more could you want? In thinking about this, where we get our value from, where we get our sense of worth from? There's a relatively new song put out by Keith and Christin Getty, who wrote in Christ alone, and this new song that they wrote is called my worth is not in what I own, and the first couple verses go like this. My worth is not in what I own, not in the strength of flesh and bone, but in the costly wounds of love at the Cross. My worth is not in skill or name, in when or lose, in pride or shame, but in the blood of Christ that flowed at the cross. See, Paul is telling the Corinthians. This is where you're worth is, this is where you get value and identity. It's not from again and your success and the workforce. It's not from your financial prosperity. In Christ, you are in here an air...

...of God, a joint heir with Jesus Christ, as Pastor Ross, I'm assuming, preached on this morning. He God is your portion. God is your portion, God is your treasure, your great and infinite reward. This this is what you have in Christ. In Christ you've been made rich. Then, secondly, in verse six, he says you have the spirit of Christ. Verse six says this even as a testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, maybe maybe thinking, I don't see the spirit in there. How can you say that we have the spirit of Christ from this verse? And while the the name the Holy Spirit is not in there, the work of the spirit is there very much, because it's a spirit who confirms to US Christ that we that we are in him, that we understand and believe and rest in the Gospel. It's a spirit who roots us in that Paul wrote in Second Corinthians one versus twenty one and twenty two, and it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed US and who has also put his seal on us and given us his spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. So the spirit that Christ sent confirms to us that that we have an interest in him, that that he is ours, that we are his, that we belong to him, that we truly have life in God and in Christ Jesus. It's a spirit who makes the work of Christ real to our hearts and then who flushes that out among us in community with each other. And so Paul is saying that the spirit of God is convicting convincing these saints that they, as the body of Christ, are indeed the body of Christ. And Paul goes on and gives a third description of what the blessed person, the person who has received grace, looks like. He says you have every spiritual gift. In verse seven, Paul Says You're not lacking in any gift. And you can jump forward first scrinthians twelve through fourteen, where Paul talks for three chapters about spiritual gifts and the wreck that these Corinthians were doing with them, using them for their own interests instead of to build up the body of Christ. But Paul isn't saying so. Paul isn't saying it's wrong that you have these spiritual gifts. fact, it's it's good. It's an evidence that the that you have, the spirit that you do but indeed belong to Jesus Christ. It's good that you have every gift and and he says it's every gift, every spiritual gift, that's necessary to build up the body of Christ you have. That's an encouragement to us too. Every gift that is needed to build up the body of Christ is here. It's present in the people of God were gifted differently individually, and yet we're to use our gifts to build up this body, to use them sacrificially for one another. So it's not the gifts, that the gifts are bad, but rather the abuse of the gifts that Paul goes on to say is indeed bad. One commentator when this he was writing about this. He wrote something that was very interesting to me. He's he explains it like this. He says the Corinthians took great pride in being gifted, but they had forgotten where they had gotten those gifts from. They took pride in being gifted, but they'd forgotten where they got the gifts from. Fourthly, then, Paul says you have, you will be sustained guiltless until the end. Look again at Verse Eight.

Paul says he will sustain you to the end, guiltless, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. You hear the joy there. Paul is telling these sinful, Selfish Corinthians that God is going to keep you. God has started his good work in you and he is not going to just abandon it midway through. He's going to he has made you blameless in Christ and he's going to keep you blameless in Christ. positionally, you may you may sin, but all your past, present and future sins have been done away with at the cross. They've been canceled there and as a result, you have hope, you have a future. He's saying, this does not end now. I should throw you out of the Church, I should expel your church from the gathering of churches, but I won't. He says it's because God is going to keep you and sustain you to the end. That's also encouraging for us. We sin, we fall short, we are in a lot of ways like the church at Corinth, selfish, self centered, but God is going to finish. Why? He has started in you, Christian God's not done with you. That's that's good news in fifthly, lastly, the fifth description that Paul gives is in verse ten, where Paul says that you've been called into the fellowship of his son of the Sun, Jie, the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul says here that we don't have simply an individual relationship with Christ. It's true, we do, but we also have to think about this as being a corporate relationship with Christ, because we are individually united to Christ by faith, by trusting in him. We have this personal relationship with Jesus. And yet if I have this relationship and you have this relationship and you and you as well, well, then we're connected to we can't we can't help but be connected. We are corporately united to Christ. We have this. We have to think in more than individual terms about how we relate to Christ and with each other. And again, this goes completely against the cultric corinth as well as our culture today. America's individualistic. You, you again, you stand on your own two feet and you say to the world, look at what I've done, look at who I am. It's particularly easy now that facebook has come along. Or we can post all our pictures and our status updates and say look at what I'm doing now, I just made, what I just baked? All right, we we can it simply stay at the individual level in our relationship. We have to think broader than that, and that's what Paul has said. We have we have been joined to the fellowship of the Sun. We have entered into the community that has been formed by Christ. That word fellowship. There's the word point in EA, the community, that the fellowship. You think of the fellowship of the ring, those who are gathered together for a common purpose to destroy the one ring in the Lord of the Rings. All right, we got has put us in community with each other, and and that's a good thing, because it means that we're not just pilgrims alone on this journey. We're...

...not on our own. We're traveling with a group. We're traveling with the saints together towards this New Jerusalem, the city bill or, whose builder and maker is God. That's our destination place and we can on the way. When we have struggles, trials, when we are weak, others come around us embarrass up again, think of Sam whay's Gamgee, carrying Frodo up the slopes of mountain doom. We're in it together, something that God has put us together for, because alone the journey is too much for us. We will falter, we will fall and we need someone to come alongside us and pick us up. So this is what the Corinthians have received in Christ. God has showered them with this grace and lavished his love on them, and that, then, should bear itself out. And how they behave toward each other. It's only toward after telling them again who there they are, what their identity is in Christ, that them. Paul goes on and says, I'll show it, show it, show that this is indeed who you are. Live it out in your lives. So that's our second point. How should we live in community? So the first problem, of all the problems that we find in the book of First Corinthians, the first problem that we come to, is a one actually Paul spends the most time on. The actually addresses the issue of the unity of the Church and the divisions that are going on in the church at Corinth he talks about it for the first four chapters in one form or another, hitting at it from different angles. We're only looking at the first few verses here, in verses ten through seventeen, but I just want to draw your attention to verse ten for a moment. He says here I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. So what's goes on, as Paul explains in the next few verses was. What's going on is that the Corinthians are polarizing around certain leaders in the church. They're they're becoming sort of groupies for their favorite guy and as a result, some are saying I I'm I like Paul. Others are saying my guy is apolos. They are going at it and trying to follow after one particular individual to the detriment of everyone else and as a result, it's causing bitterness and resentment among the Corinthians. But why? Why are they? Why are they doing this? Why are they picking favorites? Why are they following these individual leaders and getting upset at each other because they're not going along? WHY ARE THEY GETTING UPSET? What's going on here? Well, Paul tells us the reason in verse twelve. He actually quotes US four times the reason in verse twelve, and it's that little word I. I'm of Paul, I'm of Apolos, I'm of Peter, I'm of Christ. The Corinthians didn't have a corporate mindset. They weren't thinking terms of we, the thinking terms of i. what, where do I stand in all this? How am I going to benefit from this? How is my position that in the church going to be elevated and increased? How am I going to become more...

...important? If this had been done, you know, if this had kept going up to the present day, the Corinthians would have been handing out buttons and wearing tshirts and putting bumper stickers in their cars saying Paul's My guy, I love Apollos. They're in it for themselves, their status seekers. They're thinking, how is this going to improve my position in the church, and they're latching on to a particular candidate, you could say, and they're pinning their hopes on this person to the exclusion of everyone else, in the hopes that if this person does become the chief guy at Corinth I get to share in some of the glory. I'm right, all y'all are wrong. All right, my guy made it and I then follow in his train and his footsteps. All Right, I get a share of the glory. And there's a result. They're quarreling, they're fighting. Paul says, this is not how your to behave, this is not how you're to behave. Where the fellowship of Christ, they communion of the saints. And so Paul makes us appeal based on everything he has just said about them and explained, based on who they are in Christ. He makes us appeal, saying guys, Love One another, have grace towards each other, and then he actually gets pretty upset and says, why are you putting my face on that ad? Why are you putting my name on that bumper sticker? Was Paul Crucified for you? Were you baptized in my name? No, don't do that. I don't want any part of this. This is not Christian. These divisions in the church, quarreling, backbiting. That's not Christian. And the Youth and Family Group at ring con we have a policy. It's called no hunting. We don't talk poorly, don't speak badly, don't gossip about other people behind their back. That's what's going on here. They're hunting, they're the church is not a safe place. It's not a no hunting zone. Paul is saying, guys, you got to put that sign up no hunting. Here should be a safe place where you were loving each other, showing kindness to each other, showing care for each other based on who you are in Christ Jesus, and the only way to do that friends, as if you humble yourself and actually listen to each other. We can't come at this with an air of superiority. Can't come at it putting ourselves first. have to come and humbly say I'm a sinner to and when there are issues that come up, problems, divisions, sit down and talk about it. This is what Paul is getting at here. But this is a natural this isn't normal for sinful human beings. Our natural tendency is towards self centeredness, and that's why it takes the power and grace of the Gospel to accomplish us, because this is otherworldly. Living in this way. Dietrich bonhoffer was exactly right when he said this. He said without Christ we should not know God, we could not call upon him nor come to him. But without Christ we also would not know our brother, nor could we come to him. The way is...

...blocked by our own ego. Christ opened up the way to God and the way to our brother. Now Christians can live with one another in peace, they can love and serve one another, they can become one, but they can continue to do so only by way of Jesus Christ. Only in Jesus Christ are we one. Only through him are we bound together. This is what the Gospel lived out looks like. It's at the cross that I am freed from the selfishness that used to ensnare me, I used to hold me captive. So now I can love my brother in Christ. Actually, it's at the cross that I see my savior, that he didn't just die for me, but also for you, and that means there's a bond here that goes deeper than family ties. It's a bond in blood that binds the church together. It's at the cross that I see Jesus divided and his body torn and broken, so that his body, the church, might never be divided and never be torn and brokenness under that's what we're going to celebrate here in just a few moments the Lord's table. That here Christ shows he is given for us so that we might be one in him. Let's pray.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (648)