Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 months ago

Quit the Quarreling

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

S S S, but that you be united in the same line.A briered to me like...

...there is relight I mean. Is this eachone of you says I I follow Christ is Christ. Divided was Paul Crucifiedfor you or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that Ibaptized none of you except crispus, an Gias so that no one may say that youwere baptized in my name. I did baptize also the household of Stefanas, but arebeyond that. I do not know whether I baptized any one else I godesius so, as I mentioned before, I read Paulhas instructions here for us. He wants us to be of the same mindunited in the same mind, to be of the same judgment. To put it negatively not to bequarreling among ourselves not to have divisions among ourselves, he appealsto them. He calls them brothers twice very early on in the passage he'strying and I think he is being gentle here. He uses that brotherly languageboth to remind them of his connection with them, but also their connectionwith each other they're. Not to be delighted, their brothers they're partof the same family, but the family's fighting and dad saying stop it. StopFighting Stop the quarrelling, stop arguing united with one another Christ is not divided Pol feels so strongly about this thathe speaks in a way that, I would say, is uncommon among ministers of Christ to say I'm glad that I didn't baptize.You is an unusual way for a minister who ischarged with baptizing and preaching to speak. He says I don't know whether I baptizedanyone else he's in some ways, relative...

...isers of the baptisms of people that hebaptized in the church. I wonder how you would feel if you're, like youbaptized me Paul O, can you do remember? Stuff has okay, but you see what Paul'sdoing right he's relativists things he's in some ways connecting to thepeople by using this language of brotherhood, but also disconnectingfrom them as well. Why? Because Paul wants them to seetheir identity, not in him, even though they're brothers with him, for he istheir brother, but he wants them to see themselves inChrist as we must as well. We all know what it's like to have:family fights and church fights as well. Sadly, sometimes we get to the placewhere we just begin to accept this as okay like well, it's just the way it is,and it's true we don't want what we might say in AA fancy way an overrealized eschatology. We don't want to bring heaven down to Earth before itstime. We don't want to try to create a utopia that can't exist. The Lord hastold us that life under the sun is hard, that there are enemies within thechurch that we not to not. We ought not to be mindless about how we are inunion with people we ought not to be, and Judd have the same judgmentwhen that judgment disagrees with the scripture, for example right. We don't want to go beyond whathe says here, but we also don't want to over qualify what he says and excuse ourselves from our fightingand from our quarreling simply by saying. Well, life is hard and they'restill sin. That's certainly true, but it doesn't excuse us from what he'scalling us to do. Does it he calls us to be united with oneanother and he'll talk about this in...

...other places? First Corinthians, forexample, has that famous chapter chapter thirteen, which is all aboutlove. We read this at our men's Bible study this last week. I love is that thing that binds ustogether. Love is a gift and which we give ourselves one to another. As weabide in God's love, we can share that love with each other, but that's notwhat's happening in Corinth and a number of ways. The church thereis struggling to get along and there's some very particular reasons behindthat which looks for this morning. Paul tells us in Verse Eleven and twelve. What'sgoing on, he says it's been reported in me bychloe's people that there is quarrelling among you now, there's all different kinds of CO,quarrelling and fighting pause, a very particular kind of quarreling in mind,and he says in verse. Twelve. What I mean is that each one of you says I follow Paulor a Paulus or Cephus or Christ, and Paul says he is saying here and ashe will go on to say over the next several chapters, essentially chaptersone through four. This is not right and he is going to develop that and help usto understand various things in this in this life he's going to help us tounderstand the Ministry of the word he's going to understand, help us tounderstand the work he does. Is An apostle he's going to help us tounderstand how we are united to one another and as we get into that, wantto help you to understand a little bitmore of what he's talking about by thinking about the background to understand. In other words, whatthis these instructions would have meant for the Corinthians and for us tothink more deeply about what it means for us. It's really really helpful tounderstand what Corinth was like in Paul's Day. That's because this quarrelling, that'sgoing on in Corinth, is coming out of a...

...culture of that day, they're taking things that theynormally they saw and were part of their lives and they're, bringing theminto the church in a way that was not right. It helps us to understand this.I follow and Paul. I follow a pontrilas controversy. I want to just drop mention here, justpause for a moment and say that I'm drawing here from the excellent research of severalauthors and will do so as I continue in the sermon, a sermon series, inparticular Bruce Winter, he's a Cambridge historian of the early church in the Greco Romanworld. He specializes in ancient corinth andalso dwayne lift on he's a meritent of Wheaton College. So what is the background going on here?What is the background for this quarreling? Why are they saying this? Ifollow Paul. I follow pause. We know that Paul didn't set this up this way.Paulus didn't set this up this way, Peter wasn't asking them to be dividedwith one another, but they were. These teachers were not fighting with oneanother. So, what's going on, why were people claiming individual leaders orapostles even Christ as their leader? The answer is that at this particulartime in Corinth, Corinth and other places in the Greco Roman world we'reexperiencing a rebirth of a movement that had been popular several centuriesbefore in the fifth century B C and now was making a big comeback, a bigcomeback at various times in various places,you'll see one profession or one or another, become kind of the hot thingyou know, and especially among the socially on he who then, of course, asthey pursued that thing make it desirable for everyone else and at thisparticular time that hot profession, the thing that everybody wanted to beinvolved in in some way was sophistry.

Now sophist was a highly polishedspeaker. First winter calls it a virtuoso orator, someone who's, reallyreally good. At speaking, we have people like this today right we havepeople who you know they speak at graduations and they go speakat corporate events and they sell out stadiums and they go around and they'reknown for their ability to speak. It's a little different back. Then I'llexplain it a little bit, but it was. It was a very desirable jobfor people it made you rich made. You admired itmade you famous and- and it was one of the few ways that you could actuallybreak out of your social status right and we've had moments like this were all of a sudden. If you get alittle lucky and you work hard that you can jump up in society- and this waslike this for sophistry- if you could learn to speak well, if you can getconnected with the right teacher, if you had a certain amount of gifts, youcould become someone that was important. It was difficult in a society that wasvery strata stratified, so the sophus. What were they well?Partly they were entertainers. They would draw a large crowds. Sometimesthey were followed by many people. They also participated even competed ina kind of Olympic Games called the ISMISM Thian Games, one of the mostimportant events that was held in Corinth during that time. Every coupleof years is one of the the main things. In fact, being thepresident of those Games was one of the highest positions you can have of anyposition in society and the sulphas would compete there and people wouldwatch and they talk about it and they analyze it, and then it was a big deal.

The sophists would also put participatein the Cities Assembly. Interestingly, it's a word Ecclesia like church this,the people called out and they they were good at public speaking and they would participate in that theywould be contracted to represent the government for various importantreasons right. We need to send out these emissaries, for example, to go,speak to so and so and make sure this thing happens, kind of like a diplomator or something like that and they'd send the sofas. Why? Because this guyis really good at talking, he's really good at presenting the case, he'sreally good at making the argument now to how would you become a sulphas? Well, you do so by enrolling in one ofthe schools of the sofas, so these sophists would have people that were called disciples. Thisis a word that it was very prominently used in the fifth century and thenagain at this time, when this movement, I'm sprung up again disciples, and itwas the job of the disciple or the follower to imitate the one they werefollowing. That's what a disciple did. This, of course, was lucrative for thesofas, because right you'd gather people into your school and you'd bepaid all these fees by these rich families. So you can train up theirboys and then they would do, and this would elevate your own esteem right andyour own reputation is all these people followed around. Imitating you tryingto be like you and, of course, this kind of thing still happens today,right celebrities when they become famous people, go andcut their hair like them, and wear clothes like them and try to matchtheir gate, and things like that. This would happen with the sophists aswell. It was the job of the disciple to imitate the one they were following.

Jesus told his his followers, hisdisciples to teach others all that he commanded. He called us to imitate himin his way of life, not his manner of dress, but the things he did. The Sofas did require this, but muchmore disciples. They not only follow theirstrategies for speaking well, but also their mannerisms. The way they talk theway they leaned a certain way, the way they paused after their sentences- and sometimes this was quiteostentatious- these people would dress exquisitely, they would dress toimpress, they would aim to be God like perfect elegance when they entered aroom, they exuded charm. They spoke eloquently elegantly, everyone saidOsome one you wanted to be like. It was someone who was important well as they gathered these schoolstogether as they gathered these disciples together. What would oftenhappen is the sophist remember. This is a competitive, competitive and evenbusiness environment. They would often roast other sophists or straight up lieabout them to gain an advantage over them, and then the disciples would dothat as well. They would follow this teacher orfollow that teacher and you'd have these groups of people following and living out these ways andthen fighting one another, because that established yourself as atrue disciple of this person or that person, it established the reputationof your your teacher you so you had these kind of tribes of People Centered Around these SOFA, sometimesthere's records of even physical fights breaking out between disciples as theystood up and protected their the reputation of their teacher...

...and as they all this happened. Peoplewould chime this ladder of importance. They would gain wealth and fame, but italso created a lot of strife and a lot of quarrelling back biding selfprotection, self promotion. Gossip, some of what went on among the sofaswas certainly immoral, and some of it was just good market competition thatwas putting to use of God given skill, but neither of those had any place inthe Church of Christ, one the first one, because the moraland second one, because the Church of Christ is constituted differently. It'sthe Church of Christ is not a competitive market place of people'strying to establish themselves one over or against another. It was something else. The problem is, is that the Christiansof that time were viewing these new teachers that they were seeing theApollos and the cephus and the Peter and the pall, and they were lookingthem not as ministers of the Gospel, but it selfists. That's an easy mistake.People still make this today right, you see a preacher, you hear him speak andyou and you begin to treat him in a different way. Maybe you begin to treat him like otherspeakers, you get analyzed like a TEDX speaker,for example, or graduation speaker, a politician who speaks all different kinds of ways, but Paulsays no preaching has its own particular thing. Yes, we use language, yes, for there isrhetoric involved in all of that, but it has. Its own purpose has its own way of doing things andit's different than what you're used to thinking about, and it's certainly different than theway that you are used to treating and...

...following these teachers you sad theywere looking to Paul and Apollos and others as prominent teachers within theChurch and then following them like sophist, Oh man, a pause he's really our GuyManes, so eloquent Paul. His knees were shaking last time. Did you see that that guy he can't even speak? Hisbodily presence was me not that awesome sure his words are great. His lettersare awesome, but his public performance, not a lot pause, tells it tells us that that'swhat was being said about him and was probably true. He tells us that in Second Corinthiansten, that's how people were judging him. They began to follow these variousChristian teachers, like you, might follow a sofas and Paul saying guys guys. No, this is different. This people, thisbody, is a different thing. We're not acting like sophus we're not trying togather people around ourselves, Ling, Oh yeah, I baptized you and you and youand you're all followers of me and let's go make fun of Apollos and all ofthat he'll go on and say no, I planted aPaul is watered we're all in it together sure we may have different gifts.apalls might be a better speaker, but God is, but God has given thesegifts in different ways for the building of building up of us togetherinto one. So in other words, the Christiansthought of Paul is a kind of Christian sophist and while Paul did act withpower and certainty, he was not a sophist. He did not care whether hisphysical presence was charming people or not. He wanted his words to be clear. Hewanted to speak the truth of Christa.

He was there to deliver a message thathe trusted not in his rhetorical abilities, but in the Holy Spirit tohave the effect on the people that it would come to them, not as thewords of men and then they would all. You know swoon and go. Oh Paul, but that they would lift their hands inpraise to God. That was his desire. He was not an embassador for the civilgovernment. He was an ambassador for Christ. He and a Polis were notcompetitors for market attention, though differently gifted they were coworkers in a field ready for harvest. So that's why he'll conclude in chapter three, the beginning of chapterthree. He says you guys are being childish. He says, but Ey brothers could notaddress you as spiritual people, but as people, the flesh as infants in Christ.I Fed you with milk, not solid food, for you are not ready for it, and evennow you are not ready for you are still of the flesh, for while there isjealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh behaving only in ahuman way? For when one says I fall a Paul andanother I follow Paulus? Are you not being merely human papal? I saying is that the church isdifferent. That he's called us to be not merely human, but those who arebeing conformed into the image of the God. Man, Jesus Christ, those who are being established in anew way and a new kind of organization, an organization, an organism, a bodythat is not divided. That's what he says here in our versesthis morning. He says I follow Paul. I follow a Polis, allFalla Christ, but is Christ divided?...

The answer, of course, is is no. Christis not divided. We understand ourselves as people who belong to him first and foremost. Yes, the Lord usesthe Apostle Paul. Yes, the blod uses a brother Sausen S and Apollos and others, but it's the Lord who's using him asthe Lord, whom we follow as disciples not Paul. We are united to him. We are followinghim. We are to have his mind to be in agreement with ourselves through him. Remember how this letter began. Whatdoes Paul say about himself? He calls himself up called by the will of God tobe an apostle of Jesus Christ, he's a sent one to draw our attentionto him. Remember what else Paul said in the beginning. He said this was to thisletter was to the Church of God. That is in Clorin to those who aresanctified in Christ called to be Saints Together, Not Saints, divided, Not Saints,quarrelling, Not Saints at war. He then goes on to say grace to you and peacefrom God, our father in the Lord Jesus Christ, the people of God, don't need to beclamoring for the things of this world because they have all that they need inChrist. Remember what we went over last time inverse, five, where he says that in every way you were enriched in him inall speech and all knowledge. Isn't that interesting, how he says that inall speech and all knowledge well, everyone else was running to the sofas.To find knowledge. Tell US things speak to US things train us how to speak.When we come to Jesus Christ, he says I'll. Take Care of you I'll, give youeverything you need for life and godliness. He says him for seven. You are notlacking any gift, as you wait for the...

...revealing of all our Jesus Christ. Ifwe are people who are not lacking any gift, what do we need to fight about? Usually we find about things that wefeel like. We don't have things that we feel are threatened if somebody elsedoesn't submit and give them to us, but we have everything we need. So, let's not fight quarrelling often happens out of fearthat we won't get what we need, but we have what we need in Jesus, and that means that we don't need tobring cultural modes or man centered modes into the church. In order toobtain the things that Christ offers, the usual tools are barely even able toaccomplish earthly things. They're, certainly not going to be able toaccomplish spiritual and heavenly blessings and that's fine. They don'tneed to, because God came into this world togive us all that we need. We do need the things that people oftenseek. After that we seek. After we need security, we need to be valued, we needsignificance and meaning, but we don't get them the way the worldthinks they ought to be got. We get them through the grace of Jesus, giving thisgiving them to us when we simply believe him and trust him. Jesus didn't come into the world andsay: Go and do these things and after you do them, my grace will besufficient for you and then I will bless you because you will proveyourself, as my disciple Jesus says, just trust and follow me and you willreceive everything give up on the things of this world.Follow me and all will be added to you when the world rejects. Jesus rejectsthe body of Christ and then just fights among themselves. They give up on theprospect that they forget the central...

...problem that we really have, which is enmity with God. That's the real problem, that's whereour real problem is. That's why we don't have what we want. That's why wefeel frustrated. That's why we feel a lack of significance and value andsecurity, because we are at enmity with the one who can give us all thosethings. So what's the answer to that problem,is it a fight among ourselves or is it to get peace with God, it's of courseto get peace with God, and God gives that to us through Jesus Christ? God sends his only son into the worldto die on a cross, to forgive us our sins so that we would have peace with him.So, instead of obtaining these things ourselves, we receive them through theone who gives them to us, receive them through Jesus. That means that, in the church, wereceive things like dignity, honor importance, significance, value andsecurity, but we achieve them not by or we getthem not by achieving them through you know, ranks and and and and yea certainly quarrelling, but we getthem through faith alone. When we begin to at the more weunderstand who Jesus is, in other words, the more we will understand who we arein him and who we ought to be. There's a line that jumped out at merecently from be thou, my vision, you know the famous hymn a little there's a little line in itthat I guess I noticed for the first time or re noticed or something likethat. It stood out to me in a new way. It says, be: Thou my dignity, that's a really interesting prayer.Isn't it a request of the Lord...

...to ask him to be our dignity? We often find ourselves in places wherewe want esteem. We want to feel valued. Wewant significance, we don't want to be fools and mocked at and derided people.We want value and there's nothing wrong with that. The question because we are valuableGod made us in his image I. But how do we receive that dignity? Dowe do it by pushing others down climbing ladders and raising ourselvesup or we do it by being raised up by God himself into his life, where wereceive the dignity of Christ, the honor of Christ, the value of Christ inUS and as we received that together,brothers and sisters, what reason is there left to argue? What reason isthere left to quarrel and to fight? Now we have our own particular problemsabout quarrelling and fighting in this time, and in this age we need to besensitive of them. Some of them overlap with these concerns that Paul had inCorinth and some of them don't, but it's ours to think about. Isn't it andit's hours to think about in this way with Christ, as the centre of our lifewith Christ is our head and us in him. So let's pray and ask for him to helpus to do that and to give us His grace that we might be unified in him, our heavenly father. We do praise yourname. We praise your name for the grace andpeace that come to us from you and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Certainly, Christ is not divided onemember over here, one member over there. Now he is one and even one with you and you have called us in that divinelife uniting us to Christ so that he might I be in us and so thatwe might be in you. These things are...

...glorious and wonderful, and in this Lord, we find everythingthat we need. We find our lives, we find eternalsalvation. We find the forgiveness of our sins. We find peace with you, we find glory in you and value in yousignificance and meaning we find safety in you under the shadowof your wings, Lord, when people would seek to pickfights with us, let us learn how to not not be afraid but learn how to standstrong in Christ. Let us also learn how to not be peoplewho pick fights and and quarrel and put others down. Instead, Lord teach us tolove with that same love that we abide at the end and a love that we have beengiven. Let us learn how to think practicallythrough these things in our own church and our own contexts. What are the ways in which we mightexhibit the love of Jesus Christ to others more than we currently are. Let us learn to rely on you foreverything. Knowing that you, we will not fail that you will not fail according toyour steadfast love, to give us everything that we need instead ofturning against each other. Let us learn to turn toward you, and in that Lord may you be glorifiedin me. You build up a people that are not childish, but that are mature andstrong, not filled with jealousy and strife butfilled with love and with peace, not tossed about by every wind of doctrine,but standing strong against the turmoil of this world, and, as you do this work in us, LordMay your name be praised, and may you cause us to be sustained until the endwhen the Lord Jesus Christ will be...

...revealed. We pray this in his name. AMan.

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