Everybody has heard of that church in Corinth!
When you think of the church in Corinth, what comes to mind? If you are like most people, probably, you think of all the problems that the Corinthian church had.
They had split themselves up into different groups based on which preacher they liked the best.
They were trying to choose their leaders based on outward appearances and abilities.
They were allowing open fornication to exist within their church.
They had sought to close themselves off from all interaction with unsaved people.
They were incredibly petty in taking each other to court for the smallest of issues.
They lacked a proper understanding of relationships in the home.
They were abusing those spiritual gifts that God had given them and made them into some kind of "badge of honor" instead of using them for God's intended purpose.
Certainly, this church had a lot of issues! So the Apostle Paul sits down and begins to write to this fairly young church. As he begins his letter, though, he does not launch into a tirade against all the great big, heinous issues that plagued this church. He takes a much higher and nobler approach as he begins to describe to this church the incredible purpose and power that God had made available to them. Paul begins to draw a picture for these folks of what true Christianity really looks like. He says, "Your new life is Calling!"
It is this theme: Practical Christianity, that makes the book of 1 Corinthians perhaps one of the most applicable books in the New Testament for us today. The city of Corinth was renowned in their day for the sin and depravity that was accepted there. The type of lifestyles that were promoted had become so prevalent that instead of saying of someone, "They have prostituted themselves," people would say, "They have Corinthianized themselves." This is much like how we talk about "googling" something instead of telling people we are "looking it up online." In the midst of a sinful world that approves all types of immorality as simply "alternative lifestyles," Christians are to operate in a completely new fashion that reflects their new relationship in Christ! If we simply look at the issues addressed in 1 Corinthians, we may be tempted to overlook the book, after all, we may not have those issues. But by looking at the true purpose, "What it means to be a Christian living in a sinful world," all of a sudden, the book takes on a whole new relevance. Just as it was for them, "Your new life if Calling!"
The ultimate issue that the Corinthian church faced was that they were saved, but living the same way the world was. They had been saved out of some incredible wickedness, yet they had not learned how this difference was to be worked out in their lives in a practical way. Christianity was designed to enable us to make our way through this world on our way to the world to come. Many have said something to this effect: "It is not the water outside of a ship that sinks it. A ship is designed for deep waters. It is the water that gets in that imperils the ship." This was the lesson that these Corinthian Christians needed to learn.
Paul draws these Christians, first, to what God has done for them.
- 1 Corinthians 1:4, "I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ."
Paul shows them that by God's grace, they now are saved. And furthermore, God has specially equipped them and has given them a brand new purpose.
- 1 Corinthians 1:5-6, "That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge, Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:"
Paul says, "Look what God has done for you!" He then begins to lay out in stunning detail, "Look at who you are!"
These new Christians, they were the church! They had been called specifically by God and sanctified, cleansed, so that they could serve God.
- 1 Corinthians 1:2, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:"
But it gets better! Not only had God saved them, called and sanctified them, but God had enriched and equipped them in a special way, so that they could effectively accomplish God's purpose for their church.
- 1 Corinthians 1:5, 7, "That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:"
This church at Corinth was certainly a talented church! The Corinthians had within their members, all the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit and they were proud of them, making great display of them sometimes. Paul is telling them to not use these gifts and glory in them the way an unsaved person would flaunt a talent or special ability, but rather to see them as God's gift, given to them richly, for the specific purpose of effectively serving God.
Paul finishes out by giving them a glorious picture of what they could be.
- 1 Corinthians 1:8, "Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Paul is revealing to them how effective they could be, not just for a little while, but until the day Christ returns! The church effectively fulfilling its purpose is the most powerful force on earth! By living the way a Christian ought to, the way that will be expounded on in the following chapters of 1 Corinthians, these Christians had a tremendously powerful way to validate the message of the Gospel. God's Word changes lives!
We too have been saved and now have the responsibility to live differently, to live in a way that reflects our new life in Christ.
Just as the Corinthians, we also have all the grace and all the gifting that enables us to have an effective testimony.
As Paul called these Corinthian believers to do, we must allow the Word of God to bring us to that point of blamelessness before God and before those around us.
Your New Life Is Calling!