One of the main reasons Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthians was their apparent lack of concern for sexual immorality within the church. Paul emphasizes the importance of addressing this issue and administering church discipline out of love for Jesus and love for the brother or sister who is engaging in sin. This sermon provides an opportunity to explore the importance of holiness and the necessity of church discipline. It also offers a counterpoint both to those who argue that “Christians shouldn’t judge others” and to those who tend to overlook the sins of those within the church while judging the sins of those outside of it.
As Paul has previously stated, wisdom is the understanding of the gospel message of Christ’s death and resurrection. Those who are mature in their faith are those who have fully embraced this message. It is only through the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we can come to a true understanding of this wisdom. Logical arguments or persuasion will never be enough to fully convince others to believe the gospel; it is a message that must be revealed to us by the Spirit. In addition to belief in Christ, this wisdom also encompasses the practical implications of that belief and how we should live as a community of believers, following in the footsteps of a crucified Christ. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit grants us the wisdom not only to come to a knowledge of salvation, but also to live as those who have been saved.
2000 years ago, God in the ultimate act of love he ultimate act of love, became a human and lived among us. Born to an unwed peasant mother and raised by her carpenter husband, Jesus lived a perfect life, teaching about the kingdom of God and proclaiming his own divinity. Despite his innocence, he was arrested and sentenced to death by crucifixion at the hands of the religious and political leaders of the time. But Jesus didn’t stay dead. Three days after his burial, he rose again, victorious over sin and death. Now, he sits at the right hand of God, ruling over all things in heaven and preparing to return to earth one day to renew and restore the world and bring judgement upon all people. This may sound unbelievable, but it is the truth, and it is the only message that holds the power to save us from our sins.
The gospel message may seem foolish or weak to those who hear it, but that’s how God often chooses to build his movement. Rather than seeking out the powerful or influential, he calls the weak, powerless, and foolish to proclaim the good news. In fact, the gospel was just as foolish to the people of Corinth as it may seem to those in Southern Ontario today. But despite its apparent foolishness, the gospel is just as powerful to save now as it was 2000 years ago. And he continues to spread His message and build His movement through unlikely individuals today. If we hope to faithfully proclaim the gospel, we must be willing to embrace this reality and not be discouraged by others’ perceived foolishness of our message.
The problems of division, factions, and idolizing church leaders are not unique to our time. From the earliest days of Christianity, believers have struggled with maintaining unity and avoiding the temptation to put leaders on pedestals. In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul seeks to address these issues by reminding them that the church belongs solely to Jesus. It is through Jesus’ death and resurrection that we are saved, it’s his name we are baptized into, and it is only through his power that the church can thrive and move forward.
Paul begins his letter to the Corinthian church by expressing gratitude for the grace of God that has been bestowed upon them through Jesus. Similarly, we have much to be thankful for in the Corinthian church, as it serves as a reminder that if God can work through a community as flawed and in need of grace as the Corinthians, then there is hope for us as well. This Sunday, we will delve into the context and significance of Paul’s greeting to the Corinthian church, exploring both the city of Corinth and the motivations behind Paul’s writing of this influential and relevant letter.
1. Thank God that He meets us in our mess.
1 Timothy 1:15: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.”
2. Center ourselves on Jesus
Take whatever is broken in your spiritual life and apply the gospel to it, because faith in the gospel is the cure, regardless of the sickness.
3. Trust that God will be faithful to see us through.
What do we think of when we think of a blessed life? Maybe it’s a spouse, two kids and a house that we own, maybe it’s a secure retirement or a fulfilling career. Whatever the word blessed conjures up for you, it almost certainly is tied in to our view of success. In God’s kingdom success is measured not in dollars, degrees or the applause of people it’s measured in obedience, faithfulness and holiness. Complete holiness and full obedience are the requirements to truly experience the blessing of God in our lives. Partial holiness is no holiness at all, good actions do not compensate for bad actions. To experience the fullness of God’s blessing in our lives we need to experience the holiness that only Jesus can provide.
Disappointment is the gap between our expectations and our reality. Disappointment is an inevitable reality in a broken world. Through Haggai God speaks a message of encouragement to a disappointed people. First, and most importantly he promises that He is with them. Second, He promises that despite how things may appear, He will use the temple they have reconstructed to make his glory known to the whole world. Third, God promises that He will provide the resources to complete the task to which he has called them. And finally he promises them a better future where reality won’t just meet their expectations it will exceed them.
Haggai was a post-exilic prophet sent by God to exhort the small community of Jewish people who had resettled in Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity and exile. The community that had returned, returned to a city in ruins and a temple that had been destroyed. Their initial excitement and joy at returning quickly turned into a struggle just to get by. In the grind of trying to rebuild their lives and eke out a living the worship of God and the rebuilding of his temple quickly fell off the radar. Yet, the harder they worked the harder things seemed to get. In the midst of this God speaks to the people through Haggai to tell them that their dissatisfied lives were a direct result of disordered priorities and that in order to experience the lives of flourishing they had hoped for they needed to start by putting God first. The message God’s people then is the same as his message to his people today. Disordered priorities inevitably lead to dissatisfied lives but a satisfied heart starts with centering ourselves on God.
All of us have a deep need to be loved. We’re also terrified that we’ll be rejected. For many of us our search for love and our fear of rejection are the driving forces behind the story of our lives. One of the most incredible truths we find in scripture is that there is a God who both loves us fully and knows us completely. The good news for those who are searching for love is that love came searching for all of us.