Friday 10 February 2017

This morning our study of 1 Corinthians has reached Chapter 3. As seen in earlier Chapters, the Letter was written by Paul because of the worldly views that had crept into the Church at Corinth. His guidance had been sought about the governing of the Church, whilst the real needs had been concealed. Paul is now making them face the reality of their sinful lives so that they grow spiritually perfect.

Paul tries to show them how they will appear in God’s eyes, and how they must act to be worthy of following in the name of Jesus who died and rose again.

He states they are not truly spiritual, but self indulgent and self centred. He obviously accepts them as brothers/sisters by so addressing them, but their faith is childlike.

We often rejoice to see large congregations, wonderful choirs, great ceremonial services, often in beautiful fitted buildings, but a real Church has only one foundation, Jesus Christ. All such things are useless when there is division which only causes quarrelling, jealousy, forming of cliques, false teaching, and inevitably immorality of the world creeping in. Corinth, like many Churches of today preferred a gospel which impresses rather than the gospel of Christ.

Children are now being brought up without any real understanding of true values, but are encouraged to model themselves on pop stars and footballers. Parents anxious to reveal their own lost desires through their children, spend freely on classes designed to promote such ambitions. Time and money can be found for such activities, but only excuses for not attending places of worship. Whereas secular leadership concentrates on status, wealth and ambition, Christian leadership focuses on serving the Lord.

When Paul uses the word ‘spiritual’ he does not mean that they are not Christians but that they are not living up to their Christian way and they are not acting as mature Christian people but as baby Christians. When one becomes a Christian our sinful nature is not erased, but should no longer control us. but it can still influence us and influence our lives.

Paul gives illustrations from life to indicate his message. We feed children with milk until they can digest solid food, so they had to learn the rudiments of faith before getting down to the full Word of God.

In order to discourage people from devoting themselves to a man, he uses an horticultural example, describing how he plants and others water, and God makes the seed grow.

Then he turns to an architectural example when he quotes our Lord, who said, ‘I will build my Church’. The Bible clearly shows us how Jesus alone can be the foundation, and when we follow the Apostolic teaching, first given to us in Acts of the Apostles by the men whom our Lord taught and instructed to pass on the teaching, which we have in the New Testament, we will see the harvest of souls in the Church,

We are a body of believers on earth, and when 2/3 gather in Jesus’ name, He will be with us in Spirit. Paul saw the Church as God’s body and himself as a master builder, and is very clear that the only true Church is based on the gospel of a suffering Messiah dying for His people. A problem to day is that many Church members do not grow out of spiritual childhood and are more concerned with trivial issues.

A lady once came to my Church on a visit with people from her own Church which was much larger than mine at that time. She so enjoyed the time sharing with us that she said that she would propose to her Vicar that we be twinned. I was later told her Vicar deemed us too small for that, which exampled the superficiality, immaturity and arrogance within the Christian community.

In a mixed up world we are constantly tempted to become world centred, importing all the sins and vices of society, and being adept at finding excuses for doing so. We should never excuse sin, we should always ask God by his grace to help us not to give in to our own sinful nature.

When we give up letting the world set our agenda, the Church can get back to its original purpose of preaching the gospel instead of allowing the rights of sexual freedom to dominate, as General Synod will undoubtedly do later this month.

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