Friday 17 January 2020

1 Corinthians 1 v1/ 17

This is the first of Paul’s Letters to Church which Paul had founded situated in the heart of Corinth, a trading and manufacturing centre. The city was a cosmopolitan and sophisticated place, where there was sexual immorality and corruption, which likened it to the Soho of the day.

It was custom when writing a letter to someone to start by saying who it was from, and to whom, and often why it was written. Paul therefore writes establishing his purpose of thanking them for their presence in the city.

It came to his notice that tensions had arisen in the congregation. The worldly view of spirituality and morality did not equate with the Church’s standards, but some members were influenced and were encouraged by false teachers. This was causing disunity and such grieved Paul who disliked Christians disagreeing.
This is what caused him to write and give guidance.

True Christians are disheartened, and it is infuriating to find disputes in the Church, and when this occurs it is almost always because someone wants to deviate from what the Bible has laid down, and they want to act as the world does.

The subject which causes the biggest problem in the Church is sexuality; it was in Corinth and it is now a bigger problem here, and there can be no justification for it. The Church, whether some people accept or not, is honour and duty bound, and has responsibility to God to teach only what is laid down in the Bible. Every ordained Minister in the Church vow to do so.

The Bible states, God made a man and then a woman, male/female, such is the order of God’s creation. He then laid down sexual relations were to be between a man and a woman, in marriage. Such is categorically laid down. Any deviation therefore is against God’s teaching, and whilst this is widely abused, and may condemn many people in the Church, that is what we are to teach.
I agree that this is wholly contrary to life in the 21st Century, and is a mixture of contempt and amusement to society, and whilst it is not accepted within the Church, there will be continual unrest.

It does not help however, when men holding positions at the highest echelons of the Church, support and co-operate with activists to abandon Bible teaching.
Over the years, politicians in both major political Parties have learned that when there is in-fighting within the Party, people do not support them.  Jesus stated, anyone who is against his teaching is against him, and a kingdom divided amongst itself will be laid waste.

In the opening verse of our passage, Paul calls on Christians to agree and be of one mind and judgement. We can only achieve this if we are all one in Christ Jesus. He alone is means of unity and the only way to God.

One issue on which all Christians should be concerned, is that of falling attendances. As I travel around the Circuit, on repeat visits I notice a distinct fall in attendances, and this is happening all over the country. Part of this is through deaths, people too infirm to attend, without being replaced by new members. Whilst the Church cannot make up its mind what doctrine it believes in, the two main denominations will continue to lose people, weekly.

Either through ignorance, naivety, or plain cussedness there is a refusal to recognise Pentecostal Churches are growing, especially the black Churches. I wonder if it is because they are being faithful to the Bible?

My wife is disabled and we have needed Carers over the years, and almost all
have been from Africa, and so black ladies. EVERY one brought a Bible, which they read, and didn’t just carry as an accessory.

If we look at Eastern nations in Africa and the Orient, there is massive growth in the Church, even in China, where they are often persecuted. In those nations they have not been dismantling the Bible as we have been here.

Whilst we have to accept that we live in a godless age where the Church is a no-go area for a lot of people, except of course when it suits their purpose, the number of people who attend Christmas Night Mass, and Remembrance Day services show there is a harvest to be gathered, if properly cultivated.
 We get told there is pressure on combining home and business life which makes it hard to attend Church on Sundays, but Muslims seem to manage attending their places of worship without much difficulty.

Jesus Christ said, ‘I will build my Church.’ And the last words he used to his disciples were, ’go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, teaching all I have commanded you.’

In Acts we read the first Christian Church was devoted to the teaching of the Apostles, in consequence ‘the Lord added to their numbers daily’. There is a message, follow the teaching of the Apostles, who were taught by the Lord Himself. God graciously provided us with a copy of their teaching; it is called the New Testament. That is the purpose of the Church, to preach the gospel, not social or political issues. When we do the Lord will bless and help us, when we fail and follow the world’s agenda rather than God’s Word, we fail.

When we try to please man rather than God; when we depart from the Bible by adding to or subtracting from, we are causing cracks in the foundation of Apostolic teaching; we are building on sand rather than rock.

If we allow ourselves to withdraw from plain speaking of the gospel we are failing our Lord and reducing ourselves as a Church to little more than just another social organisation with a spiritual flavour, in which case we have nothing to offer those lost souls seeking real spiritual help. We have to show that we do have something special to offer which no other organisation can.

Paul then rebukes them for following and favouring particular preachers. It is natural for us to have a favourite preacher, but there is also a danger that we may become attached to one who is not a biblical teacher. Paul was concerned and had occasion to warn that some people, who did not want to hear sound doctrine, were turning to teachers who would say what they wanted to hear rather than what they should hear.

Paul reminds that Christ was not divided and neither should we be. We can still worship in different ways as some like much ceremony and others a simpler method, as long as the doctrine of the gospel is the same. But we must accept one another.
I would not attend services where all the local Churches gather at so called Christian unity week, because I don’t like hypocrisy and falsity. People did not mix but tended to stay with their own, which I accept was human, but I refuse to believe or accept one Church will not allow people of another denomination to share communion unless brought up within that Church.  If they were perfect themselves, it might have been more palatable.

Paul turns to baptism where some were boasting of who baptised them, when it is the belief which is important not who the baptiser is. But baptism in Paul’s day was not the charade it is today whereby a person enquires about baptism and is told to turn up at the Church on a certain date. Nor does it matter which Minister baptises, you are baptised into God not man.

 Baptism is the most sacred sacrament of the Church. It denotes a person wishing to become a Christian in the biblical sense, rather than it being defined as someone who believes in there being a God, even the devil accepts there is a God; some who claim not to, but do. Such as a humanist speaker at one of their type of funeral service stated; he was saying what they could trust in and what not, and ended up saying, and if that doesn’t work then God help us.

A Christian is a man or woman who realises there is something in their life that is missing, yet present in other the lives of friends who attend Church. God knows when to touch that person’s heart and moves them to learn the message of Jesus; they have then to respond or reject.

Most people want to go to heaven when they die, but have unrepented sin in their lives, and God hates sin and will not have a sinner in heaven. Therefore, we need to be cleansed of sin, and no matter how wrong we have been, or how much sin committed, God has provided a way for us to be forgiven.  He sent Jesus to earth, and Jesus died an horrific death on a Cross, and in doing so took responsibility for all our sins and for all who will accept that death paid the price of their sin. Then we accept Jesus as Lord of our life and our personal Saviour, and commit ourselves to follow the kind of life he commanded, and to worship him with other Christians. When we do so, Jesus makes us acceptable in God’s sight and we are totally forgiven.

Imagine a woman has not enough food to feed her children, and mothers being caring women, decides to go to Tesco and steal some food. When she is seen doing so, is detained and taken to Court. There the Magistrate fines her, but realising she cannot pay the fine, he gives the clerk of the Court the money to pay the fine for her. Now substitute yourself for that mother, and God for the magistrate.

In its original form, baptism took place when a person made a public confession of faith, repented of past way of life, and turned their life to Christ. This was the way people entered the Church. At some point the Church adopted the practice of baptising the children of committed Christian parents, but it was never meant to be of the indiscriminate kind we practice.

What is unacceptable now is, we ask them to say they believe in Christ, they renounce all sin, (whilst admitting they live unmarried with children); make vows to bring up the children in the fellowship of the Church, by their example, which they promise to do without any intention of doing so, and we perpetuate this falsehood. If the millions of baptismal promises had been honoured, we would be building Churches, not knocking them down.

In the final verse Paul emphasised the importance of preaching the gospel in simple words so all could understand and believe, contrary to some preachers who like to show their academic abilities. The Church of England had one eminent person who spoke in such convoluted terms few had any idea what he was talking about.

We must be committed to letting people know what the gospel is in simple, unabridged terms. There are so many people with cares and worries and the Bible offers encouragement and hope, but it must be preached without fear or reservation.

There is now a reluctance to be really faithful to the Bible for fear of being called a bigot, or accused of having some sort of phobia if one speaks out. If we face up to reality, we have modified Scripture to avoid offending other faiths or none. Secularists, humanists, and followers of Islam will not allow their beliefs to be suppressed, and neither should Christians; believers have a reasonable expectation that the Churches will stand up for them and not surrender to the humanist agenda.

In the United States as well as here, we have had leaders in recent times who have been more anti-Christian than any in my lifetime, ready to make it harder through legislation, for Christians to express their faith. We can be called infidels by other faiths, but a law is about to be proposed in the U.K which will make it an offence for Christians to quote certain verses, even in Church lest they offend another faith or minority faction.

Fortunately for the United States, it now has a President who strongly supports the Christian Church and Christians. What America does today we often follow shortly after, perhaps they would lend him to us.

As Christians we have to make sure our nation continues to hear about Jesus Christ and stop the attempts to push Him out of public life. We have to make sure an authentic Christian message is heard. At the moment people hear many different voices speaking in the name of Christianity, some of which are not faithful to the Bible’s teaching. The Church must awake from its slumbers, for people need to hear the Christian message.

No comments:

Post a Comment