Wednesday 2 December 2020


1 Corinthians 1 v. 3/9

 Advent has begun, the first day of the Church’s year, when we think of the return of the Lord Jesus to earth. It is a period in which we can commit ourselves to accept him and his commands for the way we live our lives, as he taught.

Paul was on a missionary journey having visited Rome and Ephesus when he heard of dispute in the Church at Corinth.

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

Tensions had arisen in the congregation, and there was a request for Paul to give guidance.. 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.

It is disappointing and frustrating when Christians are disagreeing, especially as now when the press revel in seeing and reporting.  Then, as now, a major problem was sexuality which is particularly irritating.

We must decide, are we going to follow what God has laid down or not.  The Bible is unequivocally clear in what we are expected to believe and practise. If anyone in Ministry cannot accept, they should cease to minister, and if there was proper leadership, such would be advised. Unfortunately a number of our leaders are more confused and unfaithful to the Lord. (If a kingdom is divided against itself it cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself that house cannot stand Mark 3 v.24/5

One issue which all Christians should be concerned is that of falling attendances. Whilst we have to accept that we live in a godless age, where the Church is a no go area to a lot of people, except of course when it suits their purpose, occasions arise which demonstrate that there is still a lot of feeling for the Church. 

We will not be successful however when its is seen the Church is divided against itself. It is foolish to suggest we should preach the Christian gospel to intelligent people, who will readily recognise some in the Church don’t believe it.

I have taken services at over 30 Churches in and around Bedford over the last few years, many in villages, where congregations are small. The people live in beautiful surroundings with lovely homes, most in good employment, no anti-social behaviour, as some people are forced to endure, so it is not unreasonable to expect them to be grateful for such blessings and give an hour to thank God for such. 

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 to attend their places of worship without such difficulties. I can assure you if letters were sent to houses in these village parishes telling them the Church was closing, there would be an immediate outcry.  They would be denied the option of an old village Church to enhance the English village scene.

You will note how relevant this Letter has become to us as the same thing is happening here and other Western nations. Parts of the Church are embracing, encouraging and accepting society’s moral values, and have wanted to rewrite Scripture, which causes anguish to others.  The Bible is not like a computer or smartphone which needs constant updates. When we fail to accept God’s Word and embrace society’s we fail. We have to show we have something to offer which cannot be found anywhere else.

Paul then rebukes them for following and favouring particular preachers.  It is natural for us to like a particular one, but there is also a danger that we may be influenced more by the personality rather than his message.

Paul warned that some people did not want to hear sound doctrine, especially if it curtailed their actions, and so would find preachers who would say what they wanted to hear..

Paul reminded that Christ was not divided and neither should we be. He quoted the example of one planting the seed of the Word and another watering it, both playing an important role. We may still worship in different ways as some like a lot of ceremony, and others a more simple form of service; the important factor was getting the doctrine right.

 There are Churches where the practice is to have different preachers each Sunday, which can be most confusing. As a conservative Minister, I could be followed by a liberal one who would obviously be of totally different preaching.  The purpose of preaching is to help people to understand and appreciate the Bible, and this can only be worthily done by people being built up with consistent teaching.

Paul turns to baptism where some were boasting of who baptised them, when it is the act which is important, not who the baptiser is. We have situations where people who never attend Church on a regular basis ask for a particular Vicar because of a past connection of some kind. 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.

Baptism is the most sacred sacrament of the Church. In its original form it 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

I have witnessed Churches where the scheduled Minister was replaced because the parents, who were not even Church members, wanted their own man from somewhere else. Such is completely unacceptable and makes a mockery of baptism.

 In the final verse, Paul emphasised I have witnessed Churches where the scheduled Minister was replaced because the parents, who were not even Church members, wanted their own man from somewhere else. Such is completely unacceptable and makes a mockery of baptism.

 Let us make sure our nation continues to hear the gospel and of Jesus Christ, and stop the attempts of trying to have him pushed out of public life. The Church must awake from its slumbers for all to hear the Christian message.

 May the Lord bless us in this task, and may the Church here shine like   a beacon of life in  a darkened world.

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