Studies in the Book of 1stCorinthians
I. INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK
Where was Corinth?
In current Greece, (which is present Europe).
How was the culture of Corinth?
Totally non Christian.
How was the church?
Young, immature, with many spectacular gifts, but with so much sin.
KEY ISSUES ADDRESSED.
“Outline of 1 Corinthians”
II. Divisions in the Church (1:10–4:21)
III. Moral and Ethical Disorders in the Life of the Church (chs. 5–6)
IV. Instruction on Marriage (ch. 7)
V. Instruction on Questionable Practices (8:1–11:1)
VI. Instruction on Public Worship (gifts, love, Holy Communion) (11:2–14:40)
VII. Instruction on the Resurrection (ch. 15)
VIII. Conclusion: Practical and Personal Matters (ch. 16)”
Divisions in the Church
10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
II. THE CALL TO UNITY
1. The problem at a hand.
The brethren were in disagreement. There were quarrels over which spiritual leader to follow.
2. The problem of division in any team.
STRONG WORDS USED.
To tear apart, to rip into pieces, a schism, to openly break something.
This problem was tearing the Lord’s church apart. When people quarrel, it fractures relationships and this leads to the weakening of the church. A church in disagreement is very weak; it is the enemy’s tactic to render us powerless. When a family is in disagreement it cannot see spiritual breakthroughs for the power of God flows where there is unity.
Pastor Keith was teaching us last year at the conference that one of the greatest causes of poverty is family splits. When a man runs away with another woman, the resources are divided but also the blessing of God takes off.
When a group is divided all the energy is focused on the problem instead of on the picture. NO GROWTH, NO TESTIMONY AND NO POWER.
3. What are some of the things that divide churches.
Someone said that Sunday is the most segregated day of the week.
- MUSIC: style, hymns or contemporary, fast or slow, drums, organ or no organ, loud or not.
- DRESSING: dresses or trousers, head scuffs or plain hair, for short hair long or long hair. Dreadlocks or no dread locks.
- TRIBE OR RACE: When the pastor is from the West all the members are from there if he is from the North so goes the members if he is a Mzungu then all mzungu to that church.
- TITLES: should we call them pastors or bishops, Apostles or reverends.
- THE BIBLE VERSION WE SHOULD USE: King James or NIV, ESV or American Standard version.
- THE SECOND COMING OF THE LORD: Is Jesus returning before the great tribulations, in the middle or after.
- Calvinism or Armenianism: some call their friends once saved always saved while others call their friends, those who say you can loose your salvation.
- WOMEN IN MINISTRY: Can women be pastors or not, can they preach in public or not. Can they be elders or not.
- GIFTS ESPECIALLY TONGUES : Some say the gifts ended with the apostles we do not need any gifts now since the Bible is already written. Tongues or no you do not need them, they say actually prophesying means preaching. Then others tell their friends if you are not speaking in tongues then you don’t have the Spirit and you are not going to heaven.
BUT DO YOU KNOW THAT ALL THE ARGUMENTS ARE IN THE NON-ESSENTIALS OF THE GOSPEL; None of those issues can take you to heaven or close your door to heaven.
4. What are some of the problems that divide people.
Tribes, Social status, Age, Positions at the places of work, looks etc.
– In a family setting, all kinds of things: In-laws, the other child whom the father or mother did not produce, money, some cultural issues that your spouse grew with.
– Children; some kids are more closer to one parent than the other.
– Money; little or too much.
5. The Root.
For the Corinthian church it was the leaders. Paul, Apollos, Peter and Christ.
– Paul was the founder of the church. NO CHANGE, THE TRADITIONISTS (their pride is in no change, in preserving the past)
– Apollo: Young, powerful orator, amazing in teaching. Contemporary ( their pride is in change, they love entertainment)
– Peter: The leading Apostle, a miracle worker, (I think these people who love to see things, power, etc)
– Christ: These felt they only answered to Christ, no need for any earthly leaders. Very dangerous no accountability.
The main root in all of this case was pride. Pride goes before a fall.
6. The power of unity.
- Agree: there are more things to agree about than the few that we do not agree about.
- Speak the same language. Continually and all the time focus on; you’re the BIG picture Jesus and his plan to change the world through you.
Disagree in private, but after you gain consensus come out speaking the same language. As a church, never discuss your internal issues to outsiders, same thing in any team.
- There is a law called synergism. This law states that when the joint action of agents are brought together they increase each other’s effectiveness.
- Jesus spoke about the power of agreement in Matthew 18:19. “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”
- The Bible says that one can chase a thousand but two can chase ten thousands. Together we can accomplish great things.
Unity is like Symphony
“The Greek word that Jesus used which is translated “agree” comes from the word “symphonize”. If you have ever been to a symphony, then you can appreciate the importance of agreement. At the beginning of the symphony, the orchestra warms up. This is when everyone plays on their own without considering others. The noise is atrocious. But when the conductor lifts the baton, the racket stops and all eyes are on him. Then with a gentle wave of the baton the orchestra plays such heavenly music.
What makes the difference? The orchestra is in one accord. No one is on their own. And when they all do their part the music is lovely. On their own, the music doesn’t amount to much, but together they sound breathtaking.
Our differences are strength but they can also be our weaknesses if they are not focused in one direction.
In church setting God has placed leadership JESUS FIRST and his under shepherds. Our leaders hear God’s voice and they guide us as to which direction to take. That is key to a great symphony is the unity formed when we obey the leader.
THERE IS POWER IN UNITY
III. THE ANSWER IS CHRIST CRUCIFIED
Paul was calling the church to a new Focus.
Paul refocused the Church to Jesus Christ. The whole purpose of the church is Christ and his work in our lives and his call for us to take him to the nations.
When people loose focus of Jesus, small things become the big things. The songs we sing the clothes we wear, the doctrines we hold become the big issues.
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
There is calling that I hear from Jesus, it is call to return to the MAIN things. TO KNOW HIM AND TO MAKE HIM KNOWN.
We have a continent broken by years of tribalism, selfish people leading to corruption, but with so much potential and Christ is saying it is time to stop and listen to a new way. Follow the Leader, speak the same language.
The people outside the church are looking to see whether we believe what is written in this book. They are longing to follow, are you willing. We have a mission to TRANSFORM OUR COMMUNITY AND NATION. BUT IT STARTS BY PUTTING DOWN MY PETTY PROJECT FOR THE BIGGER PROJECT.
This will mean appreciating our differences as our strength, loving those we are different from and pointing them to Jesus. Accepting those loud people, those traditional people, the young people whose style of music is different. It is looking at what those people can become and not what they are today.
TWO PRACTICAL THINGS TO END WITH.
- A COMMITMENT TO WORK ON A SMALL PROJECT TOGETHER.
- A COMMITMENT TO WRITE DOWN SOME OF THE THINGS THAT I HAVE BEEN HOLDING AS IMPORTANT BUT YET THEY ARE NOT.