31 Oct 2021
Though we are called by God to the church, we are still a sinful people living in a sinful world. Problems arise when sinners live together. And so, problems in the church are not unexpected. In 1Corinthians, Paul seeks to tackle the many problems that plague the church. And before he launches into them, he intentionally lays down the "ABC" grounds for dealing with them. A- Authority. Paul reminds them of the authority vested in him as an apostle. We too have the authority to deal with the problems in the scriptures. B- Blessings. Before we are all tangled up in problems, we need to be reminded how we are richly graced and gifted. May the love of God in the gospel melt our hearts as we deal with problems. C- Coming of Christ. We have a sure hope of glory when Christ returns. And may this hope encourage us to live holy and faithful lives. These are important "ABC" grounds for dealing with church problems. But the principles are also helpful for dealing with sin problems.
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Once again, a very good morning to all of you, thank you for joining us this Sunday morning. This is a special Sunday for us, because as mentioned, this is baptism Sunday and also this is the week we start on a new book in the Bible.
Now, for the past year, for the past 52-weeks, we have been journeying through the book of Genesis, a 50-chapter book. 1st Corinthians is 16 chapters long, but I would say, it definitely will take more than 16 weeks, alright.
Now, some of you may be asking, "What in the world is 1st Corinthians? Such a weird name! I've never heard of something like that before," you say. Well, it's actually very simple, 1st Corinthians is about a letter written to the church at Corinth. So, you call it 1st Corinthians. Imagine if I were to write a letter to people living in Singapore, I would say, this is a letter to Singaporeans. So, will not be strange if we call this 1st Corinthians.
Then why 1st? Because in the Bible, there are two letters written to the Corinthians. This is the first one, therefore 1st Corinthians. Now, we understand what 1st Corinthians is, then maybe you will ask, "Why? Why do we need to study 1st Corinthians?" Because it's about the people who lived a long time ago and in a faraway land.
I would say, it's worth our consideration because human nature remains very much the same, whether you lived 2,000 years ago or you live today here in Singapore, we still have the same desires, same sinful impulses, and you know God is the same yesterday, today and forever. So we can learn lessons from a book like this, or a letter like this, even though it happened a long time ago.
But more than that, the people or the city of Corinth is a people that is very similar to the people in Singapore. Corinth and Singapore are alike in many ways. Not that they sell chicken rice or Nasi Lemak but you would see that they are very similar in some ways, such as, prosperity.
Singapore is a prosperous city, I don't think any one of us doubt that and Corinth is a wealthy city in their day. They are like Singapore, a trading center, a commercial center. So, let me bring it to you in this simple map, alright. I know it's small, but I'm going to zoom in, don't worry.
So if you look at this map, you could see the continent of Europe and Africa. And if you look right in the middle that will be the country of Greece. Some of you have been to Greece before, so this is that country in general. And if we were to zoom in a little bit more, we would see this country in higher definition.
Now, there's one area I'd like you to focus on in this country of Greece and it's right here, alright. This central region where there's this tiny strip of land connecting the larger land masses on the upper and lower ends. Now, this is where Corinth is generally located. Of course, the ancient city of Corinth and the modern city of Corinth may not be exactly the same but 'agak -agak' [to estimate in Malay], it's about here.
So this is a very unique strip of land because you could see that you can have access to both sides of waters. On one side, it will lead you to Italy, on the other side, it will lead you to Asia. So this is a very strategic, very useful location for business and trading, and so Corinth took advantage of that and became a major commercial center.
Sounds like Singapore? Yeah, that's that's our story too! So, they became very prosperous, people there were rich, well-to-do and it also was a melting pot of people from different walks of life. If you do business, you'll travel there, and that's where culture becomes very colorful, like Singapore, people of all races and walks of life.
Now, Corinth, however was also a very pagan city. What we mean by ... what we mean by the word, 'pagan' means they don't worship the God of the Bible, but they worship using many statues and idols. So it was a land where idolatry was rampant.
Besides the fact that it was a commercial center, it was also a very intellectual center. It was near Athens, which is the center of philosophy and thinking in those days.
One more thing about Corinth, you might want to know, is that it was a very promiscuous society. It has very loose sexual morals. For example, there's this temple there, you can even visit the ruins today. This is the ruins of the 'Temple of Aphrodite'. Aphrodite is a Greek goddess, the goddess of love and lust. And in its heyday, it is said that there will be about a thousand priestesses, thousand temple priestesses who would offer temple prostitution.
So the city of Corinth is well-known, is notorious, it's infamous for its promiscuity, it's loose values there. And you can imagine the kind of people that will live there. So there is a preacher who says, "It was Corinth, it was a sailor's port ..." Can understand why, the geographic location, "... a prodigal's paradise ..." I mean, rampant paganism, rampant idolatry ... idolatry and immorality, "... A policeman's nightmare, and a preachers graveyard." Huh, the Gospel is hard to take root in a place that is filled with sin.
It is in such a background, it is in such a context, it is in such a milieu of environment and so on, that the church began to take root during Paul's time, the writer of this episode. He preached the Gospel, he shared the Good News about Jesus - His death and His resurrection to save men from their sins. And there were people who began to receive this message into their hearts and they followed Jesus Christ in their lives.
So the church is born there, but because of their environment and because of the background they come from, there will you can expect big problems that will exist in the church. So, Paul began to address these problems in this first letter to the church at Corinth subsequently.
So you will read about problems such as schisms. Schisms, well, it's another word for splits or divisions. So because of that background of maybe prosperity, there's that ego and pride and competitiveness, perhaps! And the problems came up in the church when a camp differs from another and they began to have variants and fights.
Besides schisms, you could also expect, there will be problems about sexual sins in the church. And you'll read about these problems addressed later on.
Now, I did mention that there was a lot of idolatry, a lot of paganism. So even questions like - can we as Christians eat food that has been offered to idols and statues? That is a relevant question for the people living in Corinth. So, you have another problem there to deal with.
And then you have the problem of selfishness. I think there's a lot of self-absorption. They are not caring for one another, even though they were rich people. That's a problem for rich people, isn't it? Huh!
They have abuse of spiritual gifts.
They have problems in the worship services.
And they even have questions and doubts about Jesus' return and the final salvation that we look forward to.
So 1st Corinthians, it's a book that deals with practical problems. It ... it's not like the book of Romans where it deals with foundational doctrine, it deals with the Gospel, what that message is really all about. Well, 1st Corinthians does give us teachings and doctrines, but it's primarily oriented around dealing with the practical problems that the church at Corinth faced.
So, I would say to you, it is a reminder that we have problems in church. And I find it interesting that today is the day we have baptism where guests join us but it's also the I tell you, we have a lot of problems in church.
Well, not very I think positive or encouraging in that sense, but it's very real. Because church is not about a group of perfect people, in fact, I will say, that church is made up of flawed and still sinful people. I'm very flawed, I'm very sinful and for all our baptismal candidates.
Now, all of you are guests, family and friends, I'm sure you look at your relative, friend, colleague here and you say, "Hah, he also Christin ah! Wah, like that one ah!" You may be puzzled, how come he can be a Christian or she can be a Christian. I say to you, we are still struggling, we are all work in progress, but something has changed, our desires have changed, our purposes have changed and our life will continue to change.
So here in Gospel Light, we don't say that, Christians are perfect people. We ... we ... we don't say, that our goal is sinless perfection, but the mark of the Christian is that, there is sincere progression. We are being changed, and we have a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.
So, we are not saying, please look to the church as if we are perfect. We are saying, look to God, who alone is perfect, but He is changing us. And I hope that our baptismal candidates, because of Christ living in them would demonstrate that over time, by the grace of God.
So, we are going to look at this letter to the people at Corinth and see the problems and how they can be resolved in a biblical way. So, let's dive right in! I guarantee you we're not going to go from chapter 1 to chapter 16, we are only going to deal with first nine verses in chapter 1, alright. So it's going to take us some time but we will deal with that in a gentle and appropriate way.
So let me start, 1st Corinthians 1:1-9, "Paul, called by the will of God, to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes. To the Church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you - so that you're not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord."
Now, after reading these verses, you say, "Where got problem? All very nice things what! All very good things what! How come you say, 1st Corinthians is a book about problems and I read none in the first nine verses?" Ay, hold your horses, 1st nine verses is Paul introducing himself and, and doing a few things, but he has not entered into the problems yet. Because the next verse, in verse 10, it gets right going, "I appeal to you brothers, by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree ..." Please don't fight anymore. Please don't argue anymore, "... And that there be no divisions among you."
So you could see, after the first nine verses, he launches straight into dealing with the first problem of schisms or divisions or splits in the church. So, what Paul is doing in these first nine verses is therefore important. Instead of jumping straight into saying, "You guys are terrible and miserable and horrible and messed up," he achieves a few things. It's not just motherhood statements. It's not just random ramblings. He achieves a few things.
 He Reminds Them Of The Authority
Number one, he wants to remind the people at Corinth of his authority. And he starts, of course, introducing himself, he says, "Paul ..." Paul is not someone unfamiliar to the church at Corinth, for sure.
Four years ago, before he wrote this letter, he arrived at Corinth. As I've mentioned, that story is given to you in Acts, chapter 18. It's in your Bible, it's found in Acts, chapter 18.
Paul arrived there, he stayed there for 18 months, teaching the Gospel, teaching the Bible, teaching about Jesus to the people at Corinth. And the church began to be born there.
He left that city after 18 months to pursue ministry elsewhere, to preach the Gospel in other parts of the world. But a couple of years later, he began to hear about problems in Corinth. He hears about the sexual problems, the sins there. He hears about their divisions, their schisms, and so he felt that it was appropriate for him to write this letter to warn them and to tell them, how these things should be settled. Therefore, we have 1st Corinthians.
Now, Paul, not unfamiliar to them, said the first thing here, "Called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus." [1 Cor 1:1] Now, the word, 'apostle', is a 'ulu' [remote in Malay] word to Singaporeans today. But the word, 'apostle' simply means someone who is sent, someone who is sent on a mission.
So Paul is saying, "I'm an apostle of Jesus Christ. I'm sent by Christ, to serve you and to be a blessing to you." Now, the title of apostle is not something we throw around ah! I don't think any one of us should call ourselves apostles in the strict sense of this word, as a title. This was a title reserved for a very special group of people. People who have witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and who are called of God to be of this special group, and they are like the leaders of the church.
So you could say, Paul, right here in the beginning is establishing his authority. "I'm Paul and I am an apostle of Jesus Christ. I'm sent by Christ, I've a message from Christ. I'm one of the leaders of the church."
Now, he's not establishing his authority to 'how lian' [to boast in Hokkien dialect]. "Eh, I'm apostle ah! You better clap for me." I don't think he is doing that at all, but he is establishing his authority, so that he will be a blessing to them when they listen to his teachings and to his writings for their good, so that, they will not persist in sin and rebellion against God.
So the first thing I think he wanted to do was to remind them of the authority that is vested in him. And he says, "... And our brother Sosthenes." Now, he writes this greetings together with Sosthenes. Now, who is this Sosthenes? Now, if it is the same person found in Acts, chapter 18, then Sosthenes is actually someone very familiar to the people at Corinth, because Sosthenes was a ruler of the Jewish synagogue there. So, he's a big shot! He's one of the former leaders of their former religion.
But it's interesting, because Sosthenes was the one who probably led an attack of the Jews on Paul. They didn't like Paul's teaching initially, so he was one of the leaders who wanted to attack Paul. But now look at this, "Sosthenes is not my enemy, Sosthenes is my brother! He too has come to receive and believe the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he's one of us. And together, we send our greetings to you."
Now, perhaps Paul used the name Sosthenes to emphasize the ministry that God has called him to and the fruit of the ministry. As a kind of endorsement, as a kind of convincement of who he is and what God has called him to do.
So in any case, first line is not just a random greeting, but Paul reminds them of the authority, so that they will listen up.
 He Reminds Them Of The Blessings
Number two, he reminds them of the blessings. So Paul didn't embark on a rage fuel tirade against the Corinthians. I mean, they were really having a lot of problems, if you read the whole letter, you say, "What, jialat ah, these people!" But Paul didn't start there.
Paul started with encouragement, with things he could see God has blessed them with. And he started on that positive note, he started reminding them of the goodness and the blessings of God upon their lives. For example, he says, "To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with..." [1 Cor 1:2] and so on and so forth.
Now, I just want to ... because there are guests here who may be reading the Bible for the first time. I just want to be a little bit more helpful to you, explaining some of the words here. The word, 'church' means ekklesia in the Greek, which means an assembly. But church is not about the building, church is about an assembly of people. So Paul is writing to the people, the assembly of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified.
The word, 'sanctified' again is a word I hardly read of, before I came to church, but the word, 'sanctified' means a people set apart. That's all! A people that has been set apart from the world to believe, to believe and to belong to God, called to be saints.
So the word, 'saints' has the same root as the word, 'sanctified'. So, Christians are saints not because we are great or good, but because God has been gracious to us. So, we are now a people set apart by God, to belong to Him because of Jesus Christ, because of Christ Jesus. The reason why we belong to God is not because we have done a lot of good things and earned it, not because I've been helpful to a ... to a charity or because I've tried to keep away from sin and therefore I've earned my right to belong to God.
No! No! No! No! No! No! No! Anyone who belongs to God today is because he or she has received Jesus Christ into their lives. They have believed that Christ, God's Son has died and paid for their sins. And based on Christ, not my works, but based on Christ's work on the cross, we now belong to God.
So Paul reminds the people like Corinth, "You are a blessed people not because of who you are, or what you have done, but because of Christ Jesus. And we have become a community together with those who call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Christians, fundamentally are people who believe in Christ, and who call upon His Name. We ... we call Him our Lord and Savior. But the impact here, I don't want you to lose it from all these details, is that Paul is reminding them, "You are a blessed people because of what Christ has done for you." Alright?
And he goes on to say, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." [1 Cor 1:3] Grace - is God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. God has given you Christ to save you from your sins, you cannot save yourself, but Christ has done it all.
"Grace to you" it's a common greeting Paul uses and peace from God. If grace is the action God gives or does for us, peace is the result we receive. Without grace, there will be no peace, but because there is grace, we can now have peace. And this peace from God, I think can refer to two things - Peace with God and peace of God.
It's a difference! Peace with God is about our status and our standing. Now, we are not seen as enemies anymore, we have peace with God! He does not, He's not angry with our sins anymore because of Christ, because of grace. We are now a people at peace with God.
And because we have peace with God, we can have peace of God. We are not fearful or filled with guilt and shame, but we have the peace, that we are His child, that we are saved. And that I think, is a wonderful blessing!
And then Paul goes on to say, "I give thanks to my God, always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus." [1 Cor 1:4] Well again, grace, that word, which I have already explained.
"That in every way you were enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge even as a testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, so that you're not lacking in any gift." [1 Cor 1:5-7] So Paul is again reminding them, you are a graced people and you are a gifted people. You know, besides God saving grace, He has given you a lot of spiritual gifts in the church and we will read about that, later on in 1st Corinthians, chapter 12.
So, I do not want to belabor this too much, but to point you back to the big picture, Paul is reminding them of their blessings. "Hey, before I deal with problems, before we go right into the issues you have, I want to remind you about authority that I'm vested with, and I want you to be reminded about your blessings. Be reminded how God has been so good to you. He has graced you. He has saved you because of Christ. And He has gifted you. You guys are a really blessed people!"
 He Reminds Them Of The Coming Of Christ
And then finally, he reminds them of the coming of Christ.
Now, God's blessings is not just for life here and now, but he says, "There's more to come, when Christ returns." And this is what he says, "As you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." [1 Cor 1:8-9]
Now, clearly you would say, "See, that he is talking about the day when Christ will return." And I think you can infer that the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, that day will be a day of great joy and glory and beauty. It's a day you look forward to! And also, it is a day that you will be able to see because God is the One who will sustain you, who will preserve you.
So the two ideas here is about the joy of that day, and about the certainty of that day. And Paul is reminding them about the assurance that they will see that beautiful day of glory, and that is Paul's goal right here.
So let me put this back here, what is verses 1-9 all about? It's not dealing with the problems yet, but it's setting the context, it's setting the ground works, on which we can deal with problems.
Number one, he's reminding them of the authority. What he's going to say is not just personal opinion. He's speaking as a leader of the church. He's speaking as a messenger of God. He establishes his authority. He reminds them of the blessings and then he reminds them of the coming of Christ. And all that sets up for us the right approach then to dealing with the problems that will be listed thereafter.
So if I may say to you, all I'm saying so far if you forget everything I say, it's okay. Just remember, I'm trying to make it simple, he's laying down, "The ABC Approach To The Problems Of The Church".
What do you mean? Well, it means, before we tackle the problems, "Please remember the authority that I'm speaking these things with. Please remember that you are a blessed people, you have been graced by God. Please remember in the midst of your problems, Jesus will come back for you."
So, for example, verse 10, maybe verse 10 now, looks a little bit different. "I appeal to you brothers, by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you."
Now, what's the problem there? Divisions. Right? Later on, you read that they really had problems with fighting with one another. But Paul says, "I appeal to you ..." Who is I? Paul. Who is Paul? Called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. So, "I appeal to you as an apostle." There's authority there! In other words, you better listen up! Deal with this seriously.
And then he says, "I appeal to you brothers, by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ." What do you mean by that? Well, you know Christ, right, He's the One who would died for you, right? He's the One who rose again for you, right? He's the One who saves you from your sin, right? He is the One through whom, the grace and the blessings of God are upon you, right? Because of the blessings of Christ, listen up!
And then he says, "By the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ," if I may also infer, "Who will come back for you. Let all of you agree and let there be no divisions among you." So I think, that is why Paul gives us verses 1-9. It's an approach, reminding us of authority, of blessings, and of the coming of Christ.
Now, I know this sounds very ... "Wah, what are you talking about?" But let me try to apply this to ourselves. So in our own lives, let's say in Gospel Light, we will have problems, we will have controversies, we will have issues that crop up. And we as a church, need to be reminded of who or where our authority comes from.
You say, "Very easy lah! You lah, pastor!" Nope, not me at all! I'm not an apostle, and I can't bring Apostle Paul back here to deal with the problems. But what we have today is the teachings of the apostles. You see, when God establishes His church, he says, "He establish it upon the foundation of the prophets and the apostles." Not that they are always around to lead you, but they have the writings given, to be our basis for life and practice.
So we must today remember that the solutioning for problems in the church must not come from popular opinion or what the world things or what we vote for, or what we like. But we have our authority firmly based on the Word of God, given to us by the prophets and the apostles.
Now, Jesus did tell us, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." [Matt 4:4] The Bible does tell us, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, for training in righteousness." [2 Tim 3:16] It's the Word of God! And then of course, we know that, "The Word is truth," [John 17:17] according to Jesus.
So I say to you, this is what we as a church must remember, we will have problems, but I hope we don't solve or deal with problems based on popular opinion. We don't go out to the world and ask them, what they like. Worse still, we don't deal with problems in a church based on what we like. We deal with issues based on what God has said in Scripture.
Just an example, we live in a day where sexuality is a big question mark in the world. Are we really made or born male and female? Can't there be something called indeterminate! Do you know that there's something like that in the States now? You don't have to state your gender as male, female, you can put question mark, you know. Because later on, then you decide for yourself whether you want to be male or female, or if you want to continue to be indeterminate.
What does ... what does the church say if someone like this comes up in church and says, "Pastor, I don't want to be male or female, I want to be indeterminate." Well, I say to you, "Well, I know that there are people in the world who believes this. And I know maybe you have friends who say this, and social media tells you, it's okay to believe this. But I want to appeal to you that there is a authoritative declaration from the Bible, and I hope you understand that the authority for life and practice is not opinions of men, but the Word of God." I hope that will be how we approach problems in the church.
So number one, let's remember the authority and I think it is the Word of God. Not your pastor, not any famous man, not popular opinion, but Scripture.
Number two, I hope that as a people we remember our blessings. When we hit problems in the church, it's vitally important to be reminded of who we are in Christ Jesus. There are guests here and I just want to share this with you, about the motivation why we do what we do. And it is that motivation that we need to have in order to deal with problems healthily and biblically and in a godly way.
Every religion in this world tells you that in order to arrive at a better place, to have a right relationship with your deity, as sinners, who come short of God or our deity, we've got to work our way up to God. We've got to deserve it. We've got to do better. That's why you become part of this religion, so that by your efforts, you can earn your place with your deity.
Now, this is what we call self-righteousness. It's trying to achieve a right standing with your deity, by yourself. So, the reason why you do what you do is to save yourself. So for some people, for many people, the reason why they don't sin as much, the reason why they will help the poor and so on, sometimes it's just pure kindness and generosity, that's fine, but there are also people who do it because they want to by doing these good, kind of earn their way to a higher rung, to arrive at where God wants them to be.
So, we call this self-righteousness. But you know, according to the Bible, self-righteousness is actually pride. It's believing that you can do it when God actually says, "Nothing you do is good enough for Me." So according to Scripture, self- righteousness is an approach that is rejected by God. Doesn't work!
So how then can a man be saved if he cannot make his way there himself? Well, we start not with sinners, we start with God. The Bible tells us, "God, seeing that man has plunged himself into sin, and is helpless and hopeless in and of himself, chose to show what we call grace."
Remember, I said, grace is God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. God chose to show grace. How? By sending His Son, Jesus Christ to be born into this world, so that He might go to the cross and die and pay for our sins. So, God's way of saving men is not waiting for man to work his way up, but by God sending down His Son to die for us. To take on our sins, to be that sacrificial Lamb, to be that Substitute, so that He will pay for us.
And then He freely credits that righteousness, it's no more self- righteousness, it's a alien righteousness. Is a righteousness that is not from us, from Christ and that is imputed, is given, is computed to us. God shows grace and this grace moves our hearts.
You have mothers here, your fathers here, I don't think you ever feel that you can ever repay the debt your parents have bestowed upon your life. Isn't it? And you want to love them. Why? Because they are the ones who first loved you, they gave you so much.
And you know, that's what Christianity is all about. Not that we do so much for God and now God has to give me salvation. But when I'm hopeless and helpless, God gave us His Son. And now that I know Jesus, like you saw in the testimony videos, "I want to live for Him. I want to be grateful to Him and therefore I endeavor to live a godly life."
And if I apply this to the church, and the problems in the church, I say to you, the only power that will really help us solve problems in the church is when we are not self-absorbed, but we remember God and His blessings upon us in Christ Jesus. That melts the heart away, so that we will no more be stubborn, but we will honor Him, obey Him, live a godly life. And that brings glory to God.
So what I'm saying here, is if you notice the blessings of God in grace will lead to godliness in dealing with the problems of life and problems in the church.
So as I've said, "We love because He first loved us." [1 John 4:19] The Bible continues to say, "The love of Christ controls us." [2 Cor 5:14] It's behind everything we do. Not our love for Christ, but the love of Christ. What He has done for us, makes me do what I do today. I want to live for Him, not to save myself, but because He has already saved me.
So, when we hit problems in the church like divisions, sexual sins, selfishness, what is the cure? The love of Christ in the Gospel. The love of Christ in Jesus Christ. "I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God." [Rom 12:1] So over and over again, this is one of the powerful engines of the Christian obedience, the love of God in the Gospel.
So Paul says, I remember the authority. Paul tells us remember the blessings and C - remember the coming of Christ.
This is a picture of Jimmy Carter. He's one of the presidents of the United States. And there's something very special Jimmy Carter did! And that was once in a while, he would want to live in homes of an average American. So it's like a surprise visit, they will give you a call about a week ahead and say, "Jimmy Carter wants to stay at your house, would you be okay with that?" And there'll be some families, who will be excited to have Jimmy Carter in the house.
And imagine you are one of those who received that phone call, "Jimmy Carter wants to stay at the house." You say, "Wow!" What would you do? For the next week, you will better clean your house and pack your rooms and everything right, because you know Jimmy Carter is coming.
Well, Jesus Christ is coming! Jimmy Carter is not coming, Jesus Christ is coming. And what would we do, when we know that our Savior is coming? Well, you start to clean up your life. And that's why Paul or John says, "And everyone who has, whose thus hopes ..." [1 John 3:3] This hope is hoping for the return of Christ. And when you know that He's coming for you, "... You purify yourself." You don't live a loose and rebellious life. You live a pure life as best as you can, because you know He's coming.
And then, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that the ... that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain." [1 Cor 15:58]
Well, it's critical to understand the word, 'therefore' here, because 'therefore' connects with what has come before. And the word, 'therefore' connects to what Paul has been saying, "Jesus will come again. So, in light of His return, therefore, be diligent, be abundant in your labors for God."
So, do we have problems like schisms in Gospel Light? Do we deal with sexual sins in this church? Are there issues about statues or actually about stumbling others in this church? Do we wrestle with problems of selfishness? Is there an abuse of spiritual gifts, a showing off of spiritual gifts? Do we have attention grabbing behavior in the worship services? Do we have questions about our final salvation when Jesus comes?
Well, I would say, perhaps an important framework to have before we launch into the rest of the book of Corinthians is to have this "ABC Approach To Church Problems". Remember the authority. Remember our blessings. Remember the coming of Christ.
Well, that is introduction and I hope, because it's ABC, you can remember for the rest of these. I can't remember how many sermons, I ... I think it's 40 over sermons. It ... it's through this journey in the book of 1st Corinthians.
But let me close, for all my friends, all our guests who are here today. I know you don't have church problems because you don't belong to the church yet, but you have a sin problem. Sin is that spiritual disease that has infected everyone. And you know, COVID is a reminder that things are not right between God and us. Sickness, death, wars, all these things, guilt, shame and fear that we wrestle in our hearts, these are signs that God has, if I may say, graciously allowed to take place in this world to remind us we are not right with God. And one day we will all have to stand before God and to account for our sins.
But there is also in a sense an ABC approach to your sin problem. Remember the authority, I think the authority to dealing with sin issues and questions about life is not tradition or popular opinion, but the Bible, the Word of God. All I'm doing today is to share with you God's Word, because I believe it is authoritative.
Number two, I like you to know the blessings that the Bible talks about - the blessings of God's grace and salvation plan through His Son, Jesus Christ. And I want to remind you, according to the Bible, Jesus is not dead in the grave, He's risen! And one day He will come back and receive us, one day, He will be that Judge. And if those who believe in Him, they will be ushered into eternal life. And for those who reject Him, even though they hear about what He has done, well, there remains no more salvation for them, but will be ushered into a Christless, terrible, tormenting future.
There is a solution for your sin, and God commands men everywhere to repent and to believe in His Son. I pray you will, just like our baptismal candidates have.
Let's bow for word of prayer together.
Father, we thank You this morning, we can come to Your Word. And we pray that You will bless these teachings to our hearts. It is a ... I think not so easy few verses to go through, but still I pray that what we need to learn, we will learn. And more than that, respond in repentance and faith and obedience.
Again, thank You for all our baptismal candidates, bless them, as we soon enter into the baptism itself. And we pray all guests will be encouraged to come to know Your Son also. Thank You, we pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.
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