Lesson 14 - WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE CHURCH AT CORINTH TODAY?
Ben shares about the importance of learning from our past mistakes so we can walk holy today.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE CHURCH AT CORINTH TODAY?
The church at Corinth (and every church) is responsible to be salt and light within their city (Matt. 5:13-16); We are to shine the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and live righteous so that those around us can walk righteous. The Church should affect the city around them, not the other way around; the city must not infect the church, or else the church will be sick (Gal. 5:9).
The church in Corinth was struggling to get free from sin. It was failing in three very important areas: First, Godliness and righteousness (the conviction and boldness to fully declare the gospel of Jesus Christ); Second, sexual purity; and Third, they were becoming selfish.
The Corinthian church was by all means a carnal church. However, its carnality, as big a problem as that was, was only part of a larger problem: it was failing to carry out its God-given purpose in Corinth. More specifically, they were failing to proclaim the powerful gospel message to their city. The Christians could not fulfill their purpose unless they dealt with their carnality, or their message would be compromised. This is partially why carnality is wrong. It keeps you from fulfilling God’s call on your life!
You need to confront the spirit of the age. But when the church catches the spirit of its age, it catches a disease and becomes anemic, weak, and passive. You can avoid catching this spirit by staying spiritually healthy. And a vital daily vitamin is this: talk2God!
(Issue #1) How to overcome ungodliness and unrighteousness: JESUS IS LORD!
When a church is ungodly and unrighteous they will end up with a watered down, luke-warm religion. The Church in Corinth should have been aware of this. They should have understood that Jesus is Lord, the only way to be reconciled to the Father, and lived this message out in the midst of proclaiming it. Today, you must understand the uniqueness of your call within the church to “invade the city”; your city. Rather than allowing it to invade us, you must invade it in order to be successful. We do this by searching out the knowledge of Jesus, and proclaiming that “Jesus is Lord”. He is the one and only God, and the proof of this is His resurrection. So what should we promote: lukewarm, self absorbed, social media happiness, or the Resurrected Savior (Jesus is Lord)?
Also, the church at Corinth (and many of us today) must separate ourselves from absolute intellectual freedom and willfully submit our understanding and thinking—we must believe—the revelation that God has given us in Scripture (1 Cor. 1-4). There is a gentle wave of growing belief that all religions lead to God, but this is wrong and will end up in a tidal wave of violent opposition to Christianity.
Increasingly we hear that it does not matter too much what someone believes, because we will all supposedly end up in the same place eventually. Or, they say, we are all free to choose “my faith” and then hide behind the constitutionality of those words instead of sharing the absolute love and authority of the salvation message: Jesus is Lord! We must counter humanistic views with the revelation of the only way of salvation: God has provided the only way for people who are lost and dead in their sins to be found alive, separated from their sins. As Peter preached, “There is salvation in no other name . . .”(Acts 4:12), and Paul wrote, “There is one mediator . . .” (2 Tim. 2:5), so also Jesus said, “I am the way . . .” (John 14:6). The answer is clear..
(Issue #2) How to overcome immorality: THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTED LORD!
The church at Corinth should have fulfilled their function by rebuking and standing against the immorality of their city. This is accomplished not merely by speaking against it, but (and this is very important!) by overcoming it in their own lives, and then graciously helping others in the church walk out their own freedom. You do this by demonstrating the power of Christ’s life within you, and by living a morally pure life through the Spirit’s enablement. Then you will be able to, in love, help confront sin both in and outside the church.
(Issue #3) How to overcome selfishness: GENUINE CHRISTIAN LOVE!
Finally, the church at Corinth should have fulfilled their function by counteracting the selfishness of the culture through practicing genuine Christian love. This means living for the glory of God and the good of others, rather than putting self first; loving God, while loving and serving people.
The church always fails when it becomes conformed to the standards and culture of its “city”—the world in which you live. However, the church succeeds when we are separate from our “cities”, but touch them with the supernatural healing power of Christ (Luke 4:18-19). Christians have always tended either to isolate themselves from the world (their “city”), or to compromise by joining together with the world in sin. Most importantly, you should live in the world, but not of the world (John 15:19). Jesus, during His earthly ministry, is our great example.
God has also called us to separation from moral passivity. Our culture is playing down personal and marital morality today (both in the church and outside). It seems that everything is ok because, “God is good”; or, some say, just do whatever you want and ask for God’s forgiveness (after all, He is gracious, isn’t He?); or, the sin of the bible is not really sin today because the culture is changing. You need to proclaim the standards of God in these areas, even though we may face strong opposition for doing so. Paul held these standards up in 1 Corinthians chapters 5-7.
Likewise, we need to separate ourselves from selfish living. We need to make a break with goals and plans that are designed to glorify or promote only ourselves. Instead, we need to evaluate all of our activities by the standard of 1 Cor. 13.
We can do this by giving our time, energy, and money to the things that will build the body of Christ. If some of the members are fiery and in love with Jesus, and living for God’s kingdom, this will touch those around them. In contrast, if some are in sin, struggling with rebellion, then this will most likely affect the others.
Also, there must be continual healthy conflict between the church and “the city ” (of course, this must be done in love). Like medicine interacting with sickness, if there is not healthy conflict, the church is not having its proper influence. How can a medicine work if it does not fight the virus? Therefore, if there is no conflict, it may be that “the city” has overtaken the church.
Third, the message of the church must always be of Godliness and Righteousness; the message of the cross and the Resurrection of Jesus; the message that Jesus is Lord! This is a message of brokenness being made whole; of success found in only One Man; the True message of hope that your city needs to hear. Therefore, we need to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” because we know that our labor, in the power of God, is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).
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