1Cor 1:1-9                            To the Saints at Corinth                            3/05/2017      ßà   

 

 

 

 

#1.      You All Were at One Time Natural Men (1Cor 1:19,21, 2:14, 15:2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.      To Them That Are Sanctified (1Cor 1:2, 30-2:2, 15:3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.      To Them That Are Confirmed to the End (1Cor 1:8-9, 15:58)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians 1:1 (2X). Perhaps you remember that in the sermon I gave last week, titled The Day of the Lord I included a complete Gospel outline out of the Epistle to the Romans. And I restricted myself to take only passages from the Epistle to the Romans. Today I want to continue this trend and I want to show what God reveals to the Corinthians. Therefore, in this sermon I want to restrict myself to Scriptures taken only from the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians. The title of this sermon is, To the Saints at Corinth (2X). I would like to cover all of 1st Cor today. But since I do not have the liberty to preach for 8 hours at a stretch, I will cover only part of chapter 1 and part of chapter 15. If you then read at home the chapters in between, I can move on to another sermon next week. We read here then, in chapter 1, to whom this Epistle was addressed:

1Co 1:1-2 ¶ Paul, called (to be) an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,                   Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called (to be) saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

First of all, these are the words of God, given to mankind through the pen of the Apostle Paul. And Paul did not become an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ by his own free will, or through manipulating the church of those days, or by his intellectual abilities, or by his abilities to evangelize the world, or by any other qualifications he might have. Paul became an Apostle, together with the other twelve Apostles, through the will of God. And God did not make up His mind when He discovered that Saul of Tarsus lived in the nation of Israel. Before the beginning of time God made up His mind that He was going to make Saul of Tarsus the 13th Apostle. And now this Apostle delivered this message to the church at Corinth. We read in the beginning of verse 2, “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth”. Did you notice how this address differs from the title that I proposed, “To the Saints at Corinth”. This is a different group of people. Not everyone in the church is a saved person. For example, in 1Cor 3:18 God says to the whole church, “Let no man deceive himself”, and in 1Cor 5:1 God says, “There is fornication among you”, and in 1Cor 10:21 God says, “Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils”, and in 1Cor 13 God says “If you have not charity you are nothing”, meaning “unsaved”, and in 1Cor 15 God says, “If you say that there is no resurrection of the dead you are of all men most miserable”, and so on. Therefore, we know that not everyone in the church is a saved person. Is God addressing all people in the church at Corinth, or is He only addressing it to those who have become saved? Looking at the context of verse 2 we can say that God is definitely taking aim at the saints in the church at Corinth. But God also addresses these words to everyone else in the congregation, because they too have come under the hearing of the Word of God, and they too have been set apart as servants of God, because they belong to the church of God. The church is the outward manifestation of the Kingdom of God, whereas the saints are the invisible nucleus of truly saved people in the church. The message of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians is not only addressed to the entire congregation at Corinth, but it is also addressed to us here in Bellflower. We read in verse 2, “with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours”. Christ is their Lord as well as our Lord. That is what this means. Please put a sticker here in 1Cor 1:1, and turn with me to 1Cor 15:1, and put a sticker there also. Chapter 15 is entirely dedicated to the resurrection of the body. The resurrection of the soul is not in question; the resurrection of the body is. God says in 1Cor 15:1,

1Co 15:1 ¶ Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

God declares unto us the Gospel. Paul preached the Gospel to the Corinthians, and they received him, and believed him. The resurrection of the body is an integral part of the Gospel. Without the resurrection of the body we would have no Gospel. What is the Gospel? The Gospel is the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. It is the Good News that God sent a Savior. It is the Good News of God’s great power and His love for creatures like us. It is the Good News that there is an escape from the penalty for sin. Please put a sticker here in 1Cor 15, and let us return to chapter 1. There God says to all the congregation at Corinth as well as to us:

#1.      You All Were at One Time Natural Men (1Cor 1:19,21, 2:14, 15:2)

We all were wise in our own conceits. We all were fooling ourselves. God says in 1Cor 1:19 (2X),

1Co 1:19  For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

Those among men who consider themselves wise, and who consider themselves prudent, are fools in the eyes of God. “God has made foolish the wisdom of this world”. God says in verse 21,

1Co 1:21  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

A wise God made the world as it is today. It is a world that by their own wisdom knew not God. It is a world that is wise in their own conceits. We all at one time were part of that world. We all came into this world as enemies of God, knowing better than God, being wiser than God, but knowing not God at all. This is how we came into this world. We refused to read or believe what God wrote in the Bible, because we rejected it out of hand. And is that not also what we are experiencing today? Tell someone on the street that God in flaming fire is going to take vengeance on them that know not God and that God will make an end of this world. They will ridicule you or they will send the men in white coats to you to take you to an insane asylum. But God, in His wisdom, designed it so that all men come into this world as enemies of God, and haters of the God of the Bible. Only after we have become “Born Again” are we willing to believe what God has said in the Bible. Before the moment of our salvation we too considered preaching to be foolishness. But preaching the Gospel was pleasing to God. And so, God arranged it that through the foolishness of preaching people became saved. And when they were saved, they were no longer enemies of God, but were children of God and believers of His Word.  All those who still remain in their natural state, remain in their darkened mind, rejecting the things God proclaimed in His Word. We read in 1Cor 2:14 (2X),

1Co 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

This is a very important verse. This verse tells us that we, who came into the world as natural men, could not receive the things of the Spirit of God. It was impossible for us to receive, or believe, the things of the Spirit of God, because these spiritual things were foolishness to us. How can you believe something of which you know for sure that it is nonsense? And then God says in the 2nd half of 1Cor 2:14, “neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”, and that word translated “discerned” is actually “judged”. It means that the natural man has already passed judgment on the things that the Bible declares. Therefore the natural man cannot know those spiritual things, because he has already decided what he wants to believe, regardless what the Bible says. For example, will the natural man believe that he cannot do anything that is acceptable to God? No! The natural man refuses to believe that he is an abomination to God. The natural man refuses to believe that he is on the way to Hell. The natural man refuses to believe that the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ. The natural man refuses to believe that salvation is not of works but only by the grace of God. The natural man refuses to believe that this world will come to an end. The natural man refuses to believe that there is a resurrection of all the bodies of all people who ever lived and then they will be judged according to their works. Please turn again to 1Cor 15:2 (2X). God also touched on this fact of the natural man in chapter 15. There we read in 1Cor 15:2,

1Co 15:2,  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory (“if you hold fast the Word”) what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

By which”, is referring to “the Gospel which I preached unto you”, from verse 1. “By which”, or better “Through which also ye are saved, IF you hold fast the Word that I preached unto you”. This is not an additional condition for salvation. It is the evidence of salvation that you will hold fast the Word that I preached unto you. In other words, “If you do not hold fast the Word that I preached unto you, then you have believed in vain”, which indicates that your faith was not genuine. You are still in the nature that you had before you heard the Gospel. If you do not hold fast the Word that I preached unto you, then you are still in the state of the natural man, and you are still enemies of God, and you are still under the wrath of God. But there were those who did hold fast the Word that the Apostle Paul preached unto them. There were those who were touched by God the Holy Spirit when they heard the preaching of the Gospel. And that is the Good News.

Who are those who were called? We read in 1Cor 1:9 about those who are called,

1Co 1:9  God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

This is Good News. But to whom does this verse refer? This verse refers to the same group of people mentioned in verse 4. There God says, “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ”. This refers to the saints in the church at Corinth. They are the only ones at the church at Corinth who have been given the grace of God unto salvation. God does not bestow His saving grace on those who remain unsaved. There is no common grace given to all mankind. That is a concept that was formed in the church, but it is not found in the Bible. This Good News is only for those who have been saved, or who are going to be saved, who will receive the grace of God as a free gift. Let us see what else God will do for them. Look at verses 5-8. They are the only ones who will repent of their sins. They are the only ones who will believe the whole Bible. They are the only ones who are enriched by God in all utterance and in all knowledge. These are the only ones who are eagerly waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the only ones whom God will confirm unto the end that they may be blameless in the Day of the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, these are the only ones on whom God bestows His love. Why does the Apostle Paul give thanks to God for this elite group of people? Why does he not thank them for making such a wise decision to follow Jesus, and for bringing up the faith to believe on Jesus? It is because their faith was given to them by the grace of God. That is what verse 4 says. What is grace? Grace is the unmerited favor of God unto salvation. It means you cannot do anything to merit such a favor from God. It is a FREE GIFT. It means that God decides whom to give it to. But knowing the wisdom of God helps us understand WHEN God decided to give His grace to whom He will. God decided that before the foundation of the world, because God’s wisdom is already infinite, and God cannot become wiser. IF God would have decided it at some point in time then God would have depended on earthly circumstances to make His decision, and this would mean that God became wiser as time went on. But that is impossible. God is infinitely wise, and His wisdom cannot improve as time goes on. Therefore God must have made His decisions before time began, and God did not base His decisions on what human beings would do when God looked down the corridors of time. If God’s grace would be given based on something that we will do, then grace would not be a gift, but it would be earned or deserved for something we do. But then it would no longer be a FREE GIFT. Therefore God chose His elect from before the foundation of the world, and God chose to bestow His love on them. And so we see that the principle of election appears very early in this chapter. God does not love those who are in the church but who never become saved. God calls them unrighteous. God does not love those who are outside the church and who never become saved. God calls them unrighteous. God says in 1Cor 6:9, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God?” But God calls His elect, and God gives them faith. Please turn now to 1Cor 1:24 (2X),

1Co 1:24-25  But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.    Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1Co 1:26  For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

1Co 1:27  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

1Co 1:28  And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

1Co 1:29  That no flesh should glory in his presence.

The actions God takes in saving people are all designed to bring glory to God alone. That is why not many wise men after the flesh, and not many mighty, and not many noble are called unto salvation. That is why God has chosen foolish things in the world, and God has chosen weak things in the world, and God has chosen base things in the world, and God has chosen things that are despised by the world. God has done this because He must receive all the honor and all the glory. His triumph over Sin and Satan may not be ascribed in part to human wisdom, or human power, or human righteousness. God will not share His glory with another.

We have seen how this message was Good News to them which are called. It is also Good News:

#2.      To Them That Are Sanctified (1Cor 1:2, 30-2:2, 15:3)

We read in 1Cor 1:2, “To them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus”. Then we read in 1Cor 1:30 (2X)

1Co 1:30  But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

1Co 1:31  That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

This passage again is addressing only the saints. Only the saints are in Christ. A fundamental principle of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is that we are in Christ Jesus. We have been chosen from before the foundation of the world to be in Christ, which means that He is our representative in the Spirit. We were in Christ when He was crucified, we were in Christ when He died we were in Christ when He was buried, and we were in Christ when He rose from the grave. And thus, when Christ endured the equivalent of an eternity in Hell we were in Christ, going through the Hell experience with Him. Therefore God will never send us to Hell because we have been there already, in Christ, and we were there when Christ victoriously emerged from this Hell experience when He cried out victoriously, “It is finished”! Therefore God says that we are in Christ Jesus, who is made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption. Here is the principle of substitution. We must be wise in the sight of God. Christ substitutes His wisdom in our place. It does not mean that we become instantly wiser. We could remain just as dumb as before our salvation, but in the sight of God Christ places His wisdom upon us so that God sees us as having the wisdom of Christ. Likewise we must be righteous in God’s sight. Christ covers us with His righteousness so that we are righteous in God’s sight. We must be sanctified in God’s sight. The words sanctified and holy are the same word. Christ places His holiness upon us so that we are as holy as Christ in the sight of God. We must be redeemed before God. Our sins must have been washed away. Christ took the guilt of our sins and paid for those sins the penalty that had to be paid if we would have to pay them. That penalty is an eternity in Hell. Christ paid the equivalent of that penalty, and paid for them in full. And thus, when God looks at us He sees no sin, because Christ paid for every sin that we ever would commit. And so, when we see the principle of substitution applied to every fiber of our being, we stand amazed at the wisdom of God for arranging it this way from before the foundation of the world. Therefore, we agree with the Apostle, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord”. When we think of the principle of substitution we stand totally amazed at the wisdom of God. This is what the Atonement of Christ stands for. This is what we understand His substitution stands for. And so, when we think of the cross of Christ we think of the following 2 verses in the 2nd chapter. There the Apostle says in 1Cor 2:1,

1Co 2:1 ¶ And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

1Co 2:2  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

All he wanted to talk about was Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ was the highlight in God’s plan for the history of this world. It is the hinge on which the door swings from the OT to the NT period of time. On that day the Ceremonial Law was abolished, and the bloody signs of the covenant were replaced by the nonbloody signs, such as Water Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, and a new era of Sunday Sabbaths. But when we consider that all the elect of God were placed in Christ from before the foundation of the world, then it is utterly amazing that there are people who believe that Christ suffered and died for the sins of everyone in the whole world. This is called ”Universal atonement”. What nonsense is this when we demand that Christ must have suffered for millions of people who lived and died before the Lord Jesus was born and who lived in a Christless universe? They could not be saved, because they died as natural men, and 1Cor 2:14 says that the natural man is an unsaved human being who cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. Certainly, Christ did not suffer and die for Judas Iscariot, the son of Hell, of whom the Lord Jesus said that it were better for that man if he had not been born. No! Christ suffered and died only for His elect, who were placed in Christ. This is the only way we can harmonize all the Scriptures. Please turn to 1Cor 15:3 (2X). The Apostle says in 1Cor 15:1 that he is declaring the Gospel. And what is the 1st thing he mentioned in his declaration of the Gospel? It is the Atonement. We read in 1Cor 15:3,

1Co 15:3,     For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our

sins according to the scriptures;

He died for our sins. He did not die for the sins of every human being in the world. That would not harmonize with “our sins”. He died only:

Please turn again to 1Cor 1:2. There we read,

1Co 1:2  Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called (to be) saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

Those that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, those that are saved, are called saints. The two words “to be” are in italics, which means that they were a suggestion from the translators, but they were not in the original manuscripts. We can safely cross them out. Saints, according to the Bible are those who have been saved. Let us see how God blesses His children, who are called saints. We read in:

1Co 1:3  Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

More grace is heaped unto the saints even after they have been saved. They receive grace in every corner of their life. God’s irresistible grace is guiding them every step of the way. God’s irresistible grace accompanies them in their Bible studies, in their prayers, in their workplace, in their car when they are driving home after an exhausting day at work, in their interpersonal relationships at home, and in so many other instances where the grace of God is needed to help us get through life in a God glorifying way. We receive grace in sickness and in health, when we are awake, and when we sleep. We even receive grace in restless leg syndrome. We receive grace to mold our thought processes so that we will have peace with God. As you know, the peace that the Bible writes about is not a peace between men, or a peace between nations. The peace that the Bible writes about is a peace with God. Before our salvation we were at war with God. After our salvation we are at peace with God through believing that the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross purchased our peace with God. But during our wilderness wanderings through this sin cursed world we may begin to doubt our peace with God. Then God gives us more grace to assure us that our peace with God is not based on our performance, and it is not based on our ability to live a sinless life. But God, through Christ on the cross, arranged our peace with God. We cannot undo what God has done in our hearts. And so, we can thank God for His faithfulness in supporting us through this life with His grace. We read in verse 4

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ

We thank God for giving us peace in our church. This is not automatic. There are many churches that are in turmoil. But we read here in 1Cor 1:10,

1Co 1:10 ¶ Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

God will give us what we need in this church. To achieve peace in the church does not mean that we all must be duplicates of one another. But it does mean that we all speak the same thing, and that we do not create divisions in the church. Please turn again to chapter 15, to 1Cor 15:57 (2X),

1Co 15:57  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In all these things where God blesses us with His grace, His unmerited favor, not only at the time of our salvation, but also in all the struggles we have in this life, God promises us that we shall have victory. How can it be otherwise? We, who are the Body of Christ, and whom the Lord Jesus bought at the cross, and for whom He intercedes presently, all the time, how shall He not give us all things? For this we must give God thanks, all day, and every day. All this is the great wonder of our salvation, and the great wonder of our sanctification, through God’s irresistible grace in our life. God does not do this for everybody in the world. God does this only for His children, His elect. And God makes us persevere unto the end. God gives us this assurance in 1Cor 1:8. Please turn again to 1Cor 1:8 (2X).

#3.      To Them That Are Confirmed to the End (1Cor 1:8-9, 15:58, 2:2)

We read in 1Cor 1:8-9,

1Co 1:8  Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

How can it be otherwise? If God did such a marvelous work of grace in us, how can there be any circumstance or power that will undo the work of God? That is not possible. No one can undo the work of God, because there is only one God, and there exists no power outside Him. He was from the beginning the only One who is omnipotent, and this situation has not changed after He began to call this creation out of nothing. And therefore, God will see to it that we shall persevere until our last breath in this life. That is God’s promise here in 1Cor 1:8. It does not mean that we shall live a sinless life. But we shall persevere as His servants unto the end. We shall persevere loving the Lord Jesus Christ unto the end. We shall persevere to pray to the Father, and tell Him of our struggles and of our pains. We shall persevere reading and studying the Bible and continue to grow spiritually unto the end. That is what the unmerited favor of God does within us. But what does it mean that we may be “blameless”? The Greek word here translated “blameless” means that there is no one who will accuse us of any sin. Only God really knows all our sins. But the Lord Jesus Christ has paid for the guilt of all our sins, every last one of them. Not one sin has been forgotten, because that sin would be enough to send us to Hell. And at the time the Lord Jesus Christ paid for our sins, all our sins were still future sins. Christ could not forget one little sin, because Christ is God. He does everything perfectly. That is why we read in the following verse, 1Cor 1:9,

1Co 1:9  God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

God is faithful. He has performed a perfect work at the cross, and He has performed a perfect work in us, and He has performed a perfect work in writing the Bible and making these promises to us

It is impossible that there might be anything that can undo this work of God. And God did all this not for us primarily, but for His own glory. It is for His glory that we “were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord”. It is for His glory that He creates a NH&NE where only righteousness dwells. It is for His glory that we, who are His children, are also His servants, and will continue to serve Him in the NH&NE. Let us now turn for the last time to 1Cor 15:58 (2X). Almost at the end of chapter 15. And there we read,

1Co 15:58 ¶ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

God is faithful, and therefore He instills in us an attitude of faithfulness. God reminds us to continue in our work for the Kingdom of God. In fact, we must be abounding in the work of the Lord. Do you see that word “abounding”? It means that we must be swamped with work for the Lord. That is how grateful we must be for what God has done for us. If we find in our life that we are just a little bit occupied with work for the Lord, it means that our gratitude is not very great. Then perhaps a few other things are also wrong in our relationship to the Lord. But when we seek to be abounding in the work of the Lord, and not forgetting to remain faithful to what the Bible says, then God promises us that we will be steadfast, and unmoveable in our love for the Lord Jesus Christ. All this, of course, is not our work, but it is given to us by grace. Our labor is not in vain if it is done in the Lord. That is God’s promise. His promises were all purchased by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. That is why we can confidently say, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.