Our 2019 Lent series: Fellowship in His Word begins with God’s desire and design for our Fellowship. The Lord takes the initiative, the decisive action to call us into Fellowship with His Son.

Hear the full audio of Called by God into Fellowship with His Son

A sermon on 1 Corinthians 1:4-18 / Ash Wednesday / 6 March 2019


1 Corinthians 1:4-18 (ESV)

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

10 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, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.


STUDY NOTES ON THE PASSAGE

INTRODUCTION:

This Lenten Season we are devoting ourselves to unity with series of sermons on Fellowship in His Word. We hope by the series end we may better receive this Fellowship with Scriptural meaning, in Biblical terms.


PART ONE: God calls us into Fellowship with His Son

A.) Read 1 Corinthians 1:4-18. Most of Paul’s letters begin with words of thanksgiving and encouragement, often related to the topics which he is about to address. Verses 4-8 offer thanks for what gifts given to the church of God in Corinth? Who/Where did these good things come from?

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B.) Verse 9 proclaims one of God’s defining attributes or characteristics. What is that attribute?___________________

C.) How does God exemplify this defining attribute in action? What did God do?

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D.) Fellowship is God’s desire and God’s doing. God takes the initiative to call “you.” In English, the pronoun “you” can be unclear to us. It can refer to a singular individual like “I’m happy to meet you, Luther.” It can refer to a plural group of two or more, as in “I’m happy to meet you Lutherans.” Which do you (personally) think Paul uses here as he writes to the Christians in Corinth? If you answered “plural,” you are correct! Almost always, when Paul writes ‘you,’ one should hear the plural “y’all!’


PART TWO: As The Church Multiplies, Division is a Problem

E. As Paul opens his letter to Corinth, the Lord’s Apostle identifies the main concern giving reason for his letter. What had the Apostle heard about Corinth?

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F.) How did the Apostle come to this knowledge? (See verse 11)

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G.) Verse 12 describes the division happening in the congregation. What does this division look and sound like?

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H.) Next Paul asks three ‘rhetorical questions.’ Each question expects the answer: No! What are the three questions?

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I.) Notice here are core Christian teachings: What do we believe about Christ, His cross, and Baptism? Other areas of Christian teaching and Christian living are addressed in this letter as matters also vital to dealing with divisions and preserving genuine fellowship for the one, holy, Christian and apostolic Church.


PART THREE : The Apostolic Approach to Unity in the Church

J.) Reread verses 9-10:

9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

10 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, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

K.) Over the course of our Lenten series, we will hear many other aspects or facets of our one, universal Christian Fellowship. While Paul is addressing matters specific to the people of Corinth, the scope of his apostolic teaching is not bound to that time and place. Hear the first two verses of 1 Corinthians 1:

1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,

2 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.

L.) What words in verse two indicates Paul had in mind people far beyond this one specific place and particular time in the life of “the Church of God that is in Corinth”?

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M.) In the first verse, Apostle Paul introduces himself. According to this verse, this man is no self-appointed servant of the Lord. Write the words below which show whose decision it was to make this man an Apostle?

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N.) Sadly, many scholars, clergy and Christians in our day have very low regard for the Lord’s Apostle Paul. Some in Corinth did, also, as St. Paul indicates in his Corinthian letters. Today, this Apostle is often labeled, condemned and dismissed as a bigot, mysogenist, homophobe, and worse. Contemporary Christians prove themselves quite free and entitled to take issue with the apostolic faith preached and taught in his letters. Paul’s office was given by Christ. The Holy Spirit also inspired and operated through Paul’s mind, mouth and letters.

Notice again 1 Corinthians 1:10. In whose Name, by whose authority does this Apostle speak?

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Also note 1 Cor. 1:17, who was it that sent this man to preach this Word to Corinth and beyond?

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PART FOUR: An Apostolic Word Sent by Jesus

O.) Many this year, in celebration of Lent 2019, are taking up “The Red Letter Challenge.” Certain Bibles print the words of our Lord Jesus in red letters. It certainly makes them stand out on the page and highlights the importance of what Jesus says. We surely should take notice when our Lord Jesus speaks. The Red Letter challenge urges people to “Put the words of Jesus into practice,” promising that in doing these good works, “you will find the life you were made for.” Such effort to hear Christ’s Word, believe it and put the Lord’s words into practice is very worthwhile and good.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, such Red-Letter editions of the Bible can lead one to think the Word of God printed with the black letters is somehow less important, less inspired by the Holy Spirit, or less the revelation of God’s own thoughts and will. Red-letter Bibles can subtly lead us to think the black letters are far less worthy of our personal faith or obedience. In a worst case scenario, one might be tempted to pit the red letters against the ordinary black ones or come to reckon only the Red Letters as the Word of God, but the black ones as mere human opinion or pious imagination. The black letters, after all, are not reckoned “the words of Jesus” in such a Red-Letter edition publisher’s product.

P.) The apostles, prophets and evangelists do not make such an inky distinction. St. Matthew or St. John likely never possessed a special red quill with which to write the words of Jesus, and a black one for their own private, human opinions.

Read 2 Peter 1:16-21, According to verses 19-21, how ought we regard all the words of Scripture, whatever the color of ink?

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Q.) Starting points for our faith, thought and speech in Fellowship:

  • Fellowship is God’s desire and design for us.
  • Fellowship begins with God’s own call and works, not ours.
  • That fellowship is in His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

R.) Implications of our Fellowship in His Word

  • The fellowship God gives and works actively addresses and reconciles divisions.
  • Christian, churchly fellowship seeks and manifests oneness of mind, as we come to know God’s thoughts by His Word and thus learn to think as God thinks.
  • Christian Fellowship includes agreement in judgments, according to God’s own perspective and judgment of those things revealed in the Word of God.

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