1 Corinthians 1:5 ~ 20121118 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
11/18 1 Corinthians 1:5 True Riches
1 Παῦλος κλητὸς ἀπόστολος ⸂Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ⸃ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Σωσθένης ὁ ἀδελφὸς 2 τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ, ⸂ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ,⸃ κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐπικαλουμένοις τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ⸀αὐτῶν καὶ ἡμῶν· 3 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
4 Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ ⸀μου πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῇ χάριτι τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ δοθείσῃ ὑμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, 5 ὅτι ἐν παντὶ ἐπλουτίσθητε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἐν παντὶ λόγῳ καὶ πάσῃ γνώσει, 6 καθὼς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐβεβαιώθη ἐν ὑμῖν, 7 ὥστε ὑμᾶς μὴ ὑστερεῖσθαι ἐν μηδενὶ χαρίσματι, ἀπεκδεχομένους τὴν ἀποκάλυψιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ· 8 ὃς καὶ βεβαιώσει ὑμᾶς ἕως τέλους ἀνεγκλήτους ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 9 πιστὸς ὁ θεὸς δι’ οὗ ἐκλήθητε εἰς κοινωνίαν τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν.
Paul, in addressing this train-wreck of a church in the city of Corinth, first of all gives thanks for the believers in Corinth. He gives thanks to God, because anything that is worthy of praise in the Corinthians is directly attributable to a work of God's grace that was given to them, not earned by them. Paul had cultivated an attitude of gratitude in his life, so that he can say “I give thanks to my God always for you.” This had become his consistent pattern of prayer, so that when he writes this letter, in spite of all the difficulties and problems he must address, he is conscious that there is much to thank God for. Number one on his list, as we focused on last time, is grace. God's grace had been freely given to an undeserving people. God's favor and kindness had been extended to those who deserved his wrath. Paul thanks God always for the grace of God that was given to the saints. And then he lists 5 specific ways that God's grace had been given to the Corinthian church, and points them forward to the ongoing future grace of their faithful God. We are going to focus on this first of these evidences of grace in the lives of the saints in Corinth.
Paul says that one of the evidences that God's grace in Christ Jesus had been given to the church in Corinth was 'that in every way you were enriched in him'. We are going to focus today on the riches of God's grace toward us who believe. In every way you were enriched in him. First, what does it mean to be enriched in him, and what are some of the ways we have been enriched in him?
Jesus on Riches
Jesus warns of the potential danger of riches in his parable of the different types of soil. He compares riches to weeds or thorns.
Jesus calls this 'the deceitfulness of riches' (Mt.13:22; Mk.4:19). There is a deceptiveness in the pursuit of riches that can ultimately choke your soul and separate you from the presence of God forever. When a rich young man came to Jesus asking what good deed he could do to gain eternal life, he went away sad, because in clinging to his riches, he could not open his hand to receive a free gift from God (Mt.19:16-26; Mk.10:17-27). Jesus told him to exchange his treasure on earth for treasure in heaven. He invited him to 'come, follow me.' Jesus commented that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” So there is an attitude toward riches that can keep you out of the kingdom.
We are taught to exhort the rich of this world to not trust in their riches, but in God who is the source of all true riches.
The riches of the rich are uncertain. Moth, rust, thieves, corrosion, stock market crashes, global downturns... (Mt.6:19-24). You cannot depend on riches. But God is certain. God is faithful. God is rich. God is the one who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. God is for our joy. We are taught to turn our attention away from riches and toward God if we really want to find joy and fulfillment in life. We are to be rich in good works, to look to our eternal future, and to take hold of that which is truly life.
Mary, in her song of praise to God says:
There is a contrast between those who are rich who are sent away empty and the hungry whom he fills with good things.
Material or Spiritual?
Paul highlights this tension in his own ministry and the ministry of the other apostles. He describes himself:
At the end of a long string of incongruities, he says he is poor, yet he enriches many. How can a poor man make others rich? How can he have nothing yet possess everything? There is a contrast here between what our culture categorizes as 'riches' and what is of true value and worth. As far as cash in the bank, he has nothing. Yet in the currency that really counts, everything is his. He has no financial resources, yet he not only considers himself rich, he has the capacity to spread his wealth around and make many others rich as well. He is drawing contrast between material riches and spiritual wealth. So when Paul tells the Corinthians that 'in every way you were enriched in him' he is pointing them to the spiritual blessings of the grace of God given, not material wealth amassed. As one sent by Christ to announce the message of the good news, Paul had the privilege of making many of the Corinthians spiritually rich.
This word 'enriched' is a rich word, meaning to make wealthy or rich, to cause to have an abundance. The root of the word 'enriched' comes from the word for flowing, pointing to that which is filled or full. Here it is a passive verb, pointing not to something they do, but to something done to them by another. They did not enrich themselves; they were made rich by another. It was the grace of God in Christ Jesus freely given to them that filled them up with everything to enjoy.
The Riches We Have in Christ
Paul tells us that we have been enriched in every way. What are some of the ways we have been made wealthy? Romans 2:4 warns us not to presume on the riches of God's kindness and forbearance and patience, which are meant to lead us to repentance. In Romans 9:23 God makes known the riches of his glory in mercy toward us whom he called and prepared for glory. Romans 11:12 points to Israel's temporary rejection of their Messiah so that salvation comes to the Gentiles. He says:
So he defines the riches that come to the Gentile world through the Jewish Messiah as reconciliation, or a repaired relationship with God, and new life from the dead. Then he extolls God's mercy.
Ephesians tells us that in our Beloved Lord Jesus Christ,
Redemption, the purchase price paid in his blood, and forgiveness of our trespasses flow out of the riches of his grace lavished on us. He goes on to pray:
The riches of our glorious inheritance consists in his immeasurably great resurrection power toward us who believe. Ephesians 2 tells us that we who were dead in sin have been made alive by his mercy, love and grace, we have been raised up and seated with Christ Jesus:
The gift that God is kind toward us, that we are saved as a free gift by his grace is a demonstration of the immeasurable riches of his grace. The immeasurable riches of his grace will be put on display in us for all eternity. Paul revels in the gift of God's grace that was given to him:
What we are attempting here this morning is impossible. We are attempting to search out the riches of Christ to us who believe. Although we can learn much about the riches of his grace toward us, the riches of Christ are unsearchable, limitless, inexhaustible. We will spend eternity exploring and continuing to be amazed by the riches we have in Christ Jesus. Truly, we have much to be thankful for. Paul prays to the Father:
The riches of his glory; strength for the journey, the indwelling Spirit, the indwelling Christ, the indwelling fullness of God, strength to comprehend the inexhaustible unknowable incomprehensible four dimensional love of Christ for us.
To the Colossians he speaks about the mystery God revealed to his saints:
God made know the riches of the glory of Christ in you. He prays in chapter 2:
The riches of full assurance of understanding and knowledge of Christ. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ.
How are we enriched? In every way. God's kindness, forbearance, patience, leading us to repentance. God's calling, God's mercy, God's preparing us for glory. Reconciliation. Life from the dead. Redemption. Forgiveness. Inheritance. Resurrection power at work in us. The free gift of salvation. Strength. The indwelling of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The incomprehensible love of Christ for us. Assurance. Understanding. Knowledge. We are enriched in every way with the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Enriched in Speech and Knowledge
Lets look back at our text in 1 Corinthians.
Here he specifies two ways the believers were enriched; in all speech and all knowledge. These are two things that Paul will have a lot to say about in the rest of his letter. 'Speech' is the Greek word 'logos'. It means a word, a saying, a speech, an utterance, the living voice. The ability to speak is a great blessing. How are they to hear without someone preaching? (Rom.10:14). The word of his grace is able to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified (Acts 20:32). The gift of speech can be used for great gospel good. But speech can also be used for selfish gain and to harm others. In verse 17 he says
Paul could use his words in a way that communicated the cross as the power of God for salvation, or he could by his words empty the cross of its power. Some in Corinth were more concerned with packaging and presentation than with content. They were more interested in high sounding wisdom than in the simple truth of the gospel. In chapter 2, he says
In chapter 4, he says “the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (4:20). Apparently the church in Corinth had some who were gifted by the Spirit with speaking abilities.
Paul thanks God for these gifts at work in the body, but he will encourage them to use these gifts for the common good and not for selfish gain.
Paul thanks God that the Corinthians were enriched in all knowledge. 'Gnosis' is knowledge or understanding. Knowledge is a gift of God's grace. God gives the knowledge of salvation (Lk.1:77). Knowing Christ Jesus as Lord is more valuable than any other thing (Phil.3:8). We are to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2Pet.3:18). But knowledge can also be used for selfish gain. In chapter 8, Paul tells the Corinthians that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” and he warns that:
In chapter 13 he says that if I understand all mysteries and all knowledge but have not love, I am nothing. He says that knowledge will pass away, but love never ends.
There was abuse in the church in Corinth of God's good gifts of speech and wisdom. Yet Paul thanks God that they were enriched in Christ in all speech and all knowledge, because even when these gifts were being abused, they were evidence of God's grace at work in the lives of the saints.
In what ways are you enriched in Christ? Are you using your riches for your own selfish gain or for the good of others and the glory of God?