1 Corinthians 1:8 ~ 20130120 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
01/20 1 Corinthians 1:8 Sustained Guiltless; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20130120_1cor1_8.mp3
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.
After taking a break, we are going to jump back in to our study of the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians. Paul is writing to this wayward church to address some serious sin issues that are out of control. There are divisions in the church, lawsuits among believers, sexual immorality – a kind not even tolerated among pagans – and they are proud of it. There are questions over marriage and divorce, questions over eating food sacrificed to idols, their church gatherings are out of control, spiritual gifts are being misused, there is an evident lack of love, the Lord's Supper is chaos, there are even doctrinal uncertainties about the basic Christian truth of the resurrection.
It is to this dysfunctional group of sinners that Paul addresses his letter. He didn't give up on them. And he begins by affirming that they are indeed a church – the church of God in Corinth! He says they are sanctified or set apart in Christ Jesus; they are called to be saints or holy ones, and they are indeed a part of the larger body of believers who worship Jesus as King.
He asks that the grace of God and the peace of God be on them, and then he thanks God for them. He thanks God that they were made recipients of God's grace. He thanks God that they were gifted with eloquence and wisdom, that the gospel was demonstrated effective among them, that they lack no spiritual gift, and that they were anticipating the return of Jesus.
Listen to the gracious words of the apostle to this sin-sick church.
Paul turns their attention back to Jesus. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Nine times in nine verses he points them back to the centrality of Jesus. It is all about Jesus! The apostle lifts their eyes to the one who heals our hurts and bears our burdens and rights all wrongs. Each line of this greeting is a treasure trove of rich morsels of spiritual sustenance that will nourish our souls as we are pointed to Jesus. Today our focus is on verse 8
The believers in Corinth, indeed all true believers of all time are waiting for the apocalypse of Jesus, the revelation of Jesus. We are eagerly anticipating that day when he is revealed for who he is in all his glory, and every knee bows and he is worshiped as he deserves.
If You Hold Fast?
But that raises the question; where will I be on that day? I've read some things in the Bible that scare me. When Paul reminds the Corinthians of the gospel, he says:
So there is something he calls believing in vain, it is evidenced by not holding fast to the gospel, and it results in not being saved. That is a terrifying thought; that you can know the gospel and it can do you no eternal good. In his parable on the sower and the soils, Jesus describes different responses to the gospel.
Some hear the word, receive it with joy, and endure for a while. But then they fall away. In Matthew 24, Jesus warns of the dangers to our faith:
Jesus says that many will fall away when persecution comes. Many will be led astray. The love of many will grow cold. Only the one who endures to the end will be saved. Jesus said:
These are terrifying warnings. I don't want us to dismiss them or explain them away. I want us to feel the weight of them. I have heard and believed the gospel. I have received it with joy. So far, I think I am enduring. But how do I know when tribulation comes that I won't fall away? How do I know that my love won't grow cold? How can I be sure that I will endure to the end? I've seen some who seem to have a strong relationship with Jesus, who have walked away. As the old hymn puts it 'prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love'. If only the one who endures to the end will be saved, how can I know where I stand until the end comes? What if I flake out?
Thank God we are not left without any assurance. Thank God we are not left to wonder and fret. God in his word gives us confidence so that we do not need to fear. We can heed the warnings and take comfort in the promises of God. Our confidence is not in ourselves. That's what Peter did.
Peter took confidence in himself and he answered in the flesh.
Peter was resolved. Peter was determined. Peter was ready to fight. That night, Peter denied his Lord 3 times, just as Jesus had said. Our flesh is weak. Our hearts are treasonous. We are not to be trusted. Our confidence does not, can not come from us. And that is the good news! Our confidence is outside of us. Our confidence is in a person, but that person is not me.
To whom does 'who' refer?
In whom does our confidence lie? The first word of this verse in 1 Corinthians 1:8 tells us who. The verse begins with the personal pronoun 'who'. The pronoun refers back to the subject of the sentence, usually the nearest antecedent. Since 'our Lord Jesus Christ' appears directly before this 'who', most would say that this 'who' refers to Jesus Christ. But some bible scholars argue that the subject of the whole sentence starting in verse 4 is God, so this 'who' must refer to God the Father. Although I am inclined toward the first view, I don't think it is worth fighting about. Jesus said:
Jesus said 'whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise' (Jn.5:19). So whether the 'who' refers to Jesus or to his Father, the main point is that this is not something I do; it is something God does. My security is not something that is left in my hands. Both the Father and the Son are preserving, protecting and keeping me.
Sustaining and Confirming
This word 'sustain' is the same word we saw translated 'confirmed' back in verse 6:
There it was passive, something that was being done in us; here it is active, something that God is doing. The word means to make firm or solid, to make legally valid, guaranteed or established. Jesus is the one who will establish you, make your footing sure, legally guarantee you. Jesus will ensure that you don't stumble to the end. He will bring you safely all the way. Paul writes to the Philippians:
Our confidence that we will be those who endure to the end is in Jesus and not in us. Paul thanked God that God would sustain the Corinthians, keep them abiding in Jesus, cause them to endure.
Notice in what state we are sustained, established and confirmed:
Guiltless! This refers to our legal standing before God. Unaccusable. Unreproveable. Blameless. We cannot be called to account. We are those against whom there is no accusation, against whom no charge can be made. This word is translated 'above reproach' in the four other places it appears in the NT (Col.1:22; 1Tim.3:10; Titus 1:6,7).
How can we be guiltless? Blameless? Above reproach? All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Our greatest offense is a failure to give God the glory he deserves, a failure to love him with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. This is not saying that the charges have been dropped and we have been forgiven. This is saying that no charges could be brought; that we have done nothing at all. Our problem is that we stand not only accused but guilty and condemned. The amazing thing is in Christ, we have also been judged, executed, and are dead and buried.
I have been crucified with Christ. The guilty me is dead and gone.
We died with Christ. The case is closed. The guilty party has been executed. The law has been satisfied. Sin has no legal claim on us.
Jesus died for us, in our place. We died with him. The old me is gone. I am now a new creation. Jesus is living in me. And he will establish me blameless, above reproach in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What an amazing truth for us to get a hold of. Our guilt was nailed to the cross of Jesus, and it is forever gone.
Before God, we are unblameable. And we will be kept, preserved, sustained to the end, to the final judgment, to the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, established in total innocence.
Good News for Sinners!
This is good news for the Corinthian church. Paul is confident not in the character and ability of the Corinthians, but in a God who is able to transform lives by his gospel. In the face of division, sexual immorality, lawsuits, idolatry, divorce, doctrinal uncertainty, and a self-centered lack of love, Paul expresses his confidence in God, who is able to sustain them to the end guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus.
Paul writes in chapter 6 of this letter:
These Corinthians, who were unrighteous, sexually immoral, idol worshipers, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers – these people for whom Christ died, are now washed, set apart, justified, declared not guilty, established blameless and preserved forever. The transforming power of the gospel was confirmed, demonstrated, proven effective in them.
There is hope for us! No matter what our background, no matter what we have done, no matter who we were, we can become a new creation in Jesus Christ, transformed by his resurrection power, controlled by his love, living lives to please him. No one is beyond the reach of the good news of Jesus.
What does this mean for us? What is our part? What is required of us? Jesus said 'the one who endures to the end will be saved' (Mt. 10:22; 24:13; Mk.13:13). This word 'endure' literally means to remain under, or to abide. Abide; stay connected to Jesus, keep looking away from yourself and to Jesus. Keep trusting in Jesus, his death and resurrection, keep believing in Jesus, keep holding on to Jesus, keep following Jesus, listening to Jesus, obeying Jesus. Stand in the gospel. Hold fast day by day to the gospel. If you walk away from Jesus, all is lost. If you are his, he will keep you abiding in him.
It's all about Jesus. Paul points this messed up Corinthian church, and us, back to Jesus.