1 Corinthians 1:1-20 - Skip Heitzig
Calvary Church is dedicated to doctrine. And we want you to experience the life change that comes from knowing God's word and applying it to your life. So we explain the Bible verse by verse, every chapter, every book. This is Expound.
I'm clapping with you clapping for you. Welcome to church, welcome to our mid-week meal. We call it Expound. It's quite simple. We spend an hour together studying a chapter or 2. In this case a chapter in the New Testament. We go through every book of the Bible Genesis to Revelation. Swapping between old and New Testament.
We were in the Old Testament finished 1 Samuel. Now we are in the New Testament 1 Corinthians and we will take it that way as we move forward. So we're in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 welcome to, I call it the living room, it's laid back. It's based on a verse by verse approach to the scriptures, and we just take it as we read it.
So we're in 1 Corinthians chapter 1. Let's have a word of prayer before we start. Father we have already had many words of prayer in the praise songs that we have just sung to you. But now, Father with great intention we ask that your Holy Spirit would speak to the church.
Lord those things you've been longing to deal with us individually we want to let our walls down. So that your Holy Spirit would speak to us very clearly about things we may be going through questions we might have, but also Lord to give us direction instruction and really our bearings as a local church as an assembly.
Thank you Father for those who not only are here, but those who are tuning in online from so many different places in the country and the world through the media outlets that have been made possible. Thank you for them for that. We pray, Lord, that this time together would be enriching. We ask it in Jesus's name Amen.
So we have before us the book of 1st Californians. That's what some of us used to call it because there are certain similarities between Corinth and California. And I can speak this as not a Corinthian native, but somebody from the West Coast. Corinth and California have much in common.
They we're both I would say financial centers in our country. Based on different economies, but nonetheless economic centers. Both were or are trendy places. A lot of things in fashion et cetera, happened in Corinth happen on the West Coast. And so there are certain similarities between Corinth and California. That's why I call it first Californians, but also the similarity is in a moral laxity.
You'll get a lot of-- you had and I think still have had a lot of experimentation when it comes to morality sexuality in the United States that occurred started on the West Coast and unfortunately moves to other places. And that is similar to the city of Corinth. Corinth, ancient Corinth was a colony of Rome.
It is in the Roman Empire most everything was colonized by Rome in that part of the world, but this was a Roman colony. And it was strategically situated on a little neck of land that was only 3 and 1/2 miles wide. The city was at the very beginning of a large area of land that we would look at as Southern Greece. If you were to look at a map and you would see where Athens is and how Greece is laid out.
The southern part of Greece was almost on an island to its own. It wasn't an island. I say it was almost an island and that is because if it's almost an island, but not an island it's a Peninsula. And so that whole southern region, that large massive land, southern Greece was connected to the main body of Greece by that narrow piece of land called an isthmus.
As I said it was only 3 and 1/2 miles wide. That isthmus upon which Corinth was situated was perfect for traffic. Traffic going East and West from Athens into southern Greece which would stop at Corinth. And going slightly from North to South connecting two of the seas together. You had on one side the Aegean Sea on the other side, you had the Adriatic Sea.
And the only thing that separated those two bodies of water was that little neck of land upon which Corinth was situated. So all of the foot traffic would go on the main roads. And all of the ocean ferrying traffic would go and stop at those little ports on each side of that neck of land. Again called an isthmus. It's a hard word to say, I never liked it when I had it in geography class. But it's a word in our language nonetheless.
Now that little isthmus posed a problem and a solution for ships that were sailing from one sea to the other sea. So if you're on the Adriatic Sea and you want to get to the Aegean Sea you'd stop in a port and then you have a landmass that's 3 and 1/2 miles across. So that was the problem.
The solution was unload your boat of all the cargo. Transport it by land over that little neck of land to the other port and load the cargo back onto another ship. That's number one. Number two, if your boat isn't so large what they often would do is actually lift the ship out from the ocean and put it on wheels on rollers. And roll it over land 3 and 1/2 miles and put it in the other body of water.
You say why didn't they just sail around. Well you could. And if you did it would be a 200 mile trip to sail around. 3 and 1/2 miles, 200 miles you pick. And not only that, not only was it just a longer trip, but it was a more dangerous trip. That southern portion of that body southern Greece which is called the Peloponnese or the Peloponnesian Peninsula, the very bottom part of that was called Malaya, the Cape of Malaya.
And the sailors used to have an interesting saying back in those days they would said. Whoever would sail around the Cape of Malaya let him first make out his will. Because it was dangerous. The kind of headwinds and storms that would come and smash you into the rocks were foreboding. So sailors opted for the first two solutions unload and Reload or take the boat across the isthmus.
This problem solution was attempted to be breached by Caesar Nero. Caesar Nero thought you know, the only thing we have to do is just sort of cut a channel across that land connecting the two bodies of water. And so he actually tried to do that. Caesar Nero attempted to cut a ditch from one port to the other port. He was unsuccessful. Finally they were successful, but listen not until 1893.
In 1893 which is pretty recent times that channel was cut. And if you travel from Athens to Corinth today you will go right over what is called the Corinthian canal or the isthmian canal. You will go right over that little neck of land. So they finally were successful and the ships can go in and out. Corinth was not only on the crossroads of the seas and of the roads.
Not only was it famous for its fashion and famous for a number of those other things, including commerce. It was an entertainment capital. There were sporting events that were similar to another sporting event in that same country called the Olympics. And the Olympics were the most famous. The second most popular set of events took place in Corinth and they were called the isthmian games. I wish they'd just come up with a different name for that.
But the isthmian games were played in and around Corinth and they attracted lots of attention, lots of competition, and they were second in popularity only to the Olympics. When I say entertaining though there was a seedy side of the entertainment value of Corinth. Some of you know about Corinth. Some of you New Testament people you New Testament readers you know that Corinth had a bad reputation.
It had a bad reputation for a good reason. A lot of shenanigans happened in Corinth. Morally, they were very loose morally. Just to the South of Corinth, and you can see it today, there is a large hill that rises up 1,900 feet called the Acrocorinth or the Acropolis of Corinth. And there was a temple in antiquity the temple to Aphrodite.
And up on top of that hill there lived 1,000 priestesses. They're called priestesses, I put in quotes "prostitutes," really, for the temple of Aphrodite. They would then go into the city at night and ply their trade on the incoming sailors, or soldiers, or wayfair's, that were in that city. And they would collect the money, and they would support themselves support the temple of Aphrodite.
So it had a very seedy side filled with prostitution filled with loose morality. It was known all over the world. There was a saying in those days it went like this. Not everyone can afford a trip to Corinth. And what they meant by that is the gaming and the prostitution. It was like, it's sort of like Las Vegas or San Francisco. You know it just had its own reputation.
In fact, there was even a saying in those days what happens in Corinth stays in Corinth. No I just made that up. I just wanted to see if you were following along and you were so. They actually didn't say that.
Just to let you know or to further underline this seedy underbelly of its morality. Whenever in the Greek plays somebody played the role of a resident of Corinth. Played a Corinthian in one of the Greek plays. They always cast that person as a drunk. And so they even had a saying back on the stage and in that part of the Mediterranean, Aegean Sea, Adriatic, that whole area, korinthiazesthai.
That's a Greek word that means to play the Corinthian or to act the Corinthian. Meant you were debauched you had no morals, you were loose, you were a partier, a drunkard. So to play the Corinthian was never seen as a complement. Well into this arena Paul the apostle went to start a church. So how did that happen?
Well let me take you back in the book of Acts. You remember that Paul tried to go on a second missionary journey to a few different places. Holy Spirit kept shutting the doors. Finally, he gets a vision at night a man from Macedonia saying come over to Macedonian help us. So Paul the next day turns to his buddies and said, hey, I got a vision of a man from Macedonia. He said, come over and help us. I don't know what do you think? I think it's the Lord telling us to go to Macedonia. Should we go? Yeah, so they go.
And they go to Philippi. And they go from Philippi to Thessalonica, to Berea, finally they go to Athens Greece. Athens is where the philosophers of the area were. Paul stood up there Acts 17. After he leaves Athens he then goes to Corinth. And he will spend in this city three and-- no that's Ephesus 3 and 1/2 years, a year and a half.
So he's going to spend about 18 months a year and a half, he will spend in Corinth starting the church, teaching the people, doing evangelism, training them, et cetera. When he gets to Corinth, he meets a couple, a Jewish couple in the synagogue. They had been in Rome recently.
They got kicked out of Rome. So they moved to Corinth. It was a husband and wife team named Aquila and Priscilla. They were tent makers. Paul being a tent maker would have sat next to them in the synagogue. They met struck up a conversation. He probably led them to Christ. By the way the reason that Aquila and Priscilla had left Rome, is because Claudius Caesar had kicked all of the Jews out of Rome during that period of history.
And it's interesting if you do a little digging as to why he did that. It said that he did it over a man by the name of Chrestus-- C-H-R-E-S-T-U-S, we would spell it in English, Chrestus. And many scholars believe it's a reference to Jesus Christ. And it's a reference to Jews coming to know Christ and the hostile response of the Jewish community in Rome that caused a stir. The stir came into the purview of Claudius Caesar. So he just put a quash on Judaism and the product of that was Aquila and Priscilla meeting Paul in Corinth.
So Paul goes to the synagogue. That was his style, you go to the synagogue of Corinth. He would share the gospel and not everybody liked what Paul had to say many hated what he had to say. And he caused trouble wherever he went he didn't care. He shared the gospel. He gets kicked out of the synagogue and he has to move his operations to someplace. So he goes to the house right next door to the synagogue.
A house of a guy by the name of Justus or as some text say Titius Justus. He had a house next door to the synagogue. The ruler of the Jewish synagogue is a guy by the name of Crispus. If I ever get started we'll actually read his name in chapter 1. Crispus was the ruler. The Archisynagogos, he was called the head of the synagogue. Crispus comes to faith in Christ and Paul will baptize him.
So as I mentioned he's there for a year and a half. Paul's there 18 months. Crispus gets saved. They have church in the house next door to the synagogue. The Jewish people are stirring up the people against Paul. Eventually a whole new governor comes to power in that region. A guy by the name of Galileo.
When Galileo was governor the next ruler of the synagogue along with the Jews bring Paul to court in front of Galileo. And they accuse him of a whole bunch of things. And I love Galileo, I would vote for him. He believed in the whole separation, like we're not going to meddle with religious affairs that's not our purview. He said you guys are arguing about names, and about customs, and traditions, and matters pertaining to your law. That's not why we're here. That's not why this court exists. So just, I'm not going to deal with you. Get out of here.
So they take the New head of the synagogue. It was Crispus remember, but he saved now. The New head of the synagogue the New Archisynagogoi is a guy by the name of Sosthenes. Now again if we ever get started and just read a couple verses his name will be mentioned. So they take Sosthenes and they beat him, but eventually what seemed to happen just by reading 1 Corinthians is that second guy also came to faith in Christ. Sosthenes, so it was really quite a ministry here.
OK so we are reading, which letter of Paul to the Corinthians? First, OK, because it says 1 Corinthians. That was good, you guys are so advanced. But I got to tell you something. It's really not 1 Corinthians. It's probably 2 Corinthians. And 2 Corinthians is probably better attested to as 3 Corinthians.
You say, well, Skip, you're confusing me now. Well, I actually want to clarify.
So, I want you to turn in your Bibles to the book to Chapter 6. In Chapter 6, verse 9-- verse-- no, Chapter 5, Verse 9, I wrote to you-- notice that. I wrote to you. This is 1 Corinthians. But in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 5, he says, I wrote to you. So we should ask, well, what did you write to them?
I wrote to you in my epistle-- my letter before 1 Corinthians-- not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet, I certainly did not mean the sexually immoral people of this world or with the covetous nor extortioners or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. Now, I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother who is sexually immoral or covetous or an idolator or reviler or drunkard or extortioner, not even to eat with such a person.
So, evidently, after Paul leaves Corinth-- after a year and a half, he moves to Ephesus, spends three years there, founding a church there. In Ephesus, he writes a letter. And the letter is because of this rampant immorality, what was happening in the city was now starting to happen in the church. So, Paul wrote a very stern letter that we do not have. We don't have. It we have 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, but that former letter that he's writing about, we don't have. So, we wrote them a letter.
But then after some time, after he wrote to correct that, somebody writes him from Corinth by the name of Chloe. And Chloe says, hey Paul, just word up, heads up. There's lots of division going on in Corinth. People are breaking up into little groups. Some are saying I'm of Paul, some are saying I'm of Paul. There's these divisions. You need to know about that. The church is breaking up.
And not only that, but the Corinthian church itself wrote Paul a letter with a series of questions, what about marriage, what about divorce, how do we deal with immorality, et cetera. So, beginning in Chapter 7, he says, now concerning the things you wrote me about. So, between the letter they wrote to him asking him a series of questions and the divisions Chloe wrote to him about, he writes 1 Corinthians. Make sense?
So, the theme of 1 Corinthians, then, is solving problems in the church. The whole book is a corrective, a polemic against a whole host of problems. Disunity-- so, there's divisions in the church, abuse of spiritual gifts in the church, divorce and remarriage in the church, problems of immorality, doctrinal problems concerning the Resurrection. It's a series of problems. One after the other that Paul addresses in this book. Now, having said that, we're ready to start.
Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God-- and watch this-- and Sosthenes, our brother. Now that about Sosthenes, and he was so opposed, along with the other Jews, to Paul's ministry. Evidently-- and there's no indication necessarily that it's the same Sosthenes. It could be a different one, but probably. We have no reason to say it was, so I'm just going to guess it's the same dude that was in Corinth has come to Christ and is now not in Corinth but with Paul in Ephesus being trained by Paul, being discipled by Paul.
So, Paul writes this letter from Ephesus. Sosthenes is there. Paul is giving greetings to them. Sosthenes, not the archesynagogos, not the head of your synagogue. He's our brother. He's our brother now. We're on the same team. We both worship the Lord Jesus Christ. Sosthenes, our brother.
Now, just so you know, Paul when he writes his letters follows a pretty typical format of most letters in antiquity. And I like the way they wrote letters in ancient times. We could learn a lesson from the how they wrote letters in ancient times. You see, when we write a letter, we say, dear so-and-so, then we write a page, and another page, and another page, and you don't know who's writing until you get to the back page and it says, sincerely, and you sign your name.
Well, because of that the first, thing I do when I get a letter is go to the back page to find out who wrote it. It would be more helpful if they began by saying, here is who I am, and I'm writing this, Skip, to you. That's how they wrote letters in ancient times. They would begin by stating who the letter is from, then who the letter is to, then they would give salutations, greetings of some kind. Then they would usually have some formal thanksgiving of some kind. Paul follows that format in the opening remarks. But he calls himself Paul, called to be an apostle.
Just a word about apostles, because I get this question. Are there apostles today? Yes and no. Yes, in one sense. All of us are ambassadors. All of us are representatives. All of us-- the word means sent. Apostolos or apostelo means to be sent out. And it usually referred to in ancient times a royal representative of a king. And so somebody would be sent out, representing a kingdom, or that king. If you get sent out officially, you are an apostelo, an apostle, a sent out one.
It is a word that is used in the New Testament about 79 times. It can refer to all of us. Jesus said, as the Father sent me, so I send you. But typically, usually, normally it refers to 13 individuals plus 1. It refers to the Twelve Apostles. One of them, Judas, was replaced by Mathias in Acts Chapter 1, and another one, Paul, called an apostle. But he was called an apostle because he was commissioned by Jesus Christ and sent out personally by Jesus in a post-Resurrection appearance. Usually, to be an apostle, you had to have been with the Lord during His ministry and had to have signs of an apostle that accompany you, like miracles, signs, and wonders, and you had to have been a witness of His Resurrection.
Paul wasn't a follower of Christ during His ministry, but he did see the risen Christ. On the Damascus road, he was given his apostolic commission. He said, go tell Paul that he is a chosen vessel of mine to bear my name before Gentiles, before kings, and before the children of Israel. That's his apostolic calling. But all of us have some calling, some calling by the will of God. And Sosthenes, our brother.
So, we've gone through one verse tonight. Cooking, man, we're cooking. To the Church of God, which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus called saints. Are you looking in your Bible? Do you see the words "to be" are italicized. The reason they're italicized is they are not in the original Greek language. So literally, it reads-- and so the translators furnish these words, because they think probably Paul meant that, but we don't know that Paul meant that, because literally what he said is you're sanctified in Christ Jesus, and you are called saints.
Now, I like that better than called to be saints, because if you were raised like I was raised and I hear that I am called to be a saint, then my mind says, OK, so that means I have to die and people have to pray to me after I'm dead, and then miracles have to be attested to that have happened when they called upon my name. And if that is corroborated by the main church in Rome, then eventually, I can be canonized or called a saint.
So typically, we have come to believe, unfortunately, that to be a saint is to be a dead guy or a dead gal. And you have remains that somebody touches and they get healed, or they make a pilgrimage and speak something over your grave and something happens, or miracles, or whatever it it would be. You are canonized a saint by the Catholic Church. That's how I was raised.
That is not a New Testament teaching. You are a saint right now. You are called saints. The word sanctified and the word saint, it's the same Greek root, word hageas. It means to be set apart. You've been set apart by God. When you came to Christ, you were set apart. You were completely saved. And when you believed in Jesus Christ and God marks you as his own, or you're a saint.
So, really, like J Vernon McGee said, there's really only two groups in the whole world. There's the saints and the ain'ts. You're either a saint or you ain't. And even though they were in Corinth and even though they had tons of problems, they're saints. s I'm looking at different saints here tonight. And you're looking at St. Skip. It's got a ring to it, doesn't it? Called saints with all those in every place who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, both theirs and ours.
When I was a kid by the way, I had a little medal around my neck. And it was Saint Christopher. Somebody said it was a little Saint Christopher medal. Do you know there never existed somebody by that name?
Don't do it right now, please. But we go home, just go go fact check that. The Catholic Church has repudiated that there ever existed somebody that was Saint Christopher. So for years, people prayed to Saint Christopher. They might as well be praying to their cat or their dog, because he didn't exist.
Verse 3-- "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." This is how Paul opened most all of his letters-- grace and peace, grace and peace. Grace was a common Greek greeting. [SPEAKING GREEK] is the Greek word. You would see somebody on the street in Athens. You go [SPEAKING GREEK], grace. It's a wonderful greeting.
The Jews, when they see each other say, shalom, peace. Now this is a Greek letter. So they're not writing shalom. That would be a Hebrew word. But they're using the Greek equivalent, [SPEAKING GREEK]. So [SPEAKING GREEK]-- grace and peace. I think Paul is combining a Greek and a Jewish salutation in one. Because that is how he opens most of his letters.
There's a couple of exceptions. Sometimes he'll say grace, peace, and mercy. But usually, it's grace and peace. And by the way, Paul never says peace and grace. It's always in this order-- grace first, and then peace. And there's a good reason for it. You will never know the peace of God until you know the grace of God. And when you know the grace of God, you'll have peace. You'll have the peace of God, which passes all understanding-- so grace and peace.
From God our Father in the Lord Jesus Christ-- "I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God, which was given to you by Jesus Christ." I think Paul looked back, and he's writing from emphasis. And he's thinking about how the church started at Corinth. And he goes man, it's just an act of grace that that church ever got off the ground in that city.
Why start a church of God in Corinth? Because you need a church of God in Corinth, like you need a church of the Lord Jesus Christ in every city in the world. It's dark, and light shines brightest in the darkest places. And so it needed a witness for the Lord.
"I thank my God concerning you for the grace of God, which is given you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by him, in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you so that you come short in no gift-- or you come behind-- in no gift, eagerly waiting for the Revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ." He says you are enriched. And the word he uses speaks of being filthy rich. It's the word that we would translate plutocrat-- the ruling class of the very, very wealthy.
So you are excessively rich. And you come behind a no spiritual gift. One of the things about the Church at Corinth, is that all of the gifts of the Spirit were in operation. That's a good thing. But it became a bad thing. Because Paul has to right to correct so many of the abuses of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that happened at Corinth. So I was going to say unfortunately, there were abuses of the Spirit in the Church of Corinth.
But I'm going to say something differently. I'm going to say fortunately, there were abuses of the gifts of the Spirit in Corinth. You say, why would you say that. Because Paul wrote a letter addressing the problems, so that now we can see the proper use and balance of spiritual gifts in the assembly. So the value is that it has produced for us, what we call 1 Corinthians, which is actually 2 Corinthians. But I digress.
You come behind a no spiritual gift. But look at this-- "as you are eagerly waiting for the Revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ-- now he's going to mention this several times, as he does by the way, in most all of his letters. Realize this-- the early church 2000 years ago, the churches were taught by Paul to always look up, to always anticipate that the promise that Jesus made to return could happen at any moment. And that they should expect it.
So beware of any teacher any doctrine, any church, any movement, that tells you my Lord delays is coming. We should all be looking forward. And especially 2000 years post this, when so many crazy things are happening in so many signs that we have now in the New Testament laid out, have been fulfilled-- and I think we are waiting on borrowed time. We're waiting for the Revelation.
The word here is apocolypsis. The final unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will confirm you to the end. He is going to take you all the way through. He's committed to your faith, he's committed to your spiritual walk, to bring you all the way through so much so-- watch this. He will confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ-- God is faithful-- by whom you were called into the fellowship of his son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Notice, that you may be blameless. Let me ask you a question. Are you blameless now? You're looking at me like, how should I answer that?
Because he doesn't say you are now blameless, but he says that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, right? At the end of that little letter of Jude-- that one chapter letter of Jude, verse 24-- the writer says, "Now unto him, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." Now, that doesn't mean you are faultless or that you are blameless, but you will one day be presented as faultless and blameless in his presence. You go, well, how is that possible?
What magic trick does God have to work to present me blameless? And I ask that because I know me. I sin, I fall short of the glory of God, I still have proclivities, and propensities, and leanings toward aberrant behavior and thinking, as we all do. We're all flesh-- we're all human. And yet I'm told I'm going to be blameless, I'm going to be presented as faultless; how is that possible?
One word answer. Justification. Justification. Romans 5:1, just reminding you of what you already know. Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
He's declared us righteous. He's declared us as having the same righteousness as his son, Jesus, because we believe in his finished work. Doesn't it mean you are perfect, or righteous, or blameless, or thoughtless. But he already declares you as such, and one day, will present you as such. So it's a pretty good deal and that's why we have peace with God.
Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God. Think if my peace depended upon my performance. Well, some days I'd be very peaceful, and some days I would not be very peaceful. Because some days my performance is good, some days my performance really stinks. And so I'd have peace one day and then I have anxiety the next day, because I'm always looking at my performance.
But because I'm justified-- declared righteous by faith-- I have peace with God every day, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Because now, I understand how God sees me, how God reckons me, and how one day he will receive me, and I'll be presented as faultless before his presence, with exceeding joy. The psalm is-- I read it early this morning-- Psalm 130, "Oh, Lord, if you should mark iniquities, who could stand?" If God kept a record and checked it, who would stand? We would be miserable.
But we are justified so because of that, one day you'll be blameless. "God is faithful. By whom you are called into the fellowship of his son, Jesus Christ, our lord." So that is the introductory remarks of the epistle of the letter. Now he gets down to business, and he addresses the real issue that this person, Chloe, has written about. And that is the tearing apart of the church-- the breaking up into different factious groups.
Because he says in verse 10, "Now, I plead with you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing. That there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." The word divisions-- schismata-- speaks of the tearing of a garment. The fragmenting of something that was once a cohesive unit being torn into little pieces. And it's not just that there were disagreements, that's never a problem.
It's healthy to have disagreeing points of view over certain things. The problem wasn't disagreement, it was dissension. They were splitting up, and being opposed to each other, as we will find out. "For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household that there are contentions among you." On one hand, I think, oh, Paul, you shouldn't have mentioned Chloe.
Because you threw her under the bus, now, everybody's going to go, oh, you're the one that ratted on us to Paul. But Paul had to give a source, and probably, this person Chloe-- and by the way, scholars are divided whether this Chloe is a feminine name or a masculine name. We don't know. It's just a person named Chloe. We'll identify her as a she, just because that's how our minds probably will deal better with that.
"It has been declared by those in Chloe's household that there are contentions among you. Now, I say this. Each of you says, I'm of Paul, or I am of Apollos, or I am of Cephas, or I'm of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you, or were you baptized in the name of Paul?"
When Jesus-- before his suffering-- prayed for his followers-- after praying for his immediate followers-- he prayed at the end of his little prayer in John:17. Lord, I don't just pray for these alone, but for all those who will believe in me through their name. That they may be one as we are one. I in you and you and me, that they may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. He prayed for our unity. Now, unity doesn't mean uniformity.
It doesn't mean we will agree on everything alike, but it does mean we will agree on what's most important. So there are essentials of our faith that we must all agree on, and when we agree, that marks us as true believers. We believe in one God, we believe that there is a triune God-- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-- this is the essential Bible doctrine. We believe that God sent his son into the world to die on a cross, that he died physically-- as being God in human flesh-- and that he resurrected bodily, that he's coming again. We believe a number of things that we would call essentials.
But then there are other things that are really not essential. And we can have vigorous debates about them, and we can have disagreements. But though you disagree, it's different from dissension.
Yeah. I have a very particular eschatology-- I'm very convinced in my eschatology. I'm very convinced in my theological stand on a number of issues. But I've discovered that in the church there's latitude, in that not everybody agrees with my position eschatologically. And I give them the freedom to be wrong--
--just as they give me the freedom to be wrong in their view, right?
And that's OK, I think it was August-- and at least he is attributed as the one who said this-- he said, in essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. in all things, charity. So I believe that the more spiritual you become, the less denominational you become--
--the less you need to put up a wall. Some people say, well, I'm a Baptist. Good. I'm glad you are. Well, I'm a Methodist, or I'm an Episcopalian-- great-- but if that's your first identity, I think it's problematic.
Your first identity is, I'm a Christian-- I'm in Christ. And as long as we hold to the essentials, that's what binds us together and marks us as believers. The other things, let's talk about them-- let's wrangle about them-- but let's agree to disagree, agreeably. Let's be loving about it-- in all things charity. Well, there seemed like, in Corinth, it was getting beyond just disagreement stage, because you have now four groups that are represented.
Verse 12. "Some say, I am of Paul." Now, to me, it makes sense that somebody would say I am of Paul. Paul started the church. Paul had a religious background, he was a Pharisee, but he discovered the grace of God, he preached the grace of God.
It was a wonderful message that included not just Jew but Gentile. It's very natural for somebody to go, man, that's liberating. I believe in that guy and what he has said. Others were saying, well, Paul was OK but there's somebody that's been around here-- and has spoken here to our congregation-- and he's just really articulate. His name is Apollos, and the Book of Acts describes him as being quite a scholar-- very scholastic-- probably advanced in learning, advanced in rhetoric.
So he could really tell a story, and really get a crowd, and really do a great job so they just liked Apollos. Maybe because he had a Greek background. Then there were others that said, I am of Peter-- or Cephas-- that's the apostle Peter. Now, there's no record of Peter ever coming to Corinth, though he may have. But it could be that they just say, we relate to Peter.
He was one of the original 12-- Paul, you weren't-- he is a fisherman, so he's not a rabbi like you are Paul, or like Apollos was. He's a blue collar guy. We could relate to this working class guy. But then there was this fourth group that was the worst of all of them. They were so snobbish they'd look down, oh, we don't need to follow human leaders, we're just of Christ.
Now, it sounds good. Like, well, yeah. Why wouldn't-- yeah. But the fact that he's marking them and lumping them in the same kind of category as being divisive, shows that the way they were marking the difference was not healthy. They were so nondenominational they elevated their nondenomonationalism.
You can do that. Oh, I don't-- I'm not into the denominations, man. I go to Calvary.
Or I go to this independent church. OK, whatever. You're a Christian, right? You're in Christ.
Just a word about human leaders. When God uses a human leader-- and by the way, what they did then, we do today. People do it all the time. People send me things that a radio teacher has said, or somebody on the internet has said. You got to listen to this, you got to listen to that guy, listen to this. And people are attracted to certain styles and methods of teaching.
Nothing wrong with that unless it becomes too exclusive. And there's always a danger when you are a man or woman of God, and you are used mightily by God. People start elevating you, and looking to you, and they put you on a pedestal. And you have to be the one to know that people have a tendency to do that, and you yourself need to jump off the pedestal. Don't allow the pedestal to be under you, get off of it.
Be normal. Because really, there's nothing special about you, no matter who you are.
Right? The cross is what levels everybody-- level ground. But you remember, in the book of Acts, chapter two, when there was a man who sat at the Gate Beautiful, who had a problem. And Peter and John walked by and said, "So silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, I give to you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Rise and walk."
And lifted him up, and the man was healed. And so all of the crowd that saw it looked intently at Peter and John. And Peter and John could have said, this is the perfect opportunity to take an offering. People are amazed at this. This will-- their heartstrings are touched, they'll give.
But I love their response. He said, men of Israel. Why do you look intently at us, as though we through our own power or godliness, made this man walk? We didn't do this-- we're just instruments-- he did this.
It happens again in Acts, Chapter 14. When they are in a region, and a man gets healed, and the pagans say, the gods have come down to us. And they want to worship Paul and Barnabas, and they wouldn't let them do it. So it is a danger. Whether you're Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, you need to point to Christ and to say, look-- and I love how Paul says it, verse 13-- is Christ divided?
In other words, can you take Jesus-- literally-- can you take Jesus and cut him into pieces and distribute those pieces? No, you can't. Was Paul crucified for you-- now, Paul's writing the letter-- no, he wasn't. Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? Now, this is to me is fascinating.
And I'm looking at the time, we won't be able to probably make it through the whole chapter.
"I thank God-- verse 14-- that I baptized none of you accept Crispus-- that's that first [SPEAKING IN LATIN] the head of the synagogue who came to faith-- except for Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say I baptize in my own name. Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else." Any other. "For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel.
Not with the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect." notice how Paul makes a difference-- draws a contrast-- between baptism and preaching the gospel. Christ didn't send me to baptize, he sent me to preach the gospel. Now, I want you to hear this. He's not snubbing baptism at all, nor is he saying that baptism is not a part of declaring the gospel.
But he is putting baptism in its proper place. There are some people who believe in a doctrine theologians call Baptismal Regeneration-- Baptismal Regeneration. OK, you know how I was raised, right? And they believed in Baptismal Regeneration. You better get that baby baptized.
You don't get that baby baptized, that baby going to live forever in limbo.
Not in the Bible-- not in the Bible. No limbo in the Bible. Somebody find limbo, and showed to me later on, I'll be happy to change my view. But you baptized that baby because that baby gets saved when they get baptized. And there are not just the Catholic Church, there are other churches who believe in Baptismal Regeneration. Now, if Baptismal Regeneration is true-- if a person gets saved when they're baptized-- then Paul the apostle is wrong.
He is misleading when he says, Christ didn't send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel. If Baptismal Regeneration is true, then, we would have to say, Paul, he did send you to baptize. Because baptism and salvation are on equal levels. Now, if Paul believed in Baptismal Regeneration, know that he would have had to travel with a tank everywhere he went--
--unless he was by the Mediterranean Sea. If he was inland anywhere, he'd have to bring some tank of water to find some local lake or something, and you'd always see him baptizing everyone. But he goes, yeah, I didn't even remember how many people I baptized. Other people have baptized people. But Christ didn't send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel.
So people say, do I have to be baptized to be saved? Here's how I answer that. You have to be saved to be baptized.
That's how it works. Well, do I have to be baptized to be saved? No, you have to be saved to be baptized. In the book of Acts there was an Ethiopian eunuch who was reading Isaiah, and he got led to Christ, and he saw water. And he said to Philip, hey, there's some water right there. What hinders me from being baptized?
Phillips said, if you believe with all your heart, you may. That was the prerequisite to baptism. You have to believe. And if you believe, you are saved, and if you are saved, then you can get baptized. Remember what Jesus said in chapter 16.
"Go unto all the world, make disciples of all the nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Whoever believes, and is baptized, shall be saved." And often, that is quoted by those who want to show me Baptismal Regeneration, but they leave out the last part of the verse. Jesus said, "Whoever believes, and is baptized, shall be saved. Whoever does not believe shall be condemned."
He didn't say, whoever does not believe, and is not baptized. It's the faith that saves, or the lack of faith, that condemns. Now, usually when I bring this up-- and I wanted to go through this because there's a lot of questions on it. And I'm looking at the time, so this is probably where we're going to end. But usually, people want to bring up a text in Acts chapter 2, when they say, oh, no.
You must be baptized in order to be saved. I go, well-- and they usually quote Acts 2:37 and 38. I'm just going to read it to you. So this is Peter, in Jerusalem. Acts 2:37 and 38.
"When they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do? Then, Peter said to them, repent-- now, watch this-- and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." And they'll go, there it is, right there. You are baptized for the remission of sins. Now, when they say that to you what they are equating is the word for.
Be baptized for the remission of sins. They're thinking the word for must mean in order that-- in order that. So be baptized, in order that your sins might be remitted. The problem with that is the word for is translated from the Greek word-- and the Greek text-- eis. That would be-- in Greek spelling-- epsilon, yoddha, sigma-- eis.
For-- for. Eis. And that word, is-- translated, for-- often means because of, not in order that. You follow me? So here's an example in English.
If I say, the soldier was decorated for bravery, I don't mean that the soldier was decorated in order that he would become brave. It's like, I got a medal I'm going to be brave now. No. He got a medal because he was brave, as an expression that celebrated his bravery. If we say the criminal was punished for his crime, he's not punished in order that he might go out and commit a crime, he was punished for a crime.
Meaning, because of a crime. So when he says repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, it's not in order that your sins would be forgiven, but because your sins have been forgiven. As an expression that they have. You follow? So I wanted to clear that up and make it ironclad, lest somebody wanted to say, oh, you don't believe in baptism the way I do. I'm of Paul, I'm of Apollos, and I'm of Cephas. Whatever.
Christ didn't send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel. Not with the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ be made of no effect. You see, the cross of Christ would be made of no effect, if you tell people you have to believe-- that's faith-- and you have to do something in order to be saved-- that's a work-- getting baptized. Now, you are mixing grace and works. And when you mix grace and works you rob the power of the cross.
The cross says all you have to do is believe. Period. End of story. And because you have been saved, now, you get baptized as an expression of that. Otherwise, the cross of Christ is made of no effect. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved, it is the power of God.
For it is written I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise, where is the scribe, where is the disputer of this age? Has God not made foolish the wisdom of this world?" And we'll continue, and follow this section up, and finish this up next week. But as we close, let me just give a little PS-- a little addendum-- to that whole little baptism thing that I just talked to you about.
You're not saved by baptism but it is important. It is an expression of an inward change. And I always get leery when somebody says, oh, yeah. I've been saved for 30 years, but I've just never been baptized. What?
That's weird-- that's just weird. The New Testament norm-- and throughout church history-- is that baptism almost immediately followed salvation. It was an expression, and it's seen that way in so many countries around the world. We just, in the West, have become a little too lax about it. I think that you want to display to the world that change has occurred-- it's something you should want to celebrate-- and if you haven't done it, forgive me if I called you weird.
Just strike that. That just proves that I'm still in my fallen nature, and so forgive that. But let me tell you, you have an opportunity this weekend to publicly announce that you have been saved by grace-- true faith, and not of yourselves, not of works, lest anyone should boast-- and showing that you have been baptized. And you will get baptized to show-- or because of-- not in order that. Because of the remission of your sins, you're welcome at our baptism, which is after the third service this weekend.
Father, thank you for the clear and unmistakable teaching of your word. Thank you that we can go through it, and discuss these things, comparing scripture with scripture. Getting a clear and lucid understanding, in Jesus's name. Thank you for your church, thank you for your body. And thank you for so many other churches, Lord, in the community that are also part of the body of Christ.
May we find that essential core doctrine that unites us, and stand in unity against the wiles of the devil, in the culture in which we live. Not fighting each other, but fighting with each other for the common good, for the glory of God, and against the snares of the devil. In Jesus's name we pray, and God's people said, Amen. Let's all stand.
For more resources from Calvary Church and Skip Heisig, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us from this teaching in our series, Expound.