Bringing Focus Back

  • Tuesday, September 13, 2011

  • 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

    At some point in our lives we have all been the recipient of a letter. Whether it’s a birthday card or a multi-page document, we all know what it looks like. It starts with an informal greeting, a “how are things going?” or perhaps “the weather here has been nice”, but then as the letter continues, it starts to get more personal. The real emotions and intent begin to shine through.

    As we begin studying the book of 1 Corinthians, think of it as a letter because it is precisely that. Paul is addressing a serious issue that is rising up in the church at Corinth. As we take a look at the text, read it like a letter. Put yourself in a pew at the Corinthian church. As the letter is opened, you sit there in anticipation, anxious to hear what has been penned. This is a letter from Paul, the man responsible for perhaps your own conversion in Corinth. The letter is opened now, the speaker’s eyes begin to pan the writing. First a pause, then the voice begins to read, “Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sothenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth...”

    v1. Paul, by God’s perfect plan, was called to be an apostle – a teacher of Christ. Notice, Paul isn’t bragging about his willingness to give his life for the sake of the Gospel. “...By the will of God...” is phrased in a way that says, “God chose me.” We will see throughout this letter that Paul continually puts the focus on God.

    v2. Paul is bringing the focus back to God. The church in Corinth isn’t Paul’s church, it isn’t the people’s church, it’s God’s church. We’ll see later that the people within the church have created division by choosing sides and elevating mortal teaching over the shed blood of Christ. The city of Corinth was beginning to take root within the walls of the church. Paul is re-drawing the boundaries. “...To those sanctified in Christ Jesus...” Paul is saying, “You have been set apart.”  This is a reminder to the church that they have been placed into the family of God. 

    v3. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”  Pastor Tom provided a great definition of the word “grace” on Sunday. Grace is God’s riches at Christ’s expense. Paul is saying, “You have been given a gift of immeasurable value. You are blessed! There is no reason for any of you to have division among you. You have been given grace by God.”  

    v4-8. Through these next few verses, notice how Paul takes all these great traits of the church in Corinth and gives God the praise and the credit. While commending the church for what they do right, he takes the credit and the focus off of the individuals and places it on God. v4: “I thank God for showing you grace.” v5: “In every way God has enriched you in Him.” v6: “God has used you to confirm the testimony about Christ.” v7: “God has made you lack nothing as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” v8: “God will sustain you until the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Talk about stealing all their thunder! Paul is saying, “You guys have come a long way, but remember who it was that brought you here. It was by God’s grace that you have been delivered from your past and empowered for your future.”

    v9. In verse 9 Paul concludes his introduction by reminding the church of God’s faithfulness. “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  What a fantastic ending to an introduction! 

    As we continue our study we’ll hear Paul’s passionate reminder to the Corinthian church to continually take the focus off themselves and give glory to God. In a church that has become complacent with its focus and priorities, Paul’s letter is a desperate plea to “wake up” and realize that the progress they have made isn’t from their own hands and abilities, but from the empowering grace of God. 


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