Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Church of God

We are considering the second letter Paul wrote the Corinthian church, whom he addresses “to the church of God.” Christ’s ownership is clear: this is God’s church, not your church, my church, not Paul’s church. We exist because of Christ, the builder, and we are a living body, the legislators of God’s Kingdom, a group of people (not a building) called out of the world by common faith in Jesus as risen Lord. Paul is busy locking down the business of hell so the church can do what the builder intends! Here we touch on the very reason Paul was inspired to write this letter. This particular church has rough edges to be knocked off so the living stones can fit together. The “church of God” fulfills the purpose of God.      

The story of The Church blossoms out of Christ’s story: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:21). Christ’s suffering and glory is the Church’s suffering and glory:

  • 2 Cor. 4:8-10, “[We are] hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-- always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
  • 2 Cor. 4:14. “. . . knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present [us] with you.”
  • 2 Cor. 4:17, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory”
We connect to the purpose of the builder, to seek and save the lost (Evangelism) and to commune with Christ and one another. Our service is to one another as the royal priest- hood, bringing Christ to others and others to Christ, sharing what is common among us to meet needs; fellowship; observe the ordinances of Baptism and Lord’s Supper; worship; grow together through discipline, edification and education. These are the marks of The Church of God, worldwide and across time.

Locally, Paul addresses the church “which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia.” Corinth is the capital of Achaia and if you know your literature, will recognize this as the home of Odysseus, Sparta. Acts 18:1-18 

records Paul's first stay in Corinth and how his ministry in the synagogue ended with conflict. The result was that he turns his ministry to the non-Jews of the area, namely, the Corinthians. Paul stays here for 18 months working as a tentmaker and lives with other tentmakers, Aquila and his wife Priscilla. He eventually finds himself in conflict again, only this time is brought before Gallio (the Roman proconsul) and accused of heresy. Gallio ultimately dismisses the charge and Paul leaves.

We take the time to mention these people and places because archaeology confirms their reality. Engravings have been found with Gallio’s name as well as “Erastus,” a Corinthian who becomes a disciples of Paul, whom he greets in other letters.

One final word about the church in Corinth. Paul addresses “all the saints” found in the entire region of Achaia, not simply the city. In other words, Paul was inspired to write to the body of believers, not just a physical address.

Fascinating how this is in keeping with God’s plan to impact the nations through His Word that transcends time and space. Salvation is extended to everyone. Holiness is intended for everyone. Followers of Christ are to live by a different standard, experiencing victory over sin and the joy of reconciliation with God and one another. Grace and Peace are transferred to everyone. Fellowship is valued in everyone.

The burden of Paul’s heart must be addressed heard by the entire region because of the wide work of the enemy.

What do we do with this? Well, if you call yourself by the name of Christ, do not misrepresent Him in the way you treat others. Do not take His name upon yourself for vanity. The standard of life Christ intends is freedom to do everything we should in obedience to His Word.

Paul is about to launch into a very long response against those who have taken up a position against him. This is his opportunity to remind his audience who they are in Christ, to one another and to him.

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