Just a reminder that our Reformation Celebration will start with a chili cook-off, followed by games and a lesson at 6pm tonight (Wednesday, October 29). http://olympiabp.blogspot.com/2014/10/reminder-reformation-celebration.html
We made it! We have reached the end of 1 Corinthians. We've waded through church disunity, disrespect for authority, sexual immorality, divorce, lawsuits, spiritual arrogance, unruly worship, leading fellow believers to sin against their consciences, idolatry, shaming fellow believers at the Lord's Supper, and heretical notions about the resurrection. A TV producer could produce a hit series entitled "Corinth Church." There would be plenty of material for scandalous drama.
We also ventured through teachings about the gospel and the cross, and using freedom to serve and to love. We read the noblest expression of love, the fullest treatment of church unity, and the most complete exposition of the resurrection of the body. We learned how important the church is to our Lord.We received the one clear instruction about the Lord's Supper outside of Christ's teachings. And now we come to Paul's final words to his spiritual children.
I.A Personal Note, 21.
A.It was common in the ancient world to use a scribe to write down your letters.
1.These scribes were the original Dragon Speech software.
2.For some reason that I don't know, in the biblical studies world this scribe is called an amanuensis.
3.We don't know who this person was who helped Paul write 1 Corinthians.
a.Perhaps Sosthenes who is mentioned in 1:1.
b.Whoever he was, Paul takes over the writing for theses last three verses.
B.Finishing up his letters by his own hand was a custom of Paul's.
1.It was the same as signing it.
2.It added his personal care for the church.
3.Perhaps it also adds a heightened importance to what is written.
II.Terror and Tenderness Are Strangely Mingled in This Parting Salutation, 22.
A.First we see the terror of the fate of the unloving.
1.Paul gets to the core of all the issues that he has been dealing with throughout the letter right here – lack of love for Jesus Christ.
2.Paul commands the church to let those who do not love the Lord Jesus to be accursed.
a.This is the word anathema.
1)Paul uses this word in conjunction with the denial of the Gospel.
Gal. 1:6-9 – I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
2)This is word means set aside for destruction.
b.Notice that Paul doesn't command the Corinthians to pronounce them accursed, just to let them be what they already are by virtue of their lack of love for Jesus.
1)The path that is marked by lack of love for the Lord Jesus is a path that leads to destruction.
2)Every day that one walks in this loveless path is one day closer to a destiny of eternal lovelessness.
i.What a terrifying thought!
ii.Taking a deliberate walk toward an eternal existence devoid of any love.
3)But in this we also see the tenderness of God.
i.Everyday that you walk in loveless rebellion toward the Lord Jesus without being utterly destroyed is another day in which is displaying to you his patience, mercy, and compassion.
2 Pt. 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning Hispromise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
ii.So why is it that God is not judging and destroying evil right now? Because of you who are in rebellion against him, so that you may have the opportunity to come to him.
c.When the loveless dies or the Lord returns, they will have run out of time.
d.The unloving when they are brought into contact with the infinite love of the coming Judge, shrivel up and are destroyed.
B.Notice the tenderness of Paul's prayer – "O Lord, come!" (MARANATHA)
1.Paul's Christianity gathered round two facts and moments—one in the past, Christ has come; one in the future, Christ will come.
2.Between these two moments, we live our lives.
"Between these two moments, like the solid piers of a suspension bridge, the frail structure of the Present hangs swinging."Alexander MacLaren
3.We live grounded on the cross and hoping for the coming of the Lord of life and love.
4.By Praying, "O Lord, come!" Paul is reminding us of that.
5.As Christians, we innately crave the coming of the Lord Jesus.
a.It is our blessed hope.
b.It is the day when every tear will be wiped.
c.It is the day we will see him face to face for we will be like him.
d.It is the day on which we experience fully all the promises of the New Covenant that are already yes and amen in Jesus Christ.
C.At the end of the day we see that there is no terror without tenderness, and there is no tenderness without terror.
III.But Tenderness Wins out at the End, 23-24.
A.Paul speaks of the terrors of God, but the last thing he leaves with them is God's grace and love.
B.Grace and love: these two words sum up what should be the Christian's experience.
1.We come into favor with God by grace
2.We are sustained throughout our lives by grace.
3.And we will be received into glory by grace.
4.The love Paul expresses is genuine precisely because it is in Christ Jesus, who loves him and who pours out his love in Paul to the Corinthians.
C.If you remember only one lesson I have taught the past two years as we worked our way through this letter, let it be this one, learn as much as you can about grace, 23.
1.Paul's expression, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you" is not merely a spiritual way of saying "take care."
a.It is the blessing God has bestowed upon the Christian.
b.It is the matrix, the code, the glasses that makes sense of the Christian life and should guide the way we think and live.
1)If we know grace, we cannot be arrogant, because grace removes the basis for arrogance – pride in ourselves.
2)If we know grace, we cannot be selfish, because grace informs us of the unselfish love of God in Christ.
3)It is only by knowing grace that we can truly love.
4)Grace makes the love of chapter 13 possible for us to give.
2.You know the saying, "There but by the grace of God go I."
a.That's a great statement because it shows that we know that we have avoided the mistake of others only by the grace of God and not by our own superiority.
b.We need to learn to say, "There by the grace of God go I."
1)For in truth, grace teaches us that we are all the same.
2)Our sins and failures may vary in their expressions, but we all commit the same sins.
3)We all fail to live up to the same law of God.
4)Even more importantly, in Christ we all receive the same grace of forgiveness and blessing.
5)This is the Gospel.
6)By turning to Christ in faith, we take the first baby step towards knowing this grace.
7)Devote the rest of your lives to its study.
IV.Then We End with Love, 24.
A.This is a very unusual way for Paul to finish this letter.
1.There is no other place where he finishes a letter by declaring his love for the recipients of it.
2.Paul shows that all he had to say, all the rebuke and criticism, were fulfilled by the love that the Lord Jesus created in him for them!
"The healing balm of this closing message was to be applied to the wounds which his keen edged words had made, and to show that they were wounds by a surgeon, not by a foe. In effect, this parting smile of love says, 'I am not become your enemy because I tell you the truth; I show my love to you by the plainness and roughness of my words.'"Alexander MacLaren
B.Here is the last thing Paul leaves with us: love for one another.
C.Do we really understand how important love is? The Bible does. Listen:
Jn. 13:34-35– A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Gal. 5:13-14– For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Eph. 4:15-16– Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
1 Thess. 3:12-13 – [M]ay the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
1 Jn. 3:10-11– By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
Here we are.We finished it!I don't know what is next for us.I don't what the Lord has for us in our lives.Whatever that might be, stick with these two things: the grace of God and love for the brethren.
FCQ. 101 - What is the tenth commandment? "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
FCQ. 102 - What does the tenth commandment teach you? To be content with whatever God chooses to give me.
Shorter Catechism Questions:
SCQ. 85 - What does God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin? To escape the wrath and curse of God, due to us for sin, God requires of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption.