Have you ever had the thought “I wish my church could be more like the church of the first century?” What did you have in mind? Were you thinking of a closely knit community of believers who were radically committed to each other and they were turning the community upside down with the Gospel? Unfortunately, the reality of the first century church in Corinth wouldn’t live up to your expectations.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthian Church, the church was in serious trouble. To begin with, there were members of the church guilty of sexual immorality; others were getting drunk; still others were using the grace of God to excuse worldly lifestyles.
If you want to know what life was like in the city of Corinth, read what Paul wrote in Romans 1:18-32. Paul wrote the letter to the Romans while ministering in Corinth. All he had to do was look out his window and describe what he saw there.
Now take a moment to read 1 Corinthians 1:1-9:
1 Paul, called as an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and Sasthenes our brother. 2 To God’s church at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called saints, with all those in every place who called on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord-both their Lord and ours. 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I always thank my God for you because of God’s grace given to you in Christ Jesus, 5 that by Him you will be enriched in everything-in all speech and all knowledge. 6 In this way, the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, 7 so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul did not attack the seriousness of the sin problem as he began his letter. Instead, he chose to take a positive approach and remind the believers of their high and holy position in Jesus Christ.
Notice how Paul describes the church at Corinth in the verses above:
- To God’s church at Corinth
- Those who are sanctified
- Enriched by God’s grace
- Expecting Jesus to return
- Dependent on God’s faithfulness
- A church has two addresses, one a geographic address (Corinth, a city founded by Julius Caesar) and a spiritual address (a church founded “in Christ Jesus”).
- Every true believer is a saint because every true believer has been set apart by God and for God.
- Salvation is a gracious gift from God. The fact that God has called us, set us apart, and enriched us ought to encourage us to live holy lives.
- Christians who are looking for Jesus Christ will want to live for Him.
- God has given His guarantee that He will keep His Word.
Let’s examine Paul’s use of the word “grace” in his opening paragraph.
Grace has been defined by using the word as an acronym to describe what it is:
God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense
The word grace occurs 155 times in the New Testament, and Paul uses it some 110 times, more than all the other New Testament writers combined.
Grace: God’s unmerited favor, especially that which comes to sinful humanity through the saving work of Jesus Christ.
Paul’s use of grace and peace (peace flows from grace), emphasizes God’s actions in and through Jesus Christ. The work of the Father and Son are inseparable.
Notice the number of references to the Lord Jesus Christ in this text. We can conclude that Christ’s death on the cross is the greatest display of grace ever.
Paul is thankful for the effects of God’s grace. It is because of God’s grace alone that we are saved from our sins.
“Peace” is not just the absence of conflict. Peace is when an individual’s life with God and with everything else is in ordered harmony, both physically and spiritually.
Ask yourself these two questions:
- What impact has God’s grace had on my life?
- What impact has His peace had on my life?
1.Satan attempts to deceive us to think that we do not deserve God’s grace and peace. That we are not worthy of salvation.
Salvation is a gracious gift from God. There is nothing that we can do in order for us to be saved. It is by God’s grace that the Corinthian believers were saved.
2. For the believer, Satan wants to rob us of the assurance of salvation.
Every true believer has been set apart by God and for God. That knowledge should be all that we need in order for us to have the assurance of our salvation. This assurance is not based on our performance, but is based on the work of Christ.
In our text, Paul is thankful for the effects of God’s grace on the church in Corinth. God’s grace for the church on Corinth is evidence of God’s continual work in their lives. The Corinthian believers are described as set apart and in a holy position before God because of the grace that provided the spiritual union with Jesus Christ. Paul assures the Corinthian believers of God’s faithfulness. As God called them in salvation from their sins, so He is faithful in completing the work, granting them every grace for daily life.
The letters to the church at Corinth encourage me today in the need for grace in order to be saved, and in order for me to daily live a life in fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Have you experienced the grace of God personally? He is waiting with arms of compassion to welcome you. If you have any questions concerning the grace of God do not hesitate to reach out to us at Friendship Church, we would count it an honor to explain the grace of God to you.