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Saints and Sinners

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
July 14, 2021 8:00 am

Saints and Sinners

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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July 14, 2021 8:00 am

A church struggles to come to terms with what it means to serve the Lord. But it's not easy. All around are greedy and debauched people. Inevitably some of sinfulness has begun to infiltrate the church. Sound familiar? This scenario is not just our own; the early church of Corinth faced many of the same problems! Dr. Boice's study 1 Corinthians reveals a striking similarity between own battles and the struggles the early church.


Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet Ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically every time I begin a study of a new book of the Bible that I do so with mixed feelings because of the one hand, the book is a challenge subsiding filled with thoughts that we need to make our own. Yet at the same time, in a book called the Bible. If it does its proper work in Austin of the Holy Spirit speaks through it as we trust you will. And as he promises to do when we study it going to produce changes in us is going to challenge us various that way. Haven't really come to terms with what discipleship means before and while it's true with many books of the Bible all books.

It's especially Truax.

I think with this book of first Corinthians, because there is a book that deals with a very normal church. All the problems that existed in a normal church and it's not possible to read about these things and think about them seriously without coming to terms with what it means to serve the Lord in these areas the same time. This is a great book so I approach it with an expectation really goes together with three others. The four books together being perhaps the most important of Paul's epistles coming from roughly the same period of his life as Romans that immediately precedes this in the New Testament, and which is the great doctrinal book of the New Testament there is Galatians which goes with Romans and which in a sense defends the doctrines that are developed so well in the longer book against some of the distortions and perversions and denials of Paul's day, and then there are these two great letters to the church at Corinth, which deal with the application of these doctrines and the life of the church in general. The city of Corinth was an interesting city had a long history had an interesting location.

It was located on the narrow isthmus of land that divided the upper northern Maine portion of Greece known as Attica from the southern portion of Greece. The Peloponnese, the northern portion at Athens as its capital. The southern portion had Sparta as its capital, and in between on this narrow isthmus of landlady city of Corinth.

It was like many cities that are at a transition point geographically. It was a city of commerce rate city for the mixture of races. It had one interesting feature and that in ancient days it was difficult and dangerous to sale and if the journey could be taken by lands. It was always safer and generally easier than traveling by sea and in the case of Corinth something interesting had been devised. They found that because the land wasn't too high. At that point that was possible. At times even to sail a ship into the Corinth harbor on one side and drag the ship up over the land down the other side in order to avoid having to sail the hallway around the southern portion of Greece would save about 200 miles of ocean travel and although it seems like good terribly difficult thing to do. It was relatively easy compared with the sailing and so as a result of that great deal of trade grew up and Corinth, which had a naturally high defensive position large plateau that dominated the area, which had two ports one on each side of this isthmus became the kind of mixture I'm describing. Was that the box place as many port cities are Corinth was so known for its debauchery that they even use the name Corinth in the Greek language to describe what it meant to be perfectly debauched to behave like a Corinthian, was about the worst thing you could say about somebody in moral terms, the city was destroyed by the Roman general Manlius and one hundred and 20 BC years later, Julius Caesar recognized again. Its strategic importance, so he rebuilt the city at the time Paul arrived Corinth had been reestablished and was the important rate city of that portion of the world upon visited core that is second missionary journey. He had been in the northern portion of Greece Philippi, he had made his way down the coast from Macedonia spending some time in the city of Berea and came on further south and Attica to Athens. I spent some time in Athens after he left Athens C went on down the Corinth leaving for the time his companions behind as was his custom, he began to work.

First of all, for living. He was a tent maker work with cloth.

He found a couple from Rome that had been expelled from Rome a Jewish couple to: Priscilla, whom he met Darren, who had the same trait as he did so, he teamed up with that. Undoubtedly, they gave him a place to live.

He earned his bread. That way, and talk to them about the gospel, they became great churchmen and his supporters were with him years later, and in his time that was free, but he wasn't earning his living by making sales, he would going to the synagogue and would as he said, reason with the Jews out of the Scripture concerning the prophecies adult of Jesus Christ was a crisis in the synagogue at that time there was resistance to what he was teaching he had to move out, he was welcomed into the home, presumably of a Roman a man named Justus Goodlatte name and he moved his group of Christians into that help became house church. It was next door to the synagogue and the ruler of the synagogue, whose name was Crispus was converted through that ministry and joined the group of new Christians that were beginning to be formed there and Corinth. The Lord appeared to Paul on one occasion during those early months and Corinth when the Jews were expressing hostility or stirring up trouble against him and Lord said to Paul not to be afraid. He had been mistreated in other places even stone and other places of the Lord said don't worry I'm not going to let anything happen to you here. I have many people in the city. So Paul took courage from that carried on his ministry there and Corinth for a year and six months, 18 months time Paul Lefty went to Ephesus while he was in Ephesus the herd of problems that had arisen in the church at Corinth apparently made one trip back there.

That's not recorded for us and asked what he alludes to it in second Corinthians. It would seem.

Also that he wrote a letter to them about those problems which we don't have in our New Testament an extra letter about is just vanished from history and then as we know he wrote.

Second Corinthians again following up on the kind of problems that a development with which he was trying to deal what we have in this first book is Paul's first attempt after having left at city to encourage the church in descendents on the path that it should go by when we read this opening section of the book which was read earlier for our Scripture lesson we find two different things. Describe one hand, we find the church in terms that we ardently wish were true of churches everywhere seems to be a model church that at the same time we begin to read here the beginning and we find further examples of it throughout the letter about church and seems to be a different kind of church back a different church entirely church that is riddled with problems in which in some respects, was a great disgrace when we read about the church of the saints. Our hearts are lifted up when we read about the church of the sinners.

Our hearts are cast down, and we say what hope is there for anyone this first section is interesting. Paul begins at sea does virtually all of his letters, mentioning himself sauce to the zoo on this occasion is with them mentions the group of people to whom he is writing church should Corinth says something about them and then he gives his traditional greeting Grace and peace to you from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

In this context, and in the verses immediately following. He describes what we would call the bright spots in the life of this congregation to show you just a few of them personal all inverse to the Church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, sanctified holy read that you say all errors. What a church should be churches sanctified church is holy worth pointing out that in the Greek language in which Paul was writing. Those are actually the same word in English because of our rich heritage of words from the Germanic languages the one hand and the romantic languages. On the other. We have English words often that are virtual synonyms while they come from those different sources.

This is the case here in English will take that word holy caveats in the Greek and will translated holy in some instances, because from the Germanic languages we have the word holy Heidegger use it in German to describe the Bible when you talk about the holy Bible German.

It's Heidegger shrift so sometimes will take that word translated holy but then other times will take that same word translated St. her sanctified because we have the exact word from the romantic languages in the French language.

For example, you don't call the Bible the holy Bible is the Germans do. Heidegger shrift to call it placenta be using the word St. but it's exactly the same thing. That's what we have in this translation we have that word sanctified used in the first part of the verse we have that word holy is in the second part of the verse, but it's the same thing. Paul is talking about those who are separated under Christ, and who is he says quite clearly in the text are holy and are on their way to holiness. As a result, in his Greek those words which you find in verse two words to be called to be holy or not there Greek actually says sanctified in Christ Jesus and called hi Joy, that's why some of the older translations use the word St. at that point, they say, called saints. That's not bad may well be that that does the best possible translation. I understand why the translators of the new international version of done it the way they have here. The first phrase sanctified in Christ Jesus talks about our separation, which is what it means to be a saint.

So when they come to the second phrase called hi Joy, they're assuming that Paul is not repeating himself saying exactly the same thing called to be holy and called to be holy, separated under Christ separated under Christ to land the words to be a senior separated under Christ. Your call now to go on in terms of what that separation means to become increasingly holy in the context of your life.

As I say I understand why they translated that way but actually it doesn't make any difference because whether you get the idea in the first phrase, or whether you get the idea in the second phrase is perfectly clear that Paul is saying anyone was a follower of Jesus Christ and that includes all of those who call upon the name of Christ, and Corinth have been set apart to Jesus in his service means to be a Christian. Before that, before you became a Christian, you serve yourself you were set apart to your own interests, but when you become a follower of Christ or set apart to him and this is what Paul says was true. These people now in verse five he talks about something else and again we have to give just a little attention to the words he uses all says, for in him that is in Christ been set apart to him you have been enriched in every way, and all your speaking and in all your knowledge.

Other different translations of this and that's because at first word in all your speaking is the Greek word lowboy logo's singular form and the second word knowledge is the word Uno's go nanoscale as it appears here is actually the key words in the New Testament vocabulary now logo awesome word being in a word, or if you make it plural and words and it's quite possible as the translators reflected here that Paul is saying that they were enriched in their ability to speak about spiritual things. We know that what's true of them because later on in this book, where Paul begins to speak about the problem of tongues. There Corinth.

He points out that they were quite eloquent and many of them took pride in their eloquence and that became a problem as well. But whatever it was he said.

You certainly have a great gift of articulating Christian truth translators when they come to that word ogling at that point think that that's what it refers to an end. They contrast that speaking on the one hand with knowledge or understanding. On the other. I don't think that is the best translation you object to it.

It's all right point is perfectly well put, as it appears here. I think that when those two words occur together logo lowboy on the one hand, and get us go knowledge. On the other there is a contrast between pure doctrine on the one hand, and understanding or perception of it. On the other. After remember that that word logo us means far more than word in its fullest New Testament meeting. Use of Jesus Christ. For example, in John's Gospel. He is the logo awesome God he doesn't merely mean he is where God speaks to us the Lexapro but he is the embodiment of all the truth of God at word comes over and English in our words theology and anthropology and so teleology where that word logo losses, coupled with the words for God, man and salvation in every case when the word is used like that. It means the doctrine of God in the doctrine of man in the doctrine of salvation, and so on. I would think, given that full meaning of the word in the New Testament that what Paul is saying here is that these Corinthians were not short in their understanding of spiritual things. They knew the doctrines of the faith. More than that to that's intellectual or abstract knowledge of the doctrine God had at the same time also given them a full measure of understanding of perception where these things were concerned, that is, they didn't merely find themselves in a position where they could quote Christian doctrine off the top of their head like an unbelieving professor. For example, might very well do teaching a class in theology in the secular university. In addition to that intellectual understanding, they really did perceive in a spiritual way what it was all about. So they were able to encourage one another in spiritual things.

As Paul says, they did do later on in the epistle.

So we have that you have. First of all packed. They were separated under Jesus Christ saints participating in his holiness we have here. Secondly, that they were enriched by God in doctrinal knowledge and the perception of what it means now. Thirdly, in verse seven he says that they had spiritual gifts. More than that.

They didn't like any spiritual gifts. The context of this book that is really quite something to say.

The 12 chapter where Paul begins to talk about the spiritual gifts in greater detail. He mentions what some of the more verse eight is the message of wisdom is knowledge is faith. Gifts of healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, the ability to distinguish between spirits, tongues, the interpretation of problems and unless you think that's all very unpractical. At the very end of the chapter he spells out some more apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, gifts of healing, those where the gifts of help. Simply being able to help other people. Gifts of administration and tongues which he spells out again at some length.

It's really quite a list, here is Paul at the very beginning of his letter as he begins to dress himself to these Christian saying yes and among all those other gifts that are yours of God. There are certainly these gifts of the spirit with which God has enriched you and does so to such a degree that you lack nothing that's essential for the health and well-being of your Christian fellowship and finally second half of that same sentence. These are those who eagerly wait for the Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed just contends with where they were looking for Christ's second coming. I suppose in our terms.

Paul would be saying whenever they hold a prophetic conference there and Corinth. You all go because you're very interested in these things in your actually waiting for Jesus Christ to return and establish his role well I read that description of the church at Corinth and I say, I'm sure you say into what you think about what all this means.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to be part of a church like that the church that was separated under Christ holy mature in its knowledge of the doctrines of the faith of their application church which the spiritual gifts were very evident church was eagerly waiting together collectively for the return of Christ.

When the be wonderful to be a part of a church like that is in the church like that a marvelous thing will I dare to say I do belong to a church like that that is a description of the church of Jesus Christ.

This is the same thing. The apostle Paul would say of this congregation. They were writing to us tonight separated under Christ knowledgeable spiritual gifts and waiting for the Lord's return, but now you say we pass from verse nine to verse 10 in verse 10 we begin to discover that hear things that are not quite so good. First of all, the thing with which Paul begins is the fact that there were divisions there that church at Corinth, not just little squabbles, but divisions that had grown and prospered in their pernicious way to such an extent that the entire church church just been sanctified only in given spiritual gifts was actually divided into competing factions. Moreover, these factions said been so bold as to even take the names of the great teachers that God had been pleased to send among them.

So you had people saying well I belong to Paul's party of other people's that I belonged Peter's party and someone else. I belong lipolysis party then there were the sanctified ones that said plague on both your houses. We belong to Jesus Christ. And Paul says it was all very very pernicious and divisive. Basically, the split was between what we see in this period of church history Gentile oriented kind of Christianity in the Jewish oriented type of Christianity.

Peter was known as the apostle to the Jews so those I suppose a Jewish background, or at least of Jewish sympathies said well we stand with Peter. We liked the way he does things. Then there was the Gentile side of things that were represented by Paul in the Paulison, they said, although this is a better way. We want to follow Paul over the course they were divided to because it wasn't just you and Gentile here you have divisions among the Gentile And so you had Paul and had a Paulison Wallace was known as a great order.

People probably liked him because of the way.

Talk so some said well aware of the policy.

Then there was the party that said I follow Christ.

I wish as we look at this we can say that those were the only problems that were but you know as we begin to go on throughout this book, we discover that this church was riddled with serious additional problems as well.

For example, in the fifth and six chapters, we find that there was a great deal of immorality in the church.

One particular problem where a man was having sexual relationships with his stepmother, not wasn't all of it. Paul writes later on about all of the debauchery. Very wordy users. Debauchery was found there in the church and in second Corinthians in the next to the last chapter last verse of that chapter. He still talking about it where he talks of the immorality and the perversion of the debauchery was present there among those who called upon the name of Christ. Chapter 6 of this book talks about lawsuits. There were Christians suing one another within the church very fellowship of the people who call upon the name of Christ. One. Suing another because they couldn't agree on matters concerning property in such things or problems of the Lord's supper wasn't a matter merely of the kind of historical disagreement you had between Luther, the Roman church, Calvinists, and Zwingli, where there was difficulty in differences in understanding and we can understand how they could have differences of understanding about how it Christ was actually present in the Lord's supper that it was the way they observed it date made a big thing other than that I suppose was all right. They had a great feast not just a mere observance of the end of the morning service with a great big fellowship meal that was anything wrong with that, but those who had a lot, came with a lot of those who had nothing came with nothing and those that a lot didn't give to those who had nothing and so some were gorging themselves and others were starving and those were gorging themselves were getting drunk. Imagine getting drunk at the communion service propulsor and so he says that's what was happening was a disgrace so he writes to try and deal with that was disorder in the worship service. Paul talks about that in chapter 12 and 14 and then just so we don't get the idea that there errors only had to do with matters of practice.

When we read the 15th chapter of Paul's great description in defense of the resurrection we discover in the context there that some of them were even denying the resurrection that there is no resurrection of the dead, so they were airing a doctoral matters. All you look at that you say. My goodness on the church. I would want to belong to a church like that, but I'm afraid I have to say that I also belong to a church like that and it's the same church that I mentioned earlier, when I was talking of those who were separated under Christ, and given all spiritual gifts and knowledge and understanding. You see, that's way it is. We are on the way we are called by Christ, but at the same time this or other problems are among us, so experience the same difficulties factions and jealousy, misunderstanding and misuse.

Even of the gifts of God were present in the church at Corinth, you say well then, I suppose that's the way it is that mean that we just accept it. Just go on well know that doesn't necessarily fall and certainly didn't follow for the apostle Paul, the apostle Paul was describing the church very much like the churches in all ages. Some men, but Paul was not writing to them to say go on and the way you're going all right to be separate in price but be sitting at the same time all the all said that doesn't follow God forbid that Christianity should teach anything like that and instead what the apostle Paul writes to do in this letter is to bring those whom God has brought into his kingdom to a fuller measure of devotion to him and a greater experience of the holiness of God is writing about it in this first section where it's talking about divisions and you notice in verse 10. The way he's going to handle this throughout the letter. I appeal to your brothers in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you, and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought that's what he wants you say. How's that happened well he spells it out later in the book spells it out in Philippians and the classical passage where you know we had a similar problem there was an incipient division in that church. Two women were fighting and he knew how that was that would spread so he's writing to deal with that and encourages them to be of one mind is virtually the same phrase he uses here, then, to show them how to do it. He says let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Let that mind be in you be like Jesus Christ. Draw near to him and then these divisions begin to fade away the sin begins to be conquered and the knowledge gives expression to the glorious reality of the fellowship of the people of God. That's what this letter is to do as we study at the Sunday nights together. Let's pray together. God will use these texts to speak to us and leaders increasingly in the way that we should go for Christ sake of the spray. Our father, we thank you for such a practical book, confess that is easier for us to deal with pure doctrine. At least if we don't have to apply it in specific ways. We know that this is what we need and so as we study together. We asked that you speak to us concerning that which displeases you the areas in which we should change that. At the same time, you'd encourage us. As you lift our eyes to see what we already are in Christ Jesus, we might live in a way befitting our stature and calling as the servants of Jesus Christ we pray in his glorious you are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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