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The Light Shines In Corinth Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
October 14, 2022 1:00 am

The Light Shines In Corinth Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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October 14, 2022 1:00 am

How do our vocations bring glory to God? In ancient Corinth, Paul and his friends exemplified the Gospel in the work of their hands. In this message, we learn further truths from Corinth about facing opposition to the Gospel. When doctors, lawyers, teachers, and businesspeople live out the Gospel with integrity, the world is turned upside down. 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. While living in Corinth, Paul plied a trade of tent making and taught in the local synagogue. Through his efforts, a church was born, a church that later received two epistles we still read in the New Testament. Stay with us to witness the Gospel's power in ancient Greece. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, the epistles to the Corinthians contain some sublime writing, such as the famous love chapter in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

Dave, you've really opened up an interesting discussion by that comment. 1 Corinthians chapter 13, the great love chapter. But did you know that love today is being misinterpreted? People are using love to justify sin. They don't understand that when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, they didn't stop loving. They just started to love the wrong things.

They became lovers of pleasure, lovers of self, lovers of money. Every time the Church of Jesus Christ begins to compromise with the world, it's always under the banner of love, an unbiblical form of love. Those are the kinds of ideas I discuss in my brand new book entitled No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture.

As a matter of fact, I have an entire chapter that asks, will we compromise with the Christian left? And I show how love, false love, becomes the justification for accepting the lies of this culture. But for now, let's go to the pulpit of Moody Church, where we will hear a message from God's word and be reminded of the fact that herein is love, that you keep my commandments.

That really is love. You'll notice that the Apostle Paul has a revelation from God when he's there in Corinth. Actually, he received six visions, and this is one of them. Verse nine, and the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people. Is that OK with you? God is saying, I don't have merely people in this city who will be mine.

They're already mine. They just haven't believed the gospel yet. We find this throughout the book of Acts, and we find it in the New Testament. Acts chapter 13 verse 48, the Bible says, and as many as were appointed unto eternal life believed. Now, we have a great deal of problems with that, and we need to balance that with the fact that Paul reasoned with them and tried to persuade the Jews that Jesus was the Christ and to persuade the Greeks that he was the savior of the world.

So we balance it out. But the fact is that throughout the New Testament, you always find that when the gospel is preached, God works. And if God isn't working, nothing eternal is going to be accomplished. What God does is he opens the minds and the hearts of people so that they see their sin, so they see their need, so they see that Jesus is the answer to their need and gives them the ability to believe. So salvation is entirely of God. And that's why God could say, I have many people in this city. They haven't believed yet, but they're mine.

They're mine. Let me give you an illustration. When we were on the cruise, we stopped in Philippi. I'd never been to Philippi before, and I was so nicely surprised. You go through the agora or the agora, depending on where you put the emphasis. And it was sort of the center of town. And we know that the apostle Paul was there.

In fact, you can actually see the dungeon where possibly he and Silas were imprisoned. But also you go by the river because it says in Acts 16 that when Paul came there, there was no synagogue. And people went to the river to pray. And that's where there was a woman. And she was a seller of purple. And her name was Lydia. And it says she was a woman whose heart the Lord opened. Isn't that beautiful? And she believed the gospel and she was baptized there. And we went to the river approximately where she was baptized and we had a communion service there.

What a wonderful experience. I'm preaching now to many people right here in the sanctuary of the Moody Church and then of course on the internet because we stream live all over the world. We have people who have tuned in. Eventually this message is going to be on the radio and tens of thousands of people will hear it. But we must understand that there are some people who will hear the gospel and it will just blow past them.

There are other people who are going to pause to listen and to say, you know, there might be something there that I need. And they may not yet belong to God right now, but they will belong to God because God says I already have them as my people. And God will overcome their blindness. He'll show them the beauty of the gospel and they'll come to saving faith. And that's why I have faith in the gospel is because when the gospel is preached, God works. Now another long story, but when the church loses that, what you find is manipulation. Oftentimes what you find is decisionism where you try to get people to simply pray a prayer and think that the prayer itself is going to do it. Even if God hasn't worked in their heart, if we can just get them to pray and that can be an error and that can lead to a kind of shallowness in our understanding of the gospel. So the apostle Paul here, he has a vision and the Lord encourages him and says, hang in Paul because I have many people in this city. There's a third truth that we need to come to grips with and it's maybe the biggie in terms of our future. First of all, a message that transforms a sovereign God who actually saves. And then third, what you have is opposition that purifies, opposition that purifies.

Now I'm going to read the text here. You'll notice it says in verse 12, but when Gallio was pro-counsel of Achaia, the Jews made a united tack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. The Greek word is Bhima. Now when you go to Corinth today, you can actually see the Bhima. I asked the guide, I said, is there any evidence of a synagogue where the apostle Paul preached and where he reasoned? No, there's no evidence of the synagogue. There's a house that was next to the synagogue.

We don't know where that is. Maybe archeologists will still uncover it because a great deal of Corinth has not yet been excavated, but you can go to the Bhima and it even has a sign on it that says Bhima, judgment seat. This is the place where all of the affairs of the city were adjudicated. And so Paul is brought there and they accuse him and say, this man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law. Now Christians have faced opposition to their faith. First of all, an opposition from culture, peer pressure, culture that does not want to hear about Christ or the gospel. Secondly, the church has faced a great deal of opposition also from legal laws, laws that are made to hinder the proclamation of the Christian gospel.

That's another long story. Certainly that is true in many of the countries of the world. And this past week a hate crimes bill was slipped into an appropriations bill in Washington and I understand that it passed.

I didn't have an opportunity to read the wording so I will not comment on it except to say that in other countries it has certainly stifled freedom of speech such as in Canada. I said to a Canadian pastor one day, are you still able to preach Romans chapter one in churches in Canada? And he said, well, it depends who's in the audience and it depends who you are preaching it to or who comes to hear it.

And I could tell you stories about that, but again we must hurry on. Now in this instance, in this instance the apostle Paul got by because when this happened you'll notice that Gallio really defended Paul. It says, Gallio said to the Jews if it were a matter of wrongdoing or a vicious crime then I'd enter into this but because it isn't it's questions about words and doctrine and law see to it yourselves. And he drove them from the tribunal. And then they took Sosthenes who is also one of the rulers of the synagogue and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio he didn't pay any attention to this so basically the apostle Paul got off. He was able to be there.

He stayed many days longer. There was no imprisonment, no serious opposition. But we in America need to think through this business of opposition because we're not used to it. We've always had government policies that kind of favored Christianity or at least supported it or at least didn't work against it. And now we can't count on that as we used to in the past and that's been a long time in coming not just in recent years or months but I think Bonhoeffer was right who himself died at the age of 39 in Flossburg when he was hung. Bonhoeffer said that the church will never be strong unless it sees suffering as a gift and he based that on Philippians chapter 1 verse 29 where it says unto you it is given on behalf of Christ to believe on him.

We love that. Oh I love to believe on Jesus. It's given to me to believe on Jesus. But the rest of the verse is and to suffer for his name. Bonhoeffer says both parts of those verse applies to the church and so we need to see suffering and we need to welcome it as an opportunity to prove God's faithfulness in the midst of a country that needs to hear the gospel so desperately. Whatever you may encounter at work, whatever you may go through because you're an honest person, rejoice Jesus said. And this is where we need a whole mindset that changes our minds because most of the times we complain or we are fearful of what's going to happen, Jesus kept saying rejoice and be exceedingly glad because that's the way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. That is part of our calling and it may be part of our calling as a church collectively it may be part of our calling as individuals also. Not only to believe in Jesus but to suffer for his name.

Suffering purifies the church. 20 years ago I was in China. Makes me old to say that that was 20 years ago. But I remember being with Bishop Ding who was the head of the Three-Self Movement in China. The Three-Self Movement is the official church in China that's recognized by the government.

And we were with him for several days the group that I was with and I'll never forget what he said. He said if you go through the length and breadth of China you will find Christians who believe like you do he said. And then please get this he said persecution wiped out theological liberalism in China.

And I thought thank you very much. What person who denies the virgin birth? What person who denies that Jesus Christ gave himself as a sacrifice for sinners or the person who denies that he's the only way to the father? What person is going to want to die on behalf of Jesus if he believes that?

Nobody. But it's the true church that endured in China. Persecution purifies. Purifies our faith. It purifies our theology.

We finally begin to understand what it is that we really do believe. And Jesus said it's your gift that comes along with the gospel so rejoice. Now let us keep in mind that the church has always struggled with its relationship to the world. And when we were there with the seven churches it was my responsibility. I was with Mark Bailey the president of Dallas Seminary. He took about half of the seven churches and I took the other.

I guess you can't divide seven and a half very well but it can probably be done. But it was my responsibility and privilege to speak at the church at Sardis. Now Sardis the Bible says when Jesus dictated the letter he says you have a name that you're alive but you're dead.

Wow. What a indictment of a church. You have a name that you're alive and are dead and why the church was dead is another separate story. But right next to the pagan temple is a church. I mean right next to it I mean three feet from it is a pagan temple.

And I said to the folks that were there there are two ways we can interpret this. One way is to say that the church said if there's a pagan temple there that's where we want to be. We want to be where there's the most paganism because the pagans are the ones that need to hear the gospel. They put a temple there. We put a church there for the glory of God and the gospel.

That's one way to interpret it. The other way to interpret it is that the church felt comfortable next to the pagan temple. It had so compromised its witness. The relationship of the church and the world has been a struggle for 2,000 years and we still are part of it and will be a part of it till the Lord returns. Now I want to end this message by talking again about Corinth. I told you that there are really three truths we need to hang on to. First of all the message of the gospel, secondly the sovereignty of God, and thirdly that persecution is God's gift to the church.

But actually if you begin to ask the question what makes a church great in a practical way it is the membership. It's the converts and so I want to tell you about one of Paul's converts in Corinth. In 1929 archaeologists uncovered an inscription and the inscription says Erastus, commissioner of public works, laid this pavement at his own expense.

I love it. He wanted to say hey I built this but I paid for it. Who in the world was Erastus anyway? Erastus evidently came to saving faith in Jesus Christ through Paul's ministry in Corinth. He is mentioned three times in the New Testament. Now that your Bibles are open take them and turn to Acts chapter 19. Acts chapter 19 verse 22 and having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers Timothy and Erastus.

There he is. He himself, that is Paul himself, stayed in Asia for a while. Erastus accompanied Paul. Who was Erastus?

Well according to this inscription he was a commissioner. But if you look at the book of Romans and I suppose we can take time to turn to this. You need to actually see this in your own Bibles.

Turn to Romans chapter 16. The Apostle Paul is writing the book of Romans while he's at Corinth and you'll notice in chapter 16 verse 23 he's giving greetings and he says Gaius who is host to me and the whole church greets you. Erastus the city treasurer and our brother Quitarus greet you. Well here he is the city treasurer. Commissioner city treasurer Paul's companion and he's mentioned also in the book of Timothy where he's still alive in Corinth the Apostle Paul said.

Now here's the thing. You know what makes the church great? It is business people who come alongside leaders such as the Apostle Paul and others and who say to themselves God has given me this business. Here's a man Erastus who is commissioner treasurer of Corinth. He travels with Paul I can imagine and we do have here at the Moody Church business people who go on our short-term missionary ventures who are willing to say God has given me this vocation but I'm going to use this vocation for the glory of God. I'm going to learn and I'm going to serve along with if God has blessed me financially I'm going to make sure that the church benefits from that blessing but what we need is doctors and lawyers and teachers and nurses and business people in every kind of vocation like Erastus having a ministry of integrity. Now the church is tempted to compromise and I'm going to be mentioning this because the next sermon is on Ephesus and I'll emphasize that next time but Erastus evidently had a wonderful testimony and God bless him.

Unlike many politicians he says I paid for this myself when he made that sidewalk, that pavement as it's called in the inscription. The history of Moody Church is not the history of its pastors. The history of Moody Church is actually being written by God entirely different than the way in which we see it. The history of Moody Church is you.

That's the history of Moody Church. Your name inscribed not on pavement but in the Lamb's Book of Life, your name on his forehead because you stepped to the plate because you said I will use my vocation in whatever it is with integrity and I'm going to learn and I'm going to accompany and I'm going to be an Erastus for the glory of God. I need to say that it's not necessary for me to have archaeologists to find this inscription in order to believe the Scriptures. There's plenty of reason why we should believe the Bible but every once in a while, isn't it nice, in fact it happens more than once in a while, where an inscription is found that absolutely confirms the Scripture. I could tell you another one in this chapter, you know where it says that Aquila and Priscilla, they came from Rome because there was persecution under Claudius. There's inscriptions that prove that.

The Bible is a real book that deals with real people. It's not just Paul and Silas, it's, God bless him, Erastus who builds the pavement and pays for it with his own money. God bless him, God bless him and God bless you and God bless Moody Church. May it continue with the Gospel till Jesus returns.

Alright, let's do that. I pray today Father that Moody Church will be a light in this city. We pray today earnestly, may it never be used for any other purpose. We pray today Father that the Gospel, no matter what happens in our culture, that the Gospel will be proclaimed here. We pray that its members might be like Erastus who used his vocation and his position in the city to help. We can't do without people who are willing and committed and use their vocations for your glory. Make us a powerful church we pray, a continuing church. In Jesus' name we ask, amen. Well this is Pastor Lutzer and as you might know throughout its continuous history, Moody Church has always been impacting its culture by sharing the good news of the Gospel here in the city of Chicago and ultimately around the world.

And we want to thank the many of you who help us do just that. I've written a book entitled No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture. And certainly we would agree that the culture around us is collapsing. And I didn't write this book in order to reclaim the culture. I think it's too late for that. I wrote this book to reclaim the church, to help us to have the courage to look into this culture, see what's happening, and then pay the price of obedience.

As a matter of fact, the last chapter of this book has to do with a biblical view of suffering. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And when you connect with us, I want to thank you in advance for helping us. Our desire is to continue to share the good Word of God around the world. Go to rtwoffer.com, call us at 1-888-218-9337.

Ask for the book No Reason to Hide. Next time on Running to Win, the Gospel causes major friction with silversmiths who made idols to a pagan goddess. The place was Ephesus, and when Paul came to town, business dropped like a rock and a riot broke out. Plan to join us as the city is transformed. It's no secret that America is in crisis. Pastor's book No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture, will be sent as our gift to you when you give a gift of any amount to support Running to Win. Just call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. Or, write to Running to Win, Moody Church, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-06 07:16:29 / 2022-12-06 07:25:02 / 9

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