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Keeping the Power in the Gospel - Bible Survey Part 5

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
August 21, 2021 7:00 am

Keeping the Power in the Gospel - Bible Survey Part 5

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Now we are in a series entitled a Bible survey, and what you do in a Bible survey is you go through all the books in the Bible and you talk about what each book is about when each book was written and how all the books are interconnected and imparts one, two and three of our series. We've already covered the Old Testament, the four Gospels and the book of accident was my intention to make this a four-part series and imparts for to do all 21 letters in the New Testament and the book of Revelation and when we got there we all agreed that was absurd. You can't possibly do all of that in one message and so we agreed that we were going to elongate the series so that we had time to do justice to all of these letters of the New Testament which really form the foundation and the backbone to our Christian faith. And so that's what were doing. Let's review just a little bit before we pick back up.

Remember we saw that the word epistle simply means a letter and then after the Gospels and the book of acts pretty much the rest of the New Testament is made up of these 21 New Testament epistles or letters, 14 of which were written by the apostle Paul and seven of which were written by other various apostles and we got a chart in your bulletin that lays out the New Testament. In these letters and then also on the back, puts Paul's letters into a chronology in light of the events of his life. And one thing that we also saw is that Paul's letters in the New Testament are not in chronological order. Rather, they are grouped into two sections. Section number one letter to the Romans to the letter to second Thessalonians. These were letters Paul wrote to the churches and then section 2 of that is running basically from first Timothy through the book of Hebrews. These are letters that Paul wrote to individuals and we said you know we could resort them and and we could put them in chronological order, but that would be so confusing for all of us that we say why don't we just take them in the order the New Testament has been so that's what were doing and the last time that we were together.

We started by covering the book of Romans and what we saw is that in Romans as in every other church letter Paul follows the very same pattern and that is in the beginning of the letter, he covers theological issues and in the end of the letter P addresses more Christian living every day Christian life issues and as I said, we covered Romans last time we have an enhanced CD for you out in our lobby is that all of our campuses. What we mean by an enhanced CD is that not only is the audio available, but also we have all of the notes. All of the PowerPoint. All of the maps on and on. A word doc so you got all the information and and the reason were doing this is because I don't want you to sit in here and try to take notes. You will be able to get can't keep up. Just listen and absorb what were saying and every week will have the previous week or you in an enhanced CD were you can put on your computer or whatever and you can really study it at your leisure. Everybody with me by Wednesday good okay so you go out there and get those.

Or you can go online free and get that same material but today were ready to launch into our next letter and that is the letter of first Corinthians, so are we ready ready are here we go. Paul came to Corinth in between 50 and 51 A.D. were not positive.

The exact year directly after being in the city of Athens and enacts chapter 18 we learn what went on in Corinth, Paul let a bunch of people to Christ.

He established the church and then he stayed at that church in Corinth for 18 months discipling the young believers that he had led to Christ on the city of Corinth occupied a hugely strategic geographical location in the ancient world. Let me show you a map. It sat on a 4 mile isthmus that connected mainland Greece were Athens was to the Peloponnesus where sports laws and we need to understand that the journey around the southern part of Greece was extremely hazardous and so what sailors would do instead is they would come to this 4 mile isthmus and they would transport their ship and their cargo across this isthmus so they didn't have to sail around the southern part of Greece.

Not today.

There is a canal that exists through this 4 mile isthmus.

It was completed in 1893 and it still in use. Active use today. But, of course, at the time of the apostle Paul. There was no canal and so at the time up all the sailors used two different methods to get their goods across this isthmus number one if they had a big ship what they would do is unload all the cargo on one side of the isthmus transported on land to the other side and then loaded onto a different ship docked and waiting on the other side. Now method number two is if it was a little ship they took the whole ship out of the water, moved to Overland and then re-floated it on the other side, and away it went not because of all of this commercial traffic and all of this trade and all of these people and money going to Corinth at the time of the apostle Paul Corinth had become the chief city in the nation of Greece not Athens, not Sparta, Corinth. It had a population of about 700,000 people, and it was renowned for its sexual immorality and its debauchery.

As you can imagine with people coming from all over the world with every kind of moral background in and out of this town. It became quite a cesspool of immoral behavior, and was renowned for that. Okay so that's the city of Corinth. Let's take a look now at the letter. The first letter that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth in 53 A.D. the apostle Paul left Corinth after 18 months there discipling the believers and he returned home to the city of Antioch where that was his home church. He stayed there about a year and then he left again on his third missionary journey which took him to Ephesus in Turkey, modern-day Turkey, and Paul spent two years in the city of Ephesus discipling the new believers that he led to Christ there and it's while he was in Ephesus that he began to hear about some trouble that was going on in court. Sin, disobedience to God. Deep problems. First Corinthians 1.

Verse 11 says Paul writes the Corinthians, and says, for I have been informed of concerning you by close ways people stop for a moment close way was a lady who apparently lived in Corinth was a believer and her people apparently traveling to Ephesus had told Paul about the troubles and the bad things that were going on in Corinth and so Paul decided to write them about these things. More than that. The Corinthians, themselves, had actually written to Paul asking him about certain Christian life issues. We know this because Paul says in first Corinthians 71 now concerning the things about which you wrote me and then he goes on to talk about a variety of Christian life issues and so first Corinthians really has to separate parts. Part number one chapters 1 through six is where Paul confronts the Corinthians about the sin that is going on there in their church that close ways people told them about. Remember they didn't write and tell Paul about what's in chapters 1 to 6.

They wanted to know about that, but then part two chapter 7 to 16 Paul addresses the issues about which they did write him for in this letter that they sent him saying you Paul got this question, we got that question about it with me yes are good and as we read first Corinthians we discover that Paul addresses eight on of spiritual issues.

Because this church had a time of spiritual problems. Let me tell you what some of them are in chapters 1 through four, Paul addresses divisions and disunity and backbiting and gossip that's going on inside the church family there that he heard about from close ways people in chapter 5, Paul addresses grossly immoral behavior going on in the church that the church had not dealt with that he heard about from close ways people in chapter 6 Paul addresses believers suing other believers in secular courts that he heard about from close ways people in chapter 6. Paul also addresses on biblical teaching about sex that was being taught in the church and practice in the church of Corinth that he heard about from who close ways people write then in chapter 7 Paul talks to them about confusion. They had over marriage and divorce. He also in chapters 8 to 10 talks about how to correctly handle our freedom in Christ because the Corinthians were incorrectly handling it in chapters 11 to 14, Paul talks about the role of women in the celebration of the Lord's supper and the practice of spiritual gifts, especially charismatic gifts speaking in tongues, etc., in chapter 15 he talks about heresy that was being taught in Corinth about the resurrection, and finally in chapter 16 he talks about confusion that was going on in Corinth regarding financial giving to the Lord, you say while Juan this church must've been in a mass well. It was a mess by by far the Corinthian church ended up becoming the most carnal and sinful church that the apostle Paul ever established and you have people come up to you sometime and they'll say hey you know what we need to go back and we need today to be like the early church will make sure you ask him which one because if they want to go back and be like the church at Corinth. You don't want to go there know this church was an absolute mess. Alright, so that gives enough background that when you go and read the book you know what's going on but we want to stop now and we want to ask our most important question you know what that is right okay and you. You've missed this. Yes okay you been pining for this. Yes okay I know it's all you guys allowed and everybody Prince William and Bethesda and on our Internet campus in here Tyson's here we go. Are you ready nice and loud it would go want to cure feels good on his me a warm feeling to you Ceylon. So what.

Well friends there.

The so what today is that there's no way we can cover everything in the book of first Corinthians and what the time we have left so I want to do is just pick one vital spiritual truth that Paul went over in this letter and will talk about it all right that's the best we can do today and and the truth that I want us to talk about comes out of first Corinthians chapter 2, but I have to give you a tiny bit of background. In order for us to be able to understand what's going on.

If you remember we said earlier that Paul came to Corinth directly from the city of Athens will show you a map. It's not a very far journey at all. Athens was home at this time to the greatest philosophical minds in the world.

They met and they debated at a place called Morrisville which is a little hill right below the Parthenon and they would meet here all day. It's called the Areopagus in Greek Mars Hill in Latin and they would debate philosophical issues intellectual issues and one day they met the apostle Paul asked. Chapter 17 tells us about this in Athens and they invited him to come to Morrisville and to address all of these philosophers and so imagine now suddenly Paul finds himself in front of the most brilliant minds and all the world with an open invitation to talk to them about Jesus Christ. Amazing, and he launches into his sermon. Now I just want to say before we look at this sermon were not will look a part of it that many commentators believe this is the greatest sermon. Paul ever preached in the New Testament, I respectfully disagree.

I actually believe it's the worst sermon that he ever preached in the New Testament and I want us to look at it and then I want to try to tell you why I believe that our rights over here we go here's Paul's sermon in front of these intellectuals on Mars Hill at 17 verse 22. Men of Athens. Paul says I observed that you're very religious and while I was examining the objects of your worship here in town. I found an altar inscribed the to an unknown God. This is the God that I proclaim to you, as the Lord of heaven and earth. He made the world and all things in it and he does not live in temples made with hands, for in him we all live and move and have our being. Even as one of your own poets have said, for we are his offspring and having overlooked. Our times of ignorance God now declares two people everywhere that they must repent because he has fixed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man he has appointed, having given proof of this to all men by raising him up from the dead. Now at this point the philosophers booting off the stage and his message was over verse 34 but a few men joined Paul and believed, along with a woman named Demarest next verse, and after these things. Paul left Athens and went to court not here's what I want you to see friends every other place. The apostle Paul preached large numbers of people came to Christ, but not in Athens every other place. The apostle Paul preached he left behind a church but not in Athens. In fact, as far as we know Athens is the only place Paul ever ministered where he failed to establish the church. We have no mention of the church of Athens in any of the writings of any of the church fathers. Apparently there was no church here. And the point that I'm trying to make is that I believe something went drastically wrong in Athens and the question is what was it, and we don't have to fish around for the answer, because in first Corinthians chapter 2 where were now going Paul tells us the answer.

What was wrong.

Listen to what he says to the Corinthians.

He says first Corinthians to one. When I came to you in Corinth and where did he come from directly from where from Athens right I did not come to you with eloquence of speech or high sounding wisdom, for I resolved to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified my message. He says and my preaching in Corinth were not in persuasive words of human wisdom but were with the Holy Spirit's power so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom but on the power of God not listen to me.

The apostle Paul is not stressing this point, the apostle Paul is not saying these things for no reason he's reacting to a serious mistake that he feels he made in Athens. Look what he says. He says to the Corinthians. I did not come to you with eloquence of speech or high sounding wisdom like I tried to use in Athens.

I did not use persuasive words of human wisdom. Like I try to use in Athens. Instead, Paul says I resolved to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified, which is not what I base my sermon on in Athens you guys with me. You see what I'm talking about. Yeah, listen, if you compare Paul's message on Mars Hill in Athens to every other sermon that he preached in the Bible and the New Testament it is radically different from all the rest of and let me tell you how it's different. Would you notice that on Mars Hill Paul never mentioned the holiness of God. He never mentioned the sinfulness of man. He never mentioned the reality of hell. He never mentioned the inability of man to save himself. He never mentioned the virgin birth. He never mentioned the deity of Christ. He never mentioned the sinless life of Christ. He never mentioned Jesus's death on the cross, he never mentioned Jesus his shed blood as the one and only payment for sin that God accepts.

He never mentioned that Jesus was the one and only exclusive way to get to heaven and he barely mentioned the resurrection at the end when they booted him off the stage now. Why was this will, I believe the Paul left these elements out in order to try and repackage the gospel for these Athenian philosophers to make it more intellectual to them to make it less offensive to them to make it more relevant to them.

But what Paul learned in trying to do this is that there is a limit beyond which we cannot go in doing this without robbing the gospel of its power as indicated by the very meager results that he had there in Athens spiritually and this is why he said to the Corinthians 1st Corinthians 2 from now on I am resolved to know nothing and to preach nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified.

I'm not going to try to schmaltz it up with intellectualism. I'm not going to try to schmaltz it up with philosophy. I'm just going to preach Jesus and him crucified. You guys got me detracting with me okay now I think for us is the church of Christ today, and for you and me is individual followers of Christ today. This is a message that we desperately need to hear. Look folks, there is nothing wrong with trying to make the gospel relevant to people.

In fact, one of our core values as the church is that the gospel needs to be shared with people in a relevant way. Were all for that but we must not eviscerate the gospel.

We must not cut the heart out of the gospel in an attempt to do this and what is the heart of the gospel. Let me remind you the heart of the gospel is the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man and the reality of hell in the inability of man to save himself and the virgin birth and the deity of Christ and Christ's sinless life and his death on the cross and his shed blood as the only payment for sin. God will accept and his plan of salvation as the exclusive way that people get to heaven, and the resurrection as the supreme proof that all of this is true.

This is the heart of the gospel.

A man and you know many times. Today we are tempted to omit parts of this were tempted to omit using the word sin were tempted to omit talking to people about hell were tempted to omit mentioning the blood of Christ were tempted to omit saying that Jesus is the one and only way to get to heaven because we know that these are the very issues that offend the people, but friends the true message of the cross that we are sinners in the side of a holy God that we are powerless to save ourselves, and that only by repenting and humbling ourselves and relying on the shed blood of Jesus. Only by doing that. Can we get to heaven. No matter how we repackage these truths. They are going to offend people. This is why Paul talked in Galatians chapter 5 verse 11 about the offense of the cross. What Paul learned in Athens is that we cannot remove the offense of the cross without destroying the power of the cross.

Now repeat that we cannot remove the offense of the cross without destroying the power of the cross. Now don't get me wrong I'm not talking about us being offensive. I mean if we are offensive in the way we present Christ to people that's a different matter. Were not talking about that we are saying that in the message of the cross. There is an offense to people's flesh. There is an offense to people's pride. There is an offense to people self-reliance that cannot be removed without removing the message and the power of the cross itself and let me just say this if you're here today in your born-again regenerated save from Helen on your way to heaven. Believer in Jesus, I guarantee you, you didn't get to where you are today by somebody presenting to you a repackaged gospel that left out the offense of the cross. That's not how you got here a man so friends why the world would we present that to somebody else they didn't get you to where you are today want a world which offered to somebody else. So let me conclude and say this look when it comes to sharing Christ with people, of course, we want to be loving. Of course we want to be sensitive. Of course we want to be gentle. Of course we want to be relevant and we want to be respectful of course we do.

But above all else, we want to be straight up in telling people the true gospel. Can I get a man of who we are. Something for that are sent along when you tell people the true gospel and you put all these pieces in it that you're talking about people think you're got me and it will make you look foolish. It makes you look uneducated people accuse you, being intolerant people accuse you of being judgmental.

You know they think you're an idiot. Well, hey, people considered Paul a fool for Christ even said that he said first Corinthians 410 for we are considered fools for Christ sake. So if somebody considers you a fool for telling them the true gospel at least are in good company, and let me tell you why there's a reason why people think this about us when we give them the true message. Paul said first Corinthians 118 for the message of the cross is what's the next word foolishness to those who are perishing friends to people who are spiritually blind and their spiritually dead in their spiritually dark they think the gospel is foolishness and they're going to think you're a fool for talented tool but the verse says to those of us who are being saved Christ to save this and open our eyes and we see it is the power of God. You know what it's okay if somebody considers you and me. The right reason and if the right reason is were telling them the true gospel that that's okay.

It's not the gospel's fault. The problem doesn't lie with the gospel. The problem lies with the heart of the person you're talking with you and Sammy. We pray for their heart that to come to the light, but don't get intimidated you're not foolish in your message is not foolish.

The people who are listening to or be in foolish you with me all right what's our memory verse we been saying it, but it fits here. Say it with me, for I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Gentiles. My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Listen to me. The on eviscerated gospel.

The on compromised gospel. This is where the power of God resides the power to save people's souls the power to change people's lives. So I say to you is my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Let's worry a lot more about giving out the true message of the cross faithfully and honestly and authentically and let's worry a lot less about what people think of a man, a man and we got some resources to help you at all of our campuses. We have a CD out in your lobby entitled how to have a new life. It's all about the story of Nicodemus, and it's all about the true message of the cross.

Take as many as you can use and give them to people and say hey this CD will tell you how to know for sure you're going to heaven. That's important when you like to know that here and we also have my life story which includes the gospel message.

Now we have it in English we have it in Spanish. We have it in Mandarin, all of which are in our lobbies and were in the process of translating it into Filipino into Arabic into Vietnamese inter-Korean, so no matter who you may, you got one for me. Take a minute to flip through them. But you got one for RI and the Kerem in your car, keep them in your desk at work. Put them in your purse, and I have these things ready to share with people the true message of the cross is the power of God. Let's not eviscerated. Let's not compromise it. Let's not take the heart out of it. Let's give it out the way it is and you know what if somebody thinks you're a fool. What better thing could you and I be called in schools for Christ. Amen.


Are the spreading of heavenly father, thank you for speaking to us today from your word and inspire us. I pray to rejoice in the notion that we could be called fools for Christ, Lord Jesus. If it were foolish. It's only because the people that were sharing with our dark in their heart they don't understand the beauty in the light of the gospel.

So we pray for them and ask you for all of these people that we love and care about open their hearts and their eyes by the power of your spirit, so they see, and suddenly they realize that instead of being fools that were wise people for having share Christ with God sent us out into our city to be emissaries and ambassadors for Jesus and if we are thought to be full for Christ. Help us be proud of that. We pray these things in Jesus name. What are God's people say what you say man

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