Thursday in the Twentieth Week of Ordinary Time

1 Corinthians 1:1-9

God Will Sustain His People to the End

The city of Corinth is well-known to scholars from ancient sources.  Gordon Fee says that it “was at once the New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas of the ancient world” (NICNT, 3).  It sat at the crossroads of East and West, of Asia and Italy, of the Aegean and the Adriatic Seas.  Thus, it was a major commercial city and home to a diverse population of different beliefs, religions, and worldviews, and where sexual immorality and prostitution were widely practiced.  But these were just the kind of cities where Paul was looking to preach the gospel and plant churches, and so he did in Corinth where he stayed a year and a half (Acts 18:1-17). 

But a few years went by after his departure and matters had degenerated—that happens in churches sometimes.  From this letter which Paul wrote to the Corinthians, we learn that they had lots of problems.  But that is actually good for us, for had Paul not written this letter, we would lack apostolic teaching on some important matters that we need to know about, such as, dealing with division in the church, church discipline, lawsuits among the brethren, marriage and celibacy, interacting with a pagan environment, the Lord’s Supper, spiritual gifts, the resurrection, and then some.  As we read in Romans a few days ago, “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction” (15:4), and this is certainly the case here.

We tend to read this letter and feel good about ourselves: “Gee,” we say, “at least our church isn’t that bad!”  Maybe, maybe not—there’s enough sin in all churches to go around.  What I want to highlight here in these first few verses (Paul’s greeting and thanksgiving), is that in spite of all their problems (i.e., sins), the apostle never doubts that they belong to the Lord.  He calls them “sanctified in Christ Jesus,” and says that the grace of God was given to them; that they had been “enriched in speech and knowledge” and were “not lacking in any spiritual gift.”  But far above any of that, Paul told them that God would “sustain [them] to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  And why is that?  Because “God is faithful by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Don’t misunderstand me; Paul is going to spank this church.  He will admonish them out of love with the desire that they repent and return.  But he will do it with the knowledge that this is God’s church and God’s people, and as such she rests on God’s promises and God’s faithfulness.  It is God who sustains his Church to the end—even the Corinthians—even us.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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