The Church - Gods Property - RR274A2a
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|This transcript is unedited. It was:|
|Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library|
|Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules|
|Posted by with permission.|
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord and to sing praises unto Thy name, Oh Most High. To show forth Thy loving kindness in the morning and Thy faithfulness every night. Let us pray.
Oh Lord our God we give thanks unto Thee that Thou art on the throne of glory are mindful of us. That nothing is too great or too small for Thee. That the very hairs of our head are numbered and so our Father we commit ourselves unto Thy omnipotent hands. Protect and defend us, bless and empower us, give us grace and strength to do those things which Thou woulds’t have us to do and to abstain from what Thou hast forbidden. Teach us by Thy word and by Thy Spirit those things we need to know and strengthen us for Thy kingdom. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Our scripture this morning is First Corinthians 1:4-17. First Corinthians 1: 4-17. And our subject is the ‘Church, God’s Property’.
“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”
Our text has two concerns. First in verses four through nine Paul begins with a thanksgiving. Although routinely subjected to severe trials Paul almost always takes time in his letters to give thanks. The sharpest of critics, Paul is also the quickest to be thankful and to give thanks. Then second in verses ten through seventeen Paul confronts the fact of divisions, of schisms in the Corinthian church. Paul’s thanksgiving in verses four through nine is by no means formal. A great many people will say thank you because they’re well brought up, they know that they should on occasion say thank you, which is good and proper. But Paul is different. He gives thanks with intensity, with conviction, just as he thinks plainly the same way. He makes no bones about something being wrong in those that he criticizes. [00:06:13]
Paul knew full well what kind of city Corinth was...
Paul knew full well what kind of city Corinth was. Even in the corrupt Roman Empire Corinth had a reputation. It was corrupt, it was immoral, it was arrogant, it was a great center of trade and prostitution whose people had a reputation for low morals and a ready contempt for others. In First Corinthians 2:3 Paul says he went Corinth in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. With good reason! Here were a people who were ruthless in what they had to say about others. It was a searing experience, and so Paul despite the problems he will shortly deal with, is still grateful that by the grace of God he had a hearing from them. And he thanks God for the grace given to these Corinthians by Jesus Christ. God had enriched them in all utterance and in all knowledge, whatever they had, whatever they had been outside of Christ, now the witness of Christ’s life and salvation is confirmed in them. They are thus in no way behind Christians elsewhere in waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This statement in verse seven is very important for us to understand because most people as they read it, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, think of the second coming. But the word in the Greek is apokalupsis. Our word apocalypse is taken from the Greek word here used. Now the word apokalupsis can refer to the second coming and in our thinking nowadays it certainly does. It’s about the only thing it does refer to. But it is normally translated from the Greek as revelation. Commentators are too ready to refer too many texts to the second coming and in most cases they mean his revelation. Were the early Christians waiting for the second coming at any moment or were they were waiting for special revelation of Christ in his power and judgment? [00:09:42]
Now given the fact of Matthew twenty four and our Lord...
Now given the fact of Matthew twenty four and our Lord’s prediction of the fall of the temple and Jerusalem this expectation is the more likely one. Most of the converts in city after city were Jews. They all knew that our Lord had said Jerusalem was to be destroyed. Judea was to be subjected to a vast devastation. Now they would be of two minds about this, this was their homeland, their friends and relatives were there, it meant their destruction. And yet this was the city that crucified Jesus Christ and persecuted Christians. So this was a matter of intense concern to Jews everywhere who were converts. Then in verse eight Paul declares that the Lord will also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. the Greek word translated as confirm means to make steadfast, preserve from falling. Since the second coming is an instantaneous event no man needs to be made steadfast and from falling as it occurs. So obviously it refers to our Lord’s prediction about the fall of Jerusalem. To endure, knowing of the horrors of the Jewish-Roman War of 66 to 70 A.D. did require grace and God’s mercy. To assume a reference to the second coming simply warps the whole text here. The Corinthians will stand Paul says because God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. At this distance it is hard to appreciate the horror felt by Jewish Christians at the destruction of Judea and the mass murders of the captured Jews. The horror of that event echoed down centuries. [00:12:46]
Then Paul turns to the divisions in the church...
Then Paul turns to the divisions in the church. He appeals them to live in unity and to end their divisions, to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment according to verse ten. Perfectly meaning maturely joined together. Paul’s knowledge of their disunity comes from Chloe’s household. She sees apparently what is happening and as a prominent and wealthy member she reports it to Paul. The divisions may have been into four groups, a party favoring Paul, another Apollos, a third Cephas or Peter and possibly a fourth claiming to be of Christ. These divisions come to force their intentions on all by Paul’s insistence on the issue of the church. Whose property is the church? Does it belong to Paul or Cephas or Apollos or any other man? Or does it belong to the triune God. Is the church a human institution or is it not rather God’s embassy to earth? His means of reclaiming what is rightfully his. We find in the New Testament and especially out of it a reference to the apostles as ambassadors. Paul also speaks of himself, they were ambassadors and the church was God’s embassy, Christ’s embassy upon earth. Our word ‘perish’ comes from the word used for the embassy, [unknown], meaning a place with extra territorial powers, this is why the church would not allow itself to be taxed. They had extra territorial rights as an embassy for the kingdom of God. Christ cannot be divided nor can he be reduced to our level, the church is not man’s property, it was not Paul nor Apollos nor Peter who was crucified for them nor were they baptized into the name of Paul or anyone other than Jesus Christ. [00:15:58]
By their baptism into his name the baptized became...
By their baptism into his name the baptized became members of Christ’s new human race, for he is the last Adam as First Corinthian 15:45-50 tells us. No one can say that Paul baptized anyone into his name. That he only baptized two men, Crispus and Gaius, and also the household of Stephenus. Paul recalls no other baptism made by himself. Paul’s commission was to preach the Gospel, he insists. Essentially his preaching was not with wisdom of words lest the cross of Christ be made of none effect. The meaning of that will be clear in our text next week. In Hodge’s words he says he did not come to preach the teachings of human reason but the testimony of God. He was among them in the character not of a philosopher but of a witness. Preaching must be intelligent but not rationalistic. It does not present ideas to appeal to man’s logic but revelation events. Except for God’s work in history it is preaching, not our intonation. Paul’s coin is to preach the gospel, this preaching is a command word. The message is not an act of argumentation but of grace and mercy towards the hearers. [00:18:18]
Preaching in terms of God’s mandate is not a discussion...
Preaching in terms of God’s mandate is not a discussion on ideas but an announcement of God’s truth. Lest Paul declares himself then an envoy of Jesus Christ, the God-Man, with a mandate from God he is an apostle, he speaks to the church, the ecclesia of Christ, to those who were called to establish God’s kingdom on earth by conversion not coercion. There are two plans of salvation basically, one by coercion through statist power or by conversion through the regenerating power of Jesus Christ. Because Christ is the King over all kings and Lord over all lords he sends a command-word to men and nations through Paul his ambassador. Men must remember that the church is the Lords, not theirs. And they must act accordingly. The church is God’s property, not mans. Let us pray.
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee that thou hast made us Thy own. Make us ever mindful that we are in our churches are Thine. To be commanded by Thy word and not by men. To serve Thee and to magnify Thee and to work for the glory and extension of Thy kingdom. Teach us to submit ourselves unto Thee and to one another in Thee. Make us strong by Thy spirit and ever faithful to Thy word. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen. [00:20:56]
Are there any questions about our lesson?...
Are there any questions about our lesson?
[Rushdoony speaks] As we shall see in our studies of other parts of this letter and especially the latter part of this chapter, Paul stresses that his argumentation is not by reason or philosophy or anything other than a proclamation. This is a very important point for Paul because Paul as an apostle of Jesus Christ, a special messenger, is there to proclaim the command word of God. And a command-word does not say ‘think about it and if you like it, agree with what you can agree with’. It’s your option, no! A command-word says hear and obey or in due time the King’s judgment will fall upon you. This is why Paul is so careful with his choice of words. In instance after instance he carefully selects a word that was set forth the uniqueness of the gospel, of Christian faith. It is a command-word from the King. Now that tells us something more. When we are commanded we don’t pick and choose what we are going to do, just as a child if told ‘help me pick up the dishes and take out the garbage’ cannot say ‘I don’t want to take out garbage or pick up the dishes’ then no more than we have that option. The whole word of God is a command-word. So whether it talks about our salvation or God’s predestination we are hear and obey. It is from beginning to end a command-word, yes?
[Question] Is verse ten a warning if taken literally, a warning against multiple denominations in Christianity?
[Rushdoony] What was that again?
[Question] Is verse ten, if taken literally, a warning against multiple denominations in Christianity?
[Rushdoony] In a sense it could be that. However many of the denominations were formed in protest against heresy so we cannot say that the fact of multiple denominations in and of itself falls under the condemnation of Paul. Many a church has been founded because apparent church no longer was Christian or was only marginally so. And so the people had to leave in order to establish the true faith. So the division here was one in which all the sides were at fault and we’ll see some of the faults that Paul delineates in subsequent chapters of Corinthians. So while divisions can be faulty, very faulty at times, at other times they can be thoroughly righteous, necessary. I think one of the strangest divisions in this country took place in the early part of the last century when a very particular group of Baptists known as Two Seeds in the Pod Baptists split. I’ve forgotten what it was about now but the whole struggle was a bit farfetched. Any other questions or comments? [00:26:41]
Well if not let us conclude with prayer...
Well if not let us conclude with prayer. Our father it has been good for us to be here for Thy word is truth, Thy word is a light, Thy word is a joy and a glorious promise and deliverance. Make us joyful in Thy word by Thy spirit, that all the days of our lives we may grow in grace and knowledge of Thee and our faithfulness in Thy service. And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.