The Church - RR274A1
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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.|
Who shall ascend unto the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place. Ye that hath clean hands and a pure heart. Who has not lifteth his soul unto vanity nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Let us pray. Our Lord and our God we give thanks unto Thee that day by day thou does’t rule and ordain all things in Thy sovereign grace and wisdom. We thank Thee that our times are in Thy hands and that Thou art He who does’t all things well. And so we commit ourselves unto Thee rejoicing in Thy grace, Thy mercy and Thy blessing. Give us hearing ears to hear that which we must hear. Joyful hearts that we may rejoice in Thy providential ways. A contented spirit that in everything we might give thanks. Oh Lord our God work in us that which is pleasing in thy sight. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Our scripture this morning is First Corinthians 1:1-3 and our subject ‘The Church’. Saint Paul identified himself in verse one as Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. The word apostle is very important. It means in the Greek an envoy with powers to represent whoever sent him. In non-Christian use it could mean, as with a senate teacher, one sent by Zeus, so it could mark divine authorization or at least a claim to it. Later on Gnostic teachers used the word to claim that they were the mediators of a divine revelation. Paul identifies himself as an apostle or an envoy of Jesus Christ, or Jesus the Messiah. In First Timothy 6:15 Paul declares Jesus ‘the blessed and only potentate, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords’. Now the Greek word for potentate, meaning king, ruler, sovereign or god, or someone fully empowered by such an authority, is a key word, it is not lightly used and Paul uses it to indicate the divine authority of Jesus Christ. In First Timothy 6:15 it clearly means God, for Jesus Christ to be called King of Kings and Lord of Lords means that He is emperor over all. Paul declares himself to be the imperial envoy of Christ the emperor through the will of God. He then identifies as his aide, Sosthenes, called our brother. [00:04:39]
The only other Sosthenes mentioned in the New Testament...
The only other Sosthenes mentioned in the New Testament is a ruler of the Synagogue at Corinth who was beaten by a mob before the judgment seat according to Acts 18:17. Apparently this is the same Sosthenes. He now works with Paul and his name is here given to remind the Corinthians of their ruler. In verse two we see that the letter is addressed unto the church which is at Corinth. The word translated as church is Ecclesia, the origin of the Greek form of this word is from Eccaleo and it means very definitely ‘those who are called out’. It was the summons to the army, to assemble. It was the call to any kind of assembly by the confident citizens of Appollos or city-state. As an assembled body the Ecclesia could change laws, sit in judgment as a regular court and deal with manners of war, peace and finance. The ecclesia thus meant the governing body for the city-state. This was the essential meaning of ecclesia. The term did have usage to describe the guilds but its basic meaning was the governing body of the city-state. The ecclesia sometimes translated as congregation, is in the New Testament the congregation of God. And in Galatians 1:22 and Romans 16:16 it is ‘the ecclesia in or of Christ’. The church, the ecclesia was a called out people of the cosmic emperor: Jesus Christ whose responsibility it was to apply God’s law and government to a given area. So the church was the advance guard of a people who were to bring everything into submission to Christ. This was to be done by conversion, not by coercion. The church at Corinth had the responsibility to begin the conversion of all the peoples, families, institutions, arts, sciences, agencies, and all things else in Corinth to Jesus Christ. They are the sanctified in Christ Jesus. Set apart for their vocation to serve the Triune God in every way possible. They are therefore called saints. [00:08:41]
At this point we see the difference between our word...
At this point we see the difference between our word and the New Testament word, saints. We think of saints and have for centuries, sadly, someone who pulls apart from the world and everyone maybe as a hermit or a monk, but withdrawn from the world because he is too spiritual. But by the use of these words apostle, church or ecclesia, and saints, what Paul is saying: here is my invasion army, whom I have called out and listed in order to wage war against the powers of darkness and convert all things to me. Paul addresses all that in every place call upon Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours. He’s talking about us as well as the Christians of his time. Paul makes clear that the Corinthians are a part of a great realm by referring to the many saints elsewhere who call upon the name of the Lord. The Corinthian Christians perhaps needed this reminder of the church at large. Corinth was a manufacturing center whose goods reached as far as China, it’s prostitutes were especially numerous, and the morals of Corinth were very low, so that even [unsure about name] , no moralist, referred to Corinthian married women in a derogatory manner, as though virtue were unknown in Corinth. To the Corinthian church Paul declares: “Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Because Paul must soon begin a strong condemnation of the sins of the Corinthian church he is emphatic in pronouncing this benediction on whatever faithfulness there is in Corinth. Paul could have included other men besides Sosthenes in his greeting but he mentioned him alone. Paul wrote the letter but is also from Sosthenes and this is very clearly worthy of note. Paul is about to speak bluntly and emotionally about the problems in the Corinthian church. To have the authority of Sosthenes is thus important. They might say ‘what do you know about us, Paul, you Paul are a stranger, you were here more than a short time but not that long’ but Sosthenes was one of them. To have the authority of Sosthenes is thus important. He had earlier been a ruler in the synagogue and this certainly would have made him a ruler in the church there. For Sosthenes to join himself fully with Paul in the rebuke of the Corinthian church was important. The angry reaction of some led to anger at Paul, but could they disregard Paul’s judgment without considerable offense to Sosthenes and his circle of influence? It was no accident nor meaningless coincidence that Sosthenes name is on this letter. [00:13:46]
He is in effect saying Amen, everything Paul says I...
He is in effect saying Amen, everything Paul says I stand together with him on this matter. On top of that Paul reminds them that he is an apostle, not of a small handful of Christian leaders in Jerusalem, but of Christ the King, the imperial Lord over all Creation. If one believed in Jesus as the Christ as these converts did, then as the Messiah he was not only their savior but also universal Lord and Judge. Later in verses twelve and thirteen Paul condemns limited and fractural loyalties, that is to Paul, Apollos, or to anyone else. Jesus Christ cannot be fractionalized, cannot be divided. It is one faith and one Lord. He is the fully accredited apostle thereof, and he intends to use his authority to restore moral order in Corinth. Paul had not only the lost Corinthians to face in Corinth but friends as well. It was with Priscilla and Aquila, a wealthy couple that he first stayed with in Corinth, Acts 18:1-2 tell us. At Sosthenes then, and it’s clear that despite the antinomian strain of others in Corinth, Paul had some who stood firm. The church could not hope in time to rule the world if it could not rule itself. This is still a problem. It was thus very important for Paul to bring the Corinthians back into obedience to God’s law among other things. In seeing a continuing meaning of ecclesia for ancient Greece and Christianity are we in error? Is it wrong to say that the ecclesia, the church, is to be the governing body of its area. That is exercised dominion in one sphere after another. In our time as we return to the mandate we are beginning with Christian education, homeschooling and a few other things. And we have a mandate to broaden the horizon as we are able to make Christ’s ecclesia the governing body each in its own sphere. Rome did not abolish the Greek ruling councils but retained them; the only change Rome made was in the spelling from Ekk to Ecc. The Christian Ecclesia was thus a body of men summoned out of the world to prepare themselves in Christ, to govern the world by his law. This is the goal of Christ’s church. The ecclesia was the church but it was more than a religious assembly, every local group was a part of a universal realm, the kingdom of God. It was not THE kingdom but an aspect of its life. [00:18:31]
It is called together by God in order to listen to...
It is called together by God in order to listen to or to act for God. The meaning of Ecclesia is that is a body of men called together for action in the name of God and according to His word. The church is thus far more than a lecture hall. It is a training place, for God’s kingdom. But this in mind we can see why Paul is distressed at the church’s sins and shortcomings. As we continue with First Corinthians we shall see that Paul, as he rebukes the church at Corinth also tells us what the church is supposed to be. The governing body of the [unknown], of the realm whereby God’s law is to be given to the people, God’s law put into force, each sphere in its own way, and God’s kingdom made to rule over the nations. Let us pray.
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for the majesty of Thy word. We thank Thee that Thy word speaks to our time and every time. Make of us governors, each in our sphere. Applying thy law-word to every area of thought and life, beginning where we are in our families and with our children, our work, all our activities. We thank Thee for Paul’s plain speaking. Grant that we would by Thy spirit become marching orders for us in the days ahead. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Are there any questions about our lesson? Yes?
[Man speaking] Rush, as you know, there’s a tendency in the modern times to limit the meaning of church to either the building or to the institution or to the denomination, Presbyterian, Roman, Baptist, I assume that you believe that that really undercuts the Biblical idea of church?
[Rushdoony speaks] Yes, it does, we have given it too much, a localized or generalized (with some churches) institutional name, and one restricted to a few things and not to teaching all men, nations, cities, institutions, that they have a mandate from God to govern every sphere of life according to His word. That’s our calling. And of course that’s why I began with Biblical law. And in my subsequent works I’ve been developing on that foundation to bring into focus that the church has to prepare itself, and to prepare men rather, to govern according to God’s law. Conversion, however, not coercion. Any other questions or comments? [00:23:32]
We’re going to see as we continue just with the first...
We’re going to see as we continue just with the first chapter tremendous issues of philosophy that are brought up by Paul. As he strikes at both the Jewish influence and the Greek and Roman influences that were trying to direct the church into Alien paths. In fact one of the, if not THE greatest single statement on First Corinthians the whole chapter comes from Cornelius Van Til who preached on it again and again with amazing power. I’m sure that the Mount Olive Tape Library does have some of those tapes in stock. It’s well worth getting because it’s a remarkable exposition. Any other questions or comments?
Well if not let us conclude with prayer. Our lord and our God it has been good for us to be here. We pray that by Thy spirit Thou woulds’t enable us to hear and comprehend the mandate from Paul. That we might know day by day within increasing urgency that we have been called to show the world how it must govern itself. But the King of Kings requires of us and of all men and institutions and nations. Make us oh Lord faithful servants of Thee and of Thy law-word. 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. [00:26:35]