Calvary Road Baptist Church

“NO EXCUSES!”

First Corinthians 1.1-9

 

This evening I would like for you to turn in your Bible to First Corinthians chapter one, where we will consider in light of last Sunday night’s message about the great need for God’s grace the great availability of God’s grace. Let’s stand and read verses 1-9:

 

1      Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

2      Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

3      Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 0

4      I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

5      That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

6      Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:

7      So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

8      Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9      God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

I am eager to minister grace to you this evening, because of what this study will do for you individually as Christians, because of what this study will do for our congregation as a body, and because of what this study will do for the cause of Christ in our neighborhoods when a group of Christians begins to available themselves of God’s grace to affect and influence a community for Christ.

As you might have noticed, this introduction of the first of Paul’s large and weighty letters naturally falls into two parts. Verses 1-3 comprise a salutation, and verses 4-9 refer to Paul’s intercessory prayers of thanks to God on behalf of his Corinthian readers. Directing your attention to verses 1, 2 and 3 for just a moment, let me comment on four items of significance: There is the authorship, the addressees, the appointment, and the blessing. In reference to authorship, let me say that in all probability Paul dictated this letter to the man named Sosthenes, who then would be called an amanuensis. That is, Sosthenes was a secretary who was responsible to record Paul’s words as he dictated his letter. Sosthenes we remember being the chief ruler of the Corinthian synagogue, according to Acts 18.17, until his conversion to Christ.[1]

Lest you be concerned about the introduction of error into this two-step process of writing portions of the Bible, regardless of the mechanics that may have been involved the result is that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”[2] Thus, it is the product which is properly said to be inspired of God, not the man or the process.

In reference to addressees, verse 2 suggests a primary and also a secondary addressee. Cognizance of this will greatly affect your personal understanding of Paul’s epistle. Many, many people err in their interpretations of First Corinthians because they ignore to whom the letter was addressed, the Corinthian church as the primary recipient of this letter, but also to a larger circle of readers. Do you see the word “sanctified” in verse 2? Do you also see the word “saints” in that same verse? It should not surprise you to be reminded that both words that refer to this larger group of recipients come from the same Greek root word. Some information about the word will be interesting, I hope, and useful, I know. The Greek word I’m talking about, hagios, originally referred to a concept in Gentile cultic paganism of someone or some thing possessing inherent spiritual or religious qualities that approached god-likeness.[3] The Roman Catholics with their relics and objects that are supposed to have spiritual power of some kind is really a throwback to the paganism of the ancient Greeks. When the term was used by writers of the New Testament such as Peter and Paul, however, the word simply refers to being consecrated to God, with no suggestion of any innate or inherent sacredness, despite what the Roman Catholics may think about the word or the concept. Thus, that which is sanctified, or those who are saints, is not in possession of a quality that makes them spiritually superior. Rather, “holiness” speaks of the person or thing having a relationship with God and being devoted to Him, either by design or by calling. This concept, then, is a far cry from the non-biblical belief that some Christians can become saints while most Christians cannot become saints. If you know Christ as your Savior you are a saint, by position, as well as by practice. As well, the notion that only some Christians are spiritual, while most are carnal, is also unbiblical if you believe Philippians 1.6 and Philippians 2.13.

Enough about the Corinthian church members, and those other Christians who benefit from this letter. In commenting on the appointments, notice two phrases, one in verse 1 and one in verse 2. “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ” and “called to be saints.” Specifically, the words “called to be” are of interest. The words “to be are indicated by the King James translators’ use of italics to not be in the Greek text, but were supplied by the translators as an aid to understanding. The word “called” refers to the summons or beckoning of God. The “to be” was originally supplied to help us, in English, to understand something that is very clear in Greek. Paul was not summoned, by God, to become an apostle. And Christians are not summoned, by God, to become saints. There is no idea of either our or of Paul’s response here. Paul, it must be understood, was an apostle when called. He did not become an apostle. Likewise, when God called me, I was, by divine summons, a saint. I am presently striving by the grace of God to act like what I already am, not to become what I already am.

Christian, God says you are a saint, so if you are not living like a saint you need to begin living like one! If you are a saint you will live like one, approximately and improving with experience.

Now look at verse 3. This is the blessing. “Grace and peace.” The order of these two words is extremely important, since peace can only follow the grace of God. With these Corinthians already saved, Paul isn’t dealing with saving grace and peace with God, such as is referred to in Romans. Here he deals with sustaining grace and the peace of God. If you’ve ever before read First Corinthians then you know that there was everything but peace in the lives of those Corinthian Christians. As a matter of fact, this letter was written to settle serious disputes, solve serious problems, and answer serious questions . . . all affecting the peace of heart and mind that God wanted each of those church members, and every other Christian, to have. But before Paul wrote the body of his letter he shared with his readers his prayer of thanks to God for them. And in sharing that prayer Paul settled a very important issue in their lives, as well as in ours.

Maybe there’s an important issue in your life that isn’t settled yet. Overwhelmed by strife, contentions, petty behavior, an inability to live peaceably with others? Perhaps you are the mom or dad I previously spoke of who desperately needs God’s grace for raising your children, for influencing your grown children, or to be the grandfather or grandmother who ministers grace to your grand kids. Maybe you are not yet a mom or dad, but a temporarily carnal Christian, or you are struggling and valiantly striving with some moral issue in your life. Perhaps you are disrespectful and not submissive. If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, or if you identify with them, you might have a great deal in common with the Corinthians.

Do you folks remember past comments I have made about my memories of life in the military? When I was asked why I did something wrong or didn’t do something right? Do you remember that the only acceptable response when questioned for my foul-ups was “No excuse, Sir”? Well, when you or I fail to live life God’s way, when we have no peace and are not at peace with others, we have a great tendency to excuse ourselves. We generally mutter to ourselves something like “I can’t . . . .” “If he hadn’t . . . .” or “It wasn’t my fault.” What Paul establishes and settles in the life of every believer prone to excuse-making who has the kinds of problems described in this letter is that you and I simply have no legitimate excuses. If you have failed to do the will of God in your life, it’s your responsibility. Why? Because God’s grace to live the Christian life is available.

In First Corinthians 1.4-9, proof is provided that the responsibility for not doing right rests squarely upon your own shoulders because,

#1     Grace is given by God, verses 4-8, and

#2     Grace is guaranteed by God, verse 9.

Let’s look at these two points, beginning with verse 4:

 

“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ.”

 

This verse establishes that God’s grace is provided in the lives of the Corinthians (and every other Christian, besides) was significant part of the apostle’s prayer life (“I thank my God always . . . .”). Therefore,

 

#1, FAILURES AND SHORTCOMINGS IN YOUR CHRISTIAN LIFE ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY BECAUSE GRACE IS GIVEN YOU BY GOD TO DO RIGHT

 

Verse 5 proves that grace was presently available to those Corinthian Christians, and to every other Christian, as well.

 

“That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge.”

 

Therefore, the believer in Jesus Christ cannot excuse herself by insisting, “I just can’t get along with her.” Neither can the child of God claim, “I just couldn't help myself.” By the authority of God’s Word, I declare unto to you that at this very moment in your life, no matter where you are or where you have been, you have available to you grace from on high to serve God and do right. Period. How do you know? Look again at verse 5. In every thing you are enriched by Him. That means grace is presently available to you to do right, to live right, and to be right. I am not suggesting you will not have to work hard to discover and apply the necessary knowledge, wisdom, and skills you will need. I am saying you cannot justify not doing right.

Verse 6 proves that grace was forever available to those Corinthian Christians, and to you, as well.

 

“Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you.”

 

The Greek word translated “confirm” means to “establish” or to “make strong.”[4] A work of grace was begun in your life when you were saved and it continues until this present time. Remember your past failures? Remember your past lost opportunities? Remember your past sins? The fact of the matter is . . . responsibility for all of them is yours. Not your family’s. Not your friends’. Not society’s. Not God’s. The responsibility is entirely yours, because the grace to do right was always available to you, had you but appropriated it.

Verses 7 and 8 show, among other things, that grace will also be available to you in the future.

 

“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.”

 

Don’t plan to fail in the future. Don’t make provision for the flesh, my friend. Don’t justify not implementing the necessary means for success by saying there is no chance of success. God has provided for your spiritual success in the future by guaranteeing that His grace, His divine favor, and His divine enablement will be available for your use. Take advantage of that provision. Therefore, whether you are referring to the present, the past, or to the future . . . grace at any point in time is available to be given to be right and to do right.

 

#2, FAILURES AND SHORTCOMINGS IN YOUR CHRISTIAN LIFE TO DO RIGHT ARE ALSO YOUR RESPONSIBILITY BECAUSE GRACE IS GUARANTEED BY GOD

 

Verse 9: “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”

 

So you see, this guarantee of available grace is backed up by God’s faithfulness. The entire relationship that is established with God through faith in Jesus Christ is by grace, and is a relationship that is also maintained by grace. And why should anyone believe God’s grace will always and ever more be available to the child of God?

 

“God is faithful.”

 

As well, God’s faithfulness is backed up in both First Corinthians 10.13 and Second Timothy 2.13:

 

First Corinthians 10.13: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

 

Second Timothy 2.13: “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

 

We live in a society of blame shifters. Always blaming others, blaming the system, blaming the situation, and blaming the pastor. Blaming something or someone other than ourselves. That’s the way our entire society deals with difficulties and that’s at the root of so many law suits filed by people. Everything is someone else’s fault. Don’t think this type of behavior and rationalization is unusual or peculiar to this modern era. Oh, no. It actually began with Adam and was picked up by Eve. But it isn’t God’s way.

God would have each of us assume responsibility for the way we live, instead of shirking our responsibility. Is this unreasonable? Not at all. After all, He has given us the grace and has then guaranteed the grace that makes it all possible. Before God would show us solutions to our manifold problems He would have us admit, acknowledge, and assume personal responsibility for our problems. If you would say to God and men, “I am responsible. Not people or circumstances. Not illness. Not fatigue. Me.” If you will say those things and mean them, then you are ready to receive God’s grace to solve the problems of your life.

If you are lost and have been brought to that point by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, it’s time you were saved. If you are a Christian who stands at that place in your life, you are ready to deal with the problems and go on for the Lord as you avail yourself of the grace of God for living, as you appropriate God’s grace for your life, as you grab hold of what God has for you for living and serving Him.

What are the means of God’s grace? Initially and primarily, it is the Lord Jesus Christ. John 1.14 reveals that the Lord Jesus Christ is full of grace, while John 1.17 declares that grace came by Jesus Christ. Therefore, you must have Christ as your Savior to have God’s grace. After that, what are the additional means of grace? I will declare some means of grace without taking the time to prove what I declare:

a)   Grace comes as you conscientiously attend to the preaching of God’s Word.

b)   Grace comes as you read, study, and then hide God’s Word in your heart.

c)   Grace comes as you engage in a fervent life of prayer to God.

d)   Grace comes as you give.

e)   Grace comes as you interact with spiritual Christians.



[1] Crispus was chief ruler of the Corinthian synagogue according to Acts 18.8, but was likely removed from that position when he was converted to Christ, replaced by Sosthenes. The synagogue also likely removed Sosthenes from that position when he became a Christian. Thus, the claims of Christ presented by the Apostle Paul were credible and convincing to two successive rulers of the Corinthian synagogue.

[2] 2 Timothy 3.16

[3] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 10-11.

[4] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 386.


Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org