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Live to the Glory of God! (1 Cor. 10)

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"Flee from idolatry," Paul warned the believers in the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 10:14).  Given what Paul says six verses later, we should want to do just what he said--flee from idolatry.  There's more happening then we see when food is sacrificed to idols.  Behind every idol is a demon, Paul cautioned (v. 20-21).  Therefore, the idols the world worships today are associated with demons too.  The idol of self-worship, the idol of doing what is right in his own eyes, the idol of needing to be liked, the sexual idols, the idols of image, the idol of ego, and on and on.  Every time one of these idols is worshiped, the demon behind it is fed and empowered.  

It's no wonder the world looks how it looks. We shouldn't be shocked by what we see in the world. 

We say it’s right to follow our heart in anything we want or do but then we are surprised by where our wicked heart leads us. We’re surprised by the fruit of our worship. But we shouldn't be. 

When we pull all morality out of the sexual arena, we shouldn’t be surprised when we see more rape and sexual abuse.  When we say character doesn’t matter in leadership, we should not be surprised when our elected leaders behave without good character.   When we surround ourselves only with those that like our social media statements and then vilify all who disagree, we shouldn’t be surprised when different races and different cultures can’t get along.  We're empowering the demons that spurt on hate and disunity, both in our society and in our souls. When it's celebrated to place our wants and desires and happiness over that of everyone else, we should not be surprised by all the dead, aborted babies. And when each is right in his or her own eyes, nobody needs to submit to anything higher than him or herself.  When this is the case, we should not be surprised when someone walks into a school or a church or a crowed place and opens fire on everyone else.

But Paul also argued that instead of sacrificing to idols, we are called to be a living sacrifice to God, being transformed and worshiping the Lord (Romans 12:1-2).  To the Corinthians, Paul challenged them to do everything for the glory of God.  That means everything they were to do should serve to make God the object of our worship and love, making God famous.  The same is true of us.

Think about the what the evening news would look like if substantially more people were submitted and committed to live by God’s ways.  That would be a game changer today.  It would change the world as we know it.  

When we flee from idolatry and live to the glory of God, we are empowered by God to change our communities by the power of the gospel.  As ambassadors, we bring hope and truth and light to a dark, hopeless, broken world.  And our world need the light of Jesus.   

In today's sermon, we looked at 1 Corinthians 10 and idolatry verses the impact of living to glorify God.  You can listen to that sermon here. 

For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman

Grit and Spit and a Heap-Load of Faith

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Church planting -- that buzz word found nowhere in the Bible.  But neither do we see existing churches not multiplying in the Bible, except when God is rebuking those churches.  So it's fair to say every church should be striving to make disciples and gather them into a local church.  That local church might be one that exists, or it may need to be a new church.   Church planting is the phrase that equates to making disciples and gathering them into a new church. 

It's hard to make disciples and bring them into a healthy, vibrant, robust existing church that already has all the great stuff that helps believers thrive in the Christian life.  It's even harder to do so in a church-planting context.  I know because I've been in both settings.  

But I'm not alone at Redeeming Life.  Our faithful church members are church planters just as much as our pastors.  From the first night in my living room when we filled ten folding chairs to discuss what it means to make disciples to the faith-family today, we've been in this thing together.  I've watched our core team of disciple-making church planters grow and mature.  I've watched more join the team.  And I've seen the hand of God working in and through the group to advance the Kingdom of the Lord and sow gospel seeds.  

It's not easy.  Disciple-making in Salt Lake takes grit and spit and fortitude and steadfastness and presaveriance and more faith that we think we have.  It takes courage, even on the bad days. 

We have some remarkable missionaries at Redeeming Life.  Some have left their homes and friends to move deep into the West Side communities we are called to reach.  Some have committed to stay right here for the sake of the gospel, even when it's so attractive to go elsewhere.  Some drive long distances.  

This family faithfully gives enormous amounts of their time talent and resources.   They sacrifice to serve.  They strive to love one another.  And they pray their faces off, hoping to see God redeem Salt Lake by the power of his gospel.  

Church planting is hard work, but the Redeeming Life faith family is not afraid of work.  They dig in and get their hands dirty.  They have spiritual and physical callouses, sometimes even blisters for the cause of the gospel.  At times, they are tired, but it's that rewarding tired after a hard day's labor.   

Why do they do it?  Why do they go without the best programs and preaching, the most beautiful church building and the best show on Sunday?  What could make them love minimal men's and women's ministries or the youth group with a small handful of youth?  Why would they love a cash-strapped church that doesn't have the best to offer?  What's in it for them?    

I believe they do it because they love the Lord and want to join Jesus in his mission to seek and save the lost.  They do it because they don't want to live a life wasted.  They do it because they want to follow the Apostle Paul as he followed Christ.  They do it because they love the people of the West Side.  They love Rose Park, Fair Park, Glendale, Foxboro and the surrounding area.  I believe they do it because they want to grow closer to Jesus and this is how he's called them to do just that.  They do it because they are missionary disciple-makers. 

I love my Redeeming Life faith-family.  I am proud of them and love to boast about their faithfulness.  I'm thankful to be among such an excellent band of church-planting disciple-makers!  Thank you Redeeming Life. 

For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan

Run the Race

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In 1 Corinthians 9, beginning at verse 24, the Apostle Paul starts talking sports.  It's probably the closest thing to ESPN you'll find in the Bible.  He asks, rhetorically, if his readers realize that only one runner wins the prize.  Just like the Olympics, they didn't hand out gold-medal participation awards.   The award for the running race is a wreath that will wither and rot.  

Then Paul informs his readers that both he and the reader run a race of great eternal significance.  The man who said "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1), said he runs, and not aimlessly.  He's serious about the race.  He's not boxing the air.  No.  His swings are connecting.  

What's the race?  

The author (or authors) of Hebrews uses a race analogy too.  But it's different than Paul's race.  In Hebrews 12:1, the race is about the faithful Christian life. Undoubtedly Paul is a stupendous example of the faithful Christian life, but Paul is talking about something more specific.  What's the race Paul is getting at? 

The answer becomes abundantly clear when we back up to the preceding paragraph (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).  This is the "I become all things to all people" paragraph.  Notice how many times the word 'win' appears in this paragraph.  Five times!  And the sixth time the word changes from 'win' to 'save.'  Paul is running a race so the Kingdom of God might gain more souls (the Greek word behind 'win' could also be translated as 'gain').  Paul's race is about the gospel, and he runs the race so "that I may share with them in its blessings" (1 Corinthians 9:23). 

I'll be discussing this race and Paul's instructions for how we are to run it.  We'll be in 1 Corinthians 8 & 9 on Sunday.  If you want to get a jump on it, notice what Paul says about giving up his rights and freedoms for the sake of his witness for Christ.  

I hope you'll join us tomorrow.  Come worship with the Redeeming Life faith-family!  

For the Kingdom! 
Pastor Bryan Catherman 

How Do 1 Corinthians 8 & 9 Fit Together?

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What does eating or abstaining from food sacrificed to idols, paying the pastor, and becoming weak for the weak and strong for the strong, and running a race for an imperishable prize have to do with each other?  We'll see on Sunday when we open 1 Corinthians 8 and 9 in our series, "Messy Church: A Journey Through 1 Corinthians."  But in the meantime, here are some things to think about. 

First, do we eat food sacrificed to idols today?  Is this like the little fat-guy statue with pennies on it at my favorite Chinese joint?  Maybe.  Could this be food I eat that's in line with the diet-gods I worship?  Maybe.  As we think about what was happening with the church in Corinth, it's helpful to ask what that means today.  And what might it mean to be a stumbling block?  

Next, should pastors get paid for their spiritual care of the flock?  Some people say now.  Some say yes.  Some suggest something in between.  God's Word has something to say about the topic because God views the call of the pastor important in your spiritual journey (See Ephesians 4). 

What does it mean that Paul would become weak to the weak, strong to the stong, a Jew to the Jews, and a Gentile to the Gentiles?  What does it mean to become all things to all people so some may get saved?  

Finally, when so many of us are content to sit on the spiritual sofa, on our spiritual rear-ends, doing very little spiritually, Paul suggests we should be running a spiritual race for an imperishable prize.   How do we reconcile this with our view of grace and sanctification?  Why are so many unmotivated by the idea of an imperishable prize?  What might the world look like if more Christians started living like Paul, running such a race?  

This sermon will probably have a title that has something to do with running a race or something. Maybe.  I'm not sure yet.  There will likely be another post or two.  We'll see as I work through this text.  In any case, maybe these thoughts will encourage you to read the passage ahead of time and come ready to respond to the Lord.  I hope you'll consider joining us on Sunday as we open God's Word to hear from Him.  We meet at 11am.  See you Sunday! 

For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman  

Blueprints for Marriage and Singleness

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On the heels of Paul's discussion on sexual behavior outside of God's intention, Paul shifts to what's inside God's purpose for marriage.  The Bible contains other places with instructions for husbands and wives, most notably, Ephesians 5.  However, 1 Corinthians 7 offers God's intention for who should be married and who should not, what happens when only one person in a marriage gets saved, the value of singleness for those who have enough sexual discipline for singleness, and when someone should or should not get remarried.    

If Chapter 6 didn't hit you where it hurts, there's a real chance Chapter 7 will.  If not, you're Jesus, or you are not listening.  

What tends to happen with a text like 1 Corinthians 7 is the person who has been divorced ends up feeling guilty and fails to see the hope and salvation of Jesus.  The person who has not been divorced gets severe about thumping against those who have been divorced.  They too fail to see the hope and salvation of Jesus.  And in all of it, two important things are missed in the text. 

The first missed thing is the positive instruction from God for marriage and singleness.  The married person gives his or her body to his or her spouse. (v.s 2-5)  The two should not deprive one another.  Why?  Because they are serving each other and walking in the Christian life together.  The single person is encouraged to remain single (if he or she can) because of the gospel opportunities and to avoid the worldly worries. (See v.s 6-9, 17-28, and 32-38.)  In fact, most of the chapter is speaking to single people but we miss it when we see the chapter more about divorce than God's good plan for our relationships. 

The second thing (or person, actually) we miss when we focus too strictly on divorce is Jesus.  We miss the grace of Jesus for those who have stumbled by engaging in a relationship (or issues from Chapter 6) outside of God's will.  We miss that Jesus knows this world can be challenging, and this text gives us a plan for the relief of our burning temptations.  We see that the context is a present world that's passing away, which should remind us to place our hope not in this world but the next.  

I'll be preaching a sermon from 1 Corinthians 7 with the intention of point us to see Christ in this chapter.  It's the next sermon in our series, "Messy Church: A Journey Through 1 Corinthians." If we leave the building without seeing our need, salvation, and sanctification in Jesus, I'll have failed.  I hope and pray you will join us.  We meet at 11am.  

See you tomorrow! 
Pastor Bryan Catherman     

Lawsuits, Lostness, and the Church

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In our series, "Messy Church," we're going to get slightly out of order and jump to 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, but don't worry, we'll get back to chapter 5 next week.  I'm doing this because chapter 5 and the latter half of chapter 6 share the same theme.  I want to deal with them together.  For this week, we're looking at Paul's charge about Christians taking other Christians to court. 

It's easy to look at 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 as a statement about the lawsuits, but it's much more than that.  The scope of this text, in fact, goes well beyond the courtroom and makes charges against the heart and mind.  It's a statement about how one should view and value the righteous, blood-bought people of the Church over the unsaved, unregenerate, untransformed people of the world.

But be warned: 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 is not about looking down on the people of the world.  Paul reminds his readers that we were once those people too.  Instead, it's about seeing the potential for the people of God to live and dwell in unity.  It's about looking up to see how remarkable God is, that he puts his wisdom in the believers of his Church.  This text is about seeing Christ in your fellow brothers and sisters and what that means for you and your faith-family, and what that says about God.   

When the Church looks so much like the world that we fail to see the righteousness, wisdom, and power of God within the Church, and therefore turn to the world's wisdom or guidance, something has gone disastrously wrong. 

The believers in Corinth were suing one another!  It was as if they completely forgot Matthew 18:15-20.  They devalued the Holy Spirit and the power of the gospel for redemption and reconciliation.  They didn't believe the local church could help bring the gospel to bear on the sins of the individuals so that repentance might be sought.  That says a lot about their view of the gospel and their view of the church.  Sadly, not much has changed.  Too often, our solution is to blame the church, but that's not what Paul does.  He points the finger squarely at each one of us. 

But there's hope! 

Paul pointed out the problem.  He drew a sharp contrast between the people of God and the people of the world.  But notice that his solution is not to complain about the courts or how our society is so litigious.  We should expect that of our unbelieving community.  Instead, Paul reminded the church in Corinth of the power of God. He argued that we must be different than our litigious neighbors.  

1 Corinthians 6:11 says "But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by the Spirit of our God."  If you are a follower of Jesus Christ and have surrender your life to him, this is true of you.  It's also true of your brothers and sisters in Christ.  They are washed, sanctified, and justified in Christ.  The world is not (yet).  If you believe this, are you not better to discuss your issues between those who believe the gospel and have been transformed by it?  Is there not a better way? 

I'll be looking at 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 this Sunday.  I challenge you to read it a few times this week.  Let God's words stir around in our mind.  Let God speak to you from his Word.  And come prepared to worship and respond to God on Sunday.  We meet at 11am. 

For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman

Infants in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1-4:21)

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As we dig into 1 Corinthians 3:1-4:21, we need to remember the Corinthians.  They were enamored with various Bible teachers, even championing them.  The chances are good that these particular believers in Corinth though of themselves as mature in Christ.  So you can probably imagine how they felt when Paul claimed otherwise.  

In the opening verse of 1 Corinthians 3, Paul said he couldn't even address the Corinthians as spiritual people because they were still so fleshy.  He went on to give examples of their spiritual immaturity.   Paul was telling the people to keep growing.  

Lydia, my daughter, just celebrated her third birthday.  She can look back and see that she was once a baby.  We have pictures, evidence.  But it's still difficult to know if she realizes that she will one day be an adult.  I don't believe she can think past the baby doll to imagine that she might be an actual mother someday.  And grandma, forget it about!  She's so immature that she can't see the possibility of maturity.  The same is true of the believer in Christ. 

When a person is born again (notice that even the language Jesus used in John 3 is that of birth and maturation), he or she is a new creation.  A growth process has begun.  The journey includes learning information, gaining experience, making mistakes, and changing.  The change comes as the flesh dies and the person becomes more and more spiritual.  Technically, it's called sanctification, and it takes time plus the power of God. 

Paul's original readers were believers, but they were like babies.  And like babies, they were still feeding on milk.  Milk is suitable for babies, and they needed it.  But they were acting like they were all grown up.  They were like a kid trying to wear mom or dad's shoes and thinking they fit!  Paul wrote to correct them. 

On Sunday, we're going to discuss the journey of the Christian life.  It's a growth process.  Many of us have a long way to go to spiritual grandparenthood.  In Chapter 4, Paul shows us how that might look.  He painted the picture of the baby Corinthians not to guilt or shame them, but to show them that it's a much longer journey they thought.  We probably need to see that reality too.  And we need to hear Paul's message:  "Don't think you're all grown up when you're still breastfeeding and pooping your drawers."  Christianity is much, much more than your salvation. It's sanctification too!  

I pray you'll join us this Sunday at 11 as we open up 1 Corinthians 3:1-4:21.  Also, we'll be celebrating a baptism.  Come worship with us and hear from the Lord. 

See you Sunday! 
Pastor Bryan Catherman 

It's All About the Gospel

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Right on the heels of the apostle Paul arguing that it's not about this Bible teacher or that Bible teacher, Paul says it's the gospel of Jesus that holds the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).   It's not the teachers or the wisdom they have or what they know or what society thinks is best.  It's about the Gospel plus nothing.  

Often, 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16 (which is our focus this week), is used to argue for our methodology for evangelism and apologetics.  There's nothing wrong with that, but it's vital to remember who Paul was appealing to.  He was making this argument to the brothers and sister in Christ, in the church in Corinth.  He was reminding the Christians that it's all about the gospel, not what the world values.  And if they needed to be reminded, we probably do too. 

"The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger them men"  (1 Corinthians 1:25).  

What a statement!  But the above-quoted verse is not saying God is foolish or weak, but that even the lowest things, the things that seem foolish and weak, are far superior to anything humans can say or do.  On top of that, God's ways seem foolish and weak to those too blind to see God.  But God uses those foolish and weak things to shame the 'wise' and 'strong' and proclaim how mighty God is.   

Now, it's likely that as you read 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16, you don't think that you are among those who believe like the world.  You are drawing lines and pointing to "them." But Paul is reminding Christians!  Too often, we slip into believing like 'them' and need to be reminded that, "the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18).  

Paul reminded the believers in the church in Corinth from where they came.  They "were not wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth" (1 Corinthians 1:26).  Paul also reminded him that he came preaching Christ crucified because that's the gospel and the gospel of Jesus alone has the power to save.  

Finally, Paul reminded the believers that it is by the Holy Spirit that we can understand the mind of Christ.  In fact, because of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, we can have the mind or Jesus.  Transformation is not by the most fabulous Bible teachers or the best church programs or the wisest worldly arguments, but by the gospel.  The natural person does not accept this, but remember Christian, when you are in Christ, you have been born again.  Your first birth was the natural one; your second was the spiritual one.  (See 1 Corinthians 2:6-16.)

Therefore believer, do not overlook or forget the Gospel, for it alone brings salvation and sanctification.  

I hope you'll join us this Sunday for worship and the opening of the Word.  

For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman

Who Do I Follow? (1 Corinthians 1:1-17)

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Paul, the apostle who planted the Church in Corinth, had been away in Ephesus for some time, planting another church.  A report from his previous church plant reached his ears.   There was quarreling among them.  To help the Corinthian Christians learn to practice love for one another (and to clear up matters from a previous letter), Paul put quill to parchment and wrote the lengthy letter we call 1 Corinthians.  

We'll be looking at Paul's letter for the next 12 weeks.  On Sunday, I'll focus on 1 Corinthians 1:1-17.  

It's simple enough.  Paul opens with a traditional introduction:  I'm Paul, and I'm writing to the Corinthian Christians.  Oh, and Sosthenes is with me.  You guys remember him, right?  He was the ruler of the synagogue who the Jews beat up after Gallio wouldn't try me in his court.  He's here too!  For those of you who are new to the Church in Corinth, you can read about all that in my friend, Luke's book. It's called Acts.  It's in Chapter 18, which is strange that I say that because the chapters are going to be added much later after we all die.  (This is my lose paraphrase.) 

Then Paul moves to the customary thanksgiving, but he doesn't thank the Corinthians.  Instead he thanks God for Jesus' grace toward the Corinthians, that God will sustain them, and that God called them into fellowship with Jesus Christ.  Clearly, Paul wants to put all the focus on God, but I wonder if there's a part of this that says, It's a miracle God did all this for you jokers!  That's probably me reading into Paul's intentions; then again, it's a miracle God did all this for me! I'm a joker!!!

Once Paul finished up with the formalities, he made his appeal.  Chloe's people tattled on the church in Corinth and Paul was ready to get it corrected.   "By the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," argued Paul, "that all of you agree, and there be no divisions among you, and that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment" (1 Corinthians 1:10). 

It looks like the believers in the church in Corinth were creating clubs around their favorite Bible teachers and leaders.  And then like political parties, they were drawing party lines.  Could you imagine that?  The people formed "tribes" around different opinions and styles?  There was only one church in the city at the time, but they were headed for a split.  

It was not that Apollos, Paul, Peter, and even Jesus were to blame for the problem.  Apollos, Paul, and Peter were servants of Jesus, and on the same team.  And it was not that Paul was arguing against diversity because later in the same letter he shows how God uses our diversity to create one beautiful body of believers.  The danger comes by way of a heart that's more excited about the camp, tribe, or club than the Kingdom of God.  

We have the same problem today, don't we?  Many Christians can tell you more about their favorite speakers, authors, and teachers than they can about the Bible.  Snobbery is not hard to find around denominations, church planting networks, seminaries, conferences, and Bible translations.  We can even find camp-thinking in our clothing, preferred satire websites, and in the podcasts that we choose to listen to.  In some circles, we even choose to have facial hair and wear specific clothing to fit in with our camp.  It's ridiculous, but serious when it draws divisive lines through our heart.  

Redeeming Life, we aren't much different, are we?  Let me ask you some diagnostic questions: 

Are there books by Christian authors that, if you saw them on my shelf, you would secretly judge me for having them? 

Are you shocked or surprised when other Christians haven't heard of the "famous" Christian preachers, authors, and speakers?   

How unique would you feel if you were invited to meet your favorite Christian speaker or author.  How quick would you be sure to get a selfie and post it to make your brothers and sisters in Christ feel a little jealous?  

Do you identify your theological positions by a person's name? 

What if your favorite internet preacher, author, or speaker was speaking at another church at the same time as our services?  Would you find a way to skip fellowshipping with your faith-family to see your hero speak?  

If you feel like you might have a problem, you're not alone.  I find myself struggling with this.  I have my tribes and camps.  Sometimes I get more excited about my club than about the Kingdom.  God has given me the opportunity to study under godly men, but sometimes I get more excited about those teachers than about Jesus, the focus of their teaching.  The human heart loves heroes, tribes, these kinds of things, but it's sinful and can be divisive when these other heroes hold the affections of our heart above Jesus.  And as was the case in Corinth, it can hurt the body of Christ. 

Like the church in Corinth, we are a messy church.  We too have much to learn from Paul's letter to the Corinthians.  I hope you'll join me this Sunday as I preach from 1 Corinthians 1:1-17.  I also hope you'll consider joining us for this entire 12-week series, "Messy Church."  

For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman

A Background for "Messy Church," A 12-week Journey Through 1 Corinthians

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As we ready ourselves for "Messy Church," a 12-week series in 1 Corinthians, it might be helpful to get an introductory background of the church in Corinth as well as Paul's hope for this letter.

In 146 B.C., the Roman army marched through the city of Corinth and leveled it. The residents, mostly Greek, were executed or sold into slavery somewhere in the growing Roman empire. The Roman government ordered that nobody rebuild the city. That was 'old Corinth,' a community with a notorious reputation. The temple of Aphrodite was there. Archeologists have discovered statutes of genitalia offered to the false god, Asclepius with the hope of healing venereal disease.

The location of Corinth was strategic. It was ideally located to control north and south trade routes. Corinth was nearly a coastal city with a large port town of Lechaem only a mile and a half away, and Cenchreae was six miles to the east on the Saronic Gulf. Therefore, in 29 B.C., Julius Ceasar deemed that the city be rebuilt and recolonized with people favorable to the Roman empire. Corinth became the seat of a proconsul and the capital of the senatorial province of Achaia. Both wealthy, affluent Romans and Greeks flocked to the city, as well as those seeking business opportunities, and many retired Roman soldiers. Freed slaves also found Corinth a favorable place to settle. Jews moving there even founded a synagogue. Many new cults moved into the new city, too. It is important not to read "Old Corinth" into the new city; however, according to Carson and Moo, "traditions like that die hard, and as a great port city, Corinth likely did not establish a reputation for moral probity" (An Introduction to the New Testament, 2005, p. 420).

In Acts 18, we read that the Apostle Paul arrived in Corinth most likely between AD 48 and 51. It was during his second missionary journey. As a tentmaker, he quickly connected with other Jewish tentmakers named Priscilla and Aquila. Together, they attended meetings in the synagogue, arguing for the Gospel. In time, Silas and Timothy joined Paul in Corinth. Soon, they had established a gathering of believers in Titius Justus' home and eventually even the ruler of the synagogue, Crispus believed. They had planted a church.

Paul remained in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching and preaching the Word of God. Eventually, Paul departed for Ephesus. In Ephesus, they encountered a man named Apollos who "spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus." Apollos eventually crossed the sea to Archaia, the providence where Corinth was located. He also became a teacher to the Corinthians. And there is good evidence the Peter may have been in Corinth too.

While in Ephesus, Paul learned of some issues in the church in Corinth. He sent them a letter (that's not the one we call 1 Corinthians). This letter had something to do with associating with sexually immoral people. (See 1 Corinthians 5:9). At some point, Paul received another report (or more than one) of more problems at the church in Corinth. He wrote another letter to deal with these issues and clear up misunderstandings from his previous message. This letter is 1 Corinthians.

Between 1 and 2 Corinthians, we get a look at Paul's heart for the Corinthians. He loved them, although he was frustrated with them. He desperately desired that the Corinthian Christians would apply the Gospel to their lives and live in the transformation and sanctification of Jesus Christ.

We also learn that he hoped to join them again, which he did during his third missionary journey. It was during his second season with the Corinthians that he wrote Romans.

The Christians in Corinth were highly influenced by the worldview of their day. Excellent, skilled speakers were their heroes, regardless of the truth they spoke or how it lined up with the gospel. This bled into their practice with Christian teachers. They struggled to see that unity is essential. They wrongly justified why they could live sexual lives that directly opposed God's will. Sexual freedom and new ideas were gods to the people Corinth, and these views were still prevalent in the Church at Corinth. Old lifestyles and thinking die hard when they are not freely given to cross. The immaturity of the church in Corinth could be spotted from space. The city's influence on God's people was great, and this probably kept Paul up at night.

Given the background, you can probably guess why God is leading us to study this book. I'd like to encourage that you start reading through 1 Corinthians. Get a feel for the conversation. See Paul's heart and see the people's immaturity. Allow this book to speak to you and let's allow God to speak to us, as a church, through Paul's letter to the Corinthians.

I'm looking forward to what God might do on this journey. I hope you are too. And in the meantime, check out the simple overview of the entire letter in the short, animated video below.

For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman

 

*I would like to credit D.A. Carson and Douglas Moo's work, An Introduction to the New Testament, Zondervan, 2005 for the majority of information in this post.