The Second in a Series on 1 Corinthians
There is nothing so tragic and gut-wrenching as a church split. Some among us have been through them and almost nothing good comes from them. Even in the case of a “Scottish revival”–the facetious term for the departure of a group of disaffected trouble-makers who cause the very problem they are complaining about–division in the church is still division, as Christ’s spiritual body is torn apart by our sinful behavior. While church splits are probably the worst case scenario, there is another more subtle form of division which is found in Christ’s church (and often within Reformed churches). This is the case of factions. “I follow the teaching of so and so.” “Oh yeah, well I follow the teaching of so and so, and he said that your so and so . . .” It had come to Paul’s attention that several factions had formed in the Corinthian church. Paul regards this as such a serious matter that this is the very first issue he takes up in his letter to the Corinthians.
In the first sermon we devoted most of our time to the historical background needed to understand the “whats” and “whys” of this very important letter. I would encourage you to get a CD or listen to the sermon on-line, because this is one epistle which requires that we understand the historical context in which it was written to interpret it correctly. The similarities between the culture and religious climate of ancient Corinth and that of modern America are really quite striking–and I attempted to draw out some of these similarities in my introductory remarks, and will continue to do so throughout this series. The ancient Corinthians were much like modern Americans, and the issues Paul addresses with the Corinthians are issues facing the church again today. This is a letter with which we should be well familiar.
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