I Corinthians 1:4-9

Steve Viars June 1, 1991 1 Corinthians 9:4-9

- In his new book entitled "Our Sufficiency In Christ", John
  MacArthur tells a true story of two brothers named Homer
  and Langley Collyer
- The Collyers father was a respected New York doctor- both
  brothers had earned college degrees -in fact Homer
  had studied at Columbia to be an attorney
- when Dr. Collyer died at the beginning of this century, his
  sons inherited the family home and estate
- the two men, both batchelors, were now financially secure
- but the boys chose a rather peculiar lifestyle
- they boarded up the windows and padlocked the doors
- all their utilities, including water, was shut off
- though the Collyer family had been very prominent, almost
  no one in New York society remembered Homer and Langley
  Collyer by the time World War II ended
- On March 21, 1947, police received an anonymous telephone
  tip that a man had died inside the boarded-up house
- unable to force their way through the front door, they
  entered the house through a second story window
- Inside, they found Homer Collyer's corpse on a bed
- He had died clutching the February 22, 1920 issue of the
  Jewish Morning Journal, though he had been totally blind
  for years
- the house itself was equally grotesque
- it seems the brothers were collectors - who especially
  liked to collect junk, broken machinery, auto parts, boxes,
  musical instruments, rags, assorted odds and ends
- virtually all of it was useless
- after workmen worked three weeks to haul away all the
  trash, someone made a gristly discovery
- Langley's Collyer's body had been buried in rubbish some
  six feet away from where Homer had died
- he had been crushed to death in a crude booby trap he had
  built to protect his precious collection from intruders
- the garbage removed from the Collyer estate eventually
  totalled 140 tons
- no one ever learned why the brothers were stockpiling the
  treasure, except an old friend of the family recalled that
  Langley once said he was saving newspapers so Homer could
  catch up on his reading if he ever regained his sight
- here's two individuals who had access to great wealth - yet
  lived like paupers and fools
- I tell you that story because it illustrates the condition
  of the Corinthian church
- here's individuals who have great wealth in Christ, yet
  they are living in spiritual poverty and foolishness


- last week we began a new series on the book of I Cor
- we said that the church at Corinth had a lot of problems
    - divisive, lacked love, let problems go unaddressed,
      abusing God's gifts (and we could list many more)
- we went on to say that even though the situation in our
  church and the church at Corinth are not necessarily
  parallel, and the situations in our individual spiritual
  lives may not be parallel to the Corinthians
    - it’s still good for us to study these truths because,
      though it may be at different degrees, we are
      struggling with what the Corinthians were struggling
      with
    - they weren't growing at the rate God desired and
      neither are we
    - there's great benefit to gaining insight in the
      strategies Paul used to help them grow, if we'll take
      those strategies and apply them to ourselves, and then
      also to those God has placed around us that we can and
      should have a ministry to

- last week we began reading these verses with some fear and
  trepidation, studying how God speaks to those who aren't
  pleasing Him- we found that instead of a blistering attack
  like we might have been tempted to use, God began by
  reminding the Corinthians of His grace (Karis - unmerited,
  undeserved, and unrepayable kindness to them)

- bottom line is - Paul told the Corinthians one of the
  things that ought to motivate them to change is by
  reviewing in their minds all the ways God had been gracious
  to them in their past
- He had given them a great location, geographically,
  athletically, spiritually
- He had sent them an apostle to tell them the good news of
  Jesus Christ and had made it possible for them to be called
  saints because they had trusted Christ as personal savior
- God has been so gracious to them in the past in so many
  ways - yet they had forgotten - they had failed to
      - review those things in their mind
      - concentrate on those things
      - be thankful for them
- as a result - they were failing to grow at the rate that
  God desired because they hadn't been moved by the grace of
  God in their past

- now, I'd like to ask you just one question and then we'll
  move on into these next verses

- did you work this week on, in some fashion, reviewing, and
  concentrating, and being thankful for specific ways in the
  past?
- we said that that was one of the bottom lines of these
  initial verses and we encouraged one another to do that
- did you do that?

- if you did - the appropriate response would be to praise
  and thank the Lord for giving you His truth and helping you
  to change and please Him

- let me speak for a moment to anyone who would be here and
  would say - PV - I didn't think about that "a once"!
- If that’s true, I think we should be concerned about that

- now if you'd say, well, I've been working on some other
  truth that I received through other messages, lessons, or
  personal time in the word
     - I really emphasized that this week
     - that’s acceptable (we can't grow in a dozen different
       ways at once)
     - but if you'd say - I just really didn't put much
       effort into applying truth this week – that’s a reason
       for concern
- some folks view Christianity the same way they view
   professional football
     - Sunday is the game day
     - Sunday's when we really get serious about things
     - we can let down during the week as long as we're ready
       to perform on Sunday

- that may be true for professional football, but in many
  ways the opposite is true for Christianity
- Sunday's important - we come to worship our Lord, and
  receive instruction from His word
    - but Sunday for the believer isn't the game day - its
      the locker room
    - the game - the most important part, is the rest of the
      week when we take God's truth and grow
        - when we live in a way that brings honor and glory
          to Him

- point is - the Corinthians were missing it on game day
- and, to one degree or another, there's a little
  bit of Corinthian in all of us, and Paul is arguing with us
  on how to change that,
     - but we're responsible to digest, apply, and use what
       he has provided

- so last week "God's First words to those who weren't
  pleasing Him were to remind them of His grace, and how
  gracious He had been to them in the past
     - now let's continue studying those first words in
       verses 4-9 (READ)

- Paul's talked to them about God's grace to them in the past
- in these next verses he speaking to them about His grace in
  the present

III. God's Grace In The Present

- I want to be sure I've communicated specifically what part
  of this passage we've taken this point from
- on the back of your notes, you'll notice that we're talking
  now about verse 5, and the first part of verse 7

- we already talked about verse 6 last week, because in that
  verse Paul refers back to something that happened in the
  past
- Now we're talking about the way God's being gracious to you
  presently from verses 5 and the first half of 7

- the overall thrust of these verses is that "God is being
  gracious to you presently by equipping you with all the
  gifts you need to serve and please Him today"
- if you have a NASB, you'll notice that the end of verse 4
  and verse 5 reads:
    "...the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,
     that in everything you were enriched in Him..."

- that's a key word in these verses - the word "in"

- Paul is arguing with the Corinthians in terms that
  theologians would use to describe our union with Christ
- When you trusted Jesus as personal Savior, the Bible says
  you were united with Christ
     - the Bible teaches that you are both "in Him", and that
       He is "In you"

- a believer's life will never be the same, and can never be
  the same because of his/her union with Christ
- its wrong to think of Christianity as "just another
  something" (engineer, father, golfer - now I'm a Christian
  too)
- Christianity is not just another "appendage" or another
  membership card I carry around in my pocket

- We're "in Christ" and that relationship affects everything
  we do and everything we do affects that relationship
- that’s why Paul said in Gal. 2:20, "I have been crucified
  with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
  And the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith
  in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me"

- you come away from that verse scratching your head "Well,
  who's doing the living?" (in fact, that verse has been the
  source of a lot of confusion)
    - bottom line is - I (that is, the new man after
      salvation) am doing the living
    - that’s why there's all the personal pronouns (the life
      that I now live in the flesh I live by faith..."
    - so, I am doing the living, (but "in Christ", "in union
      with Him" in the power and enablement of God as I seek
      to obey Him through His Word

- point is - Paul is talking about our union with Christ in
  verses 4 and 5
- and he's especially emphasizing this - In Christ, you have
  everything you need to please God
- there's great sufficiency in Jesus Christ

- that’s why Jesus said on the cross "It is finished" - the
  saving work was fulfilled, completed
     - nothing we needed was omitted
- that’s why Paul told the Colossians "and in him ye are made
   complete" (Col. 2:10)
- Peter said in II Peter 1:3 "Seeing that His divine power
    has granted to us everything pertaining to life and
    godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called
    us by His own glory and excellence"
- Jesus told Paul "My grace is sufficient for you" (II Cor. 12)
 
- Paul told the Ephesians "We are blessed with every
  spiritual blessing in Him" (Eph. 1:3)

- the writer of Hebrews said - "By one offering he has
  perfected us forever"

- so to possess Christ is to possess every spiritual resource
- every Christian is a self-contained treasury of divined-
  bestowed spiritual affluence

- Paul says to the Corinthians, God is being very gracious to
  you in the present

- I'd like to spend the next few minutes answering five
  important questions about these verses

  1) What specifically did Paul mean by speech, knowledge,
     and gifts?
  2) Why did he use the word "all" to describe the gifts?
  3) What should that mean to us?
  4) Why might that be hard for Americans?
  5) What do we need to do as a result?

    A. What did Paul mean by "speech", "knowledge", and
       "gifts"

       - when Paul talks about speech and knowledge in verse
         5, he's talking primarily about the Corinthians'
         ability to tell others about the Savior
       - I say that because of the comparison in verse 6

       - (slowly) just like the testimony of Christ was
         confirmed in you...
       - just like it was when God sent me to talk to you
         about the Lord

           - you have that ability because you have been
             enriched in speech and knowledge

        - both of those are important
        - knowledge has to do with "what to say"
        - speech has to do with "how to say it"

    - the Corinthians, just like you and me, had been gifted
      in speech and knowledge
    - in fact, Paul says at the beginning of verse 7, you're
      not lacking in any gift

    - now you might say - wait a minute.  The Corinthians
      misused those gifts. Paul is about to chide them in
      later chapters because they took the gifts God had
      given and misused them.

         - they took their gifts of knowledge and speech and
           bragged on their own wisdom.  Their knowledge
           puffed them up and they became proud and haughty.

    - that’s absolutely right, but that doesn't make this
      point any less true.

    - God still was very gracious
    - He had been gracious in their past

        - he had given them a strategic location in the
          middle of a shipping lane
        - he had placed them in a city where thousands of
          unsaved people traveled every other year because of
          the Ishmian games
        - he had placed them in a wicked city where their
          light could have easily shined before men if they
          wanted it to

        - God had sent the apostle Paul to tell them about
          Christ
        - when they trusted Christ as Savior, they
          immediately became saints
        - that’s how God had been gracious in the past

        - he's also gracious in the present
        - he's given all the gifts
        - you have knowledge and speech
        - you know what to say and how to say it
        - Paul would say - "you're as rich spiritually as
          Homer and Langley Collyer were materially"

       - and see, God's desire was for this church to be a
         great trophy of his grace and as a result have an
         effective ministry of winning folks to Christ, and
         making disciples for Him

       - but they were blowing it in so many ways

       - the question is - how do you deal with folks like
         this?
       - more importantly, how do we deal with ourselves when
         we're not growing at the rate God desires or being
         as effective for Him as we could be?

       - one of God's answers to that questions is - Look at
         all the ways God has been gracious to you presently

    - I think that’s why Paul used the word "all"

    (B. Why did he use the word "all" to describe the gifts?)

        - because he wants the Corinthians to look at all
          that God has provided...
               - all the gifts
               - all the knowledge
               - all the abilities
               - all the abundance

        - and then to say "Oh my"
        - what have we done with the gifts God has provided?

- and that would be a good question for each of us to ask
  tonight...

    (C. What Should That Mean To Us?)

    ....What have we done with the gifts God has entrusted to
         us?
     - what have we done with the knowledge, abilities,
       abundance?

- let me ask you to think about this subject from this
  perspective for a moment.

    (D. Why might that be hard for Americans?)

- I think it's especially difficult for an American believer
  in 1991 to be impacted by what these verses are saying.
  Let me try to illustrate:

-last Sunday morning Charlie Tan spoke to us for a few
  minutes
- Charlie's a pastor in Singapore who attended the counseling
  class at Grace we taught the week before last

- he was telling us that they have a young boy in their
  church, about 14 years old, who wants to be a pastor
- so the church has decided to assume responsibility for his
  education
- when he's ready for college, they'll pay the bills
- when he's ready for seminary, they'll fly him to the United
  States, put him through seminary
    - cover all the tuition, books, etc.
    - that’s just their custom, that’s the way they've chosen
      to do it

- we asked Charlie, what happens after he graduates from
  seminary in the United States
- he looked at us kind of funny and said - "well, he'll come
  back and work in our church"

- we asked the question that probably most of you would have
  asked
- "What guarantee do you have that he'll come back?  Do you
   make him sign some sort of contract?  How do you now he'll
   return?"
- his answer was - "he'll be so grateful for all we've done
  for him, he'll gladly come back and serve out of the
  thanksgiving in his heart.  Isn't it that way in America?

- Let me just ask you how you would have answered that
  question.  Is it that way in America?
- Is that the natural way things are in any area of American
  life?

- For those of you who have people working for you, do you
  have folks come in early to work and say:
    - I just wanted to come in a few minutes early and thank
      you for the medical insurance you provide
    - I really appreciate having a job, thanks so much
    - On Friday, did anyone say as they were picking up their
      check - I'm moved by your generosity?

- hah!  Often it doesn't matter what the business, what the
  salaries - what the benefits...
- often the American mentality is - I deserve more.  What
    have you done for me lately?

- See, that same mentality can affect the way we look at
  things spiritually
- some of us aren't really moved by God's graciousness to us
  presently - especially in the way he's gifted each and
  every one of us in all things - all we need to please Him,
  and minister for Him, and be effective in His work

- to whatever degree that’s true - we have removed one of the
  greatest motivators for effective service

- the question that flows out of that is:

    E. What do we need to do?

      - the answer to that is threefold - evaluate, praise,
        and use

      - here's what we mean

      - first, evaluate

          - ask questions like this:
             - what are some of the ways God has gifted me?
             - first think of the definite answers you can
               give to that question based on his Word
             - many of the verses we've mentioned tonight
               contain answers to this question

          - then evaluate your own abilities and skills
          - those are gifts that God has given

      - if you have a healthy body – that’s a gift from God
      - if you can sing, that’s a gift from God
      - if you work well with children, that’s a gift
      - if you're a good organizer, that’s a gift

      - see, what skills and abilities has God given you?
        (Evaluate)

    - next - praise
       - surely we're not saying - evaluate, and then get
         proud
       - that was the Corinthians' problem

    - we definitely failed tonight if someone says - "I am a
      good organizer, its about time I had a raise!", or
      "I am a good organizer, probably better than most folks
        around here", or "I am a good organizer, and I really
        feel good about myself" - Ooh, ooh, ooh!

    - we're talking about taking a Psalms 139 approach
    - "I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully
       made"

    - see, when's the last time you thanked God for the way
      He's gifted you
    - that’s what Paul wants the Corinthians to do
    - look at all your gifts, speech, knowledge, abundance
        - God sure has been good to you

    - so evaluate, praise, and then "use"

     - see, why did God give you those abilities, and how are
       you using them for Him?

     - See, that’s what Paul is about to say to the
       Corinthians
     - look how God has gifted you, and look how you've
       wasted them

     - just like Homer and Langley Collyer - God's been
       gracious to you in the present and you've squandered
       his gifts

    - when I was a young, my parents didn't have a lot of
      money, but they bought us nice things from time to time
    - one day my dad came home with a plastic toy motorcycle

    - not long after that, he was out in the alley behind our
      house burning leaves, and our neighbor on the other
      side of alley was burning some trash from his garage

    - they were standing there talking and I moseyed up on my
      motorcycle, got off, and threw it in the fire

    - I want you to know, I got a very effective spanking for
      that?
    - my dad was angry, and he used his anger to solve the
      problem

    - do you know why he was angry?

    - because he had worked hard to buy that for me
    - he had been gracious in getting it

    - I hadn't appreciated it
    - I wouldn't be able to use it again because I had
      squandered his gift

    - I wonder how many believers are in that same kind of
      situation with their Lord?

    - see, the questions tonight are - are you thankful and
      appreciative for the way God has gifted you, and are
      you using those gifts to advance the kingdom of God?

    - now if you'd say, "I just don't know what to do, let me
      say – that’s no problem around here"
    - there's plenty to do - plenty of ways to use your gifts
    - that’s always been true and its becoming more true all
      the time
    - the plow is becoming increasingly large

    - there's all kinds of regular weekly ongoing ministry
      that a lot of folks have to work in
    - a lot of folks have had to evaluate their gifts, give
      God the praise, and then get busy using them
    - if that stopped happening, Faith Baptist Church would
      come to a screeching halt – quick

    - there's a lot of special ministries as well
    - we mentioned tonight about the living nativity
    - we hope to share the good news of Jesus Christ with
      literally thousands of people through that outreach
    - but its going to take a lot of hands on the plow

    - and there's a concern, and rightfully so, about not
      getting involved in so many things that we have folks
      overworked
    - but I'm convinced that the way to prevent that is to
      get more folks doing what these verses are talking
      about
    - if our church is growing at a rate of 19% this year,
      then our production ought to be growing at a rate of
      19% this year

    - the key is getting more and more individuals using
      their gifts for the glory of God and the advancement of
      his purposes

    - I need to make 2 more quick comments about that and
      we'll move on

        1) We have a lot of folks who are seeking to do this.
           Hardly a week goes by where I'm not stimulated to
           serve God more fervently because of the way
           another member of our church has responded to the
           Lord's present graciousness.

        2) Our concern shouldn't be how the gift is used, but
           that the gift is used.

           - what I mean by that is - it would be wrong if
             someone said: "OK, this is how I believe God has
             gifted me and this is how that gift ought to be
             used."

           - instead, it should be stated - "this is how I
             believe God has gifted me, and I wondering how
             that gift could best be presently used."

- in other words, let's say God has gifted a person in music.
  - the response to that shouldn't be - God has gifted me in
    music, and I'm singing the solo next Sunday morning
  - but instead - I think the Lord has gifted me in music,
    and I want to speak to the appropriate people to see how
    and if that gift can presently be used

- overall point is this
- Corinthians, you ought to be moved by God's grace to you in
  the present

- wouldn't it be great if every person associated with Faith
  Baptist Church was seeking to use their gifts in the way
  God desires
- wouldn't it be great if someone who's not presently serving
  or using their gifts would say
    1) "The Lord's given me some athletic ability - is there
        any way that can be used to bring others to Christ?"
    2) I'm good at budgets.  Can I be a help to anybody?
    3) I like to play with kids.  Is there anywhere that's
       needed?
- recently we read about a church where a bunch of guys who
  knew how to fix cars got together and fixed up old cars and
  then provided them to people in the church who were going
  through rough times.

- the overall question is - Have you been moved by God's
  present grace?

- Paul gives them one more line of argumentation
- let me just mention it to you

IV.  God's Grace In the Future

    - Paul says God's final grace will take you to heaven

    A. Its a grace that we're eagerly awaiting

        - literally "wait with eager anticipation and
          activity" - not like waiting for a bus, but busy
          anticipation

        - Paul also says:

    B. His grace will establish you blameless

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987.  He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and they have three children. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church.  He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of Vision of Hope and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video