Gospel for a Messy Church – Part 1 The Gospel Clarifies our Focus I Corinthians 1:1-2:5 April 23rd, 2017
I. What Paul SEES in the MESS. (1:1-17)
A. People who are SANCTIFIED and CALLED. (v.1-3)
B. People EMPOWERED and DEPENDENT. (v.4-9)
C. People DIVIDED and SELF-FOCUSED. (v.10-17)
Corinth is a cosmopolitan city of trade, wealth, and culture. It is a happening place, with a population close to a quarter of a million people. It is situated on a small isthmus only 4 miles across that links southern Greece with the rest of the country. Geographically it was like Hope in that you had to travel through it to get to a large portion of the country. It also had a church, planted by Paul, that was in a mess.
1. How does Paul’s description of the “sanctified” people who are the messy church at Corinth impact you? In what ways do you define your life by your spiritual success?
2. Does the first 9 verses just sound like “buttering people up” in preparation for the hard words coming in the rest of the book, or is Paul making a powerful statement of spiritual truth?
3. What might be a common equivalent today to the “I follow Paul…I follow Apollos” scenario in Corinth?
II. The answer is the MESSAGE of the CROSS. (1:18-2:5)
A. A DIFFERENT kind of WISDOM.(1:18-21)
B. CENTERED around a CROSS. (1:22-23)
C. Christ as POWER and WISDOM. (1:24-25)
D. The CHURCH (and PAUL) as an EXAMPLE. (1:26-2:5)
Paul spend the introduction to this letter calling people back to the core message that he lived out when he lived with them for a year and a half as he planted the church. He calls it the Message of the Cross. It’s foolishness to the world around them, but embedded in what so many don’t see or understand is the deepest wisdom of all time.
4. How would you summarize briefly what you think Paul means by “the message of the cross”? How does that message relate to how we live out our faith day by day?
5. Paul says people look for religious truth that gives them power and/or wisdom. Is that true today? In what ways?
6. How does the cross challenge what power and wisdom look like in our 21st century culture?
7. What stands out to you personally in 1:26-2:5 and why?
III. Living with GOSPEL centered CLARITY.
A. LIVING in our IDENTITY. (1:2; Col. 3:1-4; 1 Jn. 3:1)
B. Living TOWARD our CALLING. (1:2; 2 Pet. 1:3-7)
C. POWERFULLY admitting our WEAKNESS. (1:26-2:5; 2 Cor. 12:7-10)
D. New way of THINKING and LIVING. (1:25, 2:16; Jn 20:21)
Paul’s reminder to Corinth is a good reminder for us. Life gets us so distracted from what really is the foundational truth. Eugene Peterson writes, “The North American church at present is conspicuous for replacing the Jesus way with the American way.” Paul in this text, and over the coming weeks, calls us to rethink how we live and the implications of the gospel over our day to day lives.
8. What is our identity in Christ? How would you explain that to someone, including how it impacts our day to day lives?
9. If we are holy, thanks to the cross, what does it mean that we are called to be holy (1:2)?
10.How comfortable are you with being honest about your weaknesses? Why or why not?