Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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The Better Way 1.26.2014

Two thousand years ago Jesus suffered, died on the cross and then arose from the dead on the Great Resurrection Day, Sunday, a historical event that we celebrate each Sunday. Because of that event, because we believe that it happened and because we have been called by our God into tthe fellowship of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, today I greet you with grace, mercy and peace from God Our Father and Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Our text today is 1 Corinthians 1:9-18. Let us read this in the name of Jesus.

Last week we begin a sermon series in one of Apostle Paul's letters to the Corinthians. Our brother Ryan Kandoll introduced the series by showing us the physical location of Corinth on a map, shared about the background of the congregation in Corinth, spoke of the reasons for the letter and then preached on the first 9 verses of the letter. He ended with the verse below, which was the verse which we are all invited to commit to memory for our edification and learning.

1 Cor 1: 9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

It is important that we recall of the way the our brother Apostle Paul began this letter to the Christians in Corinth. He points out the fact that they are Christ's possession, for they have been purchased and set apart through the grace of God as revealed by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. They are not only set apart by God for God, but also in everything they are enriched by Christ, in all utterance and all knowledge. This ability to speak and to have knowledge is a gift from Christ and it is not something that they have conjured up by themselves.

In verse 7, he encourages them by telling them that they are living testimonies of the revelation of Christ. In other words, Christ is dwelling in them by faith and He has poured all His benefits into them, to the point that they are not lacking in any spiritual gift as they await the final return of Christ our/their Saviour. He will make sure that they are able to be blameless in the day of Christ. Let us note that Paul points out that Christ will sustain us to the end. In a similar fashion, Apostle Peter pointed out of this protection in a letter that he wrote to scattered, struggling and suffering Christians.

ESV 1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In verse 9, we see that Paul again points us to the faithfulness and truthfulness of God as the foundation of our trust, and then states that it is God who has called us into the community of His Son Jesus Christ. We have been called into His family, not because we were worthy or deserved to be called into this fellowship, into this union, but because that is what God wanted to do and he did it.

KJV 1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Purpose of Letter

After this introduction, Paul now gets to the overall purpose of his letter to the Corinthians. . He has spoke of the love relationship based on truth that God has with humanity which has been revealed through God sending His Son to reveal His love for the world. This is how God has confirmed and affirmed His love for humanity, which in effect assures us that God is for us and not against us.

Growing up, it was not always easy to see that my mother was for me when she found it needful to bring about re direction in my life. But in all her actions toward me, I was left with the feeling that she loved me and in her love she would give me directions as well as redirections in my life. My mother, through her actions, always assured me that one incident of bad behavior on my part did not define our relationship. But because of love, she sought to help me understand that there was a better way.

It is the same love that moved the mother of one of our ministers in our Federation to speak in love to her son as he continued in his life of disobedience to her and to God. This man shared on many occasions of how as he would head out for an evening of serving himself in a life of sin, she would tell him and his brothers while on her hands and knees cleaning the floor, tears dripping in the mop bucket. "Boys, there is a better way." She was for her boys, she loved them and it was that sermon spoken by his mother that eventually broke the heart of our late brother Ralph Davidson.

Paul, knowing that he was going to be addressing the disunity in the congregation, nevertheless began his letter in the same manner that God began His "letter" to the world in Genesis 3:15:

NLT Genesis 3:15 From now on, you and the woman will be enemies, and your offspring and her offspring will be enemies. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

This is the first prophecy of Christ which is recorded in the Old Testament and through it is revealed the promise of God to reverse the effects of mankind's fall into sin by sending a Saviour to make atonement for sin. We must always keep this vital truth in the forefront of our minds, that God is for us and has demonstrated this truth throughout history, with the ultimate revelation and demonstration of this seen at the cross of Calvary. Christ is the better way.

Our brother Paul has begun his letter to the Christians at Corinth in the same manner, reminding them that God is for them and not against them. As he prepares to speak to them of the dangers and pitfalls of disunity, he clearly tells them that their relationship with their God and their Saviour is founded and grounded upon that which God has done for them and in them. He now begins to appeal to them on the basis of who they are in the family of God. Or we would say, who they are in Jesus Christ.

Calling them to live in Christ in a positive manner

KJV 1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

He "appeals" to them. He calls them on the basis of all that he has written so far, as he points out that he speaks by the name of Jesus Christ. He does not come in a demanding way telling them that they have to do this, but he "appeals" on the basis of the love and mercy that they have received from God through Christ. He is saying God's way is the best way.

He is speaking not on his own authority, but on the authority of Jesus Christ. Calling upon them to speak the same thing, he is referring to the questions that have arisen amongst them, which threaten to divide them in heart and in mind and consequently, then in practice. He calls upon them to be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

Let us note that he does not say that there are divisions among them already, but he speaks in a manner that warns them of the possibility of becoming divided. Here we see as we so often see in the heart of Apostle Paul that he does not exaggerate, surmise or assume. We should take note of this type of heart as we remember our Catechism lessons of "putting the best construction on our neighbor."

In this congregation at Corinth, as in all congregations at some time or another, disagreements arise over faith and practice, which if not addressed properly will ultimately fragment, divide and eventually destroy the unity and harmony of a congregation. In our sinful flesh, oftentimes we will yield to the idea that "we have a better way."

In the Garden of Eden, in the beginning, we/humanity thought that it was a better way to go to follow Satan rather than God.

Honeymoon, Conflict, Resolution, Harmony

Let us remember the four words that give an overall outline of all relationships: Honeymoon, Conflict, Resolution, Harmony (restored or increased) All relationships start off in harmony, but soon differences arise, and directly dependent how the conflict is addressed, will determine whether the relationship is restored, strengthened or deepened. Unfortunately it is at this point that many relationships become stagnant, divided and separated.

Whether in our own families, in a school organization or team, in a congregation or in a business relationship the following principles have often guided many to a place of being able to rightly keep the same mind and the same judgment in maintaining their relationships. Even though we are looking at this in a spiritual sense, the principles apply to all types of communities.

In essentials: Unity
In non essentials: Liberty
In all: Love

Of course, the difficulty is in agreeing on what is essential and what is non essential. That is where step three (resolution) becomes so vital in restoring, maintaining and increasing harmony in relationships. It requires discussion of those things that are causing conflict and seeking ways to resolve the differences.

He continues by stating that he has been told by people of the contentions that are present in the congregation. He then speaks openly of the manner through which people are separating themselves, which they have done by moving away from following Christ and to following a certain teacher/leader.

11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

How Paul addresses the disunity in his letter

Being made aware of the disunity in the congregation by another, Paul now plainly speaks of the evidence of the dissension, by pointing out that the congregation is being fragmented due to some following men instead of Christ. He asks the questions in order to help them see their fault, concluding by saying that the baptizing of people has not been the main focus of his ministry. We could say that her Paul is not minimizing the importance of Baptism, but he is pointing out that the preaching of the Gospel is his first and foremost calling that was given him by Christ.

11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

Since Paul has been told by those in the house of Chloe of some contentions within the congregation, we now ask ourselves the question as to how we proceed when we hear or witness of divisive attitudes or behavior. Do we keep it to ourselves, do we speak to the person about their sin, or do we share it with someone else?

Nobody wants to be a tattletale. Nobody wants to be a gossip. But there are occasions when one must approach another to speak of their sin directly to them, there are times when one must have others with them when they speak to another, and there are times when more people need to be involved in addressing the sinful behavior of another.

Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

In this case here, we do not know what happened previous to Paul being told of the division in the congregation, so we are left without all the details.

Restoration and Reconcilation

The answers largely depend upon the situation, but a principle that should over arch any action we take should be that we should desire restoration and reconciliation. It is not always possible, but the attitude or our heart and the actions that we do must be directed at restoration and reconciliation. Whether this is a matter between two people or between more than two people does not change the principle that we stated here.

KJV Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

One should not go to speak to another of their fault until one is in an attitude of humility so that the discussion will be in a spirit of restoration and recovery of the relationship. We recognize that we could very easily be the one overtaken in a fault/sin, so therefore we go in a spirit of considering ourselves less than them. If we go with the wrong spirit, we will find ourselves regretting that we went in a haughty spirit. Further separation will occur....

I remember as a young man of how my pastor told me that there is nothing wrong with discussing people and problems. But he cautioned me as he went on to tell me that it is wise to listen carefully to oneself speaking or to others so as to determine the spirit with which the people and problems are being discussed. Is the discussion done in the spirit of restoration and reconciliation or is it a spirit that comes from our sinful flesh, motivated by Satan and which seeks to bring disunity, division and separation?

Be a Gatherer and not a Scatterer

Seek to develop a way which will help you to be a leader in keeping the discussions focused on restoration and reconciliation.

Let us not be those who scatter, who separate, who divide by initiating or participating in divisive talk.

If the discussion begins to move away from the restoration and reconciliation principle, be the one who gently works to bring it back towards the mind of the Spirit.

Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit which always seeks to gather and never seeks to scatter. To gather is the better way....

Proverbs 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

He then points to the emphasis of his ministry:
1 17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. {words: or, speech}
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

We will stop here and pick up next time, Lord-willing. with verse 17. In preparation for next Sunday, perhaps you could find the song written and sung by Keith and Kristyn Getty, named "The Power of the Cross." I encourage you to read the words, sing along with them on Youtube and allow the message that is brought forth concerning the Power of the Cross to sink deeply into your mind, heart and soul.

There is a better way that God has provided for us, and it is only through experiencing the power of the cross that we come to experience the better way....

Oh, to see the dawn of the darkest day
Christ on the road to calvary
tried by sinful men, torn and beaten then
nailed to a cross of wood

This the pow'r of the cross
Christ became sin for us
took the blame, bore the wrath
we stand forgiven at the cross

Oh, to see the pain written on your face
bearing the awesome weight of sin
every bitter thought, every evil deed
crowning your bloodstained brow

This the pow'r of the cross
Christ became sin for us
took the blame, bore the wrath
we stand forgiven at the cross

Now the daylight flees
Now the ground beneath
quakes as it maker bows his head
curtain torn into
dead are raise to life
"finished" the victory cry

This the pow'r of the cross
Christ became sin for us
took the blame, bore the wrath
we stand forgiven at the cross

Oh, to see my name written in the wounds
for through your suffering I am free
death is crushed to death
life is mine to live
won through your selfless love

This the pow'r of the cross
son of God slain for us

what a love, what a cost
we stand forgiven at the cross

Keith and Kristyn Getty

May His grace be experienced by you mightily today through Christ our Saviour.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 26 Jan 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Temptation of Jesus
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Lawry Kilpela family as they grieve but yet rejoice in Lawry's being called home.