If people ask me, “Pastor Shafer, why do you want to take us through the book of I Corinthians?” I answer this way. In a world that has grown so dark that the spiritual skies are almost black, it is time for the church to rise up and claim her heritage in Christ. It is time for God’s people to shine. But the Bible teaches we cannot shine as we ought except through the church. That is certainly the way it was when the gospel first began to impact the world.
It is no coincidence that when Paul wanted to write to the Christians in Corinth he addressed his letter to “God’s church at Corinth” (I Cor. 1:2, HCSB). Paul knew that the Christians in Corinth would be found in the church. The idea of an obedient Christian outside the church would never have occurred to him. To Paul, a true Christian not actively involved in the local church was unthinkable.
Things are different now, but not in a good way. In today’s world it is very easy to forget the importance God places upon His church. Moreover, too many Christians have decided that an active life in a Christian church is not a priority.
This state of affairs must not be allowed to continue. As Christians we need to regain an understanding of the exalted place Christ’s church holds in His plan for the world. It is the church that Christ “purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). It is through the church that God’s “multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known … to the rulers and authorities in the heavens” (Eph. 3:10). In other words, if we’re going to shine for Jesus in these dark times we need to know that God wants us to do it through His church. I believe I Corinthians will do more to help us understand our place in the church than perhaps any other part of the Bible.
Consider what Paul says about the church in his first epistle to Corinth.
- The church belongs to God (I Cor. 1:2)
- The church is a unity of all Christians everywhere (1:2)
- The church is not to be divided (1:10)
- The church is the temple of God (3:9-16)
- The church is not to be defiled or destroyed (3:17; 5:6ff; 6:15ff)
- The church is the body of Christ to do His work in the world (12:27)
- The church is to be treated with sacrificial love and respect (13:1ff)
I could explain it this way, the church is the projector lens through which God intends to display Himself to the world. That means a people passionate for the cross, for it is through the cross that God’s heart is most fully revealed.
So join me as we study through I Corinthians on Sunday mornings. I promise you this. If you take these studies seriously, at the end you will better understand your place in the church, the church’s place in the world, and all that God wants to do through you and through His church in these crucial days. God is opening doors to amazing opportunities for those who see what He is doing. See you Sunday.