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In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul is addressing a church which has its fair share of problems. There are factions within the church, sexual immorality is prevalent, lawsuits are being carried out amongst believers and the resurrection of Christ is being denied. Here then was a Church of God (v.2) not acting as they ought to. How would you have approached this situation? Remarkably Paul begins with thanksgiving. He is writing to correct and address the issues in Corinth, but begins with thanksgiving. Paul’s hope for the reform of the Corinthian church is not in their ability to change themselves, but in a faithful God who supplies grace for change and endurance. From that place of confidence, Paul addresses the Corinthian Church.
- Grace Given by God
Paul begins by thanking God for giving grace to the Corinthians (v.4). Saving grace must have been received as Paul refers to those ‘sanctified in Christ Jesus’. The grace that allowed Paul to legitimately regard these people as believers was from God, through Christ. It’s grace because it’s undeserved. Think of what these believers were like before grace. Nothing in that collection of people was deserving of God’s salvation. Give thanks then that God saves by grace and not by merit. We are all saved by grace. Paul doesn’t commend the Corinthians for their merits, but he thanks God for his grace towards these people. Salvation is a work of God and it is given to us. Do we recognise this and are we thankful for this?
- Equipped to Await Christ’s return
Having received salvation, we still need to navigate living in a sinful world. A new heaven and a new earth await us but we aren’t there yet and we are called to wait for the Lord’s return. Thankfully, we are not left to navigate this wait on our own – grace saves and grace equips us to await for the Lord’s return. The Corinthians were enriched and gifted, so that they lacked no gift as they waited (v.7). In a sense, the Corinthians had no excuse. God had equipped them through Christ and the Spirit to endure and they had gone astray. They were neglecting and misusing God’s gifts. Yes, these people had been saved, but they had also been ‘called to be holy’. They are responsible for living holy lives. We have a calling and a responsibility to live holy lives before God as we await the Lord’s return. Thankfully God equips us for this.
- Fellowship Guaranteed by a Faithful God
Even as we pursue holiness in this life, we fall short and this can cause believers anxiety about possibly losing their salvation. Yet verses 8-9 of our passage are a tremendous encouragement. Paul’s hope lay with a God who faithfully saves, preserves and delivers his people until the end. He is able to keep his people and has promised to do so. Christianity is a relationship, and we have been called into fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ who is the Son of God. This is an eternal relationship. Those who trust in Christ as their Lord and Saviour will be forgiven and kept ‘strong to the end’ and ‘blameless’ on that last day when we will enter eternal and unhindered fellowship with Jesus. We often base our assurance of faith on recent performance and feelings, but we should base it on a faithful God. One who faithfully forgives those who call on him and faithfully provides all that we need to wait until the Lord’s return. Our salvation is secure because it is guaranteed by a faithful God.