Cross Centered Farewell (1Corinthians 16)

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Every occupation has its challenges. Some challenges for those in ministry are what we see throughout the letter of 1Corinthians.

–          confronting conflict

–          disciplining immoral behavior

–          affirming that genders are equal in worth but different in function and role

–          defining true love

–          correcting errant theology

–          saying goodbye

 

One may note that the last challenge is probably the most practical

You may remember that on Easter I shared with you the meaning of the resurrection is that no more does “no more” have to mean “no more”. In other words, death means “no more” but in Jesus’ resurrection death has been defeated. Therefore, death is no more and eternal life is present.Similarly, there is coming a day when we will be able to say goodbye to goodbye. Until then, we must understand how to say goodbye.

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EXAMINE               1Corinthians 16       Cross Centered Farewell

Note: Started series February 5; 13 messages later we are completing a series in 1Corinthians.

The apostle Paul stayed at Corinth for 18-months teaching the word of God (Acts 18:11). He proclaimed the gospel, made disciples and multiplied church planting there. He would go on and travel to Ephesus and spend over 2-years there (Acts 19:10). It was there that he would write these letters to the Corinthians.

Paul’s relationships with other believers were meaningful in every city and church that he was a part. Each of his NT letters show the genuineness of his affection for friendship and partnership in the gospel. In closing his letter to the Corinthians, Paul models for Christians having a cross-centered farewell with his final challenges to the believers.

 

Christians should be challenged toward sacrificial giving (1Cor 16:1-4)

Paul had written the Corinthians about many topics with most in response to questions they had. Likewise, the Corinthians must have inquired about giving an offering or a specific collection for the Jerusalem saints in poverty (cf. Acts 24:17; Rom 15:26). The Jerusalem church had suffered much persecution and was the likely cause of their poverty. As Paul has shared previously, “If one member [of the body] suffers, all suffer together” (1Cor 12:26). Therefore, the Corinthians had a common fellowship with their brothers and sisters in need.

 

µ     Christians and churches today would do well to note this command and example of helping other believers. Churches are not in competition with one another; we are on the same team with a common purpose to glorify God by making disciples.

–          SPBC, we have partners whom we have assisted and can continue to support.

o       ALKBC last ~6+ years (promo May 25)

o       LCC & JORBaltimore

o       Think about the persecuted church and global lostness in association with 1Cor 12:26.

  • What shall be our role & response?

 

Paul commands the giving to be done systematic/regularly (1Cor 16:1-2 “on the first day of the week”); individually (1Cor 16:2 “each of you”); and proportionally(1Cor 16:2 “as you prosper”). Paul wanted no collections when he visited in person because he didn’t want it to be a last minute emotional appeal but one of intentional generosity on behalf of the believers.

  • The NT further shows giving should be sacrificial (Widow’s Offering in Luke 21:1-4; 2Cor 8:1-6,10-12); willing (not begrudgingly) & generous (2Cor 9:6-9; Galatians 6:9-10; Philippians 4:14-20); and visionary for advancing God’s kingdom (Matt 13:44-46, 25:29; Luke 16:10-13; 2Cor 8:7, 9:6-15).

–          Statistics say average regular church-goer gives 6% of their gross income; about 20% of all Christians account for 86% of all giving.[1]

  • @SPBC have about 65 giving families. Divide this number by $5K (approx weekly budget) and the number is $77. An individual family’s annual giving would be $4004; which is 1/10 of $40K.
  • Some say, but at NT believer’s we are not obligated to tithe. I would agree, which is why earlier I gave NT principles for our giving.
  • The tithing question.

o       A tithe means “tenth”, where God’s people gave 10% of their firstfruits to God and to support the role of the Levites (priestly tribe; Numbers 18:21-29; 27:30).

o       A tithe and offering of crops, herds and flocks was given (Leviticus 27:30-32; Deut 12:4-18; 14:22-23).

o       In addition, there were other tithes required of God’s people to support religious festivals for worship and community life (Deuteronomy 12:10-11, 17-18; 14:22-27); offerings of 3.3% to help the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29) along with allowing for the poor and foreigners to crop glean (Leviticus 19:9-10); and even other occasional offerings (Nehemiah 10:32-33).

o       In sum, the total “mandatory” OT tithe/offerings resulted in well over 23%.

o       Tithes and offerings were reminders to the people of God of His ownership and provision.

o       In the NT, Jesus affirms the tithe (Matt 23:23); but even more the emphasis is on grace-giving and generosity without greed(Matt 6:19-24; 1Tim 6:6-10, 17-19). In other words 10% is the more likely a starting point for believers in grace; giving is to be compelled by God, and compassionate for others not compulsory (Acts 2:45; 2Cor 8:7-9, 9:6-9; Philippians 4:14-20).

–          Simply put, we can either worship our wealth or with our wealth (Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”); it is one of many tools or means God gives us to accomplish His work.

 

Christians should be challenged toward sincere hospitality (1Cor 16:5-12).

As mentioned previously, Paul was in Ephesus for 2-years and had plans to return to Corinth. When he visited he wanted to spend ample time there, perhaps the winter season, for mutual edification. Since Paul’s ministry at Ephesus had a “wide door” for effective work, he sent Timothy in his place.

Paul instructed the Corinthians to put Timothy at ease (ἀφόβως= without fear) and to treat him well. In other words, the Corinthians were to extend a warm welcome and sincere hospitality to Timothy as if he were Paul, because they were both doing the Lord’s work (16:10).

 

Paul gave the same instructions for when Apollos visited.

 

µ     Christian hospitality is more than entertaining friends for an evening dinner. Hospitality is taking care of a person as if they belonged or were a part of you.

o       Luke 10:34-35 “Samaritan had compassion…he went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and win. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him… and told the innkeeper, ‘take care of him, and whatever more you spend I will repay when I come back.”

o       Acts 4:32 “those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.”

o       Romans 12:13 “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” 

o       Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

o       1Peter 4:9 “Be hospitable toward one another without complaining.”

 

ð     How can you use Christian hospitality to love others (inside & outside faith) and lead generations?

o       What does your hospitality toward SPBC staff look like (personnel & relationally)?

○       Employment… Prayer… Friendship…

o       What if you visited another church 1-3x year with intention of learning how to apply best practices in area of hospitality and ministry back at SPBC?

o       What if you visited an ethnic restaurant to cultivate relationships with immigrants who do not have family in America?

o       What if you explored foster care or adoption?

o       What if you/we adopted: local school/nursing home/social organization/emergency response group, etc. as our own to appreciate teachers, encourage staff, explore ways we can resource and help meet needs?

o       What if you opened home 1-2x a month getting to know your faith family and/or neighbors… after a while there may be individuals/families that God may lead you toward a closer relationship for encouragement, mentoring, or evangelism.
Christians should be challenged toward steadfast faith (1Cor 16:13-24).

In the closing section of this letter, Paul gives final reminders for the Corinthian believers to persevere in faith. He exhorted them to be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong, and let all their actions be done in love.

As in the Corinthian culture, believers today must be vigilant to be steadfast in our faith.

–     Watchful/alert to the adversary, the devil who prowls like a roaring lion ready to devour (1Peter 5:8)

–     Watchful/alert to apathy, where our hearts grow indifferent or cold to things of God (Rev 2 – 3)

–     Watchful/alert to advent of Jesus being found faithful until His return (Mat 24:42-44; 2Pet 3:10-12)

 

Paul dictated his letters to an amanuensis (professional scribe). But at the close would often write in his own handwriting as a distinguishing mark (cf. Gal 6:11; Col 4:18; 2Thess 3:17; Phm 1:19). He did this to affirm his credibility of writing personally to the church but also to affirm his compassion to the church. Paul spoke with stern truth but did so in a manner of love and grace.

 

µ     Saying goodbye is difficult but necessary. Maybe you have to say goodbye to something in your life recently… a job/career, a lost possession, a friend who moved away, a child left/leaving for college, a spouse who left, a loved one passing away… à How are you distinguishing steadfast faith in this farewell?

 

 

APPLY/THINK

Paul’s central message to the Corinthians was “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (2:2).

 

–          We cannot be sacrificial givers if Jesus did not give us salvation and a model of servanthood.

–          We cannot be sincerely hospitable if Jesus does not welcome us fully and freely through grace.

–          We cannot be steadfast in faith if Jesus does not give us His Holy Spirit and Scripture to guide.

 

à        Is Jesus just your means to gain financial and relational happiness?

à        Cross-centered means to die to self and surrender worldly goals for the purposes of God.

 

 

[1] Statistics compiled in Driscoll, Doctrine, pp.396-397. Even more interesting are proposed ministry and social actions that could be achieved if committed Christians gave only 10% of income accounting for an extra $46 billion per year of resources on p.398.

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