Sermon on 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Text: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way — with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge — 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Today is the first day in the church year. So, Happy New Year’s to all of you. It seems as though at the beginning of each new year, people make resolutions for that year. They will lose weight in the upcoming year. They will get better organized. They will be on time in the new year. All of these resolutions are wonderful things to make for ourselves. This morning, we are going to look at some resolutions that we can make as we are reminded that GOD GIVES US A NEW YEAR OF GRACE. 1. Let Us Joyfully Hear His Gospel. 2. Let Us Faithfully Use His Gifts. 3. Let Us Eagerly Await His Return.
Paul begins our text with words that are familiar to us. Often they are spoken at the beginning of a sermon. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” What a wonderful way to begin a sermon as we are reminded of the blessings that we have. Grace is God’s undeserved love for us. It is his choosing to love us when we were anything but lovable. Because of that grace, we have peace. We have peace with God which was established by Jesus for all people. We have peace as we go through life, because we know that God is our Father and will continue to care for us.
As Paul began his letter to the Corinthians, he wrote the words, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” However, he is not saying these words like we might when we write a letter. We might say, “I hope that this letter finds you well.” “I hope that everything is going well for you.” That type of greeting is more of a wish. It is something that we hope is true for the individual who is receiving this letter, but we cannot be sure of it. Paul is not speaking of a wish that he has for the Corinthians. He is, rather, reminding them of what they have. This is shown as we read in verse four, “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.” Paul speaks of God’s grace as already being in their possession. It is already something that they have and enjoy. This is also true for us. We already have received the benefits of God’s love. God’s grace has been shown to us, as well.
We cannot find out about what God has done for us on our own. None of us would come to the realization of God’s grace, unless God revealed his grace to us in his Word, specifically in the gospel. There we see our Savior’s amazing love for us. We see all that he was willing to do so that we would be with him in heaven. This can only come to us as we hear the gospel message. It is for that reason that we want to joyfully hear his gospel.
If we find that we have trouble wanting to joyfully hear the gospel message, it may be that, at times, we forget how much we need to hear its comforting message. We overlook or downplay the law’s message. We think that God is talking to someone else. We think that God will grade on a curve. We imagine that, if we temper our bad with good, God will be satisfied with that. However, none of those things are true. God has made it very clear that we have all sinned. We all deserve his punishment for the times that we have disobeyed him. We have not been faithful to his Word. We have let other things come and steal the time and attention that should be given to hearing what God has to say to us. We have come to hear his Word, but it is done only out of habit or so that someone would get off of our case. For our sins against his Word, we should be punished both now and in eternity.
When we come to grips with that, then we see the beauty of the gospel message. Then we see that Jesus fulfilled the law in our place. Then we understand the amazing love that moved the Father to sacrifice his Son on the cross to pay for all of our sins. Then we rejoice in the Easter message which tells us that Jesus has risen from the dead and, therefore, we are right with God. We have heaven to look forward to. This is what we find when we hear the gospel message. We will have different opportunities to hear God’s gospel message in the year that lies in front of us. We have our worship services, Bible classes, Sunday School, confirmation class, Vacation Bible School, to name a few of them. We also have the opportunity to every day read his Word for ourselves. Brothers and sisters, may we make this resolution for ourselves to joyfully hear his gospel message whenever we can.
Paul continues his greeting to the Corinthian Christians by reminding them of the fact that they had been given various gifts. “For in him you have been enriched in every way — with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge — God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.” He will go into greater detail about these gifts in chapters 12-14 of this letter. Suffice it to say, that God had given various spiritual gifts to the members of the Corinthian congregation that were to be used in service to him and the other members of that congregation. Furthermore, God had not been skimpy in giving these gifts. Paul said that they did not lack any spiritual gift. The fact that they had been given these gifts showed that God had blessed them with salvation. Paul and the others told them about Jesus. They had been brought to faith and this was evidenced by the spiritual gifts that God had given them.
We, also, have been blessed with spiritual gifts. Elsewhere, Paul mentions preaching and teaching. He speaks about those who have the gifts of leadership. He mentions those who have the ability to encourage others. There is the gift of being able to give generously, without thinking what am I getting in return. There are those who have the ability to show mercy to people, to be compassionate. Some people have the ability to have a servant’s heart. Note that no one has all of these gifts, but we all have at least one gift that comes from God. We are reminded of that when Peter writes in his First Epistle, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
Do we always make full use of the gifts that God has given us, though? Is it easier to try and hide the gifts that we have been given, because we do not want to be bothered? We find ourselves not wanting to use the gifts that God has given us because no one will appreciate what we are doing. We don’t want to use our gifts because someone might criticize us for what we have done. We hope that, if we sit in the corner, no one will notice us and we will not have to do anything. Dear friends, God has not given us these gifts for our own benefit. He gives us these gifts so that we might serve him already here in this lifetime. He gives us these gifts so that his Church may be strengthened and expanded. He gives us these gifts so that we might serve each other. As we see what God has done for us, may we be motivated to serve him and those around us. May we faithfully use the gifts that he has given us.
In addition to equip the Corinthians, and us as well, for the present, these gifts also equip us for the wait and are part of the Holy Spirit’s assurance that our “Lord Jesus Christ (will) be revealed.” To that end, we read, “He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” God is going to keep us firm to the end. He will anchor us firmly in him. He will not allow Satan to pluck us out of his hand. This is all with an eye on the Last Day, “so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, we do not need to fear that all of our past sins will be drudged up for all the world to see. They have been completely taken away by the work of our Savior. As Paul reminds us in Romans 8:1, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We do not have to fear the Last Day. Rather, we can look forward to that day with joyful anticipation.
How do we know that God won’t change his mind? Paul says, “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” God does not say one thing and then do the exact opposite. Because God is faithful, we can count on the fact that we will be with him forever in heaven. Because of his amazing love, he called us, he chose us before the beginning of the world to be with him. We have been brought “into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” That means that we have been united with him. We have become a part of him.
While we do not have to fear the Last Day, we also want to be careful that we do not become complacent in our living here on the earth. We need to hear Jesus’ encouragement in Mark 13:33, “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” It is easy to think that the end will never come, so we can live however we wish. Let us not fall into that trap. May we always be ready for our Lord’s return. The way that we are ready is to believe in Jesus as our Savior. A natural offspring of that faith is that we want to live lives that glorify him, thanking him for all that he has done for us. In this way, we show that we eagerly await his return at the end of time.
The problem with many New Year’s resolutions is that they are broken very shortly after the New Year begins. They become too difficult or they take too much time or we lose interest in them. However, as we stand on the threshold of this new year, may we, with God’s help, keep these resolutions. Let us joyfully hear the gospel message as often as we can. Let us use whatever gifts God has given us to glorify him for all that he has done for us. Let us be alert, so that we can eagerly await our Savior’s return at the end of time. May God help us all to this end. Amen.
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