One of the most memorable days in my life was seeing our son graduate from the U.S. Marine Corps boot camp. It was a day of pageantry and patriotism, seeing life change, and observing young men who had matured significantly through a program of “basic training.” Most Marine recruits are very young men or women who need to find some discipline, molding, and maturity quickly in order to be prepared to serve their country. The Corps uses this proven program to get recruits where they need to be. It works.
This Sunday we start a new message series at Grace Fellowship called, “Basic Training”; a study in the book of 1 Corinthians.
Paul is writing to a young church which was experiencing challenges common in newer or immature churches: division, open sin, learning to love each other, basic doctrine, relationship issues, etc. Because of his care and concern for them, he writes as a father would his children. He is loving and gracious most of the time; but he also gets tough in a few instances where they need confronted on their sinful attitudes and immaturity.
Listen to a few of the things he calls them:
- Carnal (selfish, interested in their own desires)
- Babes (Babies maybe? Infants in the faith and immature)
- Puffed up (prideful and arrogant)
- Cheaters (cheating each other out of material things)
I’m sure they thought, “Wow Paul! Thanks a lot!” However, while being tough on them, he also tells them he loves them, is sacrificing for them, and he praises them in some things.
In this letter, Paul also gets “basic” about the Gospel. He runs to the cross early in his writing and returns to it several times throughout. He tells them about the nature of the Gospel and reminds them of the significance of Christ and His work. He concludes with one of the most significant chapters in the Bible on the resurrection of Jesus.
At one point he summarizes a logical discussion about faith, death, and the resurrection with these words:
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1Co 15:20 NKJ)
I love those words, “but now.” No matter what they were facing, the difficulties of understanding doctrine, and the conflicts in a young church – the reality of the resurrection has the power to overcome their problems…and to refocus them on what is important.
An important aspect of “basic training” in the armed forces is that fundamentals are taught which a soldier will use his or her entire career. In Paul’s letter we find the same approach. The principles he presents are helpful no matter where a church or Christian is on their journey.
This book has great teaching that every church needs to hear and apply. Pray with me that we will be open to the Holy Spirit, be open to His Word, and desire to see these principles flourish at our church for the glory of God.
Grace Fellowship, I love you and am looking forward to learning the lessons from Paul’s letter to our ancient brothers and sisters who lived in Corinth.
See you Sunday!