Vol. 10 — No. 42 October 19, 1969
1 Corinthians 1:4-9
I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
In Christ Jesus, who is inseparably linked to everyone who is a Christian, Fellow Redeemed:
What is a “Christian”? The dictionary defines a “Christian” as “an adherent of Christianity.” But that doesn’t really answer the question, does it? It merely suggests the next question: What is Christianity? The second definition in the dictionary for the adjective “Christian” helps more: “Of or relating to Jesus Christ.” Being “Christian” definitely has something to do with Jesus Christ. A “Christian” is a person whose life, whose existence, whose entire being cannot be separated from Jesus Christ. Does that seem obvious? Perhaps it does—until you begin to realize that there are thousands of people who call themselves “Christians” and who believe themselves to be “Christians,” but who in their thinking, believing, and living keep on divorcing or separating themselves from Christ. Such people are attempting the impossible, for without Christ no one can become, be, or remain a Christian.
You have all heard me read the text, which is a prayer of thanksgiving written to a Christian congregation. But I wonder if your ears and minds caught the number of times and the variety of ways in which the name of Christ is connected with these Christians. Listen once again as I accent it for you: “I thank my God always on your behalf for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him (Christ), in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you; So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” The name of Christ and the pronouns referring to Him occur seven times in six definite connections with Christians in this brief prayer. This surely reveals the inseparability of a Christian and Christ. To put it differently: No person can exist or survive as a Christian without Christ. Let us examine these vital connections between Christ and a Christian from this point of view:
St. Paul began his letter to the Corinthians with a prayer of thanksgiving. What is the first blessing that comes to his mind, for which he cannot but express his thanksgiving? It is the grace of God given to the Corinthians, but note that that grace has been given in connection with Jesus Christ. “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by—literally in—Jesus Christ.” God’s grace is God’s undeserved and unmerited love for sinners. How did God show that love for us sinners? In connection with Christ? In no other way! “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.” “God spared not His only-begotten Son, but delivered Him up for us all.” “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” If man is to live before his God, he must live according to God’s law or suffer the penalty of that law which is death—meaning separation of both body and soul from God and that eternally. But no man can live according to God’s standards for man’s conduct. We all deserve to die eternally. God didn’t want that. He sent His Son to be our substitute—to live a holy life according to the Law of God and then to bear in His body and soul the penalty of the Law—death and separation from God. Christ did this for you and me! The result is forgiveness of our sins and freedom from the penalty of the Law. This is the grace of God in Christ. It came to earth and became reality in Christ. It is given to you and me in connection with Christ. The grace of God comes to us through faith in Christ—in no other way. Take that grace of God in Christ away, and you and I would slide back into the status of children of wrath.
There are many who think and talk of the love and grace and mercy of God apart from and without Christ. That’s a mirage. That’s dealing with unreality, for there is no grace of God apart from Jesus Christ. The person also who trusts his own works and righteousness is, in fact and reality, rejecting the grace of God and is also rejecting Christ—no matter how much and how emotionally he may talk of Christ. The grace of God is given only in connection with Christ. There is no other way. It should be obvious that a Christian cannot be separated from Christ for that reason, but also because a Christian—
Paul thanked his God that the Corinthians had been “in every thing enriched by him—that is, in connection with Christ—in all utterance, and in all knowledge.” Paul wrote these words of thanksgiving almost 2000 years ago. I would make them mine this day: I too thank my God that you members of Holy Trinity have been enriched in Christ in all utterance and knowledge. More than one of you have told me that you have learned more through the preaching and teaching, the Sunday School classes and other classes, through the articles in the bulletin, and in private discussions than you have learned during your entire previous lifetime. You have been enriched through my ministry so that you can now speak more assuredly of and know better of the things that pertain to Christ.
I have been told by some of you that you never heard a sermon preached on the doctrine of Holy Communion—for example, the divine truth of the Real Presence of Christ’s body and blood in, with, and under the bread and wine—before my ministry in your midst. There is a reason for that. The Lutheran churches in this area practice what is called “open communion,” admitting—for all practical purposes—anyone who happens to be in church on communion Sunday to the Lord’s Table. When the Scriptural principle of fellowship is violated in this manner, the preachers must blurr or pass over the teaching of the Lord in regard to the Supper He instituted so as not to offend the unbelievers who may want to attend. Is Christ’s body and blood present in the Sacrament and received orally as we eat and drink or are the bread and wine merely signs and symbols of the absent body and blood of the Lord? This is not an optional matter, as most churches in this area make it. Either you believe the Lord when He said, “This is my body; this is my blood,” or you reject His words in unbelief. When you understand this and when you take your reason captive before this Word of the Lord, you have been enriched in this area of doctrine, as well as in many others. Such enrichment in the Word is always enrichment in Christ.
If you are a Christian, you cannot be separated from the Lord Jesus Christ, for a Christian is one that—
Paul thanked his God that the Corinthians had the testimony of Christ confirmed in them, and he assured them that that same Christ shall confirm them unto the end. When the testimony of Christ is confirmed or made sure in a person, that person is no longer swayed back and forth by every wind of doctrine.
I thank my God also that the testimony of Christ has been confirmed in so many of you. During the past almost two and a half years you have been taught many truths of the Scripture that have conflicted with things that you were taught previously. Practice consistent with those truths has been introduced—which in many instances was the opposite of what you had been accustomed to for years and years, in many cases your whole lives. Many of you, most of you, perhaps all of you have experienced a severe spiritual struggle as the truth of the Word was seeking to establish itself in your hearts in the face of false teaching and practices out of line with Scripture that you had been exposed to for so long. It was a struggle. Some lost that struggle. But you, who are here, are here because the testimony of Christ has, by the power of the Spirit, been confirmed in you. You have learned to do what many people sing about but never learn to do—take a stand on Christ, the solid Rock. You and I have this assurance that the Spirit of God will confirm, will keep us sure and steady on that testimony of Christ unto the end.
No Christian can be separated from Christ because every person who is truly a Christian—
Paul described the Corinthian Christians as people “waiting for the coming—or revelation—of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The New Testament closes with this testimony of our Lord: “Surely I come quickly. Amen.’ With that “Amen” the Lord is assuring us that He will, indeed, come again. Our response should be: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Rev. 22:20. Once He came in blessing—born a babe in Bethlehem to work out our salvation. He shall come again in judgment. Every eye shall see Him. No one will be able to hide. Every one shall stand before His throne of judgment. The vast majority there will be shaking and quaking. Their knees will be giving way under them. Their teeth will be chattering. They never thought He’s actually come, but He shall. He’ll be there. “Come, Lord Jesus!” He can’t come soon enough for a child of God. It will be that final day of victory, that day of triumph, that day of public acknowledgment and reception before all the multitudes of this earth. What a day to look forward to and await!
Why is it that a Christian can await that day with such eager anticipation? Because every Christian—
Paul assured the Christians that the Lord Jesus shall confirm them unto the end, “that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” On that day Satan will play his role as the great accuser, the grand prosecuting attorney. He will stand before us and try to make his final accusation stick: “But you’ve sinned, you’ve sinned.” And we will say, “Indeed, we did sin, daily and that in thought, word, and deed. But nonetheless you, Satan, cannot make your accusations stand up in this judgment court. For we stand here clothed in the white robes of our Lord’s righteousness. His life is our life; His death removed our sin and guilt. We stand here unaccused, blameless, innocent!
Last Monday’s morning paper brought the story and picture of an 32-year old retired railroader. In discounting tales that railroad men were hard-drinking, women-chasing adventurers, he made the statement: “I can pull off my hat and look my Jesus in the eye and say I’ve led a good life.” That’s not the way to stand unaccused on the last day. This is the way: That you and I keep coming and saying: “Lord, I cannot look you in the eye, for I do sin daily, but I come trusting your righteousness to cover my unrighteousness and trusting your suffering and death to remove my sin and guilt.” That’s the way to stand unaccused, blameless, on the day of judgment.
It’s always Christ and the Christian. They can never be separated, for a Christian is one who—
“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” So said Paul almost 2000 years ago. Corinth was a city given over to idolatry and all manner of uncleanness. But out of that mess the Corinthian Christians were called unto the fellowship of Jesus Christ. God is still faithful. We live in an age when the laws of God for man’s behavior are being flagrantly trampled under foot. We live in an age in which church leaders are selling out to the devil for passing temporal benefits. Ours is an age of apostasy both without and within the churches. In the midst of this cesspool of wickedness in the world and in the churches we have been called unto the fellowship of Christ. Is not this a wonder? Should we not in humble gratitude bow our heads and sigh in our hearts: “Lord, we thank you. We do!” Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the King James Version.