I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose.
1 Corinthians 1:4-10 NRSV
We open in the letter of Paul to the church in Corinth as we begin a series of what it means to be ‘called into Christ.’ Being in Christ is a constant theme for Paul, or being in Christ by the Spirit. Paul sets about the context of his letter. Which contains rebukes, exaltation and inspiration for a church he cared for a great deal.
As with much of Paul's letters, he speaks to the church in the light of their end goal, which in this case he calls the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the day Jesus spoke about when the inauguration and installation of the kingdom of God and He will appear. This is the ‘revelation’ or the revealing of Christ.
In the meantime, we are to be waiting with expectation and hope and faithfully serving God, with this end in mind. Faithfulness or faith is the key to playing our part in the here and now. This dual focus of the life of faith is key in our understanding of the purpose of God.
Therefore much of the ethical life that Paul advocates, and writes of, is within the eschatological framework of his theology. We know the phrase what would Jesus do, but Paul seems concerned with what will we be like on that day of revealing Christ? We of course will be like Him. Therefore the way we live now is to reflect who we will be. This is not just behaviour modification, getting the church to behave, it's the process of daily empowerment of the grace of Christ transforming the church now into what they will be in the end.
This future goal sets us on a path, where we follow Christ, we set ourselves in the right direction and walk with purpose towards the end goal.
Three points, the first of which I shall look at today from this scripture.
- Grace has enriched you
- Not lacking in the Spiritual
- United as the body of Christ.
To understand grace is to understand the power of the finished work of Christ, to understand the price has been paid, and here in the grace of God we stand. Of course, we best know the scripture in Ephesians - it is by grace we have been saved through faith.
Grace is a Spiritual encounter
Grace isn't simply getting forgiveness or a new start, grace is a spiritual gift. Paul says we should desire spiritual gifts.
The gift of Grace has within itself the transforming power and nature of God, grace means that whilst we may come as we are but we never leave the same.
This should be our expectation of any encounter with the grace of God, that the Spirit of God is at work.
What would happen if we raised our expectations as we approached our meeting together, that we were not just going through the motions of a religious service, but we saw this as an encounter with the Spirit of God.
In this verse Paul says that he was always thankful as he saw the work of grace in their lives, despite the disputes among them and the sexual immorality, which he deals with later, Paul reminded them twice, (chapters 3 and 6) that they are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
The gift of grace as defined by Ephesians 2.8 that we have been saved by grace by faith it’s a gift of God so that we cannot boast by our good works.
Grace is freely given to us in abundance, more than we could even dare to imagine. Then of course there is an obligation that the gift of empowering grace means that we are employed in doing good things.
A new depth of knowledge
Paul commends them for having Knowledge of every kind. The scriptures reveal to us the nature of our loving God. This knowledge comes by asking questions and thinking - really thinking about what we believe. When we think about what we believe and then we challenge ourselves to learn and grow in this knowledge
God wants us to always go a bit deeper. Searching by the Spirit into the depth of God. As in Him are hidden all the rich treasures of wisdom and understanding.
Not everyone wants to go into academic theology but we can all get ourselves into a position where we hunger to know more and we develop.
If we sat down and asked, for what we want and we are honest with ourselves about where we are lacking, and believe God provides, He will provide.
There is power in being specific in what we are aiming for.
Some may not set goals through fear of failure but without a goal, there is a sense that we are aimless and already failing, we just don’t know it.
When we set goals, even small ones, then the chances of us hitting those goals go up, or at least we will know what direction we are headed in and more importantly if we are going wrong.
Discovering what we are doing wrong helps us go in the right direction. Growing in grace is vital for our spiritual development.
Additionally, this gift of grace changes and transforms our lives. Colossians 1 speaks of hearing and truly understanding the grace of God.
Grace in our knowledge and speech
If the door is Grace ( that’s how we enter). Knowledge is key and wisdom is the way that we walk through
In this passage, it is grace that Paul gives thanks for, as this grace by which we live and it enriches our lives and brings strength and knowledge, not so we can be puffed up with pride, but that we can know for sure God's purpose that he has for us.
Enriched in grace, especially in speech and Knowledge
Knowledge in the sense as Jesus said in John 17, this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
John 17:3 NRSV
And in speech, it is true that often we know how much of the grace of God is present in us, becomes it comes out of our mouths. Out of the heart, the mouth speaks. This is not to condemn us, but to warn us and allow us to take our spiritual temperature.
As Paul writes to Colosse
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.
Colossians 4:6 NRSV
We speak the truth of the word of God but we do it with love and grace, remembering not to be prideful, look at me, but kind and encouraging.
Let our speech, our words be that which comes from the Spirit of God.
Close with this, as it is where we started.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— (repeated from above)
Paul recognised the grace of God in the life of those in Corinth despite their proclivity to act more like mear humans in their behaviour and of the various divisions among them.
Reminding the believers they are the temple of the Holy Spirit, reminding them of whom they are in the light of what they will be keeps them focused on the end goal.
What is important to Paul is that while we are waiting we are faithfully serving God, with this end in mind. Faithfulness or faith is the key to playing our part in the here and now.
We need, like the Corinthians, to be reminded of the grace of God in our lives. In our speech and seeking knowledge and its application in wisdom.
We pray that we may be enriched by the grace of God, that we may take time to ask God for His Spirit to be in us and reveal His purpose, and that we may live in the here and now with our future assured.