What is the Mission of the Church? Straightforward, God-dependent Proclamation

What is the Mission of the Church?

Straightforward, God-dependent Proclamation

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Intro:

  • Is there anyone here this morning who struggles to understand when multiple people are speaking to you at the same time? Have you ever seen a group of people being given instructions by more than one person at the same time? The group is looking back and forth, confused as to what they are supposed to do. One of Satan’s tactics is to attempt to create confusion. Currently, there a number of messages being thrust in front of Christians, and this has resulted in confusion. Authentic Christians have become confused and have diverted from the mission of the church as handed down by Christ.

  • Pastor Bruce has been sharing in recent weeks what God’s Word says about the mission of the church. Hopefully, it is becoming clearer to you that the mission of the church is to make disciples. As we approach the Fishing Seminar, our desire is that God will give us opportunities to share the gospel with unbelievers during the event. The first step in making a disciple is to proclaim the gospel.

  • Paul has just finished teaching the Corinthians that God has chosen to save people through the foolishness of preaching the gospel (Christ crucified – 1:21-22). Paul says that the gospel is a stumbling block to the Jews (they have difficulty believing in a suffering Messiah) and it is foolishness to the Gentiles (they have difficulty accepting the need for forgiveness and a substitutionary sacrifice for sins – 1:23). Then he concludes chapter one by clearly stating that every person, who is truly saved, is saved because of God (they didn’t earn it and they didn’t choose Him on their own – 1:30). Paul didn’t want anyone to believe the gospel and become a Christian because he was good at persuading them. He wanted people to repent and believe the gospel because God was the one working. This morning we are going to look at how Paul conducted himself in proclaiming the gospel in Corinth. We will be provided with three reminders when sharing the gospel.

  1. Do not rely on eloquence or man’s wisdom when proclaiming God’s message (1). first reminder

    1. Paul’s example.

      1. Now Paul launches into an explanation of what he was thinking and doing when he was in Corinth (he is not there now, hence the letter). Paul says that when he was there sharing the message (musterion) of God, he didn’t do it with brilliance of speech (superiority of speech – NASB; excellent – Strong’s) or wisdom. (1)

      2. Paul wasn’t there to impress them with what he knew. The philosophers in Paul’s time used rhetoric (recommended by Aristotle) to impress or convince an audience. Paul was there to share the simple message of the gospel in a straightforward way.

    2. Our challenge.

      1. What do we rely on when proclaming the gospel (Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death for sinners and resurrection from the dead)? Do we rely on our own eloquence or the ability to convince a spiritually blind and spiritually dead person to believe?

      2. Are we proclaiming the gospel?

  1. Focus on proclaiming Christ and him crucified (2). second reminder

    1. Paul’s example.

      1. Paul says that he determined not to know anything besides Christ and him crucified. Now think about that for a moment. Paul was a well-trained, well-educated Jewish man. He was incredibly intelligent. Paul chose to know/share only the gospel while he was in Corinth.

      2. During Paul’s time (and especially in Corinth) philosophy and rhetoric were huge. Philosophers would command large audiences and share a staggering amount of knowledge and information. Paul states that he is not interested in impressing people with his intelligence. Paul is only going to know about the gospel in Corinth.

    2. Our challenge.

      1. What do we focus on when speaking with unbelievers? Do we have a tendency to get sidetracked onto issues that we are passionate about (such as politics, social issues, weather, money, etc.) rather than focusing on Christ and him crucified, i.e. the gospel?

      2. What are we focused on in life? Are we overcome by the greatness of Christ and him crucified in our own lives? Do we believe it is the most important message in the world?

  1. Rely totally on the Holy Spirit when proclaiming God’s message (3-5). third reminder

    1. Paul’s was physically unimpressive (3).

      1. What is truly interesting is how Paul describes himself in verse three. Paul uses the words: weakness, fear, and much trembling. The philosophers of the time (and still today) had presence. They commanded attention through their oratorical skills, i.e. their eloquence. (3)

      2. But Paul is informing them and teaching us that we have to be careful in our sharing of the gospel. It must be God who is doing the converting and not us. We shouldn’t be the ones doing the convincing or persuading. God is the one who saves the person, not us. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44 NET). Listen to this, “He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Cor. 1:30-31 NET).

      3. Paul was a man who was in utter dependence upon God. In Acts 18:1-17, we read about Paul’s first visit to Corinth. God told Paul in a vision not to be afraid, but to keep preaching. “The Lord said to Paul by a vision in the night, ‘Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent, because I am with you, and no one will assault you to harm you, because I have many people in this city.’ So he stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:9-11 NET). This immediately precedes Paul being dragged by an angry mob before the proconsul Gallio (chief governing official over a Roman province). Sosthenes (mentioned as a co-sender of this letter, 1 Cor. 1:1) became the new synagogue leader, because the previous one, Crispus, converted to Christianity. Sosthenes is beaten before the judgment seat, most likely by the Romans (because they were inconvenienced). So Paul was definitely not confident in himself. He would not have been an impressive public figure or orator.

      4. There is nothing inherently wrong with speaking clearly and confidently. Pastors are taught how to improve their communication. Politicians train to improve their public speaking. Students are trained to give speeches. God did not command us to stumble intentionally over our words. But be certain that your confidence is in God’s power rather than your own abilities.

      5. Is there a chance that some of us are thinking that there is a reason why we cannot share the gospel with unbelievers (we are too scared or too unimpressive in some way or another)? Many of us have become paralyzed by fear, and as a result, we are not sharing the gospel. God wants us to be proclaiming the gospel. See 2 Timothy 1:7-10; and see 1 Peter 2:7-10.

    2. Paul spoke with reliance upon the Holy Spirit to work (4).

      1. Paul says that his speaking was not filled with persuasive words. He wasn’t trying to, “sell Jesus.” He wasn’t trying to impress anyone or win an argument. Instead, Paul’s speaking was with a powerful demonstration of the Holy Spirit.

      2. Paul is telling the Corinthians and teaching us that his speaking was with the gospel, no more no less. When someone repented of his sins and received forgiveness of his sins through faith in Christ’s payment on the cross – it was a visible demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power to save a person. Paul shared the gospel and let God do the rest. There was no mistaking who did the converting. There was no mistaking who did the saving. It was God. It needs to be God, today also.

      3. Are we proclaiming the gospel in a straightforward way relying on the Holy Spirit to cause people to believe? Do we mistakenly think that we can remove the offensiveness of the gospel? See 1 Corinthians 1:18, 21-24, 30-31; and 2 Corinthians 4:1-6.

    3. Paul’s proclamation relied upon the Holy Spirit’s work so that people would be trusting God’s message rather than man’s (5).

      1. Paul says that he purposefully shared the gospel and didn’t try to force people to believe, by using persuasive arguments. Paul wanted the Corinthians’ faith to rest on the gospel (which is God’s power – Rom. 1:16-17). Paul didn’t want to convince the Corinthians to believe the gospel through his wisdom and his arguments, because if he succeeded in convincing them, their faith was resting on man’s wisdom not God’s power (the gospel).

      2. Paul didn’t want the Corinthians to be putting their faith into his wisdom or his persuasive arguments. So he didn’t use any. He shared Christ and Him crucified, the gospel. Then when someone repented and trusted by faith in the gospel, it was God who did it. As a result, it was more likely to be genuine.

      3. Is there a chance that we are trusting more in our eloquence and wisdom than in the power of the Holy Spirit to cause people to believe the gospel? If we are, then people will be trusting in our wisdom rather than God’s power.

Conclusion:

  1. Do not rely on eloquence or man’s wisdom when proclaiming God’s message (1).

  2. Focus on proclaiming Christ and him crucified (2).

  3. Rely totally on the Holy Spirit on when proclaiming God’s message (3-5).

    1. Paul’s was physically unimpressive (3).

    2. Paul spoke with reliance upon the Holy Spirit to work (4).

    3. Paul’s proclamation relied upon the Holy Spirit’s work so that people would be trusting God’s message rather than man’s (5).

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2 thoughts on “What is the Mission of the Church? Straightforward, God-dependent Proclamation

  1. Pingback: I Believe « The Papers of SL Douglas

  2. Pingback: “Spiritual struggles against the terror of the law” « De Profundis Clamavi ad Te, Domine

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