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1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century

Ray C. Stedman

The first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians is a very, very important letter for us because it so thoroughly captures the problems that we face as moderns living in this modern age. The reason is, of course, that Corinth was the most American city in the New Testament -- it was a resort city, the capital of pleasure in the Roman Empire.



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1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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I think no American Christian can read First Corinthians without feeling right at home. I was told recently of a young pastor who was inquiring of an older pastor what he should do to prepare for his ministry. The older man told him, "Well, I would advise that above all else you must get a Ph.D. degree, for no church today will listen to a man who does not have a Ph.D." When I heard that, the centuries fell away and I felt I was right back in Corinth with its love of human wisdom, its...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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We have now come to the 16th and last chapter of First Corinthians. In previous chapters we have covered the great issues of this letter and they have all been faced and settled. First, the "carnalities," the things the Apostle Paul saw needed correction in Corinth, as they still need correction in California. All these terrible things that were dividing this church and keeping it from making an impact on Corinth were dealt with in the first eleven chapters of this letter. Then we...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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This morning we will be discussing, in Chapter 14 of First Corinthians, beginning with Verse 26, the answer to a question many are asking today: "When is the church really a church? Is it a church when it is gathering like this on Sunday morning, or is it still a church when it is scattered out in the highways and byways, in homes, in offices, in apartments, and shops?"
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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One of the most popular hymns of all time about the church is the well known Onward, Christian Soldiers, Marching As To War. The second verse is a great description, biblically, of the church:
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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Some years ago on a Sunday morning here, I was preaching on a section from the sixth chapter of First Corinthians and commenting on Verse 9 where the apostle says,
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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The church at Corinth was full of problems, factions, divisions and splits largely because its members loved the wisdom of men. They were proud of their eloquent ability to explore and explain many fascinating subjects, although no one was being changed much by all this display of erudition and knowledge. And because, as always happens, human wisdom reflects various viewpoints, they had split and divided and they were full of boastings and glorying in the leadership of various men. As we have...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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Chapter eleven of First Corinthians has become a great battlefield of the 20th century. It is a very complex chapter that deals with the question, "Are Women Fully Human? or Are They Only Humans, j.g. (Junior Grade)?" This passage will deal with the question of male headship and female subjection, and other issues of today. It used to be that the focus of the chapter was on the question, "Should Women Wear Hats in Church?" but looking over this congregation, I can see that...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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Corinth was a city given over to the worship of sex. A thousand priestesses from the temple of Aphrodite that stood on the little hill behind the ancient city would come down into the streets at night and ply their trade. Sexual promiscuity, therefore, was accepted and highly regarded in that culture, as it is pretty much the same today here in California. When the Apostle Paul had come into the city, and had begun to teach and preach about Jesus, a church had started there, and he had taught...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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In the seventh chapter of First Corinthians, the Apostle Paul leads us into confrontation with one of the major social problems of our day, and that is the breakup of marriages. Next month my wife and I will be celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary. It is rather rare to find that kind of a long-lived marriage these days, though once it was commonplace. In fact, it seemed to me when I was a young man that almost everybody I knew had been married for 30 or 40 years.
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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One of the growing problems the church is facing today is what to do about the frightening increase in sexual immorality among Christians. I do not think a week goes by but we hear reports of churches struggling in this area. We hear of Christian leaders who have forsaken their wives, run off with the secretary, fallen into homosexuality, or are facing some kind of a moral crisis in their churches. Many are properly concerned about this, and wondering why this should be.
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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I think one of the things that must have deeply impressed everyone who heard Jesus himself teach was the fact that he spoke with such authority about things that other people knew nothing about. Remember how in the Gospels he seems to read the thoughts of other people's minds. He answers questions before they are even asked. He accurately identifies the motives that move people to speak or act, and, even more than this, he speaks of unseen things with familiarity, as though he had seen them...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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When we come to the seventh chapter of First Corinthians we plunge right into a very explicit and forthright passage dealing with sex in marriage. Some people are squeamish about hearing this subject taught and preached on a Sunday morning, but the very fact that the Word of God, in all its purity and wholesomeness, treats a subject like this ought to correct that kind of undue scrupulosity among us. It should teach us that this is a subject that is very much worthwhile examining together....
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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The Apostle Paul is dealing with the problem of lawsuits among brethren in this passage from First Corinthians 6. Just last week, I picked up a current issue of a Christian magazine and read a report concerning two Christian organizations that are both involved in smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain. They are now suing each other before the courts in libel actions for damages. As I read the article I could not help but wonder if they had spent any time reading the Bibles they smuggle,...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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The Apostle Paul deals at some length with the institution of the Lord's Supper in the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians, to which we have now come. In an earlier message in this series, I quoted someone who said, "The main thing is to see that the main thing remains the main thing." When you hear that, of course, the question you want to ask is, "What is the main thing that must remain the main thing?" The answer in the Christian life is that clearly, all through the...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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In this section of First Corinthians, the Apostle Paul has already discussed the place of sex in marriage and the right and wrong of divorce. Now, beginning with Verse 25 of Chapter 7, we come to a section addressed to the unmarried that sets forth both the advantages and the pressures of single life: Verses 26-35 set forth three advantages of singleness; and then Verses 36-40 give us the pressures of single life. Paul begins with an explanatory word that looks over the whole subject. Verse...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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I have entitled this study God's Tools because it deals with those whom God uses to change the world, but I could have entitled it God's Fools, because the startling truth that Paul declares here is that God often prefers fools to use as tools when he wants to do a really great work in the world. Here are Paul's words, Verse 26:
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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It will probably come as no surprise to you that I intend to speak on First Corinthians 13 this morning. We took the first seven verses of this great chapter last week, and I am not going to retrace my steps, but, beginning with Verse 8, will concentrate on the latter part of this passage.
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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Surely this subject of tongues is one of the most, if notthe most, controversial issues in the church today. Without a doubt it is one of the major eyebrow-raisers of modern times. Many are asking questions about it, and there is much that is written in this area. You cannot meet with any Christian group and start discussing any prominent Christian leader but the question, either voiced or unvoiced, arises, "Does he, or doesn't he?"
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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The Apostle Paul is dealing with the practicalities of life here in the 16th chapter of First Corinthians. Last week we discussed his words on how to give and on how to plan and schedule your life. Now, beginning with Verse 10, Paul tells us how to treat our fellow workers.
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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In Chapter 9 of First Corinthians, the Apostle Paul is still answering the question that these Corinthians had asked him, "Is it right to eat meat that has been sacrificed to an idol?" Although none of us would have asked that question of Paul, behind it is the greater question that we most certainly would have asked him, and that is, "How far should we go to adjust to the conscientious scruples of other people?"
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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The 100th anniversary of the birth of Albert Einstein, the great man whose theories of the makeup of the universe revolutionized science, was celebrated last month. The concepts he envisioned have changed the whole modern world, opening new vistas of thought that no one ever explored before him. Now, in a far greater way, this is what the resurrection of Jesus has done, as the Apostle Paul is exploring it in this 15th chapter of First Corinthians. This one Man's breakthrough, shattering the...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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We are beginning this great "resurrection" chapter, the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians, which is undoubtedly the climax of this letter.
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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In my judgment one of the most dramatic words that Jesus ever said to his disciples was, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves," (Matthew 10:16).Coming from Montana, where there are a lot of sheep, I must say I have never heard of a sheepherder who did that. But this Shepherd does, and, of course, this immediately raises the question, "How are sheep going to survive under those circumstances?" The answer to that question will be set before us in the...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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Our theme this morning is love. We are looking at the most beautiful chapter in the whole New Testament, First Corinthians 13. This chapter is justly famous, not only for its majestic language, but for the lofty idealism of its subject matter and the very practical behavior it describes.
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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We have just read the passage from First Corinthians 15 that I will be speaking on this morning, and I want to particularly call your attention to the last verse again:
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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In Chapter 12 of First Corinthians, the apostle gives us very clearly the blueprint for the operation of the Body of Christ. Now I know that I am mixing metaphors when I speak of blueprints in connection with bodies (bodies do not have blueprints; buildings do), but I am in good company, because Paul does the same thing in the letter to the Ephesians. He speaks of the church as a "building" which "grows" into a holy habitation for the Lord. Now buildings do not grow; bodies...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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Yesterday a young Christian with whom I was working said to me, "I do not like to be told that I cannot do something that I enjoy doing because it is going to offend the conscience of someone else. That sounds like legalism to me." I agreed, because I do not like to be told that either. I do not like to stop doing something that I enjoy doing because it offends someone else, or because it is a stumbling block to them. But I realize that the thing in me that does not like that is what...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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We have now come to what is, for many people, the key question of Chapter 15, the great resurrection chapter of First Corinthians. The Apostle Paul says,
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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In Chapter 12 of First Corinthians we are beginning a new and major division in this letter. Perhaps it would be helpful if I just briefly give you once again a quick survey of this letter (which is also addressed "to the Californians"), and we will remind ourselves of what it has covered. This is an easy letter to remember because its divisions are really only four-fold, so there are just four things to remember:
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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I am sure it is not wholly coincidental that the approaching the Easter season finds us in the great resurrection chapter of the Scripture, First Corinthians 15. Looking at the preaching schedule, we should be at the very climax of this chapter on Easter Sunday.
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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We are in Chapter 12 of First Corinthians this morning, beginning at the 12th verse, where we come to the passage that, above all others, answers a question frequently asked today. I doubt if anyone here has not been asked this question at one time or another. What do you say when somebody comes to you and asks, "Have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit?"
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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We will be looking at the first seven verses of First Corinthians 4 this morning, the passage that defines for us the true view of a minister of Christ. There are many stereotypes abroad today as to what a minister is. It would be interesting to me to know what flashed through your mind when I said those words, "a minister of Christ."
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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In this section of First Corinthians, the apostle is going to be dealing with the problem of a complacent church, that is, a church filled with complacent Christians. That was also the problem we read about in Revelation 3 of the church of Laodicea, a church that was saying, "We are rich; we are filled; we have everything." But the Lord is saying, "You do not know what you are like. You are deceiving yourselves," (Revelation 3:17). This is the ancient problem of spiritual...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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As we read through First Corinthians, I think we will see how very much like modern day churches this ancient church of Corinth was. Unlike most of his other epistles, Paul plunges right into the heart of the practical problems that were affecting this church, and the first of these, the problem of divisions within the church, he begins to deal with in Chapter 1, Verse 10.
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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Several weeks ago I was down in Austin, Texas, where I was privileged to dedicate a new building for the Grace Community Church there. It was an exciting time as we gathered to set this new building aside for God's purposes, and yet I tried to seize the occasion to point out what they well knew, that a church is not a building, and buildings do not really represent the church as such.
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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As we are looking at this passage from First Corinthians together, we are learning why it is that all our accumulation of knowledge does not ever seem to help us handle life better. The reason, however, is not so much because of the lack of knowledge -- we all have lots of knowledge today -- but because of the lack of wisdom, true wisdom, and this is why this passage is so fantastically helpful to us. We are beginning with Chapter 2 this morning, where the apostle is looking back to his first...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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Have you ever had the "What if's" about your Christian faith? What do you do when doubt attacks, and you feel that perhaps it is Christianity that is wrong, that maybe this is all a delusion, a psychological trick you have been playing on yourself? What do you do when you feel that the record of Scripture is merely a collection of myths and legends, as we are frequently told, and that there is no life after death, there is no God, no judgment, etc.?
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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Last week my wife and I were privileged to be in Portland, Oregon, for the inauguration of young Joe Aldrich to succeed his father, Dr. Willard Aldrich, as President of Multnomah School of the Bible. We enjoyed very much the opportunity to be there, and to participate in what was a very moving experience. In a luncheon held on Friday for the delegates who came in from the various parts of the country, Dr. Joe Aldrich gave a response to their greetings in a very modest and unassuming way, and...
1 Corinthians: Epistle to the 21st Century
Nov 18, 2018 Ray C. Stedman
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In the eighth chapter of First Corinthians we come to the second question these Corinthians had asked the Apostle Paul in the letter they wrote to him. It has to do with a problem that is very common in our Christian lives today: "How much should I let other people's views control my actions?" That is, "Must I limit my liberty by the narrower, more restricted views of other Christians?"