1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 11
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|The final characteristic we will see in this passage is that the church of God is made up of those who have fellowship with Christ: “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”|
I Corinthians 1:9
What is The Church of God? – Part 8
Years ago I was in military school. They told us what we were going to wear. They told us how we were going to act, how we were supposed to talk. I had to be reminded of who I was, whose I was and the responsibility that went along with that.
They gave work details called work gigs for misbehavior. Usually for the first offense they gave forty minutes of work during your free time, cleaning floors, washing windows, something like that. I had fifty offenses the first time they ever gave them out. So that whole semester of school I spent my free time washing floors and so on. When you misbehaved in rank they would make you put your rifle up over your head and run about one and one-half miles around this big circle. Everyone else would march around; you had to run around.
One day I was coming from the post office and had a big package from my mother. I had it up under my right arm. An office passed me in the car and I snapped to and saluted with my left hand. Man, he screeched to a halt and spent the next thirty minutes helping me to understand who I am now and whose I am and how I’m supposed to behave.
I believe that’s what the apostle Paul was doing in 1 Corinthians. He’s trying to bring these Corinthians back to who they are and whose they are and the responsibility they have to live like it. Now if you’re not living like it, you’re upside down. The apostle Paul, in the first nine verses of 1 Corinthians 1, puts them right side up. Then he’s going to begin to address how they have obviously walked away from that kind of lifestyle. If you call yourself a Christian and you’re a member of the church of God and these things are not in your life, obviously you’ve departed somewhere. This could help you understand and pinpoint the reason for the problems that you’re dealing with even right now.
The Church of God Has Fellowship with Christ
Well, we come to the ninth and final characteristic of the church of God. What is the final characteristic of the church of God? What are we supposed to be? Who are we? If the Holy Spirit of God stops us in our tracks and says, “Okay, soldier; let Me tell you who you are. Let Me tell you whose you are, and let Me tell you how you’re supposed to live.” That’s what He’s doing. What’s the final thing he would say here? The final thing would be that the church of God is made up of those who have fellowship with Christ. Now this is a powerful verse. I want you to look at verse 9. It says, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
We don’t just walk into the presence of a dignitary. Have you ever noticed that? You don’t walk into the President’s office: “How are you doing there, Pres? My name’s Wayne from down in Tennessee. I thought I’d drop in and say hello to you.” You have to be invited into his presence. God has invited you and me into fellowship with His Son. You don’t walk in. You don’t just decide one day, “I’m going to have fellowship with Him.” No, it comes as a result of a calling, an invitation, that our God has given unto us.
He says in verse 9, “God is faithful, through whom you were called.” Now that word “called” is the same word we saw back in verse 1 when it said, “Paul, called as an apostle.” So if you take just the word “called,” it was saying that Paul was a believer, obviously, before he was ever an apostle. That was the first step. He was called as a believer.
If you know anything about the testimony of the apostle Paul, you know that has to be right. He was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians, and the Lord Jesus stopped him in his tracks. He wasn’t seeking Jesus. Jesus was seeking him. That’s amazing to me. He came after us. People take their Christianity so for granted and live as if it doesn’t mean anything. God called us. He invited us.
In verse 2 we have the word for church, ekklesia. Ek means out of, and klesia refers to the called ones: the called out ones. You can’t be a member of the church and not understand the fact that God called you.
Paul gets in some words in Romans 8:30 that are exciting, real exciting. As a matter of fact, in Romans they don’t even appear until the eighth chapter because they’re secrets of the family. If the family knows it, it will motivate them every day. God knew everything about me and still accepted me in the beloved, in the Lord Jesus Christ. It says in Romans 8:30, “and whom He predestined, these He also called (by the way, this is before the foundation of the world); and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Do you realize what that’s saying? That’s saying that He already sees it done. People think you can lose your salvation. Friend, before the foundation of the world, He knew you and predestined you. He called you. He justified you, and He glorified you. You’re not even there yet. He sees it as done.
Think about this for a while, and it might rattle your cage. All of a sudden it begins to make salvation a little bit more than being a member of a church on a corner somewhere. You’re in an eternal relationship with God, and He gave the invitation to you. He called you. That’s the whole key here. We must never forget this.
As a matter of fact, if you’ll look at verse 9 real closely, it shows you the agent of the calling was God Himself. Verse 9 reads, “God is faithful, through whom [God is the subject] you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” The word “through” is the word dia. It’s the word that is used to indicate the agent of calling. Then to make it even more emphatic, the word “call” is in the passive voice, indicating that God did the calling. So it’s God who has called us into fellowship with His Son. I just think that’s important to start off with, to realize that all we have in Christ initiated with God. It did not initiate with you and me.
Well, He has called us into fellowship. This is an important little “into.” There are three prepositions you’ve got to know. Ek is motion out of. If I have a pen inside of my pocket, the motion coming out of my pocket, that’s ek. En is a little preposition that means that which remains in something being affected by that which is remaining in; in other words, all the properties of that which it is. Then the word eis is motion from something and into something with a result in mind. That’s very, very important.
He called us into fellowship with His Son. But now if He called us into something, then He’s calling us away from something. Are you with me on this? I want you to think about this for a second. It’s God who’s doing this. Remember grace is, first of all, the beautiful loving disposition of the Father who does this. You’ve got to see this. It’s out of His love that this whole thing has been planned. We’re products of His love. That’s what salvation is all about. Now, this is important. We were not even longing for this fellowship when we were in Adam. Do you realize you’re either in Adam or you’re in Christ? No religion will get you out of Adam. Only Christ can get you out of Adam. The way He gets you out is that He came as a man to do what men could not do. He came as our representative, as the God-man. The law required certain things man could not live up because of the virus of sin. Therefore, He came as a man, did not destroy the law but fulfilled the law, went to the cross and took my sin upon Himself. I put my faith into Him, then what He did is written to my account and I’m no longer guilty as I was before. He takes me out of Adam, puts me into Himself and calls me into fellowship with His dear Son. That’s what salvation’s all about. I had been invited into fellowship with His dear Son.
You see, before I got saved, I thought I had it all together. As a matter of fact, witness to somebody who doesn’t know Christ. You say, “Brother, have you been saved?” Have you ever asked somebody that? They look at you and say, “From what? I didn’t know I was lost. I’ve got a great job, got money in the bank, my kids are healthy. Saved from what?” You see, until they understand what they’re missing, they just don’t look for something they don’t even know they need. That’s what lost people are like. That’s what we were like. I think sometimes we have forgotten what it was like to be lost and that’s why we’ve lost the wonder of our salvation.
Psalm 51:5 says, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” The act of conception wasn’t sin. What he’s saying is the virus began with Adam, the sin virus, and it was to spread to all men. It’s in the blood of mankind. And a person is born into sin.
Psalm 58:3 reads, “The wicked are estranged from the womb. These who speak lies go astray from birth.” Every child born on this earth is born into sin. That’s what he’s saying. He’s born not understanding that he has a need that’s actually crippling his life. He does not know that. Thank God He does and knew it all along.
Romans 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, there is not even one.” You see, the saddest thing about being lost is that we didn’t know what we were missing. We didn’t know what we were lacking. We live life thinking there was something somewhere, but we never could find it.
The key word to understand here, I think, that’s really going to light your fire is “fellowship.” It is the word koinonia. You’ve heard the word used before in different places. The word needs to be understood. It’s an abstract noun that comes from the adjective koinos, which means common. The word “society” actually has its roots in this word. It’s a group of people who have the same things in common. You see, there’s a society here.
There are several things that I want you to see. First of all, the moment you receive Christ in your life now you have the opportunity of being in a new society. We’re in the world but not of this world. There’s another world in the world. We’re part of a brand new family. We sing that song, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.” I wonder if we understand what we’re talking about. Jesus is the common denominator that draws us all together. How much rejection have you had in your past in the dysfunctional family of Adam? That’s one thing. But how much acceptance do you have in the functional family of God, you see? You’re in a brand new family. Jesus is what binds us together. He is our common denominator. You’ve got brothers and sisters all over this world. That’s the key. You’ve become a member of a big family. It doesn’t matter where you are.
When we’re in our conferences in Romania, they’ll start talking in Romanian, and I don’t know what they’re saying. But somehow the Holy Spirit of God is binding our hearts together, and they’ll start laughing and I’ll start laughing and people around me will say, “Did you understand what they said?” I say, “No, but yeah.”
I don’t know. It’s just fun. You’re in a family now and you don’t have to speak each other’s language. You don’t have to be in each other’s houses. Christ is the One who draws you together. This is why, I think, the author of Hebrews say, “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.” Why would you want to go anywhere else? Man, you’ve got a family and you come together to enjoy that family. That’s part of being in fellowship with His Son. That’s what it’s all about.
We’re a family now. You can go all over the world. It doesn’t matter where you go. So many people live as if they’re alone. No, you’re not alone. You’re in the biggest family you ever thought about in your life. That’s part of having fellowship with His Son.
It says in 1 John 1:7, “but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship [koinonia] with one another.” If you live out of verses 1-9 of 1 Corinthians 1, you will enjoy fellowship with one another. When you get any of them turned upside down you’re going to see the problems that Corinth was having.
Well, we have a brand new family. But we also have a brand new well to drink from, a brand new resource in our life to draw off. We’ve never had this before. The word koinonia also means to be a partaker of something, to share in something. Look over in 2 Peter 1:3. You need to see this. Second Peter 1:3 says, “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness [This is all another resource that we have] through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers [that’s the word koinonia] of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” That word means to partake in. We can partake of Him and His character. His Spirit even produces His character in us. We experience Him in that light. We have a new well to drink from.
I was in a conference one time and I preached on the fact that Jesus was the only well that you would ever need to drink from and that’s part of having fellowship in His Son is to be able to drink from that well, to draw from me. A man came up with me after the service and said, “You’ve offended me and you’ve offended the third person of the trinity.” I said, “Oh my goodness. I’m not worried about you, but I am worried about the third person of the trinity. What did I do?” He said, “You’ve offended the Holly Spirit of God.” I said, “Excuse me. How did I do that? Jesus is the only well you ever need to drink from.” He said, “You did not mention the Holy Spirit.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “I have a conference every year, a Holy Spirit conference, down in this particular state and you just absolutely walked right over Him and said that Jesus is the only well you ever need to drink from.” I said, “I beg your pardon, sir. I love you in the Lord but you hear me straight. Jesus said, ‘When He comes will never speak of Himself, He will only speak of me.’” And I said, “I did not contradict anything. I complimented what the very Word of God has to say.”
If you’re going outside of Jesus for anything, you have missed it, folks. It’s all in Him and the Spirit is His Spirit. There’s only one God in three persons. There are not three Gods. It’s amazing what’s going on in Christianity today. We don’t seem to understand that it’s all in Christ, appropriated to us by the means of His Spirit. His Spirit lives with us.
First Corinthians 10:16 talks about that word in the area of sharing in. Some people take this literal and think that the bread that you have at the Lord’s Supper is actually His body and the blood actually becomes His blood. But no, it does not. It’s symbolic of that. First Corinthians 10:16 tells us, “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” What he’s talking about is it helps us to remember that which we now have become partakers in. In other words, He is the well we drink from. We fellowship with His Son. We partake of Him. We experience even the divine nature of God Himself.
I was in another state speaking at a conference center. They asked me to go and speak to a particular church. It was the hardest group I’ve ever spoken to in my life. You talk about dead. When I told them to open the Word, everybody just stared at me. After I finished, I tried some humor to try to get them laugh a little bit and to show life, that their hearts were still beating.
I preached about a forty minute message and of course that’s twenty minutes too long in their terminology. One man had a burr haircut. He was a mean looking dude. Have you ever noticed people like that? They just love Jesus. Stomp all over you, that’s what they say. He walked up to me and said, “Preacher!” I said, “Sir?” He said, “I was in mission work all my life. I’ve been preaching in rescue missions all my life.” I said, “That’s great.” He said, “If you can’t say it in twenty minutes, then don’t even try it. By the way, I didn’t come to church to be entertained either.”
Before I could say a word he had wheeled around to leave, so I grabbed him. And when I grabbed him, I had a choice to make. My choice was, “Are you going to become a partaker of Christ or are you going to partake of the six months penalty for assault and battery? I mean what are you going to do right here?” I wanted to jerk him up and say, “Hey, listen God, this man says he loves you. I’m sending him home.” And bam, just put him out! That’s what I wanted to do but inside of me the Holy Spirit was saying, “Easy, easy, easy. Partake of me. Partake of me.” Some people talk about this stuff as if it’s so easy. Not for me. I go kicking and screaming. I grabbed him, turned him around and said, “Would you pray for me?” And he said, “What?” I said, “You just need to be patient with me. God is not finished with me yet. If I’ve offended you in any way, I didn’t come here to do that.” I thought later on, “Boy, that’s a switch from back before I knew Christ.”
Isn’t it good to have another well to drink from, a resource to grab hold of and experience the divine nature of God Himself and know that it’s not you, to know that you have fellowship with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ? Folks, I wonder if we understand any of that. Everybody’s got their own problems and they bring Jesus in at the last minute, when you could be sharing in Him right now. I guarantee you that His way is not your way. You go back to verses 1-9 and this is when it becomes important to you now, living as His people.
Once you start partaking of His divine nature and fellowshipping with Him, with that comes the wrong side of that, the bad side of that. That means you’re going to start partaking of His sufferings. This is the part nobody wants to hear because when you start walking in light and He’s in the light and you start partaking of His character and His divine nature, then it’s going to begin to offend the darkness that’s around you. We have to be willing to understand that part of it, and until Jesus comes that’s going to be part of it. That’s the key. We’re going to have to live with that.
That’s not a common message. That’s not what people want to hear but that’s part of it. Let me show you what Peter says about this in 1 Peter 4:13: “but to the degree that you share [koinonia] the sufferings of Christ [you see, you’re only going to share the sufferings of Christ to the degree you’re surrendered to Him to start with], keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.” He’s encouraging us to keep on rejoicing, because this is just temporary. It’s like Paul said in Romans, don’t even speak of the sufferings for the eternal weight and glory that they’re bringing to us, they’re something we’re headed towards. So the sufferings are worth it. Don’t bail out. Keep a balance in your life. If you’re going to experience His nature, you’re going to also equally experience His sufferings. You’re going to have to experience that.
I heard a guy give an illustration at a conference that just struck me right where I needed to be struck. He was talking about mowing his yard. That got my attention because you know how I love to mow my yard. He was mowing the grass and said, “Do you know how your mower shakes and vibrates. Mine was vibrating and it was fine because it’s always that way, then all of a sudden it began to shake. All of a sudden it broke loose from the housing and kept running. It fell completely out of the mower. He had to figure out how to cut it off. The whole thing had just dropped out of the housing, just shook itself loose.” He finally got it turned off. He was halfway through in his yard. He went around the neighborhood and finally found somebody who would loan him his lawnmower.
The two of them walked over with the lawnmower to his yard and he said, “Listen now, I’m going to take care of your lawnmower. I’ll make sure it’s gassed up.” He gassed it up and he checked the oil to make sure the oil was there. He said, “Now, the next thing I’ll do before I cut is sharpen the blade.” So he started sharpening the blade and he said, “Now, it’s ready to go.’ The guy said, ‘Wait a minute. You’ve got one more step.” He said, “What step? I’ve never done anything else.” He said, “You never have balanced the blade on your mower?” He said, “No.” He said, “Well, if you don’t balance the blade, it starts shaking. And if it shakes really bad, it will break loose from the housing.” Then he realized what had happened to his mower. He said, “Isn’t that interesting? I was more interested in sharpness than I was balance.”
You think that’s not where we are today, folks? Some folks can tell you straight but they’re not balanced in what they say. They’re not telling the whole message. Yes, you can participate in Him, but that also includes participating in His suffering. Get ready for it. It’s there. “Those who desire to live a godly life”, he says in 2 Timothy, “shall undergo persecution.” It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. It’s not directed at you. It’s directed at the One who’s in you because He said, “If they hated me, they’re going to hate you.” That’s what He told us. We should not be surprised. But He said, “Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”
Well, we’re running right down to the last phrase. Let’s look at the comprehensive title he gives to the Lord Jesus. This is the most comprehensive name you can find. “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“Jesus,” what is that? That’s His earth name. You have to come to grips with the fact that Jesus was a man. He was the God-man, came in the flesh, born of a virgin. The Gnostics couldn’t grab that, so they couldn’t be saved in the sense of the word. They had to understand that He was virgin born but the God-man. Remember, the angel said to Mary, “And you shall call His name Jesus.” That’s His earthly name.
But it was Jesus what? Christ. Do you know what the word “Christ” is? It’s the word for Messiah, the Anointed One spoken of in the Old Testament. So you’ve got to also understand He’s Christ and any time you see Christ Jesus, the emphasis is on the resurrected Lord Jesus. When it’s reversed many times, it’s referring more to Jesus Christ and what He did on earth, etc. But when you see the Christ Jesus many times it’s very significant in the New Testament. This is the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. If you only had Jesus here in His earthly part of His ministry, you’d have a good man but you wouldn’t have salvation. You have to add “Christ” to it, the Messiah, the One promised in the Old Testament who is Jesus. He’s Jesus Christ and you’ve got the resurrected Lord Jesus, the One who ascended glorified and the One who’s the door of our salvation.
But look what he goes on to say. He says, “our Lord.” “Oh but Brother Wayne, you don’t have to do that. All you have to do is accept the other stuff and you can make Him Lord down the road.” Where did you get that? Because until you come to grips that He’s God in the flesh and yet at the same time God manifested through His resurrection and ascension and glorification, being vindicated by what He had done, will you ever bow down before Him as your Lord and that’s when salvation takes place in your life? Drop the sword. Peace and Lordship start at the very moment. You may not understand this much of it, but it’s settled right there. You don’t work toward Lordship. You come up from it.
Many of us think, “One of these days I’m going to give everything to Jesus.” Friend, you already gave it to Him but you just don’t realize it yet. You gave it to Him when you got saved. He owns every bit of it. That’s the struggle many people have. “Well, I’m working on it.” You’ve already worked on it, friend. You just need to get lined up with where He says we ought to be.