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 everything 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."
Paul has stated, in just these few words, the true foundation of the Christian faith, "His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." This is the foundation of God's dealings with men in this present era and it rests securely and entirely on His grace. In His deity, He is identified as “God’s Son, Jesus,” and in His place of supremacy as the glorified Man on the right hand of the majesty in the heavens, He is called “Christ our Lord.”
In Matthew chapter 16 the Lord asked His disciples "whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?" There were several answers given, but Peter said "thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God." Jesus answered that statement with this; “Peter, your statement has identified the basis, or the rock that "I will build my church upon, - and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." And to this very day, the true church stands firm on that foundation.
The church’s firm foundation is none other than the Son of the Living God, who is Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul is trying to remind the believers at Corinth in the most forceful way that he can, that all they have and are, is centered in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the most basic truth of the true church. The true church is composed of people who have been born again and live their life in the enjoyment of knowing Jesus Christ as their risen Savior. This truth alone will combat the confusion we find in the religious world today. The people of God find that everything in their life is centralized in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul states in these verses that the grace of God had been given to them by Jesus Christ. He goes on to state that "in everything ye are enriched by him." Then he goes into detail "in all utterance," or more accurately "in all word of doctrine," and "in all knowledge."
The testimony of Christ had been confirmed in them; they came behind in no gift, and the Lord Jesus was the Giver. Beyond this, they were waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and they could look forward to the time when He would confirm them blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ; and last but not least, they had already been called into the fellowship of God's Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
It’s plain to see from the words of this passage how everything for the believer finds its center in the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is much more indicated here. For instance, in verse 4, Paul speaks of the grace which is given to them by Jesus Christ. Corinth may have been a wicked city, but it was a cultured city. All down through the world's history of the nations we find that culture and wickedness have frequently gone hand in hand. Later in this Epistle, Paul indicates the reason for it, but here he merely states the fact.
It is true that things like culture, the arts and sciences, respectability and good manners, all of which come from man's own efforts to better himself, have a great social value. However, it often is the person who comes from the environment of a good home and is educated and cultured and a gracious person, who may use these attributes in an attempt to become a Christian. Paul is indicating in verse 4 that grace came to these brethren not on that basis at all. Grace (salvation) came to them by Jesus Christ.
Paul preached in Corinth at least a year and a half according to Acts 18, and there is no record or mention that he, a well educated man, brought or taught anything of culture or education to them except the very most important truth of the gospel, “Christ, and Him crucified.”
They already had all the culture they could use. He brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it’s through the Gospel many had gotten saved by God's grace. The brethren at Corinth, like all other believers in Christ, were debtors to Jesus alone for their salvation and all the spiritual benefits of being a Christian that had come into their lives since Paul first came to them.
He spoke plainly of Christ "that in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge." Evidently the believers at Corinth had studied the Scriptures and with the leading of the Holy Spirit had made much progress in the doctrine of Christ and of gifts and in knowledge. These benefits didn’t come to them through man's education or culture. They had come through the Lord Jesus Christ.
I would understand “utterance” to mean the substance of what was being expressed and would construe it to mean that through the Lord Jesus Christ they had been introduced into a new realm of thought where Christ was the very Center. This would have led to their increased knowledge and understanding and these brethren at Corinth were no longer “babes in Christ” and might even be called "advanced Christians." God had instilled in them the desire for great things, but later on we’ll see that they fell short in the use of the gifts they were given by the Holy Spirit and consequently were not very effective spiritually.
Their advancement wasn’t found in a system, or a church, or in human wisdom. It could only be found in a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. When they accepted Christ as Savior and Lord they were placed in a new kind of fellowship with new understanding.
1 Corinthians 1:9·13. "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 10. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"
Divisions were coming into the church in Paul’s day and he warns against such things here.
Divisions among the Lord's people have greatly increased in number since Paul’s day. I’m certain Satan enjoys this. The church of God is outwardly split into thousands of factions and bears little resemblance to the divine perfection and unity outlined for us in Scripture. Paul names the cause for this in verse 11. "there are contentions among you."
Even from a selfishly human standpoint, the Christian beliefs are very desirable. Most anyone will agree that the prospect of spending the next life in heaven is very attractive and that the thought of having an invincible protector in this life is comforting. These are attractive to carnal minded people who try to obtain them by associating with true Christians. They may associate and even fellowship with believers in an effort to reach these goals by man’s methods and contention is the result.
Contention can and does divide even God’s people and you may hear God’s people say “I’m a member of this denomination or that assembly or group” just as the Corinthians said "I am of Paul; I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas; and I am of Christ."
One of those divisions was even named after Christ Himself. That’s possibly the worst division to have been a part of because of religious pride that seems to claim exclusively the one thing that is common to all believers. It would appear to shut out all others who really belong to the Lord from their rightful Christian privileges.
In the present day we have organization of men that call themselves the church. Not only is it divided into various denominational and sectarian groups but many pride themselves in the fact that they are associated with the particular division that suits them best. The four divisions Paul names seem to cover all the various divisions that are found among God's people today, the entire realm of Christendom, or what we call the church of God today.
Verse 9 and 10 give us the answer to what can save us from these divisions. Verse 9. "God is faithful, by whom ye were called into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." 10. "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
Christians must come to realize that there is only one fellowship and this fellowship is "the fellowship of God's Son Jesus Christ our Lord" and this fellowship is common to all believers. It is ours by calling because it’s God who is faithful and it’s God who has called us into it. It isn't something men can induct you into like a club or a religious society, and, thankfully, no man can put one out of it. God has called us into it just like He called Abraham out of his country and kindred and father's house and sent him forth to seek a better country, God has called men and women by the Gospel out of the fellowship of this world with all its sin and into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
God has ordained that every believer shall share in the blessings of Christianity together with all other believers in Jesus Christ.
The sovereign authority of the Lord Jesus must be recognized and there is only one way and that is for each of us to recognize that the name "Christian" is sufficient.
Ephesians 4:4-6. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5: One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6: One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
When we gather together with other believers it should be simply to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. No other distinguishing name is necessary, any other name is an insult to the Name of “Jesus Christ our Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:14-18. “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 15: Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. 16: And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. 17: For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18: For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
In verse 17b, Paul stated that Christ sent him "to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." Paul is reminding them of what God had sent him to do. He was sent to preach the gospel. The one sure, unifying influence in Christianity is the cross of Christ. The emphasis is on the cross rather than the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s not because the cross is more important than Christ, it’s because we can’t reach the truth of our Lord's Person without coming by way of the cross.
Throughout the ages, the cross has been the symbol of the Christian faith. We can never become followers of Christ until we see the importance of the cross of Christ to ourselves. The Lord Jesus has not inaugurated a kind of political system, social order, or an intellectual cult. Paul indicates here that the Christian faith touches something very much deeper than that. It’s by the cross of Christ that we make our first contact with God in His divine dealings with us. John spoke of the Lord Jesus coming "by water and blood." At the cross, the soldier pierced His side, and "forthwith came there out blood and water." The Lord Jesus reaches us in all our need by the cleansing of water by the Word and by our release from sin through His shed blood.
The following is a quote from a gifted writer in one of his commentaries on these Scriptures. I quote it here because I can not address it as well in my own words.
The Cross of the Lord Jesus stands, as has often been suggested, in the center of two eternities. It is the dividing point of all time. The ages from the foundation of the world rolled onward with every milestone a signpost pointing forward to Calvary. The cycles of time of the Old Testament were measured in prophetic import in view of the moment when the Messiah would be cut off. Moreover the tide of time in the last twenty centuries has rolled forward in ever receding ebb from the high mark of Calvary. The Cross is the apex point of all time.
Moreover, if we go beyond the span of time itself, we find that, in a bygone eternity, the Godhead took counsel together regarding the vast plan of everlasting bliss that should be inaugurated. It was decreed that the foundation of that universe of bliss that was planned should be laid at Calvary's Cross.
Then, as we look forward into the limitless expanse of the eternity that is yet to come, we see the Lord Jesus not merely as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but we see Him as "the Lamb as it had been slain."
We see Him riding forth to establish His kingdom in power and great glory with His vesture dipped in blood. Both the millennial and the eternal kingdom are built upon the foundation laid at Calvary's Cross.
The attention here is not the preaching of Christ as an Example or a Leader or even as a Martyr. It is the preaching of the cross. It is the symbol of the cutting off, the end of the order of the first creation and the beginning of the new creation. The Lord Jesus Himself said: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit," and then He went on to say "and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto me."
I don’t think that we who are Christians begin to realize the tremendous importance of the cross of Christ. It’s not simply the death of Christ because His death could have been by some other way. Crucifixion was the worst form of death man could inflict on the worst of criminals. When Christ was crucified, it expressed man's estimate of the Son of God. There was hatred, disgrace, and shame involved, yet the scripture says "He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
That day in time was the calamity of the ages. It plunged the universe into total darkness for three hours when the Lord Jesus Himself took the judgment of God for our sins. The light of the sun was shut out and the universe was plunged in the black of night. It was the center point of all time and eternity.
Consider what was transacted there at the Cross. 2 Corinthians 5:19. “...God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;” God was there in the Person of His beloved Son, who took our place on the cross. He suffered the agony of physical pain, mental anguish, and sorrow. His soul was troubled; He was grieved in the spirit. He was bruised and He thirsted. Then the judgment of God descended upon Him, and He cried out: "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" That was what transpired on the cross.
But not only was God there in the form of the Son but He was there as a man, representing all mankind. How can the conscience of man stand before God when we, the guilty ones, took the Just One and condemned Him to the death that was ours?
The Jews and the Gentiles joined together to crucify the Lord of Glory. You and I were there representatively because those who took part in the awful drama behaved precisely as you and I would have behaved under the same circumstances. They were demonstrating what was in the heart of natural man, namely, hatred against the God who had created us.
Man and God weren’t the only ones there, Satan was there, too. I’m certain that Satan and his legions of fallen angels must have delighted in the scene at the cross. It was their one last assault upon the Son of God, and they were using men as their instruments to accomplish what they must have thought was the final act to defeat Christ.
God’s angels were there, too. Twelve legions of angels were poised, ready to come to the aid of their Creator had He uttered one word to them.
God the Father was there, too, presiding over the scene where His beloved Son was bringing infinite glory to His Name by the putting away of sin forever.
Moments before He died, Jesus said: "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." Never in time or eternity was Jesus nearer and dearer to His Father than when He was on the Cross. Jesus spoke of this time to come when He was betrayed at the last supper.
John 13:31·32. “Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32: If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.’
Some may see the Cross as a symbol of Satan's might but it only signifies that Satan’s might and all his evil was defeated there. The cross overcame man's slavery to the power of evil and it is the eternal symbol of the endless and unfathomable love of God.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life."
"The preaching (or truth) of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us that are saved, it is the power of God."
By the cross of Christ,
you and I
stand redeemed or fall condemned
before our Creator.