Redemption Community Church
Gathering 7/31
  • Come Adore the Humble King
      • Psalm 70ESV

  • The Lord Is My Salvation
  • All Creatures of Our God and King
  • Romans 11 (Doxology)
      • 1 Corinthians 2:1–5ESV

  • Intro: F3, workout F3 Name is Part-timer
    I belong to a work out group of men that work out each week here in the Memphis area. It is peer-led, free workouts that encapsulate three main objectives, Fitness, Fellowship and Faith. Every workout last 45 minutes and every workout ends with a time of devotion and prayer. If you are new to the group, you are called a friendly new guy during the workout and at the end, you are given a name.
    The regulars probe you about your likes, you family, you career, a favorite sports team. If none of this info sparks an embarrassing name to label you with, then we move to the embarrassing stories. On my first workout on January 8th, 2018 landed me the name Part-timer. Why you ask: because I have five kids, a wife, a secondary job and I am a pastor at a church. Therefore, the proverbial running joke continues about pastors, “we have very little to do” we are merely part-time workers.
    That name really encapsulates a joke that has some reality of what people think of pastors, especially ones who are full-time vocationally. I have heard the question more than once, “what do you do all day?” Sometimes that question comes with general intrigue while other times its a criticism.
    That Criticism weighs heavy on pastors and so they seek to juggle many aspects of church ministry to earn their keep. In full-time contexts they often clean the church, cut the grass, fix the plumbing, fill the baptistry, visit the sick, bury the dead, teach the SS class, and finally get to prepare and preach the sermon. When you consider that a majority of US churches are 100 people or less, then its not hard to imagine many pastors earning their keep by doing all these things.
    I would consider an unacceptable answer for most people to that question would be, I spend most of my time praying and studying God’s word in order to feed the flock each week. But it shouldn’t be unacceptable if we priortize the preaching of God’s word as the central focus of a biblically healthy church model.

    1. A Preaching Ministry Defended(v.1-2)

    Like in many letters that Paul wrote to the church, Paul defends his ministry among God’s people against the backdrop of critics of him. He makes a few statements to give clarity to the attack on him. Look in 4:1-5
    1 Corinthians 4:1–5 (ESV)
    1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
    Paul will make the case in the following verses that lead up to chapter 4 that he is innocent of any judgments against him and those judgements are invalid because they are concerning spiritual matters to which the Corinthians are unequipped to judge.
    This makes a solid point for us to consider as we see the reality of any stands that we make for Christ in our personal lives or in a ministry context. There will always be those who judge our efforts, our motives, and our character. But we must take those criticism with a thick skin understanding that come from blind people offering decorating advise. There is no validity to an judgment against you when it comes from a person who is not gifted by the spirit to see and understand spiritual matters.
    This is Paul’s point in our text for next week:
    1 Corinthians 2:14–15 ESV
    14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.
    Sometimes he defends the criticism of his apostolic authority. Many doubted that Paul was a legit apostle and that his words carried any weight. In this instance, it is not about the authority in what Paul is saying to the Corinthians. They are not in disagreement with his doctrine as much as they are standing in judgment against his showmanship- his delivery of the message.
    I have stressed the environment of Corinth in which the showmanship and entertainment value of the sophist created a celebrity stardom for public speakers. Paul’s delivery of God’s truth stood in contrast to the secular wise men of Corinth. He seemed to even be pitied against Apollos, his ministry companion who most likely had a more rheotrical preaching style like the sophists, given his influence in Alexandria. Author Ben Witherington writes,
    The audience was expected to evaluate a rhetorical speech and compare it to others. Rhetors expected the audience to judge their oral performance. The Corinthians were not acting differently from others who had been raised in a culture that had certain expectations about rhetorical performances. It was believed that a person is as he or she speaks, that there is a correspondence between words and life, and that one who is eloquent is also wise. Paul’s personal presence seems to have been weak, and by rhetorical standards this reflected on his ēthos, his ability to establish his good character and credibility.
    But Paul was not there to entertain, he was there to proclaim the truth and wisdom of God through the preaching ministry that the Lord had sent him to accomplish. Let us consider for a moment this passage and from it see a healthy guide for preaching in the local church. Paul exemplified this in the early church and there is much we can learn from him.
    Preaching has many words associated with it in the NT language. Two are mentioned in this passage and another one used in 1:17 but there are many more. In 1 Cor 1:18, Paul uses the term EUANGELIZO. It is a compound word in the GK with the EU meaning good and ANGELLO meaning message, or announcement. Therefore preaching is about the MESSAGE or content that is delivered which is good news. Politically, that message might be an announcement of victory at war or in a new appointment of a sovereign. We get our English term Evangelism from EUANGELIZO. Jesus and the work of redemption is the good message that is to be delivered and announced.
    1 Cor 2, Paul uses two more
    Katangello and Kerrusso
    KATAANGELLO is a derivative of EUANGELLO and both can mean proclamation of a message, specifically good news like the gospel. Both words are reflecting the root word ANGELLO that the message is not announced publically with joy and urgency, not timidly or restrained.
    The other word Paul uses to refer to his preaching is KERUSSO which is the verb form of KERYX. A Keryx was a formally authenticated herald in a kingdom who was hired to announce to the citizens great words from the king. They were verbal practitioners whose resume included a thundering vocal range so that the message could be heard from afar. Therefore, Kerusso as a verbal form came to refer to an authenticated message sent by a dignitary, in Paul’s case, the very words of God spoken by King of Kings.
    These GK meanings then help us understand what preaching is to entail. Preaching is a bold, public, confident proclamation of the good news of God’s word that is an authenticated message by the Holy Spirit delivered by an appointed man of God to an intended audience of interested listeners.
    Preaching finds its roots in the theology that God speaks to mankind through words and those words contain the very power of God. With those words he creates and brings life, and with those words he grows and nurtures, and even brings judgment and death. Those words are then intended to be communicated to man by God’s messengers such as angels, prophets, apostles and preachers. These delivery creatures are entrusted with a faithful message, not of their own making, and therefore must be faithful to make sure the package arrives at its destination. To discard the authenticated message for their own, is not preaching and it is an offense against the Sender.
    In his book Preach, Mark Dever states that preaching “derives its authority by being rooted in and tightly tethered to God’s word…without it, it is simply a speech” (Preach, pg36).
    Charles Spurgeon, who is known as the Prince of Preachers, wrote in his Lectures to My Students a more eloquent statement,
    “However eloquent the sower’s basket, it is a miserable mockery if it be without seed. The grandest discourse ever delivered is an ostentatious failure if the doctrine of the grace of God be absent from it; it sweeps over men’s heads like a cloud, but it distributes no rain upon the thirsty earth and therefore the remembrance of it to souls taught wisdom by an experience of pressing need is one of disappointment or worse.” (Spurgeon pg. 73, Lec V)
    Therefore Paul defends his ministry by stating that his intention is to be faithful to deliver doctrine to his hearers and not worry himself with decoration.
    1 Corinthians 2:1–2 ESV
    1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
    When Paul states he did not come to them with lofty speech or wisdom, he refers to an eloquence of words that found itself lost in the comparison with rhetoric of that day. When he came to Corinth in Acts 18, he came to simply preach them truth and in doing so he focused on doctrines of God that find their fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. We cannot believe that Paul only preached of Jesus his year and half of ministry there, but wants he wants them to see is that he would not overloading the message with fluff and pageantry.
    Preaching of God’s word should be the most central focus of every church gathering around the world because it is at that place that God speaks through his word. This is where the people of God are fed and therefore it takes precedence in the order of service. This is what we have instilled here at our church in comparison to churches in our community and nation. We hope you don’t come just for the music or the kids song but that you see those things as supplements to the sermon each week. Our singing to the Lord prepares our hearts to listen to Him speak through the exposition of the Scriptures.
    Paul avoiding pageantry simply means that he was not going to capitulate to the cultures desires or norms because what the culture needed was not culture admonition, it needed divine engagement. We know that when God’s word goes forth it changes individuals so that the community around them changes, one person at a time. Therefore Paul feeds them what they need, not what they want. They wanted rhetorical genius but Paul gave them the genius of the message of the gospel.
    Church, consider what you need as a believer who has been given new life in Jesus. You need the proclamation of the gospel message each week in this gathering as food for your soul. You needed to be pointed back to Christ, to his grace, forgiveness, his power working in you, his coming consummation of his kingdom, because you need this hope. Jokes, long illustrations and all other forms of pulpit pizzazz may woo you like a chocolate cake sitting on the counter, encased in glass but eating the whole thing only brings suffering and pain down the road. You need a healthy balance of spiritual protein and carbs that will strengthen you for the battle each and everyday. I remember the phrase back in the 90’s church culture that they could not resist, “Spiritual Milk- it does the body good.”

    2. A Preacher’s Heart Revealed(v.3-4a)

    1 Corinthians 2:3 ESV
    3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,
    Secondly, look at Paul’s position as he stands firm on his method of preaching. He submits himself as a humble and inadequate servant of the Lord.
    Humility- notice Paul states that he was with them in weakness. Commentators have debated Paul’s meaning here for some time. The GK rendering is most often used for physical illness. It was believed that Paul suffered from some unknown physical ailment as he served the Lord Jesus and His church. He speaks of that ailment in Gal 4:13-14
    Galatians 4:13–14 ESV
    13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.
    Paul acknowledges that his body experienced some ailment or sickness that could have been present with him in Corinth as well. Others point to this word and think Paul is mentioning the persecutions that he faced that made him weak. They point in 1 Cor 4:9-13
    1 Corinthians 4:9–13 ESV
    9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.
    For this they argue, is the weakness that Paul is referencing. I think either of these two definitions work for Paul’s argument even while not choosing which one. Paul’s point is not to define his weakness, but to show that even those with weakness can be used to show God’s strength. Remember the previous verses from last week,
    1 Corinthians 1:27–28 ESV
    27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
    Paul is showing that preaching God’s word cannot come from a self-reliance like the Christians in Corinth were tempted towards in regards to human wisdom. God chooses weak and lowly vessels to do extraodinary things in order to show the world that God determines was is weak and what is strong. If Paul refers to his ailment or his persecuted situation, both God could use to show the world that in spite of Paul limitations, He proved God’s power by what God accomplished in Paul.
    Therefore, Paul approached the task of preaching, because he knew his limitations with “much fear and trembling.” This means that Paul was humbled by the task and responsibility to stand before the people, rightly divide the truth and speak God’s words to men. This is a humbling task, one that no minister of the gospel should approach with arrogance. I read a story of a confident guest minister filled the pulpit one day. He stood passionately preaching but the people were not connecting with him. He left the pulpit that day discouraged with his head low and he was approached by an older gentlemen. He told the young preacher, “If you would have entered the pulpit in the way you just left it, you would have left the pulpit the way you entered it.”
    Confidence in preaching comes in a confidence primarily in the work of God to bring about his results as He plans and purposes. The faithful preacher must hold himself to the discipline of rightly dividing the truth, properly crafting the sermon and delivering it bathed in prayer, and reliant on God work to come forth.
    Paul relays that confidence in God’s work in 4a
    1 Corinthians 2:4 (ESV)
    4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible(persuasive) words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
    Paul’s states that his confidence is in the word of God to the degree that He does not feel the weight of convincing any one of anything. He does not have to use the power of persuasion or “plausible words” which means words of reasoning. Paul does not ignore reason or logic in his theology but he understands that the power of the work of God through the Spirit and his word supersedes any efforts he may have to convince.
    Far too long, emotions are tickled and engaged in preaching in order to bring results. Elongated altar calls and responsive times are almost crafted to initiate response. Contrary to such a practice, a preacher who trust in the sufficient and power of God’s word will deliver it faithfully and look for God to faithfully work through it as He deems fit.
    Spurgeon again writes,
    “A sermon, moreover, comes with a far greater power to the consciences of the hearers when it is plainly the very word of God- not a lecture about the Scripture, but Scripture itself opened up and enforced. It is due to the majesty of inspiration that when you profess to be preaching from a verse, you do not trust it out of sight to make room for your own thinkings.” (pg 75 Lecture V)
    This then leads us to our final point today...

    3. A Preacher’s Effectiveness Qualified (vs. 4b-5)

    How does Paul grade his preaching effectiveness? How does he sleep at night after preaching a sermon? Does he worry for our fret over it reception?
    1 Corinthians 2:4–5 ESV
    4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
    Paul states that the effectiveness of his preaching is evidenced in the very existence of the Corinthian church so he looks back and see how God changed their hearts and granted new life in Christ. They were his proof as they demonstrated a faith in Jesus Christ. Paul said something similar in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
    1 Thessalonians 1:4–5 ESV
    4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
    Paul was encouraged in Thessalonica as well because the doctrine of election proved true when the whosoevers believed by faith in Christ and were changed. They did not just hear the word, like many others in the synagogues that Paul visited, but they heard and believed, which was an evidence of the power of God at work. Therefore, a preacher then boldly proclaims the truth of God and afterwards He rests that God will bring forth fruit in hearts and lives. He doesn’t have to manufacture results because results will come. These results are spiritual results such as sin forsaken, marriages healed, addictions laid down, and anger is replaced with peace. When babes in Christ are born and grow to maturity, the preacher rejoices in Christ. When couples commit to a biblical marriage and remain faithful, preachers rejoice. When spiritual men are led to serve the Lord and they accept the call faithfully, the preacher rejoices in the work of the Lord. This is a lifelong work…one that the preacher devotes his life to and by God’s grace, he will be used over a lifelong preaching ministry to see God work.
    I covet the passage in the gospels where Jesus states,
    Matthew 13:1–9 ESV
    1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”
    When I think about that parable in the context of ministry, I reflect on the results that we often see as the gospel seed is cast upon the landscape. Only the good seed is true gospel fruit taking root and producing healthy crops, but even those crops are enumerated in different amounts. One farmers field is bigger than the other and yet they rejoice in seeing the crops bear fruit that they have been given. This summer, I planted tomato plants. Out of five plants that struggled to grow, I have currently picked one tomato. it was small, not very sweet. But I saw growth and i rejoiced in it. My strategy moving forward is simply cultivating for the next one to sprout. As a preacher of the gospel, I might see a small crop grow or a large, I am not responsible for that. I am responsible for being faithful to cultivate and nurture what I have been given and my desire is to do so with all my might for the glory of the Lord.
    My word to you church is shun the temptation for pageantry in preaching. You won’t get that showmanship for this pulpit. The world wants you to think, like the Corinthians that you have to be tantalized by schemes and if you are not, you need to move on. Truly that is a work of Satan to corrupt the good word of God that was being delivered to you. As you faithfully long to be fed the rich doctrinally truth of the Bible, we as your elders will serve up a fresh healthy meal every week for as long as the Lord allows us to do so.
      • 1 Thessalonians 1:4–5ESV

  • In Christ Alone
      • Matthew 28:18–20ESV

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