Monday, January 28, 2008

Questions From Corinthians

Here are some questions and comments from our Sunday Evening Bible Study on I Corinthians.

The division in the Church (1:10) were to be overcome by going back to what unites them, which is "Christ and Him Crucified." (1:23). They may have followed different teachers and pastors in the past, and they may have been baptized by different people. They may not have the same likes and dislikes. They may disagree politically. But with respect to the essentials of the gospel, they are to be united.

I can't help but thinking that in the Church at Corinth, the core message was accepted, even if it was not accepted by their culture (1:24). But what happens when this message is attacked from within the Church? Paul stops at saying he is only preaching Christ crucified, probably because they were not spiritually mature (2:1). But I believe that implicit in his statement is His resurrection and how we are justified before God. Paul later makes mention of righteousness, sanctification, and redemption(1:30), so he is preaching a gospel that is more than simply "Jesus died for your sins." These concepts are not for mature Christians, they are things that every Christian should know and understand and agree on.

I have been thinking about the atonement lately, and just the other day I linked to a book review relating to Penal Substitution. This teaching is that our sins were symbolically placed on Jesus on the cross, and God the Father poured out his wrath for our sins. It is seen by some (within the Church) as being primitive and obscene. Is this a core issue that we need to be united by, or is it a fringe issue? I believe it is a core issue, even if it is a stumbling block or seen as folly (1:23).

One last thought I have is to further emphasize our commonality through Christ. I have more in common with the Christian in Africa than with my lost neighbor or co-worker. I don't always remember, and I don't think I can ever fully get my mind around this concept. If I ever do, I wonder what effect this will have on how I view my life? The unity we have in Christ is an eternal bond with each other, while the bonds we share with those outside of Christ are temporary. They may feel stronger, but it is an illusion only.


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