Grace at Corinth

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #2

“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing 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” (1 Cor. 1:4-7).

The next portion of Paul’s greeting to the Corinthians should make us think of some things we are going to learn later on in the epistle. Knowing what Paul knew, and knowing what he was going to admonish them for, what he says at the outset is striking. What he says here should not cause us to miss what he says later, but what he says later should not cause us to miss what he says here.

The first thing is that he always thanks God for the grace of God which they had been given (v. 4). The grace was real, and the apostle thanked God for it. That grace was also extensive—in every thing they were enriched by the Lord, and they had grace in their speech and in their knowledge (v. 5). The testimony of Christ was confirmed in them, and this means that it was a true testimony (v. 6). In the matter of spiritual giftedness, they as a church came in second to no one, and they exercised these gifts as they were waiting for the coming of the Lord (v. 7).

 

There is a tendency among perfectionists to adopt an “all or nothing” approach to this kind of thing. This introductory material is glossed over as so much spiritual boilerplate, and the real status of the church is uncovered when we hear about the man who was living with his stepmother (1 Cor. 5:1), or that certain members of the church were getting drunk at the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:21), or that some of them were taking others of them before unbelieving courts (1 Cor. 6:6). We are all familiar with these (and other) Corinthian failings, and this is why the phrase “basket case” seems to apply. But we should not be so familiar with them that we set aside says in his greeting here.

He could not address them as spiritual men, but as carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-4). And yet, even though he had to talk to them as though they were carnal, here at the start he assures us that they were anything but carnal. Paul was thankful for the grace of God that was in evidence at Corinth—and so should we be.

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