This sermon was based on 1 Corinthians 4:1-7.
The Ministry of Apostles
…8Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! 9For 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. 10We 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. 11To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.
RICH vs. POOR
- The Corinthians were boasting to Paul about being rich, while the apostles were hungry, homeless and poor.
- During the three years of Jesus’ public ministry, his experience was need rather than plenty.
- What is the relationship between Christianity and wealth? It would be wrong to say that following Jesus will make you rich. It is more likely to make you poor.
- It is not wrong to be rich – but it can be dangerous. The challenge is using what you have for the sake of God’s kingdom.
KINGS vs. MEN SENTENCED TO DEATH
- The Corinthians thought of themselves as kings. The apostles were like men sentenced to death.
- The context is a Roman victory parade. At the front are governors and kings, then the rank and file soldiers, then ordinary citizens, then the slaves and finally prisoners who were being paraded before being executed – the Corinthians were acting like they belonged at the front of such a parade.
- If anyone has the right to be in the place of a King it is Christ, but he laid it all down and took the very last place, becoming obedient to death on a cross. This is why he was a stumbling block for many.
- If this was the place Jesus took, then as his followers we too must be ready to deny ourselves and take up our cross.
- In many times and places this has meant physical death. We must be ready for this should it come.
- More likely in our context it means dying to ourselves every day.
WISE vs. FOOLS
- The Corinthians thought that sharing their faith made them sound wise. The Apostles knew that it involved looking like fools.
- Being a Christian will mean saying things that just don’t make sense to somebody who doesn’t know God.
- It will also mean doing things that don’t make sense to somebody who doesn’t know God.
STRONG vs. WEAK
- The Corinthians thought they were strong, whilst the Apostles were weak.
- You can only see yourself as strong if what you are trying to do is easy – but what we are called to as Christians is impossible!
- Weakness is a good place to be because it leads us to rely on God.
HONOURED vs. REVILED
- The Corinthians were well spoken of by others whereas the Apostles were not.
- The idea isn’t to be obnoxious, it’s about fearing God more than we fear what other people might think of us.
- When we are persecuted or reviled, we should respond with blessing.