A Fresh Look at 1 Corinthians 15:34: An Appeal for Evangelism Or a Call to Purity? -- By: Homer A. Kent, Jr.
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A Fresh Look at 1 Corinthians 15:34:
An Appeal for Evangelism Or a Call to Purity?
The church at Corinth was tolerating serious doctrinal aberrations which were causing moral and spiritual difficulties in the congregation. Paul’s challenge: “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame,” was a call to sober thinking. It urged a return to holy conduct, and a recognition that the presence of wrong doctrine was a shameful condition which must be rectified.
One of the periodic discussions which has characterized the church focuses upon the inadequacies that we perceive about ourselves. Why aren’t we growing? Why do we have conflicts? Why can’t our programs be as exciting and effective as they used to be? Before long we concentrate so heavily upon the problems that we forget our main business. In our very concern to find reasons for our lack of growth, our negativism makes us even more unattractive to the world we want to reach.
Not only that, but focusing on our problems can so easily make us lose perspective. “All is lost.” “Things have never been this bad before.” “It’s a different world now. There are no biblical precedents or helps for us. We need a new program, a new formula, new approaches, new leaders.” These are the things we tell ourselves.
But a careful study of the Bible makes it sound strangely familiar. Consider the congregation of the Christians at Corinth. Here was a church that was founded on pure doctrine by an apostle. It counted some very able people in its membership. Priscilla and Aquila had been there from the beginning of the work. There was Crispus, a man of recognized integrity and leadership so that he had been made ruler of the Jewish synagogue in the city. His conversion to Christ and the Christian faith led him and his household into the
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new church at Corinth. The same thing seems to have happened with Sosthenes, the successor to Crispus at the synagogue. Then there was Gaius, whose gracious hospitality at Corinth made Paul’s ministry more pleasant (Rom 16:23). Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus were likewise stalwart Christians with roots at Corinth.
The church at Corinth had also known some great Bible teachers. Paul and Silas and Apollos had extended ministries there. Timothy and Titus were no strangers to that congregation. Furthermore, this church had witnessed some remarkable conversions and transformed lives. Some of their members had once been idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, and swindlers before they had been tran...
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