Title: The Work of the Church: Six Principles for Christian Work (Part 1)
Text: 1 Cor 15:58-16:4
Introduction: We look this morning to the letter of 1st Corinthians. In chapter 5, verse 9, Paul mentions that this isn’t the first time he’s written to them. He loved them dearly and wanted to address the struggles and issues they faced as a body of believers. And man, did they have a lot of problems! The beginning of this letter appears to address issues Paul wanted to confront. Beginning in chapter 7, it appears that Paul is answering questions they had sent them. These questions could have come up from everyday problems in the church and I’m sure some come from trying to understand his previous letter. Historically, we know there were at least 4 letters written by Paul to the Corinthian believers. And from all this information, we know they had a lot of problems.
More specifically, in chapter 15, Paul is addressing the resurrection of Christ and the hope we have of our own resurrection when we die. And then in v 58, he gives them a charge – a command, in light of their hope as members of the Body of Christ: 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Hence, the title of my message this week: The Work of the Church.
It is a great ending to all areas of focus (foci):
Our focus in the 1st part of 1 Corinthians has been to observe the blessings of the church in Christ: Blessings, Unity, Leadership, and Relationships. And really, if you go back through, you could make an argument that it really has all been about relationships. Whereas the previous sections in this letter have dealt with Freedom in Christ and a believer’s responsibility to exercise his or her freedom with others in mind, Paul now reigns them in and reminds them of the traditions they’ve learned. And he commends them for keeping some of those traditions and later says I can’t commend you for these others that you haven’t kept.
In the 2nd part – A Focus on Order, specifically, Order in Worship. rd v2.
So, what were these traditions? Let me outline the broader picture of order within worship by quickly looking over the next few chapters. Let me show you what I mean. Head Coverings in Worship (11.2-16), The Lord’s Supper (11.17-34), Exercise of Spiritual Gifts (12-14), and remaining steadfast, and immovable in the face of persecution because of the hope we have in our future resurrection (15).
Really, it’s been about Relationships. Even as we remain faithful and steadfast, people see us and get saved – relationships. That’s how Paul concludes 15 with One command: be. He’s telling them to be the church! We see something similar in 16.13; Act like who you are!
The Command (15:58)
So, you have this set of instructions for life as believers. So now – act like it. Then in chapter 16, Paul gives some practical steps in accomplishing this feat – of acting of being the church. He calls it in 15.58 – ‘the work of the Lord’ and ‘your labor’.
app.: So, what does Paul do after this charge? He gives some insight into what the work of the Lord is all about! What must one do to accomplish the work of the church? Well, Paul gives us 6 principles to live by; however, this morning, we’ll only look at the first one. We’ll pick up with 2-6 next week.
t.s.: What must one do to accomplish the work of the church? 1st,
- Don’t Be Self-Centered (16:1-4)
exp.: Now concerning; cf.: 7.1, 25; 8.1; 12.1; 16.1; the collection; specifically, for the saints. He’s speaking of a specific ministry opportunity that has been a focus for them. He tells us more in v1; as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. Cf.: Gal 2.10; Romans 15.23-28; Acts 20.4-6
How to not be “Self-Centered”: focus your ministry on others.
ill.: Having a nice facility in which to worship is wonderful. I love pretty much everything about our worship center. It is cooled or warmed for comfort. The seats are designed for comfort. There are screens to aid in the process for your viewing pleasure. Those of us on stage have one, too! We have a big, beautiful piano. A great sound system. The list goes on. I’m glad we have these nice amenities. We have a security system in place for your protection – and people working that security system. But there comes a moment when we must turn our focus on ourselves and begin to accomplish the work we’ve been called to do. What we’re doing here at this moment isn’t the Great Commission. He didn’t say, “Go and build buildings for yourselves.” He said, “Go and make disciples…”
Paul is very specific with them about how to do this. In 16.1-4, Paul gives 5 Practical Ideas for Giving.
When you consider giving,
A. Note the Purpose (1)
exp.: People support good causes. They don’t just throw money down the drain. Here, Paul’s intention had been set forth before them; v1; the collection for the saints; there was a need in Jerusalem. Famine and hard times, as well as persecution, had created a financial crisis.
Note: This passage is about giving to mission/ministry, something above and beyond the tithe. Typically, a person/family tithes out of abundance with all God blesses them. Those monies are used in your local church. Other offerings/gifts are taken up for special ministries and missions. Lottie Moon is a great example. Annie Armstrong. The youth going on a trip. A couple going on a mission trip.
ill.: We do have great ministry and mission here. I love what was accomplished this past weekend. And, next year, I’d love to step it up a notch. But I also think it is time we look out into the world. There are so many who don’t know Jesus and have never even heard the name. Wouldn’t it be nice if we, that people at Tarpley, adopted a people group that is unreached and unengaged?
- What is a people group?
- “For evangelization purposes, a people group is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance” (Source: 1982 Lausanne Committee Chicago meeting.)
- In most parts of the world lack of understandability acts as the main barrier and it is appropriate to define people groups primarily by language, with the possibility of sub-divisions based on dialect or cultural variations. Such a list may be referred to as an ethnolinguistic list of peoples.
- An Unreached People Group means that less than 2% of the people group are believers. For example the Deaf Community.
- An Unengaged People Group means that there is no work among those people. No church, No missionary, No Bible Study.
app.: Wouldn’t that be something wonderful to do, as a church? Just on our own? Pray about who in the world is unreached and unengaged. Don’t worry about where they are, or how hard it would be to reach them. Just begin praying. God will supply all of our needs in accomplishing this mission. If, indeed, it is him calling!
t.s.: Have a purpose: 2nd, Look at how Paul says to do this:
B. Set aside these gifts in a Periodic Fashion (2a)
exp.: rd v 2a; on the 1st day of every week; That was when they would meet together – like us! They would come together for worship; They could give toward that mission or ministry every Sunday. Consider how that is for us: For many of them, they got paid at the end of the day. For us, we usually have a payday; That might be every Friday, or 2x’s a month, say the 15th and 30th; Some folks get paid once a month; That’s how we took our pay when I was in the military. Depending on your situation, you might only get paid after you bring in your crops or take your cattle to auction. If you get paid every qtr, your paycheck is a lot larger than someone who gets paid weekly.
app.: But the principle is the same: when you get paid, set aside some of your money.
t.s.: But, whatever your schedule, at that time, Paul says…
C. Your gift should be Proportionate (2b)
exp.: rd v 2b; set something aside; how much? as he may prosper;
ill.: I was thinking about this as the rain fell this past week. Not everyone got the same amount of rain. And so, it is with people. People prosper at different rates. Sometimes God blesses folks with money they weren’t expecting. The Lord blesses the work of some financially. Some are greater than others. Added to this, some folks may make more money at different times of the year. Insurance adjusters rake in the dough during disasters. But not so much when there are no storms to be chasing. Ranchers, when they bring their cattle to auction; Farmers, when they harvest their grain or fruit, or whatever their crops are – and bring them to their auction, market, gin, or processing plant.
app.: Thus, should our giving be: proportionate to our income.
D. Planned (2c)
exp.: you have to love the organization here; rd 2c; so there will be no collecting when I come; no last-minute effort; What a great idea! Set a date in the future and begin saving up for that event.
ill.: Youth Explosion: folks signed up to give a large sum of money. At least, I thought it was large. Some folks gave one time, they just wrote a big check, and wah-lah. I remember a young, single female. She was in her early twenties. Probably her first-year teaching. She had to save a little from her paycheck each payday for some months. That’s what we (me and Lisa) had to do, too.
app.: You make a plan, then you work that plan. So, as Paul says: there will be no collecting when I come.
t.s.: And that brings us to the last of the 5 Practical ideas:
E. Performed (3)
exp.: rd v 3f; Then, when the money is there, you do the work and fulfill the mission.
Can I tell you this goes against my nature? I’m not naturally an organizer. To be fair, my life over the past 35 years has dealt with having to be organized. And, if it weren’t for Lisa, I’m sure I’d of flunked out of school and never been successful at what I do.
With that said, I’ve learned to get organized. I think for some folks, it comes more naturally. They enjoy it even.
And, if I’m honest, when I do get organized and participate well, I enjoy it, too! And so will you.
Conclusion: Let me give you a schedule for the next couple of months.
Beginning the last Sunday in October, a fifth Sunday fellowship, we’re going to turn our attention toward missions. Each Sunday we’ll have a different focus on Missions. That will carry on through November. Then, in December, we’ll take up the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
Think right now, How much would you like to give? $100, $500, $1000 or more? What would that take for you to be able to give a gift like that? How many pay periods until that time? How much could you set aside each pay period to meet that goal?
What about OCC? Maybe you’d like to make the boxes, but don’t have the money? There are people with serious medical conditions, just kidding, people who like to shop. They enjoy that sort of thing. Maybe someone would love to give, but putting a box together makes them break out in hives. It is time to get that organized!
- It is a good purpose.
- You could set aside some money or items periodically. Maybe make one box a month?
- That’s the proportionate part. Maybe your portion is to give and someone else is to purchase items and someone else is to put them together.
- Make a plan and then work on that plan.
- I give that to Penny, Tammy, and any other ladies helping with that endeavor.
Here’s the whole idea: Get your eyes off yourself. Don’t be self-centered.