A Study on Sanctification through Paul’s Two Letters to the Corinthians
The books of First Corinthians (16 Chapters) and Second Corinthians (13 chapters) are almost as long as the book of Romans (16 chapters), but Romans has historically received much more attention from the Church. Perhaps it is because Romans focused on Salvation, whereas the Corinthian letters focused on Sanctification. While it is essential to know how to be saved, it is also important to know the “what now” that follows salvation. The Bible provides guidance through “First Corinthians: Sanctification through the Beatitudes” and through “Second Corinthians: Faithfulness through Ministry.”
Pastor Daiqing Yuan, Ph.D.
First Corinthians: Sanctification through the Beatitudes
Sermon #1: Introduction to the Book of First Corinthians (1 Cor 1:1-9)
Preached on Sunday, September 8, 2019
Paul visited Corinth in AD 50-51 and founded the church. In the epistolary opening (1:1-9), Paul affirmed that the church was indeed saved through faith, positionally sanctified, having a secure relationship with God. But while the church was vibrant, energetic, and richly blessed in financial resources and spiritual gifts, the believers lacked maturity and faithfulness. They needed to work on practical sanctification, i.e. on the fellowship with God. This letter revealed the lacking the eight blessings of the Beatitudes (Matt 5:3-10), in order, taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). The book is an application of the Beatitudes as the standard and guide for practical sanctification.
Sermon #2: The Problem of Pride and the First Diagnosis: The Gospel Is a Folly to the World (1 Cor 1:10-31)
Preached on Sunday, September 29, 2019
The Church of Corinth was divided into parties and factions, each claiming to follow one famous person (1:10-17). This reveals a severe problem of pride or the lack of humility, missing the first blessing in the Beatitudes: the recognition of being “poor in spirit.” Paul diagnosed that because of two misunderstandings of the gospel, thinking that it is a new philosophy taught by able teachers. The first correction is: The gospel cannot be understood by the world (1:18-31). The message of God is a folly to the world (1:18-25), and the people of God are fools to the world (1:26-31).
Sermon #3: The Problem of Pride and the Second Diagnosis: The Holy Spirit Is the Cause of Faith (1 Cor 2:1-16)
Preached on Sunday, October 6, 2019
The problem of pride in the Church of Corinth was due to two misunderstandings to the gospel. Not only is the gospel totally despised by the world (1:18-31), it can only be understood through the work of the Holy Spirit (2:1-16). The gospel is centered on the death of Christ (2:1-5); it is the eternal plan of God (2:6-9), and it is revealed by the Holy Spirit (2:10-16). So if anyone understands it and believes, it is the work of God, to which men should only be grateful and have nothing to boast.
Sermon #4: The Problem of Pride and the First Prescription: Reject Carnality and Be Spiritual (1 Cor 3:1-23)
Preached on Sunday, October 13, 2019
“Follow the spirit and not the flesh” is the first advice from Paul for the Church of Corinth, helping them solve the problem of pride. He used four illustrations. (1) The Church Is like a person: It needs to grow into maturity (3:1-4). (2) The Church Is like a field: It needs planting and watering (3:5-9). (3) The Church Is like a building: It needs quality material (3:10-15). And (4) the Church Is a temple of God: It needs the true gospel (3:16-23).
Sermon #5: The Problem of Pride and the Second Prescription (1 Cor 4)
Preached on Sunday, October 20, 2019
“Start a ministry and become faithful” is the second advice from Paul to the Church of Corinth -- to help them solve the problem of pride. He gave three goals for believers to strive toward: (1) True servants of God are faithful stewards of God’s Word (4:1-7); (2) True servants of God are horrible spectacles to the world (4:8-13); and (3) true servants of God are like loving fathers of believers (4:14-21).
Sermon #6: The Problem of the Toleration of Sin: The Biblical Solution (1 Cor 5:1-13)
Preached on Sunday, October 27, 2019
One member of the Corinthian church committed an egregious sin, taking in his stepmother, something even the pagans do not approve. The Corinthian church not only tolerated the sin, but also became proud of their tolerance. The second blessing of the Beatitudes says that only those who mourn for sins can be comforted by grace. Paul denounced this lack of mourning for sin and commanded a church disciplinary action. By excommunication, the member is no longer in the church, the realm of God and Christ, but in the world, the realm of Satan. Without the protection of God and Christ, a true believer will be tortured by Satan. The suffering of the body is for the saving the soul.
Sermon #7: The Problem of Trigger Happy Litigation: The Need of Meekness (1 Cor 6:1-8)
Preached on Sunday, November 3, 2019
Some members of the Corinthian church were trigger happy to sue fellow members in secular court concerning the issue of property rights. Paul condemned this tight holding of rights and ownership and urged them to learn meekness, taking a loss for the sake of Christ. It is the third blessing of the Beatitudes that the Corinthians were lacking: it was the proof of having been born again.
Sermon #8: The Issue of Sexual Purity: Absolutes in Righteousness vs. Relative Wisdom (1 Cor 6:9-20)
Preached on Sunday, November 10, 2019
Sexual purity is one of the most important signs of holiness. Believers have been made positionally holy; it is time to become practically holy. While there are relative issues under the rule of wisdom, sexual purity is a matter of absolute righteousness because sexual immorality is desecrating our body as the new temple of the Holy Spirit.
Sermon #9: Issue of Marriage and Divorce: Combining Holiness with Wisdom (1 Cor 7:1-16)
Preached on Sunday, November 17, 2019
Marriage is good for resisting fleshly temptation. Believers must not divorce the unbelieving spouse, for the whole family has been regarded as clean by God because of the believer. Salvation of the beloved ones are the works of God, but through the believing family member. However, if the nonbeliever wants to abandon the believer, it is a legal divorce.
Sermon #10: Issue of Singleness: The Pursuit of Perfection (1 Cor 7:17-40)
Preached on Sunday, November 24, 2019
Marriage is not a calling for all believers just as being Jewish or a freeman is not. In the spiritual kingdom of God, the physical and social conditions are not essential, so believers should not expect changes to those conditions directly because of faith. If there is a calling for singleness because of a calling for missions, it really is a blessing, especially when then the end time is expected to be close. If there is no such calling, then seek opportunities to marry a good person. Widows and widowers are free to remarry as long as both are in Christ. If there is not a suitable person, count singleness as a blessing. This revelation is from the Holy Spirit.