After trusting in Christ, can you see how He has been at work in your life, sanctifying you in preparation for His return? As we kick off our new series on 1 Corinthians, John Elmore encourages us with the truth that we are called by Jesus, gifted by Jesus, and kept by Jesus.
Standing Firm In A Fallen World | 1 Corinthians 16
The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts | 1 Corinthians 14
A Church Marked by Love | 1 Corinthians 13
How To Build A Church | 1 Corinthians 12
God's Design for Men and Women | 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Repentance, Allegiance & Deference for the Glory of God | 1 Corinthians 10
Giving, Sharing, and Living for the Gospel | 1 Corinthians 9
Christians and Controversial Topics | 1 Corinthians 8
Being Single | 1 Corinthians 7:7-40
Fighting For Your Marriage | 1 Corinthians 7:1-16
Sex and Glorifying God | 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Conflict: An Inevitable Opportunity | 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
Church Discipline: Sin, Grace, and Shepherding | 1 Corinthians 5
The Resurrection Is the Remedy to Our Hypocrisy | 1 Corinthians 15
The Purpose, Plot Twists, and Power of Christ | 1 Corinthians 4
Being a Healthy Church | 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
The Miracle of Spiritual Maturity | 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
The Miracle of Salvation | 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Priority, Preference, and Power | 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Called, Gifted, and Kept by Jesus | 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
After trusting in Christ, can you see how He has been at work in your life, sanctifying you in preparation for His return? As we kick off our new series on 1 Corinthians, John Elmore encourages us with the truth that we are called by Jesus, gifted by Jesus, and kept by Jesus.
Good morning, Watermark, brothers and sisters. Welcome to the church. I love the fact that I have to interrupt because of all the meet and greet and getting to know each other. That's a gift and a blessing. My name is John Elmore. I'm one of the teaching pastors here at Watermark, and I love being with you all on Sundays.
On Friday, it was our son Hill's 8-year-old birthday. He wanted to take him and all of his buddies to an arcade, so we go to this video game place, NickelRama. It is Vegas for children. Frankly, it's grooming children to one day be at Vegas, because it's lights and buzzers and tickets, and the more tickets you earn, you get the prize, and there are cupcakes, and it's just… It's sheer chaos, with kids running around, and they're spilling their nickels and clamoring for them. I mean, it's just nuts.
In the midst of all that energy and lights and buzz, I hear one thing. There's plenty to hear, but one thing just draws me, and it's my 6-year-old daughter. I mean, it was all boys, 26 of my son's friends, and one girl. Poor thing. It's Penny, all the way across the arcade, going, "Daddy!" There were probably other kids in there calling for their dad, but when your daughter, in that voice, hits your ears… It's like everything goes into slo-mo and blurs out, and I'm just making a beeline for Penny.
So I go to her, and she's frustrated. I get on my knees beside the game. I mean, these nonsense games. I'm like, "Baby, what's wrong?" First of all, all of the coin slots are broken. She can't even get the nickels to go in. She's like, "I can't get tickets." I was like, "Oh, here. Hand me some nickels," and I lay this game out. Tickets start coming out. Then she has a wad of tickets. So we play together, and she's like, "Can we go get the prize?" We walk over to the… I mean, it's just junk. It's straight junk. I don't know how much these items cost.
It's bouncy balls and bracelets and temporary tattoos and little rainbow things and a little kitty cat. I'm like, "I bet she's going for the kitty cat," but she surprised me. She's looking at this glass case. The dude behind the counter is just checking his phone, not even paying attention. She taps on the glass. "This one." He's like, "All right" and slaps it up. I'm like, "What in the world is that?" She was like, "Fingernails." She got these one-inch goth, emo, vampire fingernails. I'm like, "What in the world? Who are you going to kill with your fingernails?"
So, we're driving back. We're on George Bush going the speed limit, and she's putting on her fingernails. All of a sudden, she starts crying for me again, like, "Daddy! Daddy!" I'm like, "What?" She's like, "My pinkie fell off." I was like, "Uh…" She's in the back seat in the seat. I'm like, "Hey, put the pinkie nail on, and then hand me your hand." You know, it's this trashy adhesive on the… If you're going to get nails, don't get them from the arcade.
So, I'm pushing her pinkie as hard as I can. She's like, "Okay. It's good." We get home. We're eating pizza. She's like Edward Scissorhands, but she's delighted that she has her nails on. Everything is fine until… I'm with the boys downstairs, and all of a sudden, I hear crying. I'm like, "What is going on?" Now I hear my daughter again. I go upstairs. Laura is like, "I need help." Penny has tears streaming down her face with these nails. I'm like, "What?"
Laura is like, "There's a nail in her nose." I'm like, "You have got to be kidding me. First, don't pick your nose. Second, don't do it with a cheap fingernail." So I'm like, "All right. Penny, look at the ceiling." I'm holding her head back. Laura has tweezers and is like, "Don't move." I mean, she's terrified, still crying. Laura is like, "I can't get it." I was like, "All right. I know what to do."
I lowered her head down. I was like, "Do not breathe in through your nose." I plugged the right nostril. I was like, "Take a breath through your mouth, and then blast as hard as you can through your nose." She blows, like, snot rocket, and out comes the fingernail. I just needed to tell somebody. That has nothing to do with anything. I was like, "If you inhale that, it's going into your brain cavity."
Here's the thing. It's exactly what we're going to talk about today. In case you're like, "What theological gymnastics are you going to do to make that fit anything?" here's what happened. We're in the midst of chaos. My daughter calls me, and I go to her. Then my daughter needs something, and she gets a gift. Then she needs help, like, real help, and I got her. I am with her until that thing is resolved.
It's what Jesus does in the passage. He calls us. You were called by Jesus. Just as my daughter called for me and I brought her into this world with Laura… She's called by me. She calls me. Jesus gifts us. He gifts every believer in the church with gifts, and not just a once-and-for-all gift for the body, but lavish gifts as we walk through this world. Then he keeps us. No matter what trial you have, fingernail up the nose or anything else, Jesus is like, "I've got you. I will keep you to the end."
The passage where you will find "Called by Jesus; gifted by Jesus; kept by Jesus" is 1 Corinthians 1:1-9. It's where we're going to spend our time today. In case you're like, "Well, did you just cherry-pick that because that's what matched the illustration?" no. Rather, for the next five months, through the end of July, we, as a church, are going to walk through the letter of 1 Corinthians, verse by verse, passage by passage, chapter by chapter.
It's amazing, y'all. It's an amazing letter to the church for the church by the Spirit through Paul, as we are going to walk together and learn. If you are not on Join the Journey, if you don't have the app or the journal you can get afterward, we're reading through the New Testament together as a church, and on Friday, providentially, as the Lord would have it, we begin 1 Corinthians. God has lined up this whole journey. So, today, 1 Corinthians 1.
The other thing you need to know, in case you're like, "Wait. First Corinthians? What is Corinthians, and what is Corinth?" Corinth was a city in Greece. It was a land isthmus, which is just a land bridge, separating the Mediterranean. They had canaled a passage through it, so it was a port city…tons of wealth, tons of travel, a lot of philosophy. You need to know this about Corinth. Like I said the arcade was grooming children to one day enjoy Vegas, this was the OG Vegas. This is the original "Sin City."
Not only was it wealthy, but there was great licentiousness through the city, markedly because at the top of the hill overlooking all the city was the temple to a particular deity in Greek mythology. A lot of the Greek towns would be known for various things. Well, the deity Corinth chose, like, "We'll be known by this," was Aphrodite, the goddess of love and sex. That had a literal ripple-down effect throughout the entire city.
In fact, there was a verb that was coined by one of the philosophers of the age called corinthianize, which was to have lustful sex. The name of the town became the term for sultry, lustful sex, because at that temple of Aphrodite were a thousand cult prostitutes where you could worship. So, sailors would come in for trade, or the people who would travel there for the worship, per se, at the deity of Aphrodite. They would find these temple prostitutes, male and female, where they could pay money and give themselves over to defilement of the flesh. That's Corinth.
Now, you have to be wondering, "What in the world? How did Paul, who wrote 1 Corinthians, end up there of all places? That seems like a super odd destination. Like, 'Of all of the cities of all the world, I'm going to go to the Vegas of Greece.' That's nuts." Well, here's how. In Acts 18, the Lord sets the stage for how Paul would get there.
In Acts 18, Paul has come out of Athens, another Greek city, and there in Athens he was explaining to the philosophers of the day… He was at Mars Hill, or the Areopagus, where they would gather, and the philosophers of the day would talk and present new ideas. He's walking through the town, and he sees all of the gods, and there was an "unknown god" in case they forgot one. They were like, "We don't want to offend anybody, so, unknown god."
He was like, "Hey, the God you say is unknown… Let me declare to you who he is. He's the God of all. He doesn't dwell in a temple. He doesn't need human hands. Rather, in him, by him, and for him are all things. He has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he's holding men accountable to their sins through his Son Jesus Christ." The Athenians were like, "Yeah, that's interesting, but, no." Just a few come to trust in Christ, and the rest don't. So Paul leaves Athens. You know he's leaving Athens discouraged.
It's shocking that having left Athens discouraged, he's like, "I know where I'll go next…Sin City." If that's me, that's not where I'm going. If I'm a messianic Jew who has trusted in Jesus and there's this town given over to defilement, I'd probably be thinking, "They deserve that. Pagans? Temple to Aphrodite?" But not God. God is like, "No, Paul. That's exactly where you're going. You have to go to Corinth. I came for sinners. Where else would I send you? That's the reason Jesus came. All are dead in sin. You have to go to Corinth." It makes total sense. That's why Jesus came.
So, Paul travels 50 miles from Athens to Corinth, and when he gets there, something crazy happens. Remember, he's discouraged, likely, because of what happened in Athens. Like, "Lord, you've called me to be an apostle. You'd think that my message would bear fruit and people would trust Christ, and they didn't." There in Corinth he meets two people. "Hey, what's your name?"
"Priscilla and Aquila."
"Oh, cool. Where are you from?"
"We're from Rome."
Paul might have said, "Hey, I'm a Roman citizen. I'm from Tarsus." "Oh, cool. Hey, great. We're both Roman citizens. Well, we're actually not Roman. We're Jews who lived in Rome." Paul would have been like, "I'm a Jew! That's incredible!" They would have been like, "Well, we're Jews, but we've trusted in Jesus. We believe in the Messiah who has to come." He's like, "I've met Jesus! He knocked me off my horse. I saw the resurrected Christ." And all of a sudden, they're like, "That's crazy!"
"Hey, what do you do for a living?" Priscilla and Aquila are like, "We make tents." He's like, "I make tents!" It's this crazy reunion. So there they are. God drops this couple in his lap…they have everything in common…as an encouragement and refreshment to his soul. In case that's not enough, the next thing we read in Acts is two other people show up on the scene.
Do you know who show up on the scene? Silas and Timothy. They come down from Macedonia, another Greek city. Dude, they got the band back together. It's like Rolling Stones reunion tour. They're like, "Let's do this!" So, what would they do? As Jewish believers, messianic Jews, they're like, "Let's go to the synagogue. That's our offense."
They roll into the synagogue. They're like, "Hey, we're going to show you something from all of these prophecies. The Lord said he's going to send someone, the Anointed One. It's Jesus. He has come. He has raised from the dead. He has ascended into heaven. He's coming again. It's Jesus." Like in Athens, they're like, "No. Nah. We're not having that."
You have to imagine that discouragement then again, except for the fact that Paul goes right next door. It says he went to the house next door to the synagogue. Knock! Knock! Knock! His name was Titius Justus, just some Greek dude who loved God. He comes to faith, and then wildfire through Corinth, because sinners need a Savior. They knew their lives were in vain. So, all of a sudden, people are coming to trust in Christ. God gives Paul a vision, and he says, "No one is going to harm you in this city. Speak clearly, for I have many people in this city."
Now, God, standing outside of time… I love this, because no one had come to faith yet except for Titius Justus. God is like, "Paul, I have many people here; there's going to be a harvest," yet not one of them, or maybe just one had come. God is like, "You just preach, and they're going to come to life. I'm about to raise the dead in Corinth."
Then, because of an uprising, as the Jews bring him before the proconsul there… He's like, "Hey, this has nothing to do with me. This is some kind of Jewish heritage thing, so I don't have anything to do with it." But because of that, they kind of get run out of town. Paul goes to Ephesus, and then Apollos, this other believer, goes to Corinth, and Paul is writing now to that baby church. It was the first Greek church God planted through Paul.
Now he's writing them a letter, because they were baby Christians. They were like, "Hey, what do we do about food sacrificed to idols? What do we do about marriage? What do we do about singleness? What do we do about these gifts we have from God? What do we do? What do we do? What do we do?" Paul was like, "I'm going to write. I'm going to tell you so that you'd be matured up in Christ and glorify him." So, that's what we have here in Corinth in 1 Corinthians, that church.
Then here is a little bit of the book. Here's just a flyover in case you're not familiar with it. We're going to talk about 1 Corinthians 1 today, but in chapter 2, Paul says, "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." He's like, "I'm just going to preach the gospel. Whether it's in your marriage, in the way you eat, in the way you drink, in the way you use your gifts, it's all Jesus."
Then he gets to chapter 3, and he's like, "Hey, I planted the church, Apollos watered the church, but God made it grow." He's like, "You think we're something? You think Apollos is something? You think Cephas is something? No. It's all God. He's just using us. We're just servants." Then in chapter 4, Paul, because they were not just elevating who they thought they liked the best, as far as their preacher or pastor; they were also elevating themselves…
Paul asks them a rhetorical question. He says, "What do you have that you didn't receive, and if you did receive it, why are you boasting as though you didn't?" He's like, "I know all you have is from Christ and for Christ. Why are you boasting against each other?" Then he gets to chapter 5, and he says, "Jesus Christ is your Passover Lamb," which, from the teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures, they would have known, "We're sinners. There's this perfect, spotless Lamb that was given. The blood has covered us so that death and wrath would pass over us. Christ, our Passover Lamb."
In chapter 6, he says, "Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a man commits is outside of the body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? You were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body." That's 1 Corinthians 6, where he's saying, "Flee immorality of sexuality."
Then in chapter 7, he's going to say, "Have sex," that married people need to have sex, and it's one of the greatest provisions to resist the temptation of Satan because of your lack of self-control. He's like, "This is a gift, but it's in the context of marriage." Then they're like, "But what about the people who aren't married?"
First Corinthians 7 has the greatest message for singles. In the church sometimes it's like, "Man, parenting and marriage…" We're going to get to 1 Corinthians 7 and the exaltation of singleness, as Paul says, "I wish all were as I am, because the single person is concerned about the Lord's will and how to please the Lord, whereas the married person is concerned about their spouse and how to please them." He's exalting singleness.
In 1 Corinthians 8, he's going to say, "Everything is for the Father, unto the glory of the Father, and through the Son." Amazing summary statement. When he gets to chapter 9, he says, "I become all things to all people so that by all means I might win some." The contextualization of the gospel. Then he gets to chapter 10, and he says, "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." This summation statement of "Glorify God and enjoy him forever," as the Westminster catechism says.
Get to chapter 11, and it's the Lord's Supper (one of two ordinances, the Lord's Supper and baptism) and the longest passage on the Lord's Supper, his body and blood broken and shed for us as we take of it, as we do here on a regular basis. Then he gets to chapter 12, where they're talking about the gifts in the body and how they aren't individual. The hand can't say, "I don't need the body," but rather, it's all joined together, rising up with Christ the head, intertwined.
Chapter 13 is about love. You've heard it at marriages. It's not about marriage. It's about the Christian life and that if we have all things, faith to move mountains, and surrender our body to the flames, but we don't have love, we're nothing. You're a nuisance. Then you get to chapter 14, and in chapter 14, he says, "Hey, the gifts you're given are for the encouragement, upbuilding, and consolation of the body." That's the purpose of the gifts.
Then in chapter 15, he's like, "I know you've heard that some say there is no resurrection or the resurrection has already taken place. Let me tell you all about the resurrection and the importance of it and the second coming of Christ." Then in chapter 16, the verse I'm sure you've heard… It's kind of a bumper-sticker Christianity verse. "Be watchful. Stand firm in the faith. Act like men. Be strong."
A lot of times, people will end there, and it's like this John Wayne Christianity, like, "Act like men! Be strong!" but pulled out of context from the next verse, which says, "Let all that you do be done in love." It's truth and grace. Jesus was full of truth and grace. He's giving us the wholeness of that right there at the end of the letter. "Let all that you do be done in love." It is an incredible letter of gold given to us and preserved these 2,000 years.
So, where are we going today? Called by Jesus, gifted by Jesus, and kept by Jesus. The reason you're hearing me say, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" is because 13 times in nine verses the words Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ our Lord, he, and him, either his name or pronouns… Thirteen times in nine verses. The whole refrain is "This is all by Jesus, for Jesus, unto him."
Three times this verb kaleo, which is to be called, called by God. Paul is saying, "I was called by the will of God to be an apostle." He says what happened. When Paul was called, do you know what he was doing? He was a bounty hunter for Christians, on his horse, headed to Damascus to take prisoner, persecute, and kill Christians. That's what he was doing when he was called, when Christ came to him as blazing sun. "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
He would have been like, "I'm not persecuting you. What are you talking about?" He's like, "What you do to my body, you do to me." Paul was called when he was killing. Similarly, when we were called (this past grace), we were dead in our sins and trespasses, the Scriptures make clear in Ephesians 2, but we were made alive. We were not alive, and then God is making us better. We were dead, like Lazarus in the tomb.
When Jesus came to Bethany and Lazarus was there in the tomb, there was no amount of better or good or works or unction or effort or bootstrapping that Lazarus could ever do to get out of the grave. He was dead. Simply, Jesus called him, "Lazarus, come out!" and he came out. The dude walked out in burial graveclothes, to which Jesus said, "Take the graveclothes off him."
When Jesus calls a person, they respond. It's the effectual call of God upon a person through Jesus, that irresistible grace. A lot of times, you read the Gospels, and it's like… This is funny. Jesus comes to the fishermen, and they're mending their nets, or you have Levi sitting in the tax collector's booth, and he's like, "Leave your nets and follow me. I'll make you fishers of men." They're like, "Oh, cool. I was looking for a new job anyway. That's great. Cool. I'll go with you."
You're reading it, and you're like, "Is that really how that happened? Did he really just…?" "Yeah, I'm kind of done collecting taxes. Sounds like a better deal. I'll follow you." But it's the effectual call of God. When God calls a person, he raises the dead. He's calling out, "Lazarus!" and Lazarus can do nothing but stand and be like, "Yes, Lord. Your servant is listening. Here I am." So it is with you. He has called you if you are in Christ.
It's like the first time I called Laura. I got her number. I didn't even know her last name. "Laura, Pine Cove" was what was saved in my phone, because she worked at Pine Cove. When I called her, you'd better believe she picked up. It was me calling. She didn't pick up. It went to voicemail. But when God calls, we pick up. It's John 1:13. It says, "…who were born, not of blood…" Which means bloodline or lineage. It has been said God has no grandchildren. He either has sons and daughters or nowhere in between.
"…not of blood nor of the will of the flesh…" Meaning, "I'm just going to be a better person. I'm going to do good. I'm going to do good in life. It'll be the will of the flesh that I become saved." It says, "…nor of the will…" Meaning, "You know what? Let's see…Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Scriptures, Old Testament prophecies… I think I'll become a believer." Not of the will either. It says, "…but of [the will of] God." Of the will of God. As he calls us, we're called.
What were you called to be? It says, "To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified…" The verb there is made holy, set apart entirely unto God. But it doesn't stop there. It says, "…in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…" This verb, "sanctified in Christ Jesus…" It's a passive verb. Meaning, it's being done to us. I can't sanctify myself. I can't make myself a better person. I have no ability to do that. I have no ability to get myself out of sin or make myself more into the righteousness of Christ. It's what he does. He sanctifies us.
I came across this. I love art. A lot of times, that stuff just pulls me in. I was looking at this. It's a picture of Michelangelo. He did something that's lesser known of all of his works. He was called the master. He created this. It's called TheDeposition, or the "De-position," where they took down Jesus from the cross. You see Nicodemus behind him. We know Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea came for the body. You can see Mary, his mother, with his cheek against there, and Mary Magdalene as well, helping. The De-position, bringing him off the cross.
This is interesting. Michelangelo was always doing commissioned work, either for a church or some benefactor. This one in particular no one commissioned him to do. Do you know why? This one was for him. It was the last thing he ever did, and he made it for his own tomb. The Deposition he made for him, and it was made by him. That's like sanctification. It's by Christ, and it's for Christ.
Here's the interesting thing. Look at that picture again, and look at the face of Nicodemus. It's not Nicodemus. Michelangelo made himself Nicodemus. It's a self-portrait. That's Michelangelo's face. He put himself in it. The master, making it by him and for him, also chiseled it of him. This is sanctification. He says, "…those sanctified in Christ Jesus…" He is making you for him, by him (he's the one sanctifying), and it's of him. He's putting the face of Jesus in you. He's not making you a better version of you. He's making you into Jesus, that as you love and live and speak, you are more and more like Jesus.
It says, "…called to be saints…" It feels a little redundant. Right? Like, "Wait. You just said we're sanctified, and now you're saying we're saints." In the English, it would be like, "You have been made holy, and now you are holy." It's like, "Yeah, we get it. What's the difference?" Well, one is a spiritual reality, the verb, "You've been made holy." That's a spiritual reality. The next one, where he says, "You've been called to be saints" is a spiritual identity. It's an identity and a mentality.
I'll say often, "You are not a sinner who saints; you're a saint who sins." It makes a world of difference, as your identity informs your activity. It really, really matters. Then it says, as a result, "…together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours…" Let me tell you something. In Ukraine right now, they are calling upon the Lord Jesus.
There was a news reporter… In the background, they all of a sudden saw, in the freezing cold, all of these believers come together in the town square, get on their knees, and start praying. In the Ukraine right now, pastors and Christians are saying Bibles are sold out. You can't get a Bible in the Ukraine right now, because people are clamoring to know truth, and they're considering their own mortality and eternity and are desperate and longing to make sense of a really hard situation. They are calling upon Jesus.
What I would say to us here in the American church is that we are in a worse war. I don't mean to belittle what's happening in the Ukraine. As a result, sadly, there will be physical death and government oppression, but what we are in the war of right now is a war of immorality. I think, in our comfort, we are not calling upon Jesus in desperation, like our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine.
We have sleeper cells of evil we carry in our back pockets and on our screens. The lusts of the flesh and the comforts we have… It's a danger, this immorality and the war we're in, as we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against evil and principalities. So, I want to ask… It says in Exodus that the high priests, as they would walk in, had a gold plate across their forehead that said, "Holy to the Lord." Meaning, set apart. Holy and wholly, entirely. Entirely set apart, holy unto the Lord.
So, it begs the question…Is there an area of life that we're not calling upon Jesus? Like, "Not in my dating life. Not with my finances. Not in my job. Not with my roommate who I can't stand. I'm not calling upon Jesus for that." Or is there an area of life that is not wholly to God, like, "Man, you can have all this, but this thing? I have to keep the reins on that." Instead, he says, you're sanctified, and you're called to be saints. You're called by Jesus.
Paul is saying, "Grace to you. Never forget he saved you. He sustains you. He saved you. He keeps you safe." Do you know what I tell my wife every day, and she tells me? "I love you." Multiple times a day. Now, you could argue, "Wait. Didn't you tell her that on your wedding day? Like, on July 16, 2011, didn't you guys say, 'Hey, I've forsaken all others. I covenant myself to you'? You already said that. Why do you keep saying it all day and every day? Why do you do that?" Because we need reminders, and we need that love restated and relived on a daily basis.
So it is in the covenant relationship we have from the Father through Jesus. He's like, "Grace to you. I know you're in a war. I know you're in hard times. I know you're tempted. I know there are sin struggles. Grace and peace to you." That's sustaining grace. Then there's saving grace. "I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus…" Now it's not sustaining grace. He's talking about saving grace.
It's all grace, which is a gift. As I said, gifted by Jesus. In Romans 6:23, it says, "For the wages of sin is death…" Meaning, if you do sin, you'll get death, in this life and forever in the next in a very real place called hell, separated from the goodness of God forever. "…but the free gift of God is eternal life…" Meaning, now and forevermore. Where is it found, God? Where will I find that? "…in Christ Jesus our Lord."
So, even grace… As you're gifted by Jesus, grace is a gift, that saving grace. But I think, because we're here in a church, many of us are like, "Yeah, I get it. I'm saved." My question is… Paul is writing, and he says, "I thank God for the grace given to you." Are we doing the same? Are we praying for unbelievers? Are we sharing the gospel with unbelievers?
Are we thanking God once they become believers? Or are we just like, "Man, I'm saved. Really, that's all that matters right now"? Spurgeon said, "Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you're not saved yourself. Be sure of that." Because a saved one is a sent one. A saved one is a sharing one. Like Jim just said, "I'm a beggar at the household of God, telling others where to find the bread." Saving grace.
There's also the fruit of grace. That fruit of grace doesn't come until you have salvific grace, but once you're saved… Like this house key right here to our house. If my kids have this, if I give this to my kids, they can unlock that front door, and inside our house is everything they need…food and clothing, and they can bathe. They have everything they need.
As we've been given the gift of salvation (grace), then God gives us this key, this gifting, to the spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms, including the gifts of the Spirit for the church. So it says, "…that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge…" He's talking about spiritual gifts here. "…even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you…"
We have a fig tree in the backyard, and last year, when we had that horrible freeze, that thing died. It was covered in ice. The ground froze. Dead. But we should probably call the fig tree Lazarus. This year, it started sprouting branches, and, no joke, there are figs on this tree. The top half is dead, and now it's growing new branches, and there's life there. There are tiny little figs growing off this.
A Community Group guy was like, "What are you going to do with your figs?" I'm like, "Nothing." He's like, "Can I have them to make some jam?" I'm like, "First, how do you have time to make jam? Second, how do you know how to make fig jam?" The whole thing was strange to me. The way I knew that tree was alive and not dead anymore is because it had fruit.
Paul is saying, "The way I know, church in Corinth, that you're alive is I see the gifting in you and the testimony of Christ that's being confirmed as you live this out." Living things bear fruit. So it is with the church. It says, "…so that you are not lacking in any gift…" There's no lacking in any gift when you're a part of the church. When you're a called one, you become a gifted one.
But it doesn't always work individually. We had this leak in our roof, and the wall was bulging out. A Watermark guy who does construction was like, "Man, there could be mold back there. You need to cut out the drywall." Because I'm cheap, I was like, "I'll do it." So I got a circular saw, and I just started, with a circular saw, going up through the wall. I would hit a nail every now and then, sparks flying, smell of burning. I'm like, "Forget the mold. The house is going to burn down."
I get to the top. I come over. It's kicking back, open blade. Thank God I wear glasses now. I start coming down, and as I'm coming down, I'm like, "Oh, shoot!" because I see below there's an outlet. I'm like, "I'm probably cutting into electricity right now." The drywall dust throughout the room was terrible. So I text him in the middle. I'm like, "Hey, bro, is there some tool you're supposed to use for this?" He's like, "Yeah. You need to use a drywall saw while you're holding a dry vac to suck out all the dust."
I'm like, "Yeah, I don't have those." He's like, "Why don't you just let me do it?" I didn't have all the gifts or the tools. Collectively, the church has all of the gifts and the tools we need to build each other up and to live this Christian life. There's no "Lone Ranger" Christianity where it's like, "Me and Jesus. Spiritual but not religious. I don't have to be a part of a church." The Bible knows nothing of that.
He's like, "No, you've been given a gift, and the gift is not for you; it's for the body, for the building up of the church, of which Christ is the head for my glory, and if you remove yourself… Dude, you have the drywall saw. They need you. Get back." So, all of the gifts of administration and teaching and serving and leadership and hospitality are all needed, and if you're in Christ, you have them for this church and to reach this city. It's a beautiful thing.
It says, "As you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ." Second coming. The word wait fails us in English. In the Greek, it's apekdechomai. I don't know why it sounds like appendectomy. It has nothing to do with that, but that's how you can remember it. It's not just wait. It's eagerly waiting, like, a longing, a watching, a desirous waiting. Not just waiting passing time, but like, "Where is it? Where is he? Where is the coming?"
Friday, after Hill's birthday, Laura said, "Hey, Hill, is there anything that would have made your birthday better today?" Without even a split-second hesitation, he goes, "Yeah, heaven." That's not because he's a pastor's kid. I guarantee you he gets more spankings than your kids. I think it's because he's a child. Somewhere along the way, sadly, we're like, "Nah. This life is actually pretty good. I have my food, my money, my clothes, my girl," whatever, and we stop longing. We stop longing for the second coming. In his mind, he's like, "Yeah, that would make it better."
I think one of the reasons we don't long for the second coming… We don't long and watch for the second coming, so we live as if the first coming never even happened. Our lives don't reflect the first coming because we're not looking and longing for the second coming. Friends, in the New Testament, there are 27 books or letters. There are 260 chapters. Guess how many times the second coming of Christ is mentioned. Five? Ten? Let's be generous and say 50. Twenty-seven books, maybe twice per book. It's 318 times!
God has a blinking light throughout Scriptures, saying he's coming again. Jesus is coming. "Hold on. Hold fast. I'm coming again. I know it's hard. I know it's long. I know it's desperate times. I know you're tempted. I know you're struggling. I know cancer is hard. I know joblessness is hard. I'm coming again, and I will keep you, and I will sustain you until I come." Eagerly awaiting.
In 2 Timothy 4:8, it says he will give the crown of righteousness for those who eagerly await his return. Not just waiting like you're in jail with tick marks on the wall, just passing time, but like it's an Amazon delivery. "Oh, dude, it has left the facility. Oh, it's in transit. Oh! Oh! It has arrived!" You go to the front door. "It's here!" You're looking and longing for the coming of Christ, and it changes everything about how you live.
Laura went away on a girls' weekend, and I had the kids. When Sunday rolled around, I knew Laura was coming back, so it was like, "All right. You've got to get bathed. Here, put the Cheetos down. Eat a piece of broccoli, because I need to say you ate broccoli. Put the toys away. Get the flowers." Then we're watching the map. "Kids, she's on 635. It says 15 minutes. Hey, she just turned on 75. Kids, she's on Coit. Kids, she's out front! Go! Go! Go!"
We go to the front, and there's Mom, and hugs and embraces, because we were longing for her return. May we long for his return. It says this. After we wait for the revealing of Jesus… It says, "…who will sustain you to the end…" Until the end, he'll sustain you. Do you remember my daughter, where I was like, "I've got you. Whether we're going to the ER or the tweezers, or whatever, I've got you. I'm not going anywhere"?
God promises, and he's not man that he should lie. He will keep you. He will sustain you until the end. It says, "…guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." Not guilt trip…guiltless. "You have the righteousness of Christ. You're mine. You're my sons and daughters. I've called you." He bookends that whole passage. He says, "You've been called. Don't forget you're mine. And if I called you, I gift you, and if I gift you, I'll keep you. I'm coming back. I'll sustain you into the fellowship of the Lord Jesus Christ." Let's pray now.
Father, thank you for that. Thank you that we were dead, Lord…dead… I remember my death, the sinful death that I loved so much, and of nothing of our own accord, you called us. Not only that, you've gifted us as this family. We're family here, Lord, under the headship of Christ, and not only that, but you keep us. It's a promise. It's a bedrock, "anchor for the soul" promise that you will sustain us to the end. So we praise you. We have nothing to do but praise you and to look and long for the coming of Jesus and that we would be found faithful at his appearing, amen.
Friends, when Penny and I got that little treat, her fingernails, she said, "Daddy, can I ride home with you? I want some daddy/daughter time." I was like, "Yeah, baby. Get in the car." Friends, this is the arcade. This world we're living in is the arcade, and nobody lives in the arcade. You don't live there. It's so temporary. But one day, we're going home with Dad, and we'll be there forevermore, as Jesus holds us fast until the end. He promised. So, now you get to stand and sing that truth that he will hold you fast.