God Is Faithful
January 21, 2007
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
First Corinthians 1:1-9
1. "God is faithful [or, loyal]." [Those] are the words just read to you moments ago from [our] second scripture reading. "God is faithful." This phrase was constantly going around in my head all last week. In particular, last week I had a lot of conversations with people in meetings or on the phone. When I was speaking with persons who were bearing all sorts of heavy burdens, these words from then were resounding in my heart every time. "God is faithful." I feel like we talked about many things but I think that I eventually shared that message [from God] with [each of them]. And now here I stand still wanting to share that message with all of you here today.
Called Into A Relationship With Christ
2. "God is faithful." To be faithful or loyal means that [someone] is trustworthy. Someone put it like this, "Faithfulness is a love that does not change. A love that will not change ever for all eternity, that is God's faithful loyalty." In that sense, God is faithful. What I would like to speak on today is "Let's believe together in [this] faithful God so loyal to that level." [I would like to preach on] "Let's trust in this one who loves us with an unchanging love."
3. "God is faithful." -- This faithful God has called us here to this place. He has called us to church. He has called us to a place of worship. Going even further with what I'm trying to say, he has called us into a life style of faith., in which we go from one worship time to another. Our being here in this service is saying that. The scripture uses the following expression to say that. "Through God you have been called into fellowship with the son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ," (verse nine). The life of faith [that we live from day to day], the life we live ever in prayer, the life we're living always in worship. -- That is the life of fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. We're called into a fellowship with the Christ who was crucified for our salvation, who rose again from the dead, and who lives even now. [Our] trustworthy God, who loves us with an unchanging love, has done that for us. The fact that [we can] say a trustworthy God has done [this for us] also means, put another way, that come what may we will be safe.
4. We live thinking we're in need of all sorts of things; we live constantly thinking, "I don't have none, I don't have enough of this." Then even about our own selves we live all the time thinking, "I'm missing some of that. I don't have enough of this. As long as I don't have that, it'll be bad. Oh, it'll be terrible, just terrible." So, we stay ill at ease, worried, afraid. But, there is always [our] faithful God, the God worthy to trust who has already done [something] for us. Let's focus our eyes upon [him] first. [Our] faithful God has given us a faith life. He has already called us into fellowship with Christ. Since a trustworthy God has acted [on our behalf], that is complete and it is sufficient. The main thing for us, above all else, is that we trust in the fact that [our] trustworthy God has acted [on our behalf] and to remain in fellowship with Christ. We are to remain trusting [in him].
Being Made Rich In All Points
5. "God is faithful. Through God you have been called into fellowship with the son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ." Furthermore, let's try to experience the rich content matter which this statement contains. When Paul says, "God is faithful," there was something specific that he had depicted in his mind. It is in the scriptures from verses four to eight. The statement in verse nine is a summary of verses four to eight which are written before it.
6. In verse four, he says, "I always give thanks to my God." [That] wasn't the only time he wrote this. [He wrote] "always." With the Corinthian church in mind, which is the addressee of this letter, he is giving God thanks. Was it because all the Christians at Corinth were good followers of the faith? Was it because the Corinthian church was an ideal church? No, that's not [why he gave God thanks]. It is actually for the exact opposite reason. As we see in the letter, the church at Corinth was full of problems. But, Paul gives God thanks first thing at the very beginning of [his] letter [to them]. Why [would he do that]? Because God has also called even the Corinthians to fellowship with Christ. Because his grace was given to them. I give thanks "for the fact that you have received the grace of God through Christ Jesus." Faithful God acted in that way. Since faithful God did that, things should be complete and enough. So, Paul is at peace and offers his thanks. Of course there are plenty of issues which must be resolved. But, they have the grace already given to them there in [their] fellowship with Christ. They have [amongst them] a manifestation of God's grace that has actually begun within the church of Corinth.
7. First of all Paul turns his eyes there and states that, "You are joined to Christ, you are being made rich on all points, in every kind of word and every kind of knowledge. Thus, the witness for Christ has become certain among you and as a result there is no where that you are lacking in any gift, and so [we] await with hope for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ," (verses five through seven).
8. Paul says that you "are being made rich on all points." In the original text these words are from the top of verse five. In a sense this is an astonishing statement. In the church at Corinth, as seen from a societal perspective, there were more than a few poor, weak, and powerless people. Yet in spite of that, they were rich. On all points they were being made rich. Paul was looking steadfastly [at the fact] that superior riches were given to them in [their] fellowship with Christ. What exactly might these riches be? Paul says, "In every kind of word and every kind of knowledge you are rich." When you consider what "every kind of word" means as it is used in church, it [most likely] means, in one sense, "the word that God speaks," that is, the word of proclamation, and in another sense it [probably] means, "the words that we speak to God," that is, the words of prayer. In a similar fashion "every kind of knowledge" [most likely] means the knowledge in which we know God.
9. When you think about it, this isn't just telling ourselves "Hey, we're rich in the true sense of things!" We really are able to declare a lot about God no matter what the situation is we're in, we can testify with rich words to the grace of our faithful God, we can speak to God even though we're in distress and poverty. Thus, we do live as persons who richly know and experience a faithful God, and as Paul saw it, that is exactly where the true riches are. In fellowship with Christ, God has certainly given these riches to the church at Corinth. And he has given them to us as well.
The Lord Will Support Us Until The Very End
10. The Corinthian disciples, as they were serving one another through the rich gifts they had received from God, had turned into persons waiting in hope for the time when they could meet the Christ again, as we will see later. They had turned into persons who were "waiting in hope," that is, as persons who were living towards the true hope. And Paul states the following about these folks. "The Lord will support you steadfastly until the end, and on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ he will make you persons without fault," (verse eight).
11. This indeed is also our own hope. The fellowship with Christ in which faithful God has called us -- this fellowship will support us. Christ will support us. The meaning of the words "to support steadfastly" is "to make sure" or "to cause to stand steadfastly." If we can live standing firm, it will be due to the support upon which we can depend in a true sense. That support can neither be a thing or a person of the same undependable dimension as us. Christ does support us. Christ does cause us to stand firm. For how long? It will be "until the end." That's what the Bible says. "The Lord will support you steadfastly 'until the end.'"
12. How else can we put this phrase "until the end?" The text doesn't say here that "Until death he will support you steadfastly." It says "until the end." It bothers me for the most part to say, "Until death he will support you steadfastly." Wouldn't it bother you if it had said you die and then you're let go of? To begin with, when it says "the end" it is not "the end" that says "It's curtains for you." If I put it another way, it would mean a goal. Death is not our goal. We are not living just to go into a grave. We have a much more important goal.
13. How can we define that goal? As we've seen before, Paul spoke to the Corinthian disciples in the latter part of verse seven like this, "You are waiting in hope for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ." "The manifestation of Christ" is usually expressed in the church as "the second coming of Christ," in other words, as the fact that Christ will come again. In short, it is nothing other than the time when we will meet the Christ.
14. We certainly have been invited into a fellowship with Christ. The faith life is a fellowship with Christ. But we still know Christ no more than at a vague level. We're not able to know him completely. But it won't be that way forever. The time will soon come when we will know Christ clearly. The time is coming when we will know Christ on the level of meeting him face to face. That is "the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ," that "day of Jesus Christ" is the very goal indeed towards which we are going.
15. I stated that until that hour we do not know Christ more than on just a vague level. But that is not so much of a problem because Christ does know us in a clear way and not in a vague way. The Christ who knows us in such a manner will support us steadfastly. Until when? [He will support us] until the end, until the goal.
16. And then this goal of the manifestation of the Christ is also the day when our salvation will be completed. Thus, verse eight in its entirety says the following. "The Lord will support you steadfastly until the end, and on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ he will make you persons without fault."
17. "Persons without fault" can be said to mean "persons without sin." [Listen] everybody; for as long as we live, when it comes to talking about what is sad, there will be lots of sad things, but probably the saddest thing ever is the fact that we have sin. The roots of sin infect into the very deepest parts of our being. Because it has a root deep down, you can cut it and clip it but it keeps on cropping back up like weeds. For that reason we will live hurting people and even hurting ourselves.
18. But we won't be like that forever. The time is coming when we will be completely freed from sin. That is the day of Christ. At that time we will be made as sinless persons and we will stand before God. Until that time, until that day of Christ, Christ will not abandon us, he will not throw us away, he will not write us off, but support us steadfastly until the very end.
19. This is the kind of Christ with whom we have been called into fellowship. That's what [our] faithful God has done for us. Let us believe then, in this trustworthy God, this God who has loved us with an unchanging love and who has in this way called us into fellowship with Christ. God is faithful!