Hero Worship (1 Cor. 1:10-17) *All verses in NKJV*
– We’ve just starting our new book for Wednesday nights. Pastor Matt led out last week with a great sermon about how “Jesus Christ is Lord”, and the significance of that statement. Jesus is God!
– This letter is from Paul to the church in Corinth, located in Greece. Corinth was a hub of world commerce and a mix of cultures and religions, and most of the new Christian coverts came out of this pagan culture of their gods they worshipped, literally up on pedestals.
– Letters like Corinthians are not exhaustive. They often address only specific things that are going on in that church. Just because Paul didn’t address something, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a problem, or something we should be mindful of, but what he does address we can reflect on in our own lives.
– This letter wasn’t written to us, but if we are doing/thinking the same things, and living the same way, God would be correcting us on it today as well. This correction applies to our lives today.
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
– Paul addresses three things in this portion of scripture: 1. Unity in the congregation, 2. Avoiding hero worship, and 3. Not detracting from the preaching of the gospel.
– Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
1. Paul encourages them to be unified in doctrine and their testimony.
– 1 Cor. 1:10-11, Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all [d]speak the same thing (have a uniform testimony), and that there be no [e]divisions among you (schisms or dissensions), but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are [f]contentions (quarrels) among you.
– Paul wants the church to be united in their doctrine and beliefs, in their Christian priorities and standards. To keep the main things in the foreground and not get caught up in worldly values and concerns like they used to before they were saved…
– This is an important theme throughout 1st Corinthians, and several issues that Paul will address have clearly created division in the church. (Showing favoritism, sexual sin, and corrupted gospels.)
– Unity is possible and important. It can be had across countries, denominations, people groups, etc… Example: In Kenya, churches with same values as us, AIC, PEFA, Non-denom… Different churches, with different leaders, in different countries and cultural context, all unified in Christ.
– Division in the church can be created in the same way we become divided in the world, because we bring it with us into the church.
– The Christian coverts in Greece often brought their own ways and culture into the mix. They want to put heroes on a pedestal. A lifetime of worshipping heroes. I think we see that in our culture too…
– Like the Jews in the Old Testament, we don’t seem satisfied with Jesus alone as our King, and we want to declare another one. A politician, celebrity, Trump, Kanye, “fill in the blank”…
– Recently, some churches and politics mixed. Sermons were now about policies, freedom, vaccines, and election fraud, and ceased to be about the gospel. Trump became the “Savior stand-in”, for many people. As if we were tired of waiting for Jesus to save us.
– If that just offended you, ask yourself why? If we watch more cable news than we read our Bible, it may be no surprise that it has affected our Christian world view.
– People are prone to “hero worship” and that spirit has infected the church world as well. The bigger the audience, the more talented they are, the more important someone appears to be.
– I don’t get starstruck. I am not interested in celebrity entertainers or athletes. I’m not sure why I should care more about the opinion of an actor or athlete than I do about a doctor or teacher…
– I would love to sit and drink a cup of decaf coffee with Ben Carson and hear about his experiences with faith and life. (He separated conjoined twins connected by their head… in 1987!!) But I don’t need to hear from Cuba Gooding Jr. about medicine, just because he played him on TV.
– The power that these influencers and celebrities have, is only what we have given them. We see this in “celebrity pastors” too. We must always consider the source!
– We cannot let these things that are not central to the gospel divide us. There is only one truth.
2. Paul encourages them to focus on the message, not on the messenger.
– 1 Cor. 1:12-13, Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
– The Christians in Corinth had formed factions of loyalty to different church leaders. Although, the leaders themselves seemed to have no such conflict. (One God, one gospel, one mission…)
– Paul is criticized for his unpolished, non-intellectual approach to evangelism. His emphasizes on that only God can change a person’s heart. The real power does not lie in the persuasive power of human intellect and rhetoric, but in the message of God’s grace and in the power of God’s Spirit to renew and transform. Conversion is not a matter of one person changing another person’s mind, but of God changing a person’s heart.
– Apollos was well versed in scripture, a strong evangelist and Christian apologist. He was a dynamic communicator with an intellectual style and a powerful speaking ability. That gained him a following in Corinth. People began to criticize Paul for not matching up.
– Peter (Greek Cepha, was the primary early evangelist to the Jews. He represented a more traditional Jewish perspective and had a gift for speaking in front of crowds. Preaching with power!
– People were beginning to choose sides, and become fanboys of one side or the other, rather than recognize that they are not in competition, and are actually preaching the same message.
– It can take different styles to reach different people. God will use a donkey if necessary!
Example: In Kenya, Benjamin praised my preaching, telling me I “preached like a Kenyan.” I considered it high praise. Turns out that is because the message is simple and plain, while most guest preachers dress up and use complex words and themes… and I was just “basic”. That’s okay. That is the kind of preacher I am, blue collar, stick to the script, and relatable. I’m okay with that.
– It should be about the message, not the messenger, anyway!
– Psalm 40:4, Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust, and does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
– Psalm 118:8-9, It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in princes.
– John 3:30, (John the Baptist said of Jesus), He must increase, but I must decrease.
– That is the goal of every good preacher; that they would decrease, and Christ would increase. I don’t want you to remember my name. Just remember the gospel.
– A preacher should not be adding to, or taking away, from the Bible. The bible is our truth source.
– When we respect the messenger more than the message, we are in danger of being led astray. When it becomes more about podcasts, sermon series, devotionals, and books of a Christian influencer or pastor, rather than the basics of the bible, we are in trouble. (Studying a Christian book or devotional about the bible is NOT a “bible study”.)
– 1 John 4:1, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
– (Trust but verify!) Acts 17:11-12, These were more [d]fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.
3. Paul encourages them to not focus on the delivery, just the message.
– 1 Cor. 1:14-17, I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
– Because it is the message of the gospel that saves, and Christ is the Savior. Not the skill and charisma of the messenger who delivers it.
– Seems like we all preach about the same themes here. We repeat key points in many sermons.
– I used to have think that I should mix it up, come up with something new and interesting that makes you go, “Wow!” But honestly, I don’t care. I don’t care if I have been preparing a point that Pastor Matt ends up talking about on Sunday. I’m preaching from the Bible, so there is no mystery.
– If we are all preaching from God’s word, we are liable to repeat each other from time to time. So what? I would rather simply preach the word that leads to salvation, then come up with some cool stories that make you think that I am smart or interesting.
– The gospel saves. I don’t want to cover it up in entertainment. I don’t want to make the cross of no effect because I spent more time entertaining and amazing you then I did teaching you what the word of God says.
– Don’t put people on a pedestal. Don’t build your faith on a man, only on Jesus. Saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Jesus IS Lord!
– Follow your pastors as they follow Christ but remember that they are simply the vessel. The creation not the creator. The mouthpiece, not the message. Do not mistake where the knowledge, wisdom, and power are coming from.
– Isaiah 64:8, But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.
– If we all can remember this, we will remain unified in purpose and truth.
– prayer –