“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their [Lord] and ours:” (1 Corinthians 1:2)
The Apostle Paul set before the Church of every age, the elements that please God. Let us consider them. The Church at Corinth was, by definition, a people called out from the world. The word for Church is (ekklēsía) “out from and to” “to call”) – accurately, people called out from the world and to God. Paul wrote his letter to the Church of God and to those who had been sanctified. The word sanctified is (hagiázō) in the Greek, “holy”) – to regard as special (sacred), i.e. (“set apart”). Paul took a two-fold definition and emphasized the Church as called out to be set apart.
If the Church is like the world, it grieves God. God is always grieved when His people are worldly. Paul addressed his letter to the Church (called out), and that it was sanctified, that is, special because it was set apart), he then adds this phrase, “saints by calling.” The word saints is hágios – appropriately, different (unlike), other (“otherness”), holy; for the believer; it means “likeness of nature with the Lord” because “different from the world.” The temple of the first century was (hagios) because it was different from all other buildings.
Paul gives us a three-fold description of the Church, which he emphasized three times the uniqueness of the Church and just how different it is called to be. The Church, by definition, is set apart, sanctified, and saints by calling. A three-fold cord is not quickly broken.
So what is the response of the Church to this calling? Paul tells us in the words that follow. “…with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their [Lord] and ours.” The response of the Church is two-fold. When God calls out people, such people respond with a call of their own. Christ said it this way, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;” (John 10:27). Because Christ chose to know His Church, His Church follows Him. The Church, as I have described it, is not semantics, but what God made it. The people of Christ are prepared to hear the voice of their Savior and Lord.
The calling is a universal call. Paul wrote, “…with all who in every place call on the name…” All of God’s people respond to His call, and thereby, call out to Him. What do they call out? They call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is first Lord, which is to say the master of slaves. He owns us; we are bought with a price. Therefore, we glorify Him. Not our Church, but we worship Him. We praise Him and not our leaders. We give Him the glory and not each other.
Our calling to Christ is a universal call; it is directed to those Christ knows. “I know them, and they follow Me.” Adam knew his wife Eve, and they became one flesh. Knowing, as stated in Genesis four, is the knowledge of an intimate relationship. Jesus does not speak about knowing the color of our hair or the even disposition of our hearts. The initial condition of our soul is no different from that of the world. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) By God’s sovereign choice, He exhibits His unconditional grace. As a result, we call Him Lord.
The call of Christ is universal and unified. “… their [Lord] and ours:” (1 Corinthians 1:2). There is one Lord, just as there is one call, one faith, and one Church. So why is the Church fractured into seemingly a million pieces? Do you want to see a Church that grieves the Holy Spirit of God? You show me a Church that ‘s divided, and I’ll show you a Church that grieves God.
My dear reader, last week, we looked at four basic categories of the divided Church in America. This week we could expand that division by hundreds. Should we be content with the state of the Church? Should we take our stand and proclaim, “We’re doing the best we can at our local assembly!” Should we all not fall on our face daily as we consider a fractured Church that grieves the Holy Spirit of God?
Has God called us to be many or one? Show me a man who says unity can’t happen, and I’ll show you a man without faith! Is not Christ’s sacrifice that saves His own so wholly, sufficient to drive us to our knees until we, by His grace, come to the unity of the faith? Or do we find contentment in our human endeavors? Are we satisfied with what we have achieved in the flesh? Do we not want lasting and abiding revival?