The Mark of the Church

Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.

I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers.

Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity.

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Now I urge you, brothers—you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints— be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people.

The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

1 Corinthians 16:1-24, ESV
  1. The Mark of Love for One Another
  2. The Mark of Love for the Body of Christ
  3. The Mark of Love for Christ Himself

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Good morning and welcome to Providence Presbyterian Church. I’m delighted that you’re here together that you’ve come to hear a message from God’s word. This morning. It is our goal at Providence Presbyterian, to bring your faithful preaching and teaching that is Bible based, Christ centered and gospel saturated. To find out more about Providence, you can find us at Providence Fw dot o RG, Providence, Fw, or RG. This is the Lord’s Day April 19 2020. Please join your hearts now to mind as we ask the Lord’s blessing upon the Ministry of his word. Let’s pray together. Heavenly Father, you’re the creator of the preserver of all mankind. We come before you again we intercede on behalf of all people That you would be pleased to make your ways known to them. You’re saving grace to all the nations and we asked your Lord, that we’d be mindful of your leading in this time of pandemic and that you would be sensitive that we would be sensitive Lord, to your leading, and that you would teach us to cherish all the time that we have to meditate upon your word at the CQ in prayer. We ask your Lord that you would allow us soon to safely return to corporate worship, to delight and praise and to sing your praises together once more as your people we also pray, dear Lord, for the universal church that it may be so guided and governed by your Holy Spirit, that all who call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth embrace the faith in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace and in righteousness of life. Or bless the Lord you have caused Holy Scripture to be written down for our learning. We ask Lord grant that we may hear, read, learn and inwardly digest them. That through the comfort of your holy word, may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in your Savior in our Savior, Jesus Christ, His name that we pray, Amen. Indeed, turn your Bibles now like to follow along in your copy of the Scriptures to First Corinthians chapter 16. First Corinthians chapter 16. I’ll be reading the entire chapter. This will be the final chapter, the letter and the final message in the series through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. First Corinthians chapter 16. Please give your attention now to the reading of God’s holy inspired word. Now concerning the collection for the saints, I directed the churches of Malaysia. So you also are to do on the first day of every week each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. When I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also they will accompany me. I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter so that you may help me on my journey wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now just in passing I hope to spend some time with you if the Lord permits, but I will stay in emphasis until Pentecost for a wide door for effective work has opened to me. And there are many adversaries when Timothy come and see that you put him at ease among you for he is doing the work of the Lord as I am. So let no one despise him, help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me for I’m expecting him with the brothers, that concerning our brother Apollo’s, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity. Be watchful, stand firm in the faith acts like man, be strong, but all that you do be done in love. Now, I urge you brothers, you know that the household of Stefan is where the first converts into a KPI and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints be subject to such as these and to every fellow worker, and labor. I rejoice at the coming of the fondness for tinnitus and for the kayakers because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours, good friend. ignition to such people. The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla, together with the church in their house send you hearty greetings in the Lord. All the brothers send their greetings. greet one another with a holy kiss. I Paul write this greeting with my own hand. If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be a cursed our Lord calm. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. For the reading of God’s word, may indeed add his blessing to it. You likely if you’ve been in the church for very long, or read church history, you’ve heard what’s been come to be known as the the marks of a church. What is the true church the three marks of the true church and those three marks are the faithful preaching Have the word, the faithful administration of the sacraments and the exercise the right exercise of discipline. We see this morning in this closing chapter of First Corinthians, the mark that supersedes all others. Paul’s discussed much in this letter. And in chapter 16, we might think that Paul is just giving us his itinerary for travel, greetings to his friends and co laborers in the ministry and instructions about an offering to a church and financial need the Jerusalem church. But if we merely see this chapter has bits and pieces of disparate items thrown into close the letter before he says goodbye. I fear we missed the larger point of what Paul is doing in this letter. And that point is that the Corinthian church was to be a church, marked by law of a church marked by love. We’ve seen Paul make this point most explicit In chapter 13, that great love Chapter Chapter 13, but it permeates the entire letter. The problems in Corinth that they were having, they’re sitting there airing there resulted largely from a lack of love. And certainly this chapter chapter 16, is permeated with love. In this chapter we’ll see that the Church must be marked by love, love for one another, love for the greater Body of Christ, and love for Christ Himself. We will see these woven together back and forth in this chapter, as we look at at this final chapter in First Corinthians. At the time, Paul is writing this letter the church in Jerusalem. All in that area were under significant hardship. that part of the world at the time was going through a severe famine. And think of that for a moment. Right this was a farming Society of forms society and agrarian society. The way that they earn their money and food was by growing crops. There’s no rain, there are no crops. If there are no crops, there’s nothing to eat, nor is there anything to sell so you can go acquire food for you and your family. And so this is why the church in Jerusalem was struggling. So Paul calls on the Corinthian church, to act in love for their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem and collect an offering for them. Notice Paul doesn’t tell them how much they are to give not he doesn’t give them an amount that they’re to set aside. He didn’t tell them to give their regular offering what they would normally give. You see, he says, to give as they prospered out of their abundance, out of their abundance prospered by the Lord. They were to give thanks to the Lord to show their gratitude for the blessing that God had given them. And so they were marked with love for each other. And that Mark was to be shown and their love for the greater Body of Christ. This church in need. Love is what lies behind and Paul’s instruction here for this offering. They were to love each other, to love the body of Christ. And they were to know this love and real, or to show it right in concrete real ways, not merely as an emotion, or as merely lip service, but in action. And this, of course, brings us the question for us. Are we aware the needs of our brothers and sisters? here in our church, in the body of Christ, to which we belong? Are we loving one another? And are we aware and meeting the needs of the greater Body of Christ? Are we praying for our church family, here and far away? are we seeking in love to meet the needs, out of which the Lord has blessed us? That mark of Jesus, the mark, the Christian mark, the mark of love is what binds all of these things together. So next we see how the closing chapter shows love for the body of Christ. Right again, Paul gives a handful of names but look at verse 12. Look at what he says. He says now concerning our brother Apollo’s, I strongly urge him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now, he will come when he has opportunity. What is striking about this, this mention of Apollo’s? How is this a demonstration of the love the mark of love? Well, we need to remember right that as a church, well, we as a church have been going through Paul’s letter 50 messages, I think, for over a year. The original hearers of this, they didn’t have months and months separating chapters one and chapter 16. Right, we’ve taken a long time to go through this. Not so for them not so for them reading this letter to them hearing this letter read and if we remember what was going on, and you After one, we remember we might be tempted not to give an invitation to Apollo’s right if we recall what was going on back then and chapter one, we might just leave that out altogether. Right? Remember in chapter one, there are these factions and these divisions that are going on the sex or party factions in the church. And these, in fact, were a result of a gross lack of love. The church was dividing in factions behind different people and different teachers. And there was a faction devoted, you remember to Apollo’s? Right I am of Apollo’s? They said while it wasn’t Apollo’s himself who did this right he wasn’t the one who initiated or encouraged this faction. You were I might have chosen to just not bother to invite Apollo’s just to avoid bringing the whole thing up again. Write my story any of that up why potentially undermine my own support, thereby bringing this one in around whom others had divided the church wide issue? track these troublesome people from what I’m telling them by dredging this up I undermine my own authority. But the spirit has the apostle show love to the church and to Apollo’s in living and inviting him nevertheless. Yes, the Apollo’s faction team Apollo says they’re in Corinth, hopefully now corrected. Hopefully when this happens and they arrive even more so. But the healing that love brings in showing is shone brightly as Paul extends that love to Apollo’s in trust for him and trust to him. And Paul’s love for the Corinthians has shown in his trust that they will listen to his review of their factionalism and that they will not look to Apollo’s as a sect leader, as a fellow minister of the Word of God. Paul trusted Apollo’s and he trusted that he would point these Corinthians away from himself. To the Lord Jesus. And what characterizes all of this is that they are all. They’re all expressions of love. Right? We see, we see this in first john chapter four, verse john, chapter four says this. And this the love of God was a manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. And this is love not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. We love it. If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us because he has given us of his spirits noticed him implication of all that Paul is demonstrating what john is saying here. This love spirit rot Love is the natural outpouring from those redeemed by Jesus redeemed from the dominion of death and sin, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit producing the fruit of the Spirit within our hearts. If this is true of us, this is true of you. It will be the demonstration and expression of your love for the body of Christ. And also there will be this will be the case for those who aren’t very lovable. Those who were hard to love. But that’s just what Paul demonstrates here he shows his love for the Corinthians and he exhorts them to demonstrate their love for the greater Body of Christ. And remember this to brothers and sisters. When we show our love to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are ultimately doing what we are showing our love for Christ Himself. Price themselves recall the words of the Lord to His disciples and Matthew 25. races they also will answer saying, Lord, when we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick in prison, and did not minister to you, then he will say to them, He will answer them saying, Truly I say to you, as you do not do it to the one of the least of these that don’t do it to me. Right, the close connection between the Lord and His people remember to how closely Jesus identifies with his people and Acts chapter nine, remember Saul, Saul is he. Jesus comes before him, as saw this breathing out threats against the followers of Christ and hatred. And he’s on a to a tour to persecute the disciples of Christ. And Christ says to Saul, remember Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? So in the persecution of Christ people. The Lord Himself sees that as persecution against himself. So brothers and sisters when we supply the need of a brother or sister in Christ, when we feed or encourage them, we are doing so to Christ. When we rejoice with them, we rejoice with Christ. Brothers and sisters, when we show the love for the body of Christ here, or in the larger church, we show our love for Jesus. This is to be the mark of the believers to mark who we are and mark of love. And then as we continue in this chapter, in what other way, does Paul show the Corinthians that they can directly show their love for Christ, right, because Paul in this in the 16th chapter doesn’t directly say, love Christ. But a love for Christ is at the core of his teachings to them, especially his teaching his instructions about receiving fellow apostles and ministers and a desire to speak time with them with the Corinthians and look at verse six and chapter 16. It says, perhaps I will stay, I will stay with you or even spend the winter so that you may help me on my journey wherever I go. Now again, we spent quite some time working through this letter. But we need to remember all the problems and the strife and the struggle and the hardships that were going on in the church, and how easy it would have been for Paul to leave his contact with them relegated to distant correspondence. We perhaps, perhaps we would have been content relieved, possibly to go the easy route and just send the latter and leave it at that. But notice, that’s not what Paul does. Notice he desires to go to them to spend time with them. This is an expression of love for them. And then For an expression for the love of Christ, Paul is telling them that for their love of Jesus, from that love, they would assist the servant of Jesus in His journey and work. Right? They love the Savior, they will assist the servant of the Savior. what Paul is saying and then look at verses 10 and 11. Paul says, When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he’s doing the work of the Lord, as I am, right to put himself on par and the work that they are doing. Verse 11, so let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace that he returned to me for I’m expecting him with the brothers. Right Paul is going to send them Timothy to help them to serve as their pastor. Again, see the implied love for of Timothy for the Corinthians, this young man, right this young sickly man, he might be happy to just to pass on the Corinthians assignment. Leave that for a more seasoned man, for someone else to serve. I’ll take the next one, Paul, thank you. Timothy loves them. It’s a love for Jesus, that he loves not only those in his sphere, but also the larger church and he’s, I will go because I love them. He loves Jesus. And so he loves Christ people. And the other way around as well isn’t a demonstration of love the Corinthians For their partner to love Timothy by submitting to his authority. They love Jesus. And so they love Jesus gift of their young of this younger pastor to the church. Right again, Timothy was a young man probably in his early 20s. Remember, Paul had to remind him in First Timothy 412, Paul tells Timothy, let no one despise you for your youth. But set the believers and example in speech and conduct in love and faith in purity. Right look at the center of that list. It’s love speed. conduct in love and faith and impurity. And Timothy also was sickly. Right tip Paul tells him in First Timothy 523 no longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent frequent ailments. Right, young and sickly, regardless of these things. Paul tells the Corinthians to put him at ease, because he is doing the same work as I am. And then again, look at verse 11. Once more, Paul says, as he did in First Timothy 412, he says in First Corinthians 1611, he says, Let no one despise you. Right. In other words, they were to submit to the authority of the one that Christ whom Christ had sent to them, even though he was young, even though he’s sickly. They were to respect the work and calling his authority. Of course, Timothy, like all ministers, he’s answered the call. Because they love Jesus because they love Christ’s people. Timothy wasn’t merely Paul’s flunky. He does the work of the Lord as I do. Paul says he was a minister of the gospel. And so out of a love for the Corinthians. As they love Christ, they should show Timothy respect and love, love to this one Christ that placed in authority over them to serve them. And this is an instruction to respect Timothy was something that they were supposed to give to any minister of the gospel. Look again at verses 17 and 18. Verses 17 and 18. I rejoice at the coming of the fondness for two minutes for two minutes is in the caucus because they have made up for your absence for they refresh my spirit, as well as yours give recognition to such man. These were men. They were not merely carriers of the correspondence between Paul In the Corinthians. Rather they were to be respected by the Corinthians. There were Paul’s fellow co laborers. It fellow ministers in the Gospel there were likely leaders at the church in Corinth. And then before that in verses 15 and 16, Paul says this I urge you brothers, know that the household have a fondness for the first converts into chaos and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints be subject to such as these and every fellow worker and labor man very interesting. Paul identifies the household as the fatness, as those who labor in the Gospel. In other words, Paul’s telling them to submit to their leaders. And the opposite proves true as well. If a Christian despises the show, it shows contempt for the servants of Christ. How can he loves Christ who gave them as gifts. In Ephesians, four verse eight. There’s Christ gave gifts to the church and a verse 11. He lists them he gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, their gifts the Christ gives to the church, to despise them as to despise Christ Himself. Think of the Pharisees, right, the Pharisees claimed to love God. That was their claim, and yet they showed no respect for the prophets of God, especially the ultimate Prophet, Jesus Christ. If they love God, they wouldn’t have hated the words of the prophets. If they loved God, they wouldn’t have hated the words of Jesus. Here again, we have the question. Do we love Christ? Do you love Christ? And of course, our answer is yes, of course I do. Of course, I love Jesus. Well, if you love him, then we go back. Right. Some will say, well, is that like works righteousness or something? Of course it is not what is the word of God say, right? What is the word of God say, first john five to buy this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and we obey his commandments. From the gospel of john, I’m going to read a number of texts. 1334 a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Chapter 14 verse 15, if you love me, then you will keep my commandments. 1512 This is my commandment that you love one another. How as I loved you. Verse 15, Chapter 15, verse 17, these things I command you, I command you so that you will love one another. These are the commands of the Lord given to us Throughout. And we know that the amazing thing is amazing thing that we see in the New Testament, which shows us that everyone is under condemnation of the law everyone’s condemned under the law. What we learn is that it’s the ones who are freed from the law, who began to move in the direction of keeping the law. We are grossly flawed. We are clearly imperfect in so many ways, but it is the people who have gone, those who belong to Jesus, those who have been united to Christ whose lives are hidden in Christ. They are the ones who are free to begin to keep the law of love. And they do so not for merit, not to merit their standing before the Father. They do so because they stand before the Father. clothes in the robes of the sons perfect righteousness. Their love is the evidence of who they are. This is who they are. This is what they do. It is the outworking of the spirits work in them. It is a natural expression from the heart, saved by grace changed by the love of Christ shown to it. And the word Paul uses here in verse 16, this word to be in subjection, or to submit is another characteristic by which the people of Christ are marked. And in fact, here and elsewhere, it is an expression of the love which marks them right where else do we see this, this idea of submitting to authority as an expression of love? Well, pre eminently we see it in the Son of God and his obedience, submitting to the will of the Father, out of love for the father and a love for those who the father decreed to be saved. We see this in Philippians chapter two Philippians two starting in verse five have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing. Taking the form of a servant being made in the likeness of man, being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedience to the point of death, even death on a cross, do you see it? Do you see it there is obedience to the Father and His authority that marked the behavior of the Savior. And that is we the children of God, who should and will do likewise. With joy, rejoicing out of love. Of course, this is something that becomes more and more easier and easier as we are more and more sanctified by the Spirit working in our lives. Again, dear friends, we do not obey to be saved. That’s false theology. Rather we are saved, therefore we obey. I encourage you later on, maybe this Lord’s day to take a moment and read Ephesians chapter five starting in verse 20, fall and following Paul’s interaction into discussion in this chapter five of Ephesians. in that passage, how interwoven and connected these two concepts are of love and submission. It’s hard at times, it’s hard. It’s harder for some than others, in our lingering sin in our pretended desire to autonomy, in our rebellion, to submit to the authority of the Lord. But there’s safety in submission. There’s security and submission. It’s the Lord’s design, it’s his desire for us. But the fact is, and this is underlying what Paul is saying in this chapter, that if we love price we will submit to His authority to do so otherwise is to what it’s to be trade who we really are. And Paul has a very strong word. Very strong words are the one who would not submit to Christ and His authority, the one who does not love Christ. I look there in verse 22. First Corinthians 1622, Paul says, if anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be a cursed our Lord our Lord come, right that’s a strong word. Paul’s last chapter. In this letter is not merely a list of unrelated items have nothing to do with each other or nothing to do with the bigger picture of the ladder know what this chapter is a Paul’s concluding instructions to the Corinthians, his parting words to them. They needed to demonstrate Love, love towards one another, and love towards the greater Body of Christ and this is ultimately a show of love to Christ, and Oh, may we, brothers and sisters, may we, the body of Christ be marked by love for one another and a love for the church universal and of course, pre eminently a love for Jesus Himself. As we close I want to look finally at verses 13 and 14, which summarize all of what he’s been saying. All along what does all that Paul has been saying boils down to, to love one another to love Christ. Verses 13 and 14. Tell us It says this. Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like man, be strong. And that all that you do, be done in love. Maybe more and more bear this blessing mark of our maker and our Savior, the Lord Jesus the love of Jesus. Amen. Let’s pray together or merciful God And Father is the one who is pleased to condescend to speak to us through this word. We do pray, Lord, we ask grant grace that we will not be, be mere hearers of your word, but doers also, Lord, maybe we reflect in our actions and attitudes, the love of Jesus, reflect this to one another, to the greater church and indeed to the world around us. That they would see and they would wonder of our peculiarity. They would say, look what love they have for one another. Give us the grace of your Holy Spirit that we may believe what has been proclaimed to us. May we bring glory and honor to your name and all that we do? As you conform us to the image of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, for 10 the power of His name that we pray, Amen.