Shonebarger

In his first letter to the church of Corinth, the Apostle Paul gives a closing exhortation to the spiritual leadership. He tells them to, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13 KJV).

This local congregation was plagued with problems. There were problems of unity, lawsuits among brothers, immorality, carnality, marriage, offerings to idols, the improper use of spiritual gifts and confusion concerning the resurrection of Christ. All of these contentions required immediate spiritual attention. Without a scriptural application to the sins in the congregation, the church would soon drift into apostasy.

Throughout the epistle Paul had been firm in his rebuke of their sin, wise in his counsel for problem resolution and clear in his teaching of the mysteries of God. The Church of Corinth was clearly not a model church. Yet, churches of Jesus Christ can be restored and revived, if Jesus remains the head of the church and not people! This means teaching His doctrine and insuring godly behavior in His churches. This epistle of the Apostle Paul is valuable today as we face the same problems in the 21st-century church. In the name of “love,” many churches have tolerated corrupt behavior and false doctrine. Let’s consider Paul’s counsel to church leaders.

Paul instructs them to “watch.” As spiritual leaders in a church, the possibility of false teachers introducing false doctrine is always a threat to the congregation. Under shepherds of the Lord Jesus Christ must watch for wolves in sheep’s clothing. There are wolves who want to devour the sheep, and destroy what God has built. A good under shepherd will be ever vigilant and with his rod and staff, keep the sheep on the paths of righteousness. There is always the possibility of a sheep being led astray, into the weeds, where they become prey for the enemy. Today, there are innumerable possible points of entry for the enemy, the devil. We must watch!

Paul continues. He exhorts them to “…stand fast in the faith…” The doctrinal teaching of the Word of God must never be modified in the name of love, progress or the differing opinions of men. The Word of God judges people; the people must never judge the Word of God (or modify it). Additional warning to those who want to change God’s Word is given in Revelation 22:18-19. Those who add to God’s Word are told that plagues would be added to them; for those who take away from God’s Word, God would take away his part out of the book of life. God’s people must not waver in the fundamentals of the faith. They must stand fast on the Holy Scriptures!

The Apostle declares, “…quit you like men…” This is unusual language in today’s modern vernacular. Paul is exhorting them to carry through in problem resolution, to do or perform something to the end so that no problem remains. They must discharge and perform their authority, thoroughly. The spiritual leaders must not give up in the calling of their spiritual responsibilities before the Lord Jesus Christ. They must not quit!

The oversight of a church is challenging, especially in a problem church like Corinth. As a minister of the gospel for many years, I have witnessed many pastors give up and leave their church because of difficulties. They now say they have been “called” to another church where the grass is bright green! Holding people accountable is difficult. Preserving the eternal truths of Biblical doctrine is a daily focus. The leaders must carry on, persevere and finish their course for God’s glory.

The final emphasis Paul shares in this verse is to, “be strong.” Regardless of the physical strength of a child of God, we must all be strong spiritually. To be filled with the Holy Spirit of God, with boldness and passion, a leader must fight off the fiery darts of the enemy. There is persistent spiritual warfare in church ministry. The eternal souls of the sheep must be defended. Weak spiritual leadership will open the door to every satanic trap. No matter how difficult the problem in the house of God, spiritual strength with faith in God’s enablement, will prevail!

The Church of Corinth, a church in antiquity, is a tremendous case study for churches today. Generations may pass and advances in society continue. Yet human nature remains the same, as does the spiritual battle between good and evil. The Churches of Jesus Christ can faithfully follow their Lord and Savior by yielding to the authority of His eternal Word and the guidance of godly leaders.

Have a great week and remember, God loves YOU!

Contact Jon at jtshonebarger @gmail.com.

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