Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
A Great Church Plan
Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” The church of the New Testament was a goal oriented group of saints who were encouraged often to examine themselves and their work. As a congregation of God’s people, the early disciples were exhorted by the apostles and especially Paul to focus their efforts in growing spiritually. No greater need was there in the writings of Paul than the church at Corinth. As a congregation, there were so many problems it is hard to believe the Lord continued to allow the candlestick to remain. When Paul began his letter he commended the Corinthian disciples and the conclusion of his letter is filled with the same types of exhortations.
Watch. Corinth needed a plan and Paul’s five point directive is valuable for any congregation to follow. As sentinels of truth, the Corinthians needed to be on watch. They had allowed carnality and immorality to infiltrate their ranks causing great harm to the church. False doctrine was being promoted as the worship of the Lord digressed to recreational chaos. Somebody was not watching out for the wiles of the devil. Each congregation must be watchful for the influences of error that so easily creep in unnoticed. Being watchful requires being vigilant and on guard for anything that is not according to truth.
Stand fast in the faith. The church at Corinth was rocked by its acceptance of immorality and frivolity of the Lords Supper along with division and marital problems. There was a need to stand boldly in the faith of God and not move. Like warriors repelling a great enemy, the church must be made up of soldiers who are willing to stand in the face of persecution. The faith must be held high as the banner of truth declares allegiance to the King of Kings. Every congregation must be a bastion of strength to stand without fear in the faith of Christ.
Be Brave. Going to war is a frightful thing and fighting against Satan is the greatest battle man will wage. Courage is the watchword of the day. In this epic battle of truth and righteousness, bravery will be needed to face the problems Corinth was dealing with. The congregation of saints in Corinth were in the fight of their life and without the courage to go to the man who had his father’s wife and delivering him to Satan – they would not survive. Repelling the false doctrine of no resurrection would destroy the church. Restoring the order of authority took the brave hearts of the righteous to stand for truth. Any congregation of God that lacks courage will fall for everything.
Be Strong. Courage is not enough if there is not enough moral fortitude to press the fight against Satan. Bravery can only be useful when the strength of the will brings the battle to the devil. Exercising in the faith will build up the courage of the saints to face the challenges of apostasy. It is clear Satan wants to destroy every local congregation of God’s people. A pressing battle is being waged. Saints who have not exercised themselves in building up their strength to overcome the forces of evil will soon fall. Satan will never give up. Strength of character is needed to keep pressing the battle against the influences of the world trying to destroy the church.
Love. Simply put – let all that you do be done with love. Do you find it interesting Paul would give this exhortation to a congregation like Corinth? The church of the Corinthians was a train wreck of extraordinary proportions. As Paul draws his first letter to a close he tells his fellow saints they can do all these things if they have love for one another. The second letter testifies the Corinthians followed Paul’s advice. The man who had his father’s wife was restored. Watching and standing fast with bravery and strength will go a lot further when it is motivated by love. The church belongs to Christ and men should remember the work of the Lord is about the Lord – not man. Love is the central theme of the church and even when discipline must be exercised against a man who has his father’s wife; love is the motivating factor.
A great plan. Five points. The Corinthians accomplished a lot with five points. Can we?