“ . . . as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by Whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 1:7b-9
I think this is becoming my new favorite passage of Scripture, in no small measure because of its context. The Apostle Paul, moved by the Holy Spirit, wrote these promising words to a church the likes of which I’ve never seen – and, I hope, never will see.
By all accounts, the church in Corinth was a mess. And yet, Paul begins his letter to this mess of a church by expressing his overt confidence in their sanctification.
I’m not sure I could have been so confident. Consider the condition of this church.
At least four rival factions were vying for power. One of the church leaders was sleeping with his mother-in-law, and the church didn’t seem to find that inappropriate. Church members were getting drunk at the Lord’s Supper. Members of the church were involved in suits against each other. Abuse of the gifts of the Holy Spirit was common. The church was so much like the perverse society of the Corinthian community that it was hard to distinguish Christians from pagans. Indeed, it was so bad that Paul offered his inspired assessment that their “worship services do more harm than good” (1 Corinthians 11:17).
It was to such a church that Paul wrote with a solid assurance that their future was bright, and their sanctification certain. How could he be so sure?
Look at the first few words of verse 9: “God is faithful, by Whom you were called.” Paul knew that God had started the Corinthian church, and that He was determined to finish what He had begun. God is faithful. He was looking to the faithfulness of God.
To whom do we look?
Paul also understood something of the call of God. The God Who is faithful had summoned these former pagans to Himself. He initiated the relationship with them by virtue of His prior choice; and He initiated a relationship with us in precisely the same miraculous manner. Our response to God’s call was preceded by the call itself: before we considered coming to Him, He called us to Himself.
And because He called us, how can our hearts do anything but burst with uncontrollable gratitude? Let us not entertain the vain notion that we deserved His call, or that we earned His favor. He is holy and righteous, inapproachable in the fire of His zealous perfection; and yet the miracle of grace is seen in this wonder: He called us.
That’s why Paul could be confident about the church at Corinth: the God Who is faithful called them. When you think of your church, your brothers and sisters in the Lord, and even your own walk with the Lord, where is your confidence?