Sunday, April 19, 2015

Iron Sharpens Iron Corinthians


Tell the story of my continuing witness to a stairwell neighbor, (Terry Weiss), in Germany and his subsequent conversion some years later followed by a letter to me as to how my witness had never left him.

Proverbs 27:17  As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Somewhere in about the year AD 52, the Apostle Paul was alone in the ancient city of Athens waiting on Timothy and Silas to join him. Before they arrived Paul decided to travel on a bit farther and made his way to the busy commercial city of Corinth.

Acts 18
1 ¶  After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth.
2  And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them.
3  So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.
4  And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
5  When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.
6  But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles."
7 ¶  And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue.
8  Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.
9  Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent;
10  "for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city."
11  And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Most likely about a year into Paul’s stay in Corinth …

12  When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat,
13  saying, "This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law."
14  And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, "If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you.
15  "But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters."
16  And he drove them from the judgment seat.
17  Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.
18 ¶  So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria …
19  And he came to Ephesus …

A couple of years after Paul left Corinth , in the year AD56, Paul was living in Ephesus and found it necessary to write a letter to those Christians in the Corinthian Church. We know this letter as the book of 1st Corinthians.

Sosthenes – It is uncertain as to who beat this man in Corinth, (perhaps it was some of those “many people” God had in that city … A person does not have to be a Christian to accomplish the work of God – take Judas Iscariot for example). We don’t know exactly why he was beaten but we do know Paul continued his witness a good while in Corinth not feeling any pressure to leave as he had in other places. A couple of years later we find Sosthenes saved and serving the Lord Jesus Christ along with Paul.

1 Corinthians 1
1 ¶  Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
2  To the church of God which is at Corinth …

Once Sosthenes had tried to do harm to Paul and the witness of Christ but no Paul welcomed him into fellowship as a brother in Christ. How did this happen? Paul continued his letter to the Corinthian Church by revealing the strategy he used when he first went to Corinth.

1 Corinthians 2
1  And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.
2  For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
3  I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
4  And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
5  that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

1.  Iron Sharpens Iron
·        We embolden one another, just at Timothy and Silas encouraged Paul. (Acts 18:5)
·        Two are better than one … (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
·        One can put a thousand to flight …
2.  More there be with us than be with them
·        2 Kings 6:16
·        2 Chronicles 32:7
3.  There is no substitute for the message of the Cross
·        I’m not sure what changed Sosthenes but something happened
·        At first he opposed the message of Jesus and later he supported it
·        Something changed his mind … whatever it was
·        Paul must have presented a clear and compelling witness

When dealing with family, friends and even foes, simply keep the focus on Jesus and Him crucified and let God take care of the rest.

Have you heard the message of the cross?