Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: What Made Repentance in the Church at Corinth Possible?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When Paul rebuked the church in Corinth for tolerating sexual immorality, how did they respond? And what happened to the "Christian" man who was more immoral than even the pagans, according to Paul? (See 1 Cor. 5.)

When Paul wrote a letter to the church at Galatia, we have no biblical evidence that they responded. But we do have, for Corinth. They repented. Second Corinthians tells us so (7:9-11). Even the man who had done wrong repented so deeply in humility that Paul had to urge the people now not to crush him (2:6, 7). If anybody tries to tell you that it's impossible for a church as a body to repent, or it's impossible for a person addicted to sexual immorality to repent, remind him of this.

But what made this glorious repentance possible? It is so rare today that we need to know what was this unusual factor. We seldom see a church that repents as a body.

The unique factor present in Corinth? Paul had proclaimed to these people what he did not proclaim in Athens. He proclaimed the cross of Christ. He says, "When I came to you, ... I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:1, 2). In other words, he proclaimed the atonement.

He doubtless preached to them his favorite sermon recorded in Philippians 2:5-8 where he traces step by step the condescension of the Son of God from His exalted place of "equality with God" to "the death of the cross" wherein He suffered "the curse" of God (Gal. 3:13). With such a foundation for their faith, the Corinthian church found it possible to repent.

If you, or someone you know, are within the possibility of repentance, you can sing the Hallelujah chorus forever. Wouldn't that be Good News?

Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 2, 1998.
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