Paul’s Revitalization Effort
To imbue (something) with new life and vitality.
To restore to an active condition.
I distinctively remember many years ago buying my first pickup truck. “Don’t touch it.” I bought it anyway. Ignoring the aeronautical and mechanical engineer (who happened to be my father) seemed like a good idea at the time. A month later it was dead, and I spent every spare moment of my time (and my dad’s) each week getting it running enough to get me to school and back. I was the constant joke. When I graduated, the class prophecy was that “Matt Tarr would one day make it to the OLYMPICS! …but his truck broke down along the way.” One year later, it was in the scrap yard, beyond repair.
I suppose in some ways, church revitalization efforts are like that old truck: barely running, constantly backfiring, and to say the least, not functioning as it should. Certainly the church in Corinth was that way, and often the counsel for men going to such churches goes something like my dad’s counsel when I wanted to buy that old truck. “Don’t touch it. There’s a reason it’s dead.” There is truth in that—there is always a reason, and most may have already left the church for dead. As far as they’re concerned, there is no hope for life and vitality!
Fortunately, the church in Corinth was one revitalization effort where Paul did not give up hope. He knew something about church revitalizations: their people are deeply committed to their congregation. They have endurance, and they are loved by
their Savior. But at the same time, they cannot remain in their current condition very long or they will die and go to the scrap yard. Or, to use a biblical analogy, “their lampstand will be put out.” That means they must be willing to accept what led them to need revitalization in the first place, acknowledge where they erred, and take corrective measures. Their success will be dependent on their willingness to receive guidance, and that is usually uncomfortable. It means c-h-a-n-g-e.
The Corinthian church seemed like it had everything a church could ever want. It was large by first century standards. It had money, vibrant people, ministries, and big events. What they didn’t realize was that it was all superficial, and at the expense of any real substance and true Christian fellowship. Even worse, their factions brought disrepute on the name of Christ. They even developed a bad reputation in the community.
In the first century, Corinth was a city that became synonymous with moral depravity. It led the world in corruption, and when Paul listed some of its common sins later in the book, fornication, idolatry, adultery, effeminacy, and homosexuality were at the top of the list.
What a gospel of grace! It was that very environment that those in the Corinthian church were saved from! Even though they once celebrated and participated in Corinth’s wicked behavior, they were now forgiven and cleansed in Christ’s blood (6:11). Sadly though, the church was soon plagued with many problems. Easy-believism nearly ripped the church apart. Some who claimed Christ’s forgiveness continued to live in flagrant disobedience, and worse, their disobedience was being tolerated in the church. They were about to die!
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is a tremendously practical and helpful book, and it is imperative for the church today to receive Paul’s instruction. Over the next several years, will be taking a look at this very important letter, verse by verse. We invite you to join us!