Encouragement from Corinth

            The World Cup has recently passed. As one watches these elite teams play, it is obvious that it takes a whole team working together to win. Any team will have a “star”. Some have several key players, but really good teams know how to work together as a unit.

            God uses teams of people to accomplish His will. This is clearly seen in the founding of the church in Corinth. Let me encourage you to read over 1 Corinthians 18:1-11. In this passage we can see how the Lord used Paul and others to plant this church. There are three significant lessons to be learned from their experiences.

1. Look for Friends – Acts 18:1-4

            Paul had an interesting ministry in Athens. It did not seem to last very long. He basically passed through the city, preached in the Areopagus and moved on. Corinth was an interesting town, well known for its racial diversity, commercial success and immorality. Paul’s boldness is clear as he entered this bustling trade center. He found Aquila and Priscilla.

            Notice the verbs connected with Paul and his new friends. Paul found Aquila (vs. 2), he went to see them (v. 2), he stayed with them (v. 3) and worked with them (v. 4).  This couple was used in important ways in many different scenarios of the early church (Acts 18:24-28; Rom. 16:3; 1 Cor. 16:19 and 2 Tim. 4:19).

            Paul traveled with a team, and he served with many different people. We can see in this passage that he served with Aquilla, Priscilla, Silas, Timothy, Crispus, Titius Justus and Sosthenes. Read Acts 20:1-5 to find even more people who were involved with Paul in Greece.

            Who could be the “Aquila and Priscilla” in your ministry? Are you looking for them? God always provides key people to accomplish His task. Too often in ministry we strive to serve alone. We need look for opportunities to find team members.

These opportunities often look differently than we would have imagined. I do not think Paul had a developed strategic plan that included “a recently displaced Roman couple who are leather workers.” Instead, Paul proceeded to the city, looked around and found these helpful servants. We, too, need be praying and looking.

2. Be vocal with the Gospel – Acts 18:5-8

            Second, Paul was bold and vocal in sharing the gospel. Again, we find many verbs associated with his declaration. He reasoned and persuaded Jews and Greeks in the synagogue every Sabbath (18:4). He was occupied with the Word and testified (18:5). When met with opposition he went next door to the synagogue and continued to declare the gospel. People of all levels believed and were baptized.

            Paul and his team ministered in different settings (marketplace, synagogue, homes) but his message of the good news of Jesus was the same. They did not hesitate to declare the gospel and when people believed, Paul gave them further instructions on how to live it out in their community. (1 Cor. 5:9-10)

            Churches need to find ways to interact and spread the gospel in their community. They will face opposition, so they should expect it. They should also be willing to reason, persuade and testify outside the church.

3. Expect God to work. – Acts 18:9-11

            Paul received an incredible message from Jesus Christ. Notice 18:9-10, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no on will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”  While we do not expect Jesus to communicate the exact same message to us, we know that God is still opening hearts and minds today. He is still calling His people and building His church.

            We can proceed with great boldness. We must move with courage instead of fear. We must keep speaking and declaring the gospel in all different kinds of settings. Although the Corinthian church proved to be a difficult work, God worked in their midst and Paul was very grateful for them (1 Cor. 1:4-9).

            If we are faithful to declare the message of the gospel and to teach His Word faithfully, God will work. He has promised this, and we must proceed in faith not fear. As you move ahead, let me encourage you to look for friends to share in your ministry, preach the gospel and expect God to work when you do.

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