The apostle Paul wrote his first epistle to the church at Corinth through which the Lord used this letter to expose several sins that the assembly was guilty of, as well as to expose the sins that some of the members of the assembly were guilty of. These sins were specifically named, and included: an incestuous affair between a man and his stepmother, members suing members, abuse of spiritual gifts, degradation of the Lord’s Supper, schism, and doctrinal divisions.
The recipients of the first letter, the church at Corinth, had two choices: 1) receive the letter as the direct words from the Lord, heed its words, repent of their sins, receive forgiveness, return to following the ways of the Lord; 2) reject the letter, “shoot the messenger”, continue in their wicked ways, face the Lord’s wrath. It must be understood that writing this letter to the church at Corinth was very difficult for Paul to write. For only the Lord knew how it would be received. Paul also knew that if the Corinthian assembly remained in their carnal ways, their actions would prevent their spiritual growth.
When we read Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthian assembly, we read of rejoicing – because not only did this assembly receive the first letter, they repented of their sins, turned back to the Lord, and were re-enabled to spiritually grow. Likewise, the disciplined members did also. Notice Paul’s words of 2 Corinthians 7:9-10, “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”
If the Lord were to directly write a letter to churches today as He did to the church at Corinth, I wonder what He would state. Would He state that congregations have forsaken true worship and doctrines for programs and games? (Over the years I have seen church signs that read, “Come as you are, Pajama Sunday” and “Tail-gate Sports Sunday”; and of late, “Come in and get your Pokemon Balls and Jesus”.) Would the Lord state that the His “house of prayer” has been turned into a “house of merchandising?” Would He state that congregants are living in open sin and the church has turned a blind eye? Would He state that the ordinances that Christ established have been defiled? Would He judge the churches as He did the church of the Laodiceans?
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
If the Lord’s warnings go unheeded – one would have to wonder how many churches He will judge as in the following Scripture.
“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
Note that the “candlestick” is the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. Without the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, a church is diminished to a “name-only church”. May we never lose sight of the fact that we have an awesome responsibility to maintain the integrity of our worship services – according to the Scriptures. We must never embrace programs at the expense of Truth. We must never turn our affections and love to anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ.