Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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“Watch, Stand Fast in the Faith”

In 1 Corinthians 16, the apostle Paul ended his epistle with various exhortations to the Christians at Corinth. In light of the tone and purpose of the letter, these exhortations are understandable. The church at Corinth was a struggling church, divided, and in the midst of much controversy.

A short list of their problems includes:

  • a sectarian spirit
  • a lack of unanimity in doctrine
  • a tolerant attitude toward immorality
  • a willingness to sue brethren
  • a willingness to put a stone of stumbling before one another
  • a problem with idolatry
  • a problem with the submission and proper place of the women in the congregation
  • problems with the Lord’s Supper
  • problems with spiritual gifts
  • a problem with order in the assemblies
  • some were even denying the resurrection.

In the context of the letter, the following exhortations carry much meaning:

“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

Many who are reading these words have themselves been a part of disputes and troubles between brethren. While this is never a good thing, and never a pleasant thing, it is nevertheless sometimes inevitable. And when it happens, it is truly a trial to the soul, body and faith of the child of God. Sleepless nights, symptoms of stress, despair, anger, sadness, sickness… all of these can be present, and can be accompanied by a faltering in the faith and zeal of one who is striving to be faithful to God.

It is amazing to me that in our time whenever conflict arises there is almost always an immediate claim that those standing for truth are “spoiling for a fight”; or “love conflict”; or “are not happy unless they have everyone riled up.” Such is ridiculous. I can, without even trying, think of four different preachers, (having had these things said about them), who have suffered severe health problems and have agonized over the spiritual welfare of their brethren in conflict. It is perhaps the most unhappy time, as it is contrasted with the great joy we find as brethren when we are at peace, and engaged together in the work of the Lord.

And so some say, “Why do you do it?” “Why put yourself through it? Though weary, we must answer, “Because it is what God expects of us.” And so, we want to quickly examine the exhortation of Paul.

Watch

Yes, Christians must be on guard. We must actively look for those who teach false doctrine. We must be on guard against immorality and ungodliness. We must purge out the leaven from among us. We must not stick our head in the sand, and say, “We don’t want to know!” (cf. Ezekiel 33:6-7).

Stand Fast in the Faith

All of the exhortations in verse 13 have a military connotation. Mike Willis has a good, concise explanation of this phrase. He says, in his commentary on 1 Corinthians, “The command to stand fast also has a military ring to it. Rather than fleeing from the battle, a good soldier stands firm, holding his ground. Similarly, a good soldier of Christ stands firm in the faith. He is not one who vacillates between belief and unbelief, morality and immorality, etc. He has taken his stand for Christ and will not move.” (page 500). Note where the soldier of Christ is to stand. In the FAITH. The revelation of God is where he is to take his stand. Not in the opinions or theories of the day, but in God’s word.

Be Brave

Again, the military connotation is seen in this exhortation to bravery. The Medal of Honor is awarded to soldiers in the field who have disregarded their own life in a daring attempt to aid their comrades. It is reserved only for the bravest demonstrations of battlefield valor, and is awarded only to a select few. Such imagery is arresting in the context of the Christian life, and stands in stark contrast to the vagaries of our day. The old King James Version uses a rather archaic, but nevertheless appropriate phrase here, “Quit you like men.” Manly courage is needed from every Christian.

Be Strong

The call for strength is interesting in light of the presence of so many Christians who are weak. Thus it has ever been, but it is not the state God wants us to be in. It is one thing to be a babe in Christ, quite another to never progress to a position of strength. It is the strong man who will be victorious in Christ, while the weak will be overtaken in a fault. The apostle Paul notes this in his epistle to the Ephesians, and states that the child of God becomes strong by putting on “the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11; cf. 10-18).

Let All that You Do be Done with Love

Love is and ever must be the sole motivation of the child of God. It is manifested in the treatment that is given to others. Whether it be evangelization, edification, admonition or instruction, the Christian must always have concern for God and the souls of man. If he does, this love will be evident in his demeanor and actions toward brethren and his fellow man.

Conclusion

It gets old. We get tired. We despair, and long for the time when the spiritual battle for the soul is done, and the rest for the faithful begins. Paul longed for that as well, having a “desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:23). But, we need to maintain our faithfulness to Christ. We must Watch, Stand fast in the faith, Be Brave, Be Strong. We must always heed the exhortation to Love One Another. Notice the following exhortation from the pen of the Apostle, found in Philippians 1:27-30:

“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, {28} and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. {29} For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, {30} having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.”