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1 Corinthians 1-10-17 Division Undermines The Testimony Of The Gospel

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1 Corinthians

“DIVISION”

Undermines the Testimony of the Gospel

I Corinthians 1:10-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sermon Manuscript

Dr. D.E. Reaves, Pastor/Teacher

SJBC-  March 8, 2009


GET YOUR BIBLES AND OPEN THEM TO 1 COR 1:10-17.   LAST SUNDAY WE BEGAN BEGINNING TO PREACH AND TEACH OUR WAY THROUGH THE BOOK OF 1 CORINTHIANS.  LAST WEEK WE GAVE YOU A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON THE CULTURE OF CORINTH, HOW IT WAS SUCH A SINFUL CITY AND HOW THE PEOPLE WHO BECAME CHRISTIANS AT CORINTH BROUGHT SOME OF THE SAME WORLDLY BAGGAGE WITH THEM IN THE CHURCH.

YET PAUL, BEFORE HE CORRECTS THEM HE SHOWS THEM THE GRACE OF GOD.

SO NOW AFTER, REMINDING THEM OF THE GRACE OF GOD, PAUL NOW IN OUR TEXT BEGINS CORRECTING THESE CORINTHIAN CHRISTIANS.

THE FIRST THING PAUL DEALS WITH IS DIVISION WITHIN THE CHURCH.  HE TELLS THEM HOW TO APPROACH AND DEAL WITH DIVISION.

LET’S SEE WHAT THE LORD HAS TO SAY TO US CONCERNING DIVISION.

BEGINNING AT VERSE 10 THE TEXT SAYS:

1 Corinthians 1:10-17 (NIV)
10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.
12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?
14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius,
15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.
16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.)
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  (AMEN)

I VENTURE TO SAY THAT THERE PERHAPS IS NO ONE HERE, WHO HAS NOT EXPERIENCED DIVISION OR QUARRELS OF SOME TYPE IN THEIR LIFE.

IT SEEMS FROM THE TIME WE ARE BORN, DIVISION AND QUARRELS ARE EVER PRESENT.   CHILDREN QUARREL OVER THEIR TOYS.  TEENAGERS QUARREL AND REBEL AGAINST AUTHORITY AND THEIR PARENTS.

ADULTS QUARREL WITH EACH OTHER.  DIVISION AND QUARRELS ARE EVERY WHERE…. YOU SEE IT IN THE SPORTS ARENA, IN BUSINESS, IN GOVERNMENT AND YOU EVEN SEE IT IN THE CHURCH.

            THE ROOT OF ALL DIVISION AND QUARRELS IS SIN.   AND THE ROOT OF ALL SIN IS “SELF-WILL,”   BECAUSE FROM THE DAY WE ARE BORN UNTIL THE DAY WE DIE, THE SEED OF SINFULNESS IS EGO….SELFISHNESS…. LOOKING AFTER SELF!

JAMES IN CHAPTER 4 RAISES A QUESTION AND TURNS AROUND AND ANSWERS HIS OWN QUESTION.  HE SAYS:  

James 4:1-3 (NIV)
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.

QUARRELS AND DIVISIONS COME FROM SELFISHNESS.    THE TERRIBLE THING ABOUT QUARRELS AND DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH IS THAT IT EFFECTIVELY UNDERMINES THE TESTIMONY OF THE GOSPEL BEFORE THE WORLD.

            NOW, ITS INTERESTING TO ME THAT AS PAUL IS DEALING WITH THE SINS OF THE CORINTHIANS (AND HE HAD MANY TO DEAL WITH FORNICATION, MARRIAGE, INCEST THEM GETTING DRUNK AT THE LORD’S SUPPER TABLE, WORSHIPPING IDOLS)….HE HAD ALL THESE SINS AND MORE TO DEAL WITH …..YET THE FIRST SIN THAT PAUL DEALS WITH IN THIS LETTER IS DIVISION. 

THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF MEN MENTIONED IN THE BOOK OF 1 CORINTHIANS. THERE IS THE CARNAL MAN, AND THERE IS THE SPIRITUAL MAN; AND THE CARNAL MAN DEALS IN DIVISION, AND THE SPIRITUAL MAN DEALS WITH UNITY.

            PAUL GIVES US A WONDERFUL PLAN OF HOW TO DEAL WITH DIVISION.

The first thing he tells us to do is listen to the plea of the Holy Spirit for unity within the church.   VERSE 10 SAYS: 

 1 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV)  10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

PAUL IS SAYING I WANT YOU ALL TO BE UNANIMOUS IN YOUR FAITH FOR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST'.  OUR ATTITUDES OUGHT TO BE SAME CONCERNING THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.  YOU SEE ----BASED ON THE ATTITUDE YOU HAVE CONCERNING CHRIST, ---THAT ATTITUDE IS GOING TO DETERMINE WHETHER WE ARE UNITED OR DIVIDED IN THE CHURCH.

ALL OF US NEED TO HAVE THE SAME UNDERSTANDING OF WHO CHRIST IS.

            SO PAUL SAYS HERE IN THE LATTER PART OF VERSE 10 “BE PERFECTLY UNITED IN MIND AND THOUGHT.”  PAUL IS PLEADING WITH THE CORINTHIANS TO FACE THEIR PROBLEMS…..THAT'S WHY HE USES THE WORDS: 'I APPEAL TO YOU, I EXHORT YOU, I BESEECH YOU'.  PAUL IS SAYING TO THEM, I’M NOT COMING TO BEAT UP ON YOU BECAUSE YOU’VE FAILED….. BUT I WANT TO COME ALONGSIDE YOU TO EXHORT YOU AND TO HELP YOU AND TO BUILD YOU UP'.  PAUL KNEW THEIR SINS, BUT HE CALLS THEM BROTHERS!

            THEN HE GOES ON TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM HE WAS INFORMED ABOUT (VERBALLY) FROM SOME PEOPLE IN CHLOE’S HOUSE.  LOOK AT VERSE 11  1 Corinthians 1:11 (NIV)
11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.
            YOU KNOW SOME PEOPLE, WHEN THEY GIVE YOU NEWS, THEY’LL SAY TO YOU, “ NOW, I’M GONE TELL YOU THIS BUT I DON’T WANT YOU TO LET NOBODY KNOW THAT I TOLD YOU….”  (HAS ANYONE EVER TOLD YOU ANYTHING LIKE THAT?)  I’VE BEEN THERE….. BUT HERE IN THE TEXT, CHLOE’S PEOPLE DIDN’T DO THAT.   NOW, ALL WE KNOW ABOUT CHLOE IS THAT SHE WAS A CHRISTIAN WOMAN FROM CORINTH, WHO APPARENTLY DIDN’T MIND HAVING HER NAME ASSOCIATED WITH  BEING THE ONE TELLING PAUL ABOUT THESE QUARRELS. 

 SHE WAS DETERMINED THAT THE PROBLEMS IN CORINTH WOULD BE SORTED OUT.  I BELIEVE SHE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT THE WELFARE OF THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST IN CORINTH…..AND THAT OUGHT TO BE OUR CONCERN.

             A LOCAL CHURCH CANNOT BE SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY, THE CHURCH CANNOT BE EFFECTIVE IN THE WORLD…UNLESS SHE IS IN UNITY WITH CHRIST, IN UNITY WITH HIS WORD, HIS WAYS AND HIS WILL!

            THE PROBLEM IN CORINTH, AND THE PROBLEM WITH MANY OF US TODAY, IS THAT THERE WERE DIVISIONS. THE CHURCH WAS DIVIDED BECAUSE OF DIFFERENT GROUPS HAVING THEIR FAVORITE PREACHER.  THIS CHURCH WAS DIVIDED AND QUARRELING WITH ONE ANOTHER BECAUSE OF THE CHURCH MEMBERS FOCUSING ON THEIR FAVORITE PREACHER.  THIS CHURCH HAD VERY LITTLE UNITY. ……PAUL SAYS: 'I WANT THERE TO BE NO DIVISIONS'.  YOU ARE ALL ONE IN JESUS CHRIST. 

            HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH DIVISION? WELL, YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO GOD'S PLEA FOR UNITY IN THE CHURCH, BUT SECONDLY YOU NEED TO LOCATE THE PARTIES OF DIVISION. VERSE 12 DEFINES FOR US THE DIVISION THAT WAS IN THIS CORINTHIAN CHURCH.  THEIR DIVISION AND QUARRELS WAS BEING CAUSED BY LOYALTY TO MEN RATHER THAN LOYALTY TO GOD.  VERSE 12 SAYS  1 Corinthians 1:12 (NIV) 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
            NOW I THINK ITS IMPORTANT THAT WE UNDERSTAND WHAT PAUL IS SAYING.   ONE THING WE KNOW FOR SURE AND THAT IS DIFFERENCES IN CHURCHES USUALLY GROW AROUND PERSONALITIES. IF WE JUST ALL HAD THE SAME ATTITUDE OF JESUS CHRIST, IF WE UNDERSTOOD THE WORD OF GOD AND SURRENDERED TO ONE ANOTHER, THERE WOULD BE NO PERSONALITY PROBLEMS, THERE WOULD BE NO DIVISIONS.

YET HERE IN THIS TEXT, THERE WERE FOUR GROUPS THAT HAD EVOLVED IN THE CHURCH AT CORINTH.  FIRST THERE WAS THIS GROUP WHO SAID THEY WERE IDENTIFIED WITH PAUL. THERE WERE SOME WHO WERE IDENTIFYING THEMSELVES WITH CEPHAS (PETER). THESE WERE TWO VERY IMPORTANT PERSONS IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH. PAUL WAS AN IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE GENTILE CHURCH IN ANTIOCH.  PETER WAS AN IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE JEWISH CHURCH IN JERUSALEM.  THERE WAS A THIRD GROUP THAT IDENTIFIED WITH APOLLOS.  APOLLOS WAS A GIFTED YOUNG PREACHER WHO CAME TO CORINTH AFTER PAUL LEFT FOR JERUSALEM.
THERE WAS A FOURTH GROUP THAT WAS SO FILLED WITH PRIDE THAT THEY FELT THAT THEY WERE THE ONLY ONES WHO COULD CARRY THE NAME CHRISTIAN.  WHEN YOU FIRST READ THIS, YOU WOULD THINK, WELL THIS GROUP IS QUITE COMMENDABLE… THEY FOLLOW CHRIST...   THIS GROUP IS NOT COMMENDABLE.  THIS GROUP FELT THEMSELVES TO BE BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CHURCH. IT APPEARS THAT THEY REFUSED TO RECOGNIZE OR RESPECT ANY HUMAN AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH.

            NOW WHAT IS ALL THIS SAYING TO US TODAY?   IT SAYS, QUARRELING IS A REALITY IN THE CHURCH. IT IS A REALITY BECAUSE SELFISHNESS AND OTHER SINS ABIDE AMONG PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH.  BUT WE NEED TO KNOW THAT QUARRELING IN THE CHURCH DISHONORS GOD. IT HUMILIATES JESUS.  IT ALSO MAKES SAINTS LOOK LIKE SINNERS. WHEREVER THERE IS DIVISION IN THE CHURCH, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE CHURCH IS FRACTURED AND CHRISTIANS ARE ROBBED OF JOY AND EFFECTIVENESS. GOD IS ULTIMATELY ROBBED OF HIS GLORY.

            SO WHAT IS THE SOLUTION TO DIVISION….HOW DO WE DEAL WITH DIVISION?  ….FIRST WE LISTEN TO GOD'S PLEA FOR UNITY IN THE CHURCH.  SECONDLY WE IDENTIFY THE PARTIES OF THE  DIVISION.

AND THEN THIRDLY WE NEED TO LEARN THE PRINCIPLE OF ONENESS IN CHRIST.

PAUL USES THREE RHETORICAL QUESTIONS,TO HELP THEM LEARN THIS PRINCIPLE…. AND THE ANSWER TO THOSE THREE QUESTIONS ARE 'NO' EVERY TIME.   LOOK AT VERSE 13  1 Corinthians 1:13 (NIV) 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?
NO, NO, NO…. THE ANSWER IS ‘NO.”  THE IMPLICATION OF THOSE THREE RHETORICAL QUESTIONS IS THIS: IF CHRIST IS NOT DIVIDED WHY ARE HIS PEOPLE DIVIDED?  IF CHRIST IS NOT DIVIDED IN BODY AT CORINTH, WHY ARE THERE FOUR DIFFERENT GROUPS AND MIND SETS AMONG THE CHURCH?

THIS OUGHT NOT TO BE THE CASE, AND THE CENTRAL PRINCIPAL HERE IS WE SHOULD NEVER BE INSTRUMENTAL IN DISRUPTING OR DESTROYING THE UNITY THAT IS IN THE BODY OF CHRIST.

            ********  THE BEST WAY OF MAINTAINING UNITY IN THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST IS TO PREACH AND TEACH THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST!  IN VERSES 14-16,  PAUL IS BASICALLY SAYING IT DOES NOT MATTER WHO BAPTIZED YOU, IT DOESN’T MATTER WHO LED YOU TO CHRIST…… PAUL WAS TELLING THEM YOU CANNOT HAVE YOUR ALLEGIANCE IN PETER OR APOLLOS OR ANY OTHER MAN…… OUR ALLEGIANCE IS TO JESUS CHRIST ALONE!

THAT’S WHY PAUL SAYS HERE, THAT HE WAS GRATEFUL THAT HE ONLY HAD BAPTIZED A FEW OF THEM.  BECAUSE THEY WERE EVEN TRYING TO PUT PAUL ABOVE THE OTHERS….. PAUL SAYS….NO…NO….I’M NOT MAKING DISCIPLES FOR MYSELF…….. LOOK WHAT HE SAYS IN VERSE 17  1 Corinthians 1:17 (NIV) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

            THIS TEXT SHOW US THAT STAYING FOCUSED ON THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST IS THE BEST WAY TO OVERCOME DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH.  PAUL ASSURES THEM THAT THE PRIMARY EMPHASIS OF HIS MINISTRY WAS NOT BAPTIZING. THE PRIMARY EMPHASIS OF HIS MINISTRY WAS TO PREACH THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST.  HE WAS CALLED AND COMMISSIONED TO SHARE THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST.

            GREAT GOD….YES THIS IS HOW WE DEAL WITH DIVISION…… WE HAVE TO KEEP THE “MAIN THING” THE “MAIN THING!”   AND THE MAIN THING IN PAUL’S MINISTRY AND IN OUR MINISTRY TODAY IS TO MAKE DISCIPLES FOR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.   PAUL MADE SURE THAT THE CORINTHIANS UNDERSTOOD THAT BAPTISM WAS SUBORDINATE TO PREACHING. THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT BAPTISM IS NOT IMPORTANT.  BAPTISM IS VERY IMPORTANT…..BAPTISM IS A PICTURE OF THE GOSPEL BELIEVED AND ACCEPTED IN THE LIFE OF THE BELIEVER.

IN HIS PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL, PAUL DID NOT PREACH OUT OF HUMAN WISDOM. HE DID NOT PREACH OUT OF CLEVERNESS OF SPEECH. HE DID NOT PREACH OUT OF ELOQUENCE.  PAUL DID NOT PLACE AN EMPHASIS ON HUMAN WISDOM. HIS PRIMARY CONCERN WAS THE REVELATION OF DIVINE TRUTH.  HE CAME TO PREACH THE TESTIMONY OF GOD, AS REVEALED IN JESUS CHRIST. IF PAUL HAD PREACHED OUT OF HUMAN WISDOM, IT WOULD HAVE MADE THE POWER OF THE CROSS EMPTY.  HUMAN WISDOM MAKES THE CROSS POWERLESS AND DEAD.

            AH, BUT WHEN YOU PERSISTENTLY,  PREACH AND TEACH THIS GOSPEL IT BRINGS PEOPLE TO THE POINT OF THEM LOVING GOD’S SON---JESUS THE CHRIST.   YES, THAT IS HOW YOU HANDLE DISUNITY, JUST KEEP PREACHING AND TEACHING AND TALKING ABOUT THIS GOSPEL.  WHEN THIS GOSPEL GETS IN YOU,   YOU’LL JUST LOVE THE SON OF GOD….

AND AS  RESULT OF YOU LOVING THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD….JESUS THE CHRIST….GOD THE FATHER WILL NOT WITHHOLD ANYTHING FROM YOU.

I READ A STORY THE OTHER DAY ABOUT THIS EXTREMELY WEALTHY MAN WHO POSSESSED GREAT TREASURES OF ART.  THE MAN HAD JUST ONE SON WHOM HE LOVED DEARLY….THE BOY PASSED AWAY IN HIS LATE TEENAGE YEARS.   THE FATHER HAVING LOVED HIS SON SO DEEPLY, HE GRIEVED OVER HIS SON SO MUCH, THAT HE DIED OF A BROKEN HEART ONLY A FEW WEEKS LATER.

            THE FATHER HAD MADE OUT A WILL FOR HIS ESTATE…..  AND IN THAT WILL, IT SAID THAT EVERYTHING WOULD BE SOLD BY AUCTION.  THERE WAS NOTHING UNUSAL ABOUT THAT….BUT WHAT WAS STRANGE, IS THAT THE FATHER STIPULATED THAT AN OIL PAINTING OF HIS SON WAS TO BE THE FIRST ITEM OFFERED BY THE AUCTIONEER.   WELL, LARGE CROWDS CAME TO BID ON ALL THIS EXPENSIVE COLLECTION OF ART.  AND IN KEEPING WITH THE PROVISION OF THE WILL, THE BOY’S PORTRAIT WAS FIRST HELD UP FOR BIDS. NO ONE CARED ABOUT THE DECEASED BOY’S PORTRAIT….. NO ONE SAW ANY VALUE IN THE PORTRAIT OF THE BOY…. THAT IS UNTIL, SEVERAL MOMENTS HAD PASSED BY, DID AN OLD SERVANT, WHO HAD ALWAYS LOVED THE BOY, PLACED A SEVENTY-FIVE-CENT BID FOR THE PORTRAIT OF THE BOY.  THE AUCTIONEER SAID, “GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE”…..THE PICTURE WAS AT ONCE SOLD TO THE SERVANT.

THEN THE DRAMATIC MOMENT CAME…. WHEN THE AUCTIONEER STOPPED THE AUCTION…. AND ANNOUNCED THERE IS NO MORE ART TO BE SOLD….THIS AUCTION IS OVER.

THE PEOPLE IN THE CROWD SAID, WHAT DO YOU MEAN ITS OVER,

 WE’RE LOOKING AT ALL THIS ART THAT IS WORTH THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS…….WHAT DO YOU MEAN ITS OVER?

THE AUCTIONEER SAID, I STOPPED THE SELLING, BECAUSE THE FATHER IN HIS WILL……. HAD NOT ONLY STIPULATED THAT AN OIL PAINTING OF HIS SON WAS TO BE THE FIRST ITEM OFFERED…….. THE FATHER’S WILL HAD FURTHER STIPULATED THAT ANYONE WHO LOVED HIS SON ENOUGH TO BUY HIS PORTRAIT SHOULD RECEIVE EVERYTHING IN THE FATHER’S HOUSE.

            AND THAT’S WHAT THIS GOSPEL IS ABOUT…….THE GOSPEL IS A STORY ABOUT LOVING GOD’S SON.

WHEN YOU RECEIVE THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD,  YOU GET EVERYTHING GOD THE FATHER HAS FOR YOU.

  • YOU’LL BECOME ONE IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!

WHEN YOU RECEIVE THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD…….THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

  • ALL DIVISION IS CAST OUT!
  • FAMILES CAN COME TOGETHER
  • HUSBANDS AND WIVES CAN LIVE IN UNITY
  • CHURCHES CAN STAND AND STRIVE TOGETHER!

JESUS CHRIST IS CENTRAL TO OUR UNITY.   HE IS THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING THAT WE HOLD AND BELIEVE,

THIS IS WHERE OUR FOCUS OUGHT TO BE….. DON’T FOCUS ON YOUR FAVORITE PREACHER, YOUR FAVORITE DEACON, YOUR FAVORITE TEACHER, OR STUDENT……. THERE ARE NO FAVORITES IN THE BODY OF CHRIST…… …..BUT KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON JESUS CHRIST….. THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH; WHO FOR THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM ENDURED THE CROSS, SCORNING ITS SHAME, AND SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE THRONE OF GOD.

YOUR DEACON DIDN’T DIE FOR YOU, YOUR PREACHER DIDN’T DIE FOR YOU, PAUL DIDN’T DIE FOR YOU…….. IT WAS CHRIST WHO DIED, WAS BURIED AND ROSE AGAIN THE THIRD ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES FOR YOUR SINS.

ANYBODY GLAD JESUS DIED AND ROSE AGAIN …….SAY YES!

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