Saturday, February 25, 2012

Divisions, Quarreling, or Unity.

Paul opens his first letter to the Corinthians with greetings and thanksgiving, affirming that the Corinthian Christians are not lacking in any spiritual gift.  They are truly saved.  They love Jesus.

Christians are called to be holy, and dare not live without prayer, for they are acutely aware of the "pardoning mercy, sanctifying grace, and comforting peace of God." ~(Matthew Henry's Commentary, henceforth MHC.  It is available free online.) Those who are saved are given useful gifts by which they are to bless others, and they will be kept to the end and found blameless when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. 

Kept and found blameless!  Think about that!

"How glorious are the hopes of such a privilege; to be kept by the power of Christ, from the power of our corruptions and Satan's temptations!"~ MHC

You'd think that because of this marvellous fact that we are sanctified and kept by the power of God, we Christians would be unified.  Sadly, just as there were divisions in the Corinthian church of the first century, there are divisions today in churches, in families, in organizations that are made up of Christian people.  Paul addresses this in I Corinthians 1.  He says there ought to be no divisions among them.  

"In the great things of religion be of one mind; and where there is not unity of sentiment, still let there be union of affection. Agreement in the greater things should extinguish divisions about the lesser. There will be perfect union in heaven, and the nearer we approach it on earth, the nearer we come to perfection."~MHC

Paul and Apollos were both faithful ministers of Jesus, and they must have been appalled when their followers broke into dissenting parties over lesser things.  

"Satan has always endeavoured to stir up strife among Christians, as one of his chief devices against the gospel."~MHC
So what were these Divisions in the Church?  The people of Corinth were quarreling among themselves over minutiae that were not essential to the faith.  The same thing happens today.  Is there one covenant, or many?  Can Christians drink wine, or not?  Should women wear dresses, or are they free to wear jeans?  Is the Lord's supper restricted to members of a local church, or ought visitors to be welcomed as brothers in Christ?  So many little things, so many opportunities to disagree.

But what is of utmost importance?  Is it not the plain preaching of a crucified Jesus?   Is it not the fact that Christ crucified is the foundation of all our hopes, the fountain of all our joys?  By His death we live.  This seems foolish to those who are perishing, who have not been given eyes to see,  Yet those who have been enlightened by the gospel see the great treasure there is in Christ.  

I do know what makes someone a Christian. It is not the life that we live for God but the life that Jesus lived for us! ...believe what the Bible says. ...understand that God is a good and holy God who deserves worship.  
Instead of honoring and loving him with all of our lives we have loved and served ourselves. This deserves wrath and hell. Instead, God has sent his Son Jesus to live the life that I could not and would not and to die the death that I deserve. He bore my penalty of wrath upon the cross of Calvary. I must turn from my sin and rebellion and turn to trust and treasure Christ, living in response to his finished work, submitting to his Lordship. ~Erik Raymond, Ordinary Pastor
God did not choose the rich and the powerful, the men of wealth and pomp and circumstance to demonstrate and be partakers of the gospel of grace and peace.  Oh, they need Christ and His pardoning grace - everyone needs the regenerating grace of God.  We are guilty, deserving only punishment, yet we are given His righteousness.  We are depraved and corrupt, yet we are sanctified by His grace, redeemed from the power of sin, and given the sure hope of eternal life.

 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.  And because of him  you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,  so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
                                                                                                 ~1 Corinthians 1:28-31
Boast in the Lord!  You have nothing to boast about, Christian.  Your doctrines, your convictions, your standards, your opinions - they all pale in comparison to the Treasure that is in Christ Jesus.  Boast in Him.  Speak much of Him.  Be thankful for Him.  Bless His holy name.  

If you are doing that, you won't have time to argue and fight, to quarrel and bicker.  

If you are doing that, you won't be grieving the Holy Spirit, or making Satan smile with glee.

Be Wise
 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. ~James 3:13-18 ESV
 “Selfish ambition” is a divisive willingness to split the group in order to achieve personal power and prestige.  Are you willing to do so?  

What is more important to you?  Your reputation, or that of Jesus Christ?  Remember, God chose the weak to confound the wise.  Are you willing to decrease, so Christ may increase?  Are you willing to humble yourself in order to magnify the Lord?


  1. I talked this over with you the other day, but I read this again and had some comments/musings/blatherings to give. First, I do think that the more we uphold Christ, the less we will dissolve into bitter dissension and petty arguments. Yet some arguments and disagreements might remain, but these will stem from a proper place - that is, upholding Christ means upholding truth and love, so the more we uphold Christ the more we uphold truth - in love! :)

    I really believe that truth without love is no truth at all. You might say the right words, but to speak God's truth with vindictiveness or judgment or any kind of spite makes it something other than what it is meant to be. God Incarnate spoke the truth, and prostitutes, publicans, sinners and fools flocked to Him because they felt His love resonate. They felt His enoughness, and knew that they didn't have to do any measuring up to the perfection He required, and I think we're supposed to emulate that when it comes to one another, at least to some extent. Truth and love always have to go together. I was reading through a sermon today going through Ephesians, and the emphasis was on the verses in chapter 4 speaking of walking worthy. Some characteristics of worthiness are humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with one another. It also reminds me of where Paul writes about kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness. I think these ought always to be kept in mind and applied in any truth-telling, or any situation, ever, always.

  2. Ps 27:4 One thing have I asked of the LORD,
    that will I seek after:
    that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
    all the days of my life,
    to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
    and to inquire in his temple.


Remember that you will give an account for every word. Respond with wisdom and grace, please.