Division in the Local Church
Unity is a mark of a healthy church. "A new commandment I give to you," Jesus said, "that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35 NASB95). However, many modern churches are known for their conflicts instead of their unity. Just as I was writing this article the phone rang, and a man shared with me about a conflict that is boiling over in the church he pastors. But the modern church hasn't cornered the market on division. Even churches in the Bible - like the church in Corinth - felt the pain of splinters caused by disunity. After only five years of meeting together, the apostle Paul was pleading with the Corinthians Believers to be unified.
Paul's Appeal for Unity
Paul begins by appealing to the Corinthian's familial relationship: "Now I exhort you, brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you" (1 Corinthians 1:10a). Paul is telling the Corinthians (and us), "You are brothers and sisters, so stop fighting." And then he tells them to have the same attitude and purpose "but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Corinthians 1:10b). Beloved, we are family and should work together with an attitude of humility and love as we glorify God through the ministries of the church.
Paul Exposes Factions
Why was Paul appealing for unity? He had received a report that the Corinthians were forming alliances around their favorite preachers: For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:11-12 NASB95). This would be the same as us saying, "I am of Brother Chance," and "I am of David Jeremiah," and "I am of John MacArthur," and "I am of Christ." These types of claims reveal one thing: PRIDE. Each group is trying to rise above the other. Beloved, these types of man-centered alliances have no place in the local church.
Paul exposes the stupidity of these alliances with three questions: "Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Corinthians 1:13 NASB95). Unfortunately the Corinthian believers were trying to divide Christ, but this cannot be done. All believers have "the same Lord" (1 Corinthians 12:5). Furthermore, no one but Christ has given His life for you. Christ alone bore the penalty against your sin on the cross. And if that is not enough to convince you, remember that you are baptized into Christ. Only Christ is your Savior. Only Christ is your Lord. Beloved, let's be united in Christ alone.
Paul Prioritizes the Cross
"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void" (1 Corinthians 1:17 NASB95). Paul didn't want to preach in a way that would empty the cross of its power. He wasn't interested in gaining a following for himself. He wanted all to believers to be united in Christ alone. Beloved, we do not want to disract from the cross of Christ. We want to live and speak in such a way that people see the beauty of Jesus and turn in repentance and faith to follow Him.
HOW CAN YOU USE THIS SERMON REVIEW?
1. Pray one-by-one for the members of your church.
2. Seek to heal division. If you have an unreconciled disagreement with someone in the church, go to them and work it out.
3. Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 a few times and answer the following questions.
-What does it teach us about Christ?
-What sin is revealed?
-How can I respond in obedience?