2020-08-09 – 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 – United in Christ
Bible Text: 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Corinthians | 2020-08-09 – 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 – United in Christ (VBS Party/Concert)
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us.
Have you ever been part of a really effective team? I mean a team of people that you knew so well that on any given situation each of you knew your part and you could even anticipate the actions and reactions of each other. Where you would stand-up for one another and you would sacrifice for one another if needed. That is what we are trying to build up in this church family. A true “lock-arms with one other” relationship that will carry us forward in a very healthy way.
Today’s message is entitled “United in Christ”. God’s will for us in this church is to be United in Christ, and that is what this message is all about. In Psalm 133
King David wrote, ”How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore”. I pray you will take this message seriously as we need each other brothers and sisters, especially as the world around us seems to be falling apart, we need each other to face the struggles that life presents indeed.
Please turn now to 1 Corinthians 1:1, page 1011 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. Prayer..
Last week we gave the introduction to this First Corinthian letter/book where Paul greeted them very politely and he conveyed much compassion for the members there. He told them how much he cared for them and he called them “sanctified” and referred to them as “fellow saints”. What a great encourager Paul was, and we should consider doing likewise. Today the message is a bit different as Paul now points out to them some of the first challenges or struggles he saw in them that was reported to Paul by others. Although it is very important to be an encourager, it is equally important for us to point out the weaknesses or struggles we see in our fellow Christians, as long as it is done in love for the purpose of correction and building up one another.
It is so frustrating to me when people close to me don’t seem to care enough to tell me when I am in need of correction or when I am having an problem that needs attention. Have you ever been there?
Maybe it is something simple like you got something on your face, or a perhaps a clothing malfunction. Or maybe it is a wrongful attitude or behavior, but nobody cares enough to point it out or correct me. However when they do care enough to point out my problem, although embarrassing, I appreciate them so much.
I remember once I was in a second year Japanese class. I was one of the class leaders regarding my ability to learn the language. One day we had a film crew from Japan come into our class, and my teacher asked me to give a speech in Japanese to them. So I got up in front of class and I just let it go. I started speaking Japanese proudly, at least as good as might be expected of a second year student. From my perspective, I think I nailed it, I was pretty confident in my delivery and I had good feelings about the speech. Then it was break time, and as we ushered out into the hallway, the camera lady came up to me and said with all graciousness, “Pardon me, your fly is open”. Embarrassed yes, but I also appreciated her tact, her bravery, and care.
In Proverbs 27:6 Solomon wrote: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, then many kisses from an enemy”. Do you get that? A true friend should care enough to point out our errors. In our first scripture verses today, the apostle Paul cares enough for the Corinthian believers that he reports to them about a problem that was reported to him. Paul started up that church a few years earlier, and he is concerned with their welfare and their spiritual growth and maturity.
Starting at verse 10 of chapter 1, Paul wrote:
10 Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.
Now being united in thought and purpose does not mean that everyone must believe exactly the same about all things. There is a difference between having opposing viewpoints and being divisive. A group of people will not completely agree on every issue, but they can still work together harmoniously if they agree on what truly matters. For instance, one of our core tenants is that Jesus Christ is Lord of all, Amen? So in this church we should endeavor to speak and behave in a way that will reduce arguments and increase harmony and encourage each other along a better path of life. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Petty differences should never divide true Christians.
About our core beliefs, you should know that every church has a list of their basic tenants or beliefs. We are a Southern Baptist church and as an independent church body, we have chosen to agree to what is commonly referred to as the Baptist Faith and Message. There are 18 Biblical topics in that document and we have them listed on our website (photo) and also they are available in print form. Now if you go around and visit, you will find that each one of the Southern Baptist churches are unique in their own way. Some are more traditional, some are more Gospel centered, and some are very contemporary. However in those 18 Biblical topics of the Baptist Faith and message, we are united. That unity gives us strength. That unity gives us purpose and allows us to really feel like a true family of believers. Anywhere I go now in the good ole U.S.A. I can stop in to one of those SBC churches and feel like I am amongst family.
So apparently it was reported to Paul that there was a lack of unity in this Corinthian church, and it was causing a problem that squelched their effectivity. I would suggest that the Devil had been toying with their emotions whereby keeping them from loving as they should. Kept them from reaching out and sharing the Gospel as they should have been doing. See what Paul writes about it starting at verse 11:
11 For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by members of Chloe’s people, that there is rivalry among you. 12 What I am saying is this: One of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name?
Although this tells us that Paul learned about this from “Chloe’s people”, I always wonder how news got around in those days. These verses we are studying are actually part of a letter Paul wrote specifically to the church in Corinth. I can guess they had kind of a pony-express system or maybe they delivered correspondence via the traveling caravans, but we could guess that what Paul is addressing here has been going on for some time. All of these leaders, Paul, Apollos, Cephas and of course Jesus had a significant impact on that church. Rivalry in itself is not a bad thing. As a matter of fact the right kind of revelry can actually be a healthy thing. Men especially love to be spurred on with little bit of rivalry from another man or even a foe. It is the thing that gets us excited to get moving sometimes and excel even in our tasks and sport.
However there is healthy rivalry and unhealthy rivalry. What Paul is referring to here is the latter. In this case, they were playing a dangerous game of one-upmanship. Paul started that church and some there were insinuating that they were more privileged or creditable because of that loose connection to Paul. Same thing goes with Apollos and Cephas, and thus some of the church members were probably attempting to leverage that connection, so much so that it caused divisions within the church body.
I have experienced such division within a church before and it is not a good thing at all. There are some, perhaps even in this church, that could fall pray to the sin of promoting such division. Please know this, like Paul, I know what it looks like, and we will confront that evil spirit of division if and when we see it. I am telling you dear church it is ugly when such divisive influences fester to become what Paul is addressing here in Corinth. We have an amazing and united church family and we cannot let that happen here. I pray when you hear or sense that same divisive spirit, that you squelch it as soon as possible. And if you are hesitant about it, please let me know so that I can address it accordingly.
The same thing happens though even in the highest echelons of churches and denominations. I run a group on Facebook exclusively for SBC Pastors. It is amazing that we have over a thousand pastors currently in that group. Each one of the members have been scrutinized in regards to their credentials. Even though these are Pastor leaders, we still see pride setting in sometimes and people promoting division in the ranks. Fortunately this doesn’t happen too often and we watch carefully to ensure the spirit of what Paul is saying in these verses, along with many other scripture about pride is quickly squelched with care.
That is why we all need each other brothers and sisters. As Jeremy and I are pastor/shepherds in this church, we have been appointed to be overseers, but we also need you to watch over us as well. Nobody is impervious to satan’s schemes in this regard. That is why Paul is addressing this problem here, and that is why God gave us each other, to keep each other from falling off that prideful and sinfull cliff, which by the ways typically takes many casualties along with them. Are you with me in this?
Verse 14 continues:
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one can say you were baptized in my name. 16 I did, in fact, baptize the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t recall if I baptized anyone else. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied of its effect.
When someone reads this for the first time without understanding the background, they might be confused. Fist you got to understand that although Paul started that church, he then setup pastor-elders and deacons to run it after he departed. So Paul, as a church planter, although he was still connected with that church as he was still also part of many other church plants, but he left it to the leadership there that he established to do the baptizing. Remember Paul was a transient pastor, church planter and evangelist. And when somebody gets baptized as a believer, it is a public profession of their faith decision, so others can see and hold them accountable in their faith walk going forward. That is the purpose of Baptism. At that point the person already accepted Christ as their Savior and Messiah. They already asked God to forgive their past, present and future sins. So in that, Paul could have sought to get all the public accolades in performing the baptisms himself, but he didn’t want the accolades. Paul was showing his humble nature. Paul was a servant of God, he didn’t want anyone to proclaim and therefore leverage his credentials for anything. It is all about Christ brother and sisters. Paul didn’t want to get in the middle of any of our relationships with Jesus. I hope you understand. Like that old hymn, “Our faith is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness”. Your faith walk should not be based upon who is doing the baptisms or who is leading the church. Your faith walk is between you and God alone and don’t let anyone come between you.
Just like Paul was trying to get them to understand, this church isn’t about me. This church isn’t about Jeremiah. This church offering is about Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I pray you understand that. Paul didn’t want that accolade, I don’t want that accolade and you shouldn’t want that either, Amen?
I find it interesting that Paul admits here that he didn’t preach with “eloquent wisdom”. Some speakers use impressive words, but they are weak on content. Paul stressed solid content and practical help for his listeners. He wanted them to be impressed with the message, not just his style.
You needn’t be a great speaker with a large vocabulary to share the Gospel effectively. The persuasive power is in the story, not the storyteller. Don’t get me wrong, Paul was not against those who carefully prepare what they say but he was against those who try to impress others with their knowledge or speaking ability. The Gospel should be shared by all of us, and sometimes the more simple the presentation the better it is received.
Jesus Christ died for our sins, so that I can get into heaven based upon his righteousness and not that of my own. That is the Good News Gospel, Amen?
But the main message for us today is that we need to strive in this church to continue to be united in our work, united in our faith walk, united in our purpose and all that needs to be united with Jesus Christ and His Holy Word, are you with me?
Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation..
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”