The Problem Of Church Divisions
1 Corinthians 1
The Church at Corinth was established on the second of the three missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul.
Paul had traveled as far as Macedonia and Greece.
Paul had made successful visits to Philippi and Thessalonica and then he had a not so pleasant encounter with those of Athens.
After these things Paul had finally made it to the city of Corinth.
Corinth was an important commercial center and was already populated by more than 600,000 people.
Corinth was heavily Grecian in character and was famous as a center for sports in those days.
Corinth was also a very immoral city and sin was rampant, and there was also had a temple to the false goddess Aphrodite.
It is said that there were 1000 female prostitutes who served as priestesses in that place.
Temptation was everywhere and Corinth was “sin city” in that day!
It was at the city of Corinth where Paul met Aquila and Priscilla.
Luke the physician and of the Book of Luke, was also with the Apostle Paul at this time.
Corinth had been founded by Julius Caesar and also had a heavy military presence.
Corinth was also the capitol city of Achai and the residence of the Roman proconsul who administered the city according to the Roman Emperor.
Because of it’s location at the isthmus of Corinth commercialism fueled the sin of this city and this city also had a very mixed population from many nations.
Corinth was a city of wealth but that wealth was distributed unevenly and the gap between the rich and the poor grew ever wider as time passed.
Corinth was as famous for sexual immorality as it was for all these other things!
The Greek word for Corinth is “korinthos”.
BUT, The people who lived there would simply say “korinthiazethai” which means “to fornicate”.
The Apostle Paul remained in Corinth for a good while before he returned to Antioch in Syria.
*****1Co 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
The word apostle means “one sent” and many question the apostleship of Paul but we should not!
If none of the other Apostles questioned it then neither should we!
The Apostle Paul was certainly God’s messenger to the Gentiles!
Gal 2:8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
Gal 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
The Bible says that it was the Holy Ghost that separated Paul and paired him with Barnabas just as the other Apostles were paired and sent out!
Act 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
Paul was personally called just as the others were called!
Act 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Act 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Act 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Paul was an eyewitness to the resurrection of Christ Jesus!
1Co 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
Paul received the same three years of training as had the others!
Gal 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
Gal 1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
Paul was given the same “so called” powers of the Apostles as was the others!
Act 14:8 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked:
Act 14:9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,
Act 14:10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
Act 19:13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
Act 19:14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
Act 19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
Act 20:9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.
Act 20:10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.
That Paul was a Christ chosen Apostle, is a sure thing and we should accept him as an Apostle of Jesus Christ!
Paul identifies this Sosthenes as his Christian brother. It is possible that this was the same Sosthenes that ruled the synagogue at Corinth who was unjustly beaten by a mob.
Act 18:17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.
The truth of Scripture is this:
Rom 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
No one can know God until they are called!
*****1Co 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
The word Church comes from the Greek word “ekklesia” which means a called out assembly.
The word “sanctified” comes from the Greek word “hagiazo” which means purified or consecrated to God or those that have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.
Sanctified means all those that are separated or set apart for God’s use and at that time “living or dead” become a Saint simply because of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Each individual believer is then the “House of God” and when two or three or more are gathered together they form the Church!
1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
Paul addressed this epistle to the Church at Corinth but also to all Saints in every place that call on the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior!
There is only one Church and we are all brothers and sisters in Christ no matter where we live as long as we recognize the Lord Jesus as our Savior!
Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
*****1Co 1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
The two things the Apostle Paul knew for sure was, that he was not worthy to called an Apostle and we are also not worthy to be saved.
Salvation is all about the “Grace of God”!
To be called of God is to then to be more like God in the way we live “as best we can”!
It is only by the “Grace” of God that we can be at peace with God!
Those that build on anything but “Grace” will never know the “peace of God”!
Peace with God comes to only those that know the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal Savior!
The “Grace” of God comes only by the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ!
If this church at Corinth was to survive then they would have to come together in the Lord Jesus Christ!
*****1Co 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
1Co 1:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
1Co 1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
The purpose of this epistle was to address the divisions in this church so Paul first commends the good things of the church.
The glory of the church must be in the Lord and not in some human of the church!
We must be thankful for the “Grace of God”!
Grace is the unmerited favor of God and comes only by Jesus Christ!
A church is not a church, unless it is enriched by Jesus Christ!
To be “in Christ” is to be a member of the church!
It is the church that is the “Body of Christ”!
1Co 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
All divine powers and all qualities of character which belong to Jesus Christ, are passed on to the members of each Christian assembly, so that we all can share in the the utterance and the knowledge of God!
It is the testimony of Christ in each believer that confirms us all before God!
*****1Co 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
1Co 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We can see that all believers stand on level ground at the cross of Jesus!
No Christian is inferior to any other Christian!
AND, even in the beginnings of the New Testament church, we can see that they knew that the Lord could come back at any time to get His Church!
Most all prophesy concern the restoration of Israel and not the Church!
The process of being made holy in the eyes of God consist of:
1) Salvation: Repenting of sin and accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.
2) Sanctification: Christ saving work involves the completed, the on-going and the future saving activity of each individual saint of God.
We are saved, we are being saved, we are saved daily and we will be saved eternally!
3) Glorification: The completed work of salvation and sanctification!
Rom 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Heb 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
Heb 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Heb 2:11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
Heb 2:12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.
When we see Jesus on the “day of Jesus Christ we will be like Him”!
1Jn 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
1Jn 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
So Paul, after bragging about the truths of the church, it was now time to address the issues of the church.
*****1Co 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
What was the first problem of the Church at Corinth?
The congregation was split into separate groups!
Now it is not possible for every Christian to agree on every detail in the Word of God but it is extremely important that we all agree on the doctrine of the Word of God and the doctrine of Salvation!
In reality and in content, the Bible stands distinct from all other religious writings!
For example, the Koran was written by by one man under the guidance of Mohammed’s father in law. Later a group of Arab scholars produced a unified version and destroyed as many variant copies as they could find trying to preserve the unity of the Koran.
The Bible on the other hand was written by at least 40 different writers from diverse vocations and across separate periods of time and each writer had very little knowledge of what previous writers had written but in the end the Bible is a completely unified book!
There are no contradictions or inconsistencies within the pages of the Bible!
This is true because the Holy Spirit caused the writings of the Word of God!
2Pe 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
In unity, within these 66 Books of the Bible, they teach of the “Triunity of God”, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit!
In unity these books teach the “Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ”!
In unity these books teach of the “Personality of the Holy Spirit”!
In unity these books teach of the “fall of and the depravity of mankind”!
And in unity these books teach of the “Salvation by the Grace of God”!
Is is apparent to anyone who takes a serious look at the Word of God, that no human being or beings could have orchestrated the harmony of the teachings of these divine Scriptures!
Had God not revealed Himself in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, then the Bible would be as useless as the other so called religious writings such as the Koran!
Luk 2:30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Luk 2:31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
Luk 2:32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Rom 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
Rom 16:26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
There is no excuse for any Church to be divided over the consistent Word of God!
There is no excuse for the many denominations to be so divided over the consistent Word of God!
There is only one Word of God and there is only ONE CHURCH of the Living God!
Our God is ALIVE!
SO, why was this Church in Corinth so divided?
*****1Co 1:11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
Contentions from strife or struggles in an effort to obtain something that no one else has!
There is only One God and there is only one means of Salvation and the Word of God is specific!
Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Joh 14:7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
To dispute this fact of the Word of God will bring contention to all Bible Doctrine!
Chloe was a concerned Christian who she, and her household, had stayed in touch with the Apostle Paul but Paul had also gotten his information from other sources.
1Co 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
1Co 5:2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
The Church in Corinth were grouping themselves around various human leaders and this caused divisions in the Church.
The was a church where the people had remained “Babes in Christ”!
*****1Co 1:12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
Whenever we try to group ourselves around other human beings we will automatically reject other leaders and their followers!
At this time in Corinth, Paul, Apollos, and Cephas (Peter) all preached the same sermon and had the same message.
It is true that the authority of Paul was being questioned by many because of false men of the Jews who were called the Judaizers.
It is true that Apollos was an eloquent speaker.
But there is no evidence that Peter had ever preached at this Church but we do know that many Christians had escape Jerusalem because of persecution and had heard Peter preach.
And it seems that there some who still considered Christ to be a mere man, which ignores the Word of God!
*****1Co 1:13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
What are the facts?
It is the Word of God that is to be the final authority in every congregation of believers!
No human leader, human teacher, Pastor or Preacher or Pope has the final nor the sole authority of the Word of God!
2Pe 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
We must accept a literal interpretation of the Scriptures!
Literal means that the words and sentences of the Scriptures are understood in their normal meaning,
Literal means that the words are to be understood in a normal communication or a normal conversation.
For instance Psalms 22 has been fulfilled literally.
Isaiah 53:1-12 has been fulfilled literally.
Micah 5:2 has been fulfilled literally!
There is only one truth of all the Scriptures literally!
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
It is not just necessary that we read the Scriptures, it is also important that we study the Scriptures!
2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Because all Scripture comes from God!
2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Then Paul describes his personal calling.
*****1Co 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
Paul “is not saying” it is not important to be Baptized.
Paul “is not saying” that he did not speak in the wisdom of the Scriptures.
Paul “is saying” the most important message of the Church is the “Gospel of Jesus Christ”!
Until salvation is secure, no Church ordinance has any real meaning!
Until salvation is secure there is no wisdom that can be gleaned from the Scriptures!
There is nothing that can become a substitute for the truth of the Cross!
What was the commandment given to Paul?
Act 26:17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
Act 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, “that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me”.
Many of the Body of Christ have gotten away from this most important message to the lost, which is the “good news” of Jesus Christ!
1Co 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
1Co 15:2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
1Co 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
1Co 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
1Co 15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
The preaching of the cross must return as the most important message in each and every Church!
*****1Co 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Being saved is not an intellectual process!
Salvation only becomes the power of God when the Holy Spirit moves into the believer!
Those that regard Christianity as foolishness prove to others that are perishing in their own sin and on their way to Hell!
BUT, All mankind are fools until we meet Christ Jesus at the foot of His cross!
Tit 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
Tit 3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Tit 3:6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
Tit 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
It is the preaching of the “Gospel” that brings salvation!
1Co 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
The most important message to the Church that is making disciples, is to keep the main thing, The Main Thing!
The Main Thing of the Church is Jesus Christ!
*****1Co 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
The Apostle Paul was addressing the membership of those of Corinth.
Paul said to look at your own church, the ones God has called and blessed.
It is a fact that in most every church you will not find many that the world considers to be wise.
There are usually not many of nobility or families of the so-called “well to do”.
There are usually not many people of power that attend church.
BUT, God calls “whosoever will come” in spite of these things!
The Apostle Paul was once a self-righteous religious zealot, but he was called.
These Corinthians came from one of the most evil cities in the world of that day, but they were also called.
No one is too sinful, no one is too evil, no one is so out of touch with reality, that God will not save if they answer God’s call!
All the Apostles of Jesus Christ were considered to be unlearned and ignorant men by the religions of that day!
Act 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
*****1Co 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
1Co 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
God chose to begin His Church with these men, that the world considered to be unlearned and ignorant men!
The lost world may admire men of power, men of royalty, men of great knowledge, men of a high social status, and men of great riches, but none of these can ever guarantee eternal life!
As the world has found out, it is those that call on the Lord Jesus Christ that have obtained salvation and life eternal because God is no respecter of persons.
Rom 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Rom 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Rom 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
God’s foolishness truly does confound all those that seek the wisdom of this world!
God does these things to erase the pride of life from all those that have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!
It is the pride of this life that becomes the stumbling block to those that need to seek the Lord Jesus Christ the author of eternal life!
*****1Co 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
Justification before God can come only by “faith”!
Rom 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
By using what this world considers to be nobodies, God shows that all wisdom and all power are entirely His own!
There will be no boasting of human greatness or human wisdom when we stand before God at the “judgment seat of Christ”.
The wisdom of the believer simply comes from Jesus Christ!
1Co 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
*****1Co 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, “who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption”:
Jesus Christ is our wisdom!
Jesus Christ is our righteousness!
Jesus Christ is our sanctification!
Jesus Christ is our redemption!
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Humanism nor human philosophy can never bring these things to any person!
We are nothing in ourselves but we can find all we need in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
A Church that is bound up in Christ Jesus and the love of God will not have divisions!
But, because we are only humans there can never be a perfect church!
It is only by Jesus Christ that our relationship with God is restored and it is only by Jesus Christ that any rifts that come between believers can be restored!
Jesus is all we need!