Divided by the Wisdom of the World
1 Corinthians 1:10-31
Jerry A Collins
q It is ever appropriate to have division among Christians?
q How does the wisdom of the world and God differ?
q Why is the cross central to the Christian faith?
A common danger within the body of Christ is the tendency to divide ourselves according to who or what we are loyal too. Often that is determined by which leader/s we are following (james Dobson, john mcarthur). Or what book we are reading (prayer of jabez, 40 days of purpose). Or what program we are participating in (40 days of purpose, bill gothard). There are Christians who will not give other Christians the time of day because of issues like Billy Graham, modes of baptism, prestige of their leader, kinds of dress, socio/economic status, views of predestination/free will, lordship salvation/grace. The idea seems to be division that excludes others relationally. The root of the problem is pride. Each is proud in feeling superior to the rest. You thought that only happened in your office. This problem is addressed in the church too.
1. DO NOT DIVIDE THE CHURCH BY COMPETITIVE LOYALTIES
CALL TO UNITY 10 This is an urgent summons based around the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is serious. This summons includes 4 things: (1) That you all agree. This means to ‘speak the same thing’. This idea of unity is not compromise but agreement about what is true. It is not the elimination of diversity but the establishment of harmony. (2) That there be no divisions. Schisms existed within this group of Christians. There was a tear in the fabric of their relationship to one another. This was not to be. (3) Be made complete. The idea is to be united together and joined together. To mend the tear that existed between them. (4) In the same mind and same judgment. Instead of saying that is impossible, why not make agreement a goal not compromise or tolerance. So as we think and make decisions strive for agreement as basis of unity.
QUARRELS BRING DIVISION 11 This is the reason why subject of division is brought up. They resolved their quarrels not by seeking agreement by dividing the church according to their competitive loyalties. Chloe and others were well aware of this problem and informed the apostle of it as well. This kind of quarreling and division is never product of a mature Christian life.
DIVIDED BY COMPETITIVE LOYALITIES 12-17 In
vs 12 the loyalties are parties of followers who
remained true to Paul in spite of attempts to undermine his apostleship. Of Apollos preferring his polished
preaching style Acts 18:24. Of Cephas
preferring traditional leader. Of Christ avoiding
attachment to any group. So the problem not following leaders. Nothing wrong with following Christ. The problem was
division based on competitive loyalties vs 13. In
this case upon personalities saying ‘I
am of”. Apparently some people got
baptized into these groups. The 3 questions are rhetorical meaning a definite ‘No!’
So in vs 14-17 Paul hits the fan. Baptism is not
necessary for salvation vs 17. Baptism accompanies
salvation but it is not for the sake of not associating with others. It is not
who baptized you. It is not a celebrity affair. It is not a means of salvation vs 17. It is less a priority than the gospel and salvation.
So we learn: (1) Pursue unity with other believers thru agreement not
compromise or tolerance. This must be our posture. (2) Don’t use baptism or personalities or prestige
to divide the church and limit and minimize relationships and ministry within
the church. (3) Don’t limit your
spiritual direction to your pastor, your church or some other spiritual leader
you may follow. (4) Preaching & teaching the
2. PURSUE LOYALTY TO GOD’S WISDOM IN CROSS OF CHRIST NOT MAN’S WISE LEADERS
RESPONSE TO THE GOSPEL 18 First, for those already perishing the gospel is foolishness. Not the preaching of it but the content of it. Defying God’s wisdom in the gospel their destiny is to perish. An unbeliever has no interest in the gospel. It is ‘moronic’ to them. That is why when you see an unbeliever who has an interest you know the Spirit of God is at work in his heart. Second, to those being saved it is the power of God. Why? Because the cross means death to human effort. It eliminates the possibility of se;f-salvation. Only God saves us. We cannot save ourselves.
WW INEFFECTIVE 19-21 In vs 19 is an
appeal to scripture (Isa 29:14) when the ‘wise’
GOSPELS WISDOM EFFECTIVE 21-25 It was God’s idea to provide a way thru the cross to come to Him 21b. God called people to believe the gospel message--in what seems foolish. There area no substitutes or variations on the message. For Jews that meant requesting signs, evidence of divine reality. For gentiles wanted proof thru human reason, to hear options and make own decision vs 22. People want to decide upon their own terms. But we speak on God’s terms vs 23 Christ crucified as the only true sign and only true wisdom. Not open for debate or deciding if there better alternative. So becomes a stumblingblock since Jews looking for political savior and foolishness for Greeks looking for philosophical savior like Aristotle, plato & sacrates. However, those called to salvation (1:2) Christ displayed power of God and taught wisdom of God vs 24. Reason is that doctrine of cross, tho regarded as absurd and powerless, has more power and wisdom in it and thru it than anything ever coming from WW vs 25. Hyperbole is a deliberate exaggeration to increase effect of comparison! GOD’S CHOICE 26-31 As we consider our calling to salvation, remember this contrast. Christianity did not advance by political influence, military power, wealthy means vs 26. The world advances its causes with power and prestige. By contrast, the gospel was sent worldwide thru lips and lives of common folk! From humble origins. 3 Times it says ‘but God has chosen’ 27-28. Chosen (1) foolish things of world (2) weak things—like cross, poor people (3) base/despised things irrelevant to world (4) things that are not (powerful, influential in world and all of this hamstrings WW 28. Makes it null and void. Why? So no one can boast before God. God turns worlds standards upside down 29. Salvation can only be attributed to God. God gives salvation by His own doing including righteousness (Christ’s), sanctification (HS) and redemption (Ultimate). God has declared that everyone acknowledge this! Our only boast must be in the Lord (Jer ). (1) God ordained cannot find salvation by using WW. WW believes works in some form will gain eternal salvation. (2) But God says your works actually keep you from finding salvation. The better, richer, nobler, wiser you are more you think you deserve salvation. (3) So God’s grace available only thru Jesus on cross. Seems foolishness to perishing who believe they deserve God’s grace. But those chosen given understanding that it is of faith in Christ.