Summary: This sermon is taken from 1Cor 3.1-15. Which looks at the divisions in the Church. With a call to Christian Maturity.
1Cor 3.1-15. Divisions in the Church.
A call for Christian Maturity
We live in a world full of divisions, class, race, politics, morality, leadership etc, so often division spills into the Church. What is needed in the Church today more than ever is Christian maturity. We all need to grow up! This will only come about when Gods Word is not only central in our Churches, but also applied and lived out in our lives.
In chapters one and two Paul spent time discussing two issues which are causing problems within the Church
1. Divisions amongst them as they argue with one another 1.10. 3.4
2. False teachers who claimed to have a superior knowledge to the gospel.1.18- 2.4. The two are really intertwined. Paul Spends time refuting them both.
1.Christian immaturity brings in the world and division 1-4
V1. Paul begins in a very much pastoral role calling them brothers, they are Christians and yet at the same time he is blunt addressing them as worldly and mere infants in Christ. V1-4 we see the reasons for the divisions amongst them.
a They were worldly. V1-3 Paul explains 3x they are worldly.
This word can be rendered fleshly in RSV and carnal in the AV. The Greek word means “Sarkinos” where we get our word sarcophagus literally means body eater because the coffin was carved out of limestone, which would disintegrate the body. They were still under the influence of the corrupt nature, which was eating away at them. And it was inside the Church.
We all battle with the old nature Rom.7.14. But that’s not excuse to continue, for we have victory in Christ Rom.7.25.Nobody here would claim to be perfect? Are we still fighting worldly desires?
How did these worldly desires manifest themselves?
b.They were infants
What characterizes children? V3 jealousy and quarrels amongst them. Children are impressionable, (easily influenced) they look up to others ( Did you ever bring the teacher an apple? A particular teacher V4) and at times they misunderstand. (The role of the messenger v5) they either put him on a pedestal or tried to ridicule him.
They were Bottle-feed. V2 I gave you milk not solid food Spiritual nursery
According to v1 those who are worldly are mere infants still bottle-feeding. They were struggling with the sincere milk of the word of God. They hadn’t fully grasped the amazing wisdom of the gospel the depth of the milk they had received from Paul was lost on them, this same milk is suitable for all. Calvin says “Christ is milk for infants and strong meat for men.”
Every doctrine that is taught to theologian is taught to a child.
We must be communities who are fully nourished. 1Peter1:2 Like new born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. We must continually crave the spiritual milk and not consider we have some how arrived. Have we fully grasped our salvation?
We must be aware of thinking some how we have arrived, we must always concentrate on the gospel message of the Cross.2v2 I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
c. They were cry babies v3. Jealousy and quarrels
Analyzing Tony Blair and Gordon Brown latley at the Lbour party conference and their conference speeches Is there division in the party? Seeking to out manoeuvre one another.
The world’s wisdom was in the Church. (Classical wisdom/Gods wisdom) The false teachers were calling Paul’s teaching “simple.” 2v1 superior wisdom, This was causing jealousy and quarrels amongst them. They began to pick up their own idolised teachers who they followed exclusively .1.12. 2.4. It’s notable that in the culture of the day, a teacher had to be given exclusive loyalty by the pupil. We must beware of anyone who tells us its Christianity plus!
2.Christian maturity brings glory to God v5-9
They had misunderstood the role of Gods messenger v5.
They began to idolise and follow particular messenger, and began to exalt the man more than God v4. Paul begins to refute and rectify these notions by explaining the role of Gods minister. And here we see Christian maturity in Paul, as he conveys his really position to them, were only servants, through whom you came to believe in God.
I have often been told about a preacher who always went into the pulpit with a towel. And whenever he got ideas of granduer he would always pull out a towel he carried to remind himself of the servant nature of his ministry. As Jesus said no servant is above his master.
a. Christian maturity recognises servant hood in serving
V5 Paul reveals that he like Apollo’s are not competing with one another but are both instruments in Gods hands to be used by him. They are simple servants, waiters and attendants called by God. V5 the Lord assigned the task.