Summary: First sermon of the series "One Body...many Members" on 1 Corinthians Chapter 1. This Sermon focus on what causes divisions in the Church. The preference of preaching style can cause lack of power in the Church
Divisions in the Church
Today we start studying the book of 1st Corinthians.
Corinth’s importance in the ancient world was considerable. It was the densely populated capital of the Roman province of Achaia (a prefecture within contemporary Greece bears the name still), a busy commercial centre, and subject, therefore, to many outside influences. A thriving port city, it was infamous for its sexual vice and immorality.
Located on the route from Rome to the East, its key geographical position was ideal for the spread of the gospel as merchants and travelers from many places passed through it.
We could say that the fame of Corinth would be comparable today to cities like Las Vegas or Montreal. It was a city of culture but with a highly humanistic view of the world
Background and summary of Paul’s visit to Corinth
Paul preached the gospel in Corinth in the early 50s AD during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1–18). When opposition grew fierce there, the Lord Jesus spoke to him in a vision assuring him that he had ‘many people’ in the city (Acts 18:10). With this encouragement, Paul stayed on for eighteen months, ‘teaching them the word of God’ (Acts 18:11). God used Paul’s ministry to bring about the birth and establishment of the church in Corinth.
1 Corinthians is unique in the New Testament in showing the wide spectrum of problems that an early church encountered.
We may identify nine major difficulties, all of which have lessons to teach us. They are:
DIVISIONS (1:10–17; 3:1–23),
SEXUAL IMMORALITY (5:1–13; 6:12–20),
LAWSUITS among Christians (6:1–11),
MARRIAGE and divorce (7:1–17),
FOOD sacrificed to idols (8:1–13),
ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR in church services (11:2–16),
DISORDER at the Lord’s Supper (11:17–34),
THE RIGHT USE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS (12:1–14:40),
UNCERTAINTY about basic Christian truth—especially the resurrection of the dead (15:1–58).
Divisions within the church at Corinth prompt Paul to spell out three Christian priorities:
Allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ
The proclamation of his gospel
Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 1
10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.
12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.
16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Video Illustration: “Me Church” clip from Sermon Spice.com. This clip takes a humorous look at a self-centered church.
A. WHAT WAS CAUSING DIVISIONS
The word division means to “rip” or “tear” (v. 10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.).
The Christians in this church were tearing the church apart – they were allowing the spirit of offense to rip out the heart and the life changing power of the church.
Every family, organization and movement struggles with the problem of internal divisions. Many internal conflicts result from a struggle over control. If everyone learns to give the Lord control for whatever they are responsible for, many internal divisions can be minimized.
We need to united in Christ not divided in Christ! The church was formed by Christ to serve one another and not to focus on ourselves. The church is not about me but about the message of Jesus and about service to the Kingdom of God! Let us examine what was happening to this New Testament Church and try to avoid the same kind of problems that they were facing.
B. THE STYLE OF PREACHING (THE PREACHER)
The divisions at Corinth may well have been over the different styles of preaching that Paul, Apollos and Cephas practised. Some perhaps distressed with these divisions, either proudly or humbly, declared that they belonged to Christ alone.
I FOLLOW PAUL
This group may have taken the attitude that Paul started this church and he will always be the leader. These are the traditionalists. They always live in the past and never want to move on into the future: They like saying leave everything the way it was this is what the Lord wants! Paul saw Christ so we will only listen to what He tells us to do! He is the founding apostle and we need to do church the way he does it!