Summary: Seeing the Church through grace and peace
This sermon (1 Corinthians 1: 10 - 17) was preached at West Ewell Evangelical Church, Surrey, on Sunday 15 March 2015.
I am reminded of the illustration by Emo Phillips: I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. So I ran over and said ‘Stop! Don’t do it!’ ‘Why shouldn’t I?’ he said. I said, ‘Well, there’s so much to live for!’ He said, ‘Like what?’ I said, ‘Well…are you religious or atheist?’ He said, ‘Religious.’ I said, ‘Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?’ He said, ‘Christian.’ I said, ‘Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?’ He said, ‘Protestant.’ I said, ‘Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?’ He said, ‘Baptist.’ I said, ‘Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist church of God or Baptist church of the Lord.’ He said, ‘Baptist church of God.’ I said, ‘Me too! Are you original Baptist of God or are you reformed Baptist church of God.’ He said, ‘Reformed Baptist church of God.’ I said, ‘Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist church of God, reformation 1879, or Reformed Baptist church of God, reformation of 1915?’ He said, ‘Reformed Baptist church of God, reformation of 1915.’ I said, ‘Die, heretic’ and pushed him off.
As we will see that is an apt warning to the church today.
The Corinthian church was very much like us - surrounded by a society that had no moral compass and was confronted by a religious maelstrom.
We are looking at this letter through the prism of grace and peace (verse 3) which only comes from the Father and the Son.
We have been looking at the following so far in this epistle: called holy by God, people gathered to call upon God, being recipients of God’s grace, being enriched by God as He gives us good gifts so that we can testify to others about Him, waiting expectantly for the return of Jesus, and above all the faithfulness of God.
These are all high things until we hit a bump – it is where the mindset of the world enters the church.
We will look at:
1. Causes of Divisions
2. Our Attitude to others
3. Being Christ-centred
1. Causes of Divisions
Division is, in summary, caused by the weakness of man and the wiles of Satan – but will unpack that!
The word ‘divisions’ does not mean schisms but dissensions, it does not mean splits but internal factions.
The first camp belonged to those following Apollos. This preacher had arrived at Ephesus, where Aquila and Priscilla had completed the conversion of this intelligent and eloquent Bible student from Alexandria so that he was no longer disciple of John the Baptist to becoming a fully-fledged follower of Christ. Apollos was recommended to move to Corinth to minister among Jewish population, where he was successful – but a party grew up around him without His approval.