Summary: The Corinthians church had some unity issues. Paul gives them some help here in rediscovering the unity that was their’s, but that had become a thing of the past.
Passage: I Corinthians 1:10-17
Intro: There has been an atmosphere of division in our land for decades
1. abortion, fiscal policy, size of government, morals,…you name it!
2. election troubles in FL, Pres. Bush comes in under a cloud
3. but all that has changed now, and there is a spirit of unity in our land bec. Of September 11.
4. citizens have found what binds us together, focusing on that.
5. we are Americans, and that fact supercedes other issues, at least for now.
6. The church of Jesus Christ doesn’t need a disaster to bind us together in unity.
7. and yet this unity can be a very fragile thing, easily disturbed.
8. Corinthian church a powerful example; a church torn into factions, fractured by pride, so much that even their “love feasts” were devoid of love.
9. let’s learn from Pauls corrective to this church this morning.
10. 3 facts that, if believed and practiced, will restore unity.
I. We Are United in Christ.
1. v10 is simply an amazing statement, seems idealistic
2. three phrases..”all of you agree”, “no divisions” and “perfectly united”. Possible??
3. we have come to believe unity is something to be sought, something we could have if we tried hard enough.
4. here’s the fact. We are one body, we have given the same Spirit
il) Ephesians 4:3-6
5. the Biblical viewpoint is that oneness, indivisibility, comes with our inclusion in the body of Christ
6. and in this passage, Paul is merely calling the church to manifest in its relationships there very unity that is it’s birthright from God.
7. the words used by Paul in this verse are powerful, important.
8. “Schism”=destruction of unity through force.
Il) rip a cloth in half. It’s unity has been destroyed
9. “perfectly united”=”to restore to it’s former condition.
Il) Ralph Carmichael wrote a song in the 70’s that followed this idea. “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord. And we pray that our unity might one day be restored.”
10. Unity among believers; agreement, lack of divisions, perfect unity, is the Biblical norm, overcoming gender and nationality and age and socio-economic status.
Il) meet believers in other countries, immediate bond, great joy. Family!!
11. but this unity can be and often is disrupted
12. flesh, sin, hurts, error of one compounded by the ungodly response of another.
13. in Corinth, the problem was very specific.
II. We Can Practice Disunity
1. the troubles in Corinth were common knowledge
2. Chloe was not part of this church, according to scholars
3. tradewoman with business dealings there.
4. she reported strifes, quarrels there.
5. v12, here’s the scoop, the specifics
6. divided behind various teachers and apostles.
7. Not false teaching versus true!!
8. all these men mentioned were orthodox, but styles were different
9. Paul was logical and sequential
10. Peter was more rough and ready, unschooled,
11. Apollos well-educated in the Greek philosophical approach
12. and certain people were drawn to one or the other, until they took pride in their allegiance
13. their attraction to a specific teacher became more important than their inclusion in God’s family
il) we might do the same by saying, “I like Swindoll, John Hagee, Stanley, Billy Graham
14. fine to like someone’s style, but the problems start when that is our identification
15. because someone else likes anothers style or focus, and soon we have sides drawn up and conflicts
16. v13, Is Christ to be divided up and distributed like pieces of a pie?
17. of course not! We are unified in Christ, and the body of Christ is to manifest that wonderful oneness
18. Paul even uses himself as the example, showing how abhorent it would be for anyone to make him an object of pride.
19. this kind of refocus, getting our eyes off of Jesus and onto people must hurt our unity.
20. obvious that thing were to the point that “I was baptized by so and so” was a big deal.
21. and so Paul is glad he only baptized a few.
22. but hey, what’s the big deal?
III. What’s at Stake is Power
1. we like to think this kind of division is harmless.
2. but there is a terrible danger which Paul spells out in v17
3. the danger is that the focus will no longer be on the gospel of Christ, and shift to the charisma of a person or a particular style of communication or a focus that is attractive.
4. in Corinth, the danger seemed to be “words of human wisdom”, a search for a teacher who could weld the gospel together with a more “enlightened” rhetoric.
5. why is that bad? Because the simple, powerful gospel vanishes under the weight of rhetorical subtlety.