Christ is the Center of our Unity
1 Cor 1:10-17 (Pastor Heo)
Divisions in the Church
10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
1 Cor was written by Paul. He planted a local church at Corinth during his 2nd missionary journey. At this time, he is at Ephesus during his 3rd missionary journey. He heard a bad report about Corinth. From whom did he hear the report? From the servant of Chloe.
“My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. “
Maybe Chloe was a rich business woman living in Ephesus or Corinth with her servants handling business between Ephesus and Corinth. Anyway, what is clear is that these first-hand observers told Paul what was happening at Corinth.
Paul wrote this letter to help them with their problems.
Problem #1: Disunity, division
In church history, division has always been a problem among the people of God. In this case, it was quarreling over who they “follow”. Paul, Apollos, Cephas, Christ? (v. 12)
“What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.””
This caused a big division and disunity among them. Why? Actually, Paul, Apollos, and Peter (Cephas) had nothing to do with these divisions. They didn’t try to make their own fan clubs, but they focused on Christ in their messages. So, why was there division? It was a human, personal thing.
- Paul founded the church there, and was the missionary to the Gentiles. Perhaps he attracted the Gentile believers.
- Apollos was an eloquent and famous speaker who had once had a famous ministry at Corinth. At that time, oratory eloquence was highly valued. He likely attracted highly educated and philosophical believers.
- Peter (Cephas) was a Jew of Jews, the main minister for the Jewish people. He was the leader of the first 12 apostles. He likely attracted the Jewish people, especially those who doubted Paul’s apostleship.
- Christ – maybe we also decide to follow “Christ only” and not human leaders.
This disunity makes the church powerless and weak. Disunity, fighting with each other, these things make our enemy Satan happy. Satan is a spirit of disunity. In Genesis, Satan brought disunity between God and man, man and man, man and Creation. Even today he is bringing disunity into our churches, homes, workplaces, countries. So we must be in prayer all the time for these things.
The Holy Spirit, however, is a spirit of unity.
Eph “Make every effort to keep the unity in the bond of peace. There is one Lord, one baptism, one Spirit, one Father of all – who is above all and in all and through all.”
Eph 2:14 “Jesus has made the two one and broken the barrier of disunity.”
Gal 3:28 “There is no Greek nor Jew, no slave nor free, no male nor female, but all are equal in Christ.”
Even today Jesus is praying for our unity. “Make them one as we are one.”
“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
Paul does not command them by his authority, but approaches them in a kind, appealing manner. This means Jesus is the answer, the solution. Only Jesus brings unity.
Gal 3:28 “There is no slave nor free… We are all one in Jesus Christ.”
What does this mean? Unity does not mean uniformity. We are not all the same in our culture, background, interests, color, favorite foods, etc. We can enjoy variety – like the colors of a rainbow. It is beautiful because it has many different colors, but the colors are all united. If these colors are separated, there is no longer a rainbow.
We should be united. How? In what way should we be made one? At least there are Three areas in which we must be united.
God bless us with holy, spiritual unity.
Our sense of belonging to one family.
Yes, this is our second time in 1 Cor. In the first time, we recognized that we are a church, we are saints, we are one in Christ. This is our identity – we are ONE family, united in Christ. We belong to one family.
In v. 10, 11, Paul addresses us as “brothers [and sisters].” It means, we all Christians are part of God’s family. We share unity that runs even deeper than blood brothers and sisters. The Kingdom of God is organized as a family system.
God, the Son, the Spirit are three separate entities, but organized as ONE family system.
- God = Father
- Jesus = Son
- Holy Spirit = Helper
Romans “Those God foreknew he also predestined to become conformed to the likeness of Christ so that he might become the first brother…”
We are one in one family. This is our real, eternal identity.
#2 Faith doctrine
What do you believe in your heart?
If you are Christian, you have a faith doctrine. This is called “christology”. The doctrine of salvation is called “soltariology.”
“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?”
Everyone knows the answers to these questions. Paul uses rhetorical questions to make what is known crystal clear. It is very simple. Even baby Christians know this. Who died for you? Paul? No. Apollos? No. Peter? No. Only Christ. Who can save us, who can give us real freedom, who can give us deliverance from hell, who can give us real peace and joy, who can give us eternal life? Absolutely, finally, Jesus.
We are one in this faith doctrine of Jesus Christ.
Yes, even I agree that Paul, Apollos, and Peter are greater men than me. I honor them, but they are the same in that they were humans, sinners, and need forgiveness, and salvation. For them, Jesus Christ died.
Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else. There is no other name given to men under heaven by which we must be saved.”
We are one in the doctrine of Christ.
#3 Priority Mission
This is practically important.
If we are Christians, we all have a mission. Check what you mission is.
A “mission” is a task given to you by God. It is not something you choose for yourself, but something given to you by God because we are servants of God. Check all the time what is your priority #1 mission.
Sometimes you feel tired, bored? Ask and check, what is your mission?
We are different in many areas – our tastes, favorite colors, height, weight, etc. We are individual people, but we must be ONE in our priority #1 mission. We can be different in our talents and gifts, but we are ONE in our priority #1 mission. What is it?
“…perfectly united in mind and thought.” (in purpose – #1 mission)
What is it?
“14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
Do not misunderstand this story, but we should understand the background of this story.
Paul is not minimizing the importance of baptism. Yes, we are baptized in the name of Christ.
But what IS important in baptism is that we are baptized INTO one family.
But the Corinthian church misunderstood. Some said, “Paul baptized me.” Others, “No, Peter did me – he’s better.” Others, “Apollos did me – he’s the best.”
It does not matter by which pastor you were baptized. Billy Graham? Pastor Park? It does not matter. We were baptized by one faith into one family.
This also involves the Great Commission of Christ. Baptism is an outward expression of an inward reality – trusting in Christ as your personal Savior. So, by baptism, we publicly declare our faith in Christ to this world. So, baptism is a unifying factor in the church.
v. 17 (final answer – priority #1 mission)
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
“Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel…”
Paul is not minimizing the importance of baptism. Yes, it is important, but our primary mission is to preach the gospel.
No matter how important baptism is, preaching the gospel must be first. Baptism cannot substitute for preaching the gospel.
In our daily lives, remember, no matter how important a thing you do, not preaching the gospel cannot be justified by doing that very important thing.
In 1 Cor later, Paul says, “When preaching the gospel I cannot boast because I am compelled to do so. Woe to me if I do not preach…” He doesn’t say, “Woe to me if I don’t baptize.” Rather, “Woe to me if I don’t preach.”
We are one in:
God bless us to be united in Christ.
God bless you.