Quarrels in the Church - Riverside Indonesian Fellowship

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Bible Study 2023
Quarrels in the Church
Please turn in your bible to 1 Corinthians 1:10-17. We'll take this as a unit and this section could easily be a practical passage, because that's just about what all of us can relate to. That's just part of what tragically occurs in the church. And it occurred from the very beginning in the church. It's no different today. It is a common problem and it's one that needs to be dealt with.

The apostle Paul felt that it was the primary problem in Corinth, because that's how he begins his exhortations. The first 9 verses of 1 Corinthians 1 state the identity of the Corinthians in Christ. It's positional truth. He identifies them as those that are saints, those who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ, those who have been granted all of the benefits of sainthood and he thanks God.

And having stated their position, Paul begins then in 1 Corinthians 1:10 to urge them to behave in accordance with their position. And from 10 all the way to the end of the book it's exhortation to alter their behavior. And the first thing that he deals with is this whole idea of unity in the church. People are basically self-centered and that's part of depravity dominated by their own egos.

All of us still have problems with sin. And at the essence of sin is our own ego. So when you get to the church, you have a lot of sinners in the church. They happen to be justified sinners, but they're still sinners and so you have conflict because you have people with desires, goals, purposes and ideals that are generated by their own ego. James 4:1 says, "From where come wars among you?"

It is because that within you there are strong desires that run in opposition to the strong desires of other people. You lust or you have a strong desire for what you don't have. So you kill. And then you desire to have and you can't obtain, so you fight and make war. And he goes on to say what you really ought to do is ask God who will give it to you if you ask for it properly.

Quarrels are a part of life. We're competitive. Little children fight from the beginning of their lives. The kids fight over the toys. They go to school and they fight over the games and the playground. They go to high school and they fight over the girls or the boys or the football. They go to college and they fight over the campus policies. They grow up and they fight over their business dealings.

Then they become politicians and fight over policies of a government. Married people fight over whatever. And governments fight over land and economics. And that's war. You see, people are depraved, selfish and egoistic. And that problem finds its way into the church and so we have fights in the church. Tragically, though they are forbidden by God, they still they exist.

Selfishness is a problem in the body of Christ, because sin is a problem. And of course, the fractured kind of fellowship not only wipes out the joy of the believer, but it sucks the foundation from under the testimony of the church. God is dishonored. Christ is disgraced. Christians are discredited. You're going to find it in the church because Satan has always been active in it.

Paul begins his 16 chapters of exhortation by starting with this issue. And that gives us some idea of how important this is to God, because from 1 Corinthians 5:1 to 6:20 errors regarding immorality. From 7:1 to the end of the chapter errors regarding marriage. From Chapter 8 to Chapter 11:1, errors regarding Christian liberty. From Chapter 11:2 to the end of the chapter, errors regarding the Lord's Table.

Chapter 12-14, errors regarding spiritual gifts. Chapter 15, errors regarding the resurrection. Chapter 16, errors regarding money. Now of all of those errors the number one area is the area of unity in the church. Our Lord prayed to the Father in John 17 that the church would be one. He told the disciples to love one another that the world might know that they were one.

And a loving community of believers has a profound impact on the world. In Acts 2, when those people had singleness of heart and one mind and met together daily and shared in common love they had favor with all the people and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. So Corinth's first need was unity in the church, and that is our first need in the modern church today.

There are four basic emphases in the passage from verses 10 to 17. The plea, the parties, the principle and the priority. Number one is the plea. Verse 10, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

Plead is really a word that means to come along side and help. It's translated to advocate in other places. And that was the character of Paul, because law demands love and grace to be pleading. And so here he comes along and he even uses the word brethren, because it moderates the harshness of the rebuke and it also reminds them that if they are brothers, they ought to act in a brotherly fashion.

He's saying first of all, that "I am pleading you on the basis of the name of Jesus Christ." For anything that is called on the Christian to do, it is what the Lord Jesus Christ desires. Whenever you see the term "name" in relation to the Lord or to God, it means all that He is and all that He wills. When it says to pray in the name of Christ it means to pray consistent with who Christ is and what He wills.

When I pray in the name of Jesus, it doesn't mean I ask whatever I want and say, "In Jesus' name, Amen’" It means that I say, "This I pray, because this I believe is what Christ would want, because this is consistent with His will as I understand it." Your behavior as a church, and as a believer has its direct relationship not to me and not to the church as such, but to Jesus Christ Himself.

And you can complain all you want about the church and it really won't reflect on your church. It will reflect on Christ. Some of us talk about the church in front of unbelievers and we complain about things that we may not like and we think that that has reference to the church, when in fact, in reality that has reference to the Christ whom we really claim to love, adore and follow.

Everything you do in your life gets back to Him. In Acts 20 where Paul calls the elders, he bids them farewell and says, "Feed the flock of God over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. The flock which He has purchased with His own blood." In other words, "Look, remember those people are precious. They were bought with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Paul calls for unity because he knows it reflects on Christ. The emphasis in this passage is on a local assembly. This is not referring to unity in a mystical sense. The broad unity of the church. He is not talking about denominational unity. He is simply saying that within the framework of a local assembly there should be unity. We've got to agree on the same things. Well, what does this agreement involve?

Number one, the plea involves doctrinal agreement. Philippians 3:16 says, "Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” In other words, you know the doctrine that you've been taught, now behave yourselves consistently with that truth." Our accountability is to God and if you submit then we can do it with joy.

So, the Scripture asks the congregation to obey just as it asks a child to obey his parents. Not to decide whether the parents are right or wrong, but to obey. To submit there must be unity in the church. Every decision that is made in regard to the policy of this church is made with unanimity no matter how long it takes us to agree. Because it's up to us to submit ourselves to the will of the Holy Spirit.

Now he says at the end of verse 10, "That you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment." The word ‘perfectly joined together is used in The New Testament to speak of mending bones, joining something together that was torn apart. You are to have the same mind. The same judgments. That's the determination that comes from the same mind.

In Romans 15:5 Paul says, "Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus." In other words, Christ is one. Christ feels the same about everyone else, so should you. Verse 6, "That you may with one mind and one mouth glorify God." He says, "I want that Roman church to think with one mind and to talk with one mouth."

1 Corinthians 1:11 says, the plea is based on the parties. Verse 11, “For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.” They were fighting each other. Notice that they were divided into four groups. Verse 12, “Now I say this that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Peter,” or “I am of Christ.”

They had grouped into identification with various teachers. The first pastor of the Church was Paul. He founded the church, 18 months he was there. And when he left, he sent back somebody to be the second pastor, Apollos. Then there were some Jews who had been brought to Christ through the ministry of Peter. And then there were the others who just identified with Christ.

But they had split into factions. You can have a Paul, Apollos, Peter and Christ and not have to split into groups. 1 Corinthians 3 says, "Are you not carnal?” Carnality is that which produces faction rather than spirituality. The elders simply need to share Scripture on carnality and it melted away the problem. And that's how it ought to be. The Christ party had the right idea.

Now Paul goes from the plea to the parties to the principle in verse 13, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” He's saying, "Look, disunity in the church violates a basic principle. Ephesians 4:4-6 says, "There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Spirit, one body, one God." Is Christ divided? Absolutely not.

In 1 Corinthians 12:12 Paul says, "As the body is one that has many members, as the members of that one body being many are one body, so also is Christ." Christ is not divided. Christ is one. If we are all one in Christ, then we are all one with each other. Jesus prayed in John 17:20 and said to the Father, "Father, I pray that they may be one as You and I are one."

Let's go to the last point. Paul brings up the priority in verses 14, “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius." Crispus was the first ruler of the synagogue and Gaius was another fellow. Paul stayed in his house for a while according to Romans 16. But Paul says, "I didn't baptize anybody but Crispus and Gaius." Very often they had other people doing it.

In the gospel of John it records that the Lord didn't do the baptizing, but He had others do the baptizing. The reason was it would be so easy for people to go around bragging about who they were identified with because of who baptized them. It's nice to be baptized by a wonderful beloved pastor, but you weren't baptized in his name. Paul purposely let somebody else do it.

Verse 16, “Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.” This is a beautiful insight into inspiration. Biblical inspiration ensures the infallibility of the author not his omniscience. You see the difference? When Paul wrote the word of God, he never made any mistakes, but he didn't know everything. He was not omniscient.

Verse 17, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect." In Matthew 28:19 it says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”

But the priority was to go and preach the gospel. Acts 26:16 says, “For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen.” Verse 18, “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

And he says in verse 19, "And I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision." He told them to preach. Baptism followed along, but the priority was preaching. The only reason he says this is to strongly point out the priority to build the church, not to make followers of men. His priority was to preach the gospel and this throws him into the next section where he gets into the preaching of the cross.

People, we're in the church to work, to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and His will. To preach the truth, not to create parties. If all of us have the right priority to honor Him and to preach His truth and we walk in the Spirit and not carnality, we'll see a blessed unity here that'll magnify our Lord and that'll draw to Him those people that are coming to Christ. Let us pray.

© 2017 Ferdy Gunawan

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Denver, CO 80211

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