Sunday, August 31, 2014

There is no denomination in heaven!

Church Denominations

First Corinthians Chapters 1-4

A Baptist Pastor had a dream and found himself fully dressed with a Bible in hand at the gate of heaven. As he was about to enter, he heard so many people crying and wailing in hell. He went to the gate and met the gate-keeper. He asked the gate-keeper “Who are those crying? Is there a Baptist there?”
The Gate-keeper answered, “No” He said, I thought so!. In order to satisfy his curiosity, he asked, Are there some Methodists there? He again answered No! He asked of all the other denominations he knows, and the answer still was, no! He left there confused. He went to the gate of heaven and before going in, he introduced himself as a Baptist Minister. The Gate-keeper, said “No Baptists are there!” Again, he asked of all the denominations, and the answer is No!.  The truth is that there is no denomination and there is no division in heaven or hell. 

This was the point Paul was trying to pass along to the Church in Corinth. In the first four Chapters of First Corinthians, the word “wisdom” is used no less than twenty-seven times. Why this emphasis? – because division in the Church is as a result of lack of wisdom.

Division in the Church is as a result of lack of wisdom (Click to Tweet). 

You need God’s wisdom to understand the relationship in the Church. This is why he appealed to them in verses 10-12. 

Let us make a quick rundown of the four chapters:

1:10-12: I urge you to resolve your differences and restore unity in your fellowship.

1:13-17: The central fact is Christ, and in Him we are one

1:18-25: God’s wisdom as shown in Christ is really at odds with man’s “wise” approach to things.

1:26-31: In fact, it is Christ and not some superior wisdom who has brought you righteousness, holiness, and redemption.

2:1-5: I purposely kept my message simple when I was with you in order that your full reliance might be on the crucified Jesus.

2:6-10: Of course, there is a divine wisdom, but this comes through revelation, and its source is not in man’s discoveries or philosophies.

2:11-16: This wisdom involves a person coming to grasp God’s thoughts something that demands both hearing the revealed words, and being enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

3:1-4: But you! Your jealousy and quarreling make it clear that you think and act on a worldly human level.

3:5-9: Who do you think is important – we servants, or the God who works through us?

3:10-15: I am thankful for the privilege of serving, but my foundation is Jesus, and what I build will be evaluated one day

3:16-17: But do you not realize that the true construction is going on in your lives, that you are God’s sacred temple, and that we all must build (not tear down) the growing structure?

3:18-23: So do not fool yourselves with all those childish arguments about which leader is better; abandon that kind of thing, and focus on all that God has given you in Christ.

4:1-7: Grasp this principle: God Himself is the source of all that a man possesses so how can anyone boast about having superior gifts or skills?

4:8-13: Rather than trying to build our own little empires, we apostles have abandoned all, haven chosen humiliation, weakness, hunger and persecution as our lot.

4:14-16: As your father, I warn you to imitate me in this and get your priorities back into harmony with reality.

4:18-21: And I warn you: unity in the family is so vital that in God’s power I will discipline you when I come unless you abandon your worldly arrogance!

There are few points I will like us to glean from these Chapters and Paul’s line of argument.

1. Man’s way of thinking (human wisdom) and God’s way of thinking (His foolishness) truly do not correspond. 

He used the Cross to illustrate this point. In seeming weakness and foolishness of the Cross, God fashioned out for us, righteousness, holiness, and redemption. To the Greek, it was foolishness; to the Jew it was foreign. His, ways are not our ways. Where we think the wisdom, the knowledge and the power are, may not be. Man is impressed by strength; God chose to use weakness.

2. Even in the Church, the human tendency is to seek to build little kingdoms around differences. 

Different leaders, different doctrines, and different ways of baptising, different likes and dislikes in music. It is God’s way to reject that kind of thinking, and to build unity around the one thing that Christians have in common – Christ Jesus. 

3. We are apt to use the Bible to try to prove our point of view, or to disprove another’s. 

But Paul here teaches us to study the Scripture so we can learn to abandon our own points of view, and submit ourselves instead to God’s.

In conclusion, the whole point of the passage can be summarized thus:

a. Christ is One- Unity in the Church is vital

b. Christ is the source and focus of our faith. The Corinthian Church exalted human leaders identifying themselves with such leaders – Paulists, Peter’s, Methodists, and Calvinists etc. Jesus alone is the basis for Christian identification.

c. To exalt leaders, or denominations or doctrines, or experiences to the level where they make us different from our brothers and sisters in Christ is to operate on that mere human wisdom which is nothing but foolishness in God’s sight. As for leaders, they are merely servants of God. There is no place in the Church for pride in a human leader, or by a human leader. If God blesses us through one of His servants, we are to address our praise to the Lord, and are to be loyal to God, not the leader. “Let your light so shine before men, that they will glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16) 

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