Thursday, July 26, 2007

Glorying In Our Divisions?

That's it. It's happened in my own bible study group and again, almost ad nauseum, I find myself discussing one of the most cancerous problems in the body of Christ; that is, following men instead of Christ. Whether it be the pope, Mennon, Arminius, Calvin, Luther or on and on and on. Paul warns against that by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and most of christendom is instead happily and proudly mired in the very error.

1 Corinthians 1:10-25 (New American Standard Bible)

"Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ." Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?"

"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void."

Preach the cross like Paul, not the man-made doctrine that the brightest christian minds in the world can't even nearly agree on.

Jesus Christ became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. What else matters? Hundreds in the bible who witnessed Christs birth, death, resurrection and ascension, and the hundreds of thousands who testify of them, simply point to the cross. Anything that ushers in division or quarreling about doctrine is not from God but from the flesh. Paul says anything of that sort can ultimately make the cross void. And today we see christians and their clever speech not only being unable to hold their own and know scripture as well as their athiest adversaries in public forum but even amongst themselves as they wrangle together over highly coveted doctrine. We've made a public sport of it.

"For consider your calling, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh."

Does he say that he whom men deem to be the wisest theologian is really the power of God? Or that, therefore, that theologian and his adherents may then boast before God? No, he says the opposite. And secondly, men can't agree on who they would deem the wisest theologian to be anyway.

The power of God and the wisdom of God is Christ. "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. "
So where do all of the numerous, quarrelsome, man-made doctrines which men untenably lord over one another as being the real truth fit into all of this wise counsel from Christ through Paul; apart from giving the destroyer satan the advantage in dividing God's (self-satisfied) household?
I'd like to suggest that it's out of a disrespectful disregard to plain scripture.

"Has Christ been divided?"

Yes, Christ has been divided.

But as members of the Body of Christ we could be mindful of Paul's words and begin to correct this damage.

"until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. " "Built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit."

Or simply ignore Pauls exhortations as most of our church fathers have grievously chosen to on their watch.


Kc said...

This is a hard lesson to teach. May God bless your efforts both here and in your assembly.

Todd said...

Thanks kc. And yours as well brother.

Todd said...

Another thing I'd like to add to this post is that once upon a time, even in the face of its prohibition made clear by Paul, there was good reason to flee to one denomination or another. Those days are over. It's the Information Age. We are no longer circumstantial victims of whatever denominations we are limited to in town or our surrounding area, and we no longer need be unsuspecting victims limited to whatever substandard bible teachers are available in our own locale. There're are no more good excuses. Like Paul and the other apostles said, look for faithful men who "preach the Word", approach it as a newborn child of God through Christ and learn what it says. God's got everything covered in there and left nothing of any importance to controversy or division.

Leo said...

Hey Todd,

I found your comment,

And today we see Christians and their clever speech not only being unable to hold their own and know scripture as well as their atheist adversaries in public forum but even amongst themselves as they wrangle together over highly coveted doctrine.

to be quite thought provoking. Christians cannot expect to hold their own against the wisdom of the world by using weapons supplied by the wisdom of man. We are supposed to be using the wisdom of God which comes from the proclamation of the Word. The power is then from God and not man. It good to be reminded of these things.


Todd said...

Greetings Leo.

Rose~ said...

You are so right! Amen

Rose~ said...

"highly coveted doctrine"

an interesting choice of words. why are we like this?

Todd said...

Well Rose,
I suppose there are all sorts of partial sin related answers to the puzzle 'why we're like this?'.

I guess one of my favorite ones is that we teach each other that it's o.k. to chase after(or covet) unexplained details of scripture and explain them ourselves, but then go farther and carelessly regard our own private speculations as God's truth, to the destruction of God's truth around us(and therefore also our unity within the Spirit of Truth).

Isn't it true that the more powers of mastery some have over the world's wisdom(academia, science, etc.) the more able they feel to try and explain for us what God has textually, purposefully and wisely, left unexplained? Wow, danger.

Well who knows, but the resulting disagreement can get pretty unhealthy sometimes and we should probably not get too comfortable with it.

Hey, good to see your little one there with you. Keep those great discussions going that you have over at your blog.

Todd said...


Here's another explanation I like for why we are as we are, so quick to complicate God's word unto our own advantage.
The record of the Jewish people is defined by their tendency to look to their own free will in accomplishing their needs, and then seek the credit, instead of looking at God's spoken will to them regarding their needs, listening, obeying Him, and then acknowledging and being partakers with Him in His glory which He so desires to share with them.

That's many in the church today too as we look for more than what God has told us through His Word, and in the process wind up mistakenly glorying in the fruit of our own free will which we inattentively added to His simple sufficient message.

Or so it seems to me.

Todd said...

I think it's worth noting that Eph 4 is all about the necessary goal, and the mechanics of how to achieve the goal, of preserving the unity of the Spirit and attaining to the unity of the faith.

...until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

It seems to me that a lot of people are going to have to humble themselves before scripture as well as their brethren to correct this obvious and grievous error.

But it's true, it's this deficiency in the human free-will that Jesus was asked to die for, and while likely displeased with our selfishness and reckless imaginations, God graciously offers us to choose to abide in the Spirit of His making and not ours.

Todd said...

Seems to me, granted that one knows the bible in the first place, to prioritize your beliefs in accordance with scripture as opposed to one of the many theological grids, is to make a choice between either loving scripture or loving tradition.

One good rule of thumb would be: to have your own spirit of faith be in accordance with what is written.

2 Cor. 4...But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written,...

While commentaries are handy, and we've all used commentaries to get us started understanding difficult passages, commentaries that lead to foolish controversies should be regarded accordingly.

Having your faith "according to what is written", and not someone else's understanding of it for you, once removed, seems like an important goal towards becoming a mature servant of the Word. Stopping at someone elses understanding, relying on them to serve up the details of your beliefs, may serve ones hard pressed flesh but not necessarily their process of growth in the Spirit of Truth. It may be a part of the process but isn't that the part of the process where most people stop?

1Jo 4:6...We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in the one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

And that which is not legibly from God's word is from a spirit of error which will in turn assault that one body and one Spirit,etc.

Joh 14:17...that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

We have only a Spiritual relationship with God. James says god is Spirit and we worship Him in Spirit. The only meaningful christian relationship we have with each other is Spiritual. If you've ever really had a Spiritual relastionship with another of God's Spiritually born creations, another fellow believer, then you should know it's too beautiful of a thing to waste.

So be carefull not to be tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine because there are many all around who are being just that.

Anything which you believe must come directly from the mouth of one of the vessels God had expressly told us that He has chosen or was authorized by one of them. The apostles were in perfect agreement on everything pertaining to God's word.

1Th 2:13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

1Th 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.

There, He just told us He is not going to do it for us. Maturity unto the unity of one Spirit and one faith and one mind is our responsibility and here He's given us the instructions on how to get there.

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity,.

Maturity and unity of the faith. Press on!

...until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

We've been given a standard and now it's each individuals responsibility to examine how they measure up. Press on!