Denominations | 1 Corinthians 1:12-13

Denominations | 1 Corinthians 1:12-13

Introduction

1 Corinthians 1:11-13 ESV  11  For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.  12  What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”  13  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

  • So if you remember from last week we talked all about the divisions in our church, the divisions in our hearts.
    • Divisions that come from unforgiveness, divisions that come from pride, and divisions that come from gossip!
    • That’s what verse 11 was all about right? “There is quarreling among you”.
    • Now Paul goes even deeper and he call’s out the division for what it is, this is today’s focus, verses 12-13.
      • 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 ESV  What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”  13  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
  • Today church I want to talk about denominations.
    • Because honestly that is what Paul is calling out here, he is calling out denominationalism, the early start of a divided church.
      • And I am just going to outright say what I am thinking: Denominationalism used as a way to divided churches, separate theologies, and segregate believers is a NONSENSICAL WAY to run the church. It is unbiblical, ungodly, and we are to have nothing to do with it!

Body

  • Now, before I get into my message let me just slow down a minute and tell everyone here, Denominations as organizations are not a bad thing! They can be incredibly beneficial to the body of Christ!
    • So please don’t go and blow up your Baptist friends on Facebook calling them a bunch of heretics for going to a denominational church! That is not what I am talking about in any way shape or form.
    • In fact, I was ordained in a Southern Baptist church.
      • As an organization the Southern Baptists where amazing! They would help church plants by buying them buildings, by buying chairs, they would come and pray over your church and encourage young new pastors.
      • They organize tons of mission’s trips, preach the gospel, and lead lots of people to Christ.
      • And for that, I praise God for the Southern Baptists and all other Christian denominations that do likewise!
      • SO HEAR ME AGAIN CHURCH! I AM NOT SAYING THAT DENOMINATIONS ARE BAD! Y’all understand, you following me?
    • Good, now let me tear into denominationalism and tell you why it is so bad!
  • Let me read for you again what Paul says in verse 12 and 13:
    • 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 ESV  … each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”  13  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
    • I follow Paul, or I follow Apollos, or I follow Cephas, or I follow Christ.
      • Remember, Paul is talking to CHRISTIAN’s here! Y’all know what the word Christian means? I do, cause it’s my name an all, it means “Follower of Christ”.
      • If Paul is talking to Christians, and Christian means “Follower of Christ” then all of them should be saying “I follow Christ” not just a few of them!
    • Now if you don’t know Paul, Apollos, and Cephas (Peter) are all good Christian Pastors, theologians, and preachers, and Apollos and Cephas were both good friends of Paul.
    • Yet people are choosing whom to follow, and not only that, but they are being divisive about it!
      • Not only are they saying who they follow, but we know from verse 11 that this is causing arguments amongst the brothers of Christ!
    • So basically what is going on is this: Paul, Apollos, and Cephas are all preaching and teaching, and they probably preach a little different then one another, and they probably believe a little different then one another, but they are all preaching and teaching for the Glory of Christ.
      • Non the less their preaching and teaching is bound to be a little bit different.
        • So some say they follow Paul, because they like what he preaches and teaches,
        • Others follow Apollos
        • And others still follow Cephas
        • And so all these people who all belong to the same church body are following different people and they start arguing over it!
          • “Well Paul planted this church so he knows better”
          • Well Cephas has been a Christian longer then Paul so he knows better!
          • Well Apollos is a better preacher then both of them so he knows better!
            • And they argue and they get divided and no all of the sudden they start to look down on one another, and the people who follow Paul throw a party and don’t invite the people who follow Cephas or Apollos.
              • And the people who follow Apollos all sit on the right side of the church and snicker as the people who follow Cephas come in.
              • Next thing you know the people who follow Cephas are starting their own church, because they don’t want to deal with the others, Apollos knows better anyway! Right‽
  • And Paul cries out “IS CHRIST DIVIDED‽ WHAT IS THIS NONSCENSE?”
    • And folks this is EXACLTY what the church does today! And we are so unashamed about it that we will name our churches and denominations after people!
      • We say “I follow Luther, I am a Lutheran” and others say “I follow Wesley, I am a Methodist”, others still say “I follow Calvin, I am a Calvinists” while yet others say “I follow Arminius, I am an Armenian”.
        • And if the division was not enough we decided that our interpretation of Luther’s teaching is better then yours so we start our own Lutheran denomination. Now all of the sudden we have some who call themselves the Anglo-Lutherans, and others Evangelical Lutherans.
        • And we divide and we divide and we divide.
          • Yet Paul says in verse 13 “Is Christ DIVIDED‽”
    • And let me just re-iterate once again. Denominations are not bad! BUT when we are divided because of our denominations it is bad!
      • Folks I am a pastor, so I have no shame in asking people I just meet deep questions. I often ask if people are religious and when they say yes I say what religion. I am always shocked when people say “Lutheran”… I asked you what religion are you and you say “Lutheran”? Or “Prespaterian” or “Methodist”? WHAT‽
      • DID LUTHER SAVE YOU? Did John Wesley die for your sins? Did the prespatory get together and agree to forgive your iniquity? NO! CHRIST DID ALL OF THOSE THINGS!
        • The correct answer to what is your religion is “Christian”.
          • Side note, can we stop using religion as a bad word? Just a pet-peeve here, the word religion is never used as a bad word in the Bible.
            • I get so perturbed when people get all high and mighty “It’s not about a religion, it is about a relationship with Christ!”
            • Praise God! It is about a relationship with Christ, it is also a religion. We are religious people. The Bible encourages us to practice pure and undefiled Religion in James 1:27. Our Religion is the only true religion, yes, it’s about a relationship, yes, but it is still a religion, so let’s not be divisive over a word either, ok?
  • I digress, my point is this, denominations in and of themselves ARE NOT sinful. But when we take pride in our denomination is where we start to have problems!
    • See let me just be real with y’all. Some people’s denominations and churches do things differently than us, they teach slightly different things, they run service in slightly different ways, and they do church in slightly different ways. That’s ok! Because if they are still preaching the Gospel then I praise God for them!
      • Look, y’all remember when we went to lifeline? Some of what lifeline did was WAY different then what we do here, it may have even been a little uncomfortable at times.
        • BUT THAT IS OK! BECAUSE WE ARE ALL FOLLOWING CHRIST TOGETHER!
          • Just because they do things differently than us does not mean that we are better than them, and it certainly does not mean we should be divided.
    • Some denominations teach things WAY different then us, some denominations teach that there are no longer miracles, that the time for miracles and miraculous gifts like healing and speaking in tongues have ceased to exist.
      • So we disagree, so what? We are both still in this to Glorify Christ, AMEN?
  • Look how far Paul takes this concept, turn with me to Philippians Chapter 1.
    • Here Paul is writing from a prison cell to the church in Philipi, he was arrested fro being a Christian. Then it comes out that some pastors are BAD MOUTHING HIM from the pulpit, they are preaching sermons about how bad Paul is. They are saying “Paul can’t have a lot of faith because he is in prison” or “Paul is a sinner and that is why he got arrested”. This is what Paul Says:
      • Philippians 1:14-18 ESV  14  And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.  15  Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.  16  The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.  17  The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.  18  What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,
    • Paul straight up says “Look, people are making fun of me from the pulpit, and they are preaching Christ out of envy and rivalry! But you know what, at least they are preaching Christ, and for that, I praise God!
    • The guy is in prison being mocked and he does not say “Shame on them for preaching Christ out of envey” no instead he says “Praise God because they are Preaching Christ!”
  • With very little exception, this too should be our attitude toward other Christian churches and denomenations, no matter what they believe, if they believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, was God, died for our sins and rose again, then praise GOD for them!
    • Look, let me make this as real to us as I can: Folks there are churches out there, I know of one at least in Cedar Rapids, that believe that we are all going to hell because we don’t read exclusively from the King James Version of the Bible! There are whole denominations that believe this!
      • They would tell you to your face that you are going to hell and that your church is of the devil because your pastor reads from the ESV instead of the Authorized King James Version.
        • What should our response then be for such people? PRAISE GOD FOR THEM! BECAUSE THE GOSPEL IS BEING PREACHED AND PEOPLE ARE BEING SAVED AND BAPTISED IN THEIR CHURCHS.
          • Sure they are wrong about a lot of things, but so what, the gospel is being preached in their church so praise God!
  • And ultimately this is what I am talking about when I am talking about problems with denominations.
    • The problem is not that they are organizations, these organizations do great work for the Kingdom of God.
    • The problem is not that they don’t preach the gospel, they do and thus we praise God for them!
    • The problem is not even that many of them believe STROGNLY different things then us!
    • The problem is not even that we are claiming to follow other people then Christ!
      • Look Paul specifically tells people to follow him! In fact later on in this letter he says “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV  he is saying just follow me and do what I do. No it’s not the following of others teaching that is the problem. You read the whole passage and you see it is not that the Corinthians are following people is the problem, the problem is that they are being divisive and quarrelsome about whom they are following.
    • No, the problem is that we as humans have so much pride in what we believe that we are divisive because of it.
      • People take pride in their denomination.
        • They take pride in being a follower of Luther, or a Follower of Calvin, or Wesley, or Arminius.
        • And that pride divides us and tears us apart!
          • Proverbs 16:18 tells us “Pride goes before destruction”
          • 1 John 2:16 ESV  For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life–is not from the Father but is from the world.
            • It’s ickey, it’s bad. We should want nothing to do with pride.
        • Yet we walk around and think things like “Well I follow Luther so I am a better Christian than you!”
          • What tomfoolery!
      • No we all FOLLOW CHRIST! We chose to do so in different ways, but we are all on the same team! We are all in this for the Kingdom of God! And church we need to pray for those breathen amongst us who are trying their best to be divisive, and we need to choose not to respond to their divisiveness with more division!

Conclusion

  • I will close with this, by taken a look at our church.
    • Folks we are what is called a “Non-denominational church” that means that there is not a denomination who run’s this church.
      • We are not Baptist, we are not Lutheran, we are not Methodist, we are not Prespaterian, we are neither Asemblies of God, nor are we part of the Church of God denomenation.
      • We are simply Christian Life Church.
        •  We get our beliefs from Scripture as best we can, and I myself answer to other non-denominational pastors.
    • But this does not mean we are off the hook. We too can be just as device and proud as a church body. Look at that list of devicevness that Paul writes once more.
      • 1 Corinthians 1:12 ESV  … each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”
      • Notice that “I follow Christ” is included in the list of deviciveness? That is because there are people in the Corinthian church that thought they were better than others because the didn’t claim to follow Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas! They thought they were better because “Well I follow Christ, you heathens!”
    • That is a spirit that non-denomonationalists can have. We can think we are better then others because we chose a non-denominational church.
      • Here is the reality of it, non of ya’ll chose Christian Life Church, God brought you all here, he set it up so you would be a part of this church body.
      • And God sets it up for others to be a part of Lutheran church’s, and others to be a part of Methodist churches. What pride can we take in that?
        • This, church, is why we do things like meet with lifeline ministries, even if it is a bit uncomfortable.
        • This is why we worship together twice a year at the evening of prayer and worship with 70 other churches. Most of whom are NOT non-denominational.
        • But because the fact of the matter is yes, we all follow different people, different beliefs, and different teachings. But at the end of the day we all are on the same team, worshiping the same God, and doing our best to love Him, please Him, and serve Him!
      • So let’s not look down on other Christians, let’s be united in Christ! Amen‽

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