I Corinthians 1:13-17

Steve Viars July 2, 1991 1 Corinthians 1:13-17

- we're studying the book of I Cor. and the last few weeks
  we've been talking about "unity in the church" from
  I Cor.  1:10-17
- you remember that one of the first things we did with these
  verses was to construct a "summary outline" of these verses
  together on the white board
- we said that Paul was saying:
     I. Be Unified
    II. You're Not Unified
   III. Here's Why You Should Be Unified

- we've looked thoroughly at the verses that go along with
  the first two points - tonight I'd like us to look at
  verses 13-17
    - we'll be talking about:

Church Unity: Here's Why We Must And Here's How We Can

- read 1:10-17

I. Reasons Why You Must Be Unified

    - in verse 13, Paul gives us two primary reasons why we
      must be unified as a church

    A. unity of Christ

        - we need to think for a moment about what Paul was
          saying when he asked "Is Christ divided?"

        - let me ask you to think about that
        - what's Paul's point?  What argument is he trying to
           develop in the Corinthian's minds?

        - it might help to see another place in the book of
          I Corinthians where that same word is used
        - we have it listed there in your notes from the New
          American Standard Bible

        - I Cor. 7:17 - "Only as the Lord has assigned to
            each one, as God has called each, in this manner
            let him walk..."

        - the word "divide" from I Cor. 1:13 (Is Christ
          divided?") is also used in I Cor. 7:17.  Which word
          do you think it is?  (assign)

        - thats helps us understand what Paul is asking in I
          Cor. 1:13
        - Is Christ divided?  --- He's saying - "Is Christ
          assigned out to a particular group?

        - he's using the method of irony to communicate a
          point.
        - "Look how bad things have gotten.  The church has
           gotten so divided that you're actually assigning
           out the Lord.

        - that’s bad because one group ought not to think they
          have some sort of special access to Christ
        - its also bad because the other groups don't seem to
          be too upset to Christ being assigned out to a
          group other than theirs

        - see, the church is so divided that the Savior is
          being divided
        - He's being assigned out just like some other person
          in the church

        - see, Paul's point is - Here's why we ought to be
          unified -- because of the unity of Christ (he can't
          be divided)

        - now, that ought to cause our "biblical memory
          wheels" to start turning because the "Unity of God"
          is a major Bible doctrine

- you remember, the Jewish boys and girls were taught the
  shema, from Deut. 6:4 - "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God
  is one Lord."
    ...meaning 2 things, 1) the Lord is One
                         2) the Lord is the only One

- that theme is repeated throughout the Scripture
  - Mark 12:28-29 - a scribe comes to the Lord and asks,
          "Which is the greatest commandment of all?"
      - Jesus said - verse 29 - "The first of all
          commandments is Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is
          is one Lord"

- see, what made the Jews different from all other religions
  is that they were strict monotheists
- they believed in the unity of God
- God is One, and God is the only one

- Of course, that's why some of the Jews had such a terrible
  time with accepting Christ as Lord and savior
- had they been careful students of the Bible, they would
  have picked up on the hints in the Old Testament concerning
  the trinity

- but of course that doctrine came on in full force in the
  New Testament
- John the Baptist said, there is One coming whose shoes I am
   not worthy to loose
- the next day He sees Jesus and says, "behold the Lamb of
  God, who takes away the sin of the world"

- you can imagine the wrestling going on in the Jews mind,
  "God is One, yet John is saying that Jesus is God"
- then Jesus tells John to baptize Him, and you remember what
  happened
     - the Spirit of God descended on Christ like a dove (so
           you've got the Son of God, the Spirit of God)
     - then a voice comes from heaven and its God the Father
         saying - "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
         pleased"

- so the OT emphasized the unity of God, and now the NT fully
  reveals the trinity - THAT GOD IS THREE DISTINCT PERSONS
  YET ONE IN ESSENCE

- Jesus emphasized that in His ministry
- there is unity in the Godhead
- "I am not operating independently of the Father"
   - He said, "I am about my Father's business", "the Word
     which you hear is not mine, but my Father who sent me"

- clearly there is great emphasis in the Jesus' ministry on
  the unity of God
- he even came right out and said - "I and the Father are
  one"

- point is - the church ought to be unified because of the
  unity of the Godhead, the unity of Christ
- Christ can't be divided, Paul says, and every time a
  believer chooses to think divisive thoughts, or say
  divisive words, or perform divisive deeds
     - that person is a poor representative of God
     - they are not honoring God, they are not glorifying
          Him - they are not showing forth what God is like

- There's great unity in the godhead and therefore there must
   be great unity in the church

- that’s why the Lord prayed in John 17:22 - "...the glory
  thou hast given me, I have given to them, that they may be
  one, just as we are one."

- Paul gives a second reason in verse 13 and its this:

    B. (we must be unified) because church unity is a
       demonstration of our loyalty and commitment to Jesus
       Christ

       an important question we need to ask at this point is:
       INPUT - why did Paul ask the Corinthians the two
         questions he asked at the end of verse 13? (Was Paul
         crucified for you or were you baptized in the name
         of Paul?) (answer - to communicate to them that they
         were giving loyalty and allegiance to men that only
         belonged to God)

        - now this gets a little tricky and I want to take
          this slow when we start talking about loyalty and
          allegiance

        - there's nothing intrinsically wrong with the
          natural affection or affinity that develops between
          a deacon and his deacon's care group
        - or between a Sunday school teacher and members of
          his/her class
        - or a pastor and members of the church

        - there's some natural affection that’s going to be
          there, natural affinity, natural loyalty that
          develops
        - there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that
        - in fact, in many ways its right

    - however, clearly, there are times when that loyalty and
      affection can become wrong – that’s obviously the case
      in the Corinthian church

    - that leads us to this question - how do you know if
      loyalty to another person is right or wrong?

    - I believe a good way of answering that is thinking
      about a hierarchy of loyalty

    - (on board) - (start from the bottom)

                         Christ

                      Another person

                            Me

- principle is - There's nothing wrong with human loyalty, as
  long as exercising that loyalty results in greater loyalty
  to Christ
- Paul says - I wasn't crucified for you, you weren't
   baptized in my name
- "Your ultimate loyalty and allegiance and commitment
   belongs to Christ" - and we need to ask ourselves, does my
   loyalty to another person facilitate my loyalty to Christ,
   or hinder it?

- see, you could tell their was something wrong with the
  Corinthian's loyalty to these various men, because of the
  impact it was having on their relationship to the Lord

- now let's brainstorm this idea for a minute
- INPUT - how would you complete this statement:

    If my loyalty to another person cause me to ________,
     then that is ungodly loyalty.  (compromise, backslide,
     violate the Word of God, to become less evangelistic,)

    cf. (Hyles) illus - "You ought to be so loyal that if you
                 come in my office and see my lips pressed up
                 against the lips of another woman who's not
                 my wife, just assume she just passed out and
                 I'm giving her artificial resuscitation"

- our ultimate allegiance and loyalty must be to the Savior
  and any human loyalties are valid and right only if they
  lead to greater loyalty to Him

    - see, why must we be unified as a church?

         - because of the unity of Jesus Christ
         - because church unity is a demonstration of our
           loyalty and commitment to Jesus Christ

- now, that's why we ought to be unified,
   - I'd like to take the time we have left and talk about
     some principles for how we can be unified

- I'd like to present to you that these verses contain:
      1) things leaders can to facilitate unity and
      2) things everyone in the church can do to facilitate
          unity

Let's first look at:

II. Things Leaders Can Do To Facilitate Unity

    - I think its good that it worked out for us to discuss
      this passage on a Wednesday evening because there are
      so many folks here who are involved in leadership roles
      in the church
        - SS Teachers
        - clubs workers
        - team leaders
        - deacons
        - pastors & missionaries
        - many others in leadership positions

    A. Don't be flattered by sinful statements by divisive
       individuals

       - let me tell you where I'm coming from
       - here's at least four groups of individuals
       - some are saying, "I'm of Apollos," others-I'm of
         Cephas," others-"I'm of Christ," and some - I'm of
         Paul"

         - now, if Paul were being ungodly, or if he was an
           insecure person that thrived on this sort of thing
              - there would be at least 25% of these people
                that he would be happy with
              - INPUT? Who? (those who said - I'm of Paul)

        - but, see, Paul doesn't get caught up in that
        - he's unhappy even with those who chose his name as
          the one to follow because he recognizes that kind
          of activity as sinful

- illus - I think of a woman in a former church situation who
          came up to me after I preached my first message
          there and began saying some very nice things about
          the message.
            - the way she was talking struck me as odd
              because I knew the message wasn't that good
            - pretty soon she moved into saying some negative
              things about the other pastor that were
              completely untrue

            - but they were couched in flattery
            - we had to deal with and over time that person
              became very openly divisive in the church

   - point is - divisive people will even use flattery to
       accomplish their ends, and wise is the person who
       recognizes that and shuts it down quickly

- be careful if you're a team leader and someone says -
  "Oh, you're so much better than my former team leader, they
   didn't do near as much for me."
- there's no godly purpose for those kinds of words

- whether the person fully recognizes it or not; those kinds
  of words lead to division
- Paul wasn't impressed by those who said, "I'm of Paul"
    - he judged those words to be sinful just like the other
       groups

    - leaders can also facilitate unity by seeking:

    B. (Seek) to actively focus others' loyal to Jesus Christ

        - (Gil Rough) I remember hearing a pastor talking
           about one of his staff members who split the
           church and took a group of people from the church
           and went and started another
         - (by the way) - that is got to be one of if not the
           worst, most divisive, most sinful things a staff
           member can do, assuming the church is not in some
           terrible heresy (and this church wasn't)
         - but the pastor said - "You know, that staff member
           did a lot to build loyalty to himself, but he
           never got around to focusing that loyalty to Jesus
           Christ or the church."

         - that is one of the worst commentaries that can be
           made about anyone at any level of church
           leadership

         - see, Paul very actively sought to focus others'
           loyalty to Jesus Christ
         - he said "I wasn't crucified for you", "You weren't
           baptized in my name"

     - in fact, in verse 17, he even downplays his role in
       preaching in the church just to be sure the focus is
       placed on the Lord

     - see, there's something wrong when individuals are
       always trying to overemphasize their place or impact
       in God's church

     - Remember what John the Baptist said - "He must
       increase, but I must decrease"

- some folks in some churches do just the opposite
- they go out of their way to overemphasize their place

- imagine this - imagine ordering a tape of one of Pastor
   Dutton's messages
      - but the label on the tape has been changed
      - now it's got his picture on it (in some dramatic
           pose)
      - and the heading on it is - "Pastor Dutton speaks"

- listen, that’s the way it is in some places


- or imagine this - the Faith Courier comes - except the
   heading is different
- Pastor Lopez's picture is up there - and it's titled "The
   Lopez Report"

- see, that’s the way it is in some places

- there's great disunity in those kinds of settings

- But Paul says - there's great unity that comes as everyone
  in church leadership is actively and aggressively focusing
  others' loyalty to Christ
- He must increase and I must decrease

    - leaders can also facilitate unity by emphasizing:

    C. (Seek to emphasize) the contribution others make to
        the ministry

        - in the last newsletter from Shepherd's ministry up
          in Wisconsin, they were talking about a dedication
          ceremony they had for some new facilities
             - James Misirian has been the President there a
               number of years and he's done a very good job
               there
             - but I thought it was interesting that Dr.
               Misirian made sure to go back and thank the
               former President Andrew Wood for all his work
               that had been done in the past

        - Randy Patten did that same thing last week at the
          Annual Conference
        - Randy is the State Representative of our state
          fellowship
        - before him, Win Olsen was the State Representative

        - a special award was given to Win Olsen and Randy
          made the presentation
        - he went out of his way to speak highly of Win
          Olsen's contribution and ministry, and I've heard
          Randy do that in other settings as well

        - that has great impact on unity
        - because folks know - "hey, we're going the same
            way"
        - we appreciate each other and the unique
          contribution that each makes to the ministry

- Paul didn't say "Apollos?  How could anyone be of Apollos?
    Don't you know that his theology was so messed up that
    Priscilla and Aquilla had to straighten him out?
- or, "Peter, let me tell you about Peter.  Peter's such a
    heretic, I had to withstand him to the face and no one
    should ever listen to him again!"
- see, you don't read any of that in this passage, and in
   many others places Paul goes out of way to emphasize the
   contribution others have made to the ministry

- the point is - while its not always the leadership's fault
    when there is disunity, there are definitely things that
    those in leadership can do to provide fertile soil for
    unity in the church
- that's surely one of the questions that every person
  involved in any facet of leadership needs to ask and that
  is - do my thoughts, and my words, and my actions, promote
  unity in the church?

- let's finish up with:

III. Things Everyone In The Church Can Do To Facilitate Unity

    - basically, these are all the opposites of what the
      Corinthians were doing

    A. Be aggressively thankful for whatever leader God has
       given you in your particular class, care group, etc.

        - see, the Corinthians were causing disunity because
          they were negatively comparing one person to
          another

        - instead, why not be thankful for the particular
          leader God had given at that particular time

        - (illus - Berean SS class) - not long after Kris and
           I came to town, we split Pastor's couples' class
           into what is now the Philadelphian and Berean
           class
        - that could have caused all kinds of trouble
        - folks in my class could have said - "I can't stand
             all those pool stories!"
        - "What good thing could come out of Gary?"
        - "he never asks us if we know that we know that we
           know"

- negative comparisons always lead to disunity, and that’s
  what was happening in Corinth

- we need to ask ourselves - "How important is unity to us?"
    - "Is it as important to us as it is to the Lord?"

    - if so, then it doesn't matter what deacon's care group
      I'm on, who my SS teacher is, who my team leader is
    - unlike the Corinthians, we need to be aggressively
      thankful for whatever leaders God has given in our
      particular group or class

    B. Refuse to be involved in thinking or discussing that
       would result in divisions

       - we've posed this question before, but we need to ask
       - what impact does your life have on the unity of the
          church?

       - how good and pleasant it is for the brethren to
         dwell in unity, the Psalmist says - is that what
          results from your life and ministry

    C. Pray for and strive for unity

        Eph. 4:3 - "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the
            spirit in the bond of peace."

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video