Let's continue our thoughts about Paul's church work, using the believers at Corinth as an example.
Paul preached the gospel to the lost, they trusted and were made members of the church, the body of Christ. Every believer was a member of this church. No exceptions, for one Spirit had baptized them all into one body.
Now this is the ground of truth that Paul taught the believers to live and practice – their oneness. But, suppose for a moment, that someone came up with the idea to start another church in Corinth – a church other than the one that God already had in place. Suppose he thought that it would be very beneficial to organize people for various reasons. So, he selected a nice name for his "church" (denominationalism). He selected certain "articles of faith" that he though ought to be stressed and emphasized in his "church"(creedalism). He developed a nifty governmental system from which his "church" could operate (clericalism). He laid out a program for his "church" meetings (formalism). And since all the other religions had one, he carefully made arrangements to secure a sanctuary for his "church" to meet in (heathenism). He registered his "church" with the office of incorporation, and with the office of governmental recognition. He set up a bank account in the name of his "church." He printed stationary, business cards, offering envelopes, visitor's cards, and of course a nice sign – all proudly bearing the wonderful name of his new "church" (and it all bore his own name as well – "Rev. Sam Smith," or maybe it was just "Pastor Sam Smith"). Then he purchased ads in the Corinthian Chronicle Daily inviting all to attend and join his "church," especially his "unchurched" brethren.
When one stops and considers all this in the light of divine revelation, it seems really strange and odd, does it not? But it is much more than that.
A serious problem has just been introduced onto the scene of the life of "the church of God at Corinth" – DIVISION! Pastor Smith, wittingly or not, has just divided up the church, which is Christ's body. Pastor Smith and his "church" now stand in contradiction and competition with God's church. Are all the members of God's church in Corinth, members of his? Does he have members in his "church" that are not members of God's? Now, not only do we have the problem of division, we also have the same problem that
Israel had – the "MIXED MULTITUDE."
One thing should be obvious, there are now two churches in Corinth. One is God's church – a divinely, organic, organism. The other man's church – a human, fabricated, organization. One is true, the other is false.
The root of such a DIVISIVE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM was already at work in Corinth when Paul wrote to them?
"Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I am of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ, Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you're your? . . ." (I Corinthians 1:12,13).
Do a couple of names in that passage stand out to you?
How about the first name – Paul. Is he not our apostle – "the apostle of the Gentiles"? But it is wrong to use him as a rallying point to create another division within the body of Christ! Isn't Paul the apostle of every member of Christ's body (whether they know it or not)? Do you say "I am of Paul" with implication of separation and division from the rest of the members of Christ's body?
Or, how about that last name – Christ. Is He not our Saviour, our All and All? But it is also wrong to use Him as a rallying point to create another division within the His own body! Saying, "I am of Christ" sounds very noble doesn't it? But isn't every true believe "of Christ" – aren't we all of Him? But if we proclaim this with the implication of separation and division from the rest of the members His body, we sin against Him!
We must never forget that we are "members one OF ANOTHER"!
Anything short of "the church, which is His body" is not God's church. Neither is anything that is larger!
Why not simply be content with who and what God has made us in Christ?
"And ye are complete in Him . . ." (Colossians 2:10).
What more could we want or need?
Let us heed Paul's warning which he gave us in light of our completeness in Christ. This serious plea can be found only two verse before:
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ'
Why not stand on the ground of who God has made us? Nothing more, nothing less.
Think on these things.
(To be continued . . . )
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