The Cure For Denominational Divisions

Division and tribalism are as old as the church itself for the problem at Corinth was one of blatant sectarianism, i.e., budding denominationalism. In the opening four chapters of his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul exposed and repudiated such party lines existing in the church. The emergent denominationalism at Corinth was organized around party names, such as Paul, Apollos, and Cephas. Today we have Lutherans and Wesleyans, Baptists and Brethren, Methodists and Presbyterians. The Gospel is weakened, and the name of Jesus is betrayed for the sake of our favourite personality cult. The names have changed, but the effect is the same. The work of the ministry is partitioned and stalled in the name of our carnal separation. It’s tough to find churches that are cool with being “local” churches rather than outposts of a mother ship back at headquarters. 

Paul offers the cure for denominational divisions and local church disruption in 1 Corinthians chapter 3.  He simply asks, “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.”  Do you see it? SERVANTS! The transliterated Greek word is “diakonos.” Sound familiar? That’s right, it’s the word for deacon. A deacon is a servant-waiter. No one should be admitted to leadership in the church until they have proven themselves as a deacon. No one! Those who bypass a servant role in the church are more apt to be a problem later on. The apostles viewed themselves as mere servants through whom the church came to believe on the name of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, they viewed the results of their service to be a matter of Divine appointment. 

Paul reinforces his argument by reminding the Corinthians how God viewed both the apostles and the people. “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s  field, God’s building.” The ministry of the Gospel was not their own ministry, but God’s. The apostles were fellow workers with God. It was God’s church in Corinth, not Paul’s or Apollos’s or Peter’s. The believers there were God’s field, God’s building, and His alone.

I love those images. 

Pastors, elders, and deacons are co-workers, partners and teammates. We aren’t super stars, celebrities, or high-powered influencers. We are servants by whom others believe and are built up in their faith. 

The church is God’s field. A field needs to be cultivated and tended so that it can grow and produce spiritual fruit. 

The church is God’s building. This is a favourite image that Paul uses. Recall Ephesians chapter 2 where Paul wrote, So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” 

Carnal Christians perpetuate division, but spiritual Christians work the field and build up the temple.

I’m looking forward to seeing you on Sunday church family. We will dig into 1 Corinthians chapter 3 a bit more. 

Pastor Deric

The Bible Truth That Will Blow Your Mind

We say that something is going to “blow the mind” when a thought, idea, or an experience is so incredible that the mind struggles to find the words to define or explain it. Like visiting the Canadian Rockies or looking over the Grand Canyon. The experience is such a sensory overload that your mind pauses in awe of what you are seeing (or hearing). I’ve had my mind “blown” a few times in life. When it fully dawned on me that God loved me with an unconditional and eternal love, it blew my mind (and changed my heart!). When April walked down the chapel aisle to marry me, my mind was blown all to smithereens. I was present for the birth of all four of my biological children, and the only way I can describe it is to say that it blew my mind. 

It “blows my mind” is to read in the Bible that “we have the mind of Christ.” It reduces me to unspeakable gratitude, and it lifts me up to unexpected heights. To understand and believe that I am able to think God’s thoughts after Him, via the mind of Christ, is revolutionary. I’m not left to think dark, destructive, sinful thoughts. I can put on the mind of Christ.

The Bible speaks of reprobate minds that turn from worshipping the true God to worshipping the creature (Romans 1:28); of empty minds that live without the light of God (Ephesians 4:17); of proud minds that add to the Scriptures (Colossians 2:18); of corrupt minds which think wealth is a sign of godliness (1 Timothy 6:5); of depraved minds that oppose the truth (2 Timothy 3:8); and of defiled minds that consider everything impure (Titus 1:15).

The only way a person can be truly spiritual is to think as God thinks. You have to inherit the mind of Christ, through the Holy Spirit in order to see what God wants you to see, to hear what God wants you to hear, and to imagine what God has prepared for those who love Him. Paul encouraged the Philippian saints with the promise that the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding would guard their hearts and their minds, i.e., emotionally and intellectually (Philippians 4:7).

The redeeming of the mind is a major theme in the New Testament. We can be “transformed by the renewing of the mind” according to Romans 12:1-2. Possessing the mind of Christ should be considered God’s great goal for every Christian. Here’s how Paul framed the importance of the mind of Christ for the ancient church in Corinth. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2).

Of course, the mind of God surpasses mere human comprehension, but Paul insists that we have been gifted the mind of Jesus Christ our Lord, by the working of the Holy Spirit. Now that blows my mind. 

I can’t wait to study this mind-blowing promise with you this coming Sunday morning. We have two identical services where we welcome you to worship with us. If you are restricted in some way, please tune in online.

Pastor Deric