Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10 NKJV
I don’t know about you but speaking of myself, I was always the one sitting in the back of the classroom hoping I wouldn’t be called on to answer a question. It wasn’t that I didn’t know the answer, but rather I always held the opinion “why run the risk of possibly being wrong”? Besides, how many of us really liked those who were always raising their hands and showing off how much they knew? Now I confess that was what I was thinking as a child and as I grew and matured, my feelings began to change. Yet the one thing I noticed that never seemed to change was the desire of certain people to be looked upon as smarter than everyone else.
When you begin a study of this letter by the apostle Paul to the church at Corinth, you immediately find that this very problem was running rampant within the church body. It seems everyone was taking sides and basically arguing over who was smarter by virtue of their interpretation concerning certain schools of thought. This had resulted in a totally dysfunctional body which was more concerned with arguing over who was right rather than being united in sharing the Gospel of Christ with an unbelieving world, which according to Paul, was the whole reason we are called in the first place.
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Corinthians 1:9-13 NKJV
One of the first things I noticed about what Paul has to say here is that he identifies the different factions by naming the person they profess to believe rather than what it is they are trying to teach. The second thing which becomes apparent when you read the entire chapter is that the subject is wisdom; specifically the wisdom of God as opposed to the wisdom of men. As I thought about this it began to appear to me that what was going on in this church was more along the lines of a popularity contest rather than an honest disagreement over theology.
Paul never shied away from correcting false doctrine so it seems to me that what he is confronting here is the problem of certain individuals taking pride in seemingly being smarter than others. Paul immediately takes them to task and attempts to redirect their focus on the purpose for which the body was created. This is, of course, the preaching of the gospel of Christ and the sufficiency of the cross for our salvation. Paul states that this is what he was called by God to do, and any “wisdom of words” on his part would only take away from the message of the cross.
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 NKJV
It is unfortunate that this lesson is still one which many people within the body have failed to learn or appreciate for this same problem can be found today in many different forums. In the past, as well as currently, I have had the unfortunate opportunity to watch as Christian discussion sites have been created, blossomed, and then slowly wither away as they change from true believers sharing with each other to petty bickering over who is right and who is wrong on any given theological stand. Eventually all that is left are those who choose to speak the loudest and listen the least, and I can’t help but wonder if they have never read the words of Paul in this chapter to the church at Corinth?
For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:19-21 NKJV
“If you torture the data long enough, you can get it to confess to anything”.
What I like most about this quote which I heard many years ago is just how applicable it is within the Church today. How easy is it to take a portion of scripture and force it to say whatever you want it to. Yet that takes work, and Paul makes it clear that the cross of Christ and the salvation it offers is a message of simple faith, which to the world seems foolish. Yet in the end, God will show that the wisdom of men is really foolishness, and faith in the power of the cross is the wisdom which will save. In their desire to be seen as wise, some people simply become fools.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 1 Corinthians 1:25-27 NKJV
Have you been looking for a complex answer to the meaning of life? Does the message of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins on the cross seem too simple or easy? God chose to make the gift of eternal life for a sinful world as easy as making a choice to believe in the payment made for us on the cross by Jesus Christ, His only son. If you have never made this choice, I urge you to do it today. Just pray a simple prayer like this one and become one who has chosen to believe the wisdom of God.
Jesus I know I am a sinner in need of salvation. I believe you sent your Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sin, and I ask you now to forgive me of my sins. I want to receive your gift of salvation so please come into my heart and help me to live and follow you as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus' name, Amen.
But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 NKJV