“UNITED WE STAND”
(Sermon Series on I Corinthians)
Westgate Chapel 3/1/98 a.m. I Corinthians 1:10-17
PROPOSITION: Since the essence of the triune God is the love relationship and perfect unity that exists between the members of the trinity, then quarrels and division have no place in the body (the church) that Jesus died to purchase for His Father.
- BACK when we pastored in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Rita’s Uncle Oris and Aunt Katie used to farm 360 acres of corn and soy beans outside of Fort Dodge .....near the little town of Dayton, Iowa...population 435.
- AUNT Katie is Rita’s mom’s sister. Their father, Rita’s maternal grandfather, had pastored in the Church of God for years.....the sisters grew up in a preacher’s home.
- AUNT Katie has two sons about Rita’s and my age....Ronnie and Denny.
- RON is the highest, non-elected, official in the Banking Commission for the State of Iowa. Denny is a high school history teacher and basketball coach.
- RITA’S other aunt, Laura and her husband also lived in Iowa....and they had three children about our age.
- AND every Labor Day weekend of the world, we would all converge on the farm, from all points in Iowa and Ohio, with our children....31 of us, all in a three bedroom farmhouse.
- A COUPLE of those Labor Day weekends we would be the last ones to arrive.....having had to be at the church for the services....and finally making it at 2 a.m. Monday morning.
- WE would have to quietly step over bodies, sleeping wherever there was space. One year, Rita and I slept in Aunt Katie’s sewing room and one of our kids in the bathtub....wrapped up in blankets.
- THOSE weekends were wonderful.
* The relationships were the best. This was family!
• From dawn to dusk the kids would be off running in the fields, or being pulled on pieces of plywood behind the garden tractor.
• The women would be either in the kitchen or on the front porch peeling peaches or shucking corn.....all talking at the same time.
• The men would predict the Superbowl contenders, solve global political issues, and argue over which was faster.....a Chevy Malibu SS with a 396, or a Pontiac GTO with a 455. And sometimes we would just have to get out on the local county road and solve that debate.
* The fellowship was wonderful. This was family.
• Hugs were the order of every day. Rita’s Uncle Wes just about broke your ribs with his famous bear hug.
• Meal times were a buzz with conversation.
• The men who were there on Saturday would take the kids to the rodeo. The bull riders or the carnival rides were not nearly as exciting as the time together and just getting caught up on each other’s lives.
• Labor Day was not complete without a trip to the Dayton parade. The guys would go to town at dawn and stake out our places with lawn chairs.
• It was the most boring parade you have ever seen.....how many different combines can you ooh and aah at? (The kids loved the candy tossed out at them from the tractors and old cars.)
• Besides, no one cared because we were all together.
* The work that was done... feeding the gang, and caring for the kids, and cleaning up after meals was effortless. Everybody pitched in. This was family!
* You heard no bragging during those week ends on the farm. Everybody was too interested in everybody else’s life and accomplishments. Rita’s cousin, Ronnie, was having frequent conversations and meetings with Allan Greenspan, at the Federal Reserve.....but you would never hear him brag about it. We would have to drag those kinds of facts out of him. This was family!
* No one tried to be top dog on those week ends. This was family.
• Aunt Katie wasn’t possessive of her kitchen.
• Uncle Oris didn’t care who was driving his tractor or new Buick.
• And during family devotions in the evenings no one tried to impress anyone with their Bible knowledge or spirituality. This was family!
- THE tug inside all of our hearts for family is one of the strongest in life.
* A place where you are known and loved.
* A place for fellowship and companionship.
* A place for belonging...where you learn and hold to the true values of life.
* A place of safety from which you are sent out into the world....secure in knowing who you are.
* That is family.
- IT is a deep and powerful longing within us all.
- IN fact, for those who have not or do not have strong family it is possible that even my relating the Iowa stories or my own family stories from time to time is painful.
ii. god’s family in heaven
- WHERE do those longings come from in us for family?
- TO understand that we have to go back to the beginning.
- AND to do that, many of us would expect to find the beginning in Genesis 1:1,
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
- BUT that is only the beginning of the human story.
- YOU have to go back before the beginning of the human story to discover where this longing for family came from.
- AND the only passage of Scripture that I know of that goes back before Genesis 1:1 is John 1:1,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was with God in the beginning.”
- BEFORE there was man, before there were horses and dogs and cats, before there were Himalayan mountains or the Pacific Ocean....before there was Mars or Saturn or the Milky Way....THERE WAS GOD!
- AND He was not a lonely pitiful figure looking for company and that was why He created man.
- BEFORE time God existed in the community of the godhead.
- JESUS was with God, the only begotten Son of God, in the beginning.
- AND when in God’s economy the time arrived to create man and the universe, Genesis 1:2 says that the Holy Spirit was present.
“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
- SOME translators of that verse understand the word “hovering” to also be translated, “brooding,” like a hen broods over eggs waiting to hatch under her warmth.
- SO before time as we know it, and a world as we know it began....God existed in a perfect, loving, harmonious, family relationship; Father, Son and Spirit.
- WHEN God began calling forth light from darkness, land from the waters, mountains, continents, rivers, animals.....Father, Son and Spirit were there and participating in the joy and thrill of creation.
* The Old Testament is full of Scriptures that speak of the Lord Jehovah (Father God), as creator of heaven and earth (Isaiah 40:28).
* But in Colossians 1:16-17, Paul writes about Jesus,
“For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (17) He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
* Then in addition to Genesis 1:2 that I already quoted to you, Psalm 104:30 the psalmist writes of the creatures of the earth and says,
“When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.”
Isaiah 32:15 speaks of the desolation of the earth in the last days and then he says,
“...till the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest.”
- IT is no wonder that in the translation of Genesis 1:26 God says,
“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness...”
- GOD was the family of heaven before there was a human race.
- THAT is where our concept of family originates.
- AND the Gospels are rich in description of the nature and quality of the family of God that has always existed within the triunity of the godhead.
1. LOVE IN RELATIONSHIP
- LOOK with me at the richness of relationship within the community of the godhead.
- IN John 17:11 and 21 Jesus prays for us,
“...that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.”
- IN John 15:9 Jesus speaks of His Father’s love for Him, and says,
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.”
- LISTEN to Jesus in John 17:24,
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”
- IN John 14:31 Jesus speak of His love for His Father.
“...the world must learn that I love the Father.”
- ONE of the strongest characteristics of a healthy family is vulnerability and self-disclosure. Listen to Jesus speak, in Luke 10:22, of the intimacy of His relationship with His Father.
“No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
- IN John 15:26, Jesus speaks about this same intimacy with the Holy Spirit,
“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.”
- IN John 17:7 the Father gives everything to the Son.
- IN 17:10 all that the Son has belongs to the Father.
- AND in John 16:15 Jesus says that,
“...the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”
2. LOVE IN FELLOWSHIP
- LOOK at the fellowship that exists within the godhead between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- IN John 16:32 speaks of a time when the disciples will abandon Him,
“You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”
- IN John 14:1 Jesus speaks about having come from His Father’s house....and is anxious to return to His Father.
- IN John 15:26 Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit who is with the Father and will be sent out from the Father.
- IT is obvious that they love being together.
- IN John 11:41 Jesus is glad that the Father always hears Him.
- IN John 8:16 Jesus says,
“I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.”
- IN John 5:20 Jesus says of His relationship with His Father,
“For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.”
3. LOVE IN SUBMISSION
- HERE is a true test of a healthy family! Is there submission amongst its members? Do they, in love, prefer one another?
- DOES this submission exist in the community of the godhead?
- IN John 14:28, Jesus says,
“...the Father is greater than I.”
- IN verse 31 Jesus says,
“...I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”
- IN John 12:49 Jesus says that He does not speak on His own...
“...but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.”
- IN John 8:42 Jesus says that He didn’t come to earth on His own...but the Father sent Him....giving up His only begotten Son for the world.
- IN John 8:28 Jesus says,
“...I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.”
- IN John 5:30 Jesus says,
“...I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
- AND in John 14:26, Jesus says of the person of the Holy Spirit will not be speaking on His own either, but will,
“... teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
4. LOVE AT WORK
- ALL through the Gospels we see the godhead doing the work set by the Father.
- THERE is a divine purpose that must be accomplished.
- IN John 9:4 the Son does the Father’s work. Jesus says,
“As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me.”
- IN John 6:36, and Luke 4, the Son does the works of the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.
- IN John 7:18 Jesus works for the honor of the Father.
- IN John 5:17, the Father is working and the Son is also doing the work of the Father.
- IN John 6:44 it is the Father who draws us to Jesus.
- IN John 6:63 it is the Spirit who gives us Life.
- IN John 16:14 it is the Spirit who takes what belongs to the Son and gives it to us.
5. LOVE HONORING
- THE community of the godhead is committed to the glory of the other....it is not self-seeking not selfish.
- IN John 16:14 it is the Spirit who brings glory to the Son.
- IN John 17:1 and 22 it is the Father who glorifies the Son.
- IN John 17:4 it is the Son who brings glory to the Father.
- IN fact, in John 8:50 Jesus says,
“I am not seeking glory for myself...”
6. LOVE SENDING
- THE community of the godhead is not self-absorbed. Out of the love and strength of their fellowship comes a sending....that results in forgiveness, blessing, and eternal life for you and me.
- BECAUSE He loved the world, the Father sent the Son. In John 14:26 Jesus says,
“Now I am going to him who sent me...”
- IN John 14:26 it is the Father who sends the Holy Spirit to us as a Comforter.
- IN John 16:7 it says,
“Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
- IN Luke 2:27 it is the Holy Spirit who sends Jesus into the wilderness.
iii. god’s family in corinth
- I HAVE tried to give you a picture of the love, the relationship, the mutual submission, the love sending, the love working of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- BEFORE creation, before time began there was this supportive, loving unity of the godhead.
- AND in Genesis 1 God created the first human family in His likeness....to enjoy what He enjoyed in the godhead.
- AND from Genesis to Matthew God worked with families.
- AND then in the fullness of time God became a man....and Jesus entered our human environment to bring salvation by His love.
- AND through His death and resurrection Jesus purchased for God a FAMILY....called the church of Jesus Christ.
- PAUL writes
“...he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will...” (Ephesians 1:5)
- ROMANS 8:17 says,
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ...”
- WE are God’s redeemed family, the firstfruits on earth of what the kingdom will be like in heaven.
- THE quality of relationship that God enjoys in heaven is what He has called us into in this redeemed life.
- CAN you see the tremendous importance in the subject that the apostle Paul writes about in I Corinthians 1:10-17.
1. BE UNITED IN THE CONFESSION OF YOUR MOUTH
- LISTEN to the heart of the apostle Paul,
“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
- AGREE....there is that word that we studied in the “One Another” sermon series.
- IT means... “to say the same thing.”
- PAUL uses the same word when he writes, in Philippians 4:2, to two ladies who were tangling with each other in the church in Philippi. He says to them,
“I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.”
- EACH was probably telling THEIR side of their dispute to their friends...in confidence of course.
- AND friends, being human, were forming opinions and taking sides depending on who they had heard from.
- AND as a consequence the body of Christ at Philippi was being divided.
- PAUL pleads with them.....to start saying the same thing.
- HOW do you do that when there are usually two sides to any dispute?
- BY limiting our conversations with others to those things on which there is agreement.
* Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. He is fully God, fully Man.
* He died on the cross for our salvation...and was buried.
* On the third day He rose again, triumphant over death and the grave.
* He ascended to the right hand of the Father where He ever lives to intercede for you AND me.
* We are saved through faith in His blood....made righteous in His Righteousness, ready for heaven where He has gone to prepare a place for me.
* He has sent the Holy Spirit who lives in you AND me....and He empowers us for life and service.
* He is coming again to take us to be with Him in His Father’s kingdom.
* But until then He has birthed us into this living temple called His church....His holy bride.
* And in that church we are ONE. One Lord, one faith, one church, one baptism.
- LET’S talk about THESE things with one another.
- LET’S agree with one another. That is how we will get into harmony around here.
- IT will take self-control...but that is why we have been given the indwelling Holy Spirit. Self-control is the fruit of the Spirit.
- LET’S say the same thing...and put a guard on our tongue. May it cleave to the roof of our mouth before we say anything different to each other.
“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” (I Corinthians 1:10)
- AGREE with one another....so that there may be no divisions.
- HOW could we think of dividing the body of Christ for which Jesus paid so high a price?
- WE are supposed to be following the example of our heavenly Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit.
- PAUL calls us to be perfectly united....
* In mind....your understanding.
• Of who God is, what Jesus came to do, and who you are in Christ.
* And thought....the Greek work literally means purpose.
• United in what we set out to do for God.
2. DO NOT BE DIVIDED BY QUARRELS
- LOOK at verses 11 and 12,
“My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. (12) What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’”
- THE believers in Corinth were not only lining up behind their favorite leader, but getting nasty with each other over their preferences.
- THE group lining up behind Paul were likely the Gentile group that liked the freedom he preached.
* Some of them likely wanted to have more liberty with their lifestyles than they should have been taking.
* So when the call went out for holiness...they said, “Wait a minute here, I am of Paul! We have been set free from any demands on our lives. We can live any way we please. You are cramping our style. We don’t have to listen to you.”
- THE group lining up behind Apollos were the intellectuals.
* Apollos was from Alexandria, the learning capital of the empire.
* These were the ones who likely wanted to turn Christianity into a philosophical pursuit.
* And when the call went out to love God with all your heart....they said, “Wait a minute here, I am of Apollos! We are the solid ones in this church. We hold to the teaching of the Word, not flaky emotionalism. We don’t have to listen to you.”
- THE group lining up behind Cephas (Peter) were likely the Jews who still wanted to observe Jewish law as a basis for salvation.
* When the call went out for grace...they were the ones to say, “Wait a minute here, I am of Cephas....We are the original group. We have roots in this movement. You are a johnny come lately. We are the purists. What do you mean calling us legalists. We don’t have to listen to you!
- THEN there was the group that said the right thing but had the wrong heart.
* This is the group that said, “We are of Christ...and we are ready to fight you over it!”
- WHAT a tragedy to be divided after all that God has shown us and done for us.
- THE evils of things that violate unity.
1. They violate the image of God on His church.
2. They exalt those things that are incidental.
3. They destroy true fellowship.
4. They bring public dishonor to the Name of Christ.
5. They squander energies that could be spent on ministry that advances the kingdom of God.
3. BE UNITED IN THE CROSS
- LASTLY, listen to Paul’s appeal to them in Corinth in verses 13-16,
“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?(14) I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius(15) so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.(16) (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.)”
- THREE questions that must echo in our hearts any time we are tempted to be divided from other believers over things that are non-essentials.
- PAUL uses these questions to take us to the basics,
1. Is Christ divided? Can we cut Him up in pieces? Could we, if we wanted to, divide Father, Son and Spirit?
• Then how can we divide His body?
2. Was any person, cause or issue crucified for you? Is there salvation in any other person or thing?
• Then why waste our time being divided over things that cannot save us?
3. To whom did your allegiance go when you were baptized? Isn’t that what you declared by your baptism? Wasn’t it all about the allegiance of the rest of your life?
• Then what are you declaring about your allegiance when you allow yourself to be divided over people or issues.
• Do those people or issues deserve your allegiance?
- GOD is relational to the core of His being.
- AND the engine of that relationship is love.
- WHOSE are you this morning?
- IF you belong to God, then you and I MUST draw our identity from Him.
- THE way He is, must be the way we live.
- AND that way is NOT in division.
- DIVISION is contrary to the nature of God.
- THAT is why the Bible goes to great lengths to call us to unity.
- HOW good it is when brothers dwell together in unity. (Psalm 133)
- A HOUSE divided cannot stand. (Luke 11:17)
- WATCH out for those who cause divisions. Keep away from them. (Romans 16:17)
- WARN a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11)
- GALATIANS 5:20 says that those who promote discord, dissensions and factions will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- THIS is serious business.
- WE cannot, under any pretext, divide the body of Christ.