1 Corinthians 1:17 ESV
“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
Divisions and Unity
There are many controversies within the church regarding certain beliefs or concerning what church denomination or pastor to follow or to not follow. The church is very divided by doctrines, by practices, and by denominations.
Paul was dealing with such divisions in his day, too. So, he was appealing to the saints that they be united in the same mind, which is the mind of Christ, and in the same judgment (conclusion), and that they agree, and that they not quarrel (see vv. 10-16).
But there needs to be a caution here, for I have seen a move toward unity within the overall church, but it is not unity with the mind of Christ, but with the mind of men (humans), and yet they are strongarming church attendees and professing Christians to comply with their unity.
I began to become aware of this movement back in 1999 when we attended a new church plant, and we went through their membership class. They were following Rick Warren’s business plan for the church. We tried another institutional church. They were following the same plan. Other institutional churches we tried, same thing, regardless of what denomination they were.
Now, I am 70. When I was growing up you could not get churches of different denominations to agree together and to teach the same stuff. Now, all of a sudden, churches were being unified under the teachings of this one man and his business model for how to plant and grow “churches,” i.e. businesses called “church.”
So, they pretty much all began to alter their way of doing church in order to be in conformity with this man’s instructions on how to build their “churches.” Thus, they conformed the gatherings of the church around what the world is craving, only with a Christianized version of such.
Now pastors had to be entertainers and comedians to make the people laugh and to have a good time so that they would want to come back. They incorporated worldly means and methods, thus, into how they did church, in order to attract the people of the world to their meetings.
Pleasing the Flesh
Now they were trying to please the world and the flesh of man rather than to please God and to put the flesh to death at the cross of Christ. So, they also altered (diluted, adulterated) the gospel as Paul taught it, and as Jesus taught it, to be in conformity with the flesh of man.
Yes, Paul taught that we are not saved by our fleshly works. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We can’t do enough good works to outweigh our sins. We have all sinned. We all come up short of attaining God’s acceptance, his approval, and his righteousness.
We agree here. But this watered-down gospel stops there. And it ignores the bulk of teachings in the New Testament on what is required of the one who believes in Jesus. And they teach that God requires nothing – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ as Lord.
But here is Paul’s concern, that the cross of Christ might be emptied of its power. And that is exactly what has happened in modern day Christianity within the institutional (state) church, which is in an unholy union with the world, with big business, and with the government.
They have emptied the cross of Christ of its power to deliver sinners out of their slavery to sin and to empower them to live in freedom from bondage to sin, and in holiness, righteousness, purity, and faithfulness to God. For they deny the Lordship of Christ over their lives, and they refuse to obey him and to forsake their sinful lifestyles.
Or, even if they claim to believe in what Jesus taught, and they believe they are to repent, they dilute that to a mere confession of sin, which can be habitual, along with the habitual sin, or they will say it merely means to change their minds, which they say they did when they believed in Jesus.
1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
The reason that the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing is because it demands death to sin and living to righteousness, and they don’t want to die to their sins or live in obedience to the Lord, so they call it “works-based salvation” so that they have the liberty to discard it.
And “the perishing” are not just those who make no profession of faith in Jesus Christ. For, many people today are professing faith in Jesus Christ based on a false gospel, and so no heart transformation has taken place. There has been no death to sin, so no resurrection to new life in Christ, no rebirthing of the Spirit, and no walking according to the Spirit.
So, even though they have been convinced that they are now saved from their sins and that they are on their way to heaven, they are still perishing, because they refused to die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; 1 Co 6:9-10; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 2 Co 5:10).
For, Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. In fact, when he shed his blood for us, he bought us back for God that we would now glorify God with our bodies (1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15, 21; 1 Co 6:19-20).
So, it is required of us that we walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh; that we walk in the light as Jesus is in the light, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from every sin. For, if we walk (in practice) according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God (Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
Thus, we aren’t saved, done deal, then we go to heaven when we die. We are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved (future) when Christ returns, provided that we remain in Christ and in his word, and that we walk according to the Spirit and not by the flesh (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Jn 15:1-11; Col 1:21-23).
1 Corinthians 1:19 ESV
“For it is written,
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’”
Amen! Those who are teaching a fleshly gospel which denies Jesus as Lord, and which refuses to repent of sin and to obey his commands, will not stand in the judgment. Their fleshly wisdom will be destroyed along with their lives if they do not repent of their evil ways, and if they do not choose to follow Jesus Christ with their lives.
So, know the truth that sets sinners free, and follow that truth. Amen!
When in The Stillness
An Original Work / September 26, 2011
When in the stillness of this moment,
Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray.
Be my desire, set me on fire,
Teach me to love always.
Help me to walk in fellowship with You,
Listening to You; sit at Your feet.
Whisper Your words to me,
Oh, how gently, guiding me in Your truth.
While we are waiting for Your blessing,
Lord, in our hearts be King today.
Help us to live for you ev’ry moment,
List’ning to what You say.
May we not stray from your word within us,
Help us obey You, Lord, in all things,
Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence,
Our offerings to You bring.
Help us to love You, Lord, our master;
Be an example of Your love,
Helping the hurting, lift up the fallen,
Showing them Your great love.
Teach them to love You, follow You always,
Bearing their cross and turning from sin;
Walking in daily fellowship with You,
Making You Lord and King.