Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Is Christ Divided?

Pastor Mack Roller of 1st Baptist Church
in Fairfield, Texas "greeting me!"

1 Corinthians 1:11-14 “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? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius.”

I obviously have never actually met him, but I just love the Apostle Paul so much! This guy was just so real! The things that he says in the Word of God are so non-political and so non-seeker-sensitive! He just told the truth, called it like he saw it, and at the end of the day stood firm on his convictions. We need more of that in today’s church!

Think about a couple of things in the text quoted above:
“...there are contentions among Christ divided...I thank God that I baptized none of you…”

There were some obvious differences going on among the brethren in the early church just as there are today. These differences can not only be expected, but also hoped for!

“Hoped for!” Why on earth would be hope for differences? Well because the Word says so:
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”

Differences do not have to turn into contentions. Because I travel, minister and work with many Jesus-loving people of many various denominational affiliations—I know first hand that there are things that we must agree on and then there are other things that are really not important at all at the end of the day!

I just returned from an awesome weekend of ministry in Fairfield, Texas. I was one of the missionaries invited to participate in their “Share the Well” Missions and Evangelism Conference. The host church was First Baptist Church of Fairfield, Texas— a Southern Baptist congregation.

Now if you are one of the few who might wonder why that would be unusual, consider the fact that I am Pentecostal! For years the Pentecostals and Southern Baptist have been arch-enemies! Not this Pentecostal and those Baptists! We are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus and we have one goal: To Bring As Many People Into Christ’s Kingdom As Possible. Why should that be contentious?

Paul the Apostle wasn’t about to even get involved with the argument about Baptism. He declared, “I am not here to talk about baptisms (or baptismal differences), Jesus sent me to preach the Gospel—and in that—–not with a bunch of human wisdom, because all that does is take the power out of the message of the Cross.”

He knew that the REAL BATTLE was not in the minor details, but it was in allowing those little battles to distract from the ONE TRUE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH: to bring people to the saving faith of the Lord Jesus Christ!

We have been blessed to receive encouragement and support from blessed people in a wide-ranging cross-section of Christianity, who are not so much worried about their denomination, but instead seeing JESUS lifted up!

People like Rev. Kelly Bedard of the Grace Lutheran Church in Houma, Louisiana and Pastor Russ Clifford of the Hope Chapel Foursquare Church in Santa Rosa, California.

These are men of God and churches coming from different areas of the country, different cultural and denominational backgrounds—but at the end of the day—they are all about helping hurting people and pointing them to Jesus.

THAT is something I can work with!

Again, I have been blessed to enjoy a very rewarding cross-denominational relationship with a variety of churches. The truth be told, I receive far more invites from other churches and denominations than I do from the one that I am ordained by!

Now, there are things that we must agree on.“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” Amos 3:3

The infallibility of the Scriptures
The One true God eternally existing as Father, Son & Holy Spirit
The fall of man and his need for redemption
Salvation by grace through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eternal judgment: the righteous to eternal life and the unrighteous to eternal punishment.

If we can have those truths as the foundation of our relationship—then the chances are very good that we can “walk together!”

Now if someone starts teaching some deviant doctrine that strikes at the very core of the atonement (like teaching Jesus died spiritually, or that He might have sinned) THEN we will have a problem walking together.

If we could all endeavor to preach MORE JESUS and REACH MORE FOR JESUS and worry LESS about promoting the things that distinguish us from one another—I think you’ll find that we could ALL be much more effective in reaching a lost and dying world for the Kingdom of Heaven!

I appreciate my Baptist brother’s strong teaching and doctrine on the blood of Jesus and my Lutheran brother’s strong teaching and doctrine on justification by faith and rejoice in the fact that my heritage is one that embraces the gifts of the Spirit for this age.

Those are areas in which we can teach and draw from one another and utilize those things to be more effective in our joint efforts to preach the Gospel to the unsaved.

Our diversities are sometimes the things that make us all more effective in “casting a broader net” over a tremendous harvest of souls that awaits us.

We can call ourselves Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostal, Lutheran or something else now—but the main thing is that when we stand before God, He will call us His own!

Our duty is strictly to “love God with everything within us,” “love our neighbor as ourselves,” and to “go into all the world and preach HIS GOSPEL.”

As long as we stay on message, then the method of doing those things becomes less of a point of contention between us.

Let’s work together in these last days to show the world that we are His disciples by the love that we show one another” and to a lost world needing that love too!

Pastor Troy D. Bohn—Raven Ministries

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