Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
~ 1 Corinthians 1:13 (NIV)
Paul was, arguably, the greatest teacher of Christ in history, the first speaker in the realm of Christian doctrine. He preached by direct commission from the arisen Christ. I have heard or read a number of accounts where Paul is accused of pridefulness, especially in relation to the Counsel of Jerusalem, and some of his teachings might be interpreted in that way.
But here, as so often is true, we must beware imposing our own interpretation on the Bible, especially when we lack a plain statement in the Bible itself to support us, and even more especially when there is a plain statement in the Bible that refutes us! Paul, here, condemns those who would be his disciples. And if even an inspired author of the New Testament denies the special status of doctrinal leadership, how can any other person possibly claim it?
Christianity has divided itself into sects and denominations, all of which claim the status that Paul reviles for any person, himself included. How thoughtlessly we divide ourselves. “I am an Episcopalian.” “I am Catholic,” “I am an Evangelical Christian,” “I am a” — well, enough of that. We are followers of Christ and Christ only. “Christian” is a term that cannot be modified.
But that is not all we can take away from this short verse. More commonly, someone will assert: “(Insert the name of a minister, bishop, writer, church leader, etc.) says that . . . .” Quoting a learned source is wonderful, for there have been hundreds of pious and brilliant expositors of Christian doctrine. But where someone makes an argument that refutes a simple and clear statement in the Bible, or adds as Gospel something that the Bible does not say, their authority is zero.
And this short verse is the perfect proof we can use, if we hear non-Biblical doctrine. Not to pick on Billy Graham, but as an example: “Is Christ divided? Was Billy Graham crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Billy Graham?”
And one reminder: If we are to worship with others, as the Bible teaches us we should, we are going to belong to a church that teaches non-Biblical doctrine. We must approach denominations to which we do not belong in the spirit of harmony. Criticizing others is the easy way out; it is ourselves and ourselves alone whom Christ authorizes us to criticize.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)
In Jesus,O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Click HERE to find out more about how to have a personal
relationship with Jesus Christ.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Christian” is a term that cannot be modified.