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Series: Is Christ Divided?
Sun am 12 April 2015 – Kobus Swart
1 Cor. 1:1-12; (Matt. 5:45); (Zeph. 1:12-13); Rom. 8:28; John 3:16; (Judges 6&7);
Josh. 5:13-15; 1 Cor. 12:12; (Ezek.37); John 17:20-21; (Eph. 4:9-16)
The Lord began to stir my heart on something that has been working inside my being for a long time about the Church in general. Where are we in this transition? Transition means different things to different people. What is happening in the broad Church? Do you believe that God indiscriminately will share His blessings to whosoever wants to come to the party? God will not say “I am going to bless one but not the other”. The Bible says He will rain on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45). He gives His favour to everybody everywhere. The same is true for His blessings and His moves. He is breaking in to church events all over the world. Forget the label on the wall; when God breaks in, He breaks in.
God’s initial blessing in your life and my life was meant to introduce Himself to us and to introduce us to His Nature and His kingdom. But many, if not all of us, have failed to allow God’s blessings to penetrate to the heart so that it can change who I am and change my nature. We have enjoyed the initial touch, blessing, revival, but we stopped there and thought it was God’s approval of where we were. We have said from this pulpit: “God loves you the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way”. We believe God loves us and His grace covers us so we feel that we do not have to allow that to penetrate the inner core of our being. That is why many of God’s dear redeemed people get stuck on various levels on the journey. We are all on a journey. Pray to God that you are not stagnant and standing in one place but that you are constantly in motion. God hates a stagnant spirit (Zeph. 1:12-13). We have to be aggressively moving forward with a deep hunger and thirst. So let us allow God’s blessings and His love to penetrate our deepest being and to change us inside so that we can be conformed to the image of His Son.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). God will make all things work so that our lives can be shaped into the life of His Son. That is our ultimate goal, not to just be good and blessed Christians. God loves us, He loves the world. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). We must allow His love to come deeper and to bring the necessary changes. In other words, God’s love and grace is not an endorsement of where you are. His love and grace comes to bring you closer and deeper. Where does this take us? What is God saying at this point? We find a very relevant picture of things in the Corinthian church.
Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Look at the grace in which Paul addresses the Corinthian church which had a lot of problems. Then he continues…
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? (1 Cor. 1:1-12).
This may help us with how we should approach other churches in this aligning of ourselves with the desire of God for oneness. He calls them, “Sanctified in Christ Jesus.” “Saints by calling.” The main common denominator is to recognise those who are in Christ Jesus. Paul opens this conversation with love and grace. He addresses certain fundamental principles and values in the kingdom in his opening words. We know the problems that the Corinthian church experienced in their own midst and members. What he says came sincerely from his heart; he loved this church.
This is what he had to say: Has Christ been divided? The remnant principle is in the Bible; there is and has been such a thing called a remnant. It is like a spear with a strong sharp point, the head of the spear. You need a sharp spear head to break into tough surfaces, but God forbid that the spear head is detached from the shaft. This is where Church history had to repeat itself time and time again. God has over the last 500 years called people with a pioneering spirit. Look at the story of Gideon (Judges 6&7). God called him to lead the people against the Midianites. They were at first 32,000 people, but only 300 at the end. The 300 did not even have to fight as chaos broke out in the enemy’s camp. The 300 – a remnant – did not build a movement; God told them to reunite with the rest of the people of Israel.
There are 41,000 registered denominations in the world (Wikipedia), all quoting the same Bible, all saying they are children of God. What about all the different apostolic networks? How are we going to address this? In the spirit and heart of the Apostle Paul. Thank God for pioneering apostolic graces, thank God for a remnant breaking open new ground, new territory, new truth; it has to be that way. But in too many cases (not all), the “head” disconnected from the “shaft” and a movement was the result which began to stagnate, shrink, lose its passion and love for God. I believe God is going to raise apostles and prophets with a new grace that will bring together instead of further divide.
As the nation of Israel started their journey in the land of promise, a Man appeared to Joshua, and the question Joshua asked was a divisive (sectarian) question. Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” (Josh. 5:13-14). The man did not even answer the question, he responded, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.”
My question then: is Christ divided? We underline, For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. (1 Cor. 12:12). The foot cannot say to the hand, “You are not part of me”. Christ is not divided. Thank God for pioneering movements. I honour them, I salute every pioneering fathering apostle who had to pay a price to break new ground! Sadly, (too often their followers) many have built a movement around a particular new insight in the Word. A move of God became a movement of man which eventually became stagnant.
Can we believe to be part of the generation that is going to see the healing of the Body of Christ and to become the giant of Ezekiel 37? Can we become the people that will flesh out the prayer of Jesus: I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me (John 17:20-21). One organisation? No! One institution? No! One name for everybody? No! How will the un-churched and unsaved be impressed with the Church? When the prayer of Jesus is fleshed out!
Let us all grow up into Him who is Christ (Eph. 4:9-16). The mandate of the five-fold ministry was never to start new movements but rather to bring us to the unity of the faith and to the FULL STATURE OF CHRIST. Where bone connects with bone and every joint supplies; where the Body makes increase of itself in love (Eph. 4:15).