In a regional brotherhood event in northeastern Brazil last week and tonight in an evangelistic study at our local gym, I shared five ways, in 1 Corinthians 1-4, that the apostle Paul requires in order to move from division to unity.
There is more in the first four chapters about the solution to division, but this will get us started.
- INSIST ON UNIFORMITY. Speak the same thing, 1 Cor 1.10ff. How is that possible? By speaking the word of Christ, the gospel. Where the Bible speaks, we must speak; when it is silent, we must be silent. Paul’s call to unity was not a suggestion, but done “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” giving it force of the Lord’s authority and presence.
- GLORY IN GOD. Don’t exalt man, 1 Cor 1.30-31; 3.20-23. Pull every man down from the pedestal. Man loves titles, position, diplomas, hierarchies, special recognition. The Lord allows none of these for personal advancement.
- DON’T GO BEYOND WHAT’S WRITTEN. It was a first-century slogan, 1 Cor 4.6-7. We ought to live by it in order to maintain the unity created by God’s Spirit. The principle of not adding to or taking from God’s word reaches across both Testaments as an abiding rule, Dt 4.1-2; Rev 22.18-19.
- FOLLOW WHAT PAUL TAUGHT IN EVERY CHURCH. Yes, there is a pattern of doctrine and practice, 1 Cor 4.16-17. The Corinthians were arrogant because they felt free to change up what had been taught. God doesn’t want creativity, but faithfulness. The path to unity is in returning to what was taught at the beginning, 1 Cor 11.23ff. Let us be a brotherhood of united teaching, 1 Cor 11.16; 14.32-34; 16.1.
- SEEK THE POWER OF GOD. Reject mere words from human sources. God’s word has power, Gen 1.3. His message of the cross is saving power, in the present, 1 Cor 1.18. Our faith must be based in his power, 1 Cor 2.4-5. The Kingdom of God is all about his power, 1 Cor 4.20.
God has a solution to division. Is there a willingness to seek it out and practice it?