Remember the Bible Series, #2
Is Christ Divided?
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
~ 1 Cor. 1:13
Paul uses rhetorical questions, because he considered any answer other than “no” ridiculous. Yet, so many people seem to miss his point let us rephrase him in the declarative. First, “Christ is not divided.”
Christian people have divided themselves 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. Stated plainly: If you consider yourself a Presbyterian, in a primary sense, you are violating a Biblical commandment. You are a Christian. You worship at a “Presbyterian” church. If you consider that worshipping at a Presbyterian church makes you different, in the eyes of God, than a person who worships at a Coptic church in Ethiopia, then you are holding a fundamentally misguided thought about Christianity, and Paul intended this Scripture for you.
Second, Paul was not crucified for you. John Wesley was not crucified for you. Saint Peter was not crucified for you. He was crucified for his faith, but his crucifixion was not sufficient for your salvation. Many have been crucified for their faith (and all too often, by other Christians!) but only One was crucified “for us,” in the sense that Paul means to convey.
Third, which is close in meaning to the second: You were not baptized in the name of anyone but God. The only human being who was mentioned at your baptism was Jesus Christ, for His name, and His name alone, has the power to cleanse you from sin. Mormons are not baptized in the name of Joseph Smith. They are baptized “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19.) Some Christians are baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ,” which is Biblical. (e.g., Acts 2:38.) The point is, Lutherans are not baptized in the name of John Calvin. Catholics are not baptized in the name of Saint Peter. As great and faithful as these men were, none of them is Jesus Christ.
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 are and have been countless 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.
What did Christ have to tell us about leaders in His church? “But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher (or Leader), the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.” (Matthew 23:8-10.)
There is a practical problem that Biblical Christians face. If we are to worship with others (as the Bible teaches us we should) we are almost certainly going to “belong” to a church that teaches non-Biblical doctrine. I have no easy solution for the problem. Mostly, I myself keep quiet about it. But if we hear something particularly outrageous, remembering and reciting this verse can be a big help to get people thinking on the right track.
Lord, let me always remember that Christ is the sole source of my salvation. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer