WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
OCTOBER 3, 2022
TOPIC: A CHURCH DIVIDED CANNOT STAND!
BY T. O. BANSO
“Some of you are saying, ‘I am a follower of Paul’; and others say that they are for Apollos or for Peter; and some that they alone are the true followers of Christ. And so, in effect, you have broken Christ into many pieces. But did I, Paul, die for your sins? Were any of you baptized in my name?” (1 Corinthians 1:12-13 The Living Bible).
Division in the church is a phenomenon that started in the early church, and Paul had to address it. Paul knew that factions created by followers would weaken the church. Jesus said, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:24-25 New King James Version). Luke 11:17 and Matthew 12:25 say a similar thing.
An attitude of “My church is better and bigger than yours; my bishop or pastor is more anointed than yours” is wrong. Paul scolded the Corinthians for making comments that tended to divide the church. He said, “When one of you says, ‘I am a follower of Paul,’ and another says, ‘I follow Apollos,’ aren’t you acting just like people of the world?” (1 Corinthians 3:4 New Living Translation).
In verses 12-13, he said further: “Some of you are saying, ‘I am a follower of Paul’; and others say that they are for Apollos or for Peter; and some that they alone are the true followers of Christ. And so, in effect, you have broken Christ into many pieces. But did I, Paul, die for your sins? Were any of you baptized in my name?” (1 Corinthians 1:12-13 The Living Bible).
Christians can’t afford to be watering the evil planting of sectarianism or division. We must be kingdom-minded and not promote factions. “But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12b New King James Version).
No denominational or church leader saves – only Jesus saves because only Jesus died for the world. The most powerful spiritual leader is still a human being. Your bishop, arch-bishop, pastor, or reverend is a servant, not the Saviour! Paul told the Corinthians, “So look at Apollos and me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries” (1 Corinthians 4:1 New Living Translation). No genuine man of God anointed himself – God did! He is a mere servant of Christ who has been put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries.
In 1 Corinthians 4:6b-7, Paul continued: “If you pay attention to what I have quoted from the Scriptures, you won’t be proud of one of your leaders at the expense of another. For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?” (New Living Translation).
All genuine ministers of God – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – are gifts from Jesus (Ephesians 4:8, 11). Christians should receive these gifts with appreciation and thanksgiving to God. We should receive all the different graces God has given us in them. Hear Paul’s warning again: “So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you — whether Paul or Apollos or Peter” (1 Corinthians 3:21-22a New Living Translation).
No matter how big your denomination is, it can never become the body of Christ! It will remain a denomination – just a part of the body of Christ. No matter how great your church is, it is not heaven! Be committed to your church and honour and support your spiritual leaders but shun prideful attitudes and communication that divide the church.
The church has one common enemy – Satan. We need a united front, and cooperation, to face him and advance the kingdom. No single denomination can do it all. We must cooperate. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:12 that he wrote that letter with the help of Silas (Silvanus), a faithful brother. But the same Silas was Paul’s partner on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:40). There was no faction; they worked together; no individual empire! Acts 15:22 states earlier that Silas was one of those sent to deliver the letter from the Jerusalem Council to the church in Antioch. In his letters to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians, Paul mentioned Silas (2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1).
After 1 Peter 5:12, where Peter referred to Silas (Silvanus), a faithful brother, he, in verse 13, referred to Mark as his son. Yet the same Mark travelled with Paul and Barnabas during their first missionary journey (Acts 12:25) before they parted ways and Mark went with Barnabas (Acts 15:36-39).
However, Mark later worked with Paul, especially when he was in prison. Writing from the prison, Paul said to Timothy, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11 New King James Version). While Mark was still with him, he wrote, “Aristarchus is in jail with me. He sends greetings to you, and so does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. You have already been told to welcome Mark, if he visits you” (Colossians 4:10 Contemporary English Version). Again from the prison, Paul sent greetings in Philemon 23-24 from those who were with him, including Mark, thus: “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers” (New International Version).
A church divided cannot stand. Division within the church will do more havoc than the enemy’s external attack on the church. There should be no faction in any assembly, within a denomination, or in the body of Christ. No single denomination can win the world for Jesus. We must cooperate, synergize, and avoid what could cause division such as strife. “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (2 Timothy 2:23 New King James Version).
Jesus said in His high priestly prayer, “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name — the name you gave me — so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11 New International Version).
This prayer of Jesus should motivate the church to strive for unity, not encourage division. “See how good and how pleasing it is for brothers to be living together in harmony!” (Psalm 133:1 New King James Version). A church divided cannot stand.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, unite Your church; let us stand united and not be divided. Holy Spirit, help us to focus on what unites us, not on what separates us. Father, keep Your church through Your name, that we may be one.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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