Series A - Third Sunday after the Epiphany

TEXT:  I Corinthians 1:10-17                                     

THEME:  Divisions in the church dishonor Christ and His mission, but in Christ alone we find the source of our unity.                           

TITLE:  "The Powerful Unity of the Cross"                

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

I.  WE DISHONOR CHRIST WHEN WE HAVE DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH.

  1. Disunity:  Comes when we exalt the unimportant at the expense of the critical.

    1. We exalt personality over the teachings of Christ.  (vv. 12b-13)

      1. Their party spirit had missed the point of God gifts entirely.

      2. It's not God's men/women, it's the Christ they represent!

    2. We exalt men's wisdom over the wisdom of God.  (I Cor. 1:20-21)

      1. Nothing new here:  Carl Marx...Joseph Smith...the Pharisees

      2. Theologians who insist that God's Word be subject to their conjectures rather than the other way around. 

    3. We exalt our own "authority" over our servanthood.

      1. We, in the church, can become so enamored of our own positions that we forget we are servants, not masters!

      2. It happens to pastors, chairmen, sunday school superintendents, LWML presidents, church secretaries...all of us.

  2. Disunity:  Occurs when conviction becomes a matter of human pride.

    1. Our rights become more important than the unity of the Body of Christ.

      1. In any family sometimes its more important to preserve the unity and harmony of the family than to insist on being "right".

      2. Throughout the Bible, God seems far more interested in how we serve Him and others than He is how we have our "rights".

    2. Our position on non-Scriptural matters become the only acceptable position.

      1. Only those things of Scriptural importance ought to be allowed to divide the Body of Christ.

      2. NOT the color of carpet, common vs. individual cup, whether the ladies group ought to meet on Tuesdays or Thursdays, etc.

      3. For such reasons the Body of Christ ought not be divided!

    3. Our position justifies unChristian actions toward congregational members.

      1. A sure sign that we have lost our balance is the behavioral fall into gossip, back-biting, slander.

      2. God's eighth Commandment is ignored and disunity happens.

  3. Disunity & Division:  Brings dishonor on the name and ministry of Christ.

    1. Christ's mission is discredited, now the Prince of Peace = cause of division?

    2. He who is harmony incarnate, is now to be the object of a fight?

    3. Opportunity/energy for ministry is wasted...people are hurt.

II.  IN CHRIST WE FIND THE ONLY SOURCE OF HARMONY, UNITY AND POWER.

  1. Christ brings unity between God and all people.

    1. He conquers our pride with His salvation by grace alone.

      1. No possible use of human effort toward eternal life is allowed in the light of God's grace.

      2. Pride must be abandoned before God.

    2. He conquers our sin with the sacrifice of His death.  (Eph. 2:1-2a, 4-7)

    3. He conquers our death with the victory of this resurrection.

      1. Yes, the estrangement is over!...We are no longer children of the great divorce between God and man.

      2. We have been reunited with God...AND with one another.

      3. Now we are to be a picture of that divine unity with one another.

  2. Christ brings us a unity of faith to banish our divisions.  (v. 10)

    1. We are perfectly united in our minds and throughts by His Word.

      1. We are not united by our fellowship, it is our faith that creates the fellowship.

      2. The measure of that faith is God's Word...True, inerrant and infallible...Beyond man's wisdom and trustworthy.

      3. It is the person and the teachings of Christ that is the source of unity.

    2. We are perfectly united in the intimacy of the Lord's Supper.

      1. Today we have the blessed opportunity to experience the intimate unity that Christ gives to us through His body and blood.

      2. The unity of the society of the forgiven and the Forgiver plainly seen.

    3. We are perfectly united in our baptism with Christ.  (Eph. 4:3-6)

      1. One faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all.

      2. Blood brothers and sisters washed clean by God and made whole.

  3. In this gift of unity, we can grasp the many opportunities for ministry/mission that God gives to us.

    1. Our energies are directed toward our witness to others...not wasted in fighting

    2. Our stewardship of His resources are used with good effect...unhampered with petty concerns.

    3. Our singlemindedness of purpose will be blessed by God...a reflection of God's perfect unity.

 

CONCLUSION

 

            One of the great blessings in the past year that I've had the privilege of serving you as your pastor has been to observe the degree of unity, harmony and peace with which we've carried out our mission as Godís church.  Lest we become complacent, St. Paul warns us to keep on focusing on Christ, the great unifier of souls and of people.  Let our joy be in Him!  Let our commitment to His Word remain unshakable!  Let our unity of peace in Christ be a beacon to all around us.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

 

 

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