1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 13
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|We have physical bodies that have many members which are different. It’s that way in the body of Christ. Isn’t it amazing? The first thing that happens when you live surrendered to Him, not perfect but predictable, when you’re about His purposes in your life, is you become inclusive of others, not exclusive of others.|
1 Corinthians 1:12-16
Division Among God’s People – Part 2
I know that sometimes I sound like a broken record. But I’m going to keep right on sounding that way. I don’t mind if you can just grab it. Verses 2-9 are the grid you’ve got to look at. That’s the Christian life right side up. You get any of these out of order, you get them out of whack, and what happens is you get upside down, and that’s when the division comes. That’s when all the confusion and chaos comes into your life. When we live separated unto Him as His own possession, living for His purpose, not ours, not driving our purpose asking Him to bless it, then what happens is we start opening up to others that are around us.
Romans 12 says, “I beseech you therefore brethren that you present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service of worship. And don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove for yourself what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Then he goes on and immediately says, “Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to think. There are other people in the body of Christ besides you.”
We have physical bodies that have many members which are different. It’s that way in the body of Christ. Isn’t it amazing? The first thing that happens when you live surrendered to Him, not perfect but predictable, when you’re about His purposes in your life, is you become inclusive of others, not exclusive of others. 1 Corinthians 1:2 says, “to the church of God which is at Corinth [God’s own possession], to those who have been sanctified [set apart for His purpose, not their own] in Christ Jesus, saints by calling [now look, immediately] with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”
Paul was saying, “Hey, guys, there are others out here in the body of Christ besides you and we’re all in it together.” You become inclusive, not exclusive of others. Now, listen to me. When you talk about division, be real careful how you handle this. We’re talking about, in our own way of spiritual pride, excluding others. The very stand you have on the Word of God itself will divide you at times. It’s one thing for you to exclude them, and it’s another thing for your life and the Word of God in you to cause that separation. There’s a big difference. If I offend you that’s one thing; if God’s Word offends you, so be it. You see, there’s a difference in the attitude of the individual. You don’t willfully exclude, but sometimes those exclusions are there. In 1 John 2:19 John said, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.” That’s going to happen in life. It’s not because we pushed them out but because they made that choice themselves. You become inclusive when you’re living about God’s purposes, living in God’s power, depending upon His grace and His peace. If you’re at peace with God, you’re at peace with man.
I had the most incredible experience out in Colorado. I was in a little church that averages 33 on Sunday mornings. I met the pastor up at Ohio and he asked me, “Would you come to a little bitty church out in the middle of nowhere.” I said, “Well, if God tells me to go, I’ll come.” We were just praying that God would cover the airplane ticket. I knew if He didn’t I was going to have to pay for it myself. That’s the way we went out there. We averaged 125 every night. People came from Denver and from Colorado Springs. Some people drove four hours.
When I got on the plane to come home, I was sitting there in my seat reading the USA Today and this couple got on the plane. I thought, “I know them. I’ve seen them before.” It was Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey, the father and mother of that little girl who was murdered in Denver. They sat right in front of me.
Well, we took off and something in my heart stirred when I saw them. I didn’t know I would handle it. When you listen to the news media you don’t know what kind of things you’ll end up with. But they’re people, folks. They’re people who have hearts that beat. They’ve got lungs that breathe air. They’re people who face an eternal destiny whatever’s going on in their life. Something inside of me just reached out to them. I don’t know what it was. I couldn’t do anything but pray for them almost all the way to Atlanta.
We got to Atlanta and he had put a bag up above my head. I knew he was going to have trouble reaching it because when everybody jumps up to get off the plane it’s real crowded there. I prayed. I said, “God, give me an opportunity just to say something encouraging to these people.” Look at the trauma they’ve been through, folks.
When we got up, he reached up and got his first bag. I said, “Is this your bag?” I thought I had seen him put two up there. He said, “Yes, it is.” I had my hand on the seat after I picked the bag up and handed it to him. I said, “Sir, I just want to tell ya’ll something.” Automatically he was defensive. They’re like, “What are you going to say to me?” I said, “I just want you to know that I’m praying for you.” And as tenderly as I have ever been touched by a father or any person who loved me, he put his hand down on mine and just tenderly patted it. Moistness filled up his eyes and he said, “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
You know, folks, I want to tell you something. The days when I’m not living according to what God wants in my life and the days when I get callous, opinionated, that kind of rot that we all do, are the days I wouldn’t give you a plug nickel for anybody outside my little own realm of opinions and my own little realm of hurts. But when you start loving God, God turns something on inside of you that you can’t exclude anybody, I don’t care who they are. You become inclusive, not exclusive.
If you’ll listen to what Paul’s saying here, he’s nailing every one of us to the wall – in love. The way he does it is beautiful. It’s the Holy Spirit of God in him. He’s not trying to just rebuke them harshly. I have said that before and I repent of saying that. He’s coming alongside them. He did rebuke them, but he did it in such a loving way they could receive it because he loves them. He really does love them. He issues a plea for unity in the church of Corinth.
You see, here’s a church. The church is filled with the Lord Jesus Christ living in them. He fills all in all. Here they are grumbling and all kinds of division among them, quarrelling with one another, and he issues a plea for unity there. He knows they’re not living in peace together. It says in verse 10, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
That little word “I exhort you” is parakaleo. It is that word used for the Holy Spirit of God. It’s a firm word, but yet it’s a very comforting word, a very precious word, very tender word. What he’s saying is, “Hey, folks, listen. Come alongside me.” He started the church. He loved these people. He said, “Come alongside me. Get up as close to me as you can. I want you to sense how much I love you. I’ve got some hard things to say to you so I want to make sure you understand as I say them to you, I’m correcting you out of love for you. That’s why I’m telling you what I’m telling you, you see.” That’s the whole manner of how he approaches it. He wants them to settle their differences. He doesn’t want them to wear the same clothes and say the same thing and walk around like little clones of each other. But what he wants them to do is to come back to what he’s already told them. Live up under the purposes of God. Live separate unto Him. That’s the thing that unifies you. You don’t ever end up agreeing with everybody on everything but you have to agree upon the fact that we’re His property and we’re His possession and we are to walk according to His will in our life.
This division was the problem in the church of Corinth and it manifested itself in quarreling among the brethren. It says in verse 11, “For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you.” Now the word for “quarrels” there is not when you have a heated debate with somebody. The word for “quarrels” here is the little word eris. That word has nothing friendly in it, not one thing friendly in it. It’s contentious from its very motivation. These people are beginning to fight with one another with their words and they’re contending with one another. It’s a strife kind of word that never, ever, ever is the character of a person living as God’s own possession, living surrendered to His purposes. It can’t be because the Holy Spirit of God produces a different kind of character in that individual’s life.
What were they quarreling over? Verse 12 says, “Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and [the hardest group of all] ‘I of Christ.’” The tendency of our flesh, folks, if we’re not living attached to Him, is to attach ourselves to something we can see, touch, and feel. If you’re not living that way in the fullness and the sufficiency of Christ, you will attach yourself to somebody who has somehow ministered to you in life. Perhaps there’s been a mentor, pastor, or whoever, and you’ll attach yourself to them. For some reason they become your focus. What’s happened is they’ve gotten their eyes off of Christ and they’ve moved out of the realm of where he wants them to be.
Now they are of Paul and Apollos, and so on, as he mentioned there. Paul is about to address this common error. I say common error because everybody does it when they’re not walking the way they’re supposed to walk. It’s not just the Corinthian church. I’ve been that way, and you’ve been that way at times in your life.
When he says, “Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying,…” the only thing I can conclude from that is each one of you is saying. In other words, it’s affected the whole church. It’s not just a certain group. It’s the whole church that’s divided. They’ve been divided by this kind of stuff. Paul was the founder of the church. Many of them, perhaps, took up his cause. Apollos followed him as the second pastor. Maybe they liked him better than Paul. That happens sometimes, doesn’t it? Sometimes it’s the other way around. Some liked Cephas. Who’s Peter? Everybody knew who Peter was. Of course, again, the most difficult was the ones who said, “I am of Christ.” Now, listen. They had the right man to follow, the God man. They had the right one, but they had the wrong motive in following Him. Because when your motive is to exclude, then evidently you haven’t got the right pathway yet in how to follow Him. They had the right man but they had the wrong motive. They were doing with Christ what others were doing with Paul, Apollos, and Cephas. They were dividing over the fact that they felt like they had a corner on Christ, you see. Paul puts them into the list of those he’s chiding for their behavior. Again, their focus was set on man and not on God.
One of the things you learn about the apostle Paul, at least I’m learning, is he’s the most brilliant man in the New Testament other than Jesus, an incredible man. I can’t wait in Heaven one day, after a million years when I can just leave Jesus for a second, I want to go over and talk to the apostle Paul and just be around him. Man, the guy was incredible. The way his mind worked was far beyond anything. I can more identify with Simon Peter who said in one of his epistle, “You know our brother, Paul. He says some stuff sometimes that’s hard to understand.” That’s me. I’m on his side.
But Paul was an intelligent man. He was a master at reasoning with people. Who else would go down to Athens and get up on Mars Hill and take on all the Greek philosophers? Only the apostle Paul. I mean nailed them to the wall: “I saw this sign. It said the unknown God. Let me tell you who He is. I’d like to introduce you to Him.” This guy’s incredible. He was just sitting down there waiting for some of his buddies to come and meet with him and he just happened to see all the idolatry and it made him mad. So he goes up on the hill and takes the whole town on. It’s amazing. And held his own. That’s the kind of man he was.
He was able to take a proposition that somebody had and jump ahead of them and show them the dead end street they would face if they followed that proposition. Incredible ability to reason out something. I wish I had more of that. You know, when you start seeing some people say certain things and you say, “Hold on. That sounds good right there. Let’s just keep following that on down and see where it ends up.” That’s what Paul was able to do. In 1 Corinthians 15 he says, “Hey, you don’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, bodily? Well, hey, if you don’t we don’t have anything to look forward to because we’re not raised bodily either. If you don’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, then you don’t even have a salvation. You’re all lost. We don’t have any hope at all.” He just said, “It sounds good, what you say, but it just doesn’t jibe with the Word of God. If you follow it out, it falls over the edge of a cliff before it’s over with, you see.”
I’m overwhelmed at what the Lord has taught me in my study. Hopefully you can get some of it. The problem of division in Corinth had to do with their confused allegiance. In other words, they were following after man. They were not as God’s own possession living separated unto Him. That’s what happened to them. This was symptomatic but at the same time Paul’s going to have to address that, a believer’s allegiance to Christ, not to man, not to preachers, not to whoever baptized you, not to whoever meant a lot in your life. Yes, you’ll always appreciate them but don’t ever put them on a pedestal that Jesus deserves to be put. Don’t ever put them in His place. That’s what people do all the time.
Well, he begins by taking this last group, “I am of Christ.” He takes them first and tackles it straight on. Look at what it says. To those that say, “I am of Christ”, here’s what Paul says in verse 13. He asks a question. “Has Christ been divided?” Now when you first read that, you think, “What in the world is he talking about?” You’ve got to remember how he thinks. You’ve got to jump to the fact that he sees the whole picture. They don’t; they’re very narrowmindedly thinking they’ve got a corner on Jesus. This is the group that I talked about last time. When they get to Heaven, they’re going to put a fence around them and when Saint Peter walks us by he’ll say, “Shhh, be really quiet. They think they’re the only ones up here.” They’ve got a special corner on Jesus.
Paul just beautifully nails them. First of all, he’d already told them, “You’ve got other believers every place.” Just because somebody maybe doctrinally doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean he doesn’t have Jesus Christ in his life. That’s the key. The doctrine we’ll have to work out later. Sometimes that will separate us, but we don’t exclude others because they believe differently. Sometimes that happens. But what he’s saying is that these people have Christ, too. Sometimes when you hear something from somebody that doesn’t sound like you heard it before, just listen again. There might be some truth in it. If it doesn’t, don’t throw them out of the window and say that they don’t know Jesus because Jesus is bigger, bigger than our little doctrinal things that we come up with sometimes. He’s much bigger than that. So what he’s trying to show them is, “You don’t realize this, folks, but Jesus is bigger than your little group. By your saying that you’re of Christ, if you take it all the way down and reason it back, you’re saying Christ is divided and you got something of Him that somebody else doesn’t have. Can Christ be divided?” No. What he’s basically showing them is the absurdity of the whole idea.
He jumps from that to himself. I respect him for this because he could have left himself out of it and picked on Apollos, because that’s the one who followed him. He could have picked on Simon Peter because, you remember, when Paul came out of that desert experience, the first place he went was right to Simon Peter. He said, “Simon Peter, you’re a hypocrite. You won’t even eat with the Gentiles. Get your life straight, man.” He tried to teach him about grace. He could have said some things about Peter. He didn’t. He doesn’t even mention those two. He makes himself vulnerable and puts himself up there in the focus of what he’s about to do. He doesn’t even address the other two. I think that one of the reasons he does this is because he’s horrified that the church that he started would ever, ever, ever put him on a pedestal and exclude other people if they didn’t agree with them. He’s horrified by that. That is a scary thing when people deify men rather than deify God and live under that. I’m telling you it’s a tendency if you’re not living and walking as God wants you to. “I’m of him, I’m of him.” Not only will that in itself exclude you, you become exclusive in yourself and you’ll stay right within the framework of what you want and exclude everybody else.
For those who said, “I am of Paul,” here’s what he has to say in verse 13. He says, “Paul was not crucified for you, was he?” Man, I’ll tell you. That’s a powerful statement. In other words, “What in the world are you looking at me for? I wasn’t crucified. I’m not the man you need to be looking to. I’m just as simple as anybody else. You need to be looking at the God man. He’s the one who died for you.” He’s saying, “Man, you’re putting me in a class that I would never in a million years want to even touch. It would be total blasphemy for me to be there.”
As a matter of fact, if you have ever studied much of the writings of Paul, you know that Paul shows this. He’s never pointing at himself unless he says, “Imitate my faith or whatever.” And that’s only in a way of helping to explain what he’s teaching. In 1 Corinthians 2:2 he says, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” There’s the heart of the man. He’s saying, “Why would you put me on a pedestal? The only heartbeat I have is to know Christ and Him crucified.”
Look over in Galatians 6:14. This is just the heart of the man. He’s really a man who’s upset. He’s a man who says, “Man, don’t you ever do this to me. Don’t you put me up there where Jesus belongs. I’m not worthy to be up there. I didn’t die for your sins.” It says in Galatians 6:14, “But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” That’s the heart of the man. Can you imagine how he must have felt when he found out that some of them said, “I am of Paul”, and by that excluded everybody else if they didn’t agree with them, thinking that Paul was something that Paul never professed to be and knew he wasn’t? It was a terrible thing in his heart.
Paul wants them to know that worshipping Paul is totally ridiculous. Basically he’s saying, “I didn’t die for you. Christ did. There’s only one man we should elevate.” In other words, “If I died for you, all you’d have is a dead man. I didn’t do anything for you. I was just a vessel. God stopped me on the Damascus Road. Don’t ever put me up there because I’m a man who has to deal with his own flesh every day just like you do.” If we elevate Christ, then you can’t exclude others and become that way in the body of Christ. You can’t narrow yourself and draw a little fence around yourself and say, “This is who I’m following.” You can’t do that if you’re following Christ because that always becomes inclusive.
Well, Paul ties the whole thing that he’s dealing with here, the quarrelling, the contention, the divisions in the people, back to their baptism. This is incredible to me. How in the world? The Holy Spirit has to be the author of Scripture. The apostle Paul ties everything back to baptism. He stays a while on himself and for the next several verses he’s going to talk about this one subject. Look at what he says in verse 13. “Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” Now what is he doing? Why in the world would he bring that up? He’s already talked Jesus dying. Why would he go back to their baptism? You know what, folks? It would be good if you’d go back to yours. You may need to do it again because you missed the whole point of why you did it in the first place. You see baptism speaks of the death of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus but what does baptism also speak? It speaks of my identification in that death. I have been buried in the likeness of Christ and raised to walk in newness of life. So it has something to say about a separated life that I have chosen to live. You see, this is so important to remember. It’s not in the name of Paul, he’s saying. It was in the name of Jesus that you were baptized. You weren’t baptized in my name.
You would think in this world today some people who are so of men, you would think they died on the cross for them. You’d think that they were baptized in their name, you see, identified with them, to follow them wherever you go.
Let’s read in Romans 6. That’s really what’s in the back of Paul’s mind, I believe, as he’s using baptism. What an incredible genius of the Holy Spirit of God to work in Paul to come up with baptism to prove his point that you should never be attached to men. You live attached to God. There’s a huge difference, folks. There’s a huge difference. Romans 6:3 says, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” Immersed into and identified with. Verse 4 goes on, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” Baptism does not only picture Christ’s death on the cross, but it’s our outward testimony of our discipleship to Him, our attachment to Him. When we’re baptized, we’re saying to the world, “I’ve already been saved. It happened inwardly but outwardly I want to give a picture. This is the first step of my testimony that Jesus is my Lord and that I’m going to live unto Him, separated unto Him and His purposes because I died with Him and I’ve cut off the world from me, as Paul said in Galatians 6. I’m dead to that and I’m raised to walk in the newness of His life.
Now listen. Paul in no way is downgrading baptism. Don’t think that. Paul asks, “Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” That’s not his point here. He’s just taking them back and having them recall that experience so they have a basis to understand what he’s saying. You never follow men. You’ve been cut off from that kind of thing. You now have chosen to follow Him – period – and for all eternity, you see. He’s the focus of your life, not man but God.
As a matter of fact, Paul himself had gone through baptism. That’s what it meant to him too. Look over in Acts 9:18. I want to make sure you understand he’s not playing down baptism. By the way, there are those who struggle with baptism. They say that it doesn’t mean immersion. That’s okay. I’m not going to fight with anybody. Secular Greek used the word baptizo when a person drowned, which was transliterated to give us the word “baptized.” Now maybe you can drown in a cup of water. It takes a little bit more than that for me. It means to be immersed in water. It does mean identified with. But you’ve got to see the picture. If it’s just identification and you don’t see the picture of immersion, you missed the whole point. You go down into the water, dying and being buried with Him and you come up out of the water, raised to walk having been washed in the newness of life, not by the water. It’s just symbolic. You’re washed in the blood of Jesus. This is a spiritual experience.
You ask, “Well, Wayne, if a man’s not baptized will he go to Hell?” No. When you’re saved, you’re saved to the uttermost. Not being baptized is not going to send you to Hell. But baptism is very important and Paul does not downplay it. Paul himself was baptized. Listen, Jesus was baptized. Now if you want to get on this kick that you don’t ever need to be baptized, help yourself. But Jesus was baptized and Paul was baptized. In Acts 9:18 it says, “And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he arose and was baptized.” He’s already been saved and then he’s baptized.
The Corinthian believers were baptized as a result of their faith in Christ. Look in Acts 18:8. This is the church of Corinth there that he speaks of, the same church he’s writing to here in 1 Corinthians. Acts 18:8 says, “And Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing [look what comes first] and ]then were what?] being baptized.” So they were baptized. He’s not playing it down, but he certainly is bringing it up to bring them back to it.
Let’s recall. Why were you baptized? This is going to prove his whole point about the divisions and the factions of following after men. Baptism always follows belief. In other words, baptism cannot be substituted for faith. Baptism comes as a result of someone having placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It cannot be a substitute for salvation. The Corinthians had evidently forgotten what it meant. I wonder if we’ve forgotten.
Let’s just take some time and talk about baptism. Why does he bring it up? I think when we get through with this you may see the wisdom and the genius the Holy Spirit has in Paul’s bringing this up. First of all, go to Matthew 28:19. What does Jesus say about baptizing? Who do you baptize? It’s very important. Jesus gave the directions Himself to the disciples. Now Paul has made the statement, “It’s not in my name you were baptized. It’s in His name you were baptized.” That’s significant. Jesus says in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them [not in the names of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit but] in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Some people get all bent out of shape about that. Should it be in the name of Jesus? Should it be in the name of the Father? If you use all three of them are you doing something wrong? That always has sort of tickled me. I know I have a simplistic mind and approach things that way. That’s all I know how to do. But it just seems to me that it’s kind of idiotic if you ask me. There’s no jealousy in the Trinity. Have you ever seen jealousy in the Trinity? So if you want to put all three names in there or pick one out it doesn’t bother the Trinity any, because the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is God. There are not three Gods. There’s one God in three persons.
I hear this argument all the time. I’m thinking, “What? Give me a break and get a life.” It’s name, not names, okay? The phrase “in the name of” is significant. It means with respect or regards to something. That’s one of the meanings.
An illustration of how it’s used is over in Matthew 10:41. The same phrase is used but in a different context. We’re not talking about baptism here. We’re trying to show you how it’s used. Matthew 10:41 reads, “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet [there’s your phrase] shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” It means he who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. That’s basically what he’s saying.
So in our text in 1 Corinthians Paul is saying that when the Corinthians were baptized, they were baptized because of their belief in the fact that Jesus was the Christ and died for their sins, because of the fact of who He is, because of His name, they were baptized into Him, you see. That’s what the whole thing is about.
There are two absolutes that Paul seems to be saying. First of all, “There is a God.” Secondly, “I’m not him. You’re weren’t baptized in my name. You were baptized in His name. He’s God. I’m not God. So, therefore, it’s significant that you don’t put me on a pedestal. You keep Him up there where He belongs.
Now to return to our text, there’s another meaning of “in the name of.” I think this is what Paul is alluding to. “In the name of Christ” means we have attached ourselves to Him. It’s not only an act of witness of what has happened inwardly to me, but it’s an outward testimony of my allegiance to Him. It speaks of my discipleship. It speaks of Him. It’s lordship. It’s the whole thing. Lordship was salvation, yes, but now I’m affirming it in my witness by saying, “I’m attached to Him and I’m going to live my life attached to Him. I’ve cut everything else away from me and have now been raised to walk in the newness of His life. He will be the one I’m going to live attached to for the rest of my days.”
Paul said, “You didn’t get baptized in my name so that you could live attached to me. You were baptized in His name so that you could live attached to Him.” Now you think about it for a second. Who are you attached to? Who do you listen to every single day of your life? If anybody walked into your house and said that they didn’t like them, you would exclude them and slam the door in their face because whatever that person says, that’s what you believe because you just think that person is right. I’m telling you, folks. That’s America in the twentieth century. If you ever cross somebody who somebody’s living attached to, watch how fast they’re going to exclude you from their presence.
So Paul is saying, “Hey, you weren’t baptized in my name. You were baptized in His name. You’re attached to Him. You’re not attached to me. Don’t you dare live your life attached to me. I’m His apostle and whatever I tell you, you have to listen because He gives it to me. Don’t live attached to me. Live attached to Him and His Word.”
Go back to 1 Corinthians 1. We’ll keep the flow. That’s where we’re talking about baptism. Why is it so important to what he’s trying to tell the Corinthians church? They’ve totally forgotten what baptism is all about. Verse 14 says, “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius.” He’s looking back and saying, “Hey, I don’t even know why you’re attaching yourself to me. I only baptized two of you.”
Well, in verse 16, he talks about Stephanas and his household. In other words, “Why in the world would there be a faction over there? You weren’t baptized in my name. In fact, I only baptized a few of you.” It was not founding for the unwanted allegiance to him.
I run into people everywhere I go in the country who say, “I’m of John MacArthur.” Have you ever been around people like that? John MacArthur has been in our church. He’s one of the most precious men you’ll ever meet in your life. He would be horrified at how people are attached to him and not attached to the Christ he’s attached to. But there are people like this, folks. As a matter of fact, I’ve been in conversations with people before and somebody said, “Do you know what old John said?” And I said, “You know, I don’t think I agree with that.” You can see it. You can see the shield go up. “What do you mean you don’t agree with John MacArthur?” You know, again, John would be horrified if that ever happened.
Some people say, “Well I’m of Swindoll.” I like Chuck Swindoll. “I want to tell you, don’t you ever touch my little Chuck Swindoll. He’s my preacher and if you ever say anything he doesn’t say, you’re out of here, buddy, because he’s right. So I’m going to attach myself to him, you see.”
When in the world are we going to wake up and smell the roses? What Paul is saying is that this kind of stuff means you don’t even understand yet that you’re attached to Him. You’re to live filled with Him and you’re to live separated unto Him, not separated unto anyone else. That’s the way people live, isn’t it? Think about it.
Let me ask you a question. Who is it that’s caused you to become exclusive of others because you don’t think they have the same corner on Christ that you’ve got? Folks, if you can find anything in your life that way, that’s exactly what he’s talking about in 1 Corinthians. You better get your heart straight because those people in the body who might not agree with what you agree with. They still have Christ living in them and never do you have the right to exclude them from the fellowship. As a matter of fact, you can’t if you’re living right. They may exclude you. Your attitude should be to not push them out and exclude them just because of who you say you’re following. “I’m of Christ.” That’s the ones, “You’re just not spiritual enough for me.” That’s the worse ones. I can’t even illustrate that one. That’s the group to look out for. It’s the sign of pride and immaturity when we attach ourselves to men and not to God. The only way you know you’re attached to them is if you’re excluding people who disagree with the one who you agree with or disagree with the conviction you say you have.
You don’t exclude them. If you’re right, God will bring them to your understanding. Pray for them, but don’t exclude them. If the doctrine excludes you, so be it. But we don’t have the right to offend and exclude. That’s what happens with the flesh.
Paul goes on to say in verse 14-15, “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, that no man should say you were baptized in my name.” “You don’t live attached to me. You live attached to Him.” Verse 16 goes on, “Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other.” It sounds like Paul really kept records, didn’t it? He walked around with a little pad in his pocket. “Uh-huh, baptized him. Write that name down and put the address down and the date because I can send that in to the convention. Listen, put this thing down because I’m keeping score on this whole thing.” Paul says, “I can’t even remember if I baptized anybody else.”
A lot of people say that baptism is necessary for salvation. Do you see what Paul is saying here? If it’s so necessary to salvation, then why is Paul so nonchalant about it? He said, “Man, I can’t even remember if I baptized anymore.” Then in verse 17 we read, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of Christ should not be made void.” Wait a minute! Wait a minute! He didn’t send you to baptize? But he sent you to preach the gospel? What does that say to people who say that you have to be baptized to be saved? It says that you better rethink what you’re saying because you’re wrong. He’s saying that the gospel does not include water baptism. However, once you’re saved, it follows salvation and it’s a witness, a statement you make to the world that you’re going to live attached to Christ because He’s already attached you to Himself and you’ve chosen to let this be your testimony to others. It becomes the first platform of your testimony to others about this.
I have a relative who says that I’m going to Hell because I’ve not been baptized by a member of a certain faith. Now it doesn’t mean you’re not baptized. They take it a step further. You’ve got to be baptized by one of them or you’re not going to go to Heaven. That’s interesting to me. You examine every text in Scripture and you’ll never find anything to support that. There are two texts that they use more than anything else. Look at Acts 2:38. These are the two texts I’ve heard so many times and I just get tired of hearing them. When somebody walks up and asks me about that any more, I say, “Listen, whatever you think. However you feel.” I just walk off. I’m tired of arguing. You can’t get to first base with them. They don’t reason with you. You can bring up another Scripture and they just flip the page and come up with another question. It’s amazing.
Acts 2:38 says, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins [that’s what throws everybody] and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Now people jump to the conclusion, “Uh-huh, see there. See there, for the remission of sins.” First of all, the word doesn’t mean in order that you might receive it. However, there’s something else. We just covered it. I want to make sure you see it. Look up in the verse again: “let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” We’ve already told you what that means. That’s valid baptism. What does valid baptism mean? It means that your baptism didn’t save you, but because you had already been attached to Him, now you have chosen out of obedience to make a statement of that attachment. That person has received the forgiveness of his sins. He didn’t receive it when he got baptized. He received it when he got saved. But the baptism proves the fact because it’s in the name of Christ. It’s not just getting wet.
Look over at 1 Peter 3:21. This is the same guy writing about the same thing. “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you – not the removal of dirt from the flesh [He clarifies that], but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Now without getting too far into that you can already see something. Is the immersion in the water going to save anybody? Peter’s analogy had to do with the flood. What happened to the people who got wet in the flood? They died. I mean, from that point on, folks, it’s just ridiculous to even follow the argument. But, remember, it’s in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the key. It’s whose name you were baptized in. That signifies you’re already been attached to Him in salvation and now you’re confirming and bearing witness of that attachment and you’re going to live that way for the rest of your life. That’s valid baptism.
Well, for every such statement, you’re going to find hundreds of others. Look in Mark 1:15. This is so important to understand. If baptism is critical for a person to get saved, look in Mark 1:15. He says, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Do you find the word “baptized” in there anymore? Let me give you some more. In Mark 2:5, Jesus said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” It says, “And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’” Do you think Jesus would have shortchanged him? He didn’t say, “Seeing his faith and the fact that he was baptized.” He said, “seeing his faith.” That’s what saves you, folks.
One of the passages misunderstood is Jesus and Nicodemus when he says you must be born of water and the Spirit. People take that water and the Spirit and go crazy with it. What Jesus is trying to show Nicodemus in his confusion is there are two kinds of birth and you’ve got to separate them. Physical birth is birth of water. I remember when my wife said, “My water broke.” That helped me understand that passage.
But then there’s also spiritual baptism. If you’re born once, you die twice. If you’re born twice, you only die once and maybe not that time because He may come before you die. You see, you have to understand what he’s talking to Nicodemus about. It has nothing to do with the fact that you’ve got to be born of water, meaning baptism. Good night, you’d have to stretch the Scriptures completely out of shape and contort it to try to make it say that and it still wouldn’t say that. Jesus is showing us then the difference of those two births.
Then in John 3:15 He says, “that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.” He didn’t say for whoever believes and has been baptized. In John 3:16 we read, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He didn’t say, “and be baptized.” You can just walk right down through Scripture. John 3:18, Ephesians 2:8, Romans 3:23-24, you just go right on through it.
Why did Paul bring up baptism to start with? First of all, you can see by how he’s using it in 1 Corinthians. He’s not talking about their salvation. He’s talking about their witness amongst the people and their willingness to say, “Listen, folks, I want everybody to know that God has saved me inwardly and I want you to know outwardly I’ve attached myself to Him and I’m going to follow Him all the days of my life.” That’s what he’s taking them back to.