Has Christ been divided?
Titus 3 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. 3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them. 14 Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.
15 All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith.
Grace be with you all.
One of the greatest tragedies in the church today is the amount of division which exists among and between believers. Not only are we divided in name as being part of particular denominations, but we also are deeply divided by doctrines and theology. Even within denominations and among those who have similar doctrinal leaning, whether fundamental, charismatic, evangelical, or pentecostal, whether contemporary or traditional, even within individual local bodies, there are factions and divisions. In today’s text Paul says: But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. It is not that we will always agree on everything. It is normal and natural that we will have preferences and differing views regarding the interpretation of certain scriptures and so their application to our faith. We should not have controversies, strife and disputes. We should not have factions within the church or among believers. In 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 Paul says: Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.”Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. There are many today who identify more as who or what they are named by denominationally or doctrinally than as being a follower of Christ. Paul asks: Has Christ been divided? Sadly throughout much of the church He has.
Paul says that a factious man is: perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. In John 13:34-35 Jesus says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” When we allow factions and divisions between believers to be more evident than our love for one another, we hinder the message of the gospel. We sin. The world doesn’t know that we are disciples of Jesus because we are divided. How can we expect that they will believe our message about Christ when they don’t recognize that we are His disciples because of our lack of love? Many churches today become very vision and mission focused. They study demographics. They institute programs and policies. They structure their services and activities to reach and minster to specific groups. The problem is, when we become mission oriented often we neglect the commission of Christ. We become so focused on our target group of people and so concerned with convincing them to believe the way we believe, that we disregard the simplicity of the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Paul says: When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. If more of the church today were unified and focused, not in their own beliefs or traditions, but rather in Christ, Him crucified for our sins and resurrected for us to live, perhaps the world would be more open to our message. Perhaps they would know we are His disciples.
Jesus says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18) That’s the commission of Christ to the church. Verses 19-20 of Mark 16 conclude saying: So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. We as believers need to: avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. If we too, will put the commission of Christ before the individual mission of the church, if we will focus on the good news, the gospel, that Jesus Christ died for the sins of all people, the world will know that we are His disciples by our unity and love. Jesus Himself will work with us, confirming the word with signs, wonders and miracles; with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Grace be with you all. Amen.