Kincardine Baptist Church
Pastor Brent Hudson

Ancient Arithmetic
1 Corinthians 1:10-17


Apollos - the intellectual – the theologian on the Christian Education Committee. He is concerned for the highest standards of Bible knowledge & interpretation

It was called the Christian Education Committee but they allied themselves closely to their Spiritual Mentor – Apollos small wonder they referred to themselves as the Intellectually-Oriented-Apollos Committee

Peter - the worker, The blue collar guy on the Finance & Property board loves to talk about Jesus and thrives on hard work. Finance and Property being the constituted title but the board saw themselves following the example of the great minister-fisherman, Peter, or in the language Jesus gave the name – Cephas. Small wonder people referred to this group as the Labour-Intensive-Cephas Committee

Paul – the apostle the missions committee person intelligent and culturally aware. Missions Committee was their official title but they saw themselves following in the footsteps of their Fearless leader – Paul. Small wonder they understood themselves as The Great-Apostle-Paul Committee.

Of course, we can’t forget the Deacons Concerned about all areas of the church holding it all together in balance Even as Jesus did with the Twelve. That varied group of men who in any other context would have despised each other. Small wonder they called themselves the Committee of the Good Shepherd

Who could blame the people after all don’t we all find our place in the church just as they found theirs around these important people around these important ministries?

But how easy it is to justify sinful actions around righteous and holy causes/ Apollos, Peter, Paul, and even Christ Put forward as mentors as Spiritual guides for the church but used in such a way as to fragment and divide the Church of God in Corinth.

Apollos, Paul, Cephas and Christ were all plain in teaching against such division They all taught a unity principle. The connection between Multiplication and Addition is obvious Multiplication is basically the addition of groups of numbers. Likewise Division is basically the subtraction of groups of numbers. So, remember this principle of Church Growth drawn from Ancient Arithmetic Division and Subtraction are related. Allow me to point just a couple of ways that Division and subtraction are related in the Church

Subtraction of Witness

We read in John 17 that the world will see the truth of the Gospel by maintaining our unity in the church

May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

It is interesting that the passage of John 17.23 which we very rarely see as a Bible Memory Verse

Yet this is a clear allusion to a previous passage In John’s Gospel a passage that is memorized in every Evangelical Church everywhere.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Jn 3:16)

It is wonderful to think on that and it is life-changing to believe that it is true and as a result to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. But how can be witnesses to this truth? How do we convince the world of this claim? The Lord Jesus himself has told us the way yet we disobey his words and diminish our witness to the World. The word of the Lord Jesus to Committee of the Good Shepherd.

Division is related to Subtraction -- the Subtraction from our witness to the World.

The second area I would like to point out is a…

Subtraction From Service

Peter understood the necessity of unity he understood the necessity of maintain unity as we serve the Lord diligently

We read in 1Peter 2:15-17

15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

There are many ways that we can define "doing good" but given the context of Jesus’ prayer and the following comment about respecting and loving the brotherhood of believers

I inclined to believe that Unity in the Church was a primary desire for Peter as well.

Given the connection of loving the brotherhood of believers and showing the proper respect to everyone It is a short step to see that the refusal to do this brings about the very actions that Peter is warning about. In other words Peter encourages us to be "doing good" the very thing that we do not do when we start dividing into our groups finding areas of disagreement using all our energy in turf wars instead of warring against Enemy. Small wonder He tells his church to do good and to love the brotherhood of believers as the saying goes "Idle hands are the Devils plaything". This is never more true than in the church where the consequences of our idleness becomes inwardness and inwardness brings out our differences and our divisions

People who hold before them the Word of God and who put it into action like Peter did, don’t have time to tear the church apart with divisive issues. They are too busy building up the Kingdom; honouring everyone and loving the ‘brotherhood’ of believers. Peter needed to remind his Church of this We all must be reminded, Pastors, Leaders and Laity that division in the body means equals:

Subtraction from Witness…
Subtraction from Action . . .

Finally, we to the final Committee of First Church Corinth. We move to Paul’s words.

We see that Division is related to Subtraction in the

Subtraction of Power

…lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

I am aware of the context here. Paul is speaking primarily about preaching exquisitely and with style, using every aspect of rhetoric available to the educated of his day. His point is clear He was not called to preach eloquently but to preach powerfully. Not full of human wisdom and technique but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power (2.4).

Some would say that Paul is getting off-track talking about divisions then about baptizing then about preaching then about human wisdom. But I don’t think he is rambling at all he goes on a bit of tangent but he brings it all back with these words in v.17. Divisions in the church rallying around specific leaders with specific areas of giftedness is the epitome of human wisdom. There are so many in our world and in our churches who’s approach to life is all or nothing. We have to be all about education or all about mission or all about maintenance or all about spirituality. Rarely do we see the kind of unity of purpose that puts the cross of Jesus first; highlighting the foolishness of the Cross.

And the big loser is the church of God. We need each other and we haven’t figured that out yet. So often we see those who disagree with us as the enemy who must be won over or silenced instead of someone from whom we may learn something. Even in the situation where there is nothing to learn The scripture is clear that we are deal everyone honorably we are to love the community of believers. When our focus is on human things we render the cross powerless we forget its foolishness its offence and its power to save. The warning is before us divide ourselves along human personality and we rob the cross of its power. I can’t think of a more tragic sin of believers than to empty the cross of its power. Instead this passage encourages us indeed urges us to be…

perfectly united in mind and thought.

The word for ‘mind’ can also mean "attitude" The word for ‘thought’ can also mean ‘purpose’. Perhaps that translation is more powerful for us because it takes is down from the ‘topshelf’ and gives a goal that is attainable. Perfectly united in attitude and purpose. We can disagree on a lot of things and still be perfectly united in attitude and purpose!

Such a place of attitude and purpose takes work. It takes patience and it takes time. As a result church rarely work toward such unity opting instead for a "putting up with" approach to people with differing ideas. More accurately, there are those who never want to put up with anything and they lead the parade of discontent. And don’t be fooled on this, we all have discontentment lurking about within. If we focus on it intently enough, we cause division. And division is a form of subtraction: subtraction from our witness; subtraction from our service; subtraction from our Power.

It is only as we cease in our causing division; as we work to be perfectly united in attitude and purpose that we can increase our witness, our service & ultimately our spiritual power – which is the power of the cross.

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