|Volume 20 Number 6 June 2018||
Maxie B. Boren
Just a very few years ago, it was a rather popular thing among some to say, “Let’s just preach Christ, but not the church.” Thankfully, that inane “tell-tale” slogan of liberal philosophy is not heard very much anymore. Hopefully, it won’t be heard again. The whole premise was fallacious. Christ and His church are inseparable. One can’t be preached, completely, without the other being preached. They go together.
Notice Acts 8:12, which reads, “But when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God (i.e., the church) and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” Later on in Acts, Luke recorded that Paul resided for two years in his own hired dwelling in Rome, receiving all those who came to see him, “preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness…” (28:31).
Philip and Paul (both men enabled by the Holy Spirit to do great signs, and undoubtedly guided by Him in the message they proclaimed, Acts 6:5-10; 8:5-7, 13; Galatians 1:11-12; 1 Corinthians 2:10, 13) each preached Christ and the kingdom of God.
Even a casual reading of the New Testament would convince anyone that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer! (See Acts 2:36; 4:10-12; 13:23, 38; Romans 3:24-25; 1 Timothy 1:15.) It is equally plain that the saved are added to the church, “translated” into the kingdom, which has been purchased by Christ’s blood (Colossians 1:13-14).
To be in Christ is to be in His church, which is the kingdom (Luke 1:32-33; Matthew 16:18-19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27; Ephesians 2:19-22). The church is the “house” (i.e., the family) of God (1 Timothy 3:15), and all of God’s children are in His family. He gave them the name, “Christian” (Isaiah 62:2; Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16).
Let us always preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:1-2; 15:1-3) as the very “heart” of our message, but let us also teach people the truth concerning the kingdom and what is necessary to become citizens thereof.
Three Important Questions
“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13). These three questions are set against the following background. “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, I am of Paul, or I am of Apollos, or I am of Cephas, or I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:10-12). The plea made by Paul in Verse 10 is fully supported by the three questions. All three questions are rhetorical questions having a negative answer. Consider thoughts from these three important questions.
The Question Over Division: “Is Christ divided?” The religious world is greatly divided, and many believe that such is acceptable to God. Jesus prayed for unity (John 17:20-21). Jesus died that believers might be united in His church (Matthew 16:15-23; Acts 20:28). The apostles worked that all who obey the Gospel have the same fellowship that they had with the Lord (1 John 1:1-3). It is human wisdom that created the problem of religious division. The inventions of creeds outside the Bible, organizations unsupported by the Bible and doctrines contrary to plain teaching of the Bible have made the sects that abound. Since there is only one Lord (Ephesians 4:5) there is to be only one body (Ephesians 4:4).
The Question Over Devotion: “Was Paul crucified for you?” Paul supplied his name to the question to squelch any thought of devotion made to him (or to any other person). All glory and honor are to be given exclusively to the Lord. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross places all devotion to the Lord. Paul wrote in the second letter to the Corinthians, “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if one died for all, then all died; and he died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Paul made that personal application, where he stated, “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Paul was converted to Christ, not mere men.
The Question Over Discipleship: “Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” Jesus said to the apostles, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). When many Corinthians were baptized as is recorded in Acts 18:8, they did not become disciples of Paul, but they became disciples of Christ. The Lord himself said to Paul about the apostle’s stay in Corinth, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). Everything about baptism unites the penitent believer with Christ, not any other. One’s old man is crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6). One is buried with Christ into His death through baptism into death (Romans 6:4). One is raised with Christ out of the watery grave (Romans 6:4-5). Baptism moves one into Christ (Galatians 3:27).