We’re continuing our study of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church. He’s dealing with the factions that are dividing their fellowship. He now asks some questions that are particularly important.
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
1 Corinthians 4:7
The first question he asks could be asked in our generation. It literally says, who or what is it that makes you different and causes you to separate or withdraw from everyone else? This is a question that should be asked of most denominational leaders.
Think about the thousands of Christian denominations around the world. What is it that makes them so different from each other that they have to remain separate?
I like the study of church history. I read stories of the great men and women of faith who have done mighty things for the Lord. Many times, a following arose around their teachings. Eventually, it formed a new group or denomination.
I wonder sometimes, what these ministers of the Gospel think about the direction those who followed them took. Would they even recognize the organization that evolved into what we see on today’s church landscape?
“My denomination is better than yours. We’re closer to God.”
Are you? Is it the organization that brings you closer to God? Or is it about a relationship? Paul’s next questions bring that to light. What do you have that you didn’t receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it was you that did it?
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.
We have received an absolutely, over-the-top salvation from the Lord Jesus Christ. It was something that we could have never accomplished on our own. That’s the bottom line of Christianity.
Human beings are the ones who have added the denominational distinctives. These are the things that divide and separate us. Most of these things are spiritual insights that a minister received and taught. Then, an organization was built around it.
Actually, if you read the history of denominations, you’ll find that many groups separated over some of the most foolish things. Many of these have nothing to do with God but are simply preferences in the style of worship or who they’re comfortable worshipping with.
Having said that, I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with being a part of an organization. My church is a member of a denomination. What I am saying is that it’s not the organization that brings you closer to God.
Your personal relationship with Christ is the most important thing. This needs to be cultivated through your walk with the Holy Spirit.
But, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
2 Corinthians 10:17-18
Whatever your particular brand of Christianity is, let your walk with God be the most important part.
Question: What do we have in common as believers in Jesus Christ?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi