Contact Us

  • Phone: (509) 747-3007
  • Email:
  • Mosaic Address:
    606 West 3rd Ave., Spokane, WA 99201

Service Times

  • Sunday:  8:30 am, 10 am, 11:30 am
  • Infant through 5th grade Sunday School classes available
  • FREE Parking!



Back To List

Sep 11, 2011

Being of One Mind Without Losing Yours

Passage: 1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Life Together--First Corinthians

Category: Christian Walk

Keywords: unity, harmony, oneness, church


Unity among God's people in any local church is always a big deal. But what about unity in the city church, which is what Paul addresses in I Cor. 1. This message seeks to deal with the issues and mindset that will lead to a unified people of God in Christ.


Being of One Mind Without Losing Yours

I Corinthians 1:10-17

September 11, 2011 

I’ve entitled this morning’s message “Being of One Mind without Losing Yours.”  The first part of that title comes directly from vs. 10 of I Corinthians 1. 

      If you were here last week, hopefully you’ll remember that Paul has just reminded every believer in Corinth that they are a new person in Christ, called to be holy, actually treated and viewed as holy in Christ, called by God himself “saints”, and wholly different people now that they are in Christ. 

      Remember the analogy?  We’re not a bunch of earth-bound, stupid ostriches.  We’re now eagles whose nature is to fly and soar above the world with an entirely new life and new view of life.  But when we instead choose to walk in sin, we forfeit the experience of soaring on the winds of the Holy Spirit and spend our energies running around like the rest of mankind—earthbound, limited vision, limited wisdom, head-in-the-sand about what is truth and what really matters. 

So, having reminded us of the kind of beings we really are now as followers of Jesus Christ, Paul turns to the first major problem he wants to address in the Corinthian church.  It is one I have yet to not see in any church anywhere.  It seems to be the favorite tool of Satan in rendering God’s people weak and ineffective.

The NIV translates Paul’s words this way in vs. 10,

“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

Paul give a clear call.  What is it?  “All of you agree with one another….”  Wow, that’s a pretty tall order, no?  I don’t agree with myself much of the time!  My gentle, friendly, squirrel-chasing golden retriever doesn’t agree with me much of the time.  My kids don’t agree with me sometimes.  My wife…she always agrees with me…right? 

How on earth are we to “ALL agree with one another” in the church? 

It’s simple, isn’t it?  After all, the Christian church is known for its unity.  It’s known for its harmony, isn’t it? It’s famous for its lack of divisions or splits and fractures, right? 

In 1980 David B. Barrett, Christian missiologist researcher, identified 20,800 different Christian denominations worldwide.  In his revised 2001 research, that number had grown to 33,820 denominations.   That’s 13,020 new DENOMINATIONS (not independent churches, mind you) in 20 years.  That’s a 63% proliferation of groups in just 20 years!  That’s about 2 entirely new denominations in the Christian church every day of every year for the past 20 years.  And I’ve seen articles that think David Barrett is way too conservative in his estimates.  Mind you, this isn’t counting individual church splits.  We’d need a super-computer to keep track of that one! 

Aren’t you glad Paul waited to tackle the tough issues of church life until later in the book?

We’ll come back to just what Paul is calling the church to be and do.  But first I think it would be helpful to take a look at the specific form “divisions” took in this brand new, spiritually gifted and Spirit-filled first century Corinthian church.  Paul starts describing that in vs. 11.

11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

We’re not exactly sure who Chloe was.  It was a rather common name among usually well-to-do people in the ancient world.  The fact that Paul is hearing something from “some from Chloe’s household” would seem to indicate that either one or more of her servants or children had informed Paul of this Corinthian church problem. 

      Chloe might have been an important woman in the Ephesian church since we think Paul was possibly in Ephesus when he wrote 1 Corinthians. She may have heard about the problems in Corinth from someone in her household who might have traveled there.  Or Chloe might have been in the Corinthian church, possibly host to one of the house-churches there and someone from her house sent Paul word of the problems that were developing among the believers in Corinth.  Regardless of the messenger, here was the message:  there’s a lot of quarreling going on between different factions in the church!

      Just what were those “factions” all about.  To be honest, we’re not exactly sure.  Some scholars think that Paul chose the names of leaders known world-over in the early church as representative of the kinds of factions that had developed in Corinth.  But there seems to be plenty of historical evidence that he may have been talking about specific groups of Christians actually in Corinth at the time who were defining themselves by the church leaders they had chosen to follow or whose theology they had decided to hold to.

      Paul describes 4 distinct cliques within the Corinthian church.  Apparently there was still some measure of visible unity, but, as we shall see in later chapters, even when the church managed to come together physically, it was terribly fractures relationally.

Just what were these 4 groups mentioned about?  Well, it is possible that one of them was a “pro-Paul” group of loyalists.  They might have said, “We’re of Paul because he started this church and led us to Christ.  We’ll be sticking to our spiritual father’s leadership and teaching, thank you, and the rest of you would do well to do the same thing!”    

      It’s not hard to imagine this sort of allegiance, is it?  If you’ve ever been part of a new church led by someone who really has a gift of leading people to Christ and builds that church of new believers through faithful evangelism and sharing of the Gospel with people, then you know the “spiritual bonding” that goes on between that pastor/evangelist and those people.  It’s not unlike the emotional bonding that goes on between a child and its parents.  There is something deep that can happen when you bond with a spiritual leader who has played some important role in your spiritual birth or development. 

      APP:  Maybe that’s how you’ve felt about some spiritual mentor, coach or pastor at some point in your spiritual journey in Christ.  It’s not unnatural, but it can be dangerous.  If that allegiance to a person moves you to look down on others who don’t share that allegiance or to step away from seeing unity in Christ as more important than personality of leaders, you’ve got a problem. 

Then there were those who were impressed with or at least self-proclaimed followers of a man named Apollos.   Acts 18:24-26 introduces us to Apollos when it says this:

        24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

      This fellow was, in all likelihood, a fiery Jewish orator in a Greek culture that valued oratory.  He had probably preached at the Corinthian church.  Some were so drawn to his preaching that they said, “I follow Apollos.” 

Then there was a third group of devotees who said, “Well, I don’t know about Paul or Apollow.  Let’s get back to the beginnings of the church.  Peter led the first church in Jerusalem.  He’s a very down-to-earth Jewish guy. He was one of the first Apostles Jesus called and part of Jesus’ inner core of 3.  If it’s good enough for Peter, it’s good enough for me!” 

[Note:  Dionysius, bishop of Corinth about a century after Paul’s death, wrote that both Peter and Paul had planted the Corinthian church, though Paul was clearly the first to arrive and make converts there.]

Then there were the purists…or traditionalists…or “Jesus Only” group.  My guess is that they were probably the most obnoxious! They might have said, “You people may be of Paul or Peter or Apollos, but we’re of Christ!  We go back to the real foundation of the Church.  We don’t buy anything but what Jesus said specifically.  We’ll stick with His words alone, thank you.  By the way, when will John be finishing that 4th Gospel, anyway?”  So they smugly separated from the rest of the church, adding yet another fracture to an increasingly dividing church. 

Not a lot different from church divisions today, is it? 

1.)    There are those who are emotionally attached to some Christian leader who has helped them, as Paul helped the Corinthians.  They may idolize their leader.  They read only his books, listen only to his podcasts, begin to hold his theological positions.  They may take his political or theological positions on issues and hold to them regardless of the damage it may be doing to the unity of the church.

2.)    There are those who are drawn to dynamic or masterful preachers and communicators.  They may not even know the person personally but they are moved by their words every time they speak.  Their faith experience consists largely of being awed by what they hear, tuning in on a daily or weekly basis, either through some electronic means or in by showing up at a church site to be moved by what they hear…and then to go about their daily lives much as they were before. 

3.)    There are others who follow a particular school of theology or religious thought.  They don’t go from one person to another.  In fact, they pride themselves on never changing their theology.  They spend their life solidifying some theological position and feeling stronger and more right about it every year of life…whether their Calvinists or Arminians, dispensationalists or covenantalists, Pentecostals or fundamentalists. 

4.)    Then there are those who claim that they are not really following anyone but the Lord Jesus himself or doing church “like the first-century church did.”  (They usually don’t mean “the 1st-century Corinthian church, however, with all its divisions and immorality and selfish use of gifts, etc., etc.!)

I think the Holy Spirit left the exact nature of these divisions in the Corinthian church somewhat vague for a reason.  The particular issue or person who is causing the division in the Body of Christ is not the issue; the fact that there is division and fracturing is!

When it comes to fractured fellowship among God’s people, our creativity seems to know no bounds.  Just think of the various churches you have known that have split over someone or something.  Just in our limited experience as a corner of the church in the world today, what have been the causes or issues that you have seen or heard of as the catalysts for church splits and conflicts?  [Ask for feedback.]

If you’ve ever been in on a church split…or watched one from a distance…whether you wanted to or not, you will hear certain words like “Why are you doing this to OUR church?” or “These people simply won’t follow MY leadership.”  It may sound like, “They are changing our theology,” or “You’ll always be MY pastor.” 

      What you won’t hear a lot of is words like, “OUR Lord Jesus Christ,” or “God’s church in this city.”   You won’t hear a lot about what WE agree on about Jesus or how much we stand united about faith and salvation. 

When you listen to too many Christians today who have too little appreciation for the kind of oneness God wants us to have, it can tend to sound like one of two things:

1.)    Either they sound like a newlywed couple who is so starry-eyed about how “perfect” their spouse is that they really do think they have the “perfect marriage” OR…

2.)    …they sound like a bitter divorced person who can do nothing but blame their painful life on someone else by always highlighting the other person’s faults and minimizing their own.  

When I hear someone talk about how “perfect” their church is, how they’ve “never been in a church like this” or how “exciting it is to be in a church that is SO healthy,” a part of me thinks (and usually says) “Terrific! I’m so glad you are having such a neat and positive experience with the people of God right now!” 

      But another part of me wants to say (and usually doesn’t), “Yes, that honeymoon phase of marriage (and church) is a wonderful thing.  I hope it lasts a LONG time.  But one day, sooner or later, it will give way to a deeper love that recognizes that not all is as well as you once believed, that there are some serious and real challenges in this “marriage” called a church, and that the deepest and most bonding kind of growth usually comes through working through those challenges and immaturities rather than minimizing or denying them.”

On the other hand, when I hear people complain about a church or criticize a ministry or pastor, I want to say, “What exactly did you expect from a person or group of people who are still imperfect, still sin, are still immature and still need a Savior?”  And I want to ask, “So what have you learned about your own need for more growth and maturity and Christ-likeness through all this?” 

When it came to Paul’s SOLUTION to divisions in the church, he both gave some clear teaching and asked some critical questions.  Let’s start with the questions first and end with the teaching. 

In verse 13, Paul asks a series of rhetorical questions.  They go like this:

--Is Christ divided?  Answer:  NO.

--Was Paul crucified for you?  Answer: NO

--Were you baptized into the name of Paul?  Answer:  NO.

With the first question Paul seems to want to get a sort of visceral reaction against what is going on in Corinth.  “Is Christ divided?”  We might phrase it more like, “Is the Christ we serve dismembered, decapitated, chopped up like some axe murder victim’s body found in pieces in some deep freezer on someone’s back porch?” 

ILL:  Yesterday I was talking with a brother in the church here who had been reading about some of the horrible atrocities the Japanese had inflicted upon both prisoners of war (POWs) and subjugated peoples during WWII.  They would sometimes perform mass executions of people by first dismembering them and finally chopping off their heads.  If that image doesn’t make you shiver or your stomach churn, please tell person next to you so they can RUN right now! J  There is something deeply offensive and troubling about a human body that is dismembered. 

      How much more Christ?  Yet too many people in Christ’s Body, the church, live out their Christian experience as if they were “dismembered” from the rest of the Body of Christ.  They identify with only one small portion or muscle or body-part of the church in a community.  They really think that “their church” has the totality of the gifts that God gave to His body in a community.  They pretend that they don’t need the rest of the church…the other “churches” in a community…the other branches of theology, the other types of ministries.  They just need to focus on “their church”…which is really not “theirs” and really not “the church” as God intended it to be either. 

      If God saw fit to give us 4 different (but non-conflicting) accounts of the life of Jesus in 4 different Gospels, don’t you suppose that we need more than 1 pastor’s preaching in our life…or 1 teacher’s viewpoint…or 1 mentor’s coaching?  It’s high time that we saw our isolationist arrogance about what is really a divided Body of Christ for the ugliness that such divisions are to most of the watching world and to Christ himself.  Jesus isn’t interested in being dismembered from His Body one church split and faction at a time!

Paul’s next rhetorical question seeks to lay bare our tendency towards personality cults.  To those who probably thought Paul would love to hear that they were following his teachings (albeit at the expense of the unity of the church), he gave another visual image that was meant to shock:  “Was Paul crucified for you?” 

      In essence he was saying, “Well, if my leadership and teaching means that much to you, just take Jesus off the cross and put me up there.  Look to me for forgiveness, for cleansing from sin, for salvation, for redemption, for all the blessings that come to you through the cross.  Forget about Jesus.  Get your theology in line with your mouth and hail me as the one who died for you.” 

      Repulsive, right?  It is for anyone who knows Jesus as the true Lamb of God, the only perfect human being to ever live, God-in-human-flesh who absorbed God’s eternal wrath against my sin so that I might have life full and eternal with Him. 

Paul’s last rhetorical question was one that struck at the divisive nature of church traditions and the meaning of church symbols.  “Were you baptized into the name of Paul?”  And then Paul goes on to make it clear that not only did he not baptize people into his name; he also didn’t baptize many people at all!  The Church, the Body of Christ, was not to be all about certain forms or traditions or even sacraments.  It was to be about “the gospel”, about “the cross of Christ” and about “power” of that message and cross to transform lives. 

      The symbol or church tradition that Paul picked on in this letter was that of baptism.  He could have chosen any number of things that the church has fractured over in history or of late:  worship, music, leadership, structure, authority, doctrine, gifts, etc.  But he chose one that even today divides the church.

ILL:  Just this weekend, one of our boys came home from a game talking about how excited he was to find out that one of his coaches was a Christian.  But he encountered a little problem when he was informed that HE wasn’t a Christian unless he had been baptized.  Belief in Jesus and receiving Him as his own Lord and Savior apparently wasn’t enough, according to this brother.  I simply asked my son, “Then if baptism was so absolutely necessary for salvation and the Gospel to take effect, why didn’t Paul do more baptizing in Corinth and instead seemed to want to distance himself from baptizing people?” 

      I’m not trying to downplay something that Jesus obviously said was part of the disciple-making process.  I firmly believe that everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  And if you’re sitting here today, and you’ve put your faith in Jesus Christ through repentance and submission of your life to Jesus Christ, and you haven’t been baptized since you put your faith in Jesus as a believing follower of Christ, then I think you should be baptized.  It’s Jesus command and model for every Christ-follower. 

      But that is very different from saying that failure to do so means you are NOT a Christian.  When the practice of any external symbol or tradition becomes a divisive point in the body of Christ, something has really gone wrong. 

Let me show you how easily this can happen even with the best of intentions. 

STORY—of my encounters with a group of Christ-followers who were deeply interested in the unity of God’s church.  In fact, unity became the “dividing” factor in their theology.  They were right in one way to go back to something Paul is advocating in this very passage, namely seeing the Church of Jesus Christ as a singular body/entity in any particular community, not a bunch of unconnected and disconnected groups of people calling themselves “the church.”  They had, I believe, rightly identified ONE of the very elements of the solution to a divided church that Paul hammers away at in this chapter.  We saw it last week in the opening greeting when Paul talked about the church of God “in Corinth” being ONE CHURCH, not many and not known by some name or location but known as THE church in Corinth.  It is the clear sense that the “church” we are a part of and have been called to minister in is not Mosaic Fellowship or 1st Presbyterian or Orchard Christian or the Catholic Church or any other “church.”  It is that body of people in a city who have believed the gospel of Christ, have embraced the cross of Christ for their own sin and forgiveness and have put their faith in Christ, period! 

      This group was totally on-board with this understanding of the city church.  In fact, they taught it and articulated it clearly from Scripture.  But then they took it a step further and said that this truth was SO important that any other “church” that chose to be identified by any other “truth” than this one was NOT a true church.  The real effect was to define every other church and Christian in the community out of the sphere of “the church” leaving only their group/church inside the definition of the true church.  You not only had to believe in Jesus; you needed to believe what they believed about the church in order to be considered an obedient and Christ-following Christian. 

ILL:  concentric circles:  at the core is the simple Gospel of Christ.  Next level is all theologies.  Next is all traditions and practices.  We tend to focus on the outside in when it comes to what divides us.  Focusing on the inside out is our only hope of broader church unity.  Working together for discipleship needs to happen at the levels beyond the Gospel, but if we keep the Gospel central, we can and must cooperate for the saving of souls and advance of the Gospel.

This is one of the solutions Paul gives us for a divided church:  we must begin to truly envision and experience the Body of Christ as undivided in this city.


  • Chipley’s who serve in Awana @ 4th Memorial, BSF city-wide and numerous ministries here.
  • Conversation this week with Pat about a study group here on Monday nights vs. offering her expertise to City Church, another church plant in the West-Central area that has an extensive and effective “recovery ministry” that needs what she has to offer.
  • Harold Coleman—volunteering to help begin a “Christian recovery ministry” downtown that would be open to all churches but would probably start in 1st Covenant Church within a feeding ministry they have weekly to downtown residents and homeless. 
  • A pastor’s group I pray with bi-weekly that seeks the growth, success and progress of every downtown church and ministry that preaches Christ and the gospel. 

How we understand the heart of God and his plan for “the Church” WILL impact and inform our actions. 

So let’s finish today with a couple of additional things Paul tells us are the SOLUTION or ANTIDOTE to church division and fracturing besides a changed understanding of how God wants us to conceive of His church in Spokane.

2.)  It’s what Harold Coleman spoke about several weeks ago with that wonderful little visual aid of two people drawing closer to each other just as two legs of a triangle get closer together the closer you get to the top of the triangle.  If we all understand what we are all called to think and believe when it comes to God in Jesus Christ, then the closer we come to Christ, the more unity and harmony we should experience between and among ourselves. 

      Paul states it in vs. 10—“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

      That unity of mind and thought is clearly given in Philippians 2 where Harold took us and where Paul reminds us that we have “oneness” of faith, Lord, baptism, God and Faith, etc.  As a result, we must learn oneness of the attitude, mindset and heart Christ had when he “humbled himself” at every step of the incarnation and ultimately the crucifixion.  We will never be able to maintain the unity of Christ in our relationships to each other until we each individually adopt this heart and attitude of Christ about laying down our lives so that others can discover their life in Jesus. 

STORY:  About the LONG process of rebuilding unity in the Body of Christ in Spokane just between Fourth Memorial & Faith Bible Church starting in 1993. 

  • The pain of wounded people
  • The pride of divided saints
  • The constant prayers
  • The perseverance in the process of 10 years of work.
  • The breakthrough and culmination—sharing the Lord’s Supper first @ Faith, in silence, with hundreds of saints who wanted to show the love of Christ at a time of need and then @ Fourth Memorial in a combined service of humble repentance and reconciliation. 

CLOSE:  The Gospel of Christ never loses its power as long as we continue to make the cross of Christ our focus.  You can’t look at the cross and not see humility of spirit, sacrifice of secondary issues, the power of the love of God over the divisive pride of man.  You cannot get a clearer picture of what agreement between two differing desires but one united will looks like in God himself—the desire to love mankind and deal with our sin in a just and holy way as opposed to the desire of Christ to let the cup of suffering and sacrifice pass him by all tempered by the one will to do the Father’s bidding even when it cost so very much.

  • Is there anyone in the family of God with whom you are fighting, be it family member or spiritual brother and sister? 
  • Is there anyone past wound from some church failure or division that you need to let the power of the cross take away?
  • Is there anything going on in your head and heart that is eating away at your closeness to the Body of Christ? 
  • Do you need to reaffirm your allegiance to Christ alone as head of His church and let go of the tendency to hang onto people or tradition or symbol-centered allegiances that could easily be exploited by the Enemy of our souls to divide you from others in the Body of Christ, his Church?

COMMUNION:  the perfect place to celebrate our oneness in the core of our faith—faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Savior or our souls.