Saturday, 15 November 2014
For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 1 Corinthians 11:19
Paul had just said, “when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you.” After that he said, “and in part I believe it.” Immediately after that, he begins this verse with “for.” The word in Greek is dei. It implies “because.” It is the logical outcropping of any such type of assembly that “there must also be factions among you.” In other words, there will inevitably be sects or divisions within the congregation which will spring up.
An interesting confirmation of this is found in the book of Acts. From Acts 1-12, the Jewish church is highlighted and the focus is heavily on Peter. However, from Acts 13-28, the Gentile church is highlighted and the focus is almost exclusively on Paul and his ministry. Read the following seven sets of verses from Acts, noting the same term “one accord” in each –
*These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. Acts 1:14
*When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. Acts 2:1
*So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, Acts 2:46
*So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, Acts 4:24
*And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Acts 5:12
*And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. Acts 8:6
*it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Acts 15:25
Seven times this term “one accord” is used. The last such occurrence was in 15:25 at the Council in Jerusalem. After that, the term is never used again in the book of Acts. It was a common trait of the early Jewish church; it is a trait which is completely lacking in the developing Gentile church. It can be understood from this that it was expected and recorded early that the Gentile church agreed (and continues to agree) on very little.
Paul’s words show us that such factions exist because it is inevitable that they would exist. It is no surprise to God and it is actually a necessary outcropping of the Gentile church. If there were harmony in all the churches and that harmony included actual heresy, then everyone would be participating in heresy. At this time, the Roman Catholic Church, for example, is riddled with bad doctrine and outright anti-biblical practices. If they were “the church” then everyone would be in the same boat.
If this were the case, then the only expected result would be complete judgment on the church, the entire church – just as there was on the nation of Israel and on the temple when they followed that same path of apostasy. But rather, in Revelation, Jesus is noted as walking among the lampstands (which represent the churches) and when one church falls to a level of apostasy where it is no longer a church, He removes its lampstand, signifying that He no longer considers it a valid entity. (See Revelation 21-2:5).
It is an ingenious system of protecting the church throughout the Church Age. In seeing these factions, the people could then research and see “those who are approved may be recognized among you.” A classic example of this is the Protestant Reformation. There was a schism in the church which necessitated seeing who was in fact approved by God (meaning who was adhering to the word), and who wasn’t. This cycle is repeated often as churches move away from Scripture and new leaders arise who hold fast to its truths.
Life application: God knew in advance what would occur within the church and He gave us many interesting clues to show us this. He also expects us to pay attention and to cling fast to those who hold to Scripture, not deviating from its precepts. To fail to do so will only lead to not being approved by Him and to being rejected as a body of believers.
Heavenly Father, thank You so much for those I attend church with. Thank You for those who read Your word, believe Your word, and cling to Your word. They demonstrate a soundness of believer that I wish to emulate and highlight in my own life. Give me the desire to reject any teacher who strays from what You have written and keep me on the safe, sure, and sound path which leads to glory. How I love Your word; how I thank You for those who share this passion! Amen.