Drilling Deep in the Word

Factions

I Cor. 11:19

“For there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”Posted 1/10/14

By Reverend ray

“The revivalism approach to living the Christian life can tend to make it one that consists of fits and spurts. Edwards came to see that it was lived out, consistently, over the long haul.”

It is interesting to consider the broad spread diversity of the Christian religion that has manifested itself as nowhere else in the world as in America. It is safe to say that nowhere in the world does Christianity seem to be identified with such variation in religious opinion.

For example, in the little town I am from in central Pennsylvania, there is 3rd street that could just as easily be called Church St.

One could count eight churches over a one mile stretch. And there are 50 churches within a 16 square mile area representing every major denomination. This is typical of virtually every little hamlet, town and big city in America.

So, as an outsider looks on at this phenomenon, he must surely be asking how such variety could lay claim to the same origin for its dogma and belief system.

The answer to such a question must to a large degree be understood from Paul’s observation related to the church at Corinth. For no church endured as much division and faction in the early New Testament era than it.

Furthermore, Paul’s conclusion echoed the warning that our Lord gave to His disciples prior to His death and resurrection. He warned that tares would be mingled in with the wheat and that God would allow them to remain growing alongside the wheat until harvest time.

The parable teaches what had come to fruition in the Corinth church.

To the world this diversity is quite satisfying simply because it dilutes the authenticity and validity of the true church, leaving space for opinion as Lange observes; “On the stand-point of worldly wisdom, diversity of views and tendencies in regard to religious things is allowable; but on the Christian stand-point it is required that every thing within us be subjected to one Divine principle of life, and be brought into one fellowship of faith and love.”

Conspicuously absent from this diversity, which may be better described as divisiveness, is the existence of unity within the church.

Division was a problematic characteristic of the Corinthian church and Paul spent a large portion of two epistles dealing with the lack of unity.

But lest one misunderstand my meaning here, true unity, both in the mind of Paul and the true church has always been defined by doctrine. Where doctrine has remained pure, unity has been the natural outcome of the body.

Yet we cannot overlook a very vital element in the passage cited, that is, Paul states that factions must be among the church body that the genuine Believers are thereby more vividly defined.

It is interesting that the Greek word here translated; “must” is to be understood as by divine compulsion.

In other words, God not only allows such factions, but has ordained, as an instrument in the refining of the Churches doctrine. Someone has said that we are what we believe, so, throughout church history God has allowed factions within the church to rise up in order that she would refine and clearly define both by her walk and by her statement of doctrine who and what she really is.

This authenticity is then amplified by the contrast that is created over against the factions. Just as wheat and tares appear so similar in their immaturity, but are easily differentiated once they come to maturity, so the true church as it matures will appear more and more distinctive from those factions that the world finds solace in.

God masterfully uses even the vices of factions to refine and define His church in the world. Thus Paul was not at all disrupted by these sects as he viewed them and dealt with them, but found comfort in the fact that God had turned even this opposition into an instrument in His plan to present His church pure in every facet.

 

Dribble from the pen

 

 


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