When you get my age sometimes you really have to stop and think (especially at this time of morning). So, I was thinking, "Who DID baptize me?" Then, I remembered! It was in August of 1967, at Moss's Mill in the Hollingsworth community, after an August revival. This particular summer revival was preached by my home church pastor, Rev. W.A. Trotman. I don't know if our little church was too cheap to bring in a visiting pastor or not....Regardless, I distinctly remember both the night I threw my lot in for Jesus and also the hot, hot afternoon I was baptized. Our text this morning is 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.
Paul is beginning to "dig in" here and address the specific issues going on in the church of Corinth. He names as the most fundamental issue that the church had begun to be divided according to who had baptized whom. And, what, most likely was at the root of that? Pride. "Well, I was baptized by Paul!" "Did you know that Apollos baptized me?" And so forth. Stinky, old pride! It is no accident that we read in Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV) - - -
Bible-believing ministers today do not baptize in their own name, heaven forbid! (If you are in a church where that is done, you'd better run...and FAST!) Most often, the minister who is baptizing a new convert says something similar to this:
"Based on your profession of faith, I baptize you, my (brother or sister) in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Buried in the likeness of His death, raised to walk in newness of life."
At least, that is what is spoken in the Baptist denomination. But, the most key point is that the person is baptized in the Name that most accurately describes our Triune God, Father, Son, Spirit, not in the name of a man, which seems to have been occurring in the Corinthian church.
So, senseless, prideful divisions have been the trend in local congregations since the early church, have they not? That does not make such behavior Christ-honoring. It is not hard to see how these prideful divisions led to a fractured gospel and to the people diving off into further sin.
Today, we still tend to have divisions in the local church, and should pray to the Lord that these be minimized, for the glory of God (rather than for the glory of man). Even worse, we have many Christian denominations, some who have a less-accurate interpretation of the Scriptures than others. For example, whether to "sprinkle" or "pour" in baptism is less an issue than whether we should worship the Virgin Mary and pray to her.
The more opaque the Scriptures are about a teaching, the greater the propensity for divisions and spiritual pride. An example of this would be "when the Rapture will occur", or even if there will BE a Rapture (some believe that). I think that is fine to study the Scriptures and form an opinion. But, remember, the Pharisees completely missed the Savior, and they studied the Scriptures harder than anyone (supposedly). So, I think that a heaping helping of humility is called for when the Scriptures are not perfectly clear.
One thing we must be clear on is this: there is one gospel, and that is the saving gospel of God's grace toward us, only through His Son, Jesus Christ. Grace which leads to us putting our total faith in Jesus Christ's finished work: faith plus....nothing. Let's all "speak" that and be of one mind (vs. 10).
You know, I was reading the other day and was rather appalled to discover that some Bible teacher was putting forth that Peter preached one gospel of Jesus Christ and that Paul preached another. (SMH - - - which, for the uninitiated means "shaking my head".) This is not of God, Y'all. This is the very thing that Paul was warning against in this passage!
Spiritual discernment followed by obedience with humility and brotherly love lead to unity. Yes!
Father, You and I both know that zeal for my Savior can sometimes be contaminated by pride. I know it better than most. Help us to be watchful of that horrible, sinful pit and to recognize when we are about to step (or have stepped) into it. Lift us out, by Your strong arm, and forgive us for when our pride has harmed our relationship with You and caused division in Your Body, the Church. In Jesus' name, amen.