CHRIST DIVIDES MEN
I Corinthians 1:18-31
by Cooper Abrams
Introduction: I recently received the following e-mail concerning the material on my Web Site Bible Truth:
"Contention is of the Devil and that's what your articles try and spread. Why don't ya'll spend sometime living gospel principles instead of persecuting others, maybe you are like the Pharisees who persecuted Christ?"
The use of the word "ya'll" identifies the writer as a Southerner, and is humbling to us Southerners who might think everyone in the South is smart and intelligent and knows the Bible! Truly, this person who was trying to advise me knows nothing about the Bible or what he is talking about.
1. Christ died as he lived, the object of love or scorn. Some openly loved and followed Him, others scornfully rejected Him. Everywhere Christ went there was trouble. Many tried to kill Him. Why? What was it He did that got people so worked up? Is not the Lord Jesus the God of Love?
a. In Luke 23:26-31, V27-28, a great number of people followed him including women, they mourned and wailed for Him as He was being crucified..
b. V32, says there were two men crucified with Him. Verse 39, says one of them, a criminal, insultingly shouted at Christ, Aren't you the Christ, save yourself and us! What in the world brought that on! Why did this man, being crucified himself shout so angrily at the Lord?
c. However, this man was rebuked by the other criminal being crucified, "Don't you fear God, seeing you too are sentenced to die, We are punished justly, but this man has done nothing wrong." Then he ask Jesus to remember him when you come into your Kingdom.
That very day that man was in paradise with Christ, the other woke up in Hell, and is there at this moment awaiting the Great White Throne Judgment and eternal damnation.
Even in His death...Jesus divided these two men.
2. Folks there is no middle ground, not then not and not now! Even to reject Christ through indifference is to oppose Him.
3. I Cor. 1:18, says, that preaching to those that perish is foolishness, but to others it is precious, the means of hearing salvation and receiving eternal life.
4. I wrote this message after I read a book by Dr. J. Vernon McGee, by the same title "The Cross Divides Men" and Dr. McGee gives a most interesting exposition of this verse.
a. In 1 Cor. 1:18, preaching is the word, "Logos" which simply means "word." It does not the foretelling, or speaking.
b. John 1:1, Uses the same word, "Logos." "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Jesus Christ is the "Logos" the "Word."
d. The word "foolishness" is interesting. It is Greek word, "moria" and in English it is word "moron." It literally means "stupid" or good for nothing.
e. "Power" is Greek word, "Du-na-mis," The English word "Dynamite"
In Greek, it means to the "nth" power. Dynamite is misnamed, atomic power is much greater.
f. Thus the verse is saying that to those who reject Christ the preaching of the Cross is stupid or foolish. These misguided souls totally refuse to acknowledge the Jesus Christ's suffering on the Cross means anything. On the Cross Christ was suffering for their sins as well as the believer's, yet these people could care less.
However, to those believed and are saved...the preaching of the Cross is the most powerful thing in the Universe. The Gospel is what saved, them changed their lives and gave them true abiding peace.
5. There are two groups of people who hear the Gospel Message:
(a) To one group the Cross of Christ is good for nothing and foolish.
(b) To the other group the Cross of Christ is the power of their life discovered when they trusted Christ as their Savior.
6. The question is to each of us: What Group are we in? You are in one or the other! There is no middle ground on this question.
a. One Group depends on church membership, baptism, taking the communion, good works, doings sacraments, obeying their prophet or church officials, etc to merit heaven, or they just ignore Christ all together. Some in the group might speak highly of Jesus Christ, but not enough to follow Him or believe in Him and be saved.
b. The other group, will do obey the Bible instructions and join a church, be baptized, obey the Lord, and yet there is a big difference in why they do it. They are not trusting in these religious acts or good works to save them. They are trusting in the Grace of God, and the Cross where Christ shed His precious blood for them.
7. Some believe that because God is love He overlooks sin. These people, many who are very religious, will kill you in love. The false religious people are the most dangerous people in the world. If you know anything about the coming Great Tribulation, the Bible says the evil world leader called the Anti-Christ will come to power aided by the False Prophet a world wide religious leader.
Do you get the point? False religion will has a large following. In fact most of the world's people are involved in false religions that have gods that do not exist and cannot help them. Almost all the wars men have fought is in the name of their religion....in the name of their god. Like the person who wrote me and strongly criticized me....religious people in false religions are the most dangerous people in the world. September 11, 2001 is a good example. These Muslims who worship a god that does not exist hate everyone who does not worship Allah. They murdered over 3000 people in the name of their god thinking they would go straight to heaven and there be rewarded with riches, glory, women (yes that is right). Sadly the instant they died....they awoke in the flames of hell fire. They most hate Americans because we have been a Christian nation. They deny the Deity of Jesus Christ, and hold their founder and prophet Muhammad above Christ Jesus.
I. Early in His ministry Christ began to Divide men!
A. Luke 8:33-39. Note the response:
The demon possessed man was healed and sought to follow Christ. He put on clothes, and was in his right mind.
The others, sought Christ to go away! They were fearful..and rightly so as this was the Lord Jesus Christ...yet they wanted nothing to do with him.
1. The main reason was that He had caused them financial lost...the herd of swine went into the sea and were lost. The Jews were not suppose to even touch swine were making money raising them and selling them to the Gentiles. Folks, to a lot of people business comes be their religion. The are not so serious about their religious beliefs as to let it interfere with their making money! It did not impress them that a crazed demon possessed man was freed and made whole. They were more concerned about the dead pigs!
2. Instead of seeking the truth, they refused to consider who Christ was and why he had done this.
3. Many today....do the same, They see saved people, they hear the Gospel, but they stand off, saying "I really do not want to be confronted with the truth. Let me alone. I don't want to think about it, go away!"
4. They you see reject Christ, with indifference. Christ did a wonderful miracle and good thing...but it caused division.
B. Matt. 10:1, Twelve men followed Jesus, and to them Christ gave get power. As you read the list of disciples you find the name Judas Iscariot in Verse 4. There was division even among Jesus's disciples...one was a lost man who would betray the Lord.
a. Jesus told these men in Verse 16, that He send them out as sheep in the midst of wolves.
b. Jesus warned them "Ye shall be hated of all men, for my names sake" (Verse 22).
c. What was this terrible thing that these disciple would be doing to get such a bad response from those they were being sent to? Verse 7, reveals there message: " Preach the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"
d. Was not Israel waiting for the Messiah? Had they not been waiting for thousands of years! Here was here....praise God....everyone would be excited and happy and rejoice at His coming. Right!?
f. Well, a few would...a very small number would, the rest were indifference or either wanted to murder Him. Folks the wanted to murder the Messiah. What did He do? Well he healed the sick, the blind, and the lame. He even forgave men their sins! And He preached righteous living....Godly living. To Jews the people of God....He told them they should obey their God! What Jesus explained to Nicodemus was surely proven to be true, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).
g. Jesus's good works and message divided the Jews. The believers gladly received Him...the unbelievers sought to kill Him.
Jesus Christ is the divider of men.
C. Matt. 11:7 Jesus address the great multitude of people.
a. In Verse 6 Jesus said, "Blessed is he whosoever is not offended in me." In Verse 19, these religious people called him a glutton and a wine bibber, or a drunk, and a friend of publicans and sinners.
b. In Verse 20, they rejected Him, and he left them alone..because
they would not receive the true and repent of their sins.
c. You see it is not Jesus who divides, but sinful men who love their sin, more than their eternal soul.
D. Matt. 12:47, Jesus healed a man with a withered hand, but in Verse 24, they accused him of being in league with the Devil.
Verse 14, says they held a council to plan a way to kill Him.
E. Matt. 16:13-18. Jesus ask who did men say He was. The disciples answers shows the people's division.
a. When He ask them who they thought He was it was Peter who boldly proclaimed..."Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
b. Peter was not speaking for all the disciple because in Matt. 26:47, the Bible tells us another disciple, Judas, betrayed him with a kiss.
II. There is no middle ground! Matt. 27:22-24
A. Pilate knowing that Jesus was innocent tried to remain in the middle.
1. First he offered them an easy choose. Barabbas or Christ. They chose the murder. Do you understand what was going on? The mob of Jews was crying for Christ to be crucified. This was the loving Jesus who had healed so many and done so much for so many people in Israel. These people asked that the cruel and hated Barabbas be released rather than Jesus.
2. When all else failed, Pilate washed his hands publicly, but turned Jesus over to the soldiers.
B. Pilate had no middle ground.
1. He heard and knew the truth!!!!! Yet he refused to act on it.
2. He tried not to be involved, yet his very soul lay in the balances.
C. Lets go back to Matt. 10 and read what Christ said about His coming and its effect.
"But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matt. 10:33-39).
Jesus said He came to put a "variance" between man and his own father, a daughter and her mother. In the home because of Christ a man would have foes in his own household. That sounds like Jesus said division would follow those who believed and followed Him.
That condemns the hellish teachings of the ecumenialists of today. They proclaim...let their be no division among us. Come together be brother and sisters and put aside doctrine and God's pure Word. Unity is move important that doctrine, more important than even God's truth. God wants us all together, right?!
III. TODAY EVEN IN DEATH, THE CROSS DIVIDES MEN.
A. There is no middle ground at death's door.
1. The Lord said in Matt. 7:13, "Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat."
2. Verse 14, "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
3. Then we read in Verse 15, Jesus warned "Beware of false prophets."
4. There is a division in eternity! It is Heaven or Hell. One or the Other. Eternity life or Eternal death. God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ is the divider.
B. Folks most tell you today, it all right to believe as you will, we are all going to heaven if we want to,.... each in his on way.
Many tell you, join a church - be saved
be baptized - be saved
take sacraments - be saved
be good - be saved
obey the prophet - be saved
C. But what does God say....that is His answer to the question?
1. John 14:6, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
2. Acts 4:12. " Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
3. Hebrews 12:25, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven."
4. Ephesians 2:8-9 , "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
To put off trusting Christ as your Lord and Savor is to be in the state of rejecting HIM!
Every day you put off Christ, is to mock the Cross and His suffering for you.
There is no middle ground, if you have not come to Christ by simple faith and been born again, made spiritually alive...then you have rejected Him.
If you are in a religion or church that rejects the Bible and its message then you have no hope and you are putting yourself at odds with your Creator and rejecting His word which is truth.
If you chose some other way, Church membership, baptism, good works...you have rejected him. That was the sin of the Pharisees...Christ showed up their supposed good works, as rejecting God Himself.
If you are lost, there is no middle ground, you are lost or saved.
If you are saved, God has changed your life and you are in the process of maturing from sin.
If you are not saved and changed you are lost.
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