The Apostle Paul is giving advice to church members in Corinth. Contention had set into the church, and many of its members had chosen sides. Some said they were of Paul, even though Paul had been absent from them for some time and had been unaware of the division`s occurrence. Others had shown support for Apollos, who had come to the Apostle Paul with the report of this division, thus prompting the epistle. The majority placed their support behind Cephas, who is pastor of the church at the time.
Paul reminds the group of his labors among them. "I have planted" he declares. And he reminds them of the labors of Apollos: what Paul had planted, "Apollos watered." But, Paul points out, God had given the increase. And, apparently, he had given it to Cephas [1 Cor. 3:6], something Apollos had refused to accept.
What Paul declares about such contention is this: its nature is carnal; it is after the flesh. And then he asks three questions that summarize the basis of our Christian faith: "Is Christ divided?" "Was Paul crucified for you?" "Were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"
Consider Paul`s first question: "Is Christ divided?" Ask yourself, "Is there a difference of opinion in his teachings?" I have not found any. I can find no contradiction in his teachings about his identity or his destiny. He did not teach salvation in a multitude of ways: he simply proclaimed that no man could come unto the Father except by him. He presents us with one gospel and one faith for the body of believers.
Paul`s second question raises the issue of man`s involvement with our redemption: "Was Paul crucified for you?" Most of us readily admit that we have no grace about us that could help in our own redemption. Why, then, do we think that other men have such grace? There is only one Jesus of Nazareth, who was virgin born in Bethlehem and later crucified in Jerusalem. No Christian claims salvation in any other person. Jesus paid our sin debt. Man cannot add to the sacrifice Christ made at Calvary, either for himself or for others. Still, men champion churches and religious movements started by various leaders as if there is some special grace to the use of their name or the acceptance of their doctrine.
Our redemption must be based on Christ, and on Christ alone. Can any child of God deny the salvation of one who testifies of their faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ? Can any child of God deny the witness of the Spirit of Christ within the heart and life of his neighbor because their membership is not in a specific denomination or their name is not associated with a certain religious affiliation? Was any man crucified for us?
Paul`s third question crystallizes our profession of faith. The Apostle asks, "Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul?" Think back to your baptism. Whose name did you claim? If you were too young to remember, you might consider being baptized again. Our faith is based on one testimony: the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We do not baptize converts in our own name or in our church`s name. We do not build congregations loyal to us: we baptize men and women, boys and girls in the name of Jesus Christ: the only begotten Son of God the Father and the One whose Holy Spirit is the unity of the body of Christ.
Ask yourself the question: "In whom do I trust?"