1 Corinthians 1 … Consider His Divine Dichotomy

Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment, (1:10).

If you ever had the opportunity to do an overview study of the Bible, you may be familiar with some of the key words, phrases or themes assigned to each book. I was taught an easy way to remember the purpose of 1 Corinthians is “correction.” This letter from Paul offers many opportunities to concentrate on the errors, disunity and immorality of the early church in Corinth. But as we remember our goal, that He might increase in each chapter of Scripture, people, and even their failings will decrease as our primary focus.

So, why did Paul write this letter to the church in Corinth? Paul had received word from Chloe’s people of problems causing divisions and quarrels.

Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you, (1:10-11).

NIV Study Bible offers the following four purposes for Paul’s writing as: “(1) to instruct and restore the church in its areas of weakness, correcting erroneous practices…; (2) to correct false teaching concerning the resurrection…; (3) to answer questions…; (4) to call the church to obedience…”

When Paul wrote “that there be no divisions among you,” notice what he did not say. He did not say there were to be no divisions at all; but no divisions among or between the saints. In other words, there was to be unity regarding the essentials of the faith, (you can read mores on Paul’s discussion of non-essential beliefs in Romans 14).

When we are called to God by His calling, we are called to be sanctified, set apart in Christ Jesus.

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours, (1:2).

And that will naturally (or supernaturally) cause division.

The divisions and quarrels the church in Corinth were experiencing however, were centered around their allegiance to human leaders.

Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1:12).

As Paul redirects their allegiance to only One, Christ, he turns their attention to a division of another sort, God’s perfect division, His Divine Dichotomy.

Consider His Divine Dichotomy

A Dichotomy is defined as “a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.”

Because He is God, He is entirely different than any and all humans; there is a great divide between the Divine and the human. There is a Divine Dichotomy, for His ways are not ours.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9).

And because His ways are entirely different, they are both opposed to, and by, mankind. Paul would go on to instruct and correct the early believers in His Truth; His Truth that was diametrically opposed and entirely different to the truths the world so often embraces.

And what was at stake for the church in Corinth, was the message of the gospel, the word of the cross.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God, (1:18).

And perhaps His Divine Dichotomy is no more greatly expressed than through His Way of Salvation, through the cross of Jesus Christ, so opposed and entirely different from man’s perceived ways to God.

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God, (1:21-24).

While the Jews hunted for signs and the Greeks busied themselves in their quest after wisdom, He would proclaim His Divine Dichotomy; more powerful than any sign; wiser than the most sagaciously prudent.

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men, (1:25).

Because He is Divine, He and His Ways will always be entirely different from ours. And His Divine Dichotomy is understood between two contrasting options, His Ways or ours.

  • His Divine Dichotomy: Faith in the Word of the cross or faith in the works of the flesh.
    • For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God, (1:18).
      • For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith, (Romans 1:16-17).
      • For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast, (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • His Divine Dichotomy: Faith in the Power of God or seeking after the manufactured miracle.
    • For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God, (1:22-24)
      • The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him. 12 Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation,” (Mark 8:11-12).
      • As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah,” (Luke 11:29).
  • His Divine Dichotomy: Take hold of the Wisdom of God or pursue the philosophies of man.
    • But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord, (1:30-31).
      • …Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument, (Colossians 2:2-4).
      • See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, (Colossians 2:8-9).

A dichotomy is a division between just two things, and only two. When a situation is presented as having only two possibilities, when in fact there are more, this is regarded as a logical fallacy or false dichotomy.

Many are hard at work in their attempt to convince us that the claims of Christ are but a fallacy, a false dichotomy, insisting that Jesus is only one way to God.

But Jesus did not say that. He, in fact proclaimed His Divine Dichotomy.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” (John 14:6).

Two, and only two, contrasting options. His Divine Dichotomy: His way or ours.

How do we respond to His Divine Dichotomy?

We begin by acknowledging that He is so entirely set apart in His Holiness, and admitting there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn the right into His Presence. We must boldly accept by faith that Jesus has done for us what we could never do for ourselves; He has given us life by the Spirit.

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life, (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

With grace and love He extends His invitation to receive His eternal life; but the choice is ours; for whoever will believe.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).

And choices continue. Let’s choose today, and everyday, to embrace that we have been called to be an extension of His Divine Dichotomy; that we would live entirely different from the world around us, committed to serve Him in sincerity and truth.

“Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” (Joshua 24:14-15).

May we choose wisely, that we would joyfully accept His Divine Dichotomy for our lives and our service; even when it means we go against the tide; even when it means we are entirely different and opposed to the cultural norms.

Let’s Grow Together!

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