"Cephas is our leader" "We follow Apollos" "I'm of Paul" "Are Ye Not Carnal?" "Is Christ Divided?"
Our Church has many missionaries who pass through on deputation as they try to raise prayer and financial support to go to some mission field. Some of these missionaries visit 100 - 250 churches before they get the support they need. They have a much better feel on the pulse of independent Baptist churches today than I do, so I ask them, "what is it like out there?" The response is "not good."
Upon further interrogation missionaries confess to me that there is worldliness, covetousness and compromise in the churches. Another theme that keeps repeating itself is the issue of "camps." Some missionaries are met with a pastoral inquisition "whose camp are you in?"
What is a camp? A camp is an allegiance among various groups of independent Baptists. The allegience could be to a certain Bible college, pastor, leader or fellowship within the independent Baptist churches. The allegiance is so great sometimes that they will separate from other good independent Baptists contentiously.
Now I am an independent Baptist by conviction. I was not born an independent Baptist. I was not saved in an independent Baptist church. I became an independent Baptist by Holy Ghost conviction through Bible study. I do not believe there is any church anywhere in the world that is closer to what the Bible teaches in doctrine, practice or behavior than us. I do not say that proudly but humbly.
For twenty years I have been an independent Baptist by conviction and find no reason to change. I see some independent Baptist churches that I must separate from because of serious offenses in those churches. (Using other Bibles beside the KJB 1611; rock & roll music, "contemporary contemptible music;" lowering standards and blatant worldliness, etc.) Many other independent churches are still solid though not perfect. They are still sound in doctrine and are contending for and defending the faith. The Great Commission is still at the forefront of their minds and efforts. Missions is the heartbeat of their church. They love the souls and the children of their communities. Yet some independent Baptists separate from good churches because they are not in the "same camp."
That brings me to the subject. The Bible is not silent on this issue. I thought the carnal Corinthians fought this battle over 1900 years ago. The instructions the Apostle Paul gave to the church of Corinth seem quite plain and clear to me. Let us take a look.
1st Corinthians 1:10-13, "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"
This large church in Corinth (4:15?) had divisions among them. The Lord wanted the church to be "perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement."
One family in the church, the house of Chloe, was so concerned for their divided Church that they reported it to the apostle Paul. Paul dealt with the problem in writing naming names. One camp even took his name -"I am of Paul." One camp said, "We follow Apollos." Yet another said, "Cephas (Peter) is our leader." Others said, "We are of Christ."
Then Paul asked this powerful question "Is Christ divided?" He went on to put himself down-"was Paul crucified for you?" "Were you baptized in the name of Paul?"
Would to God that we would have independent Baptist leaders who would "... condescend to men of low estate." (Romans 12:16). "For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceivethhimself." (Galations 6:3). Are some of our leaders deceived. Jesus "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant..." (Philippians 2:7). When some of the church wanted to set up a camp of allegiance to Paul, Paul said "stop it!"
Paul did not drop this subject or treat it lightly. In 1st Corinthians 3:3-7 Paul taught, "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase."
Camps are carnal. Paul stated this three times! (vs3-4). Who is Paul, who is Apollos? Powerful questions answered in v7-"so then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, BUT GOD that giveth the increase."
Paul concludes his argument in 1st Corinthians 3:21-23, "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's."
Is that clear or what?!? - "Let no man glory in men!" I do not have any problem understanding this, do you? Why do independent Baptists disobey this? I thought if we loved the Lord we would keep His commandments?
ALL ARE YOURS! All!!! Not one, but ALL! Every independent Baptist leader who is right with God can help you. Do not cut them off. Glean from each of them what can help you in the faith. There are many independent Baptist preachers, churches, colleges, newspapers, etc. that can help us. God can speak to us through them.
One final word-Paul says in 1st Corinthians 4:6, "And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another." Do not be part of a group that thinks of men above that which is written. Do not be puffed up for one against another. Fight this carnality in your life and in the church.