The apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that the Corinthians had been baptized by one Spirit into one body. The singularity of both the Spirit and the body in this text poses problems for a world filled with churches started by men and their doctrines. Jesus condemned the teachings of men being used as doctrine in place of God’s word in Matthew 15:9.
While teaching about marriage and divorce in Matthew 19:8, Jesus used the expression “from the beginning it was not so.” This is also true when it comes to a plurality of churches. From the beginning it was not so. Jesus said, “I will build My church”, Matthew 16:18. The church here is in the singular case. Did the Lord intend for His church to be singular and unique or did He mean to build all the many churches we have today?
A close look at the context of 1 Corinthians 12 will let us know. First let’s consider a few important points. Baptism by One Spirit as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:13, is not teaching that we are to be baptized in the Holy Spirit as some teach. It is by the direction or teaching of the Spirit that one is to be baptized. In this sense the expression “by One Spirit” is used.
The rest of the New Testament agrees with this, note that the apostle Peter taught the Jews on Pentecost that they had to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins, Acts 2:38. However, the words that Peter preached were by the inspiration of the Spirit who had come upon the 12, exactly according to God’s plan as Jesus had taught in John 15:26-27 and 16:13.
Further, the message of the Spirit was one in purpose and plan with the Father and the Son, John 12:49 and 1 John 5:7. The Spirit did not teach the inspired writers a different gospel. On the contrary, to speak another gospel means that person is to be accursed, Galatians 1:8-9.
The Holy Spirit revealed the mind of the Father to those chosen men, apostles such as Paul and Peter, along with New Testament prophets such as Luke and James. They in turn wrote down God’s word. Paul tells us this in 1 Corinthians 2:10-12; Eph. 3:4-5. He wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that all scripture is inspired by God and in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 that God’s word is truth. Keep this in mind while we consider that the apostle also rebuked the Corinthians for having divisions in the church in chapter 1 and verse 10 also wrote chapter 12.
God expects unity. Jesus built one church. The one Spirit revealed God’s word, which in turn was preached to a lost world, “and many of the Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized”, Acts 18:8. Into what were they baptized? They were baptized into the body of Christ, Galatians 3:26-27. There is only One body according to Ephesians 4:4. This One body is the church, Ephesians 1:22-23.
Note please, the author of this article is giving you the reader, book-chapter-and verse for you to read the truth for yourself.
Back to 1 Corinthians 12, this chapter is about unity. In verse 12, “the body is one and hath many members”. Contextually, the members are not different churches, but refer to different members of the Lord’s church. The church consisted of people as the apostle says, “whether Jew or Greek or slave or free” they had all been made to drink into One Spirit, verse 13.
Though the church was made up of many members, they were all taught to act and speak as one. Paul said in chapter 12 and verse 27 that the Corinthians, were “the body of Christ and members individually”. What can we learn from this?
God hates division. God’s word demands unity. “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”, Ephesians 4:3, requires us to teach and do the same things. God’s people are to be One as the Father and Son are One, John 17:20-21.
Why are there over 1000 named churches around the world that teach and believe different things? Are they all the One church Jesus said, He would build? Consider this, how can obeying the One Spirit, Who reveals the One revelation of God produce more than One spiritual body?
God’s plan does not produce many churches. It is man himself who has changed God’s word and plan producing confusion in religion. God is not the author of confusion but of peace, 1 Corinthians 14:33. Changing what is written is condemned, 2 John 9 and Revelation 22:18-19, and will lead to spiritual death.
Jesus said “Every plant that the heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted” Matthew 15:13. Stop and consider where and how you worship God.
Robert Knowles is a member of the McArthur Heights Church of Christ and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.