My Thoughts. . .
Despite the false teachings and erroneous practices going on in the church in Corinth, when Paul addressed them, he described them as “the church of God.”
If a congregation near us was guilty of teaching and practicing the false doctrines the Corinthian church was charged with, would we use Paul’s phrases in describing them? An honest answer would be “NO.”
As we read that first letter, we discover the serious charges made by Paul against them. Despite those negative things being addressed, only the member described in chapter 5 was withdrawn from. Since withdrawal is not mentioned for anyone else in the congregation, there seems to be a contradiction.
How can God fellowship a congregation that we would avoid today? If He ignored their error, would He not be a party to their sins? If He forgave them before they repented and prayed, would that not have involved God in their transgressions? If sin causes an individual or congregation to be cast out of fellowship with God, why is only one person withdrawn from?
Is it possible that a congregation like Corinth can be continually cleansed by the blood of Christ despite their engagement in false practices? If a congregation must be free of all sin to remain in fellowship with Yahweh, where is that specific church? If perfection is not achieved and held by any assembly today, how can that congregation be the New Testament church? Did God give us “nice sins” which allow Him to ignore our congregational sins but not permit Him to do so with another assembly?
The Corinthian church was involved in the sins described by the Chloe family months before reporting it to Paul. Was the Holy Spirit still indwelling them during that time period? According to Paul, “Yes”! Did God withdraw from the entire membership? No. If not, why not?
For some, “A sound church” is one that has a certain number of beliefs and practices which that group classifies as faithful. If we possessed those specific items, we are accepted by them as a true body of Jesus. If we have additional practices which that group does not possess, we are accused of adding to God’s word which makes fellowship impossible. If our teaching and practices are less than their valid number, we are guilty of binding things which God does not require.
Some define “Unity” as being obtainable when all others precisely believe, teach, and practice as they do. If we surrender, then they may scripturally fellowship with us and unity will be achieved. This presents a problem which some refuse to recognize. Whose list of “soundness” is the correct one? If one congregation’s list has 40 requirements, but another is only 39, may the 40 rule one fudge 1 requirement in order to have fellowship? Which requirement may they ignore because fellowship is more important than that rule? Would that not also involve both assemblies in a problem? How many other rules may be surrendered to have unity?
The Corinthian church was guilty of how many things? What New Testament congregation was the pattern of perfection to be followed? Was Philippi the shining example? If so, Philippi was in fellowship with Corinth. Shouldn’t that fact be our biblical pattern? Who are the Philippi congregations today, and which ones are Corinth?
For some, the Lord’s supper each Sunday, is an identifying mark of a valid congregation. Corinth partook, yet Paul told them that it would be better if they had stayed at home. So, one may partake yet need to stay home. Yet, he still referred to them as “the church of God” and “the body of Christ.” He recognized that God still indwelt them because the Holy Spirit continued to gift them.
Since sin keeps us from being a perfect congregation, do we not justify our sins in order to claim “soundness”? The problem is each congregation makes up its own perfectionist rules. Then each decides how close another congregation is to their rules and if close enough, fudges a few so they may enjoy fellowship.
Since we would not fellowship Corinth as they were before they attempted to correct their faults, would that not make us guilty of refusing to follow the pattern that Paul and the Holy Spirit gave! There is a pandemic of sin in the world today, so, stay biblically safe!