1 Corinthians 3-4, Psalm 142
A number of years ago, while in Italy, my wife and I visited Rome. We wanted to visit the site of Peter's supposed burial site, so we went down to the Crypts. To my surprise, there was a huge crowd of people crying, kneeling and throwing their prayer requests in the enclosed area of the tomb of John Paul II. Also at St Peters's Basilica is a large statue of St Peter. Pilgrims coming to the basilica over the years touch and kiss the right foot of the statue praying to Peter that he be merciful and open the gates of heaven for them. I have gone three times with Calvary Chapel of Old Bridge to Israel. One area we always go to is the wailing wall (the base of the temple mount). This is the closest readily available site to where the Temple once stood. It is a huge area for prayer where Jews and Christians come and place their prayers in the crevices of the wall. This is done by Christians despite Jesus' words to the woman at the well in John 4:21,23, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father...But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him." This pride in where we choose to worship or who our pastor might be, extends in all Christian circles.
This problem was apparent in the Corinthian church. We read in 1 Corinthians 3:4-8, "For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor." So Paul emphasizes the fact that those used are merely faithful vessels of Christ. No man gets the glory, it should all be given to God who alone has the power to save. He concludes this section in 1 Corinthians 3:21-23, "Therefore let no one boast 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 you are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
Besides the examples above many might remember the mass suicide and murder in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978, of the followers of religious leader, Jim Jones. Others might remember the followers of David Koresh in Waco, Texas who died following their leader in 1993. Whenever we elevate any individual we are in trouble. Jesus says in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." This is an absolute, unwavering, exclusive statement from the lips of Christ. So, when Christ, Himself, says He and He alone is our gate, our way, it is foolish for any of us to elevate one denomination or one pastor over another. Every denomination over time tends to go astray, forming it's own traditions often contrary to Scripture. Every pastor or church leader is a sinner saved by grace. As such, he, like us, can fall. If and when he does, those who place their faith in that man rather than Christ find themselves without direction and questioning their own faith. May we all fix our eyes on Jesus and His Word which will never falter or fail us.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: