October 29, 2009
The title of this paper notwithstanding, I do believe that we are in a Philadelphian church age, but for a different reason than you might think. However, there are some strong and stark parallels between the church of God at Corinth and this present day. At the same time, there is a sharp contrast between modern day Christendom and the way it was when the apostle Paul was completing his course.
I and II Corinthians were written to the church of God at Corinth. Galatians was written to the churches of Galatia. I and II Thessalonians were written to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father. These five letters are the only ones written to one or more churches. Do you see what these three (Corinth, Galatia, and Thessalonica) have in common? The commonality between them is that they all have a geographical name. There is no common denominational name. The seven churches of Revelation possess a geographical name, too. None have any further designation.
Lets pick, say Wichita, Kansas. Taking the information from above. What is the state of the church of God at Wichita as compared to the churches in the Bible? With a little bit of license, we can say that there is a church of God at Wichita (not the denominational name). It is comprised of saved people and lost people. Some go to each of the hundreds of the churches in the city. The contrast is that there was one church in a city versus hundreds in a modern day city. The reason for this relates to the parallels.
THE PARALLELS WITH THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH
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. - 1 Corinthians 1:10
The church at Corinth was divided. Paul beseeched them to speak the same thing, be perfectly joined together in the same mind. The church at Wichita is divided, too, as are the churches of Birmingham, Pensacola, Charlottesville, and every other city with a population big enough to have multiple church buildings. None speak the same thing. None are of the same mind.
Following Different Men
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. - 1 Corinthians 1:12
The church at Corinth was divided into four groups. One followed Paul, another Apollos, another Cephas, and the last followed Christ. The people in the “churches” in Wichita follow men with names like Luther, Calvin, Augustine, Peter, Stanley, Ruckman, Campbell, White the staff at Bible colleges and seminaries, etc. Some follow their pastor who follows one or another of the above.
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? - 1 Corinthians 3:1-3
The key characteristic in recognizing babes in Christ is by the existence of envying, strife and division among them. The Corinthians church was comprised of babes. By virtue of their division, the church at Wichita is comprised of babes.
There are other parallels like the preoccupation with spiritual gifts, especially healing, tongues and interpretations. It certainly looks like we are living in an age of strong parallels with the Corinthian church. We are living in a Corinthian church age.
There is only one fix to this situation. The Bible does specify the
Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. - 1 Corinthians 4:16
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. - 1 Corinthians 11:1
That fix is for people to follow Paul.
To be sure, Paul does give solid reasons for divisions to exist. Those divisions should exist between people that follow Paul, and those he specifies that they separate, and not between the various non-Paul followers.
I believe in a local church, but those churches don't have names in them like Baptist, Presbyterian, or Lutheran. I do not believe in multiple local churches in an area like say Wichita or Wagon Wheel, Oregon. The task of getting a local church at Wichita to speak the same thing is monumentally larger than for Wagon Wheel.
Missing the men to do the job!
In either case, God provides the resources to work together with him to accomplish what he instructed the church at Corinth. What is missing are the men that can and will accept that grace.