Spiritual Identification With A Specific Preacher or Brand of Christianity Empties The Cross Of Christ Of It’s Power

It is a good thing that God has provided Godly men to teach us and to lead his church. These men are God’s chosen vessels to keep us from stumbling and being tricked by heresy.

Nevertheless, we are not to identify with these men: the only person worthy of our spiritual identification is Christ. These men are mortals and prone to error like us, and being baptized by them or brought up in their denominations does not give us any special legitimacy that other Christians lack. When we start identifying with religious teachers or denominations we lessen our dependency on Christ, and therefore lessen the legitimacy of our faith. Our faith only has power if it is focused on Jesus Christ, not a special church or a special preacher. The Apostle Paul warned that if his converts started to idolize him they would be cutting themselves off from the power of the cross:

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (I Corinthians 1:17 NIV).

Paul here is stating that he is glad that he did not baptize many of the Corinthians, because then they might begin to boast about who baptized them, rather than in the name of Jesus Christ into whom they were baptized (I Corinthians 1:13-16). (You are committing this same mistake today if you think your baptism has extra legitimacy because of some supposedly unique relationship your denomination has with God). Paul was also glad that he was not an eloquent speaker, because he did not want his listeners to become overly proud of their relationship with him and create a ‘church of Paul.’ If this had happened, “the cross of Christ” would “be emptied of its power.” What this means is that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross would no longer be able to save them from their sins, because they were not putting their trust in it. Instead of putting their trust in the shed blood of Christ, they would be putting their trust in the Apostle Paul.

Do not make the same mistake that some in the Corinthian church were making. Do not invalidate your faith by putting your pride and trust in your specific church or your preacher. Put your faith in Jesus Christ. Church leaders will rise and fall, but the best ones will point your attention away from themselves and towards Christ, where it legimately belongs.

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