"...but try the spirits whether they are of God..." (1 Jno. 4:1)
|Volume One, Number One||Winter 1991|
In every age God has condemned division among his people and has commended unity. Solomon mentions seven things God hates, and in that list is the "man that soweth discord among brethren." (Proverb 6:19) The Psalmist uttered the words, "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." (Psalm 133:1 ) Not all good things are pleasant, and not all pleasant things are good, but unity is both good and pleasant. Paul informs us that "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace." ( I Corinthians 14:33) In view of this passage, a divided religious world can not claim God as its author. Jesus said, "Every kingdom divided against itself shall not stand." (Matthew 12:25) In this verse Christ sets forth a principle that applies to any institution. Whether it be a home, school, city, nation, or even a church; division spells its doom. If this divided religious world is a picture of the Lord's church, His church must fall according to his own teaching. But every Bible student should know that denominationalism is not the church of the New Testament.
If the Lord had intended to have even two different bodies of people, he would have made such an arrangement in the beginning. The Jews and Gentiles were a separate people. They had different backgrounds, customs and ideals, yet the Lord did not build one church for the Jews, and another for the Gentiles. He said, "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold. Them also must I bring and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." (John 10:16) Instead of encouraging division he "made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition." (Ephesians2:14)
The seed of denominationalism was sown in the church of Corinth, but was rooted up by Paul before separate churches were formed. To this church he said, "one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ, Is Christ divided?" (I Corinthians 1:12,13) The meaning of this rebuke was clear. Since Paul was not crucified for them, and since they had not been baptized in his name, it was sinful for them to wear his name. In verse 10 he said, "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." This is the kind of unity that Christ prayed for. Concerning his disciples he prayed, "that they all might be one; as Thou, Father art in me, and I in Thee: that they may also be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (John 17:21) Believers must be one as God and Christ are one. They are one in teaching, aim and accomplishment. According to his prayer believers must be one visibly. The unity must be seen so that "the world may believe." With this divine instruction before us we cannot be friendly toward God, and at the same time favor religious division. He is not the author of it, but hates it; and Christ prayed that it would never be found among his disciples.
What is the basis of unity? It is not my opinion, nor your opinion. It is not this, nor that creed. No human creed can ever be accepted by all. It is the Bible! The Bible and it alone is the basis for unity. It contains the will of God and produces unity among all who follow its precepts. Bible teaching never causes division, man's teaching does that. Denominational names and practices is what has caused division in the body, but the Bible never has. When man introduces something and insists that it is as good as God's teaching. division occurs. Let us all walk by divine rule. (Thomas McDonald's address is P.O. Box 552, Duncan, Arizona 85534)
CHALLENGE is published quarterly by Challenge Publications.
Jerry D. McDonald, Editor; Michael P. Hughes, Associate Editor.