|Volume 2||May 1, 2003||Issue 6|
So Why All The Division If Everyone Wants To Have Unity?
In the previous issue of Diligence we read numerous Scriptures that revealed to us that unity God approved unity must be based on His Word and therefore must also be based on "...sound doctrine...." (If you wish to review that issue, it can be viewed online at the address listed at the bottom of page 4 of this publication). To conclude that we can establish unity with various denominations using a superficial basis and expect to have it approved of by God is not in accordance with the Scriptures. The love and unity spoken of in the Bible can not and must not exclude all other directives found in His Word. God demands that we follow the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth as revealed in His Word. Failure to do that is a "man made" kind of unity that cannot be what Jesus prayed for in John 17:20 and 21 (also see previous issue).
If a superficial unity contrived by man is indeed the ultimate goal that God would desire us to have, what then shall we do about those who are in grievous doctrinal error and perhaps even deny the most basic key elements of the faith? What about doctrinal error that is significant enough to perhaps cost them their very soul?
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.' Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'" (Matthew 7:21-23 NASB)
Can we really believe that we show love for others if we purposely choose to overlook their errors for the sake of what we want to call "unity?"
Since we saw in the previous issue of Diligence that the Biblical concept of unity must be based on "...sound doctrine...," we begin to understand that sound doctrine is the very thing that must unite us not subjective feelings or a superficial unity that is subject to being broken or at the very least damaged if there is any serious discussion of doctrine. When we as sincere christians, understand and accept true Biblical unity based on the sound doctrine of the Word, there is no longer an irrational fear that doctrinal discussions will divide the Body of Christ. Such discussions will instead lead us to a greater knowledge of the truth (I Tim 2:3-4) and a closer, more united fellowship.
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17 NIV)
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," (I Peter 3:15 NIV)
Christians who desire to have God approved unity must accept a mentality of submitting to "...thus saith the Lord..." (appears 430 times in the KJV version). The love for "book, chapter and verse" must be uppermost in all studies. Every Christian in a divided congregation must be willing to accept every word of the Bible as Absolute Truth even the parts they have not underlined in their Bible.
So why is there division? What are the barriers that prevent churches from having God approved unity? Let's look at a few possible reasons.
" Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." (II Timothy 2:15 NASB)
The world today is a world of division and confusion when it comes to religion. We see signs that read, "Attend The Church Of Your Choice This Sunday." This is not the plan that God put in place when His Son died on the cross. The Scriptures clearly teach that there is one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God (Ephesians 4:4-5). It is not man's prerogative to change that plan to suit his own comfort zone. We as Christians must learn to operate within God's plan not create our own.
It is important that we also keep in mind that God does not condemn all division anymore than He endorses all kinds of unity. Many passages instruct yes, even command division because of certain offenses. A few of those are listed here.
"...I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." (I Corinthians 5:11 NIV)
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." (Romans 16:17 KJV)
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them." (Ephesians 5:8-11 NIV)
So why divisions? We all love peace and hate controversy. We all want to get along with everyone. However we must love the way of the Lord and His Word more than our own feelings. The Bible warns that there will be those who will depart from the faith but we are exhorted to stand firm.
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;" (I Timothy 4:1 KJV)
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (II Timothy 4:3 KJV)
"...refute those who oppose (sound doctrine)." (Titus 1:9 NIV)
"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you..." (I Corinthians 15:58 NIV)
So how do we stand firm? How do we let nothing move us? We rely entirely on the Bible for our directions. We do things the way the Bible says to do them. And so that we know what that is, we study the Bible regularly not books written by men who profess to have studied the Scriptures. In order to achieve the God approved unity for which Jesus prayed, we must do it the way the Word says to do it. And it is our responsibility to know what that is (Phil. 2:12 and II Tim 2:15).