Is there any hope that the plea of the Apostles in Philippians 2:2 and 3 John 4 will be realized among us in this age? What do the following verses mean to us? See John 17:11 & 21-23; Acts 2:41-42; Romans 12:4-5; I Corinthians 1:2-13; I Corinthians 12:12-25; Ephesians 2:19-22; all of Ephesians 4; etc. We can and should allow for individual conscience before God, but surely we must speak of truth and unity among all assemblies universal, for the good of ALL saints and the glory of God as He shows us and expects. Do we want to obey and honor God as of "one accord"? Do we value Scripture? This is not speaking about mergers, but obedience to God for "unity of the faith" worldwide.
Surely the saints of God ought to endeavor to "keep the unity of the Spirit" (Eph.4:3), but man's spirit of independence among us is limiting this. Many papers have been written by this writer about Christian unity and church truth, having seen how greatly neglected these subjects are, but the responses over the years have shown a sad condition among the saints in the world. Most dear saints seem to have something like a spiritual myopia, and cannot see beyond their own familiar gathering of believers, and some others think the way of God is to merge together all the diverse opinions and religious ideas in the world, which surely pollutes the holy places (see the lessons in Malachi, and in Matt. 21:12-13, Mk.12:38-40).
The subjects of unity and church truth usually find no response from Christians, and the few who do respond often defend independency or have only a curiosity about the church, and then fall away when the subject suggests giving up traditional ways for the scriptural order. What is the cause and what is the cure? Could it be a need for faithfulness to hold "all the counsel of God" as the Apostle Paul said?
1. Is there widespread ignorance of the Scripture and the mind of God for His testimony in the world? Yes, and the remedy seems rather plain, since we all know we have a responsibility to read the Word and obey --"rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
2. Is the cause apathy? Yes, along with some rebellion, and it is the deceit of Satan and worldly flesh that makes some indifferent to the church in godliness worldwide. What would be the cure for that as per the Word of God? Faithful saints know the answer is obedience and faithfulness.
3. Are there hindrances due to family and friends, familiarity with traditions and routines, enjoyment of certain programs, ceremonies, rituals, entertainment and activities? Do we need to speak here of a remedy for this very obvious failure?
4. Could it be that many saints of God are more interested in pleasing people and self, than pleasing God?
5. Should saints of God merge and embrace every so-called Christian gathering, allowing evil ways and dishonor to God as is widely practiced? Many of us do not think so!
If Christians pray earnestly for truth, and ask a few questions in sincerity, they might find the way God has given, rather than suppose God likes all man's ideas. The apostle, Paul, said as soon as he was saved: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" That is surely an important question. Did the Lord then say: Go join a group of your choice and start doing some ideas you like? No, Paul was shut up to the Lord a good while in prayer and dependence, and he was taught of the Lord. Could Christians today care to start over again---join no sect of men, and rather seek only the scriptural path with others?
The saints of God are not as the Apostles today, and we are not told to look for special revelations. We have the full Word of God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to teach it to us. If we don't study the Word we will not receive it, and it is doubtful we can plead ignorance in a day to come. Some divisions among Christians are caused by personality clashes, and that must be resolved within a gathering and not cause division of God's testimony (note Matt. 18:15-17).
Many believers only know the simple gospel message of salvation, and the trend seems to be for some believers to consider themselves gifted as a teacher, and well suited to challenge the elders, and go forth in their own way with their own practices. These thus reject sound counsel of the Word.
Over 190 years ago during the great revival of the 1800's, church truth was recovered and restored by God from the sects and systems that prevailed after the Protestant Revival --- restoration notably by that fellowship which was established in 1827 AD called "the brethren movement". Some believers say we should only be concerned about what we have and like doing today, not what brethren did in the past. This mind shows little understanding of church history, and no appreciation of the "one body in Christ", and is supporting the concept of sectarianism. If one ignores that good revival, we then must ask: on what ground would that one bring about an expression of the "one body" and the unity of saints with "no schism" (Psa.133:1 and 1 Cor. 12:25, etc.); and follow the Bible verses shown herein?
If some should even consider that such a thing as "unity of the Faith" is important, would they suggest only a merger of all the diverse religious ideas and traditions? Are mergers and amalgamations the answer to the scriptural instruction regarding unity, or is the Bible order the answer? Those who do not value this might choose another path in this world.
Well, much more could be said on this, but let us remember: "the time is short", and the Lord said: "behold, I come quickly"; and let us be mindful of God's testimony in the world and our responsibilities toward it. We will all be held accountable for sure. This writer would be pleased to help, and respond to any questions. It is recommended that one also contact Bible Truth Publishers, Addison, IL -USA about this need.
- RLD, 2004; add: 02/18 - from Christian Counsel Collection at www.biblecounsel.net