One need only drive through their city to see a numerous amount of religious institutions of every stripe and flavor. I believe on my drive to work every day I pass by or near at least four different churches. It becomes plain that not all of these institutions teach the same thing, for if they did, there wouldn’t be so many of them.
The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul taught “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. ” (1 Cor. 1:10). When one considers the religious landscape of Christianity, it becomes apparent that the opposite of Paul’s plea is the order of the day.
For starters, Paul says that we should all speak the same thing. Consider a scenario if you will. Imagine on Sunday morning your preacher gets up and teaches that salvation is purely a matter of professed belief or trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and nothing else. That evening, the same preacher climbs the pulpit again and states that salvation is solely a matter of God’s will and involves us not at all nor do we need to do anything, not even believe. The next Sunday, this same preacher addresses the congregation to declare that in order to be saved by the gospel of Christ, he has need to believe, repent, confess the Lord, and be immersed in water; only then will salvation be obtained.
One week he preaches baptism is necessary; the next that it is merely an “outward sign of an inward grace.” One week he teaches that the Godhead is comprised of three individual persons of Father, Son, and Spirit; the next week he teaches that the Godhead is only a single person that plays all the roles. One week he teaches what God has said concerning fornication, adultery, divorce, and homosexuality; the next week he teaches one can do as he pleases as long as he loves everyone. It wouldn’t take long for that church to realize this man is a walking contradiction and needs to be replaced!
And yet such an occurrence takes place every Sunday across the country without a second thought.
Next, Paul says that there should be no divisions among those who profess to be followers of Christ. The word for division in verse 10 is “schisma” and means literally a rip or tear, such as a garment, or metaphorically, a split, dissension, gap, or division. In the context of the passage, it had to do with Christians dividing themselves up based on what teacher they were following after. Some said “I am of Paul,” “I am of Peter,” and “I am of Apollos,” and yet still others “I am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:12). But Paul squashes these contentions and divisions by teaching that none of these men but Christ had been crucified for them, and it was only in the name of Christ that they were baptized. (1 Cor. 1:13). Because of this truth, they should abandon their divisions and be one body.
One might say such a phenomenon exists even today. We might hear “I am a Baptist,” “I’m a Methodist,” “I’m a Catholic,” “I’m Pentecostal,” or, “I’m a Christian.” What are these distinctions, but merely religious institutions crafted after traditions and teachings of men? Was John Wesley or John Smyth crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Charles Parham? Only Christ did those things and therefore we should just be Christians, not hyphenated Christians. There shouldn’t be any divisions.
Finally, Paul says that Christians should perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment. It is very apparent that Christendom is not joined together in the same mind and judgment. We are told this doesn’t matter because there is “Unity in Diversity”, but in reality, what takes place is “Unity in Indifference.” There is a disregard for most of what God has said in His word, and the religious world has picked a few facets about Jesus Christ that are needed in order to be considered “Christian” and everything the Lord had to say about worship, Christian living , the church, etc, are largely irrelevant and inconsequential.
We’re told that as long as you agree that one needs to believe we are saved by the gospel, then that’s all we need. But we are not even of the same mind on how to obey the gospel. In a discussion with a Baptist preacher once, he stated that I could believe baptism was necessary to be saved and he could believe it wasn’t, we could both teach different ways to be saved and still be pleasing to God and brothers in Christ. But Paul said that God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). How can we teach different things, different gospels, different worship, different morality, different churches, and different ways to obey the gospel and NOT spread confusion?
Jesus, in His prayer for unity in John 17, said, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. ” (Jn. 17: 20-23).
The unity of Christ’s followers, being of the same mind and judgment, with no divisions, speaking the same things, would be evidence that the Father had sent the Son. If the unity of Christians is evidence for Christianity, then what would all the 40,000+ different denominational divisions be evidence of except disbelief? Were Jesus and the Father divided in belief and teaching?
Jesus said that He would build His church (Matt. 16:18). Paul taught that the body of Christ is the church (Eph. 1: 22-23), and that there is only one church (Eph. 4: 4), and that Jesus is the savior of that church that He built (Eph. 5:23). One could make an argument from Paul in Ephesians that there are only as many churches as there are Gods. If there is only one God (Eph. 4: 6), then there is only one church Jesus built. When one obeys the gospel (Mk. 16: 15-16; Acts 2:38), God adds that individual to the Lord’s one church (Acts 2:41, 47). And the Lord’s one church follows only His doctrine (2 Jn. 9-11).
My plea is for individuals to leave these traditions, creeds, and churches built by men and be joined by the one gospel into Christ’s one church. Let our unity of belief and practice be the evidence of the authenticity of Jesus’ advent. Consider Noah and the ark back in Genesis 6. The ark that God had Noah build was the only means and place God had ordained for men to be saved from the Flood. Everyone that was in the ark Noah built were saved, everyone outside the ark was lost. In these New Testament times, the church is God’s “ark” that the saved are added to. Those in this “ark” are saved from God’s wrath, but all those outside of the church will be destroyed.
Are you onboard Jesus’ one ark or are you hoping a different ark will save you? Are you in the boat or scoffing at the rain? If you’ve never been added to Lord’s one church by the gospel, then let’s talk today. Your soul is too important to put it off any longer!