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Uncommon Things We Believe Series #4 It Does Matter …what one believes, where one worships… I Cor. 1:10-15

08 Feb

 Uncommon Things We Believe Series #3

Uncommon Things We Believe Series #3a

Uncommon Things We Believe Series  #3 It does matter …what one believes, where one worships… I Cor. 1:10-15

One of the main reasons that cults in our day have had such an impact on the world is their unity. Disharmony is not tolerated. Though misguided, misused, and often totalitarian, such unity is attractive to many people who are tired of religious uncertainty, ambiguity, and confusion.

Few of us who have attended church for a number of years have not been in or known of a congregation where there was a split or at least serious quarreling. The problem has existed in the church from New Testament times. The Corinthian believers fell short of the Lord’s standards in many ways, and the first thing for which Paul called them to task was quarreling.

Quarrels are a part of life. We grow up in them and around them. Infants are quick to express displeasure when they are not given something they want or when something they like is taken away. Little children cry, fight, and throw tantrums because they cannot have their own ways.

We argue and fight over a rattle, then a toy, then a football, then a position on the football team or in the cheerleading squad, then in business, the PTA, or politics. Friends fight, husbands and wives fight, businesses fight, cities fight, even nations fight—sometimes to the point of war. And the source of all the fighting is the same: man’s egotistic, selfish nature.

Scripture teaches nothing more clearly than the truth that man sinful, and that the heart of his sinfulness is self-will. From birth to death the natural inclination of every person is to look out for “number one”—to be, to do, and to have what he wants.

Even believers are continually tempted to fall back into lives of self-will, Self-interest, and general self-centeredness. At the heart of sin is the ego, the “I.” Even Christians are still sinners—justified, but still sinful in themselves. And when that sin is allowed to have its way in our flesh, conflict is inevitable.

When two or more people are bent on having their own ways, they will soon be quarreling and arguing, because their interests, concerns, and priorities sooner or later will conflict. There cannot possibly be harmony in a group, even a group of believers, whose desires, goals, purposes, and ideals are generated by their egos.

(James 4:1-2)  What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? {2} You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.).

What the Lord laments and opposes, Satan applauds and fosters. Few things demoralize, discourage, and weaken a church as much as bickering, backbiting, and fighting among its members. And few things so effectively undermine its testimony before the world.

One of the common features of the modern religious world is denominationalism. There are currently over 2000 generally recognized denominations and over 20,000 smaller, distinct divisions in the church.

The spirit of the age looks at such with acceptance as is evidenced by the often heard, “attend the church of your choice.” They proceed to statements like “…it really doesn’t matter…what you believe…how you worship…as long as you believe in God….we worship the same God.”

Nevertheless, and despite the many contemporary appearances of acceptability, Jesus did not intend for His church to be divided.

Some make an effort to discount the significance of religious division, suggesting…That the differences are not all that great; Or that religious division is good, for it enables people to find a church that suits them personally; But there are several reasons why I believe these answers are wrong and do a disservice to the cause of Christ.

Most denominational members would be surprised to discover that their chosen religious affiliation is less than 500+ years old. Many people assume that the church of which they are members is ancient in origin, divinely ordained, and a part of the church  revealed in the New Testament.

It has never occurred to them that there were no denominations in New Testament days. When the church was established in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost, there was one church with Christ as the head and the apostles as pillars of faith as they did exactly what Jesus had trained them to do.

That church was planned (Eph. 3:10-11), prophesied (Isaiah 2:2-3), prepared (Matt. 3:1-2), and promised (Matt. 16:18) before it existence. The kingdom came with power (Mark 9:1) when the Holy Spirit came (Acts 1:8). The gospel was preached, sinners responded to that resurrected Savior, they repented, they were immersed in water for remission of sins, and they began the Christian walk.

How simple! And how tragic today that so many have changed that simple beginning with their own ideas and teachings. How thrilling it is to find people in the Ukraine (for instance) who were given Bibles in years past and began reading it and with little or no help from outside teachers, became New Testament Christian and began worshipping in ways God approved through the apostles and first century Christians.

At Pentecost, every person obeyed the same gospel, became members of the same body, and ultimately wore the same name.

THE BIBLE REJECTS THE CONCEPT OF DENOMINATIONALISM

Jesus prayed that His followers would be united (Jn. 17:21-23).

(John 17:20-23)  “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, {21} that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. {22} I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: {23} I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

The Bible teaches that division is contrary to God’s will (I Cor. 1:10-15).

Among the Corinthian church’s many sins and shortcomings, quarreling is the one that Paul chose to deal with first. In unity lies the joy of Christian ministry and the credibility of Christian testimony.

 (1 Corinthians 1:10-15)  I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. {11} My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. {12} What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas “; still another, “I follow Christ.” {13} Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? {14} I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, {15} so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.

The traditions of men have no biblical authority, they divide those who believe that Jesus is the Christ—they are vain (Matt. 15:7-9).

(Matthew 15:7-9)  You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: {8} “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. {9} They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'”

Those who cause factions are to be rejected

(Titus 3:10)  Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.

Men who cause dissensions are to be avoided

(Romans 16:17)  I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.).

Neither can we just choose to ignore certain differences of belief and simply agree to disagree.

(Matthew 5:17-20)  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. {18} I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. {19} Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. {20} For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

(Matthew 23:23)  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

(1 Timothy 4:1-3)  The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. {2} Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. {3} They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.

OTHERS WHO VIEWED DENOMINATIONALISM AS WRONG…

  1. Martin Luther, the leader of the Reformation Movement:

“I ask that men make no reference to my name, and call themselves not Lutherans, but Christians. What is Luther? My doctrine, I am sure, is not mine, nor have I been crucified for any one. St. Paul, in 1 Cor. 3, would not allow Christians to call themselves Pauline or Petrine, but Christian. How then should I, poor, foul carcass that I am, come to have men give to the children of Christ a name derived from my worthless name? No, no, my dear friends; let us abolish all party names, and call ourselves Christians after Him Whose doctrine we have.” – Hugh Thomason Kerr, A Compend of Luther’s Theology (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1943, p. 135)

  1. John Wesley, another great reformation leader, among whose followers are Methodists, Wesleyans, etc.:

“Would to God that all party names, and unscriptural phrases and forms which have divided the Christian world, were forgot and that the very name [Methodist] might never be mentioned more, but be buried in eternal oblivion.” – John Wesley, Universal Knowledge, A Dictionary and Encyclopedia of Arts, Science, History, Biography, Law, Literature, Religions, Nations, Races, Customs, and Institutions, Vol. 9, Edward A. Pace, Editor (New York: Universal Knowledge Foundation, 1927, p. 540)

  1. Charles Spurgeon, one of the most recognized Baptist preachers who ever lived:

“I look forward with pleasure to the day when there will not be a Baptist living! I hope that the Baptist name will soon perish, but let Christ’s name last forever.” – Spurgeon Memorial Library, Vol. I., p. 168

HOWEVER, THE BIBLE ALSO TEACHES THAT THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN LED ASTRAY ARE TO BE GIVEN KINDLY ASSISTANCE

God is much more desirous of people being saved, than of their being condemned

(Ezekiel 18:23)  Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

(John 3:17)  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

(1 Timothy 2:4)  who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

(2 Peter 3:9)  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Jesus feels compassion for those who wander astray (Matt. 9:36-38; 18:6-7).

(Matthew 9:36-38)  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. {37} Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. {38} Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

(Matthew 18:6-7)  But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. {7} “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!

We are to use wisdom and grace in building people up and bringing people into the “way of the Lord more perfectly” (Acts 18:24-28; Col. 4:5-6; Eph. 4:29).

(Acts 18:24-28)  Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. {25} He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. {26} He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. {27} When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. {28} For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

(Ephesians 4:29)  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

(Colossians 4:5-6)  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. {6} Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Kindness, patience, and gentleness, are to be used in correcting the mistaken and misguided

(2 Timothy 2:24)  And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.).

Denominationalism presents us with a great challenge. We must both oppose without compromise its practice, yet assist with all compassion its sincerely mistaken practitioners.

Many of us here today are no longer within a denominational context because someone, without compromise, showed us kindness, patience, and compassion. The ways of the Lord are right, and consequently they also work!

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2015 in Article

 

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