A lot is said today about unity among Christians. Most want to unify by putting away our differences, that is by ignoring them as if they were not important. The passages below show that this is not biblical unity.
Ephesians 4:11-16 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
I Corinthians 1:10-13 “Now 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. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”
I would like to point out that both of these passages are written to local churches. We must, therefore apply them in that context. Unity starts within the local church. (The local church is the only kind of church found in the Scriptures.)
Ephesians gives four ministers who are to perfect (bring to maturity) the saints within a church. There are five things given here which must be done to accomplish this task: 1) to prepare them to do the work of the ministry, 2) to build up the local church (the body of Christ) both spiritually and numerically, 3) to bring unity of the faith (the doctrines of Christ), 4) to increase the knowledge of Christ, and 5) to make each Christian as Christ-like as possible.
I Corinthians tells us that there are to be no divisions within the church (local). The unity starts by everyone saying the same thing. I have often asked, and I will likely ask it many more times, “If we all have the same teacher, the Holy Spirit, and we all have the same textbook, the Bible, shouldn’t we all give the same answers on the test:?”
We are bombarded on every side with differing doctrines. We are not to be like children, blown about by every new doctrine that comes down the pike. We are to be Bereans and test every doctrine by the Word of God.
Not only are we to be saying the same things, we are to be working together as a unit within the church (local). We are told in the Scriptures that a house divided against itself cannot stand.
There are those who would deceive us by distorting the truth. Just this week Jesse Jackson said that it didn’t matter who you think God is. In essence said that it is just as good to believe in Jehovah as in Allah. How many people are deceived by men like him?
As I said before, these two passages of Scripture are written to local churches. They must be interpreted in that context.
The next question is how do we find unity between churches? The answer should be obvious. Once there is unity within a church that church can now find unity with other churches who teach the same doctrine and have the same practice. There can be no unity that is not based upon Bible doctrine and obedience to that doctrine.
How can we have unity between those who teach a form a salvation based on anything other than what we are told is the basis in Ephesians 2:8-9? This teaches that God offers His grace for salvation to mankind, man receives this grace by faith, and that works are not part of the salvation process, although they are the result (verse 10).
Catholicism teaches that we are saved by grace, through faith, through the “church”, and that works and sacraments are necessary for receiving salvation.
Most mainline protestants teach we are saved by grace, through faith and works.
All of those who teach we can loose our salvation teach salvation by works because if works are required to keep salvation the salvation is ultimately based on works.
This next one will give some Baptists fits. Calvinism teaches that our salvation is ultimately based on God’s choosing us to salvation, not on our faith in Christ. Of course they will never admit this, but just think a little bit on what they believe. They believe that we are saved by grace through faith, but that only those who God enables can exercise faith. They also believe that none of those who God enables and refuse to exercise faith. In other words, God forces the elect to believe and they have not choice. They also teach that those who are not among the “elect” cannot possibly believer. It is, therefore, not our exercising of faith that saves us, it is God’s forcing us to exercise faith that saves us.
Not only that, but a Calvinist cannot be sure he is truly saved until his death. Again, they will not admit that they teach this but their doctrine of the perseverance of the saints allows no other interpretation. They say that only those who persevere to the end are truly saved. There must be those who persevere for a while or this statement makes no sense at all. How does the Calvinist know something will not cause him to fall between now and his death?
I don’t want this to be a dissertation on the errors of Calvinism so I will stop here on that subject.
I have only dealt with the doctrines of various groups on salvation. What about the many other subjects like the church, baptism, eschatology, tongues, etc.?
Unity in a church and unity among churches can only exist when there is doctrinal agreement. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)
Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved