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10
May

Is Church a Matter of Choice--Part 2: Where is Unity among Christians?

Posted by on in The Upward Call
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denominational chart 4Last week we started this series by stating that both God and Jesus wanted to establish only one church. Yet, when you look at the religious landscape today, it is made up of 41,000 different denominations within 5 major families. Here is the breakdown of these families: the Catholic church--50%, the historic Protestant/Anglican church--18%, the Eastern churches (Orthodox, etc.)--12%; the Pentecostal churches--12%, and the Evangelical non-Pentecostal—8%. Non-denominational churches are included in the last two categories as well as independent churches.

 

Does 41,000 different branches of Christianity sound like what God and Jesus wanted with the idea of one church to help promote belief in Jesus as the Son of God? Only if they are all connected to the same trunk and roots. So let’s look and see what the Scriptures have to say about how we can tell if they are all connected to the same source.

 

To begin this discussion, we need to go to the book of 1 Corinthians. Paul is writing to a church that has a problem with division. Here is what he tells them, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, ‘I follow Paul,’ or ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Cephas,’ or ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:10-13).

 

There is only one thing that would narrow the 41,000 different churches down to one and that is being united in the same mind and the same judgment. How does this happen? Listen to what Jesus says, “The word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life” (John 12:48-49). Many of these 41,000 churches that are in the world are going to claim to live by the words of Jesus, but they will have the words of man mixed in with them also. We do not get to change what Jesus has said because of evolving culture or social pressures. We do not get to put human authority on equal footing with Christ. We must be of the same mind as Christ (as represented in his teachings and words) and use those words to pronounce the same judgment of the things in the world. Paul reminds us, “Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). Unity in religion comes from looking at what a church body teaches and does and comparing it to the gospel of Jesus Christ as represented in the New Testament. Since this is true, there has been a gradual departure from the teachings of Christ; this was all foretold in Scripture. Next week we will talk about this leaving of the teachings of Christ and why it has occurred.

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