Division In The Church - Conclusion
Division In The Church
As we come to a close in this study I realize there are many other smaller issues which many times split assemblies, but my main objective was to compare the major doctrines, those which individual churches adhere to for membership, in search for the reasoning behind the division prevalent in the church today. It is true I have disagreed with points of all but a few of the church statements received, in one area or another. However, I can find none which deny that Jesus Christ is God, come in the flesh, come to be the only sacrifice needed and acceptable to God for our sins. Therefore, all churches, which submitted statements, belong to the earthly kingdom of God and contain my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Why then is there such animosity between us? In my search for the answer to this question I believe the scriptures, as always, have provided the answer. In Col.2: 1-10, I believe we can see the problem Paul faced which has gotten out of hand in this generation. The desire of the church is now, and always has been to know the truth, to have a full understanding of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ. vs.2 But there is a dire difference between the gaining of this knowledge, which Paul speaks of in this passage, and the gaining of knowledge which the church has of late been involved in.
The knowledge Paul speaks of will KNIT believers together in love and will comfort hearts. (vs. 2) The knowledge we of late have attempted to gain has torn us apart and caused strife. The reason for this is addressed in this very chapter, we as the church of America have ceased, for a large part, to be rooted and built up in him (Christ) and stablished in the faith. (Vs. 7) All of our division has been because of our following the teachings of other men. Men of like precious faith, great men of God, men who God has used to further His kingdom, but nevertheless mere men.
Many of us have blindly followed the teachings of brilliant scholars, we have laid claim to the fact, that since they were so well versed in the original languages they were without error. We forget that only God the Father and Christ can enlighten us to the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, contained in the Word of God. Layman have ceased to do in depth study of God's Word feeling they are paying the pastor to handle that aspect of their lives. They accept all of the teachings of the church in which they came to a saving knowledge of Christ without searching the scriptures to see if all aspects of the church are in line with scriptural teaching. Pastors are schooled in great universities under the direction of great men who possess astounding degrees in the eyes of the world. These are great men of God, knowledgeable men, yet merely men, men who can err in their teachings.
Blindly, many times, they accept their theology and line of reasoning without questioning their premise on the authority of the scripture. I have talked to many pastors about certain areas of the scripture as it is applied to the doctrinal statements of their churches and sadly have received two replies time and time again. Either, I have never really searched this matter out but I teach it because my denomination teaches it. Or, what you say cannot be right because (and they give the name of a great man of God under whom they sat) said something else was so, and he couldn't be wrong.
The church of today has become more and more humanistic, relying heavily on commentaries and study Bibles, without spending time solely in the Word of God and prayer. We have become lazy in our study of the scriptures. Pastors reach a scripture which may cause a snag in their theology and, instead of comparing scripture with scripture and accepting the teaching of the Word of God which may go against what they have been taught to believe, they immediately confer with flesh and blood, those who teach which is acceptable in their given church. Laymen, especially Sunday School teachers, adhere strictly to the quarterlies because they don't have the time or desire for intense Bible study. Verse 8 gives the church a stern warning, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
Traditions of man and the philosophy of the world has invaded our ranks, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has been replaced by thoughts and ideologies of man. A vicious circle is becoming common place in the church. A man of God senses something is wrong, perhaps he is unsatisfied, perhaps his church is not growing as he would like. He begins to search the scripture, not to establish and verify a truth gone astray. He believes the answer is some hidden truth in the Word of God, heretofore never seen, which will unlock the door to his understanding. So he searches with the desire of finding something new and in the vast context of the Word he ultimately finds it. He then approaches those of like precious faith and is rejected. Hurt and offended he cannot understand why they cannot see what he has seen. The thought strikes, they must be apostates, surely they are not lead by the Spirit or they would see what I have seen. The only possible solution he arrives at becomes separation and he begins a new work in which the mystery he has unraveled becomes a predominant factor for fellowship. His foundation is secure, the gospel of Christ continues to draw men unto himself, but his building is leaning off center. Men are saved through his ministry, he draws a following, and soon another denomination appears, only to have the cycle repeated time and again. If only he had understood that there is nothing new, only old truths, often unapplied and forgotten.
What is the answer to this dilemma? Perhaps as in the days of the apostles and the times of the reformation and subsequent revivals, the only answer may be a purification by fire. The wood, hay, and stubble of our doctrinal statements may need to be burnt off by the fire of tribulation until only the pure foundational truths remain and we are forced to take our eyes off of men and look to Christ the author and finisher of our faith. My prayer, from now until the Lord sees fit to remove the breath from my life, will be that the Spirit of God will once again move in the church as He did in days of old, causing us, against our human desire, to leave the unimportant issues behind and strive, as a unified body, for the advancement of the kingdom of God on this earth, through the preaching and living of the precious gospel of Jesus Christ.