Speaking where the bible speaks, and silent where the bible is silent.

Unity, At What Cost?

Biblical Proof

Many denominational churches seek unity beyond the restrictions of their particular rules of faith. This kind of unity has resulted in one that clearly tolerates sin. This is very similar to the kind of unity some brethren have called for today in the churches of Christ. Hence, it is helpful to compare some of the things going on in the religious world with what is happening among us.

Receiving Sinful People

Brethren among us can be found who condemn the false teaching of a given brother on marriage, divorce and remarriage, but still will have that same brother in for a gospel meeting, or they will advocate fellowshipping with him in spite of his error (Rom. 16:17-18 f; 2 John 9-11). These same brethren will condemn homosexuality, and we are all thankful that they will not fellowship homosexuals. However, how long will it be before one of our brethren does in the realm of homosexuality what others among us are doing in the realm of adultery?

Failure to Preach on Differences

One cannot help but note the reticence on the part of some among us to openly and specifically condemn error (Eph. 5:11). Once you embark on the road of tolerating those in error you will either stop it, or you will get to a point where you say goodbye to any teaching which would condemn the error you are tolerating (Acts 20:27 f; 2 Tim. 4:2-3). Sadly, some churches of Christ have already come to the point where they no longer preach on differences which clearly involve adultery, a sin which will send souls to hell (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Perhaps this is why most churches of Christ condone women teaching children when the church is assembled, and allowing them to speak up in bible classes; And at least in one place are having women preachers. They all want more members and to be unified. Unified, but at what cost?

Finding a Broader Basis for Unity

When one seeks man made unity, he will have to use something other than the Bible as his basis. The rule of faith of the Lord’s church (the New Testament) is not broad enough to allow the kind of unity some have argued for today (Matt. 28:20). Hence, we should not be surprised when we hear of brethren using honesty and sincerity as a basis for receiving an erring brother, saying that there are different levels of truth, some essential and some not so much so. More such bases may be in store for us in the future. When someone seeks a broader unity than the Bible allows, he must find a broader basis than the Bible. In other words, they must change the word of God in order to appease all those seeking unity at any cost.

Conclusion: The Bible instructs us clearly on the three points discussed herein. It tells us how to treat those in sin (Gal. 6:1 ff; Jas. 5:19-20; 1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 2 John 9-11). We are taught to preach the word “in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2-3). We are to let the word of God be the sole basis for unity with others (John 17:20-21 f; 1 Pet. 4:11).

Denominations have taught us that when we appease error, we just get deeper in the mire. When Catholics appease Muslims, what do you get? When Baptist appease Mormons, what do you get? When the churches of Christ appease any denomination, what do you get? Unity? Perhaps, but unity at what cost? Such unity is in error of God’s Word. The unity Paul spoke of has all speaking the same thing. (1 Cor 1:10) As Peter said, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles (very breath or words) of God. (1 Pet 4:11) Unity in truth is what we all should be seeking, and the only kind of unity approved of by God. (Jn 17:17)


Comments on: "Unity, At What Cost?" (2)

  1. Larry Ray Hafley said:

    A few days ago, you had a list of the 5 ways to disobey God. I lost my copy. Could you please send it to me again? Thanks. Larry

    • 5 ways to disobey God

      Disobedience is in evidence in homes, in the schools, with regard to the civil authorities, and even in the church of our Lord. Ephesians 6:1-3 ff; Romans 13:1-7 and Hebrews 13:17. Salvation is predicated on obedience. Heb 5:8-9 One must obey God in order to do God’s will. (Matt. 7:21). Let us now notice five ways in which man disobeys God.

      Doing What God Has Forbidden

      Adam and Eve were guilty of this very thing. (Gen. 3:2-3). Adam and Eve knew God’s will in this regard (Eve stated it to the serpent), but being deceived through the serpent’s lie, they did what God had forbidden them to do. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (v. 6).

      Another clear case of doing that which God has forbidden is that of Lot’s wife. God’s instructions are given plainly in Genesis 19:17.”…look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.” In verses 24-26 we read: “…But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” Jesus said in Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife.” She therefore become a monument of warning for all time concerning doing that which God has forbidden.

      Rejecting What God Has Commanded

      Jonah is guilty of this very thing , at least the first time the Lord appeared to him. Jonah 1:1-3 You know what happened to Jonah, and his experience in the belly of the great fish. God came to Him a second time. God’s instruction was the same as it was at the first, but this time the Bible says “. . . Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. . .” (Jon. 3:3).

      Jonah refused to do what he was commanded, because he did not like the mission he was given. He did not want the Assyrians spared, and he knew that if they heeded his preaching that God would spare them (read 4:1-3).

      In the account of King Saul, God’s instructed him concerning the Amalekites, and was clearly outlined. “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass” (v. 3). But in verse 9, we see Saul refusing to do what God had commanded! “But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. . . . ” Saul was disobedient to the Lord and his trying to “pass the buck” didn’t benefit him. The Lord accepts no excuses or alibis for disobedience. Some may reason that it is alright to do “part” of what God says, or refuse or fail to do what He says as long as the failure is well intentioned, i.e. “to offer sacrifice.” But what does God say? “It repents me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. . . ” (v. 11) Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king” (w. 22-23). When we fail to do what God has commanded, He sees us as stubborn and rebellious!

      “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. ” 1 Jn 2:3-6 That one who claims fellowship with God while refusing to do His will is characterized as a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” That one who claims fellowship with God while refusing to do His will is characterized as a liar! It is one thing to “claim” to know God and another thing altogether to actually know Him. Paul writes of those who “profess that they know God; but by their works they deny Him. . . ” (Tit. 1: 16).

      Adding To His Word

      The Bible is filled with warnings about adding to the words and commandments of God. We put our souls in jeopardy when we presume to add to the Word of the Almighty.

      In Deuteronomy 4:2, Moses said: “You shall not add unto the word which I command you. . . that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” The only way to keep the commandments of the Lord is to do it exactly as HE stipulates. When we add our “Opinions” and “Presumptions”, when we apply our own human wisdom to the matter, we wind up not keeping the commandments of the Lord at all! Moses states again in Deuteronomy 12:32: “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto. . . . ” True wisdom dictates that we “add not unto His words, lest he reprove us, and we be found a liar” (Prov. 30:6).

      Paul said that we are to learn from the apostles not to go beyond that which was written. 1 Cor 4:6 The apostles only spoke what they saw and heard. Acts 4:19,20 Paul stated that anyone who changes the gospel shall be accursed. Gal 1:8,9 In 2 John 9, we read: “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.” Any who seek to add the doctrines or commandments of men or feign some new latter-day revelation stand condemned of God and cursed in His sight.

      In Revelation 22:18 we find the following words: “For I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophesy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” What book in all of the Bible has been more abused than has the book of Revelation? Men have added this and that — speculation upon speculation — all without any proof whatsoever. Be fully warned, the same principle that applies to the Revelation letter applies to any other part of God’s word. Take heed of God’s final warning!

      Subtracting From His Word

      In Deuteronomy 4:2, Moses said: “You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. ” Then in Revelation 22:19, we read: “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophesy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” The prophet Jeremiah echoed the same sentiment: “. . . all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word” (Jer. 26:2).

      Our obedience to God must be complete. God will never accept a partial obedience. We need not think that we can please God by altering, mutilating, adding to, or subtracting from His will. Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Doing the will involves all of the will. Paul said: “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Paul understood that nothing was to be taken away or subtracted from God’s word. He stated in Acts 20:20: “. . . I kept back nothing that was helpful. . . . ”

      Substituting For God’s Word

      Nadab and Abihu “offered strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not.” Leviticus 10:1-2 Nadab and Abihu did that “which God commanded them not. ” We learn that “fire is not fire” when the Lord has specified kind of fire. We do not hastily offer just any kind of service and expect the Lord to accept it, for He will not! He didn’t then, and He won’t today.

      Other examples could be cited, such as David transporting the ark and Uzzah touching it and losing his life because of it. Substitution is certainly involved here for the things and ways of God (read 1 Chron. 13; 15:13; Num. 4:15; Exo. 25:14-15). Also the account of Naaman the leper, who when told to dip seven times in the river Jordan became angry and thought to substitute two others rivers that he surmised “would do just as well.” Had he not gotten over his anger and listened to reason and finally obeyed the commands of God, he would have forever remained and died a leper. It is no small thing to substitute for God’s word.

      Brethren, look around you today. Churches are substituting for God’s word in every realm; substituting human institutions for God’s divine institution, the church, substituting the patterns of men for God’s pattern revealed in His will, corrupting His worship by substituting the things of men for the simple worship outlined in His Holy will (Matt. 15:8-9). The organization of our Savior’s church is prostrated before the world because ungodly men who have no respect for His way have substituted their own organizational structures for His. I can assure you brethren, a day of reckoning is surely coming, and what a sad day it will be for those who would tamper with God’s Word.

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