If you want to conquer a country, you divide it. If you want to destroy a local church, divide it. Conscientious people are rightly disturbed over the divided condition of the religious world. One of the real causes of unbelief in the present day is the division among the professed followers of Christ. Three sins are condemned in the Bible more frequently than others; they are division, drunkenness, and fornication. None of us can disregard the teaching of the Lord on unity and at the same time expect His approval. Each person who claims to follow Christ must examine himself to see whether he is in the same faith that is revealed in the New Testament.
The part of the prayer of Jesus should strike the heart of every believer: “Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on me through their word ; that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us: that the world may believe that you did send me” (Jn 17:20, 21). Unity among believers such as that which exists between Jesus and the Father will cause the world to believe that the Father sent Jesus.
In this same prayer Jesus also said, “And the glory which you have given me I have given unto them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and you in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that you did send me, and loved them, even as you loved me” (Jn 17:22, 23).. The perfecting of the body, the church, into one unity, will cause them to believe. Blessed is he who works for this unity but cursed is he who helps destroy it. When division arose in the congregation of the Lord’s people at Corinth in the first century, Paul denounced it in these words, “If any man destroys the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, and such are you ” (I Cor. 3:17). Every Christian must be diligent in his faithfulness to Christ by seeking to keep himself within the doctrine which has as one of its fruits unity. Woe to that believer who destroys the church of the Lord through divisive work.
What has brought about such terrible division among those who claim to believe and follow Christ? What is the reason for more than three hundred different denominations which claim to follow Christ in our own country? The answer to this question is not only interesting but it is also vital. The source of information about Jesus is the Bible. But many who claim faith in Jesus deny the Bible. Some who claim faith in Jesus and belief of the Bible do not heed what the Bible teaches. Some who teach the truth do not try to practice it with diligence. Prejudice and self-interest often blind one to the truth and cause him to reach and practice error. Sometimes our love and appreciation of men go too far so as to cause us to accept them rather than the teaching of the Lord. Human wisdom may be exalted above divine wisdom. This will cause us to reject the truth for some humanly devised plan. Such plans may involve the organization and work of the church, the conditions of salvation, the worship of the church, and a host of others.
There are fundamental consequences involved in violation of what this faith really demands. Assessing the causes of division is valuable in overcoming it. Until we understand the cause we cannot proceed to correct the error. Let it be said that to agree with error in search for unity makes us divided against Christ and His divine Word of truth. Therefore, the only way to obtain unity is to be united in the Word of God. There is only one Lord, one faith, and one baptism (Eph 4:5). We must be united in the gospel and doctrine of Christ if we hope for eternal life (Mk 16:15,16 f; 2 Jn 9).