JESUS IS THE ANSWER TO UNITY
The World is divided like never before. Countries are separated by more than borders and distance; evil rulers, ideologies, and more destroy unity. There is a constant threat of wars, even nuclear warfare. Radical people look for opportunities to create even more divisions among the world’s exploding population. People are killing one another in staggering numbers, and seemingly with no more emotion than they would have when eradicating rats, roaches, and such like. Racial tensions are prevalent, driving wedges between people and nations, destroying unity. Unity among many communities, counties, states, and nations no longer exists. Friendships are sometimes broken. It is not uncommon for families to be severed. The list goes on and on and on.
Sadly, the worst division of all is religious division. Religious people are torn asunder all over the world in great proportions. The general description given is Catholic, Protestant, and Jew. While these exist, this does not properly describe the situation. There are many more divisions among religious people worldwide. For example, to name but a few, there are those known as Muslim, Hindu, Greek Orthodox, Buddhist, Sikh, Bahia, and many more. Each religion has its own doctrine(s). Many of these are even divided among themselves. Unity is a rare thing.
Seeing this lack of unity, some call for “unity in diversity.” There is the call by others to “agree to disagree.” Some even pray, “Lord, we thank thee for all the denominations.” Others have used the same prayer, but have changed the word “denominations” to “religions.” This is an attempt by them to say that everyone is right and acceptable. It reminds the writer of what he heard as a child, “You take the high road, and I will take the low road; and we’ll all get to heaven at the very same time.” Others have erroneously used 1 Corinthians 12 to teach that there is but “one body”, and each church or religion is one of the members of that body.
WHAT DOES JESUS SAY?
First, the body of 1 Corinthians 12 is a united body, not divided as some try to make it. The unity of 1 Corinthians 12 refutes the idea of divisive denominationalism and world religions being body parts.
Question: Does good come out of unity or division? (Matthew 12:25, 26). Jesus came into the world to preach the same message that was God’s. (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38). The prayer of Jesus in John 17:21 was, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” The Holy Spirit moved Paul to plead, “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.” (1 Corinthians 1:10; 2:1ff). The same heavenly One moved Paul to write to the “saints which are at Ephesus” (Ephesians 1:1), “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of us all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6). Question: How many Spirits are there? Lords? Gods? ONE! Is the correct answer, and all who correctly answer the question will “speak the same thing.” Question: How many bodies, hopes, faiths, and baptisms are there? Again, the answer will always be by all who correctly answer, One! This harmonizes with the prayer of Jesus and the plea of Paul, UNITY!
Please consider further statements from the word of God calling for unity among believers. Galatians 6:2 speaks of “the law of Christ.” Law—not a plurality of laws, with each group having its own doctrine. Romans 1:16 declares, “the gospel of Christ.” “The” not a or some, but ONE! 2 John 9 speaks of “the doctrine of Christ.” John does not say doctrines, but doctrine—ONE! John 17:17 says, “truth: thy word is truth.” There is no plural word used here; it is truth, minus the “s”. Paul said he was “set for the defense of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27). In other words, Paul was ready to challenge anyone who changed “the gospel of Christ.” This plainly shows that anyone who does not “speak the same thing” found in “the gospel” is to be challenged. Paul calls upon “the saints in Christ Jesus…at Philippi” (Verse 1) to live “as it becometh the gospel of Christ…that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” (Verse 27). What a call to unity, even in conversation (manner of life). Notice: the gospel, one spirit, one mind, striving together, the faith, and the gospel. Philippians 3:16 tells all to “walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.” Those who do not walk by the same rule in unity are called “enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Philippians 3:18). If this discussion were about science, would one say the formulas used did not matter, that we could get the same results using different mixtures? Multiply this with other things, such as the human body, automobiles, clothes, etc.
Some at Galatia had been “called…into the grace of Christ”, but they had been “removed from him that called” them “unto another gospel.” (Galatians 1:6). IF it doesn’t matter what one believes, that unity in diversity is acceptable, and one has only to be honest and sincere, believing and doing what is felt in the heart, the Galatians should have been approved of God. However, “Paul, an apostle (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father)…”, said, (1) the gospel they had received was not another (God has but one); (2) some had troubled them, perverting the gospel of Christ; (3) that neither an apostle, an angel from heaven, nor any other had the right to change God’s word; or, (4) they would be accursed. (Verses 6-9). No one, whether it is some religious leader, some head of state, an educator, or anyone else has a right to create divisions by speaking different things than the word of God.
The apostles did not teach different doctrines. They were “continuing daily with one accord in the temple.” (Acts 2:46). Jesus sent them forth to preach His message of unity. They were to preach, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:1ff, especially, verse 7), and that it would come before some of them died. (Mark 9:1). Peter and a few of the other apostles did not go forth preaching that the kingdom was thousands of years in the future, while some said it would shortly come, and still others saying the kingdom might be thwarted by the Jews. Neither did they preach differing doctrines about other subjects. Does anyone believe that Peter was a Methodist, Andrew a Baptist, James an Episcopalian, John a Lutheran, Philip a Catholic, Thomas a Seventh Day Adventist, Matthew a Mormon, and so on? Read your New Testament to see what these men and others were called. In Romans 16:16, Paul gave glory to the Savior by saying, “The churches of Christ salute you.” If all speak as the oracles of God, what will be said?
A look at the entire collection of the sixty-six books of the sacred scriptures will reveal a message of UNITY, with all called upon to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2), without addition or subtraction. (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18, 19). Division brings weakness, false doctrines, doubts, and unbelief. Jesus prayed for unity so “that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” This scribe while trying to teach non-believers has had the following cast into his teeth, “You people cannot even agree among yourselves, and you want me to believe and follow what you do. Get together, then come back to me.” Satan loves and thrives on division.
Beloved, the one who gave you this brief Bible study on unity seeks to unite all based upon the word of God, not human doctrines, traditions, and philosophies. The churches of Christ seek unity in matters of faith, liberty in judgmental matters, and love for all. The Holy Spirit moved Paul to plead, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5). NOT “a” or “some” faith, BUT “the” faith. Isaiah’s plea of old was, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18). Jesus said, “Search the scriptures….” (John 5:39). The Bereans “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether the things were so. Therefore many of them believed….” (Acts 17:11, 12). That is all we ask. Let us study together, “rightly dividing the word of truth” to please God (2 Timothy 2:15), so that we may be united, speaking the same thing, speaking “as the oracles of God.” (1 Peter 4:11).