Thursday, January 2, 2014

Unity among the body, no divisions

It is important to pursue unity. It is equally important to know exactly what unity you're pursuing. Paul said,

"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." (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Though the liberal, the post-modernist, emerging church would like it to, the verse does not stop here:

'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.'

No. Scriptures say we are to be united in the same mind and in the same judgment. Mindless unity among any person whether or not someone professes all the Gospel is not what is in view here. So what does 'the same mind' mean? Matthew Henry's Commentary says,

"In the great things of religion be of one mind; and where there is not unity of sentiment, still let there be union of affection. Agreement in the greater things should extinguish divisions about the lesser. There will be perfect union in heaven, and the nearer we approach it on earth, the nearer we come to perfection. Paul and Apollos both were faithful ministers of Jesus Christ, and helpers of their faith and joy; but those disposed to be contentious, broke into parties. So liable are the best things to be corrupted, and the gospel and its institutions made engines of discord and contention. Satan has always endeavoured to stir up strife among Christians, as one of his chief devices against the gospel.

You see his point. Satan even uses the Gospel to divide. We must agree on the greater things and to do that, we must know what they are.

Amos 3:3 says, "Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?"

picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr

Much happens before two people arrive somewhere and then go forth together. They individually and then together study on where they are to go, and what they are to do, how they will get there, and at what time. How will they know where they are going unless they consult and agree, and are friends? Of first importance is that the individual agrees with God in all His statutes, and then the two who are to go walking agree with the basis for their appointment. Then they walk. No one arrives at the designated place and one says to the other, "Ready to go get our haircut?" and the other says, "But I thought we were going to the movies?" They know why they are there and where they are to go.

It is this kind of agreement that Paul has in mind in instructing the Corinthians. He doesn't mean unite with all who profess Christ so that there will be no divisions. Divisions are inevitable and never let a post-modernist liberal tell you otherwise. The Gospel divides. (Matthew 10: 34-37; John 7: 5). Those who adhere to it are always offending those who don't, even within the church of Christ, for there are many tares.

A mindless unity would indicate Paul was saying the Corinthians should unite with Judaizers, Gnostics, and Nicolaitans, so that the body is not divided. But uniting with false professors always divides anyway, that's what Matthew Henry was saying when he explained that satan uses the Gospel to divide. Division is not the issue. If there are divisions over doctrine, that is good. If there is division among those who agree, it is bad. There's a huge difference.

Biblical unity is not nor should be mindless. It is a problem when it is not of same mind and not of same judgment, meaning of the same doctrine and same discipline.

In modern days, false teachers urge us to unite with Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, any and all people who speak the name God and mention Christ, but in fact there is NO agreement behind it. We hear people say "The three Abrahamic religions" and claim "we worship the same God." Therefore they are not of the same mind and the same judgment. They cannot go walking with a true Christian.

If those I mentioned above agree and then meet to go walking, they will find that they are in fact divided. "I thought we were going to Kolob?" The other one says, "But I thought we were headed to Purgatory?" while the third remarks, "No, I thought we were going to Mecca." And the fourth comments "But we should go to the Western Wall and then to synagogue..." You see? They do not agree after all and should not go walking. There is no unity there.

CC photo by supernovaK

Whenever someone tells you that we should unite in order to reduce division, refer them to Paul's full exhortation and ask what it means to be united in same mind and same judgment. And in case we ourselves are not sure, please listen to this fantastic sermon from Phil Johnson, who goes over exactly what the Gospel is, and the things of first importance that make up its necessary elements. After hearing this, you will know what it means to have same mind and same judgment with other Christians, united in His atoning, bloody death and glorious resurrection.

Things of First Importance (Phil Johnson)
1 Corinthians 15: 1-5

"Walking" by Katherine Johnson, CC photo

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