The reality of disputes among religious adherents is legend; there have always been disputes between honest people professing religion. The fact that there have been disputes and controversy over religious issues in no way justifies many such disputes; indeed, many religious disputes could be avoided if the individual who have such a dispute were clear about their convictions. Often disputes originate by a person who uses a straw man to bring up their disagreement. This is a tactic that often creates explosive confrontations because someone in the crowd takes an adverse position but will not acknowledge it openly, thus the straw man is presented and his position defended by the person who likes confrontation.

Open controversy will cause many people to stop serving the Lord and turn to more peaceful assemblies somewhere else. These people that will vacate a church where there is constant wrangling over every subject may be justified by leaving but they ought to seek out a sound church for worship.

No person ought to be so discouraged that they leave a church for an unsound church to worship because they are seeking an atmosphere free of controversy. The truth is, occasionally honest differences will arise between honest disputations, {Example:  Paul’s companions in the work of God – Philemon 24-25, “24 (and so do) Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow-workers. 25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.” ASV}. Of this number, John Mark did not travel with Paul on one of the journeys because of personal differences {i.e. Acts 15:37-40, “37 And Barnabas was minded to take with them John also, who was called Mark. 38 But Paul thought not good to take with them him who withdrew from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp contention, so that they parted asunder one from the other, and Barnabas took Mark with him, and sailed away unto Cyprus; 40 but Paul choose Silas, and went forth, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.” ASV] Whenever this condition surfaces, the better judgment of the elder will stop this before it becomes an open schism. Also examine the next paragraph closely for more on this theme.

One of the great problems exists when seemingly unsolvable disputes arise in a church where there are no elders. Many churches that are small and have no elders meet regularly to solve congregational matters in business meetings. These business meetings often become sessions of division and controversy. Since these adverse conditions are discouraging to some this matter may cause some to leave the church unannounced. There would normally be no controversy if only one person is involved as being difficult and advisable but often this person will have some influence over a few others in the congregation. Whenever a problem such as I have just described occurs, the church is divided in the business meeting as well as in the assembly. Whenever division of this nature occurs Paul’s statement to the church at Corinth over miraculous spiritual gifts and their creation of problems with members ought to be examined, cf. 1 Cor 14:37-40, “37 If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord. 38 But if any man is ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39 Wherefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and forbid not speak with tongues. 40 But let all things be done decently and in order.” ASV

The most helpful quality that any Christian may contribute to “the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” [i.e. the roadmap to peace and unity – Ephesians 4:2-6] – “2 with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4(There is) one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all. “ASV] is to be careful that those words that are used are words that will not create an opportunity for rebuttal. Sound teaching will usually eliminate schism in a congregation if the members really want to submit to one another and promote peace and unity as the Word of God requires of Christians in a congregation –  cf. Heb 13:17, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit (to them): for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this (were) unprofitable for you.” ASV – This instruction seems to work when the church has elders but is much more difficult to understand when everyone in a business meeting thinks himself to be elder material even though they are not qualified on scriptural grounds. In such a case where there are no elders problems seem to get worse whenever the problem is brought up in a business meeting.

Dear brethren, pray that more men in the church will work at qualifying themselves for the eldership. Qualified elders are the best group of men in the congregation to solve serious differences and rebellious people in the church. Without elders many congregations will eventually self-destruct, they will last for a while and finally destruct from within.

Pray for maturity {i.e. personal growth} cf. 2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him (be) the glory both now and for ever. Amen.” AS

Pray for unity of the spirit in the bond of peace cf. Eph 4:3-4, “3 giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4(There is) one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling;” ASV – For every male member of each congregation particularly on this behalf [i.e. that they will work at qualifying themselves for scriptural leadership roles] in the congregation.

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