Religious Unity (Part 3)
Could it be that the reason why we do not have religious unity today is because many have the wrong attitude toward the Bible? Many are not convinced that the New Testament is complete. However, James insisted that we look into the perfect or complete law of liberty and continue therein (James 1:25). Peter tells us that God “. . . hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness . . . “ (2 Peter 1:3). The apostle Paul said that the gospel of Christ “. . . is the power of God unto salvation . . .” (Romans 1:16). The Hebrew writer proclaimed that the “word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword . . .” (Hebrews 4:12). Yet, some do not see the Bible as the final and complete revelation of God. Paul told Timothy to preach the Word of God, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Those who do not see the Word of God as the only authority are those who turn their ears from the truth, from unity, turning to fables, storytelling and feel good speeches because they have not used the Word of God and have the wrong attitude toward the Scriptures. It is interesting that when a young man was once approached about his sinful life of homosexuality and if he respected the Bible, he responded, “I don’t give a hoot about the Bible!” Is this how many see the Bible today? If the Word of God is not the final authority for religious unity, there can be none! Unity, without the New Testament being the final answer to every religious question, simply cannot exist. And where men have added to the Bible, unity does not have the heart-beat of a chance! So, what do we do?
LOVE FOR THE LORD IS THE ANSWER
Jesus stated clearly, that the path to true unity is to come together in the love of and on the authority of His Word (1 John 1:7). That demands that each of us love the Lord more than we love self, kinfolks, or our own opinions (Matthew 10:37). He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” ( John 14:15). He said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14). The church of Christ in your community agree in these sentiments of the Lord. We have contended for these sentiments through the years, but we have been looked upon by the enemies of the cross as narrow minded. Yet, if one seeks to only follow that which is in God’s Word, does that also make God narrowminded? Jesus prayed for unity of His followers and gave all who would listen the way it was accomplished (John 17:20-21). Unity is suppose to be good and pleasant (Psalm 133:1). Unity is commanded (1 Corinthians 1:10; Ephesians 4:1-5) while, division is condemned with the strongest of language (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Romans 16:17-18; 2 Thessalonians 3:6).
THREE WAYS TO TRUE RELIGIOUS UNITY
There is no doubt that unity can be achieved. But, the fear or biggest obstacle is that many do not want it! Loving the doctrines and practices of men and loving their places in these divisions, causes many eyes to be closed and hearts hardened (Matthew 13:15-17). We can have true religious unity provided we are willing to recognize the following three things:
(1). True religious unity can be obtained by recognizing Christ as the only Head, Ruler and Legislator of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Matthew 28:18-19). This would eliminate the Pope, all governing councils and chairmen, conventions and synods and committees because they cannot rule as the head of the church.
(2). True religious unity can be obtained by recognizing the Bible as the only source of religious authority (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3). This would eliminate all divergent standards, as health with Key to the Scriptures, the Book of Mormons, Prayer Books, creeds, manuals and Catechisms. For the pleading of unity’s sake, let us go back to the Bible (1 Peter 4:11).
(3). True religious unity can be obtained by recognizing the one body, the church as revealed in the New Testament Scriptures. This is the one that Jesus said He would build (Matthew 16:18), the one which wears His name and to which He (not us) adds the saved (Acts 2:47), the one which He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). This would eliminate denominational bodies for the body of Christ (Colossians 1:18).
Indeed, true religious unity can be attained! What a thrilling thought! But we must be guided by the New Testament in matters of doctrine, practice and worship. Therefore, let us cease being divided over things not found in the Word of God.