A plea for unity and one spiritual body

Published 8:38 am Friday, August 3, 2018

Encarta online dictionary defines denomination as a religious grouping within a faith that has its own system of organization. However, if we are honest with ourselves, we must conclude that if every person would come to serve and worship God in simplicity and in truth there would be no denominations. Consider the first century church; the disciples taught the Word of God and as that Word fell into receptive hearts (Matt. 13:1-14) it grew and brought forth fruit. According to Acts 2:41 & 47, those who obeyed God’s simple plan of salvation were added to the same group, the church. According to Acts 11:26 these people were simply called Christians. There were no human names attached to them or their religious practice as is seen in today’s religious scene. The Bible teaches that if we believe in Jesus, confess His name, repent of sins and are baptized into Christ, the Lord adds us to His church. We then are to continue as members of that one spiritual body without joining a denomination.
When individuals obey what the Bible says they become Christians and Christians only; they become members of the church Jesus established. Denominationalism minimizes the eternal purpose of the church and maximizes the desires of mankind to the exclusion of God’s desires for mankind. Within the church is the manifest wisdom of God’s eternal purpose through Jesus (Eph. 3:8-13).
We must realize that the church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). In Romans 16:16, the Apostle Paul refers to the churches of Christ. This was a reference to the different congregations in that region and they were all taught the same doctrine and practiced it. What is interesting is that the church is referred in many ways in the New Testament (the way, church of Christ, church of God, bride of Christ) but not one mention of a divisive denominational name was ever used because they taught, believed and practiced the same things.
We should remember that Jesus prayed for unity (John 17:21). If we would all go to the Word of God and follow it without prejudice, denominationalism would all but fade away. On the day of Pentecost when Peter preached to the Jews concerning the life, death and resurrection of Jesus they were convicted of sin and asked what must we do? Peter’s answer was simple and pure and inspired from God. It involved repentance and baptism for the remission of sins. Those who complied were added to the church of the first century. Will we allow the Word of God to convict us of our sins?
In conclusion, we should see that the wearing of names originating with men fosters division. This should not be so difficult since we agree that it is scriptural to refer to individuals simply as “Christians.” This is scriptural and proper and this type of thinking leads to total unity. If the Bible teaches it we should obey it, if the Bible condemns it we should avoid it, if the Bible is silent on a matter so should we be silent. If we can agree on the previous then knowing that the people of God can be scripturally identified as “the body of Christ, the church of God, the church, or the church of Christ should not be difficult since this is also scriptural. Regardless of the issues (Lord’s Supper, God’s plan of Salvation, Immersion for the remission of sins, Mechanical instruments of music, Man given names) we should allow God to settle the issues. We must have a desire to do the will of God (Matthew 7:21-23) or we will suffer the consequences.
My prayer is that each of us will seek for truth as given in the Word of God that we may all be united.
(Tony Hoss is minister at Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton. He can be contacted at 737-2287 or by e-mail at tmagho1@comcast.net)

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