Know Your Bible
July 1998

Unity In Christ

"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." (2 John 9)

Are you one of many who are bewildered by all the different churches that can be found? Have you ever wondered how they all came into existence? The above passage gives us a great insight. Contrary to what many people believe and think, not everything taught in religious circles is "the doctrine of Christ". If so, why does this verse warn about transgressing and abiding not in the doctrine of Christ?

The only true basis for unity, in view of all the division in the religious world, is to abide in the doctrine of Christ as we find it clearly set forth in the inspired Scriptures. So often it is not a question of "What does the Bible teach?" but rather, it is a question of "Are we willing to abide in only what the Bible teaches?" If so, denominations must throw away their creeds, manuals, disciplines, confessions of faith, etc. If these creeds contain only what is found in the Scriptures, as some allege, why are they necessary? "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16,17). Why is there a need for creeds which only serve to divide? Would it not be better to do away with them and use only the Bible?

The doctrine of Christ teaches there is "one body" (Ephesians 4:4) and the body is the church (Ephesians 1:22,23; Colossians 1:18). Christ built His church (Matthew 16:18) and purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20:28). To make such statements as: "One church is as good as another" or "Join the church of your choice" is not abiding in the doctrine of Christ.

We find in the doctrine of Christ that the church is made up of saints, bishops (elders), and deacons (Philippians 1:1). It is only when we transgress and abide not in the doctrine of Christ that we introduce popes, reverends, synogues, pulpit ministers, ministers of music, etc. We know what the Bible teaches so why can't we be content and abide in it.

The doctrine of Christ defines the work of the church to be "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15), "the perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12). Are we abiding in the doctrine of Christ to involve the church in providing social meals in a fellowship hall, ball teams and all manner of other sports, recreation, and entertainment?

The doctrine of Christ teaches us that "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6) and that "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Where is it found in the Scriptures that we are "saved the moment we believe" or that "we are saved by faith only" as many denominations teach?

In the doctrine of Christ we find that baptism is a burial (Romans 6:3; Colossians 2:12) and it is "for the remission (forgiveness) of sins" (Acts 2:38). Also, the Scriptures teach that a person, before being baptized, must "believe" (Mark 16:16) and "repent" (Acts 2:38). Knowing that this is what the Scriptures teach, where do we read (except in the creeds of man) that baptism has nothing to do with saving a person, infants are proper subjects to receive baptism, or that baptism can be administered by sprinkling or pouring water on a person?

What does the doctrine of Christ teach about the way which Christ's church is to be designated? Romans 16:16 says, "The churches of Christ..." while 1 Corinthians 1:2 says "the church of God". Where do we find, in the doctrine of Christ, such designations as: Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc.?

The doctrine of Christ teaches that the Lord's Supper was taken upon the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Therefore, we know that if we take the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week, we have both the authority and approval of God. What about churches today who practice taking it on Saturday (seventh day) or only on Easter or once monthly or quarterly?

We learn in 1 Corinthians 16:1,2 that early Christians in all the Lord's churches gave as they were prospered on the first day of the week. If we do this today, there will be no question concerning our "abiding in the doctrine of Christ". What about bake sales, car washes, rummage sales, or raffles?

The doctrine of Christ teaching that our worship to the Lord is through the use of "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts..." (Ephesians 5:18; also Colossians 3:16). Nowhere does the doctrine of Christ teach the playing of mechanical instruments in our worship to God. Therefore, to do so is to transgress and abide not in the doctrine of Christ.

In all these areas that we have examined it is not a question of what does the Scriptures teach for that is clear. Where the division and resulting denominations have emerged is when we go beyond (transgress) what we find in the Scriptures. The only genuine unity is when we abide in the doctrine of Christ for then we have both the Father and the Son.

---E.R. Hall, Jr.

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