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In our day, we hear much about Christian unity. Some of this is good, but most of it is bad. True Christian unity is something Christians need to strive for, since Christians are in one body, with Christ Jesus as the Head (1 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 5:23). God wants no division in the body (1 Cor. 12:25). Real Christians are all on the same team with a common goal. The true, Biblical unity is also referred to in Eph. 4:3,13.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph 4:3)
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:11-13)
Moreover, the Lord prayed for unity among those who are true followers:
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (Jn. 17:20-23).
Without doubt, Christian unity is important to God, but such Christian unity is only among Christians! To unify Christians with religious people who are not Christians will result in confusion, spiritual harm and apostasy. So a major issue here is who is a Christian so we can unify with him? To answer that, both one’s life and doctrine must be considered. Real Christians have experienced the new creation and are living holy now as they follow Jesus:
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil.... (1 John 3:7,8)
This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)
In contrast to all of this, there is also a false unity offered and promoted by the devil! The counterfeit would like to combine all who merely profess a belief in Jesus Christ under one religious banner of tolerance. They seem to think we should unite on things like the Lord’s prayer. They also believe doctrine is not important. Unwittingly they must not realize that very statement, doctrine is not important, is in itself a doctrine! Therefore, such false unity seekers really do believe doctrine is important! In fact, that very unscriptural doctrine seems to be their standard to judge and condemn all, who believe otherwise, as unloving and divisive! The real truth is: doctrine is important. The Apostle Paul, who stressed unity also commanded Titus:
You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).
In fact, to qualify as an elder one must not only hold to sound doctrine, but also must be able to refute those who oppose it:
He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:9).
Paul also taught a separation and division that few in our day seem to know of, especially those pushing an ecumenical unity! He taught we should keep away from people who cause division and put spiritual obstacles in our way that are contrary to the apostle’s doctrines:
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people (Rom. 16:17,18).
Notice what else he taught about separation:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
The Apostle John, who exalted Christian love, magnified true doctrine (or teaching). Please note the spiritual harm that can be done:
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work (2 Jn. 10,11).
Doctrine is one of the reasons why the Bible was given (2 Tim. 3:16). Moreover, the loving Lord Jesus Himself exalted true doctrine and warned against false doctrine:
“Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees .... How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. 16:6,11,12).
While it is true that Jesus ate and drank with sinners in an effort to evangelize them, he never shared the teaching platform with false teachers or joined an organization consisting of such! Neither did any of the Apostles. If the Lord Jesus or his apostles would have done so, Christians would have misunderstood such acceptance as being an endorsement of the wrong. He then would have been lending to their credibility by not denouncing them. Christ was and is love incarnate, yet he is also the supreme example of uncompromising fidelity to the truth! No one publicly denounced the Pharisees like the loving Lord Jesus (Matt. 23:1-33), who wanted unity among his true followers and prayed for such.
Similarly, Paul and Barnabas had a sharp dispute and debate with people teaching false doctrine regarding salvation (Acts 15:1,2). This conflict led to the Council at Jerusalem, which resulted in good. An inside look at Paul’s conflict with them is cited in Gal. 2:5:
We did not give in to them [false brothers] for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.
Their example shows that truth regarding the plan of salvation is pre-eminent over unity with other religious people! Therefore, to unify at the expense of truth is NOT from God. That is not Christian unity, but the devil’s false unity. Furthermore, Paul risked Christian unity with Peter to maintain truth, when Peter was in error! See Gal. 2:11-21.
There is also another obvious problem with today’s false unity. Why is the doctrine of the Trinity exalted over the plan of salvation? In 2 Cor. 11:4, we see that it is just as bad to preach a different gospel as it is to preach a different Jesus! (The gospel is the plan of salvation, 1 Cor. 4:15; 15:1,2; Rom. 1:16,17.) How, then, can well-known speakers share a teaching platform with a Catholic priest, Mormon or someone else, who represents a religious system which represents a dangerously false plan of salvation responsible for leading multitudes to hell?
Why aren’t present-day Christian leaders following Jesus’ example? Can’t they see the spiritual harm that is being done? Such false unity coming forth from the Ecumenical Movement, Charismatic Conference, Promise Keepers and other similar meetings is certainly not the kind that proceeds from the Spirit of Truth, also known as the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:17; 15:26), who inspired the writings of the Scriptures! A false unity leads to an amalgamation with the unholy and untrue and must, therefore, be avoided! If not, spiritual harm will certainly occur. That is why many have been duped to return to Catholicism and thereby to infant baptism, the papal Mary needed for salvation, etc.
The Holy Spirit had Paul exalt the true plan of salvation with an anathema warning for all who preached a false gospel. Why exalt the true gospel to that degree? Because it is the ONLY message that can bring forth true salvation:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:8-10).
According to the aforementioned Scripture, Paul took such an uncompromised dogmatic stand because he was trying to please God! Present-day servant of God, if you take such a Scriptural stand as Paul did, misinformed people will probably wrongly judge you as unloving and divisive. Remember, Paul was godly and spoke as a man approved by God and entrusted with the gospel. He wasn’t trying to please men, but God:
On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts (1 Thess. 2:4).
May the true saints of God strive for Christian unity and avoid the false unity like the proverbial plague!
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Latter Day Saints (Witnessing To Mormons)
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