1 Corinthians 1:10-13 CJB “Nevertheless, brothers, I call on you in the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah to agree, all of you, in what you say, and not to let yourselves remain split into factions but be restored to having a common mind and a common purpose. 11 For some of Chloe’s people have made it known to me, my brothers, that there are quarrels among you. 12 I say this because one of you says, “I follow Sha’ul”; another says, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Kefa”; while still another says, “I follow the Messiah!” 13 Has the Messiah been split in pieces? Was it Sha’ul who was put to death on a stake for you? Were you immersed into the name of Sha’ul?”
This passage came to mind yesterday as I was thinking about my journey with the Lord. I am blessed to have been exposed to various groups in the Church. Yet, as much of a blessing as my journey has been, I felt conflicted with each season because I never completely fit into a particular group. But like the passage we just read, I am in the Church; it doesn’t matter that I don’t fit into one specific group.
The body of Christ is not divided, and denominations were never God’s plan. I have been reading the book of James daily for a while now, and this passage stuck out to me today.
James 3:13-18 CJB “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him demonstrate it by his good way of life, by actions done in the humility that grows out of wisdom. 14 But if you harbor in your hearts bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, don’t boast and attack the truth with lies! 15 This wisdom is not the kind that comes down from above; on the contrary, it is worldly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where there are jealousy and selfish ambition, there will be disharmony and every foul practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is, first of all, pure, then peaceful, kind, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 And peacemakers who sow seed in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”
There are false teachers and teachings in the Church today. There is error in the Church today, and there is truth being proclaimed in the Church today. I endeavor to be careful in not mixing categories when it comes to someone being in error and someone teaching falsehood. While it is true that some error is outright false teaching, the person introducing a particular error may be ignorant.
I know God is more gracious than I am, so I try to keep that in mind before naming someone a false teacher. But that is more of a side road, so I’ll return to my original thought.
The Corinthians began elevating certain teachers over the person and message of Jesus. This is what has become of the Calvinist and Arminian debate. This is what has become of different streams in the same movement. And I submit this is all a direct result of the Church abandoning its Jewish roots.
I have always had a heart for revival and unity in the Church. However, unity will not come in the Protestant Church returning to Roman Catholicism. True biblical oneness is Jew and Gentile being one in Jesus. We don’t need to return to Rome or the Reformation theologically; we need to return to Jerusalem.
Romans 11:11-12, 16-24 CJB “In that case, I say, isn’t it that they have stumbled with the result that they have permanently fallen away?” Heaven forbid! Quite the contrary, it is by means of their stumbling that the deliverance has come to the Gentiles, in order to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Moreover, if their stumbling is bringing riches to the world — that is, if Isra’el’s being placed temporarily in a condition less favored than that of the Gentiles is bringing riches to the latter — how much greater riches will Isra’el in its fullness bring them! Now if the hallah offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole loaf. And if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you — a wild olive — were grafted in among them and have become equal sharers in the rich root of the olive tree, 18 then don’t boast as if you were better than the branches! However, if you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, the root is supporting you. 19 So you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 True, but so what? They were broken off because of their lack of trust. However, you keep your place only because of your trust. So don’t be arrogant; on the contrary, be terrified! 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he certainly won’t spare you! 22 So take a good look at God’s kindness and his severity: on the one hand, severity toward those who fell off; but, on the other hand, God’s kindness toward you — provided you maintain yourself in that kindness! Otherwise, you too will be cut off! 23 Moreover, the others, if they do not persist in their lack of trust, will be grafted in; because God is able to graft them back in. 24 For if you were cut out of what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree!”
I am thankful for the calls for unity in the Church. The unity many desire is being pursued in ways and theologies that will further divide the Church. We must acknowledge the error of replacement theology in the Church. It began before Constantine, continued through the fathers of the Reformation, and continues in many mainline denominations.
If we want to see unity, we must return to the roots of our faith. Those roots are not Rome, the Reformation, or revivals. The origins of the Church are that of a Jewish Jesus, a Jewish Peter, and even a Jewish Paul. If we believe that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever if we believe that God is not a man that He should lie, we must seriously consider the everlasting promises we find at the beginning of our Bible.