In I Corinthians 1:10 Paul wrote to a congregation that was badly divided, and said: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Be honest; Does that sound anything like the religious climate that is present today? When you see “churches” with a variety of names teaching a variety of opposing doctrines, it is not difficult to see that this instruction is not being followed today by many people.
Just before going to the cross, in chapter 17 John records a prayer of our Lord, in which He discusses three things. He discusses His relationship to His Father: “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (v. 4). He discusses His apostles and their work: “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word” (v. 6). He then prays, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (vs 20-21).
“Those who will believe on me through their (the apostles’) word” includes all who “believe in Jesus” today. The prayer is for unity. Again, be honest. Is that what you see in the religious community around you?
How can we “be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee”? How can we all “speak the same thing” and have “no divisions among us”? God, though his inspired apostles and writers, never requires anything that is not possible for us to attain. So, it is obvious that the religious division and the teaching of a variety of opposing doctrines, is not the fault of the Father. That only leaves men. Again we ask, “How can we speak the same thing?”
It is really quite simple. The psalmist informs us, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). Paul said we are to “walk by the same rule” (Phil. 3:16). John warns us that we must “abide in the doctrine of Christ” (II John 9b). Paul gives the rule for everything we teach (say) and do: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17). In short, Paul says if you do not have authority for it in God’s word, do not say it or do it! Just heeding this instruction will settle ALL of the differences that exist in the religious world.
That is all that we are asking today. Put away all doctrines of men, creed books, manuals, traditions of men, and all other uninspired writings, and open the Book and follow ONLY what it authorizes. May God help us all to make that our determination in the coming year and always!
Paul M. Wilmoth