New Testament Christianity
Sectarianism and the Future
Have you ever wondered...
More than 1,000 denominations exist in America alone. Those who call themselves Christians are more divided now than ever before. Conflicting doctrines, even contradicting doctrines, are professed by millions, while all claim to be followers of God.
- Why there are so many churches teaching so many different doctrines?
- Why religious people don't just put aside their differences and come together to the glory of God?
Jesus was concerned about such division. In John 17 we find Jesus praying to His Father in heaven just moments before He was arrested and later put to death. After praying for those with Him, he expressed to the Father His concern:
Jesus prayed that His followers be united. One. Not divided as we see today. Have those who claim to follow Jesus lived up to His prayer? Certainly not!
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they may be one in Us." John 17: 20,21
Jesus said more in verse 21. Hear the reason Jesus prayed for unity: "...that they may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me."
Jesus was concerned that division would cause many in the world not to believe in Him as God's Son. Certainly this has happened. Today, many scoff at Christianity and point to the division as the very reason they have no desire to be a part. Perhaps you, too, have felt this way. If Jesus does not want division, why does it exist?
Let me suggest several reasons:
These and many other reasons exist, but let's establish a foundation upon which to build our understanding of how Jesus wants us to think and act.
- Lack of understanding in God's word. Many people today do not study God's word but let priests and preachers tell them what to believe.
- Some people are not willing to be led by God's word. They desire to add to or change God's plan.
- Some mistakenly believe that differences are good and promote variety in God's church, making it more appealing to a larger number of people.
- People divide, not over what the Bible says, but what it does not say.
Ending division begins with a change in our thinking
Living in a democracy where each person has a vote, we tend to feel that we should have a say in everything. What men need to understand is that Jesus did not build His church as a democracy. His church is a theocracy; that is, Jesus is it's head and direction comes down from Him. Ephesians 1: 22,23.
That is why Jesus asked the question in Luke 6:46, "But why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things which I say?" The church is Jesus' church and He is its head. Man has not been given authority to change His word concerning the teachings, organization or actions of His church.
Notice what the apostle John said in 2 John 9, "Whoever transgresses [goes beyond] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God."
Hear Paul in Colossians 3:17, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him".
The New Covenant Christian Movement
The appearance of another Church with a new name (New Covenant Church of God) may not, at first, appear to satisfy the real need to break down denominational barriers. But herein lies a dilemma. When Christians meet together they must, of necessity, organise to some extent in order to fulfil the commission of the Church taught in the New Testament. We may pretend that we are just the "universal Christian church" -- a "non-denominational" church if you will -- but the reality is always different.
Some try to get around this 'problem' by not meeting at all except within their families. The problem is that either real evangelism ceases altogether or those brought to Christ find themselves gravitating to an existing denomination for fellowship and praise.
Like it or not, in this physical world we need physical fences in order to contain, maintain and build. Though it may be removed from the ideal, this world is not ideal.
The New Covenant Church of God does not exist to promote further sectarianism even though in its outward appearance it may appear to do so. It is a point of gravity for those of like mind and heart who have been called to perform a special work. This does not, however, mean that its fence does not have gates in it. Recognising, as we do, the Universal Church -- the invisible Church of the Holy Spirit -- means that we are obliged to recognise all true Christians in every church and denomination. It means that we must not selfishly use our gifts and ministries for just ourselves but share them with other churches and denominations if they desire them. And it also means we must we willing to receive the ministries and gifts of others and other churches for our spiritual growth and consolidation.
So long as we keep in view the truth that all denominational and church barriers are going to fall down in the last day anyway this should not be too difficult. For this reason this Church is happy to share its ministry with other Churches in the great commission (evangelism and teaching).
We wish this message to come across clearly to our brethren in other churches by stating that we desire to cooperate with them in the essentials of the faith which all can be agreed upon with the understanding that one day we will all be part of one visible congregation.
For now we must be realistic, though. Differences do persist but that ought to be no more of an obstacle to cooperation than the differences in personality of family members prevents them from working together as a whole family.
To maintain this vision and hope does, of course, mean suppressing some of our differences when we are together. I think this is the success of the Billy Graham Evangelictic Crusades for he focuses on the simple truths that all true Christians are agreed upon.
New Covenant Christians have had happy working relations with Baptists, Pentecostals, independents and others over the years. We wish to foster those relationships wherever possible in recognition of our common future together as One Body.
The desire of all New Testament Christians is, ultimately: "To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:21). About that it should not be too difficult to agree.
This page was created on 5 February 1999
Last updated on 5 February 1999
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