One God | Salvation | Baptism | Faith
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Touch and Agree? | One Body? | One Liners
This is probably one of the most damaging heresies of this day. What does the Bible say in reference to the body of Christ? Is there room for the conflicting doctrines of denominationalism? Which denomination is the right one if any? Let's find out.
Paul makes an interesting statement: Ephesians 4:4-6, "[There is] one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who [is] above all, and through all, and in you all. " This is a power packed sentence which I will use in other instances but let's focus upon the statement of there being only one body.
If there is only one body there are certain things that must be true of that body. What are the characteristics of this body? Who is in this body and how do they gain admittance?
2 Corinthians 5:17-19, "Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. " How does one become a new creation or to put it another way to be reborn. Jesus said in: John3:5, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." and again: John 4:24, "God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth." Rebirth takes the water or baptism in the name of Jesus Christ as prescribed in many places in the Bible and the rebirth by the Spirit. Note that Jesus said "and". If you have the baptism and not the Holy Ghost you are not reborn and if you have the Spirit and not the baptism you are not reborn. It really is that simple.
Why are there so many denominations? Are their teachings really what the Bible prescribes? First the term denomination is incorrect. Let us use the example of money. If you want something that cost $10.00, you can pay using 10 bills of the denomination of one or two bills of the denomination of 5. Although money has different denominations it accomplishes the same end. This is what many try to claim about all who name the name of Jesus. Now let's consider the fact that Mexican Pesos have no value in America regardless of their face value unless you get them to a point of exchange. This "all in the body who name the name of Jesus" doctrine would have us believe that the Baptist, Catholics, Seven Day Adventist, Pentecostal and all the rest are all basically the same thing like money but placing different values on specifis aspects of the same gospel. If you will listen to them it is appearent quickly that their doctrines are in impossible conflict and there is no way to reconcile these differences without calling someone just plain wrong. Does the Bible teach that there is any room for division? No.
What is the force that unifies the members of the body and what is the difference between diversity and division? How important is doctrine and how dogmatic must we be in adhering to it. Paul said: Galatians 1:6-9, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. " If Paul himself pronounced damnation upon anyone, himself included that changed what he had preached I would say you have to stick very close to his original teachings. Jesus said: John 8:28, "Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am [he], and [that] I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things." If Jesus was only repeating what the Father had spoken then who indeed can add to His teachings.
Two common misconceptions at this point are that these teachings were for the people of that time only and that Paul and by implication Jesus: since Paul taught only what Jesus had taught, didn't have the complete revelation. I hear the argument a lot but I have yet to hear any support for either of these. Consider: 1 Corinthians 1:12-13, "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? " The answer is of course that Christ is not divided. As with our physical bodies we can survive diversity of function but not division. The hand has a different use than the foot and this diversity is actually an asset but if either is divided or cut off from the rest of the body it dies. Does the Bible describe such an arrangement in the body of Christ.
Consider: Romans 12:3-5, "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. " If there is no division in the body of Christ, what is all this bickering of the denominations all about?
The answer is: 1 Corinthians 11:19, "For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." All of the fuss is to make it plain who has the approval of God. I can hear you even as I write, "How can we tell the difference since they all sound the same?" Let me say at this point that every denomination more or less holds to a certain portion of the truth. I will address these at another time and expose the "holes" and "left turns" of a few of the most popular. The real acid test is do they hold to the whole truth in the Bible cover to cover. How can we tell?
Jesus said in John 14:6-7, "... I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. " This is the central unifying tennent in the body: that when you have seen Jesus you have seen the Father in His express manifest presence. Need more? Consider: 1 John 4:1-3, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. " Jesus Christ: sinless flesh saturated with the Spirit of God the Father. With this test it becomes easy to see which are approved and which are not. There are many other "litch pin" tests but for the sake of brevity I will not go into them here.
I offer finally: John 13:34-35, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. " where love should be translated "self sacrifice for no immediate personal gain". Also consider that if two hold opposing views of the truth the only possibilities are either they are both wrong or one is right and the other is wrong. How do you know which? If you have the truth you can easily tell by comparing each to that truth. Jesus is the Truth and the Bible is His "yardstick"!