What is this spirit of contention and this spirit of rivalry and competition among ministers of Christ? All the ministers, the true ministers of Christ, are all helping to gather in the elect from the four corners of the earth. They are to evangelize and feed the flock of Jesus Christ.
Now is denominationalism a sin?
It can be. When we fail to recognize the Spirit at work in those who differ from us, not in the essentials of religion, but in the non-essentials. We are to love all men but especially those who love the savior and do the works of God however different they may operate from our mode or method.
Christ has given liberty in certain areas, not that we are to worship as we please but only as directed by the Scriptures and yet there is within this liberty a difference of understanding. Only charity will patiently bear with those who see things a little differently. Note, I said a little differently.
Remember the disciple John who said Lord we saw one casting out devils in your name and we forbade him because he followeth not with us. Jesus said unto him, "Forbid him not; for he that is not against us is for us." Luke 9:50
This is perhaps one scripture that can be used to justify denominations but not to the point of schismatism. We must have a tolerant and generous spirit, ecumenical spirit if you will, but without embracing the ecumenical movement. If possible we should learn to live at peace with all men. We must speak the things which become sound doctrine. (Titus 2:5) and be more quick to agree on the things that are clear and evident, rejoicing in the truth, rather than as is so often the case between churches. This means we should not be so divisive and disagreeable on things which are not so clear and evident. Quarelling about non-essentials, that is, non salvation issues is not wise.
The history of the world records the massive bloodshed resulting from wars which took place in the name of God and a religious cause and have given Christianity a bad name and gave occasion for the enemies of the gospel to blaspheme the worthy name of Jesus whom we Christians serve. These wars have resulted when men mistook the nature of the kingdom and of our warfare.
Through ignorance we have been ever ready to take up arms like Peter and cut asunder those with fleshly weapons who oppose us not knowing that "they who live by the sword shall die by the sword." Matthew 26:52
It is not a carnal, fleshly war that demands us, as individual persons, to take up arms. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Eph. 6:12
By having on the whole armor of God we will be able to withstand our enemy the Devil. The Christian life is one of warfare but not of the earthly type. We hate the Devil our enemy and seek to vanquish and empty his army of all it's rebels, the lost soldiers of a defeated foe.
We don't hate lost people but we through the power of the gospel pull down spiritual strongholds that gain ground on men's souls. We speak the truth in love and demonstrate the power of our faith, which works by love, in Jesus Christ and not human wisdom and argument.
The task of the believer is to simply be a faithful witness by bearing witness of the truth knowing that it will set men free (free from the bondage of sin) the penalty and power of sin which damns them to hell amidst their unbelief. We call men to repentance and belief in our Lord Jesus Christ knowing that only by the Spirit of Christ can dead men live and enter that kingdom that can not be moved, reserved in heaven for them who are kept by the power of God. Eph. 2:1-10; Heb. 12:28; 1 Pet. 1:4,5
In humility and lowliness of mind we must not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think knowing that our knowledge is not complete nor is our wisdom infallible therefore there will be chinks in our armor and when the shield is down the arrows will fly.
But let us be ready to contend for the faith in the spirit of meekness "speaking the truth in love: and use all lawful means at our disposal in our attempts at persuading others of the truth knowing in the final analysis it is not with the enticing words of man's wisdom as Paul said in 1 Corinthians chapter 2 but we preach in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. We compare spiritual things with spiritual things knowing it is God who must open our spiritual understanding; therefore, there is never any reason to boast about how much we know or how we've arrived at truth. Never let us think we have arrived at complete truth for whatever we know and however much we think we know yet let him know this that he knows nothing as he ought to know. 1 Corinthians 8:2
Consider the rivalry between Baptists and Presbyterians over the issue of baptism. Would a Presbyterian feel dishonored to have a Charles Spurgeon preach from his pulpit? I think not. Would a Baptist be dishonored to have a George Whitefield or a Martin Lloyd-Jones preach from his pulpit? I think not.
Some Presbyterians use to be Baptists at one time and would a Presbyterian consider a Baptist minister who was Calvinistic and Reformed in doctrine to be less qualified than himself because he differs on the non-essentials of believers only baptism? Is this how we define a true church? Away with such pride. Who makes you to differ from another and what do you have that wasn't given to you? If it was given to you why do you boast as if it wasn't given to you? 1 Cor. 4:7
Is there a Biblical warrant for open communion, open exchange of pulpits and open membership? A former Westminster professor, John Frame, whom I once spoke to, seemed to think so. I think this is a debatable issue where further discussion would only benefit the body of Christ.
Let us be in prayer that God through Jesus Christ and His holy Spirit would unify us and sanctify us through His truth to which none have a monopoly.
Carlton Pruitt ministers the gospel to the Los Angeles area. Formerly a Hollywood actor (SAG member)and junk removal expert he now spends most of his time studying the scriptures, writing articles, hymns and poems and doing street preaching. See his videos on www.YouTube.com. Type in LAStreetPreacher in the search bar. CONTACT at Carlton2061@gmail.com
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