God's Plan for Unity
Christ said, "He that is not with me is against me." Perhaps there is no passage of scripture that gives stronger reason for the need of religious unity today that this one passage. Christ explicitly says that if I do not stand with him I stand against him.
The religious world not united, and if religious world is united within itself, how can it be united with Christ? The Lord is not the author of division. For the Lord himself said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
The religious world is disturbed over divisions, but all man-devised attempts to create unity have failed, and will continue to fail. The apostle Paul told the church at Corinthians 1:10, "Now I beseech you brethren, through 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." And until we are of the same mind and of the same judgment, we cannot be right, nor can we all be saved.
Plan For Unity
I want to tell you that there IS a plan for UNITY. There is a way for all to be united, not merely in union, but by being of the same mind and of the same judgment. Until we do everything possible to put this plan into force, we stand condemned! There is a plan of which I can read, and by which every person in the world could believe the same thing, practice the same thing and preach the save thing. This in not my plan. It is not original with me or with this century. Someone asks, "Will it work?" Yes, and the reason that I know that it will work is because it is God's plan. It is not only the means, but it is the ONLY means by which men today may become one religiously.
Unity Is Possible
First of all, we must believe that UNITY is possible. I know it is possible, because the Lord himself prayed that we be one in John 17:21-23. I know it is possible because Paul rebuked the church at Corinth because they were not united, and he also commanded us to be of the same mind and of the same judgment (1 Cor. 1:10). If we really and truly want to be united, we can be. But if we convince ourselves that it is impossible, it will be impossible.
We remember the story of the two engines. The large engine that looked at the heavy load said, "can't", and it couldn't. The little engine said "I think I can", and it did. In prejudice, and in the desire for preeminence, we have convinced ourselves that it is impossible to be united in Christ.
The first step in bringing about unity among all religious peoples is to accept a standard of rule. We can be united on the definition of a word because we accept Webster's Dictionary as the standard of rule. We can likewise be united in religion if we will accept God's standard, The New Testament! Christ, in the 17th chapter of John verse 17 prayed, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." Therefore, we know that the word of God, the Bible, is true because it is God's word.
In John 16:13 Christ promised the apostles that when he left he would send the Holy Spirit who could "rude them into all truth. Peter said that this Spirit came (Acts 2:1617), and Jude said that the faith had been once for all delivered unto the saints (Jude 3). The word "faith" here means doctrine. So the doctrine of Christ was once for all delivered.
Peter said, concerning the scripture, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man; but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:20-21). Paul told Timothy that "All scripture is inspired of God and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness that the man of God might be perfect, completely furnished unto all good works." If the Spirit was to guide the apostles into all truth, and Peter testified that it did, and Jude said the doctrine had been once for all delivered, and Paul said that the scripture was inspired and complete--then the scripture written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit contains the doctrine necessary, and all truth necessary, for men to do God's will, and be united into ONE BODY. Or what else do we need? Is not then, the New Testament the standard of rule that God has given us? Indeed, let us speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where it is silent-- and we have then laid the basis for unity, my friends, as the Lord desired.
It is not hard to see the possibility of' UNITY when we use only God's blueprint for it. However, we can see that if various religious groups came together and began to discuss how that they might be united, confusion would occur, because each representative would strive to have the name of his group adopted for a united body. That is the very reason MAN cannot change the plan' given by the Lord, and the very reason that we shall not see unity, until man himself decides to come to the plan God has set forth in the New Testament. THEN we shall see UNITY, and not before!
First of all, according to this plan, what should we believe and teach a person regarding the mission of the church to save the world? Some of my religious friends say, "Let us believe that all a man must do is BELIEVE". That the doctrine of salvation by faith only is a doctrine "full of comfort," is a statement used by many. Some say, "Let a man merely kneel by the radio or raise his hand and pray that Christ will be his personal saviour." Another says, "No, there is not anything we can do to be saved, for we are predestined to be lost or saved before we are born, and nothing we can do will change our fate." Still another says. "I believe that when a man repents, he is saved," and yet another contends, "Man must pray that God will send the Holy Spirit upon him in a miraculous form, and he then must pray through." But what does the divine pattern say? If we accept the Bible as the standard of rule and the final court of appeal, then we should all be satisfied with doing exactly what it says!
True, we must believe (Heb. 11:6, Jno. 8:24). But faith alone is not enough. James says in chapter 2 verses 24-26, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and out the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." So we are going to have to include something besides believing. We must also repent. The apostle Paul said so in Acts 17:30. This is the second thing necessary toward salvation, as Peter included in Acts 2:38. In Romans 10:10 the apostle said we must confess our faith with our mouth. We also have example of confession in Acts chapter 8, verse 37. The Master said in Mark 16:1, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believe not shall be damned."
These references are plain enough for any of us to understand. But for further emphasis we can read about eleven examples of conversions in the book of Acts. It is a simple matter for us to become united upon these facts by accepting the word of God as a final authority, and not man's. So then the New Testament teaches that we must 11ear the word, believe it, repent from our sins, confess the faith we have in Christ before men, and be baptized for the remission of past sins. Why is it a difficult matter for religious groups of the world to become united, as simple as these truths are?
Could we not then be united on all things by using this simple principle of hearing what the word of God says and following it, rather than interpreting it according to our personal whims 7 Remembers the words of Paul in Galatians 1:8-10? The Lord's plan for unity is simply summed up in Ephesians 4:1-6 where Paul says. "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 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 you all."
Yes, we can have unity if we are willing to lose ourselves in the effort to follow Christ, forgetting the words of men and accepting the word of God. We can all be one! Can you not picture the marvelous things that could be done if we would but join hands, be of the same mind and of the same judgment believing the same things, teaching the same things, and preaching the same things found in the word of God?
Because the destiny of the soul's of millions is upon our shoulders we will have to take the courage to stand for Christ. May the Lord help us in our effort to bring it about!
Truth Magazine VII: 3, pp. 21-23