By Bobby L. Graham
It is a matter of record that there has been considerable drifting from the paths of New Testament teaching regarding how one becomes a Christian, the identity of the Lord’s church, the composition of the body of Christ, the scriptural functioning of a local church, acceptable practice in the area of marriage- divorce-remarriage, and even other matters. A recent advertisement in the Athens News Courier documented the participation of two congregations in a county youth rally, as it listed them as “church sponsors” with several denominational congregations. Especially telling was the claim that sponsors were interested in sowing the seed of Jesus Christ and encouraging unity among all who trust in Jesus.
Let it be remembered that Jesus promoted and prayed for that unity, but he based it on the word that the apostles would later teach (John 17:20). Unity sought on any other basis than the complete teaching of the Lord, including what his apostles did for him, is not the unity for which he prayed. Unity promoted among people who do not even subscribe to New Testament teaching on the essentiality of baptism is not the unity that he desired. Unity promoted among people who use instruments of music in worship, which lack the authorization of Christ, can never be the unity desired by Christ. Unity involving an amalgamation of religious bodies with their differing creeds and practice, though masked by the facade of all “trusting in Jesus,” is not what Jesus desired. The names, creeds, and practices of denominationalism all subvert the unity desired by Jesus. Only by laying them all aside can a proper approach to scriptural unity be made.
Our appeal in this brief article is to those truly trusting Jesus, trusting him enough to believe all that he authored and to do and be all that he required. We appeal to you to separate yourself from any group that approves such an approach to unity so you might stand with Christ and his people aloof from sectarian creeds and practices. We appeal to you to appreciate and respect the authority of Jesus Christ, who has the preeminence in all things (Col. 1:18). You have not so learned Christ, and we appeal to you to remember the teaching of the New Testament concerning the faith and practice of Jesus Christ. We appeal to you to throw off the yoke of soft teaching and compromised practice that you might occupy the firm ground of the faith once delivered to the saints.