The Cause of Division

Billy T. Jones
Grand Prairie, Texas

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause division, and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." (Romans 16:17, 18). From these words of the inspired apostle we can clearly see that first of all divisions and offences are contrary to the doctrine taught the Roman Christians. It is contrary to what Christ taught. "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also, which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:20, 21). Certainly, the blood of Christ was shed to unite both Jew and Gentile unto God in one body (Ephesians 2:16). The price paid by Christ was to bring about unity not division.

In properly considering division, it would be well to note that there must a separation brought about by the preaching of the Gospel and obedience thereto. "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you nay; but rather division, for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided three against two and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against the daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law" (Luke 12:51-53). "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness; and what communion hath light with darkness?" (1 Cor. 6:14). The Christian separates himself from the world when he obeys the plan of salvation which puts him into Christ (Romans 6:2; Galatians 3:27). He must then continue to maintain such a separation and that is what Christ was talking about in Luke 12:51-53.

But the divisions spoke of by Paul are divisions within the body of Christ and are contrary to God's will for that body. Since unity in the body is brought about by adherence to the teaching of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3), then divisions would be brought about by a teaching or teachings NOT of the Spirit.

The Spirit only teaches through the word, therefore, the word produces unity. The word of man produces divisions (I Cor. 1:10-13). In light of this let us now consider:

The Issues in the Current Controversy

There are brethren today who believe and teach that it is scriptural for congregations to send money out of their treasuries to benevolent child-caring organizations, such as Boles Home, Tipton Home, Tennessee Orphan Horne, Childhaven, Lubbock Children's Home, etc. thereby supporting and maintaining such organizations by their donations. These brethren also (or most of them) believe that it is scriptural for congregations to send money out of their treasuries to one church, who, under the direction of its elders, disperses the money to do evangelism. Then there are some brethren who believe it is unscriptural for either of these practices to be carried on by the churches. Now to properlv put the blame on the ones causing the divisions which have occurred over these issues, and to mark them, it would be necessary to find out which brethren are teaching and practicing those things contrary to the doctrine of Christ and the ones who were in harmony with that doctrine. To do this we must consider.

"And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them and said, it is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business" (Acts 6:1-3). Here is an example of a church sustaining an obligation in benevolence and that same church taking the necessary steps to fulfill such obligation. "And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea: which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the by the hands of Barnabas and Saul" (Acts11:17-30). Now here is in example of one church determining to help several churches which were unable to fulfill their obligations in caring for their needy. "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever Ye shall approve by your letters, then will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me" (I Cor. 16:1-4). Here is a command for several churches to help one church. Again in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, the apostle speaks of several churches sending help to one church.

"These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 1:14, 15). "For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing" (I Thess. 1:8). From these passages we can see that the church, the local church, is to be "the pillar and ground of the truth" and it is to "sound forth the word of the Lord."

What then is the summation of New Testament teaching concerning church action? The only proper conclusion that could be drawn is that each church did its own work in caring for its needy to the extent of its ability. When the occasion arose that it was impossible for a church to care for its needy, it received help from other churches. In not one single instance is there the remotest hint that some other organization was involved in the relief of needy saints by the churches. The churches sustained the obligations and the churches did the work! The same is true concerning evangelism. The church did the work! Never, does the New Testament reveal that one church undertook a work in evangelism that it could not handle and beg other churches to send it money to carry on such work." "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service" (2 Cor. 11:8 ). Paul received aid from churches (Philippians 4:15, 16). But notice, no sponsoring church was involved. No centralized elders. No other organization is between the sending church and the preacher in the field.

Would a man or could a man be rightly accused of causing divisions in the bodv of Christ if he taught these things? That is exactly what those opposing the benevolent organizations and sponsoring churches are teaching, yet they are being accused of causing divisions. The brethren in favor of church support for these organizations readily admit that church action as has been produced in this article from the New Testament is scriptural teaching, but they say it is all right to support and maintain these additional organizations. The Christian Church agrees that vocal music is scriptural in worship to God, but they say it is all right to use the instrument in addition to vocal music. The advocates of the Missionary Societies a hundred years ago agreed that it was scriptural for each local church to preach the gospel to the extent of its ability, but they said it was scriptural to build and maintain the societies also.

Then it is entirely a question of: When God specifies, does He leave any room for additions or subtractions? If He does, we have been wrong all these manv years for pointing out error in denominational churches. If He does not, these church-supported organizations and sponsoring churches are wrong for the same reason that instrumental music and the missionary societies are wrong (Rev. 22:18, 19).

Truth Magazine IV:5, pp. 18-19
February 1960