By Vernon Love
The unity of all Christians is one of the supreme subjects of great importance in the New Testament. There are many scriptures that command and believers to be “one.” Therefore “division is sinful.”
When the “household of Chloe” told Paul about the divisions at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:11), Paul commanded the church to be no longer divided. Division is sinful.
The apostle Paul said, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by 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” (1 Cor. 1:10).
Was This a Command to the Corinthians?
The word “beseech” means to “beg, plead, or implore.” The Greek word is parakaleo and means “invite, plead, call to, intreat, or exhort.” This makes this verse very important when the plea comes from the apostle Paul. But, Paul invokes, not his authority but the authority of Christ when he said “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Therefore, we know Paul was not making a suggestion or hinting that they need to be “one” but was commanding them to be “one.” He told them the solution to their division when he said, “that ye all speak the same thing.” They were able to “unite” by following only Christ and stop following men.
What Is the Fruit of Unity?
When we consider the “fruit of unity” it should cause every believer never to do anything that would cause division. Paul said, “that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). This does not sound like they could “take it or leave it.” They were commanded to be “one.” If this church could stop their divisions by all “speaking the same thing,” then it is obvious this will also work today. Paul said, “Is Christ divided?” The answer was well known at Corinth and it is known today. But, divisions still exist, even among those who claim to be members of the body of Christ.
The Importance of Unity
It seems that many have forgotten the importance of unity. It was so important that Jesus prayed this prayer, “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” (Jn. 17:20-21).
How can anyone read this great prayer of our Lord and suggest it is right to divide into “denominations”? How can any Christian, a member of the body of Christ, suggest that we can do anything we want to do, even if there is objection from other members of the church?
The “importance of unity” is that believers can be “one” and can work together. The world will see that the church is united and will know that Jesus was “sent by God.”
Division Always Comes From Men
History shows that man always promotes “division.” Israel divided when the ten tribes revolted and made Jeroboam their king (1 Kgs. 12:20). The church divided after the Bible was completed and we are still reaping the effects of division. Each year denominations spring up and promote their doctrines. Division never makes the church stronger; it always leads into apostasy. Division is sinful.
New Testament Churches Are to Practice Unity
The church at Rome was told, “We, being many, are one body in Christ and members one of another” (Rom. 12:5). He also said, “Be of the same mind one toward another” (Rom. 12:16). Corinth was commanded to be “one” (1 Cor. 1:10). He also said, “For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13). “Finally, brethren, fare well. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11). The church at Ephesus was to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). The church at Philippi was told, “Only let your conversation be as becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). The church at Colosse was commanded, “that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love” (Col. 2:2). Peter said, “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion, one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous” (1 Pet. 3:8).
Unity was preached to all the churches by Paul. “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved Son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4:17).
Paul also wrote “commandments” to the churches. “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37).
Therefore, Paul always preached “unity” and condemned “division.” Division is sinful.
Unity In Worship But Division In Business Meetings
Most members are united on what the church must do in worship and will condemn any effort to bring in anything not found in the word of God. However, we are hearing of much division by brethren in business meetings. In matters of faith, in which the New Testament clearly states a “thus-saith-the-Lord” we should unite and never have any disagreement. In matters of expediencies, in which we must make a choice, we must also be united. However, we know where brethren would not agree so they let the majority make the decision. There is no matter that brethren cannot come to an agreement if they will treat one another as “brethren” and “members of the body of Christ.”
When unity is not practiced, division reigns. Brethren let their tempers get out of hand, even to the point of storming out of the meeting and slamming the door. We know of churches that have stopped having business meetings because members “fussed” too much. Many members will stop coming to these meetings because of the confusion that comes about. How can members read the New Testament and plead for “unity in religious matters” and then go in a business meeting and “fuss” and “feud”?
But as unity promotes Jesus as the Son of God (Jn. 17:21), be assured that “division” in business meetings always gets out in the community. The world will not come to the services when they hear “division” is being practiced. Let’s remember we are to be of “one mind and in one judgment” and to be “perfectly joined together” in all matters, not just in the worship service. Division is sinful.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 8, pp. 225, 248-249
April 19, 1990