By Johnie Edwards
Some have a tendency to blame God for all the religious confusion that exists among churches. The apostle Paul told the Corinthians, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:33). Jesus prayed for unity among men when he said, “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. 17:21).
Religious confusion hinders the work of conversion as men view the divided condition among churches. As Jesus prayed for unity, he appealed for unity on the grounds “that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (Jn. 17:21). Unity helps the world to believe the claim of Christ, that he was the Son of God. The non-Christian gets to thinking that, if the folks who are supposed to be religious and study the Bible can’t agree, who am I to think that I can understand it! Thus that person makes no attempt to study and understand the Word of God. We all need to get our act together.
The Bible Says the Same to All Churches
You would think by what men teach that the Bible says as many different things as there are churches. Does the Bible say one thing to the Methodist Church and something different to the Baptist Church, then something entirely different to the church of Christ? Who can believe that the Bible teaches all the different doctrines held and taught by men. Paul taught the same thing every where he preached. “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 every where in every church” (1 Cor. 4:17). Can you imagine the apostle Paul teaching one church of Christ one thing and something entirely different to another as he preached the Word of God? Have you ever thought about the fact that whatever the Bible says to you, it says to me and whatever it says to me, it says to you! Take the subject of music in worship. Paul said, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). What one is told to do, all are told to do. If one is told to sing, all are; if one is told to play a mechanical instrument of music, all are told to play a mechanical instrument of music. If not, why not?
Truth Is Consistent
Truth is consistent with Truth. Only error is inconsistent. I have read religious articles or the creeds of men and many of them contradict themselves, sometimes even on the same page on the same subject! No wonder Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32). Of course you remember, “Thy word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). Every subject in the Bible harmonizes with every thing said on that subject. Sometimes men think they see contradictions in the Word of God, but that’s their problem of not having the ability to harmonize difficult passages. I must not accuse God of being a God of confusion just because I do not have the ability to see the harmony of the Scriptures!
The problem that causes men to be confused and teach so many different things is the lack of proper study. Paul told Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). To study is to put forth the effort and be diligent in an honest investigation of the Word of God, realizing that we are dealing with the greatest book which has ever been written! If one can rightly divide the word of truth, he can just as well wrongly divide it, and most seem to do a lot of wrongly dividing! Properly studying the Bible is hard work. And most people don’t like hard work. The wise man said, “. . . of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (Eccl. 12:12).
The Bible Can Be Understood
The Bible is written in such a way as to be understood by those who honestly seek to do what it says. The key to understanding the Word of God is to be of such a disposition that when you find out what it says, you are willing to do it. Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (Jn. 7:17). Paul told the Ephesians, “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4). It’s past time that all of us get to studying the Word of God to see what each of us must do to please God and quit blaming God for the confusion that exists in the religious world.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 6, p. 165
March 15, 1990