We began in our last blog post discussing how we could have unity today among the churches. The first point we made was that we must have the right attitude. Please find that article here: https://truthfortheworld.org/blog/2018/10/how-can-we-have-unity
Another key to finding and maintaining unity is to agree upon and adherence to the Right Source.
The Right Source
Unity comes- only with the same SOURCE. Just like Paul says about those in the Old Testament.
In John 17 is recorded for us, Jesus’ prayer for unity. First, Jesus prays for himself in vs 1-5. Then in verses 6- 19 he prays for his apostles. Those specially selected men.
And speaking of the Apostles he prays:
(Joh 17:16) They (the apostles-PV) are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
(Joh 17:17) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
(Joh 17:18) As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them (the apostles-PV) into the world.
(Joh 17:19) And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (the Word of God vs 17-PV)
Now he starts talking about other followers, including us
(Joh 17:20) Neither pray I for these ,(apostles-PV) alone but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; (the word of the apostles-PV)
(Joh 17:21) 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.
Notice Jesus’ prayer – he prayed first for the apostles, and then he came to pray for us, and he said neither pray if for these alone (those apostles) but for them (that is us) also which shall believe on me through their Word.
The words of the Apostles are found in the Bible, therefore, if we are to be united, we are to all obey the word of God, Christ, and the apostles.
Chain of Authority.
According to Ephesians 4:6 one sees that God is over all and above all, and thus he has all authority. So then, God has all power. That is part of His Nature.
In John 17:1-2 we read that God gave power over all flesh to His Son.
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
In Matt 28:18 Jesus proclaimed: All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Jesus in turn gave authority to his Apostles.
It is important to note at this point that Jesus taught what the Father taught. Jesus said -
He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (Joh 14:24)
Jesus taught what the Father had instructed. Then Jesus gave this word to the Apostles
For I have given unto them (apostles-PV) the words which thou gavest me; and they (the apostles-PV) have received [them], and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. (Joh 17:8)
And to make sure that the Apostles could remember the teachings of the Christ and the Father—they sent the Holy Spirit to them.
But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you (apostles-PV) all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (Joh 14:26)
And he would show them things, that we are to follow. Again Jesus speaking to the 12 says:
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you. (Joh 16:12-15)
It is clear then that the things that the Apostles wrote are the words of Christ, and Christ spoke the Words of God, therefore the Apostles wrote the Words of God. (cf. Gal 1:11-12; Eph 3:3-5; Matt 10:40)
So the question comes up again, how is it that we are to be one? How is it that we are to be united today? The answer, fist we have to have the right ATTITUDE. But secondly we have to have the same SOURCE.
We can not simply agree to disagree. We can not just go along to get along.
Listen to Jesus’ prayer for us.
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; (Joh 17:20-21)
The word “that” – in this verse- “That they all may be one” is the Greek word hina – it means according to Strongs, “as the result of.” Then the question must be asked, what is the “that” a result of? THAT they all may be one—but as a result of what? As a result of belief on Jesus- through their word (the words of the Apostles.)
If unity is to be attained today, it is going to be through the words of the Apostles. When the Apostles spoke or wrote—it was by the inspiration of God, it was the same doctrine that Jesus was teaching, therefore, we are to be united on the doctrine/teaching of Christ. (Acts 5:28)
False Doctrine or the Doctrine of Christ
The religious world is full of error, of bad doctrine, doctrine that is conceived in the heart of man, and doctrine that will cause one to lose his soul. John writes:
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. (2Jo 1:9)
According to John, if one does transgress and abide not in the doctrine of Christ he does not have God. So what is meant then by, “the doctrine of Christ.”
Does it refer to: (1) the teaching which He did personally, and through those whom He inspired, which is equivalent to the one faith of Eph. 4:5, the "faith" to which a great company of the priests were obedient (Acts 6:7), that faith which was once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3), or is it as some of our misled brethren teach,
(2) only the doctrine about Him?
So the question is, is it the doctrine that he taught, or -is the doctrine “about “ Him? Some brethren have falsely contended that, it is only the doctrine about Christ.
They say-, the "doctrine of Christ" in 2 John 1:9 has reference to the doctrine about Christ; more specifically, that this phrase has reference only to the doctrine about the Deity of Christ. And so (according to them) all one has to do is continue to teach that Jesus is God, and that is all you and I need to be concerned that people believe.
The implication follows that should one come teaching Premillennialism, Pentecostalism, salvation by "faith alone," the impossibility of apostasy, Calvinism, the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship, fellowship with the denominations, and such like, these "doctrines" should not be made tests of fellowship.
They say that even if our "opinion" differs relative to these things, we must accept those who teach such doctrines as faithful brethren, extending to them the right hand of fellowship. Unfortunately, in our brotherhood, this is the liberal philosophy that we find today!
Now if it is true that this means that, this is a doctrine ABOUT Jesus—and not the doctrine TAUGHT BY Jesus, then we need to re-translate many passages.
For instance, John the revelator writes,
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Rev 2:14-16)
So some people in the church in Ephesus, years after Paul would leave those elders, and they held the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. Now did they believe the doctrine about the Nicolaitans? Or was it that they were believing the doctrine that the Nicolaitans had taught?
This writer has not been able to find any reputable source that would claim that this passage is in reference to doctrine “about” one named Nicholas. Rather, that they were following after the words of him. So it is not doctrine ABOUT NOCHOLAS—but the DOCTRINE NICHOLAS and his followers were teaching.
Jesus speaking about the doctrine of the Pharisees said:
How is it that ye do not understand that I spake [it] not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
Then understood they how that he bade [them] not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Matt 16:11-12)
If the passage in 2 John means the doctrine ABOUT Jesus, then is it not reasonable to conclude that we are not to believe the doctrine ABOUT the Pharisees, but that simply does not make sense. They were to beware not of some doctrine ABOUT the Pharisees and Sadducees, but they were to beware of the Doctrine that the Pharisees, and Sadducees were teaching.
Also interesting to study would be Acts 2:42, and Acts 13, to show that the “doctrine of the Apostles,” the “doctrine of the Lord,” the “Word of God,” and “the Faith,” all have reference to the exact same thing.
There is absolute truth and there is absolute error. The Truth can be known. (Joh 8:32, 1 John 5:13) we can obey it (1 Pet 1:22) we are sanctified by the Truth (John 17:17) it is the Truth that will last forever, (1 Pet 1:25) anything that is contrary to the Truth, is error (1 John 4:6) may we strive to be united in this Truth.
Unity can exist only where there is agreement Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3) And God approves of unity only when it is established upon agreement in truth" (2 John 1:9-11).
Because we know the Truth, we have an obligation to teach it to all. And if they don’t agree, they want to hold to their false ideas, we are to not have fellowship with them.
And yet, if we are to ever find unity today in this world, it is to be done in these two ways. We must first have:
Pride leads to self-righteousness, thinking that we are better than other people. We need to see the importance of being LOWLY and MEEK when it comes to being in Unity. We must have the right attitude in order for Unity to be gained.
We should all be united, but unity is based- not on our feelings, but on God’s Word. That is how we are all united. On the Words that God spoke through Christ and His Apostles
And we will never have unity any other way. The words of Paul still ring true today,
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. (1Co 1:10)
Doctrines that come from men are divisive, and thus must never be allowed to exist in the church of the Lord.