The Local Church, One in Faith

Often at the root of these personal conflicts are problems with sin and false teachings. When we come to the Master’s table, we should be …

ONE IN FAITH.

I. A church cannot be one in spirit if it isn’t also one in faith (I Corinthians 11:18-19).
This doesn’t mean we can’t disagree on matters of lesser importance (e.g., the authorship of Hebrews, the timing of the millennium, etc.). However, there are doctrinal matters about which we must agree or we are inviting division and confusion into our church. Imagine a church in which 50% believed that salvation was by grace through faith, while the other 50% believed that works are involved. With so divided a congregation, the pastor could preach only the most watered-down, vague messages—for any statement on salvation would cause people to take sides and divide the church. We are better off if the church knows what it believes and holds to it.

II. There is one true faith, which stands in stark contrast to all other teachings (I Corinthians 11:19).
There are only two religions in the world: the religion of “do,” and the religion of “done.” Regardless of what names their systems may go by, or what seemingly different angles they may provide, all the world’s faiths ultimately boil down to an account of what we must do to earn Heaven, God’s acceptance, enlightenment, etc. The only exception to this universal religion of do is the Gospel of Christ, which tells us what Jesus Christ has done to earn the forgiveness of God for us—which we are incapable of attaining ourselves.

III. Heresy and division strip all meaning from our worship (I Corinthians 11:20).
When a church assembles to worship, but it is divided about the faith (some are trusting Christ, some trust their own works; some believe in Christ the Son of God, others believe in Christ the good teacher) confusion reigns, and God is not honored by the praises of a mixed multitude whose hearts are far from Him. Furthermore, if we read First John and take it to heart, we cannot honestly conclude it possible to hate our Christian brothers and sisters, to be divided from them by bitterness and conflict, and yet truthfully say we love God. We cannot love God and hate our brothers. And I maintain that if we do not love God, we cannot worship Him properly. As a matter of fact, so hindered is our worship by division, that Christ commands us to leave our gifts at the altar, to go and be reconciled to our brothers, and only then to return and worship (Matthew 5:23-24).

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