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Pastoral Exhortation - Series of 2010

Unity Of The Faith

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Doctrinal differences and controversies among Christians are so many; and they have resulted in the formation of different denominations and even independent churches. Because of such diversity, some do ask, “Why are there so many different churches? How shall we know which one is right? Is it important that we should find the right church?” However, there are others who seek unity even at the expense of very important cardinal scriptural truths. Such compromising efforts are known as neo-evangelicalism and ecumenism; and it is certainly spiritually dangerous and deplorable.

Christians are called to unity, but not at any cost. We are called to “unity of the faith”. The Apostle Paul said, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). True Christian unity is based on the faith. So every Christian is challenged to grow in the faith.

What is “the faith” in which we must all grow and come to unity? In the above verse, “the faith” is connected to “the knowledge of the Son of God”. The emphasis of the immediate context of the verse is also on the instruction of the truth of Christ. Hence, “the faith” is best understood here in terms of the content of one’s faith rather than the readers’ activity of believing. The point being made, then, is that God’s people should move towards the goal of appropriating all the truths that are revealed to us for our believing.

Moreover, Paul also declares that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). For this reason, in another place, Paul teaches that believers ought to be “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20).

Our faith should not be grounded on human traditions, philosophies, ideologies or opinions. Every Christian ought to exercise caution because the church has always been invaded by men who abuse the Scriptures to teach false doctrines. So we are warned in Ephesians 4:14, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” John, the apostle, wrote, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

It is every Christian’s duty to make sure that he is not deceived by the craftiness of men concerning his beliefs. No Christian should take it for granted that all those who claim to be theologians, pastors and teachers are faithful to God’s Word. In fact, in these last days, many are deceivers. In 2 Peter 2:1, we read, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” Moreover, a great number of those who profess to be Christians and teachers ignorantly believe in errors. So, we must be on guard not to believe everything and anything that is being propagated in these days. We must examine all things carefully and diligently in the light of God’s Word. Unless each of us is committed to know the truth, we will be easily trapped in error. “Ignorance is not bliss” and this is especially true with reference to doctrines.

So Paul exhorted the Colossians to “continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister” (Colossians 1:23).

We must be like the Berean Christians who were deservedly commended by Luke, because, though they had great readiness of mind to embrace the doctrine of Paul, they brought it to the test of the Scriptures. Without constant interaction and careful study of God’s Word, we cannot possess the truth.

Whenever any controversy arises, the proper course is not to settle or decide it by the will of man, but to settle it by the authority of God only. Then alone can a man be right in his decision. So a superficial knowledge of God’s Word will be too inadequate in such a situation. Only the Word of God is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16).

Are you, my dear reader, endeavouring to know the Word of God fully? Do you consider your faith to be a serious matter? Then you must not seek unity with those in error, but only with those who abide by the Word.

Let us flee to the Word of God for wisdom and right decision. Let us not assume that we know or that it is not necessary to learn the truth of His Word. Search the Scriptures to know the truth, that we may live by it. Both our mind and life must be directed by God’s Word.

The Scriptures warn us, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1). Again, we are warned concerning the last days, “... they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

It is extremely dangerous to have a casual attitude towards God’s truth. It is very important that we are wholly dedicated to the truth of His word, both in believing and declaring it. To neglect the truth is to be seduced and be united with error. Let us seek only “unity of the faith”.

<p style="text-align: justify;"><span class="dropcap">D</span>octrinal differences and controversies among Christians are so many; and they have resulted in the formation of different denominations and even independent churches. Because of such diversity, some do ask, “Why are there so many different churches? How shall we know which one is right? Is it important that we should find the right church?” However, there are others who seek unity even at the expense of very important cardinal scriptural truths. Such compromising efforts are known as neo-evangelicalism and ecumenism; and it is certainly spiritually dangerous and deplorable.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><img style="padding: 10px;" src="images/stories/lighthouse.jpg" align="right" height="100" width="70" />Christians are called to unity, but not at any cost. We are called to “unity of the faith”. The Apostle Paul said, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). True Christian unity is based on the faith. So every Christian is challenged to grow in the faith.</p>

Pastoral Exhortation