Only One Church United in Doctrine? – Part 2 of 2

Church of Christ in Jacksonville

Christ’s Spirit spoke to the Christians and throughout the world in 1 Corinthians 1:10,

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

The Church at Corinth was still recognized as being “of Christ” (1 Cor. 3:23), and yet “carnal” and “babes”. They were divided among themselves in which they were instructed to be joined together speaking the same thing in the same mind and the same judgment. The Apostle Paul was guided by Christ’s Spirit to correct doctrine and their motives. Therefore, unity in doctrine is possible being commanded by the Spirit of Christ.

How can we be united speaking the same things with the same mind and the same judgment? The Apostle Paul wrote correcting doctrinal error (1 Cor. 4:17, 11:2) while also noting the necessity of love (1 Cor. 8, 10:23-33, 13:1-3), and having no contentions over cultural customs (1 Cor. 11:16). The Church at Corinth had many problems, which Paul corrected in the scope of being united in the same mind. Remember that in addressing the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul also addressed “with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:2).

Christ’s Spirit spoke correcting these Christians, so that they would be united. The Spirit of Jesus Christ instructed to recognize that baptism is in Christ’s name into one body (1 Cor. 1:11-13, 12:13), to discipline the sexually immoral in the congregation (1 Cor. 5), to reject sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:9-20), to abstain from taking one another to court (1 Cor. 6:1-8), to honor their marriages (1 Cor. 7:1-15), to not eat in places contrary to Christ in idol’s temples (1 Cor. 8, 10), to support their preaching ministers (1 Cor. 9), to avoid contentions over cultural customs (1 cor. 10:16), to partake of the Lord’s Supper together in one place (1 Cor. 11:17ff), to consider the God-given abilities of others (1 Cor. 12), to do everything with love (1 Cor. 13), to worship with understandable words (1 Cor. 14:6-25), to pray and sing with the mind as much as the spirit (1 Cor. 14:15), to keep the assembly decent and in order (1 Cor. 14:26-33, 40), to not allow rebellious women to speak in assembly (1 Cor. 14:34-37), and to believe in the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:12-35). Should we also not be united as the Spirit of Christ instructed these first Christians to be united in love and in doctrine? Since all of these teaching of 1 Corinthians matters, then how much do also the Gospels, Acts, Romans, Ephesians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and all of the teachings of Scripture matter?

How can we be united in Christ? What can we do? Obviously, Christians can be united by teaching as the Apostle Paul does here to unite. We must always go to Christ, to His words, to His Spirit, to His revelation to His Apostles and prophets (cf. Gal. 1:11-12, Eph. 2:19, 3:3-5, 2 Pet. 3:2, Jude 17). Following the command for unity, Paul noted that they had rejected Christ in pursuing wisdom over the words of His Apostles.

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:13).

These words of Apostolic wisdom come from God, from His Spirit. “God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:10). “We [the Apostles] have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). The foundation must be Christ. “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11).

How can we united with so many differing interpretations of the words of Christ? Put your faith in God that He can communicate so effectively that even His imperfect followers can be united in the same mind and judgment. Therefore, get rid of the interpretations, the inferences upon inference, the conjectured traditions, and speculative teaching. May God judge those who teach to be faithful servants and stewards of His word (1 Cor. 4:1-5, cf. Jas. 3:1, Gal. 1:8-9). Why are there different interpretations? We stray from the foundation of Christ as these Christian did, and this can endanger our souls. Therefore, let us consider ourselves. Have we turned away from Christ to contentions, to divisions, and to customs other than the traditions of Christ?

“I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal?” (1 Cor. 3:2-4).

Have we turned away from the ways of Christ (1 Cor. 4:14-17)?

Are these doctrines matters of salvation? These Christians in Corinth were endangering their souls (1 Cor. 3:1, 2 Cor. 7:9-10, 13:1-6; cf. 1 Cor. 11:27-30). Doctrine is essential to salvation (1 Tim. 4:16). They were not united and they were changing the doctrines of Christ. Paul writes them correcting their doctrines. Christ’s Spirit speaks through Paul correcting their worship in the Assembly (1 Cor. 11:17ff, 14) and instructing them to do everything with love (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

For our own examination, look to the Apostle Paul’s instruction about the Lord’s Supper for instance. He referred to our unity in worshiping one God by the bread and the cup (1 Cor. 10:16ff). The Apostle Paul stated, “[K]eep the traditions just as I delivered them to you” (1 Cor. 11:2). The word “delivered” is the verb form of tradition. In this context, Paul referred to the Lord’s Supper saying, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you” (1 Cor. 11:23). To the Lord’s Supper, the Apostle Paul taught traditions are to be kept just as he delivered them (1 Cor. 11:2). These Christians endangered their souls. Those who neglected the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper endangered their souls by their factions (1 Cor. 11:17-22) and by not discerning the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor. 11:27-29). Doctrine does matter, because doctrine and practice are essential to our motives.

In conclusion, the Spirit of Christ expected the Corinthians and all Christians to know the truth and to be united in it. Christ expects us to be joined together speaking the same thing and to be in the same mind and same judgment. This is the union that He prayed for (John 17:21). This is “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). This is the unity of “one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:4-6). We are united in Christ when believing everything that He said, we are one in obedience. If we really love God and love one another, we will obey God’s commands (1 John 5:2-3). Remember the words of Christ’s Spirit,

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

About Scott J Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
This entry was posted in Christianity, churches of Christ, Jesus and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Only One Church United in Doctrine? – Part 2 of 2

  1. Joni says:

    This will be the first time I join the millions of deatcdied Christians for a New Year Fast. I previously went through the Fast in 2009 and it was the most uplifting, challenging, and fulfilling experience I’ve ever had.My purposes for this Fast are: to draw closer to God and know, discern, His plan for me; for clarity of vision and purpose; to stand in the gap for others in praying for salvation, healing, freedom from sinful, destructive behavior. I am preparing for this Fast now, mentally, emotionally, since it takes a lot out of me due to fighting with the flesh and selfish desires.Thank You, Lord Jesus, for the brethren, united unto You as One Body in Christ Amen

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  2. Phil,

    “Scott, you said, ‘You don’t believe in the indwelling of the Word?’ Really? Where did I say that?” No. I asked if you believed in the indwelling of the Word. I wonder how you think that the Word dwells? Or how does Christ dwell in us (Rom. 8:9)? Does God dwell in us so that we are God incarnate? The Word of God is alive and it discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:12). This is the mind, and our thoughts are in our mind. I don’t think it matters that you assume that your thoughts, mind, and heart have anything to do with your brain. There is no disagreement about thoughts in the mind of the heart.

    All I’m asking you to do is prove your statement, “Just because I believe in the direct communication of God via the Spirit does not mean I don’t believe he uses the bible.” Prove this and I’ll believe and repent.

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  3. Pingback: Minimizing the power of God’s Force the Holy Spirit « Belgian Biblestudents – Belgische Bijbelstudenten

  4. From Liz Alexander, “The Hardest Thing to Believe: Denominational Differences”,

    “BTW, about music…

    It’s not so much that I (or really most *anyone*) absolutely demands instruments as much as it is that no one considers using them sinful…except the Churches of Christ.

    In reading that verse from Hebrews in context, it looks more like the point was that Jesus was witnessing to others for God, and wasn’t making a point about instruments one way or the other.

    The rest of the verses you listed said to sing praises. Not a single one of them said, “Don’t use instruments, or God will send you to Hell”. Never are the use of instruments condemned in the Bible. Heck, in the Old Testament…and even in the Revelation….instruments are used liberally to praise God, and He’s perfectly fine with it.

    That’s why I disagree with you on this issue. What’s more, if it hadn’t have been for the contemporary Christian music and Christian radio programming of the ’90s, I don’t know if I ever would have come to Christ in the first place. (I didn’t grow up in church, and…well…let’s just say it took a LOT of outside influence. :) )

    Honestly, I’m not up for challenging anyone. We’re never going to change each other’s minds, and arguments over the Internet are pretty much useless.

    I wish you the best, but if it’s all the same to you, I would prefer to end our discussion about this topic here. :) If you want to read my other, more recent posts and discuss something else, I’d be happy to.

    Just keep in mind that “discussion” and “debate” aren’t the same thing. If you want to disagree, that’s fine…but I’m just not in a mood for a debate.

    Happy Easter! :) “

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    • Liz,

      You are in the mood to slander, but not defend your prejudice. This contempt and disregard is evil and wrong. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).

      No preacher or elder in the Church of Christ has ever said that someone is condemned to Hell for musical instruments.

      Exactly, you don’t consider following Jesus Christ and His words concerning worship. Therefore, “believers” partake of the Lord’s Supper once a month or twice yearly disregarding the Lord’s Supper is for the Assembly and not somone’s “worship service”.

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      • Phil says:

        Why are you misrepresenting Liz by saying, “You are in the mood to slander, but not defend your prejudice. This contempt and disregard is evil and wrong.” There was nothing slanderous, evil or or wrong about what she said. She defended her position well and I’m not sure you even read her post!!

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        • Do you think that the Church of Jesus Christ should be mispresented in the Scriptures?

          Do you have convictions about the Lord’s Supper or is anything permitted?

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          • Phil says:

            Where did she slander or prejudge? You are jumping to conclusions based upon your prejudice. That is my experience of you. You approach the NT as if it’s just another set of laws to be obeyed and you take that mindset and apply it to the Lord’s Supper and everything else. The NT is about Spiritual law, not literal law. There is room for difference based upon inner law. No, I don;t think anything is permitted about the Lord’s Supper, but I don’t dwell on the particulars of when it’s taken and the other outer aspects of it because as NT Christians our attention is to be on the inner consciousness and not just the outer form.

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            • Double-speak. The NT contains “the Law of Christ”, “the Law of Faith”. Changing the Lord’s Supper was corrected by the Apostle Paul, because those who do so have a irreverence and disregard for Christ’s institution for the Lord’s Supper. This is a matter or conscience. Does the outer form not represent the inner conscience? Can the one who takes his father’s wife not show outwardly that he has spiritual problems?

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