2010-08-18 - Division in the Church
Originally Preached 2003-06-01
As an introduction, look at Acts 2:44-46. The church is said to be "all together", to be "with one accord", and to have "singleness of heart". Look just 2 chapters later at Acts 4:32, now only most of them are together. It has gone from all to a majority. Looking at Acts 8:1, we can see that the church scatters due to persecution. It also spreads as more converts are won to Christ.
As the church scattered geographically opportunity to divide increased. Jewish converts may have insisted on clinging to the Law and its works. Accepting 100% grace can be hard when works is taught from childhood and dominates the Jewish culture so some figured they had to keep the Law to maintain or keep salvation. Gentiles with pagan roots entered the church and mingled their beliefs with the true teachings of the early church. That's why we have most of our holidays now.
By the time Paul enters the pictures he is writing to put out fires and squash divisions It has all gone down hill from there. The Church, which was first called Christians back in Acts, continued to be just Christians or disciples of Christ or Followers of the Way for some time. Then a big argument erupted and the Great Schism of 1054 caused a major split in the trunk. The Orthodox and Catholic churches came forth. Each of these branches continuing to split further and further as time marched on. Then came the Protestant Reformation and plenty of shoots came off the trunk. Study your history; you will see that as splits occurred it was often over power issues rather than doctrine. Satan and the sin of pride were trying to destroy the church.
Illustration: A line of tape was placed down the center aisle of the church before the service began. I pointed to it and said that we would be splitting our church in half: the right and the left. Then I walked over to a friend on the left and said, "Frank, Mary, I love you both but you are on the wrong side. You need to move over to the right with the rest of us real Christians. These left-siders are all related and I bet some of them are even from Alabama. You can decide for yourself but look who sits over here on the right. We have the preacher's family, the pianist, and the choir director. It's the better side. Why even Jesus said the sheep would be on the right and the goats on the left So do you want to be a sheep of the Good shepherd or just some old goat?"
It would be real silly for this church to compete in such a way trying to build our own side up by tearing down the other. But we do. No, this aisle may not be the dividing line but what about the yellow line on the road? "That church down the road did this or that. I'm glad I don't go there." What about the words on that sign out front - the words Baptist Church? "Well they're Episcopalian you know." What about the color on our skin? Why do we divide the house of God? Do we not know what Paul said that "there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free"?
The Bible is quite plain if you believe on him and confess him as Lord, and repent of sin then you are a child of God.
If someone believes Jesus is God who became flesh and came to earth to die for all our sins and confess that sin, are they saved? YES. Is he still saved if as he studies apocalyptic scriptures, he believes the rapture happens after the tribulation? YES. Is he still saved if he gets sprinkled with water instead of dunked in a pool? YES. Is he still saved if he believes he can lose his salvation if he's not good? He may be crippled by fear and guilt but YES he's still saved Is he saved if he shouts a little and gets charismatic? Praise God! YES!
The true question is this: Does the blood of Jesus sufficiently cover all our sins and stupidity or do we have to earn a part of our salvation by thinking the right things? And the answer is YES - his blood covers. We are saved 100% by Grace - not 90% grace and 10% righteous works and not 10% right beliefs either. There are certain basics that are essential. Jesus is God. I am a sinner. Jesus died for my sins. Jesus rose to give me new life and hope. If you believe this then whether your name tag says Protestant, Orthodox, or Catholic you are a child of God and you are my brother or sister.
This is hard to accept because I grew up knowing the Baptists had it all right and every one else was all wrong but two things in particular made me realize my error
I hope you will join me next time as we continue looking at this topic more.
All verses are from the King James Version unless otherwise specified.