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Scripture Reading: Galatians 1:6-10
Why Are There Different Churches of Christ?
1. Not every church of Christ is the same (Rev. 2-3). Why are there different churches of Christ?
2. This question can be analyzed and answered historically, by viewing the issues and decisions that resulted in division among Christians over the past 150 years.
3. This question can be answered by examining the current teachings and practices that distinguish churches of Christ in the Scriptures.
4. Some say no differences should divide us. These generally promote unity in moral and doctrinal diversity. They promote and practice fellowship between churches that are different doctrinally, morally and practically. (They have a problem of consistency.)
5. Some say every issue must divide us. This is factionalism that ignores scripturally allowed differences (1 Cor. 8; 10; Rom. 14).
6. Truth identifies those who are approved by God. Division caused by error also identifies God’s faithful ones, 1 Jno. 2:3-6; 1 Cor. 11:17-19.
7. Why are there different churches of Christ? What is the remedy?
I. BASIC ISSUES AT THE HEART OF THE DIFFERENCES, Jer. 5:22-23.
A. Different Attitudes toward Using the Scriptures, Jer. 5:30-31.
1. “Silence is consent.” Produces adding to God’s word.
2. But, silence restrains, Heb. 7:12-14.
B. This Leads to a Larger Misunderstanding and Misapplication of Bible Authority, Jno. 7:16-17; Col. 3:17.
1. Command, example, and necessary inference (CENI); or, Latitude for “significant doctrinal differences.” Situational authority, culturally defined and personally applied.
2. “Liberty” (to do what our conscience says is right) is viewed as liberty from the censure of Scripture (self-defined, self-willed). Liberty in Christ is not freedom from “law toward Christ,” 1 Cor. 9:21 (19-23).
C. Carnality, 1 Cor. 3:1-3; Gal. 5:20; 3 Jno. 9-10 (Diotrephes).
II. DIFFERENCES EXIST BECAUSE SOME CHURCHES OF CHRIST DO NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE, 2 Tim. 4:3-4; Gal. 1:6-10; 2 Jno. 9.
A. How to Establish and Apply Bible Authority, 2 Tim. 2:15.
1. Many reject apostolic approved examples, and refuse necessary inferences. CENI are used to establish divine approval, Acts 15:7-21.
a. Holy Spirit said to imitate apostles’ examples, 1 Cor. 4:16-17; 11:1; Phil. 4:9.
b. Jesus used NI, and expects us to, Matt. 22:29-32; Lk. 12:54-47.
2. Failure led to divisions over worship, work and organization of the church. Has also led to increasing tensions and division over moral precepts and their compromise. (Part 2)
B. A New Approach to Using the Scriptures has Emerged in Many Churches, Jer. 6:16-17. (new hermeneutics – see below)
1. Silence is used as consent to justify many additions in the organization, work, and worship of local churches.
2. “We do many things without Bible authority.”
3. NT a collection of “love letters,” not a blueprint (“patternism”).
4. Christocentric (Shelly and Harris, The Second Incarnation).
5. Radical Restoration (F. LaGard Smith): Corruption of the Lord’s supper (“table fellowship”) and the broader house church movement.
6. Now, there is a generation exists that does not know why they do what they do religiously, and does not know how to use the Scriptures (or whether you need to use them) to determine truth.
7. Letting denominations drive their decisions (women in leadership, instrumental music, salvation and grace, etc.) (“God’s church faces new type of decision, says Tennessee professor,” http://brotherhoodnews.com/2019/12/03/church-new-decision/
1. Unity among Christians is a powerful voice that calls the world to believe Jesus is the Christ, Jno. 17:21.
2. Division thrives where selfish indifference, irreverence, carnality, and error flourish, 1 Cor. 3:3.
3. Part 2 will identify specific areas division among churches of Christ.
“But there is no infallible method for interpreting Scripture. There is no heaven-given system of Bible study.” (Rubel Shelly and Randall J. Harris, The Second Incarnation, p. 19)
By: Joe R. Price
Posted December 5, 2019