The struggle of mankind’s plans versus God’s plans has affected history for thousands of years and it is affecting us today.
The church is God’s creation and workmanship. It is eternal in nature and too big to become the exclusive province of one group of partisans. Why not be big and wise enough to see this?
Rehoboam and Jeroboam divided the Kingdom of Israel
The division has lasted about 3,000 years. But, God is not impressed! It hasn’t changed his plans.
The kingdom had lasted 120 years: 40 years under Saul (Acts 13:21), 40 years under David (2 Samuel 5:4), and 40 years under Solomon (1 Kings 11:42). After Solomon’s death the kingdom was divided. Ten tribes formed the northern kingdom and took the name “Israel” with them. The two remaining tribes, Judah and Benjamin, formed the southern kingdom, called “Judah.” (Halley’s Bible Handbook, pg 224)
Then hold out the pieces of wood you have inscribed, so the people can see them. And give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: I will gather the people of Israel from among the nations. I will bring them home to their own land from the places where they have been scattered. I will unify them into one nation on the mountains of Israel. One king will rule them all; no longer will they be divided into two nations or into two kingdoms. They will never again pollute themselves with their idols and vile images and rebellion, for I will save them from their sinful backsliding. I will cleanse them. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God (Ezekiel 37:20-23)
He will raise a flag among the nations and assemble the exiles of Israel. He will gather the scattered people of Judah from the ends of the earth. Then at last the jealousy between Israel and Judah will end. They will not be rivals anymore. (Isaiah 11:12-13)
So he took me in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious stone—like jasper as clear as crystal. The city wall was broad and high, with twelve gates guarded by twelve angels. And the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates. (Revelation 21:1-12)
Men and women have divided the Kingdom of God’s Church into thousands of denominations, sects, and cults
These divisions have lasted for over 2,000 years. But, God is not impressed! It hasn’t changed his plans.
In Corinth, as everywhere else at that time, Christians did not have one central meeting place. They met in homes or halls or wherever they could. Church buildings did not begin to be erected until 200 years later, when the persecutions began to let up. There were multitudes of Christians in Corinth, not in one great congregation but in many small congregations, each with its own leadership. These congregations, it seems, were developing into rival, competing groups rather than cooperating in the general cause of Christ in this wicked city. [Does this sound familiar?] (Halley’s Bible Handbook, pg 701)
Some of the Greeks, with their fondness for intellectual speculation and pride in their knowledge, were very boastful about their philosophic interpretations of Christianity. And in addition to grouping themselves around one doctrine or another, they were rallying as partisans around one leader or another. Thus the church was split into factions, each trying to stamp Christ with its own little trademark — a practice that still prevails today on a frightful scale. (Halley’s Bible Handbook, pg 702)
The philosophic arrogance and pretentiousness of some people in the church was a sign of their spiritual infancy. It produced factions, tended to destroy the church (1 Corinthians 3:17), and resulted in nothing of permanent value (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). The church is God’s creation and workmanship. It is eternal in nature and too big to become the exclusive province of one group of partisans (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). Why not be big and wise enough to see this? (Halley’s Bible Handbook, pg 704)
We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)
Over and over throughout history, mankind has rebelled against God
But,God is not impressed! It hasn’t changed his plans.
Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot a vain thing The kings of the earth take a stand, and the rulers take counsel together, against Yahweh, and against his Anointed, saying, “Let’s break their bonds apart, and cast their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens will laugh. The Lord will have them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his anger, and terrify them in his wrath: (Psalm 2:1-5)
The nations raged. The kingdoms were moved. He lifted his voice, and the earth melted. (Psalm 46:6)
The nations were angry, and your wrath came, as did the time for the dead to be judged, and to give your bondservants the prophets, their reward, as well as to the saints, and those who fear your name, to the small and the great; and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” (Revelation 11:18)
In heaven, there won’t be any distinction of grace vs. works, or election vs freewill, or dipping vs. sprinkling, or session vs. presbytery vs. synod vs. general assembly, or pre-tribulation vs. mid-tribulation vs. post-tribulation, or millennial vs. amillennial, or any of a hundred other different things that we have let divide Christians from one another. Why do we let those things divide us here and now?
For many years, I believed the solution to this problem was to divide and conquer, by creating another sect of Christianity that was “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:10-14).
I am now ashamed of that position. When Almighty God looks down from heaven, he doesn’t see my sins because he looks through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died in my place on the cross, and paid the penalty of my sins in hell. He doesn’t see my sins of arrogance, pride, immorality, unbelief, lawlessness, or anything else. When God looks through the blood of Jesus Christ, he sees me as perfect.
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
Now, I realize, when God looks down from heaven he sees his perfect children. He doesn’t see our sins of sectarianism. He doesn’t see our divisions. He sees his perfect children in his perfect body. (1 Corinthians 3:11)
I ask God to forgive me for not seeing you as perfect too!!!! No matter what your doctrinal beliefs or spiritual condition. If you have accepted the free gift of salvation, if you have been saved by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, if you have been born again, if Jesus Christ is living in you, if you have been changed into a new creature, If you have become a member of the body of Christ, then you and I are brothers and sisters. We should not be divided.
For deeper study:
- The Twisted Scriptures by Carl Ketcherside — This is a book of protest! Its author is deeply opposed to the division of God’s family over human opinions and deductions from the sacred scriptures. He holds that any use of the written word to defeat the purpose of the Living Word is abuse and misuse, and can only come by twisting the divine revelation.
- What is sectarian? — Thus we see that sectarianism does not spring full grown from the ground. It is sown as a seed of a sectarian self-chosen opinion, which grows into a division, and ultimately reaps, sectarianism. The sin of sectarianism is one of the worst sins. The Apostle Paul told us to “look at, regard attentively, take heed, beware, consider” those who behaved this way and “refuse, reject, decline, shun, avoid” them. This is serious! God hates pride.
- The Grace Awakening by Charles Swindoll — “Bound and shackled by legalists’ lists of do’s and don’ts, intimidated and immobilized by others’ demands and expectations, far too many in God’s family merely exist in the tight radius of bondage, dictated by those who have appointed themselves our judge and jury.”-Chuck Swindoll [from the Introduction]
Please share this with your friends, and write to us with your thoughts, and join the conversation below.