Division Over Jesus

Jesus at the center of controversy

Three times the apostle John uses the word “division” regarding the opposite views people were taking about Jesus (7:40-43; 9:16; 10:19-21). Some believed in Him; others rejected Him.

  • Some argued that Jesus is the Christ, while others said He could not be the Christ because the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem (John 7:40-43).

They were right in believing that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1-6). But they were ignorant of the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem. Because they didn’t have all the facts, they came to the wrong conclusion.

  • In the second case of division (John 9:16) some were saying that Jesus could not be from God because He did not keep the Sabbath. Others argued, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?”

Because Jesus healed on the Sabbath, some accused Him of violating the prohibition against working on the seventh day (Exodus 20:8-10). What Jesus violated was not God’s law, but the Pharisaic traditions regarding the Sabbath. Even Jesus’ opponents allowed certain kinds of work on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-7; Luke 14:1-6; John 7:22-24).

  • And then the third division: “Many of them were saying, ‘He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him.’ Others were saying, ‘These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?’” (John 10:19-21).

And our response?

So how shall we decide about Jesus? A fair-minded reading of the New Testament shows abundant evidence that Jesus really is who He claimed to be: the Christ, the Son of God.

It’s really impossible to be neutral about Jesus. We must decide what we believe about Him, but whatever we conclude, we had better make sure we’re right!

What if one were to assert that George Washington is a mythical figure who never actually existed? Would it matter, ultimately, if we took that view, wrong as it is?

We cannot have a personal relationship with George Washington. He did not die to save us from hell. Nor will he be our judge on the last day. If we choose to reject Washington as a historic figure, what difference really does it make in the long run?

But what if we’re wrong about Jesus?

young man thinking-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Which Body?

Since Paul was Christ’s agent, what he wrote is God’s word (1 Corinthians 2:12-13; 14:37-38; Galatians 1:11-12; Ephesians 3:1-9; 2 Peter 3:15-16). That being true, let’s consider the following statement by Paul: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body . . .” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

What is this one body?

Three times in other passages Paul explains that this body is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18, 24). It is the body of Christ (Colossians 1:18). He is its head; the body is subject to Him (Ephesians 5:23-24). He is the founder; it is His church (Matthew 16:18).

How many bodies does Christ have?

Ten times Paul says there is one body (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 12:12-13, 20; Ephesians 2:16; 4:4; Colossians 3:15). Since Christ has one body, and the body is His church, how many churches does Christ have?

Do all who claim to belong to Christ belong to this one body?

He will recognize and accept only those who do His Father’s will (Matthew 7:21-23). He acknowledges as His own those who hear His voice and follow Him; it is these He will save (John 10:2, 3, 14, 27, 28; Hebrews 5:8-9).

Is religious division acceptable to Christ?

The night before He died He prayed that those who would believe in Him would be one (John 17:20-23). Why would He want it any other way? Division is contrary to God’s will (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).

Is it possible to be a member of Christ’s one body today?

In the New Testament all Christians were members of this one church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:38, 41-42, 47). If we believe what they believed and do what they did, we will be what they were—Christians only, members of Christ’s one church, nothing more, nothing less.

Christ sillouette-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Anachronism

Out of order

As a boy, I asked my dad if he wore blue or gray in the Army.

That was long before I ever heard of anachronism: “the representation of someone as existing or something as happening in other than chronological, proper, or historical order” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com).

Asking, “What was the denominational affiliation of the apostle Peter?” is like wondering what kind of car he drove.

Jesus prayed that His disciples “may all be one . . . . perfected in unity” (John 17:21-23).

last-supper-tagged

Also out of order

Religious division runs counter to His prayer and to His plan (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).

If we would follow the same teaching as the first-century church, we would be what they were:

Simply Christians, nothing more, nothing less (Acts 2:42; 11:26).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Church of Your Choice?

couple-shopping-tagged

Choosing what we want

Shopping options continue to increase exponentially—whether groceries, automobiles, appliances, clothing—so many brands, styles, models, colors, flavors, sizes, etc. to choose from.

Should we approach faith with the same consumer mindset we use when walking down the aisles of our favorite department store?

No.

Choosing what He wants

Regarding the multiplicity of options available on the religious landscape, is this what Christ had in mind when He said, “. . . I will build My church . . .” (Matthew 16:18)?

He has told us what He expects of His church—its purpose and unity, its beliefs and teaching, its work and worship.

Given the tremendous price He paid for His church—His own blood—shouldn’t we yield all our preferences to His?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Was Tertullus Right?

The label applied

Tertullus asserted Paul to bea ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5).

Tertullus called Christians “Nazarenes” because they followed Jesus of Nazareth. But he also labeled them a sect.

The label denied

Here’s how Paul responded: “…according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers…” (Acts 24:14—emphasis added). Paul considered Pharisees a sect (Acts 26:5), but not Christ’s church.

If not a sect, what is it? It is the household of God (1 Timothy 3:15), the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27).

When Jesus promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18), was His intention to add yet another sect? Was it a mere sect Jesus bought with His blood (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:23, 25)?

Was Tertullus right and Paul wrong?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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“So Many Churches”

The Christian faith

“There are so many churches,” the 7th-grade boy observed after reading through a list of religious bodies affiliated with the Christian faith. “What do you think about that?” his dad asked.

“People just all believe some of the same things, but all the different churches believe something different. If they would just go by what the Bible says, then there’d just be one church.”

“How did you come to that conclusion?” Dad wanted to know.

“There was one church when Jesus started it.”

The Bible supports

Smart kid!  And the Bible supports it (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; Philippians 1:27; 2:2; etc.).

Back to the Blueprint!

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