Introduction Part 3b: The Doctrines That Divide By Erwin Lutzer
September 26, 2018
Christianity was ecumenical in the first few centuries of its conception. Rome was the heart of leadership and all authority. As the Papacy grew in number, they developed a network of bishops and priest. These men organized and maintained unity from within. I think it was amazing that unification lasted over 1,000 years. However, as the saying goes, the earth would be perfect if it were not for the people inhabiting it. Lutzer wrote, “The first major split came in the year A.D. 1054 when the bishop of Rome asked that the bishop of Constantinople submit to his authority, but the request was refused. The division that had actually been developing for centuries now became a clean break and the Greek Orthodox Church separated from Rome.” I preach this often, whenever a group of people comes together there will always be someone who thinks that they are the smartest person in the room. The Bishop of Rome allowed his heart to be filled with pride. Some people are driven by power, they have an unquenchable desire to be above others.
Ezekiel 28:16 “By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones. 17 “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, That they might gaze at you.”
That verse is a reference to none other than the accuser of the brethren, Satan. In eternity past his heart was filled with pride. He thought more highly of himself than he ought (Rom. 12:3). The bishop of Rome became guilty of the same sin. And the beat continues on throughout the Church to this very day. The hierarchy of The Roman Catholic Church made a startling prediction at the beginning of The Reformation. “Once Christendom began to split, there would be no end to the fragmentation.” Personally, I believe these words are a revelation and a warning. Pride was found in the heart of men who just like Satan, became rich by the abundance of their trading. Eventually, violence ensued during what is called the crusades. In the name of religion, all sorts of atrocities continued for centuries.
Lutzer continues, “A glance through a roster listing all of the denominations in the United States today demonstrates this prophecy was fulfilled. The number of different Baptist denominations alone proves the reality of organization fragmentation.”
Here are several translations of Rom. 12: 9-10 in order for us to get a better understanding. If only those bishops back in A.D. 1054 would have focused more on studying The Word of God instead competing for leadership, just maybe we would not have such a fragmented Church.
Rom 12:9 “Let love be without hypocrisy—detesting what is , holding fast to the good. 10 Be tenderly devoted to one another in brotherly love; outdo one another in giving honor” (TLV).
Rom 12:9 “Let not your love be guileful: but be haters of evil things, and adherers to good things. 10 Be affectionate to your brethren: and love one another. Be foremost in honoring one another” (Murdock).
Rom 12:9 “Let love be without hypocrisy. Shrink from what is wicked, cling to what is good. 10 In brotherly love, tenderly loving towards one another, in appreciation, giving preference to each other;” (TS2009)
Rom 12:9 “Let your love be perfectly sincere. Regard with horror what is evil; cling to what is right. 10 As for brotherly love, be affectionate to one another; in matters of worldly honour, yield to one another.” (Weymouth)
Rom 12:9 “Let us have no imitation Christian love. Let us have a genuine break with evil and a real devotion to good. 10 Let us have real warm affection for one another as between brothers, and a willingness to let the other man have the credit.” (Phillips)
Rom 12:9 “9 Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other.” (CEB)
I will conclude with The Expanded Bible:
Rom 12:9 “Your love must be ·real [sincere; unhypocritical]. ·Hate [Abhor; Despise] what is evil, and ·hold on [cling] to what is good. 10 ·Love [Be devoted to] each other ·like brothers and sisters [with family/brotherly affection]. ·Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves [or Outdo one another in showing honor; or Be eager to show honor to one another].”
I cannot find it right now, but there is a translation that says at the end of verse 10, “outlove one another” If only we would stop putting ourselves before the next guy. The bishop of Rome should have tried practicing the Word by putting the bishop of Constantinople before himself. Instead, he wanted to dominate. That is not the love of Christ. To be continued…