Pt. 7 Ch. 1. Is Christ Truly God: The Doctrines That Divide By Erwin Lutzer (NKJV)
November 2, 2018
What About Sectarianism
Constantine realized that the opposing views concerning the deity of Christ and The Holy Spirit were tearing the church apart. He decided to move the capital of the empire from Rome to Byzantium. Eventually, the city would be named Constantinople in his honor. We now know this city as Istanbul. He invited the delegates who represented these views to Nicaea, which was located about 25 miles from the new capital. In A.D. 325. 318 bishops came together to wrestle with the question of the deity of Christ. The substance of both Christ and The Holy Spirit was a big issue. In many churches today it’s still an issue.
These men had been persecuted because of their beliefs just a few years previous to this meeting. It was a great risk on their part to openly appear at the capital city of all places. Many of them still bore the scars on their bodies from the torture and beatings. Nevertheless, because of Constantine’s conversion to the faith, it was a risk worth taking. Of course, all expense were taken care of by the Emperor. It must be good to be King. Constantine gave the opening speech reminding everyone that these issues must be resolved. In my opinion, the Church still has issues regarding sectarianism that must be resolved.
Romans 16: “17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause DIVISIONS and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.”
1st Corinthians 3:1 “1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and DIVISIONS among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”
Sectarianism Is Sin
1st Corinthians 1:9 “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no DIVISIONS among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
1st John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”
As I look across the land today, I can’t help but see the factions men have created in The Body of Christ. I have even heard it said that God wanted it to be this way. Some actually blame God. There is nothing but oneness in the Godhead. According to John 17, Christ prayed that we be one, even as they are one. Reader, please tell me? Do you see this oneness that Christ spoke of? The Apostle Paul pleaded with the Church at Corinth that they speak the same thing, and there be no divisions or factions. These words were not just for that church, it expressly applies to the Body of Christ as a whole. If we take his words as The Word of God to us, God said that we should be “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” I know what you’re thinking, “our church is already perfectly joined together.” That may be so, but it’s not about your church, it’s about all of us; The Body of Christ.
The fellowship John is speaking of is about fellowship with every person who had and has fellowship with Jesus. I love these words: John 1: 3 “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
In Ephesians 5 it goes on to remind us that it is not so much about husbands and wives, it’s a mystery concerning The Church: 30 ”For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
Constantine had 318 bishops sit down at the conference table to hash these differences out and come to one conclusion. I think it is imperative that we push to do the same thing. Church leaders all over the world need to make some type of effort and come together to work the factions or denominations out of The Body of Christ, they are spots and wrinkles. We broke it, we need to fix it, with the help of The Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 5: 27 it says, “that He might present her (The Church) to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”
Paul wrote also in 1st Corinthians 3: 3 that divisions, factions and/or denominations are carnal. Simply put, they are works of the flesh, not a work of The Spirit of God. On an individual basis, of course, we all have problems; something in our lives we struggle with. However, factions are a huge blemish in The Church at large. We wash our clothes, sometimes we use a spot remover for those tough stains. We use dryer sheets to remove the static. Then, we take the time to iron out the wrinkles because we do not want to present ourselves to the world looking unkempt. In this day and time, The Church is unkempt. However, God is working in us to will His good pleasure, but we must cooperate with the process by practicing what The Word of God actually says, and not what men say. Right now, a large majority of The Body of Christ is carnal. And what makes it so bad, they see it but refuse to acknowledge it. If we know that we are in sin and refuse to work with God to cleanse us from unrighteousness that means we are not in the light. We choose to walk in darkness and there is no darkness in Him, not even a wrinkle. To be continued…