Nothing more, nothing
less and nothing else!
One in Christ
do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me
through their word, that they may all
be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that
they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me”
In spite of Jesus’
fervent prayer for His followers to be unified, shortly after His death
Christians were dividing over race, doctrine, and even the apostle or
evangelist who taught them about Jesus [Acts 6:1; Acts 11:2-3, 15:1-29;
1Cor:10-13]. These divisions have expanded
to the point that, in the U.S. alone, there are now
over 300 separately named groups claiming Christ. Clearly, the divisions that
afflict Christianity are not of God; they are of Satan. And what are the tools Satan uses?
One of the most obvious tools of Satan
is the hierarchical organization. In the
New Testament and history, we see Christians joined together as local congregations,
also called churches, each separate and with its own leaders. Within 100 years, a hierarchy developed among
local leaders, with one leader elevated above the others. Within 200 years, these elevated leaders began
meeting together regionally to rule on matters of doctrine and practice. Within 300 years, a full-fledged, multi-level hierarchy developed and
ruled from the top. Eventually,
this organization fractured, fractured again, and continued fracturing until we
have over 300 identifiable groups naming
Christ. The hierarchical organization
is a tool of Satan by dividing believers into organizational structures not
found in the Bible.The only Bible-authorized organization is the local
church, and each
local church is directly under the headship of Christ – Colossians 1:18.
organizations must have distinct names by which they can be distinguished from
each other. Otherwise, how is one to
know its separate identity? In criticizing
the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “each one of you is saying, ‘I am of
Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or
were you baptized in the name of Paul?” [1Cor. 1:12-13]. Various descriptors for Jesus’ followers are
found in the New Testament letters, but none of them was ever used
divisively. Examples are: "All the churches of
Christ greet you” [Rom. 16:16]; "the church of God" [1Cor. 1:2]; "the
body of Christ" [1Cor.12:27]; "the household of faith" [Gal. 6:10]; and "the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" [Acts 11:26]. Such phrases are not proper names; Jesus
never gave a specific name to his followers, either as individuals or as groups. It is wrong for us to do so today, since such
names become a focal point for division.
a casual look at the last two millennia reveals a sordid history of confused,
conflicting, and divisive doctrines. One
of the first was the attempt of Christians of Jewish background to force
circumcision and the laws of Moses on Gentile Christians [Acts 15:1-29 and much
of Galatians and Colossians]. A doctrine
called Gnosticism was the background for the first letter of John, in which he
referred to Gnostics as the Anti-Christ. Many other doctrines, contrary to
God’s Word, have developed over the years. The various sects have generally
written their specific doctrines as “creeds,” “catechisms,” “manuals,” etc., to
which members may show more loyalty than to the Bible. Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching,
for reproof, for correction, for training in
righteousness; so that the man of God may be
adequate, equipped for every
good work [2Timothy 3:16-17]. The
Scriptures are all we need. Anything
else either has too little or too much and is a foundation Satan uses to divide us as believers. Jesus Christ is our only source of
authority [Heb. 1:1-3, Matt 28:18], not creed books, or catechisms, or even the dictates of
the problem of sectarian doctrines better than confusion on the Biblical
question, “What Must I Do To Be Saved?”
Timothy, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” [1Timothy 1:15]. That being the case, the question “What must
I do to be saved?” is most fundamental.
Various sects give different answers.
Jesus, shortly before He ascended to heaven, instructed His disciples to
make disciples of all nations and to baptize them in the name of the Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit [Matt. 28:19]. The
Book of Acts shows how the disciples understood this and how they carried it
In Acts 16, we see
Paul in Philippi, where he upset some
locals and was thrown in prison, guarded by a heathen soldier. At about midnight, after a miracle, the
guard asked Paul what he must do to be saved.
Paul answered that he should “believe in the Lord Jesus” [Acts 16:16-33]. Belief
in Jesus is the essential starting point to salvation. But is it the end?
In Acts 2, Peter
preached to an assemblage of Jews and accused them of being responsible for
crucifying Jesus, the one person God had made both Lord and Christ. They were “pierced to the heart” and asked,
“What shall we do?” Peter responded to
these who now believed in Jesus that they should “repent, and each one of you
be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” [Acts
To repent is to recognize one’s error and turn away from it. Repentance
is the next step on the way.
In Acts 22, Paul
recounts his path from being a persecutor of Christians to a follower of
Christ. He had been traveling from Jerusalem to Damascus to imprison
Christians when Jesus appeared to him in a blinding vision. Now blind, believing in Jesus, and repentant
of persecuting Christians, Paul asked, “What shall I do, Lord?” and was told to
go into Damascus. In Damascus, a Christian named
Ananias restored Paul’s sight and said, “And now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your
sins [Acts 22:3-16].
Baptism [Greek for ‘immersion,’
also in reference to a ship ‘sinking at sea’] is symbolic of death, burial, and
resurrection. Paul described it as
follows: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His
death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so
that as Christ was raised from the dead
through the glory of the Father,
so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection [Rom. 6:3-5]. Baptism
is the step in which we come in contact with the blood of Jesus and our sins
are washed away.
NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIANITY
We have seen that
Jesus prayed for His followers to be one, as He and the Father are one, so that
the world would believe in Him. We have
seen that those who profess Christ have fragmented in almost countless ways over
unscriptural organizations, names, and doctrines. The result throughout the world has been less
belief in Jesus and confusion - which is what Satan wants. What is the
solution? Is it reforming existing
sects? Reforming existing sects has been tried over and over, generally
resulting in creation of additional sects.
It just hasn’t worked.
1. RESTORE the spirit and
practice of pure Christianity, as found in the New Testament.
2. ABANDON unscriptural hierarchical organizations that
divide us and restore the Biblical organization of the church.
3. ABANDON unscriptural names
that divide us and go back to being “just Christians.”
4. ABANDON unscriptural
doctrines that divide us and go back to just the Bible.
It is possible to do these things. All it takes is believers in Christ to
in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all
humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in
love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Ramsey Road church of Christ
strive to be
Nothing more, nothing
less and nothing else!
that the world may believe in Jesus.
invite you to study the Bible with us
worship God in spirit and truth!
church meets at Sunday
4215 E. Ramsey Road 10 AM Bible Study
Sierra Vista, AZ 85650 11
Bible Study available by email or in person.**