(2 Corinthians 10:7)
How many denominations, sects, groups, cults and churches exist under the banner of being Christians? I’m quite certain I have no idea, and nor does any other man upon this earth. Only God knows how many there may be. But there seems to have been a challenge within Christendom going back hundreds of years as new groups form and splinter off from other churches to follow Christ in their own way. And this is expected for we are told as much in the Bible.
Furthermore we are told that there will be divisions in the churches and that divisions are necessary. But with all of that upheaval it can be difficult to know truth from error, and it could become hard to decipher what is true and what is not, or who holds the keys to the truth.
So it becomes increasingly important to learn the truth for yourself and to seek it diligently, regardless of which church you may be affiliated with. In the end we will be judged as individuals, not as members of a church. The church serves an important purpose, but we must learn to stand and seek the truth that will enable us to stand regardless of what any specific church teaches.
Paul teaches us that as Christians, we all have the same foundation, which is Jesus Christ. He says:
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:10-11)
Only Jesus Christ can be the foundation of Christianity. Anyone who is following a religion that is NOT based upon Jesus Christ, who is the foundation and cornerstone of Christianity, has not even made it to first base. Other religions are false and do not offer any hope because they are not of the truth. There is only one exception and that is Judaism, which is the forerunner to Christianity and through which the principles of Christianity were first made apparent.
However, even Judaism lacks the fullness of the truth that exists in Christianity because Judaism cannot bring a person to perfection. This is only available and possible through the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Now, Paul also wrote after the scripture quoted above that it is important what you build on the foundation of Jesus Christ. And here is where we see the conflicts, schisms, divisions and splits in the church occur. It is in the doctrine and dogma of the churches that divisions occur and new groups are formed. As Paul said:
12 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
What Paul is referring to is the quality of the doctrine and teachings that are being built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. Christ is the foundation for all of the Christian churches, sects, etc. But some of the teachings these different groups teach in the name of Jesus Christ may be good, bad or indifferent and are not helpful in building up the individual or the church. Some things that are taught are lies and deceptions that have infiltrated the church through the working of the devil.
Conversely, there are many good teachings designed to strengthen Christians and help them grow mature in Christ. These are taught through the leading and intervention of the Holy Spirit.
Our challenge as individuals is to sift through these doctrines, precepts and teachings to find the gold, and not become a building of straw and stubble that will burn up at the first hint of fire. When the fires of life hit us, we need the truth of Jesus Christ to guide us through so we can survive and grow. But if the teachings we are holding fast to are lies, deception and just plain rubbish, then we will get burned because they will not help us.
The Christian Umbrella
So is all lost? Absolutely not!
The truth is still there to be found and is available to all people if they care to seek it out and look for it. Jesus promised that those who seek will find the truth, and Jesus did not lie.
In all of the churches there are people who belong to Christ, even if the teaching of the church is not too good. Even that great final false church that is called Babylon in Revelation 18 shows us that in spite of the apostasy if that church of the end times there are still God’s people among them. It says:
“Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues” (Revelation 18:4)
So too then in the many and various churches of these times, there is a remnant of the peoples of God in the churches.
The churches are a great umbrella with many prongs that cover the people. All come to Christ under one of these forms of teaching, and then it is their individual responsibility to find the truth through the church and their personal prayer and bible studies.
And this is the point of this scripture in 2 Corinthians 10 that I am looking at today.
Even though a person may belong to a different church to you, they are still your brother or sister in Christ because we all have the same foundation. The building is important to be able to stand in Jesus Christ, but the foundation of Jesus Christ is critical to stand strong. As Paul says:
”Look at what is before your eyes. If any one is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that as he is Christ’s, so are we.” (2 Corinthians 10:7)
We are all members of the body of Christ. We are all part of His people, seeking to find our way in Him to the promises that are offered to those who are faithful. And let us also recall the words of Jesus Christ when He said:
”He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)
Those who seek the Lord and search out the truth of the New Covenant are those who are with Christ. And these people can and will be found in almost any of the Christian congregations around the world.
Just because a person isn’t a Methodist, Anglican, Adventist, Baptist, Pentecostal or any other flavour of the church you may know of, doesn’t mean they are not members of the body of Christ. We cannot and must not reject someone else because they are of a different congregation to ourselves. We cannot consider ourselves superior to others because we think we have the fullness of the truth and they don’t. To do any of these things is pride, and pride is not of God but of the devil.
No,instead we must seek to learn from others and help teach them what we know to be true. There is one measuring stick we have been given, which is the bible. And when we have a solid grip on the words of God in the Bible, we can see how the picture holds together and we can spot where someone has twisted scripture for some deceitful end.
Just recall again the words of Jesus when He said:
14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, 15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:14-16)
Here we see Jesus make mention of a different flock that are not of the first fold. But it is abundantly clear that He will bring those people into the same fold as the first and they will all come together to form one large flock.
Now who these two flocks are may not be clear, (although I do have some thoughts on that matter…a discussion for another time). However, the fact that there are multiple flocks means that we must treat all people, and especially those who are followers of Jesus Christ with the same care, compassion, mercy and love as if we were serving Christ Himself. In fact, when we serve others in the church, we ARE serving Christ.
So let us unite as Christians and seek what is good for all and in the sight of all. Let us remember that all Christians are our brethren regardless of where they are in their respective walks with Christ. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, so let us unite as one and help one another find the fullness of the truth in Jesus Christ.
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