I'd like to devote a little time to a further discussion of unity among professing Christians.
We hear a lot of voices exhorting Christians to unity. We are told that we need to remove barriers and just get along; to dissolve denominational structures and just be the church. Well, what is out of line with that sentiment? Not a lot really. But there are a few things that bear thinking about. For one, there is only one church. That is all that there is or has ever been. It may meet in different places and buildings but it is not confined to parameters of location. Neither is it defined by organizational structure. At the core it is defined by truth. Read Ephesians 4:1-6: In this passage believers are exhorted to exert themselves to preserve the “unity of the Spirit within the bond of peace.” Yet immediately following this exhortation is a statement of faith. Christian unity is not the visible church holding hands and singing “koom by ya.” All that we’d end up with that way is one, big, clueless, compromised and outwardly happy family. Christian unity crosses artificial, humanly-contrived lines and is based upon the truth of the gospel. If we agree on the essential truths of the word regarding God, salvation and godly living, we are family no matter what the name over the door of our church states.
Jesus did not come to establish a denomination, and if He walked among us physically today I strongly doubt that He’d join or commend any to us. In the words of Dr. Anthony Evans, “Jesus did not come to take sides, He came to take over.” (My paraphrase). He came to establish His church and the gates of Hell are going down under its wheels! His church is based on the work of His Spirit through the proclamation of His word and the testimony of His people as they bear witness by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Why are there differences among believers? Should there be any? I would propose to you that differences are not necessarily harmful but may indeed be at times beneficial. I was speaking to a Mormon acquaintance recently and they expressed the alarm that there were so many different so-called “Christian” denominations and all were opposed to each other. That is honestly how many unbelievers and members of false faiths view the church. I had the pleasure of correcting his misunderstanding. We cooperate with other congregations, some non-denominational and some affiliated with a parent organization. Our cooperation is based upon a common faith in the divinity and virgin birth of Jesus, the substitutionary death and blood atonement of Christ on the cross for condemned, helpless, sinners, the physical resurrection of Christ from the grave, the physical return of Christ at the end of the age to rule and reign, and the authority, inerrancy and sufficiency of the Bible. If we are in agreement on these essentials we are family and we’d better act accordingly. If there is no agreement on these things, we need to avoid being “unequally yoked.” I cannot cooperate or engage in “fellowship” with one who denies the faith upon which I have staked my life ( 2 Cor 6:11-7:1).
Another reason to separate from professing believers is sin. In Titus 1:16 Paul comments on false teachers who “profess to know God but deny Him by their actions. See also 1 Cor 5:9–11 Paul exhorts the Corinthian believers not to avoid the ungodly but rather those professing faith in Christ (one who calls themselves a “brother”) yet who live in immorality, dishonesty, idolatry and malice (slander). “With such a person, do not even eat.”
Having said all this I come back to David’s oft expressed sentiment that “I love those who love You.” We here at Standish Bible Church are a small part of God’s family; a local, organized community of believers called to associate to spread the faith, train up believers for service, to encourage and admonish one another and to glorify God. We are not the church but a part of Christ's body, the church universal. Seek true biblical unity. Let us glorify Him together.