Where’s the Unity?
Ron Graham was called home
on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had
asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing
what he began.
“Neither pray I
for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their
word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee,
that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast
sent me” (John 17:20-21).
born from above, we should be unified in Christ. Where is the unity that
Jesus prayed for so long ago? God the Son and God the Father are one. We
know this because the Scriptures tell us it is so. They have unity in that
the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father. We too, the children
of God, are to be united as one in Christ. Christ prayed that we be one.
prayer for unity, which was spoken directly by the Creator of the universe,
has for all intents and purposes been ignored by much of the Ekklesia. Why?
The unbridled festering of disagreements and anger has led to a splintering
of the body of Christ.
being the Ekklesia─the called out assembly of Christ─and looking to His
inerrant word to lead and guide us, most Christians look to the “church” to
tell them what to believe and how to act. What is the problem with that? The
Ekklesia is a unified body where Christ is sovereign and His word final, but
a church is filled with the doctrines of men and causes division.
I’d like to
preface this study with what God tells us never to do:
“Every word of
God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou
not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar”
God tells us
not to add to His words. The Hebrew word “yakach,” translated into English
as reprove, actually means to judge. Certainly no one wants to be judged by
God for adding to His inerrant word. Verse 6 above seems to place a high
risk for anyone desiring to tamper with the Scriptures.
translators of the original text should have been very careful as they went
about translating the original languages into English. That holds true for
all of the various translations into English or any other language. The
above warning must be taken seriously. There are other warnings within the
word of God concerning adding to or even taking away words from the
“Ye shall not
add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from
it…” (Deuteronomy 4:2a).
to the Israelites, makes it clear that adding to or taking away from His
word would be a huge mistake.
soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor
diminish from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32).
confirms His command that they were not to add to or take away from His
Word. No one should have been keener to keep God’s Word pure than the Bible
“For I testify
unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any
man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are
written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the
book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life,
and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this
book” (Revelation 22:18-19).
attest to the fact that there is a high price to pay for tampering with the
book of Revelation specifically, but from the above Scriptures we can see
that God says what He means and means what He says. He does not want His
Word watered down or altered.
For some time
now I’ve referred to the saints as the assembly of those called out. In
doing so I’ve primarily used the Greek word for assembly, which is Ekklesia.
Why do I use the word “Ekklesia” instead of “church”? Well, the Greek word
“Ekklesia” does not mean “church”. As a matter of fact there is no Greek
word that is translatable as the English word, “church.”
of “church” is (put “define church” into a Google search and this is what
you will see):
building used for public Christian worship.
particular Christian organization, typically one with its own clergy,
building, and distinctive doctrines: “Church of England.”
certainly doesn’t describe a unified assembly of believers. The first
definition doesn’t even describe it as human! The second indicates human
agenda in interpreting the Scriptures.
Now let’s look
at the definition of “Ekklesia” as defined in Strong’s concordance. There is
a long list of meanings, but as related to Christians it says:
assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting.
of Christians, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus
Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious
meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed
for the body for order’s sake.
anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into
body of Christians scattered throughout the earth.
of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven.
continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in
breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
heard the doctrine directly from the lips of Jesus, so what they taught is
what we need to follow today. Have you ever asked someone if he or she is a
Christian and received the response, “Yes, I’m a Methodist?” Or a Lutheran,
or a Baptist, or insert the division of your choice. What does that mean? It
means that the person you are talking to is holding to the doctrines of men
rather than the God-breathed Scriptures.
being a “church” divisions have occurred at a phenomenal rate. Christ’s
Ekklesia divided? Where in His teachings does He ever refer to His followers
as a divided body? No, we’ve been horribly deceived over the years, thus the
body of Christ has become fragmented and for the most part ineffective.
men have tiptoed in and caused division. Some say you have to be baptized by
water in order to be saved. Some say you are only really baptized if you are
baptized in “our church.” Others say you must speak in tongues for evidence
that you are saved; others say tongues are eerie and shouldn’t be used.
Still others rely on a pope or a priest to tell them what to do and think.
Only when we drop our “church” ordained prejudices can we understand Acts
2:42 and continue steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship.
is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof,
for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be
perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
We aren’t to
pick and choose which Scriptures we like or don’t like. God inspired all
Scripture and it is perfect in the original languages of Hebrew and Greek.
Diligence must be taken to study the Hebrew and Greek to understand what a
word really means, rather than what it was translated to say. The entirety
of the Bible must be considered when discerning Scripture. It only takes a
simple lack of wisdom to add to or diminish from Scripture and corrupt God’s
meaning and cause division.
spoke His prayer of unity it was not about a fragmented unity or a separated
unity, but a complete and united body, each person with his/her own purpose.
“So we, being
many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Romans
unity in Christ is now horribly fragmented. Oh sure there are splinters of
believers who have united together, but never were they to form
denominations or place names of dead men on the buildings. The Ekklesia was
never about men but always about Messiah Jesus.
As believers we
are commanded: “Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the
bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3, NASB).
Today we have
built Christian ministries around men (pastors, popes, bishops, doctors, you
name it) who usurped the authority of Christ as Head and have built around
denominational titles and names separating His body into corporations. These
corporations, known as churches, are registered with the government in order
to establish their tax-exempt position.
What does that
mean? It means that the government limits what they can teach from the
pulpit. Instead of teaching the whole of God’s truth they must be
politically correct or lose their tax exemption. There are no words too
strong to describe this monstrous deception. Words that do come to mind are:
abomination, heresy, anathema, reprobate and blasphemy.
We are to
gather around the name of Jesus, not the name of a building, a rented store-
front or a pastor. We have literally robbed Christ of his rightful place and
therefore His glory in His body has departed. We have replaced the ministry
of the Holy Spirit with the works of men. We have replaced our first love (a
true love and obedience toward Jesus Christ) with works oriented
philosophies of men and million dollar buildings. Unity? Not hardly.
having two or three gathered together in His name, we have multitudes
gathering in a name totally foreign to the Word of God: Presbyterian,
Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, and numerous other associations which indicate
no reverence to Jesus, our Christ. This forming of congregations under other
names has been one of major disrespect to our God and Savior, Jesus the
Christ and His prayer for unity.
reference to believers switched from the people (the Ekklesia) to a building
of stone and wood (a church), all Christ centeredness within the body was
lost. We lost body ministry, unity, supportive relationships, fellowship and
community. The funds that normally went to the poor and widows and orphans
now go to the institutional structures and organization.
This was a major shift (from people
to building) and delivered a key blow to the function of the body of Christ.
The intention of Christ uniting His believers in one body was thwarted by
the traditions of men who translated our Scriptures for their own
benefit…not Christ’s. Because of this switch, ministries became skewed.
So, what can be
done to reverse this horrible separation of the body of Christ? The
doctrines and interpretations of men need to be dropped. Instead of a being
a church, we need to be the Ekklesia, the called-out assembly who are united
by the blood of Christ. Fellowship with the Ekklesia, but study God’s Word
prayerfully to learn the doctrine of the apostles as they heard it from
Christ. Don’t “go to church” and be divided, but be united in the
God bless you
All original Scripture is “theopneustos” (God breathed).