The New Testament tells of "a departure from the faith," a "falling away." We need only to open our eyes and we will see the results of that great apostasy in the multiplicity of religious bodies in the world today, each one teaching something different from the other.
This is not what Jesus intended when he said, "I will build my church." In his prayer of John 17, he stated his desire and the formula for accomplishing it. He was praying especially for his apostles but in his prayer he said, "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 --- read the whole chapter). That which was to set these apostles apart and bind them together was the truth, the word of God. (John 17:`7) That same word was the medium through which all believers were to be bound together as one. Unity was desired and demanded by our Lord.
But he wasn't talking about an organized association of differing churches.. Neither was he talking about one ecclesiastical headquarters to hand down its own decrees.The unity he was advocating began and ended with the individual. Certainly every congregation is to be united but the congregation is made up of individuals who are told to "speak the same things,""be of one spirit," "that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." Anyone who disrupted that unity was to be marked and shunned. (Romans 16:17) And an Old Testament proverbs says that God hates the one who sows discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:19).
Every individual is responsible before God for what he believes and practices. No church has the right to tell him what he MUST believe. He must search the scriptures (Acts 17:11), try the spirits of religious teachers (1 John 4:1); study diligently (2 Timothy 2:15). Find a congregation, not a denominational association, that teaches what Jesus authorized the apostles to teach and band yourself together with those of like mind. Thus you will be one with them and one with Christ. This unity must, of necessity, be based on what the apostles had been authorized and inspired to teach.
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