September 13, 2009

Let us start here...

Paedo vs. Credo baptism will continue to be a difference that will divide the church in terms of Church unity, as it relates to church membership. It is one of the few theological differences that is, not only held in the mind and conscience of it's adherents, but also requires an outward action be administered by church leadership and received by congregants. Therefore, holding differing views on baptism (as it is tied to a sacrament) will continue to necessitate a distinct separation in terms of "doing" church. However, many of the other theological differences that currently divide the church, when included in a local body's statement of faith, do not require outward actions be preformed. Therefore, let us not "throw the baby out with the bath water" so to speak--by using the difference between baptism to distract us from doing what we can to remove the sinful practice of further dividing the church by requiring that any individual desiring to join a local body also believe in, and adhere to, your particular view or opinion on non-essential doctrines, such as, a particular millennial view.

With the differing views that have been held by saints down through church history; the likelihood of all believers, who live close to a local church and who would wish to become a member of that church, holding to the same millennial view as that church, is nearly impossible and they, therefore, cannot be embraced in full unity by that local body. As Mark Dever states, "That is a sin"--not on the part of the lay person; but on the part of church leadership.

You have no idea how encouraged I was to have heard that Mark Dever (a pastor/teacher that many local pastors respect) said what I have been stating for several years. For I am one of those believers who has been kept from full fellowship and official membership because of the local church body's sinful inclusion of non-essentials in their statement of faith.

I pray that we can (at the very least) start here as we desire to be obedient to our Lord's command. If you are a pastor, guilty of causing/creating division in the body of Christ in your local church, I plead with you to hear the words spoken by Mark Dever in a sermon that he delivered in July 2009:

"You Are in Sin If You Lead Your Congregation to Have a Statement of Faith that Requires a Particular Millennial View"

I think that millennial views need not be among those doctrines that divide us. . . . I am suggesting that what you believe about the millennium—how you interpret these thousand years—is not something that it is necessary for us to agree upon in order to have a congregation together. The Lord Jesus Christ prayed in John 17:21 that we Christians might be one. Of course all true Christians are one in that we have his Spirit, we share his Spirit, we desire to live out that unity. But that unity is supposed to be evident as a testimony to the world around us. Therefore, I conclude that we should end our cooperations together with other Christians (whether near-ly in a congregation, or more at length in working together in missions and church planting and evangelism and building up the ministry) only with the greatest of care, lest we rend the body of Christ for whose unity he’s prayed and given himself.

Therefore, I conclude that it is sin to divide the body of Christ—to divide the body that he prayed would be united. Therefore for us to conclude that we must agree upon a certain view of alcohol, or a certain view of schooling, or a certain view of meat sacrificed to idols, or a certain view of the millennium in order to have fellowship together is, I think, not only unnecessary for the body of Christ, but it is therefore both unwarranted and therefore condemned by scripture.
So if you’re a pastor and you’re listening to me, you understand me correctly if you think I’m saying you are in sin if you lead your congregation to have a statement of faith that requires a particular millennial view. I do not understand why that has to be a matter of uniformity in order to have Christian unity in a local congregation."

Let us start here, as we strive to be obedient to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Much harm is being done to individual saints and to the honor and glory of our Lord's precious name because of our current disobedience in this area.

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