If you watched the series, The Chosen, then you’re familiar with the character of the Pharisee, Shmuel. This Pharisee did everything he could to create division within the synagogue and the Sanhedrin itself!
In the Sanhedrin, there were two schools of thought – the school of Hillel, which was the liberal wing of Judaism, and the school of Shammai, which was the more conservative side of Judaism.
Both schools observed the Law of Torah, but had differing interpretations. This is how the Oral Law came into being – this oral tradition became law based on which school had control of the Sanhedrin at the time. The rabbis would write their interpretation of a specific law, which would be added to the Talmud – taking 613 laws and creating thousands of laws that were required to be followed.
Growing up in this tradition, I’ve seen this firsthand.
Where did the prohibition of mixing meat and dairy come from? Exodus 23:19, and repeated verbatim in Exodus 34:26, “The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
It’s that last sentence – one sentence – that created this law.
Does this really say “don’t mix meat and dairy” – or something else completely, such as don’t cook goat in milk? The rabbis took this one sentence and created a rabbinic law that meat is never to be mixed with dairy.
Goodbye cheeseburgers and if you’re from Philly, goodbye cheesesteaks (God forbid, but I digress). There are some Jews I know who love a good cheesesteak.
The first century church wasn’t much better.
Paul had his hands full with that bunch. He had Titus as his enforcer and Timothy as an additional teacher, but the differences between the Corinthian church, the church at Ephesus, the Roman church, the Galatians, were wide and deep in some areas of doctrine. Paul, Titus and Timothy had to work with elders to bring that back in line.
Jesus wanted unity in the church, not division. In John 17, verses 20-22, Jesus prayed for unity among believers:
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
“That they be one just as We are one – I in them and You in Me” … these are powerful words, and Jesus meant them!
Look around today.
We have the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.
We have the Pentecostal church and the more traditional church.
We have conservative churches and more liberal denominations.
We have the black church and the white church – really? I don’t know about other areas but in this area, the “First Baptist” church is typically a white church and “Second Baptist” is typically a black church.
This is unity?
The church has one, and only one mission, and that’s to preach the good news – the Gospel. It’s job isn’t to preach about getting rich and prosperous. It’s job isn’t to preach self-help garbage. It’s job is to get people saved and to make disciples to repeat the process.
There is no white church, and there is no black church – there’s one, and only one church – Jesus’ bride.
What did Jesus do on this earth – he took twelve men who had limited knowledge of Torah, and He made them disciples over three years.
They, in turn, if you read the book of Acts, went out and did the same.
Jesus took a murderer and persecutor of Christians named Shaul (in Hebrew), we knew him as Saul, changed him over three years, renamed him Paul, and did a work that few could imagine. Paul went out and did essentially the same thing – he made disciples.
Is one church better than another? One would think that with all of the competition out there – between traditional churches and those more hip, “seeker friendly” churches.
Seeker friendly is fine, as long as they’re not abandoning scripture and compromising the faith in doing so.
How many though, of these seeker friendly churches are opening their door and welcoming with open arms, people practicing lifestyles that are abomination to God’s Word?
It’s one thing to permit these people attend to learn and to see the error of their ways, repent and seek salvation, and quite another to permit them to perform on the praise team, or have any position – paid or volunteer – within the church.
We have no unity in the church today. Hundreds of denominations, all with their own interpretation of scripture. In some denominations, there’s a book called “Faith and Practice” or some similar name … is this their Talmud?
Seriously? We need something other than the Bible itself? I don’t think so.
It’s why this nation, and nations worldwide, are in the mess we’re in.
The United States, for example, was founded on the Judea-Christian foundation, with the Bible at their side. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution were constructed after the Magna Carta, which were based on biblical principles.
Look where we are today. What God sees as wrong, this nation sees as right. Check out what the prophet Isaiah says in chapter 5 and verse 20:
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
That’s what we have today.
We have laws on the books that call what’s evil, good, and we’re persecuted for calling out this evil. We try to preach good, and we’re persecuted as being evil.
Isaiah was prophetic more than he realized.
Jesus didn’t want a liberal church – He wanted a church true to His Word.
Jesus didn’t want hundreds of denominations – He wanted one, and only one church, to preach the gospel, to get people saved through His blood, and make disciples.
Jesus wasn’t looking to have “seeker friendly” churches. The Holy Spirit convicts to salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14). No rock concert or feel-good message from some hip speaker is going to change anything.
The Holy Spirit convicts one to repentance. It’s that simple. Yes, it may take a preacher to preach the Word to the unsaved or backslider, but the conviction ultimately comes from the Holy Spirit.
I’ve always said, it’s our job to plant seeds (tell others and evangelize), but the Holy Spirit brings them to repentance. Then we disciple them in the faith.
What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to put your comments below. Although moderated, as long as they’re respectful and contain no profanity, they’ll be permitted, regardless of point of view.