PRESERVATION OF UNITY
April 1, 1998 Issue
by Don L King
The apostle said in I Corinthians 1:10, "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." Is it really possible to follow this? Certainly it is; if not, inspiration erred in commanding it. The obvious answer is to be consistently true to the Word of God. It isn't a matter of "interpretation." Most of us can read and understand what the Bible says to do in matters important to salvation. Why is it, then, that there are divisions among the children of God ? The answer has to be that not all are speaking the same thing. Not all are perfectly joined together. Not all have the same judgment. Who is at fault? We must look within ourselves for the answer. The fault doesn't lie with the God of Heaven.
In I Corinthians 12:24,25, Paul said, "For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another." Do we have the same care one for another? To ask the question is to answer it. Obviously we do not. Many years ago, when the innovations were introduced into the body of Christ, there would never have been division in the first place if those insisting on changes had really cared about one another. For instance, those who wanted to begin using individual cups in the Lord's Supper did not say those cups were the only way to worship. It was presented as an alternative way to serve the Supper. Sadly, godly brethren who had (and still have) a conscience against using more than one cup were forced to leave church buildings they had labored to build. They were accused of bringing about division because they insisted on a thus sayeth the Lord for doctrine. Strange, that those who introduced the innovations (cups, Bible classes, instrumental music, missionary society, et. al.) and insisted on change could not, and can not, see that they were the ones responsible for division. What's the problem? Members did not have the same care one for another. To this very day, brethren who use the innovations generally agree that it is scriptural to worship without them. For instance, we could agree and unite on one cup. That is the common ground of agreement. The schism within the body of Christ could be healed if all would agree to do only what the Book says. If all had the "same care one for another," a division could never have occurred when there was (and is) an easy way to avoid it. It is really just that simple: just do what we have plain authorization for and stop there.
It seems to us, that we ought to learn from history. We don't have to fight about everything! As we look toward the new century we are being faced with the problem of which translation to use. Most of us have our favorite. I recall my father favored a certain translation over the King James. However, he refused to use it in his preaching because he knew the majority of those in his audience would be trying to follow in their King James versions. He didn't want anything to be a distraction from his sermon. He knew some would prefer the old KJV. So far as I know, he never used anything else preferring to do what would make for peace and harmony within the church. Was he wrong? Should he have insisted upon using his favorite? He could have. He might have been able to get by with it too. However, problems would have resulted and those problems were easily avoided. It was simple, in his view. Just use the version the overwhelming majority of Christians everywhere read on a daily basis. That way when he quoted a passage, they recognized it as being genuine. He was still teaching the ancient Gospel from the Word of God and also avoiding a potential problem. Apparently, he cared for the brethren. That's what Paul has commanded in I Corinthians 12:24,25.
Several of our younger preachers prefer a newer version of the Bible. Do they have a right to study it? Of course. Every preacher uses various translations to better understand the Scriptures. Do they have a right to preach from them? Perhaps so, as long as the truth and no error is taught. However, does it demonstrate wisdom to do so? In our view, the answer is a resounding no! The same familiarity with the KJV exists today among our members as it did when my father was preaching. The same distractions are present when the teacher reads from a different translation. It is distracting to hear a noticeable difference in the reading from which we are most familiar. Which is the most profitable: to insist on a particular translation we may favor? Or, is it better to avoid confusion, keep peace, and still teach the ancient gospel from the Word of God? It seems to us that if we have the care of the brethren at heart and we really wish to avoid any schism that we will always do what makes for peace at least when we have a choice.
We must be careful that in our earnest pleadings for a particular translation (that we may honestly believe is superior) we do not deprecate and ravage the Word of God. I would not like to stand before the Lord in judgment and try to explain why I found it necessary to cause another to lose faith in His Word. The most of us are not able to discern between the various Greek texts as to which is the best. Surely, we are not going have to go that far? Can we not agree that the Word of God is with man today in the English language and let it go at that? Can we not all agree that to teach the truth is the important thing? Can we not agree to preserve the unity of the church in matters where it is easily accomplished? Very few brethren will take us to task over the use of a translation found in every home and nearly every church pew. Most of us agree that it is the Word of God. If we must explain some archaic language so be it. Explaining the Word of God is what preachers do every time they preach: That, my brother, is your function when you enter the pulpit.
Think on these things.
L. King 1998
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