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It is a well-known and unfortunate fact of life that the Church is seriously fragmented. We see the branches of Christianity—Protestant (Evangelical and Mainline), Catholic (the Latin Church and others), the Orthodox Church (including the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Assyrian Church of the East), and the Anglican Church. Within all these together are a total of many thousands of denominations.


Church splits and doctrinal schisms account for a lot of this but, not all schisms are bad. For example, in the United States the Free Methodist denomination formed in the 1800’s when some Methodists split off from the main denomination due to its support for slavery. These individuals knew that slavery is wrong and would not tolerate support for such a travesty as Christians. However, the majority of divisions are not good. This dividedness certainly has not been God’s desire for the Church, nor is it a new problem. Even in the first-century apostolic Church there were problems with factions, as this Scripture passage attests:


1 Corinthians 3:1-4:  And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?


Paul the apostle, in addressing the Corinthian Christians, told them that they were carnal, that is, fleshly, that they were not behaving like they were saved. They should have progressed in their faith but were still immature in it. One sign of their immaturity was that they were dividing into groups who followed Paul or another powerful early believer, Apollos. In the verses following this passage Paul reminds the Corinthian believers that we are all God’s fellow workers and building. The idea behind this is that we as believers all belong to the body of Christ, a concept he addresses again in 1 Corinthians 12 when discussing spiritual gifts. Paul also noted divisions among the Corinthians when addressing irregularities in the observance of the Lord’s Supper:


1 Corinthians 11:17-19:  Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.


In the Greek, the word for divisions is where we get the word schisms from, and for factions, the underlying word is where we get the word heresies from. These are some heavy-duty words Paul laid upon the Corinthian congregation. He knew in the addresses he gave both here and in chapter 3 that such divisiveness could extend far beyond this local group of believers. And so here you have this fragmentation we see in Christianity today.


There are certain core beliefs which still bind us together, such as salvation in Jesus Christ and the Bible being the inspired Word of God, but once you get much beyond the basics the divisions become very apparent. From ancient times the principle of “divide and conquer” has been well understood by armies and by other people wanting to effect change in a country, for example, and it is definitely known by Satan and his evil kingdom. The religious leaders of Jesus’s day committed the unpardonable blasphemy of accusing Him of casting out demons by Beelzebub (Satan), the prince of the demons. Notice in His response the mention of the “divide and conquer” principle:


Matthew 12:25-26:  But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?”


Division is a dangerous thing, whether to a nation, to a group of people, or to the Church. A long time before the Church was even born, it was known and approved of by God for His people to be united together instead of being divided against each other:


Psalm 133:1:  Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!


So what does this situation look like for the modern-day Church? Aside from the fact that God can still get things accomplished despite our constantly getting in His way, the divisions in the Church are so numerous and of such long duration that we are not going to be able to get rid of them. Institutional Christianity is an increasingly broken instrument, and in these last days there are many already defecting from sound Biblical teachings if not from the Christian faith altogether (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; 2 Timothy 2:3-4).


What we must do, then, as believers is to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We should study the Scriptures to learn what the real truths of the faith are and pass that on to others. The Remnant Bible Study Course on this website was born out of a need for just such teachings for believers. If you find likeminded believers, stick with them and, if possible, live out your Christian journey together. Do not expect the number of such believers to be large, as a rule.


You do not have to abandon church attendance, but know what you’re getting in institutional Christianity and rejoice if you are a member of a church which truly adheres to the Bible. That rules out all these seeker-sensitive churches out here, the prosperity preachers, and all these other charlatans and misguided folks in the pulpits, as well as those churches steeped in old, stuffy, manmade traditions. Take heart in the fact that throughout history God has always had a remnant of believers who were true to Him. For example, when the prophet Elijah fled from the wrath of Queen Jezebel and was severely discouraged, look at what the Lord told him:


1 Kings 19:18:  “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”


In the Dark Ages, God’s remnant was preserved in the monasteries and in the cloisters. In the Protestant Reformation God extracted His remnant from the clutches of the decrepit Catholic Church. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s He honed and polished a remnant of His people from a new Pentecostal-type move of the Spirit. Today, in the wicked days of the early 21st century, God is raising up a remnant of Christians all around the world from out of the institutional Church, believers who know the truths of His Word and will not compromise these truths no matter what, Christians who are not ashamed of the name of Jesus and who are not afraid to die for Him if necessary. Be a part of God’s remnant! We can stand together in unity regardless of the fractured nature of Christendom.



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