Keith Hunt - Doctrinal Unity? Restitution of All
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Doctrinal Unity?

Is it Really that Important?

DOCTRINAL UNITY

IS IT REALLY IMPORTANT OR DO WE JUST NEED LOVE?


by Keith Hunt


     "All of God's children will never be under one banner until
Jesus returns" shouts many a Sabbath keeping church. And while I
must agree with this statement as far as the banner of
ORGANIZATION is concerned, there is another aspect of this often
spoken phrase that I must - to some degree - disagree with. And
that aspect is this. Far too many people I have met with in my
ministerial travels across north AMERICA (Canada and U.S.A.) use
the understanding and fact that history shows us that God's
children have never been under one banner since the true church
expanded further than the city of Jerusalem, to say we shall
never all come to agreement and unity as to the teachings and
doctrines of God.
     I have found a too casual - oh hum - shrug of the shoulder
attitude - bordering on a "couldn't care less " a "well it
doesn't matter" attitude, concerning unity in the teachings of
the Lord. Some go as far as saying, "As long as we all agree in
keeping the 7th day Sabbath and the other nine commandments,
we'll all be in the Kingdom." But is this really so?
     We often ask the 1st day keeper to be willing to look at
some plain verses of God's word to come to see the truth about
the 7th day Sabbath - do we not - sure we do! Well, are we
willing to look at some plain verses ourselves concerning the
subject of doctrinal unity? We really do need to do so, for our
attitude towards that subject could effect our being in the first
resurrection or not. You think that is too strong a statement?
Well please read on and be willing to go face to face with the
questions I will pose and the verses I will quote.
     We often tell the 1st day keeper and/or those searching for
the truth about which day is the weekly Sabbath, to be willing to
be strong. Can we be strong as we face God's word about doctrinal
unity ?

	God says to us, "Come let us reason together." Does it really
make logical sense to believe that all 7th day Sabbath keepers
will be in the first resurrection and the Kingdom at Jesus'
return, when some only agree on the observance of the Sabbath and
disagree on about everything else? Is God going to just "flip
the switch" when He comes, so we all will have our wrong ideas
and doctrines erased from our minds? Do we think it does not
matter to God if during this life we make no attempt to search
for the truth on all doctrines of His word? Does claiming to be
a part of the true church that Christ founded, automating make it
so? Because we come from a heritage that claims decent from the
apostles - does that ensure us a place in the first resurrection,
even if we are sincere in our beliefs? Saying, "Well we all
teach obeying the 10 commandments including the 4th " - will that
attitude be enough? Many will proclaim, "We keep the weekly
Sabbath and the 7 annual Sabbaths" as if that guarantees them
the Kingdom.

     Have we so soon forgotten that the scribes and Pharisees and
Sadducees kept the Sabbath and feasts of God? Have we forgotten
that these religious groups obeyed other points of God's word 
(yet they differed in doctrine)? Have we forgotten they claimed
decent from Abraham and an historical ancestry of great worth?
HAVE WE FORGOTTEN WHAT JESUS SAID TO THEM AND ABOUT THEM?
Perhaps we need to again read Mat.23, or remember He told them
that the harlots, publicans and sinners (in their eyes ) would
enter the Kingdom before them. Their attitude and practices in
regards some of God's word was wrong and if repentance was not
forthcoming, and changes made, they would not enter God's
Kingdom.
     Is it possible that many 7th day commandment keepers TODAY
are in the same boat with the scribes and Pharisees?
Stop and LOOK!! We find today literally dozens upon dozens of
groups that teach keeping the 4th commandment. It is true that
many basically only differ in organization (being locally
autonomous) and very little difference doctrinally. But on the
other hand many groups have LARGE and BASIC doctrinal
differences. For me to illustrate I am going to have to name
names. Many of the Seventh Day Baptist churches teach as doctrine
- going to heaven at death, the immortality of the soul, the Holy
Spirit as a person, while other 7th day churches do not teach
these doctrines, but say they are false. The Worldwide Church of
God teaches a "pyramid church government" doctrine, other groups
teach this is not Biblical. Many congregations teach that tithing
is commanded of God for His people, while others teach it is not.
The Seventh Day Adventists (main stream body) teach that Ellen
White was God's prophet for the end time, but other 7th day
keeping churches teach she was not. Some groups teach as doctrine
that God has a sacred name and it alone should be used, while
other churches say that is not so. Many Sabbath observing
churches also teach the keeping of the Feasts found in Lev.23,
while other churches teach those Feasts were "done away" with
at the cross.
     We could go on and on with MAJOR differences between various
7th day observing churches. I think the point has dearly been
made.

SOME PLAIN VERSES

     If there is only ONE true God - if there is only one Jesus
Christ, can we assume correctly that they agree with the
teachings of all Sabbath keeping churches? Did Jesus, when
walking this earth among the Sabbath observing groups of the
society of nearly two thousand years ago, say that they were all
just heading for the same sheep fold, but through different doors
and along different paths?
     Did He agree with all the teachings of the scribes? No! Did
He agree with all the teachings of the Pharisees? No! He could
not be divided up into a hundred pieces.
     The church at Corinth thought Jesus could be divided for
less reason than doctrinal - Paul asked them, "Is Christ
divided?" He infers an answer of "no way" (1 Cor.1:12,13 ). Then
he tells the Ephesian church, "There is ONE body (not one
organized people under one banner), and ONE Spirit .... ONE hope
of your calling, ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and
Father of all..." (Eph.4:4-6).
     Can there be more than one Holy Spirit - speaking many major
conflicting doctrines? Can there be more than one Jesus who died
on the stake? Maybe there is and that's why we have different
major doctrines - but I speak with foolishness. Maybe there is
many "God the Fathers" and that is why some will be "raptured"
away to Him before the tribulation, or will go to heaven at
death, or will spend the thousand years in heaven, or some other
time - again I speak with tongue in cheek.

     Paul says there is "one baptism" - surely God's word tells
us what the truth is about that one baptism - by complete
immersion or a few drops of water. Surely God wants us to know if
we go to heaven at death or do not. I think HE wants us to know
if we go to heaven during the one thousand years or stay on this
earth. In other words, there must be a one and only truth to the
main doctrines that are contained in the word of God. Oh yes, we
may have to diligently search the Scriptures to find all the
verses God gives us on a particular subject or doctrine, but the
Father does want us to know.
     Will we be willing to believe the sure promise Jesus left us
when speaking about the Holy Spirit that was to came, He said, 
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you
into ALL TRUTH" (Jn.16:13). Has the HOLY Spirit came ? Is there
anyone claiming to be a Christian that does not believe that the
Spirit came on the day of Pentecost and has been with Christians
ever since? I have never met any. And we might ask - what is
truth? Jesus said, "...your(the Father's) word is truth"
(Jn.17:17). God's word will show us the things He wants us to
know is truth. And the first part of verse one tells us we are to
be sanctified by that truth. I can see no way around these plain
verses and the absolute promise given to us that the HOLY Spirit
will guide us into all truth. Either this is true as Jesus said,
or Jesus is a liar - God's word is not inspired and the Father
does not have the power through the Spirit to direct His children
into all truth. I do not believe any of the aforementioned things
are correct, and if you do not, then you have to believe what
Jesus said as recorded in John 16:13!

THE TIME FOR REVEALING TRUTH

     I have never met a single person who claimed to have all the
knowledge of God's truths at the time of conversion and baptism.
I doubt if there has ever been a mortal man or woman at any time
who had all truth at conversion. Even the great learned Rabbi
from Tarsus - Paul - upon conversion to Christ and baptism had to
spend some time in Arabia being taught the truths of the gospel
by the REVELATION of Jesus (Gal.1:11-17).
     Most of us do not even have the deep religious background
and upbringing that someone like Paul had - most of us are truly
babes in the knowledge of God's word at our conversion. Or we
have been brought up on such false religious teachings that we
must still reckon ourselves babes in the Lord when He first
starts to reveal the truth of His word to us.
     It would seem God purposely never gives all His truth to any
individual upon their conversion. He has a great reason for not
doing so - it is a test to prove if a person really does love God
with all his heart, life and mind. It is a life long test, to see
if we will walk in His way whenever that way is revealed to us. I
have known people who were true Christians for many years but did
not keep the 7th day Sabbath - they did not know they should or
they did not know that Sunday was not the 7th day. Then at some
point God revealed this truth to them and they accepted that
revelation and walked in it - they had met that test and were
victorious. With others it is some other truth that is shown to
them months or years after their conversion and baptism - then
the test is for them to see if they will love the truth above all
else.
     This is the way and working of the Lord. It is no wonder
then that the apostle Peter was inspired to write, "As newborn
babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow
thereby" (1 Pet.2:2). And some of God's children even after
conversion and baptism - even after some years, are still more
carnal than spiritual. You do not think this is possible, well
you had better read Paul's first letter (first of the two left
recorded for us) to the church at Corinth, and especially note
chapter 3:1-4. With all the doctrinal fractions among those who
claim to be God's children today, maybe we are still more carnal
than spiritual.

     Possibly God is trying to reveal more of His truths to YOU,
or revealing again truths you put aside and cast away. What are you
doing about proving them and holding fast to that which is good
and true (1 Thes.5:21)?

DOCTRINAL UNITY OF THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH

     As we read the first number of chapters of the book of Acts
it is evident that for many years the New Testament church was in
unity as to doctrine. It is very unlikely that Luke (the author
of Acts) would not have told us about a lack of doctrinal unity
if it had existed. This is given credence by the fact that he did
record a large doctrinal difference in the matter of circumcision
(Acts 15).
     What is important to note here is not that a doctrinal
difference arose, but what God's people did about it when it had
arisen. I go into this in some detail in my book THE NT CHURCH
AND ITS ORGANIZATION (also now on this Website). Here I need only
say that the truth was desired and was gained. The readers can
study for themselves Acts 15 and see how the truth was arrived at
in this particular case.
     My large (8x11 150 page and more) book on Church Government
shows very clearly that God used many men to do His work and
raise up churches in various parts of the Roman Empire, who did
not know each other on a personal basis (i.e. Paul was used by
God for many years before he met James, Peter and John) but were
teaching the same truths of God's word. The apostles at Jerusalem
could "add nothing" to what Paul had for years been teaching and
preaching (Gal.2:1-10).
     Sure, false brethren and false apostles arose within and
among the people of God (Gal.2:4) together with false letters
claiming to come from Paul, Silvanus or Timothy (2 Thes.l:l;
2:2), but the true ministers and people of God remained in unity
to the basic doctrines and truths of God's word.
     It is also true that corruptions and perversions of the
truth of God's word, and the gifts of His Spirit did arise among
the churches of God. But perversion of truth does not mean
doctrinal differences were prevalent. Paul certainly had to
correct the church at Corinth because of perversion of truth and
a lax attitude towards open sin within the church. Yes, we can
find from the book of Revelation some churches of God allowing
idolatry and false teachings within their midst, but God always
warned them about these sins and told them to repent.
     He showed them the truth and gave them time to acknowledge
those sins and to put them away. Again all this does not prove
disunity of doctrine but a merciful God correcting and leading
with His Spirit His people into all truth.

JESUS' REQUEST - IS IT BEING ANSWERED?

     Notice what Jesus requested of the Father in His prayer the
night before His crucifixion "... 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 you, Father are in me, and I in you,
that they also may be one in us ... that they may be one, even as
we are one. I in them, and you in me, that they may be made
perfect in one...." (John 17:20-23).
     What Jesus is requesting here can not be organizational
unity, for mass communication via Telephone, Radio, T.V. and
Satellite is of this space age society. Before all this God's
people went forth into all the earth with the gospel - raising up
churches in all nations, many of whom never had contact with
others in different areas and often did not know of the existence
of other true Christians outside their own land, or if they did,
were not able to meet them. Therefore Jesus must have been asking
the Father to keep believers as ONE in unity of doctrine -
doctrine not organization.
     It is clear from other words of Christ in the four Gospels
that He spoke only the words of the Father - both He and the
Father were in complete unity as to teaching and doctrine. Now as
Jesus was a completely obedient Son of the Father - as He was
willing to put aside the glory He shared with the Father - as He
was willing to come to earth as God in the flesh and sacrifice
Himself for the sins of the whole world - because of all this and
more, is it logical to believe this prayer request of Jesus' went
unanswered or contrary to the request? Many would want to believe
so, but I for one can not believe that the Father would deny this
request. With what I have expounded so far and the Scripture
verses we have seen, it cannot be any other way than that the
Father would grant Jesus His request.
     Is Jesus and the Father divided up a hundred different and
often contradictory ways as to doctrine? Are they in disagreement
and confusion? NO WAY! Not at all, for God says He is not the
author of confusion (1 Cor.14:33)
     If He is not - then who is?

WHAT SHOULD BE OUR ATTITUDE?

     One of the golden rules that Christ laid down was, "Blessed
are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they
shall be filled" (Mat.5:6).
     I am sorry to say, but in all my travels I have not found
this zealous attitude of mind among very many people. There is
little deep down searching for the right as opposed to the wrong.
It would seem not very many are crying out with Jeremiah, "O
Lord, CORRECT ME, but with judgment" (Jer.10:24). We live in an
age when the words of Rev.3:15-19 really do apply to the churches
of God. A lukewarmness permeates the Sabbath keeping churches,
while an attitude of spiritual smugness is proclaimed in mind and
action. Too many people and too many 7th day observing
organizations boldly claim they SEE, but in reality they are
BLIND. And that is not me saying this BUT GOD!! (Rev.3:18).
     Fortunately for us the Lord is still leading, rebuking and
correcting us into all truth IF we will be in a repentant
attitude and ZEALOUS in thirsting for His righteousness
(Rev.3:19).
     We are living in a time when people who knew God's truths
have cast them off as a dirty garment - when many are only
willing to live some of the truths they know - when many no
longer have the love of the truth - when people will no longer
diligently search the Scriptures to see if those things are so,
as the noble Bereans did (Acts 17:10-12). But then all this was
foretold was it not?
     Yes indeed - in 2 Thes.2:1-12.

     Jesus said that before His return - in the last days -
deception would be so great that if it was possible even the
elect would be led astray (Mat.24:24). And what is the way for
the child of God to make sure he or she is not deceived? The
answer is found in the three passages of Scripture already given
- Mat.5:6; Acts 17:10-12 and 2 Thes.2:10.
     If YOU will love the truth, if you will search the
Scriptures, if you will thirst for righteousness, then God will
fill you with His Spirit which will "guide you into all truth"
and YOU will be in the first resurrection to meet the Lord Jesus
upon His return.

THE REASONS FOR A LUKEWARM ATTITUDE

     There are many reasons people do not love the truth, and
what I mean by this phrase is "acting upon truth". Acting upon
truth means a change in thought and practice. Many will not be
corrected, will not diligently seek for the right, because they
know that if they find it then they must make a choice - go the
way of truth and right or the way of falsehood. If the way of
right is followed then it could mean loosing a job, putting a
strain on their marriage, getting their children upset,
developing problems with parents, or just being thought of as
"odd."
     Yet I would say from my experiences with the ministers and
people of the Sabbath observing churches, that the most prevalent
proclivity to lukewarmness and a lack of the love of the truth is
a "comfortable pew" attitude. Too many look to an organization -
be it just local or national or worldwide. They just do not want
to rock the boat they are in or jump ship if they must. I know of
ministers who know the church they belong to, is preaching false
unbiblical doctrines - but they will not speak out the truth.
Other ministers know about corruption in MORALITY or FINANCES
within the leaders of their church, but say and do nothing. Too
many congregational members follow a personality regardless as to
whether he corrupts himself or starts preaching untruths. Far too
many make their church a social club and stay because of the
"party events" it conducts on a regular basis. Some close their
eye to truth because their church offers them a fine school to
educate their children. Others have long lasting friendships they
have built with people in the church they attend and do not want
to jeopardize that friendship should they speak up for or stand
up for truth. There are those with other family members(wife,
husband, mother, father, brother, sister, aunt etc.) within the
same church, and they feel they cannot possibly cause disunity
among the physical family, because of God's truth.
     There are those who have been raised in a church and are now
choir director, Sabbath school teacher, deacon or deaconess,
youth leader, or hold some other "important" office that is more
important to hold than proclaiming and standing for truth.
I have known individuals who held the church building or choir or
church organ more important and in higher esteem than doctrinal
truth.
     Putting all these things before the love of the truth is all
summed up in one word - IDOLATRY!! And that sin has been one of
the deadliest sins that God's children have had to face from the
time of Moses to the present. Jesus plainly told us that those
who would be His disciples had to be willing to give up ALL, even
their own lives if need be to be worthy to enter the Kingdom. HE
taught His followers to thirst after righteousness - to build
their house upon a rock that the winds could not blow over.
One day He was asked if only a few would be saved (I understand
this question to be in reference to the first resurrection) and
His reply is very chilling, "Strive to enter in at the straight
gate, for many I say unto you, will seek to enter in and SHALL
NOT BE ABLE" (Luke 13:24).
     God is not playing games with our salvation - but ARE WE?
The Father wants to give us the greatest GIFT in the whole
universe - we need to take His offer of eternal life in glory very
seriously!

IS DOCTRINAL TRUTH THAT IMPORTANT?

     "Come on Keith," some are going to say, "the study of
doctrine has its place but really now, it's not as important as
you've been trying to make us believe. The main thing is that we
all love one another and try to get along - we should overlook
our doctrinal differences even if some of them are large ones."
     Many have probably been saying or thinking this way before
getting to this section of this article. Some will have already
put this article to one side because they feel doctrinal unity is
not that important. But for you who have read to this point and
do feel I may have validity in what I have so far presented - then
this section should drive the nail home in showing that doctrinal
unity IS IMPORTANT!
     We are admonished in Eph.4:14,15 to not be like children
pushed around with every wind of doctrine by those who are just
ready to pounce on you and lead you off into deception. But we
are to have the truth and GROW UP into Christ in all things. Now
growing up takes time and knowing the truth does not happen
overnight - it takes study and study and more study. Paul told
the minister Timothy to be zealous to show himself to God a
workman that handled rightly the word of truth. He was telling
Timothy to be on guard against false doctrines that destroy.
Timothy was to purge himself from error and those who teach it
and will not repent. Please read this in 2 Tim.2:15-21.
     There were THREE basis divisions Paul wanted Timothy to use in
the "house of God" - the church. He was to give attendance to
reading - to exhortation - to DOCTRINE (1 Tim.3:14,15; 4:13).
Notice what Paul told Timothy in verse 16 of the above chapter,
"Take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrine - continue in
them (the singular word "doctrine" used for all God's truths) -
for in doing this you shall both save yourself and them that hear
you."
     Paul wrote that all Scripture was inspired of God, and
besides Scripture being profitable for instruction in the right
and for reproof, it was also profitable for DOCTRINE 
(2 Tim.3:16).
     Timothy was, as part of his ministry to, "Preach the word:
be instant in season, out of season - reprove - rebuke - EXHORT
with all longsufferinq and doctrine:" (2 Tim.4:2).
     Titus was to use sound doctrine to shut the mouths of vain
talkers and deceivers (Titus 1:9-11).
     It is very evident from the above that Paul thought
"doctrine" was very important and that it could even be a matter
of life or death!

     The apostle John did not beat around the bush - he pulled no
punches when talking about doctrine. You will find what he said
in his second letter verses 8-11. I will render for you verse 8
as some Greet manuscripts read, "Look to yourselves, that you
loose not those things which you have gained, but that you
receive a full reward." The things his readers had gained were
the teachings (doctrines) of the Lord. Now verse 9. "Whosoever
transgresses and abides not in the doctrine (singular heading but
plural content) of Christ, has not God. He that abides in the
doctrine of Christ, he has both the Father and the Son."
     Jesus is the living truths of the Father - He came as God in
the flesh and lived truth. Jesus is also the written word of
truth (all the Bible) - it was He as God of the Old Testament,
and the risen Lord of the New Testament, that inspired men to
write the books that are contained in what we call the Holy
Bible. So the "doctrine of Christ" is the various topical truths
found throughout the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. God
is able, as we have seen, to guide His children through the
Spirit into all truth. This must be so in order for the child of
God to obey and fulfil the command of verse 10, "if there come
any to you, and bring not this doctrine (note Isa.8:20) - receive
him not into your house, neither bid him God speed."

     I have had to obey this directive from time to time when
certain pairs of individuals from well know religious
organizations have come to my door. The Eternal is very jealous
over His doctrine - we should be as well, and be on our guard
against falsehoods and those who would perpetrate them. We are
not to take this "lack of the love of the truth" attitude that is
exhibited by far too many, lightly! Look at what John goes on to
say in verse 11, "For he that bids him God speed is partaker of
his evil deeds." His deeds are evil because he causes many to
believe and practice untruths. When people have been presented
with the truth - when all their arguments to the contrary have
been answered and they still set their mind as stone, and will
not repent and change to follow the truth now revealed to them,
then God's children must make a stand.

     In closing this article let me again say, there is only one
truth about baptism, only one truth about where the millennium
will be spent, only one truth about when and if we get to heaven,
only one truth about the festivals of God etc.

     It is YOUR responsibility to find that truth - you can find
it - search the Scriptures. Jesus has promised that His Spirit
will GUIDE YOU INTO ALL TRUTH !!


POSTSCRIPT

The first question that many have asked after reading this
article is WHAT are the MOST important doctrines that God's
children will be unified on? That is a very good question in
response to a study such as I have presented here. The Lord knew
such a study as this one would be needed as people read His word.
I'm sure I am not the first to present such a study. And so in
His wisdom, He has given us a number of BASIC doctrines that His
children are to be led into all truth concerning. We need not
even be in disunity about the doctrines that are the first and
basic doctrines. All of God's children - those led by His Spirit
- will, in this physical life agree or come to agree upon the
Biblical truth of these doctrines. Again let me reiterate - that
must be so or what Jesus said and promised in John 16:13 is a
lie.

So what are these basic doctrines?

They are given to us in HEBREWS 6:1-2. They are the basic
FOUNDATION of all the truths God gives us through His word.

REPENTANCE.

This must cover and include the subject of sin. What is sin? It
must cover the topic of law and grace. It must include the truth
about the SABBATH QUESTION, which in turn will include the truth
about the 7 annual Sabbaths. It must also cover the ramifications
about other commandments. Is ABORTION murder? What about killing
in a nations war machine or armed forces? Is the observance of
pagan FESTIVALS such as Easter and Xmas idolatry? This first
foundational doctrine in the line of basic progression in the
principles of the doctrine of Christ covers a large area.

FAITH.

The most important aspect here would be saving faith in
relationship to Jesus as the Messiah and sacrificial Savior of
the world.

BAPTISMS.

This would cover the truths about water baptism and baptism of
the Spirit.

LAYING ON OF HANDS. 

As used in baptism, ordination, special assignments, sickness and
healing.

RESURRECTION.

Covering the questions of why, how many, raised to what likeness,
when. I believe this would include the doctrine of what is death
and the second coming of Christ, and where the 1,000 year reign
will be spent for the redeemed, and the White Throne Judgment
resurrection of Revelation 20.

ETERNAL JUDGMENT

The truths about heaven, hell, second death and rewards.
I understand EPHESIANS 4:4-6 to also be basic foundational
doctrines. We see again Paul mentions baptism.

ONE BODY.

I think this would include the Biblical truth about Church
Government.

ONE SPIRIT.

The truth about whether the Holy Spirit is a third person of the
Godhead must be included here.

ONE HOPE.

This would include such truths as why did God create mankind? And
where do we spend Eternity.

ONE LORD.

The truth about Jesus - who is He, what was He before His human
birth, why did He come, and what is He doing now today?

ONE FAITH.

One basic foundational set of truths that are unchangeable. Those
truths I think we are now covering.

ONE God the FATHER.

The truth about the Godhead (single, dual, triple) and is it
expandable? Does God have a form and shape? Does He have a sacred
name which only must be used?

I believe the above are the "foundational" doctrines. Jude exhorted
those of his day to "earnestly contend for THE FAITH which was
once delivered unto the saints." The doctrines above would make
up the foundation of THE FAITH given through Jesus and His word
the Bible, for His true church since the Holy Spirit came to
guide His followers into all truth. The truth concerning these
doctrines can be found!

God's children will find them!

                           ....................


Written 1987

Entered on this Website 1998 and 2007


 
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