Monday, August 18, 2008

Acts: Apollos and John's Disciples (18:23-19:7)

There is a disturbing trend in church life today. People are uncomfortable about doctrine. The feeling seems to come from the desire for harmony and unity in the Church at large, and that is a good thing to want. However, if it is achieved at the expense of truth then it is a unity bought at too high a price.
What is the point of sacrificing truth for unity when the Truth is the only reason the Church has to exist?
Here in Acts, we are shown two instances where believers were encountered by Paul and his associates who had an imperfect understanding of the Gospel. The approach in both cases was to clarify and teach complete doctrine. In Apollos case, this was done in private and not as a public attack. Later on, there were typical “divisions” in the Corinthian church, not based on doctrine but on the teaching styles of Paul and Apollos. (So, clearly, we do not need teaching to divide us.)
On the mission field, there is always cooperation between people from different denominational backgrounds. The problem arises—both on the field and back home—when this desire to work together dictates that we avoid teaching key issues of the faith. Or perhaps more importantly today, when unity demands that we add things to Scripture, we sacrifice truth so we can feel good.
Sometimes we must agree to disagree. The fact is, where there is competition among churches and denominations, the Church is strengthened. In places where all the Christians and churches meet and work together on everything, there is little to no growth.

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