he church is made up of two sides: the Divine side and the human side. While the Divine side is perfect, the human side is far from it. Accordingly, the church that originated in the mind of God (cf. Eph. 3:10-11) and was brought into being just as He purposed and planned (cf. Mat. 16:18; Acts 2), is not absent of obstacles. After all, it’s made up of imperfect people—many desiring to be better individuals, but some seeking their own selfish interests. A mere cursory glance at the New Testament proves that the church has had to deal with difficulties since almost its very beginning (such a glance also shows that dealing with such problems does not necessarily make individuals or congregations “issue oriented;” practically every New Testament book was written to confront doctrinal and/or moral issues). To prove this proposition, consider some of the contents of several New Testament books.
- Acts 5:1-11 records the sin and punishment of two early members of the church, Ananias and Sapphira.
- Romans 16:17-18 speaks of promoters of error who cause divisions contrary to the doctrine.
- 1 Corinthians 15 deals with a denial of the resurrection.
- 2 Corinthians 2:6-8 implies that forgiveness was being withheld from a penitent brother.
- Galatians defends the truth against Judaizing teachers.
- Ephesians 4:17-32 indicates that some Christians had not completely put off their pre-conversion, sinful activities.
- Philippians 4:2 reveals that strife might have existed between two sisters in Christ.
- Colossians condemns what is often referred to as “the Colossian heresy.”
- 1 and 2 Thessalonians correct misunderstandings about the Second Coming.
- 1 Timothy 4 predicts the development of certain errors that would plague the church.
- 2 Timothy 2:17-18 calls the names of Hymeneus and Philetus who overthrew the faith of some with their doctrinal error.
- Titus 1:11 mentions stopping the mouths of false teachers.
- Hebrews shows the error of going back under the Old Law.
- James 3:1ff warns teachers to watch what they say.
- 2 Peter predicts the entrance of teachers who would bring in “damnable heresies.”
- 1 John deals with those who were denying the humanity of Christ.
- 2 John speaks of “deceivers” and warns against bidding such “God speed.”
- Jude exhorts his readers to “earnestly contend for the faith” because of the creeping in of false teachers.
- Revelation is written to congregations that had to deal with false apostles and also those who held to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
In making known and preserving the record of these and other problems, God has not demonstrated approval of sin and strife in the body of Christ. To the contrary, He has displayed His displeasure with such and revealed that solutions are available and must be applied. Though the temptation is strong, we must not give in to the all-too-common practice of ignoring the issues that creep into the church. Paul chastised the Corinthian brethren for attempting this maneuver (1 Cor. 5:1-2). Instead, we must face the obstacles that confront us, and meet them with the divinely inscribed source of solutions—the Word of God that is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). The presence of problems is quite inevitable, but the source of solutions is readily available—let’s use it!
- Preston Silcox