As Jesus was preparing to face the cross, He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray fervently for the disciples, knowing that they would face difficulty in sharing His message of peace and love with the world.
Having prayed for the disciples, he also prayed for Christians down through the ages: “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 thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20-21). His prayer was that all who would believe in Him through the word of the apostles would have the same unity that He experienced with the Father. Sadly, men seek disunity and division, ignoring Christ’s prayer. The consequence of this is that many have rejected the gospel of Christ because of the divisions they see within Christendom.
In Paul’s day there was “one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). Yet men today claim there are many bodies and many faiths. Most claim to be what might be called hyphenated Christians. A person who is a Denominational-Christian is subject to the creeds, handbooks, and bylaws of his denomination. Why not give up the denominational names and creeds? Why not be just Christians, not members of any denomination?
Lasting unity among the followers of Christ can come only one way–by going back to the Bible and throwing out the creeds, manuals, and man-made traditions. Paul wrote to a divided congregation at Corinth, pleading with them to have real Christian unity: “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” (1 Corinthians 1:10). They could only find unity by being perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. Christians can have this unity of mind and judgment only by uniting in the teaching of the Bible, the Word of God. Creeds and handbooks can never bring unity.
There are sometimes unity or ecumenical movements among churches, and some good may be accomplished by these groups banding together for a common cause. There is usually agreement, however, that doctrine will be forgotten or overlooked. Else how can one group that teaches baptism is immersion unite with another group that teaches baptism is sprinkling or pouring? Is this really being joined together in the same mind and the same judgment? If they will not agree on the Bible, how can God’s people agree on anything?