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Question and Answer

Why won't the OPC unite with the Adventists or Jehovah's Witnesses?

Question:

I am a Christian; I do not associate to any church and I am an advocate of Christian unity. Here is the reason why I want all the churches in Christ be united:

1. Disunity is against God. "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those in whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. 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" (John 17:11, 20–21).

2. There is no salvation in disunity. "The work of the flesh are manifest ... contentions, divisions, sects. As to these things I am forewarning you, the same way as I did forewarn you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God's kingdom" (Gal. 5:19-21 NWT).

Why would you not unite (merge) with the Adventists or Jehovah's Witnesses, seeing it is God's will?

Answer:

The idea of the unity of the church is very important indeed in the Bible.

The apostle Paul writes that "There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph. 4:4–6). The Lord Jesus Christ made his great high priestly prayer in John 17 focus on unity just before his death.

Even though we might be discouraged by the appearance of disunity because there are many denominations and sects claiming to be representing Christ, there is an underlying unity around the gospel truth, what the church has always in everyplace confessed about the nature of God as triune creator, of Jesus Christ as the true God-man and only redeemer who was incarnate by the Holy Spirit, the necessity of faith in Christ as Savior and of repentance for sins with a desire to leave sin behind, all growing out of a submission to the authority of the written Word of God, the Bible, as the sufficient revelation of God and his will for us. In other words, there is a unity based on truth (what Paul described in Ephesians 4) which Christ accomplished by becoming the one Savior of the church (Acts 20:28) and he applies by the working of the Holy Spirit who leads into all truth (John 16:13–14).

I think you can see that there cannot be any true unity when there is no common commitment or acknowledgement of the truth of the gospel. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses do not confess that Jesus Christ is truly both eternally God as well as having taken to himself a human body in his incarnation so that he is also true man. When they reject that they are rejecting the biblical idea of salvation by faith in Christ alone for only the infinite God is without sin and can remove the sin of another and only the true man, Jesus, can represent sinners. Because the Jehovah's Witnesses cannot and will not confess the truth of Christ's person as the Bible declares, they cannot be considered a true Christian church and therefore there can be no unity. Unity apart from the truth is not true unity but compromise.

When the apostle John wrote about unity he said this "Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also" (1 John 2:22–23). John, in his letters, his gospel, and the Revelation, shows that he is describing not the Jesus of the Jehovah's Witnesses who is not eternally the Son of God, but a lesser being. Instead, John is describing Jesus Christ as the eternal Word of God who was in the bosom of the Father from all eternity and claimed to be equal to the Father (John 1:1–18). If you read through John's writings (though not in the New World Translation!) you can see how clearly John maintains the truth of Christ as the incarnate Son of God. Since the Jehovah's Witnesses will not confess this essential truth, there can be no unity.

However, among those holding to historic Christian truth there is a basic unity which endures despite other differences because Jesus Christ is being confessed.

I hope this is helpful to you, but I must ask you a question too. Why are you not a member of a gospel-preaching church? When we claim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we are not only united to him by faith but to all others who also confess Christ. If you stand apart from the church, you are saying that you do not want to be part of the body of people, the bride, for whom he died (Acts 20:28, Eph. 5:23ff.), you are depriving yourself of the care of the elders whom Christ provides (Heb. 13:17), and you are not able to come to the Lord's Table for the Table of the Lord is for those who confess their sins and their trust in Christ and are part of His body (1 Cor. 11:17ff.). I would encourage you to seriously consider whether you are failing to be obedient to Christ by not being a part of his church.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

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