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Marks of a Christian Sect – Dividing Christians

Christian Sects Establish Groups

or

Christian Sects Divide Christians

 

identifying groups - not apostles fellowship- the dissection of christian sect

Sects …they would exclude you…

 

Making of a Christian Sect. What Does the Bible Say?

Christian sects divide Christians but the word of God is very Clear. Paul speaks strongly against the dividing into groups that took place at Corinth.

1 Corinthians 1:12

Now this I say, that every one of you says, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:4

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

Marks of a Christian Sect: A Christian sect will establish a unique Identity or Identification of its own.

In 1 Corinthians 1 & 3, the sects that were grouping Christians assumed titles as being “of  Paul” or “of Apollos” for their identity.  Paul rejected these groups along with their titles.  When Paul wrote to people or to assemblies, he used descriptions instead of titles.

For example “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints” in Romans 1, or “Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.” (Romans 16:14).   This is the case in every instance.

The apostles would identify Christians by describing their circumstances, they would never identify them by any title.

Using a unique identity is one way that Christian sects divide Christians.

 

Marks of a Christian Sect: Membership

This is sometime referred to with euphemisms such as “fencing” anything that is put between segments of believers preserves the group at the expense of unity.

In the following examples we will see that any membership other then being members of the body of Christ excludes from the apostles fellowship. We see no endorsement of such a concept or exclusion in scripture. It is sects dividing Christians into groups.

First in Luke 9:49-50

And John answering said, Master, we saw some one casting out demons in thy name, and we forbad him, because he follows not with us. And Jesus said to him, Forbid him not, for he that is not against you is for you.

Also Mar 9:40

For he that is not against us is on our part.

and Mat 12:30

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

From these verses we can see that the criteria is only the Lord.

Membership can take many forms. Sometimes it is a group with individual members. Sometimes it is an organization of groups. Some groups, who deny their organizational attributes, will refer to it as a “List of Gatherings” or “Asking for your place at the Lords Table.” We see no such rite of passage in scripture. We do have the act of receiving believers Philemon 1:17 and 3rd John 1:8. This is right and proper but the written or unwritten rules for reception or membership are sectarian in character because it is proof of an organization or fellowship that is exclusive of some believers by its very nature.

In 3rd John Diotrephes’ assembly is also an example of sectarian membership, again sects dividing Christians into groups. There was an organization of man with some Christians in and some Christians out. The prominence of a system that was sectarian in character though no doubt  justified through sorting of better and worse believers somehow. This will be couched in an effort to preserve the group or preserve a certain feel, level of goodness and or holiness. It is the groundwork of sectarianism since membership is the corner stone of any organization. The apostle would not join this group. The group did not want him. He did not want the group for it was smaller then the whole body of Christ.

Examples of receiving believers:

Philemon 1:17

If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.

 

3 John 1:8

We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.

The apostle included himself in both of these verses.

Having a membership is one way that Christian sects divide Christians.

Marks of a Christian Sect: Allegiance

“I love my church”, or “I love the assembly”, as referring to their group. This is allegiance to something that sets aside the apostles’ fellowship and replaces your conscience. The apostles’ doctrine is what should instruct our conscience. When we have questions, do we reach for the apostles’ doctrine or to the teaching or leadership of the sect?  Anything that is stronger then the apostles’ doctrine takes us out of the apostles’ fellowship.

Having an allegiance to the group is one way that Christian sects divide Christians.

Marks of a Christian Sect: Exclusion from other believers

Often times groups will clearly exclude people from their fellowship. Excuses can be holiness, zealousness, more truth, more spirit or even cultural ethnicity. However the apostles’ fellowship includes all believers. Conversely we find sects dividing Christians into groups.

Paul warned that this exclusion would happen.

They would exclude you

Galatians 4:17

They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. They are not rightly zealous after you, but desire to shut you out from us, that ye may be zealous after them.

They were effectively creating a sect excluding the apostle and the apostles fellowship.  Then we read “All they in Asia have forsaken me.” 2 Tim 1:15 Paul’s warning above proved to be true.

The exclusion problem is a very subtle one. Perhaps even  Onesiphorus was zealous for the Lord and they sabotaged his zeal from that purpose to be zealous after them to the exclusion of Paul.

3rd John is also an example of a group excluding believers. They were excluding the apostles and excluding the people who would have received the apostles. Receiving the apostles would have upset the group they had going on – their sect.

Excluding Christians that are walking uprightly and that bring the doctrine of Christ is one way that Christian sects divide Christians.

(More on this subject can be found in the article on 3rd John)

Unity instead of being a Christian Sect

If we do not want to be a Christian sect marked by those that lord it over others, there must be a Christian unity that we should endeavor to maintain, the unity that the Lord prayed for when He said, “that they all may be one.” A hierarchy divides God’s people into classes.

He first speaks about the apostles.

John 17:11

And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

Then He speaks about us.

John 17:20-21

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one;

The only fellowship that is sanctioned by scripture is the fellowship that we all can have with the apostles.

Acts 2:42

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship,

1 John 1:3

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us (the apostles): and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

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