Divisions

The following was a reply to an inquiry about whether it is “divisive” to follow the patternof Christ and practice the simplicity of gathering together according to New Testament directives.

Dear bro Yinnkah and bro Sunday, We send our love and greetings to you and the brethren with you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I will attempt to address your concerns regarding truth and the divisions that attend fidelity to it.

The testimony of our Lord Jesus is that He was despised and rejected of men, not for His deeds of kindness and benefits to the sons of men, but for the cause of righteousness and truth. Specifically, He was hated on three accounts: [1] He set aside the humanly devised traditions of men and brought the light of truth in its stead, [2] He steadfastly refused to participate in bankrupt religious practices that had no validity from the Word of God, and [3] He unflinchingly exposed the folly of both the doctrine and practice of those who held to them.

In short, “You are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God” [Jn.8:40].  And, as a result, “A division occurred in the crowd because of Him” [Jn.7:43] and “A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words” [Jn.10:19]. Thus it is that Christ’s words that “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” have their fulfillment; the sword being that of the Word of God which causes such division [see Mt.10:34-36 and Heb.4:12].

There is no division when the flock hears and follows the voice of the Good Shepherd [see Jn.10:4,5,27]. Division occurs when other voices intermingle to urge travel along divergent paths and they are heeded. The voice of the Lord Jesus contained in the written Word of God is what we must hearken to. Thus insistence upon truth is never divisive; it is rather our only legitimate grounds of true unity. Those teaching otherwise introduce division by causing the sheep of Christ to depart from His way and leave off following Him.

Now, while it is evident that God’s purpose is that “you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” [I Cor.1:10], it is also evident that “there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you” [I Cor.11:19]: the latter being regrettable though seemingly unavoidable entirely.

And so, my brothers, a gentle and kindly firmness about truth will necessarily arouse resistance and even retaliation from among those not persuaded by it. That being the case, we should not be surprised when intimidations, sanctions, threats, ostracism, banishment, and slander attend us for sake of the truth.

We, however, should studiously avoid being drawn into a carnal conflict of fleshly reaction. Wisdom is vindicated in her children. And so we are accorded numerous directives on our behavior and deportment when so suffering. We are to be “in no way alarmed by our opponents” [Phil.1:28], to “deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since [we] are also beset with weakness” [Heb.5:2], and to “not be quarrelsome, but kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with meekness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God might grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” [2 Tim.2:24,25].

These are a brief summary of how we are to conduct ourselves in the midst of conflict. Dear brothers, let there be no wrangling over words, unkind and harsh railing; show every consideration for every man; speak the truth in love [Eph.4:15] knowing that a soft word turns away wrath [Prov.15:1].

I am well familiar with the history of contention that has prevailed among many there in Benue and Kogi. Be those blessed peacemakers extolled by Christ in Mt.5. Do not be drawn into the fray; it bears no fruit identifiable as from the Dove of heaven.

I am no stranger to controversy and the reprisals of men. In Benue State at the statewide convention of Deeper Life, my books were publically held up and all members of that denomination were warned to never read them or attend any teaching sessions of mine or they would we excommunicated. In Okpoga, 13 brethren were thrown out of their church for attending a study I taught. In Enugu-Ezike, an entire denomination held “prayer” meetings to decree my death on the 15th of December. In Eme near Onitcha, an “apostle” tore my book to pieces and marched on the shreds from his pulpit on Sunday morning. In Otukpa, a brother wrote a letter to every member of PFN citing me as “the father of all heresy.”

I have been charged with being a secret cult leader posing as a gospel preacher, one who abducts children and drinks their blood. In Ibadan I have been black-listed among the most powerful Pentecostal ministries in that city. Throughout Benue and Kogi the warning of “Mnago” has been repeated far and wide against me. In Sierra Leone I have been called a false prophet and antichrist by an assembly of some 50 Pentecostal pastors.    

Brethren, let none of these things move us. Love those who are in opposition. Do not retaliate; hold no bitterness. Let your forbearing spirit be known to all. Be identified by what you are for, not for what you are against. Let all that you do be done in love, for love is the distinguishing mark of a true disciple of Christ.

Our love and prayers are with you all, your loving brother and servant, Steve