A House Divided Against Itself
By Sarah Foulkes Moore
Countless millions in the world today are without Christ and without hope, while hostile contentions and manifold divisions among the people of God rend and riddle and cripple the witnessing church. The seamless robe of Christ's church has been rent by schism. Schism is a wedge driven by Satan between the disciples of our Lord, cleaving them asunder and filling His church with contentious factions.
God is not the author of doctrinal strife and this confusion of creed. Division is of Satan. We wonder in an hour like this why the Lord's presence and power are not revealed. We have but to gaze upon the pitiless contentions among us, engendering bitterness, hatred and strife, to see that Satan is at the helm and has a throttlehold on the people of God, rendering impossible the inviolable unity and sweetness that makes His united church, "Beautiful...as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners" (Song 6:4).
It Is Time to Seek the Lord
While we, the redeemed of the Lord, worship man-made idols of theology and doctrine and make shrines of devotion for our distinctive testimonies, the world of men for whom Christ died is groping in heathen darkness. While we make creed and dogma of more importance than the all-powerful spread of the Gospel we are failing our Lord who died for all, and who commissioned us to stand as one and take salvation's message to every creature.
If we but faintly realized the ghastly work of Satan in this sin of sectarianism, and looked to the God of all grace for help to overcome our hostile contentions of creed, and unite faith to faith, the Spirit would be speedily outpoured upon us. The Spirit of God requires unity to work and the very fact of our factious disunity makes impossible His glorious presence among us.
How different was the spirit that animated the early church when the heathen beholding them exclaimed, "How these Christians love one another!" Paul's epistles are addressed to a unity of believers of whom Christ is the Head. He writes: "All that in every place call upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours" (1 Cor. 1:2). "With all saints...to know the love of Christ" (Eph. 3:18-19). "Not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:8).
Our Love Is Dying
Our staunch adherence to sectarian beliefs and our consuming love of creed has made us powerless before an unbelieving world and has killed our love one for another. To us, the Lord is saying, "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place except thou repent" (Rev. 2:4-5).
A widespread spirit of repentance among us, the people of the Lord, will produce a universal outpouring of the Spirit from on high. Scripture proves this true. History verifies it. God commands it and sinners wait for us to repent, and to return to our first love that they may receive from us the message of repentance in the power and demonstration of the Spirit.
Repentance is the price of revival today among the people of God. Are there not some among us who will lead the way and go all lengths with God in humbling, in heart-searching, in contrition and confession? As for me, I cry out to the living God to search me, try me and see the wicked ways in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Emphasizing the Points on Which We Can Agree
"A little over two hundred years ago," writes a historian, "the bickering, quarreling, opinionated followers of Huss, Luther, Calvin and other Reformers, fleeing from the deadly persecutions of that day found an asylum on the estate of Count Zinzendorf. While protected from the outside world, who was there to protect them from their own religious passions which threatened to destroy them? How to unite in faith and love these quarreling Christians seemed an utter impossibility.
"On the 5th of August, 1727 a company of them spent the entire night in prayer. Prayer inspired them to draw up a Brotherly Covenant "to seek out and emphasize the points upon which they agreed" and not to stress their differences. On August the 12th they entered into a Solemn Covenant to dedicate their lives to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ, each one in his particular calling and position. Prayer brought them to Christ. Prayer brought them together.
"On Sunday, August 13th, the power and blessing of God came so mightily upon the entire company that pastor and people sank in the dust before God and in this frame of mind they continued till midnight engaged in prayer and singing, weeping and supplication."
Prayer united them. Unity brought a downpour of the Spirit. On August 26th twenty-four men and women made a covenant with the Lord to pray from midnight to midnight, each taking a different hour. This united praying continued without interruption for one hundred years.
What divine marvels of grace and glory! Out of humbled and broken hostile factions was welded a divine unity that made the Word of the Lord to run and have free course and be glorified. For this unprecedented prayer and heart union kindled to flame the hearts of them who prayed, and out of it sprang the modern, worldwide foreign missionary movement. From the small village of Hernhutt, where the fire first fell, in twenty-five years were sent out over one hundred missionaries carrying revival's fire to all the world.
This was the beginning of the Moravian Revival. In 1738 a humble band of these Moravians gathered for prayer at Aldersgate Street, London. John Wesley attended and God met him there with the full assurance of a blood-bought, born-again salvation. This assurance set Wesley aflame for God and the fires of a renewed righteousness were again set ablazing in a world threatened with the spread of the evil forces of the French Revolution.
Lecky, the historian, writing of Wesley's conversion in this Moravian prayer meeting says, "What happened in that little room was of more importance to England than all the victories of Pitt by land or sea." Let this encourage the warriors of the Cross of Christ today as we set our faces like flint to seek the Lord till He come and rain righteousness on us, and the forces of unrighteousness are checked and counter-checked until He has taken out a people for His Name.
Till He Come and Rain Righteousness on Us
Today the Spirit of the Lord is brooding over the chaos that has made void the work of Christ on earth and is seeking to overrule the contentions among us, the redeemed of the Lord, and woo us back to the original love and unity wherein Christ, not creed, is All and in All.
"The unity of the church has never been shown by unity of organization, uniformity of usage, or by complete unanimity in doctrine – but rather by having and seeking to preserve the unity of the Spirit. The true church is an organism; and has various descriptions, such as living stones in a growing building, branches in the Vine, members of the Body, etc. The essential unity of the church is in its Head – the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 'All one in Christ Jesus' (Gal. 3:28).
"There is one Spirit and one hope of our calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. There is one church composed of all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity (Eph. 6:24), in faith and in truth, and vitally centered in Him."
Then, brother, fold to thy heart thy brother,
For where love dwells, the peace of God is there;
To worship rightly is to love each other;
Each smile a hymn, each deed a prayer.