Christ's Prayer was and is for Those Added to His Church by God to be United IN Him

by Randolph Dunn - The BibleWay Publisher
Permission is given to reproduce for non-commercial purposes lessons in their entirety and without change.
Revised April 2019

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United in Christ - NOT in Personal Opinion

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (John 17:17-23).

Christ prayed for Christians to be one in that
    1. Jesus of Nazareth was God in human body
    2. Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected
    3. Those in Christ are to teach Christ's resurrection
    4. Knowledge, understanding of the Word brings one to maturity
    5. Opinions and interpretations are not the Gospel
Table of Contents

1. Jesus the Person

2. The oneness of the First Christians

3. Unity with Differences of Interpretations

4. Methods used in Understanding the Scriptures

5. The Gospel

6. Doctrine / Teachings

7. Differences in Gospel and Doctrine

8. Forbearance

9. One in Christ and In Fellowship With Ine Another

10 Re-United With Christ

Jesus, The Person

The environment into which Jesus was born was a closed society, a people who considered themselves superior to all other people. They took great pride on being the Children of Abraham, God's chosen people. "Abraham is our father" (John 8:38). They had immense hatred of the Samaritans as they considered them to be half-breeds, Jews who had forsaken the Law of Moses during the period of captivity. Their hatred was so great they would go out of their way to keep from setting foot in the land of the Samaritans. Roman occupiers were no different and any Jew who associated with "those occupiers" was a "sinner" e. g.; Matthew, the tax collector.

They were also legalistic of the highest degree. The made sure they fulfilled the letter of the law, not necessarily the intent, in order to earn God's promises. For instance, Moses required them to tithe, give a tenth. To make certain they gave the tenth but no more, they counted the seeds of plants to give a tenth and only a tenth.

Rome required the Jews to carry a soldier's load for one mile. So the Jews put down markers to make sure they went no farther. Remember Jesus stated that if someone forced you to go one mile; go with him two (Matthew 5:41).

Into this culture came the Messiah, The Anointed One, the Christ. The Jews believed that when He came He would restore the earthly kingdom of Israel to its God given right to power and honor. Their Messiah would be the King of the Jews and rule like David.

Jesus often addressed the arrogant, self-center and self-righteous Pharisees, the religious leaders of the Jews On one occasion Jesus stated that He has sheep in other locations. Thus it would appear Jesus was referring to the Gentiles, all non-Jews.

In John 10 Jesus stated "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep [those who chose to be His] and my sheep know me [have an intimate relationship with Him] - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd" (John 10:14-16 NIV).

It is stated in Isaiah 66:7-8 ". . . my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, "I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered" undoubtedly a prophesy regarding the despised Samaritans or even the heathen Gentiles."

With this attitude of superiority, could the Jewish people and their religious leaders possibly understand or even have a hint of what Jesus was teaching? Apparently some degree of superiority prevailed even among His closest disciple. John and the other disciples could not consider the possibility of Jesus having other followers outside their clique, sect or small knit group.
"'Master,' said John, 'we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.' 'Do not stop him,' Jesus said, 'for whoever is not against you is for you'" (Luke 9:49-50 NIV).

But not everyone who does things in Jesus name is for him, for Jesus stated in Matthew 7:21-23:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness'" [evildoers - (NIV, ESV)!

Knowing that His mission was to be the sacrifice for the sins of all people -Jew, Greek, Romans and those despised Samaritans - Jesus prayed:

"I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. . . . Sanctify [consecrate, make holy] them by the truth; your word is truth. . . . "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, [Good News], that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (John 17:6-10; 27; 20-23 NIV).

Unity of the First Christians

Immediately following Pentecost, Christians [Jews and proselytes] were one, united In Christ, undoubtedly the unity mentioned in Christ's prayer in John 17.
"All the believers were one in heart and mind [oneness and united]. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need" (Acts 4:32-35).

Later after many other Jews believed and obeyed we see they were still united in love for one another:

"All the believers were together and had everything in common [They were united as one in Christ and in Fellowship with God and man]. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need [love of brethren]. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people" (Acts 2:44-47 NIV).

But it would not always be this way. In a short time, perhaps within weeks or months, the Grecian Christian widows (Jews) were ignored [unity begins to fade]. They may have been Jews but not from Judah, not Hebrew speaking Jews:
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food (Acts 6:1 NIV).

Unity among people of diverse backgrounds is difficult to achieve and maintain. Most people tend to want to associate with others when there is something in common; e.g., ethnicity, political or religious belief, wealth, power or position in society. In Corinth unity waned and division occurred when the common bond ceased to be Christ.

"My brothers, some members of Chloe's family have made it clear to me that there are quarrels among you. This is what I mean: Each of you is saying, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to the Messiah." Is the Messiah divided? Paul wasn't crucified for you, was he? You weren't baptized in Paul's name, were you" (1 Corinthians 1:11-13)?

Unity for those in Christ must be based upon Christ, His death, burial and resurrection. Unity cannot be achieved on opinions and interpretations.


Unity with Differences of Interpretation

Lesson 3
Go back to AD 76 and consider a teaching opportunity you experienced. You began a 6 month Bible study. Over a hundred prospective students show up most were just curious but 25 sign up for the class. They were from all walks of life. Should any of these be excluded?

Thief Swindler
Murderer Miser (greedy and covetous)
Prostitute Foul mouthed person
Liar Dead beat (owes everyone)
Drug addict Dishonest tax collector
Drunkard Divorced and remarried
Homosexual Living together but not married
Roman soldier Pagan priest
Gossiper Sorcerer
Slanderer Blasphemer
Rapists Atheist
Slave trader Jew

As their teacher you knew:

  • The gospel message to be taught
  • Action one must take for God to put them in Christ
  • What it means to be united and committed to Christ

By the end of the study all had given themselves over to Christ and were added to His Body. Are they in fellowship with Christ, each other and the other Christians? YES!

After a few years one of the students desired to renew the fellowship he had experienced during the six month of study and scheduled a reunion. They requested you to address the gathering. As you might expect some could not attend. One had died and another had been put to death by Roman authorities. There was the issue of fellowship due to various understanding of issues listed below.

    I. One had returned to his former homosexual way of life
    II. One reported he his brother who was so disabled they did not think he would if immersed so they poured water over him.
    III. Two had come to the conclusion that holy hands must be raise unto God when praying.
    IV. One divorced his wife even though she had not done anything to break the marriage covenant.
    V. One thought it unnecessary to assemble together due to possibility of persecution.
    VI. Several assemblies took the Lord's Supper during the week in addition to Sundays.

As their teacher they asked you to discuss unity in Christ, specifically how such a diverse group could remain united. Are they all still united in Christ and in their fellowship with each other? Are any of their actions or personal interpretations binding on others or are they just a diversity of opinion? How can such a duverse group remain united?

Unity can be achieved on facts but not teachings of one's opinions or interpretations. Teachings are not facts as facts are things that have occurred. Teachings are interpretations of an understanding. The apostles' instructions were inspired - man's teachings are not. In man's attempt to understand the teachings of the Bible he forms an interpretation based upon his intellectual ability, knowledge and ambition.

Paul warned the Ephesian elders, watchmen of the flock guarding against wolves [men teaching contrary to the inspired instructions (rd)] intent on the destruction of the flock, within the close knit community of believers would begin to draw people unto themselves not Christ and His Body of believers.

    "Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you [as if or pretending to be Christians (rd)] and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number [elders] men will arise and distort the truth [by teaching their interpretations (rd)] in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard [stand your watch as a good sentential (rd)]" (Acts 20:28-31)!

Paul also instructed Titus "For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party [Jews (rd)]. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach" (Titus 1:10-1).

Peter issued a warning to all Christians

"There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They [spiritual wolves with their personal interpretations (rd)] will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them [probably the Gnostic belief that Jesus was not human a phantom therefore nullifying His atoning sacrifice (rd)] - bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these [paid (rd)] teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up [their own interpretations (rd)]" (2 Peter 2:1-3).


1. There will be false teachers who teach for personal gain.


2. Unity among Christians can be achieved on opinion and interpretation.


3. Some people teach for the money they can receive not from their conviction that Christ is the way unto eternal life.


4. Shepherds are to know the Word and to guard the flock of Christians against teachings of false teachers, "wolves".


5. The apostles' teachings are inspired but personal opinions and interpretations of their teachings are not.


Methods Used in Interpretating Scripture

Facts such as the death, burial and resurrection can be readily accepted but Christians need to know how to properly interpret scripture regarding beliefs, practices and procedures. The following are some methods used:

Specificity [a command]

Any action specified excludes all other action.


When the Bible is silent about a subject it neither requires nor prohibits an action. Therefore, it allows one to make all reasonable and responsible interpretations and inferences, which vary by one's knowledge and intellectual abilities. Thus different opinion may exist among those in Christ. However, one's opinion must not be forced upon another. They must remain his private interpretations.

Necessary Inference

An inference requires judgment. A necessary inference establishes an interpretation of a practice or procedure equivalent to a command of Christ and requires Christians everywhere and at all times to comply. The question then becomes who is authorized to decide for others what inference is necessary.


An inference is one's personal interpretation conclusion about a teaching not a commanded.


Procedures or practices not explicitly enjoined or prohibited by the biblical text are considered permissible in the execution of some clear biblical command.


Examples in the Bible show actions of an individual or an assembly of Christians generally confined to one location rather than universal practice. Some examples were contrary to a specific inspired teaching.

Christians should use the following procedure to interpret the scriptures not quarrelling over word meanings:
  1. Examine all scripture relating to the procedure or practice.
  2. Determine if the belief, procedure or practice is specified? If so, then all other belief, procedure or practice relating to it is excluded. For instance, God specified the type of wood to be used in the construction of the ark. So, all other wood was excluded. God was not silent. He was specific.
  3. If nothing is mentioned about the subject [Bible is silent] then reasonable and responsible options are available. For instance, Paul could choose to sail, walk or ride to Macedonia. He chose to sail.
  4. Analyze examples to determine if they agree with or explain something specified.
  5.    i. If it does, it is not the example that is must be followed but the command.
       ii. If it does not relate to or explain a command, individuals or congregations have an option whether to follow or refrain from following the example. For instance assembling on Solomon's colonnade.
  6. Christians must not quarrel over words and their interpretations.

With an understanding of methods used to interpret scripture one can answer the questions about fellowship of the class of 76.

If something is specified, then all Christians everywhere, at all times and in various cultures and societies must comply. God has spoken. Man must obey. If something is not specified then reasonable and responsible judgments are allowed but not binding upon others.

The Gospel

When one refers to the Gospel (Gospel of Christ) to what he is referring:
a. The four Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
b. The entire New Testament
c. The Bible both Old and New Testaments

The Gospel is included in all three of the above. But the gospel is the Good News that God came to earth in a body of flesh the same as that of man, offered His sinless life as the only acceptable sacrifice to the Father, for the forgiveness of man's sins. Thus the Gospel was and is Jesus' life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension - the atoning sacrifice, a verifiable historical fact.

"The gospel is not a theory, a doctrine, a system of moral or spiritual philosophy, not even the theory of faith, repentance, baptism, remission of sins, adoption, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life" 1 so says Campbell.

The gospel then is the good news Jesus expected His apostles to teach when He told them to "Go into all the world and preach [herald] the gospel" (Mark 16:16). It is what Paul preached when he preached "Christ crucified" (1 Corinthians 1).

The Church Christ established on earth is essentially, intentionally and constitutionally one; consisting of all those in every place that profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him in all things by repentance and obedience of the gospel.

Christians of every generation by constant study grow and mature in their knowledge and understanding of God's will results in the abandoning some earlier interpretations, misunderstandings and beliefs they have been previously been taught.

Doctrines, creeds, dogmas and interpretations all prevent unity since unity is achievable on Christ's death, burial and resurrection not beliefs and teachings.

The following are comments by a few restoration leaders who were from many denominations and geographical areas. They were searching the Bible to determine God's will for His children to be united as one people in Christ. Thus they questioned their religious practices, creeds and traditions.

John Locke 2 stated the essential core teachings of Christ were
1. The messiahship of Jesus
2. Jesus direct commands
Walter Scott 3 in The Gospel Restored claimed the gospel has:
1. Facts clearly put forth in the gospel - Jesus died, was buried and raised from the grave;
2. Commands of the gospel - believe, repent and be immersed
3. Promises - the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit and eternal life.
4. To reform the church one must of necessity restore the gospel.
O'Kelley and Haggard 4 stated: There are five cardinal principles:
1. Christ is the only head of the church
2. The name Christian is the only acceptable name
3. The Bible is the only rule of faith
4. Christian character is the only test of church fellowship
5. The right of private judgment is the privilege of all
Alexander Campbell's 5 essential aspects of primitive Christianity were
1. Congregational autonomy
2. A plurality of elders
3. Weekly communion
4. Immersion [of believers] for remission of sins
Thomas Campbell 6 in his Declaration and Address stated: That the Church of Christ on earth is essentially, intentionally and constitutionally one; consisting of all those in every place that profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him in all things according to the Scriptures, and that manifest the same by their tempers and conduct, and of none else, as none else can be truly and properly called Christians.

These restorationists were searching to learn and understand from the inspired word God's message for redemption so all believers could be united as one in Christ. Some of their points addressed practices they believed were contrary to the Bible and needed to be abandoned. They described their understanding of what it takes to unite all Christians of the day. They were correct that repentance 7 and obedience of the gospel gets one into Christ. But several essentials and principles were their own opinion and interpretation while they were working through to a better understanding of what God desired of His people. Christians of every generation who by constant study grow and mature in their knowledge and understanding of the will of God which results in their abandoning some of their earlier opinions, interpretations and misunderstandings. So the question that needs to be addressed is "do doctrines, creeds, dogmas, interpretations, opinions and forbearance promote or prohibit unity? NO, it prevents unity!

1 Our Heritage of Unity and Fellowship, Leroy Garrett and Carl Ketcherside, p. 49 2 Teachings, Practices and Interpretations of the Bible after AD 100; p. 71 from; R Dunn
3 Restoring New Testament Christianity, Adron Doran p. 36
4 Teachings, Practices and Interpretations of the Bible after AD 100; p. 74 from The Eternal Kingdom, F.W. Mattox p. 312; R Dunn Christianity Restored, Alexander Campbell, pgs. 106-7
5 Teachings, Practices and Interpretations of the Bible after AD 100; p. 77 from; The BibleWay Online, R Dunn
4 Our Heritage of Unity and Fellowship, Leroy Garrett and Carl Ketcherside, pgs. 21-22
6 Our Heritage of Unity and Fellowship, Leroy Garrett and Carl Ketcherside, p. 25 .
7 Our Heritage of Unity and Fellowship, Leroy Garrett and Carl Ketcherside, p. 49 Teachings, Practices and Interpretations of the Bible after AD 100; p. 71 from; R Dunn


Apostles' Inspired Teachings
Paul stated in 1 Timothy 6:2b-4 "Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine [teaching (rd)] and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing." Thus, the apostles' proclaimed the Good News [salvation] and how to grow into the likeness of God by living sacrificial lives. Their teachings (doctrines) explain how Christians are to live acceptable to God.

Sound Doctrine - teaching leading to godliness
"He [sentinels, watchmen, elders, guardians, overseers (rd)] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message [the Gospel of Christ (rd)] as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others [able to give instruction ESV (rd)] by sound doctrine [faithful and true teachings of the God's message NIV(rd)] and refute those who oppose it" (Titus 1:9).

Titus 2:1-10 - You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine (NIV). [Paul then lists what are apparently some sound teachings]
Teach - the older men to be
  • Temperate [Sober-minded -(ESV)]
  • Worthy of respect [dignified-(ESV); reverent (NKJ)]
  • Self-controlled [temperate (NKJ)]
  • Sound in faith and love
  • Endurance [patience (NKJ)]
Teach - the older women to:
  • Be reverent in the way they live [reverent in behavior-(ESV & NKJ)]
  • Not to be slanderers
  • Not to be addicted to much wine [slaves to much wine-(ESV)]
  • Teach what isgood.
Train - the younger women to
  • love their husbands and children
  • be self-controlled and pure [discreet & chase (NKJ)]
  • be busy at home [working at home (ESV)]
  • kind [good (NKJ)]
  • be subject to their husbands -that no one will malign the word.
Encourage - the young men
  • Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled [sober-minded (NKJ)]
  • Show yourself in all respects to be a model [Set them an example (NIV)] of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity [seriousness (NIV)], and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us [emphasis added (rd)](Titus 2:6-9 ESV).
Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything,
  • to try to please them
  • not talk back to them
  • not steal [pilfer (NKJ)] from them
  • be fully trusted so the teaching about God our Savior is attractive.
  • Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these things (ESV).1 Timothy 6:1-3
Unsound Doctrine
1 Timothy 6:3-5 Anyone who teaches something different [from that discussed in earlier chapters-rd] is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy. Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life (NLT).

NOTE: Paul warned that some teachers/preachers teach or preach for financial reward not because of their love of Christ or the Lost.

1 Timothy 1:8-11 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully [properly (NIV)] understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane [irreligious (NIV)], for those who strike [kill (NIV)] their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, (pornos) men who practice homosexuality [adulterers (NIV)], enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted (ESV).

Note: Paul warned that some tracher/preachers teach or preach for financial reward not because of their love of Christ or the lost.

2 Peter 2:1- But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. These false teachers will infiltrate your midst with destructive heresies, even to the point of denying the Master who bought them (NET). {Heresy - self-chosen doctrines [personal interpretation binding upon others (rd)] not emanating from God resulting in a party or sect [emphasis added (rd)] (Easton's Bible Dictionary)}.

Romans 1:18-21 . . . 28-32 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. . . . Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God [see fit to acknowledge God (ESV)], he gave them over to a depraved mind (debased (ESV)], to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them (NIV).

Revelation 21:8 - The cowardly, the unbelieving [faithless (ESV)], the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts [sorcerers (ESV)], the idolaters and all liars their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur [those who make it a practice of doing these things (rd)]. This is the second death" (NIV).

Sound or wholesome teachings, translated as doctrines in some translations of the Bible, are essentially all things that lead one to grow and mature into the likeness of God - godliness, righteousness and holiness. These are teaching how to live lives pleasing to God. Whereas, the Gospel is Christ's life, sacrificial death, burial, resurrection and ascension. Sound teachings would not include one's interpretation, their inferred conclusion either for or against something, for which the Bible has nothing to say and then attempt to bind their personal understanding upon others as a condition for fellowship with those God put into the Body of Christ, His Church, as if their interpretations were God's commands.

Unsound teachings would include any teaching that leads to acts which, if not repented of, prevent one from entering the Kingdom of Heaven. They are unsound, corrupted and damnable teachings.

Man's Doctrinal Teachings

These terms are defined as follows:
  • Creed - the written and/or oral body of teachings accepted by a religious group that excludes those who are not in agreement with such teachings.

  • Dogma - a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof

  • Opinion - what "one" thinks -Their personal belief (which may or may not be held as their private interpretation).
  • Pattern - a cherished convictions whether written or oral traditions that are required for others live by in order to be in their fellowship.
Thus creeds, dogmas and opinions distinguish one group or body from others. Even small or insignificant teachings, beliefs or opinions can divide and separate groups of common heritage. "In {Barton} Stone's view, heresy involved not so much believing doctrines but a lack of love and a rending of the body of Christ, He did not believe that a set of correct doctrines would unite believers." . . . He concluded "none but those who have the spirit of the Bible can really unite on the Bible." 1

Therefore, in the Body of Christ great care must be taken to obtain a proper understanding of sound teaching within the context and situation in which it was written and not to impose ones private opinion or interpretation upon others. To do so greatly displeases God. Recall that Jesus prayed that his disciples would be one as He and the Father were one.

"No human creed in Protestant Christendom can be found, that has not made a division for every generation of its existence. And I may add - the more thinking, inquisitive, and intellectual the community which owns a creed, the more frequent their debates and schisms. But the Bible will do no better, if men approach it with a set of opinions, or human symbols in mind. For then it is not the Bible, but the opinions of the mind, that form the bond of union." 2

Private opinions are not to be made the basis of Christian communion. They are private property and man is entitled to as many as he desires. But he is not to make his opinion a test of fellowship or make his own interpretation a means of judging others. 3

"Mr. {Thomas} Campbell put it this way 'Thus we conclude to make no conclusion of our own nor of any other fallible fellow creature, a rule of faith or duty to our brother.' . . . 'No man has the right to judge his brother except insofar as he manifestly violates the express letter of the law.' He also believed that 'we have no right to take offense at a brother's opinion so long as he holds them as such. If he does usurp the place of the lawgiver and makes his opinions into law for others, we judge him even then, not for his opinions, but for his presumption.'" 4

An example; "If those who believe be in pre-millennialism had set forth as their own interpretation, and if others of us had allowed them to hold such opinions without reprisal, it would never have a cause of division. But such was not the case either those opposing or those supporting the belief, or both, insisted their interpretation was correct and that others must follow it. You cannot be a pre-millennialist and be within my fellowship" 5 [Emphasis added (rd)] [Refer to The Gospel comments.].

The forcing of one's personal opinion(s) upon others divides. This attitude is the opposite of Jesus' statements about the greatest two commandments - love God and love fellowman.

It is a serious sin to bar people from the Christian community because they cannot accept what is beyond their apprehension. 6

Around 1848 John W. Nevin, a noted theologian, was puzzled that most of 53 groups surveyed claim to possess "no creed but the Bible." He asked "how does it come to pass that where men are left most free to use it [the Bible] this way . . . they are flung asunder so perpetually in their religious faith." 7 Obviously the division or separation of a group, in most cases, is over one's understanding, opinion or interpretation of some teaching rather than the gospel, obedience of which puts one In Christ Body with all others already In Christ. Refer to Appendix I for a partial list of differences of opinion.

Thomas Campbell stated that "To heal division and create unity one must "profess, inculcate and practice neither more or less, neither anything else nor otherwise than the Divine word expressly declares respecting the entire subject of faith and duty, and simply to rest in that as the expression of our faith and rule of our practice." 8 Those who insist that their opinion and interpretations are required for fellowship with God and man and demand acceptance as a test of that fellowship should be marked for dividing and denominating over "their" doctrine (Romans 16:20).

None of these creeds, doctrines, dogmas, opinions or interpretations will save. It is only God's grace, Christ, which is received by one's obedience to the gospel of Christ. Divisions occur when personal opinions and interpretations are made a condition of membership or fellowship. Those who do not agree nor accept these interpretations are judged as heretics, brothers in error or false teachers. Those holding these opinions and interpretations have elevated themselves to a position equal to God by becoming judges rather than servants.

James writing after the persecution by the Jews in Jerusalem and before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 warned of this (James 4:11-12).

    "Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor (ESV)?

1 Distant Voices, C. Leonard Allen pgs. 16 & 20
2 Christianity Restored, Alexander Campbell, p. 105.
3 Our Heritage of Unity and Fellowship, Leroy Garrett and Carl Ketcherside, p. 18
4 Our Heritage of Unity and Fellowship, Leroy Garrett and Carl Ketcherside, p. 19
5 Our Heritage of Unity and Fellowship, Leroy Garrett and Carl Ketcherside, p. 19
6 Our Heritage of Unity and Fellowship, Leroy Garrett and Carl Ketcherside, p. 18
7 Distant Voices, C. Leonard Allen pgs 15-16
8 Our Heritage of Unity and Fellowship, Leroy Garrett and Carl Ketcherside, p. 20

Difference in Gospel and Doctrine

The teachings of Christ and His apostles' are not the gospel but an explanation of the Gospel and how those in Christ are to live and grow and mature into God's nature, likeness. Their teachings are not things that happened, which are facts, but inspired statements that can be discussed and interpreted with conclusions and inferences which may vary by ones knowledge and intellect. Individual interpretations are private and not binding upon others. Perhaps the following example will help clarify the difference between fact and opinion.

Two vehicles collide at an intersection. There were two witnesses one behind each vehicle. Witness A, behind vehicle A, said the light was green therefore vehicle B ran the traffic light. Witness B, behind vehicle B, said the light was green therefore vehicle A ran the traffic light.

What are any facts and interpretations or inferences?
1. There were two vehicles
2. There was an accident
3. There were two witnesses
4. There was a traffic light
  Interpretations and Inferences
1. Witness A believed the light to be green for vehicle A and inferred the traffic light must have been red for vehicle B.
2. Witness B believed the light to be green for vehicle B and inferred the traffic light must have been red for vehicle A.

By concluding their belief and inference was right and then demanding that there is no other possible conclusion, then their interpretation and inference became their necessary inference.

What, can be established about this example?
1. There is no dispute about the four facts.
2. Possibilities about their statements and inferences.
a. One is wrong the other is right.
b. Both are correct the traffic light was green on both sides.
c. Neither one is correct. The light was not functioning at all.

Observe ad consider Revelation 21:8 "But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death" (ASV).

This appears to be emphatic and without any room for interpretation. But consider:
1. Who is the liar? One with an unrepented lie or one who makes it a practice of lying?
2. Who is a murderer? One who kills another or one who practices killing or kills within his heart?
3. Who are the fornicators? One who has had a sexual relation with someone other than their spouse or one who practices fornication?

One's interpretation of liar, murder and fornicator does not alter the emphatic statement of Revelation 21. But anyone who demands that everyone follow his interpretation of who the liars, murders and fornicators are is devise. Romans 1:32 states one who "continues (NIV), (practices -NKJV)". God knows the heart and will judge justly. Man cannot decide who is in fellowship with God and His Children based upon his personal opinion and interpretation.

It is a most serious offence for anyone, especially one who is perceived to be a leader or authority figure to leave the impression their opinion is not subject to challenge.

Statements by Some Restoration Leaders

The Gospel is Christ crucified while the Apostles' teachings, doctrines, are inspired interpretations. "Facts are something done. Truth and fact, though often cofounded, are not the same. All facts are truths, but all truths are not facts, That God exists, is a truth, but not a fact; he created the heavens and the earth, is a fact and a truth. That Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles is a truth, but not a fact; and that he preached Christ to the Gentiles, is both a fact and a truth. . . . But something must be done, acted, effected, before we have a fact." 1 Since the gospel is a fact, that is; Christ sacrificed Himself and the apostles' teachings are inspired truths, the distinction between the two will be clarified in the following five points.
1. The gospel is a proclamation of the good news that one accepts or rejects. It was preached long before any New Testament scriptures. Thus a belief in the one fact (Christ is Lord) and a submission to the one act (baptism) is the basis of unity. 2 [Repentance 3 is an action that must also take place.]

2. The teachings of the apostles are not facts, as the gospel is, but [inspired] interpretations, implications, and edification based upon the gospel. 4

3. The doctrine [teachings of the apostles] allows for debate and dialogue [discussion], for intellectual stimulation and the stretching of the mind. It matures us in Christ, but in such a way that each man develops according to his own uniqueness. 4

4. Differences regarding doctrine may at times place strain upon fellowship but it is a tragic error to suppose that unanimity of doctrine is the basis of fellowship. 4

5. The New Testament scriptures cannot be the basis of unity. It is in them that Christ is revealed. The good news, the gospel is the basis of unity. 4

It is one's personal understanding, interpretation and inference, when required to be accepted by others to be in fellowship, that division occurs; i.e.; the Corinthians stating "I am of Paul" or "I am of Apollos" (1Coronthians 3:4). Whenever a group or body adopts their personal belief as a requirement whether written or oral for membership or fellowship in their association they separated themselves from the oneness of those In Christ. Whereas, the basis for unity is Christ- God's Good News!

1 Christianity Restored, Alexander Campbell, pgs. 106-7
2 Our Heritage of Unity and Fellowship, Leroy Garrett and Carl Ketcherside, pgs. 21-22
3 The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 18, p. 66 quoted in REFLECTIONS #515 Al Maxey, January 3, 2012
4 Distant Voices, C. Leonard Allen Pages 15-16




There must be forbearance [Tolerance, mercy, longsuffering, patience] in doctrine (teaching) and opinion but NOT the gospel as the Gospel is the way unto salvation whereas the inspired apostles' doctrine is the way unto godly living while taking the Good News to "all the world". Christians are to never cease evangelizing.
  1. Forbearance does not require one to surrender any truth.
  2. Private or personal opinions should be expressed openly for discussion but never made a test of fellowship.
  3. Unity is achievable only upon the basis of belief that Jesus is the Christ and obedience to His gospel - His death, burial and resurrection - by immersion into His death.
  4. Christians can differ about a lot of things and still be one.
  5. When one in Christ abandons Christ and ceases to trust in Him. He is no longer in fellowship with Christ.
  6. Demanding a personal opinion be made a test of fellowship causes strife and division.
In expressing their opinion(s) some Christians, whether unintentional or intentional, appear to cast doubts about the honesty and integrity of those with whom they differ. Statements such as 'my belief is straight from of the Bible' or 'the Bible states' implying the other person's is not and indicates an attitude of superiority of knowledge and understanding. They consider their opinion as 'scriptural' and their brother's not. These statements leave the impression that their brother is ignorant, not spiritual or a false teacher. It is equivalent to 'speaking evil of'. This ought not to be. It does not display God's love. All in Christ are his servants and his priests to serve God. No one is more important than another because of intellect, knowledge, understanding or oratory ability. Love of brethren must prevail.

Statements by Some Restoration Leaders
Thomas Campbell chided the attendees to the Mahoning Baptist Association that they could not withhold fellowship from one belonging to Christ because their personal opinions were different. 1

Alexander Campbell in an address caused concern about unity. John Rogers and others of Kentucky wrote to him expressing their regrets over his remarks stating the unity movement would never divide if:
1. No one should surrender any truth.

2. No one should be asked to give up opinions held but to make sure he holds them as private property and not make them a test of communion.

3. Unite on the basis of belief in the one fact (Jesus is the Christ) and obedience to the one act (immersion). Nothing else. Opinions, deductions, interpretations or speculations about scripture cannot be made a test of fellowship. We can differ about a lot of things and still be one. [At some point those out of Christ must turn to God repent by altering their life's course and put their trust in God through obedience. However, when one in Christ abandons Christ and ceases to trust in Him they are no longer in fellowship with Christ (rd).]

4. In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things love. 2
Raccoon John Smith identified the Gospel as a system of facts, commands, and promises, and insisted that no deduction or inference drawn from them, however logical or true, forms any part of the gospel. Opinions about the gospel are not part of the gospel and therefore cannot be held as threat over those who deny them. One should surrender any opinion for sake of unity but never give up one fact, command, or promise. 3

1 Restoring New Testament Christianity, Adron Doran p. 44
2 Our Heritage of Unity and Fellowship, Leroy Garrett and Carl Ketcherside, pgs. 38-40
3 Our Heritage of Unity and Fellowship, Leroy Garrett and Carl Ketcherside, p. 41

United, One in Christ, Fellowship with One Another

On Pentecost Day "those who received his word were baptized [immersed (rd)] and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed [committed to Christ (rd)] were together and had all things in common" (Acts 2:41-44).

Those who repented of their rejection of Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah, the Christ were immersed into Christ's death and were added to Christ's Body by God having cleansed of their sins. Therefore, they were united with Christ and continued steadfastly in the apostles' teachings before any epistles had been written. The Apostles' doctrine, teachings, did not add anything to the facts of the Good News, Christ's death and resurrection. Their inspired teachings were in both general and specific terms. Thus, the apostles' teachings taught Christians how to live for Christ, grow and mature into the likeness of God; i.e., love, merciful, patient, kind, truthful, just and others.

"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into [union with] Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his" (Romans 6:3-5).

". . . He reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and unreproveable before him: if so be that ye continue in the faith, grounded and stedfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel" (Colossians 1:22-23).

"Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness" (2 Corinthians 6:14)?

"If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness [live a sinful life (rd)], we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light [daily righteous living (rd)], as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 John 1:6-10).

"My [Christ] prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message [the Good News], that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:20-21).

Jesus stated in Matthew 7:1 that a disciple is not to judge his brother. So, if one refuses to fellowship another because of differences in interpreting of some non-specific instruction, is he walking in the light? If he is not, how can Christ's blood continue to cleanse him? For the apostle John stated in 1 John 1:7 "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another [not just those who agree with us and our understanding of some teaching (rd)], and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."

Only Christ brings unity. He is the Good News. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus, the Christ! One is "united with Christ in His death" thus Unity is in the Christ - the person, not the New Testament, Apostles' teachings or in complete agreement with a personal opinion of some teaching.

"If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20).

Jesus' purpose for coming to earth was to:
  • be the atoning sacrifice to remove sin from man
  • live among men without sin
  • die with our sins placed upon Him
  • remove sin, cleanse, through trust and obedience when one
    • Dies to sin
    • Is buried into Christ's death leaving their sins with those placed on Christ at the cross
    • Is raised a new creation by God free of past sins
    • Is put by God into Christ's body, His Church
    • Out of love not of duty or command one does God's will of evangelizing, encouraging and performing good works.

Therefore, all in Christ are united by their obedience based upon their belief, faith and trust. He is the Good News which is - Christ (God, the Son), who came to earth in the Flesh as Jesus of Nazareth, offered Himself to the Father, as the perfect and only sacrifice to atone for man's sins, was resurrected from the grave and returned to Heaven from whence He came. Their obedience led to their death to a life of sin, their burial into Christ's death and their being raised by the Father as a new creation. They were then united with Christ and all others in Christ and would remain united "if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel" (Colossians 1:23).

Opinions, creeds, and dogmas distinguish one group or body from others. Even small or insignificant teachings, beliefs or opinions can divide and separate groups of common heritage. It is a lack of love that divides. By forcing their personal opinion(s) upon others, they have elevated themselves to a position equal to God by becoming judges rather than servants. This attitude is the opposite of Jesus' prayer for unity and His statements about the greatest two commandments - love God and love fellowman. It is a serious sin to bar people from Christian fellowship because they cannot accept what is beyond their apprehension. If we do not fellowship those in Christ who have reached a different understanding than ours, how can the blood of Christ continue to cleanse us?

Consequently, if one has not been united with Christ in His death, he has no fellowship with Christ or those in Christ who have been buried with Him through immersion into Christ death through their trust and obedience.

James writing after the persecution by the Jews in Jerusalem and before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 warned of this (James 4:11-12). "Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor (ESV)?

Apparently the reason the world has such a difficult time believing the Gospel is due to the division among those professing to follow Christ.

Re-United with Christ

The Apostle Paul stated that all mankind suffers from the sin problem stating: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation [atonement] by his blood, to be received by faith" (Romans 3:23-24 ESV). Then a little later he wrote: ". . . the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:21-23 ESV).

All of us are faced with some type of sin that, if not cleansed by the blood of Christ, will separate us from our Lord and Savior. James expressed our problem of yielding to temptation stating "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:13-15 ESV).

Then a little later he wrote: "… the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit [benefit arising from righteousness (Thayer's)] you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:21-23).

When a Christian yields to temptation and returns to their former sinful way of life and later desires to be reconciled to God, what action does God require of him? Does God require penance, physical punishment, some financial penalty or baptism again? Must a Christian desiring to be reconciled to God restore to the one sinned against all the wrong they have done? Does the Bible proscribe a restoration course of action to be followed by the wayward Christian and for the local assembly of Christians when one is reconciled and re-united with Christ?

The reconciling process must begin with the recognition of one's rebellious state and with a desire to be reconciled to God and to anyone harmed by their sin. But desire is not enough there must be a change in attitude, heart, mind and their inner being. They must communicate their desire to be forgiven and restored to the one(s) to whom they seek reconciliation - God and man. The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 appears to explain this process. God is always open to repentance and reconciliation. However this is not necessarily true with all who claim to be in Christ even though they are to forgive as Christ forgave them.

God's children through the ages have had the sin problem. The Children of Israel, the race God chose to bring Christ, the Messiah, into the world were constantly rebelling against him thus committing spiritual adultery by worshipping the idol gods of the nations near them, thus breaking their covenant relationship with Him. But every time they turned from their sin of rebellion, repented of their sins by tearing down their idol false gods and returning to Jehovah with a penitent and contrite heart, He forgave.

David, a man after God's own heart, is an example of an individual sinning against both God and man when he committed adultery and then murder in an attempt to cover up his sin. When the prophet Nathan confronted David, David's heart, his inner being, was filled with grief, his attitude changed stating "I have sinned against the Lord." He returned and repented. God forgave.

Demas was a companion of Paul's on one of his missionary trip as he sent his regards to the Colossian church (Colossians 4:14). Later Paul stated "Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted (forsaken - NKJV; abandoned - GWT) me" (2 Timothy 4:10 ESV).

Simon, the sorcerer, magician, of Samaria attempted to purchase God's gift. Peter forcefully explained his sinful situation to him stating; "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity." And Simon answered, "Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me" (Acts 8:20-24).

In 1 Corinthians 5 we read of a Christian brother involved in a sexually immoral situation not even tolerated by the pagan Gentiles. Paul told the Corinthian disciples to deliver him to Satan in order he would become aware and acknowledge his sin so that his spirit [soul (rd)] might be saved.

It should be obvious that sin begins in the inner man and can be a physical action such as sexual immorality or an attitude problem of desiring personal pleasure such as money or recognition.

In 2 Corinthians 2:6-9 Paul is concerned that the Christian delivered to Satan, who had repented did not feel he was accepted by the Corinthian Christians "The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him" (NIV).

Repentance is not a simple change. It produces an action, a distinct alteration of one's focus on life from personal pleasure to a spiritual relationship with God. Paul stated "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." (2 Corinthians 7:9-11).

James tells Christians to "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16 ESV). Note: My opinion is that one is to confess to the one sinned against, either God or man or both. It does not say confess "I have sinned" but confess "your sins."

John, the aged apostle, wrote in Revelation chapter 1 to the churches of Asia telling then that unless they repented God would take action against them. Some may have believed as some do today that once they were saved they would always be saved. But their salvation was not guaranteed for John told them they needed to repent and return to God or He would remove their lampstand, source of light and life.

When a rebellious child of God becomes aware of his or her sinful situation, turns away from their sinful course toward one pleasing to God, prays earnestly for God's forgiveness and to be reconciled to Him and to those who are in Christ, God forgives.

The local congregation is not to regard him as a second-class Christian prohibiting from functioning as God's servant. For who but Christ has authority over His servants? They are to assemble with the wayward Christian, help and encourage him to live faithfully to God. He has returned and been forgiven by God and God expects him to perform functions needed by the Body. Leaders and brethren must not consider him less necessary or less important as all have sinned, repented and returned at some point during their Christian life whether publicly or privately. In fact, the whole church must assist the returning, repentant and reconciled brother in becoming a worker in the Kingdom.

1. When Christ was born the leaders of the Jews were legalistic in that they kept the letter of the law not the intent or purpose.


2. The Jews in general but especially their leaders considered themselves superior to all other people - "Abraham is our father"


3. The Samaritans were considered brethren by the Jews


4. Following Pentecost Christians were united in Christ except for the proselytes who became Christians


5. Hebraic Christians treated the Greek Christian widows as inferior Christians evidenced by not providing for their needs as the did the Hebraic widows


6. Jews and Gentiles Christians with all kinds of sins; e.g., prostitutes, drunkards, slave traders who changed their lifestyle, were buried into Christ blood and were in fellowship with all others in Christ


7. The Gospel is a fact as it is Christ crucified and rseurrected by God from death


8. Teachings are not facts but interpretations of a belief or opinion


9. Some people will intentionally distort truths for personal gain, recognition or power.


10. Which methods are used in personal interpretation

Specificity - something identified as required or prohibited

Silence - Neither requires or prohibits any action

Inference - one's personal interpretation of a teaching

Necessary inference - personal interpretation required of other to accept to be in their fellowship

Expediency - not explicitly required or prohibited considered permissible to perform a clear biblical truth, command

All the above

11. The Gospel is

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

The entire New Testament

Both the Old and New Testaments

Christ atoning sacrifice, burial, resurrection and ascension

All the above

None of the above

12. Sound teachings lead one to grow into the nature and likeness of Christ


13. Unsound teachings lead one away from Christ toward ungodliness


14. A creed is written or oral requirements that must be accepted to belong to a religious group


15. Dogma is a religious doctrine proclaimed as truth but without proof


16. Opinions are non-binbing personal interpretation


17. Patterns are cherished convictions of a written or oral tradition required of members of a group or organization


18. Writings by restoration leaders, "church fathers," religious scholars or the writer of this lesson are not inspired but personal interpretations


19. Creeds, dogmas, patterns, opinions will save one eternally


20. Christians must forebear all doctrine, teachings and interpretations


21. One who changes their lifestyle, calls upon God to forgive and is buried into Christ death are united with Him


22. Unity, oneness in fellowship, with Christ and all brethren is achieved in

Local assemblies

Teaching of "the Church"

Everything in the New Testament

The Gospels and Acts

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John 23. A Christian who has returned to the world's way of life can be re-united by

Recognition of rebellious state

Repentance change from rebellious state in heart and life

Communicating the desire for forgiveness to God

Assembling with the Body of Christ for encouragement

All the above