Tim Johnson, editor
August 31, 2008
Tower To Touch the Sky
There is Really Only One
How many gods are there? If you counted everyone and everything that is worshiped as god throughout the world, there are quite a few. There is Allah who is worshiped by Muslims, Vishnu and others worshiped by Hindus, and Vahiguru who is worshiped by Sikhs -- not to mention the multitude of pagan idols worshiped worldwide by primitive tribes. Ok, but how many Gods are there really? In 1 Corinthians 8:5-6, the apostle Paul wrote, "For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live". There is really only One God! And while millions believe in another god or in multiple gods, that doesn't change the fact that there is only One.
People may worship other gods sincerely. They may be certain that their god or gods are true. But none of that changes reality. There is really only one God! You can make gods for yourself, but they are "not gods" (Jeremiah 16:23).
Probably everyone who reads this article would agree with the preceding statements. We all believe the Bible when it informs us that there is only One true God. But for some reason, a lot of folks who believe what the Bible says about One God, don't believe what it says about one church, one faith, and one baptism. Do you?
How many churches are there? Well, there are hundreds, maybe thousands. The "World Christian Database" states that there are over 9,000 Christian denominations. But how many churches are there really? How many did Christ build? In Matthew 16:18 He promised, "I will build my church" not "my churches." In Ephesians 4:4, the Bible states that "there is one body." Ephesians 1:22-23 tells us that "the church" is the "body" of Christ. So how many churches are there really?
How many faiths are there? A faith is a belief system. Again, there are hundreds of organized belief systems, everything from Buddhism and Hinduism, to Scientology and Catholicism. But how many faiths are there really? Jude 3 commands us to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Ephesians 4:5 declares that there is "one faith". So, how many faiths are there really?
How many baptisms are there? In the religious world, there are many baptisms. Various baptisms are practiced for different reasons. There are those who baptize for church membership, or for someone who is dead, or "as an outward sign of an inward grace." These are different baptisms. Baptism is also practiced in different forms - sprinkling, pouring, and immersion. These are also different baptisms. But how many baptisms are there really? Ephesians 4:5 says that there is "one baptism."
If we go by what is in the world that humans have invented, there are many gods, churches, faiths and baptisms. If we go by what is in the Bible, there is one God, church, faith and baptism. What do you go by?
In our present age, unity seems a laughable goal to the cynical. Admittedly, division seems to surround us, both in our immediate circle of fellowship, but especially in the broader circle of all who take up Christ's name. Passages that warn of division, even its necessity, quickly stamp out any dreams of long-term unity among all, who call themselves Christians (I John 2:18-19; Romans 16:17-18). But, does this mean that God has asked something of us, which cannot be achieved (Ephesians 4:1-6; Matthew 19:26)?
The Basis of Unity
Unity can be extremely powerful, but its goal is crucial to the success of a united effort. If we unite in error, then the failure of our striving is certain. This principle can be seen in the results of the construction of the Tower of Babel, which occurred near the dawn of civilization.
"Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. ... And they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.' But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, 'Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.'" Genesis 11:1-6
Please note that the purpose of this tower was two-fold: It was built to make a name for themselves, for their own glory, and it was built to avoid being scattered over the earth. God had previously commanded this people to spread, multiply, and "fill the earth" (Genesis 9:1). Their intentions were to disobey a direct command. Moreover, their attitudes were in direct conflict with the humble spirit, which seeks God's glory, not its own (I Peter 5:5-6). Consequently, God frustrated their efforts and fulfilled His own purpose by confusing their languages. The lesson is that if we seek to unite ourselves under a banner that is contrary to God's will, we should not expect God's approval; moreover, we should expect Him to move against us.
One Language, One Mind
Another powerful point that we can glean from this Old Testament passage is that a common language is also essential to the success of a united effort. Once their languages were confused, the people quickly disbanded and scattered themselves. But, while they had one language and one mind, nothing would be withheld from them. In the New Testament, Paul notes this same principle:
"Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment...Now I say this, that each of you says, 'I am of Paul,' or 'I am of Apollos,' or 'I am of Cephas,' or 'I am of Christ.' Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" I Corinthians 1:10-13
As having one mind and language empowered the children of Babel, not having one mind and being divided crippled the Corinthian church. The Corinthian church had divided into groups, which were named after men and built upon men. Paul points out two fundamental flaws in their "denominations". First, Christ is not divided against Himself, so why should His body be (Luke 11:17-18; Ephesians 1:22-23)? Second, the leader of a group must be able to save the group. If the men these groups followed were not their savior, and if they were not baptized in their name, then why were they dividing and wearing these men's names instead of the One in whose name alone is salvation (Acts 4:10-12)? If it was unacceptable and erroneous for the Corinthian church to be divided, wearing the names of men and following men, then will we be found acceptable before God if we divide into similar denominations today?
The Potential of Unity
Finally, this passage from Genesis offers divine commentary on the potential of a united human effort. Regarding their effort, God said, Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them". What would happen if we learned the lesson of the tower of Babel? If we truly sought God's will and His glory, unified upon a heavenly foundation, what would limit our achievements? Has not God already told us? You might say that not even the sky is a limit.