The apostle Paul talks about the fact that not everyone who hears the Gospel being preached is able to understand what it means to be a Christian.
“[We] have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hidden, it is hidden to them that are lost.” (2 Corinthians 4:2-3)
Paul is saying that there are those who make use of schemes that are not Godly in nature while supposing to walk the walk. The use of conniving tactics is not the way to preach the Gospel. Thy word is truth and God’s word must be handled with the greatest reverence (John 17:17)
Why is there so much “us and them” rivalry and strife within God’s Church? Most people would say that they love the people in their group. But can we agree that all those who have God’s Holy Spirit are brethren, and that there are many brethren in various groups? If so, our love must extend to those brethren as well, and not just to those in our particular group. This is God’s priority for salvation. It is very simple – and it is not optional. If we do not love the brethren, we are headed for death. Almost every person will say, “I love all Christians.” We do not get off so easily. The Bible tells us that the Plan of God is going to be fulfilled, but only by practicing true Christianity will we be a part of God's Kingdom.
The truth of the matter is that many within God’s Church who believe that they "have it made" are going to be seriously disappointed when Jesus returns. Why else do the Scriptures say:
"The children of the Kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 8:12)
Too many within God’s Church have failed to mature spiritually and sufficiently to realize that True Christianity goes far beyond a show of religious customs. Oh, we learned about pork, birthdays, make-up and hair length, etc.; but did we learn the most important doctrine of all – how to support one another fully in our walk in the Truth? We learned a form of religion, but how many of us arrived at the substance of Christianity as Christ would have us live it? The most important unifying doctrine – the one which is so often overlooked – is the command to love one another as Christ loved us, and help one another into the Kingdom of God (John 13:34).
Let me be very simplistic for a moment. Do you believe that you are straight with God because you keep the Sabbath in the right place? Do you suppose that your salvation is assured because your Pastor or headquarters would not let you down? Do you think that your doctrine, or your congregation is better than all the others, and that the knowledge you possess will bring you to salvation? When was the last time you truly laid down your very life for another human being?
No one wants to hear Jesus Christ utter the words, “I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23) The answer to having Christ know us is for us to be practicing true Christianity.
It is not a matter of building a great lasting earthly enterprise. All organizations and establishments of man throughout history have fallen apart – or soon will. Even the first century Church of God fell apart and was scattered to the four winds. Did God intend for His Church, established on the first Pentecost, to become ever larger and larger? No! Christ called His Church "the little flock." (Luke 12:32) It should be clear at this point in history that nothing is permanent on this earth – not organizations of men, not even God's Temple at Jerusalem – nothing, that is, except the Spirit of God in the children of God. God’s Spirit alone will endure.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day made the mistake of measuring their faith too lightly. The Bible gives us God’s litmus test of those who count as His Church brethren.
“In this the children of God are manifest [here is how you tell], and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother.” (1 John 3:10)
John makes an astounding claim – a claim that is lost on much of God’s Church today. Here, John explains the essence of Godly Christianity – righteousness and brotherly love. In God’s Church we have stressed righteousness – much more than the unity and oneness of brotherly love. There is no room in the meaning of these verses to place any less emphasis on brotherly love.
A Christian through his actions will be caring, honest, serving, loving – doing what is right for all of our brothers and sisters. This is not possible when there is division. Keeping God’s command to love the brethren is not possible when we are not interacting with one another. Can we have salvation without fellowship and love for the brethren? Scripture is clear; fellowship is a matter of salvation.