Why Do Christians Debate Each Other?
Brother Bob Pellien: Hello everyone! Hello everyone and welcome to That’s in the Bible Live! I’m Brother Bob Pellien, Minister of the Gospel here inside the Church Of Christ and we welcome you earnestly in this episode of the program, That’s in the Bible. On this show, we explore the Bible’s teachings on every topic that we can imagine. We explore the Bible’s teachings on things about life, questions that pour in from all over the world, all over the globe. And we always get the answers to the questions that are sent into our program from here. What’s this?
Audience: The Bible.
Brother Bob: Of course. We get our answers from the Holy Scriptures, from the Bible. And the first question that we’ll address together today comes from Monica. And Monica sends in her question, Monica Winston from Louisiana. And she brings up a topic about debate. Debate is a practice that many religions engage in. Well let me pause for a second and ask the audience. How many of you have witnessed a public religious debate? Raise your hand. Maybe online or in-person and many of you have done that. You have witnessed two religious organizations having a debate or religious discussion about a particular topic. and many of you have witnessed two religious organizations having a debate or religious discussion about a particular topic. Monica has witnessed such debate and it made her think and she posed a question. Let’s take a look at Monica’s question.
Monica: And my question is why do Christians debate one another if they’re in the same religion?
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Why do Christians debate one another if they’re in the same religion?
Brother Bob: Well, we’re very thankful for Monica’s question. But right at the outset, we need to respectfully, respectfully as we can, but nevertheless, point out to Monica right at the outset that Monica’s question may make some inaccurate assumptions. For example, can it be said that all who claim to be Christian simply because they are claiming to be Christian, that makes them Christian? What do you think?
Brother Bob: I could say, “I’m Donald Trump.” Would my claim to be Donald Trump make me Donald Trump?
Brother Bob: Just claiming to be Christian, claiming to be Donald Trump does not make it so. If then there are those that are claiming to be Christian and are conducting a public debate, a public discussion on doctrine, and they’re conducting that kind of debate, does it mean that both of them are Christian just because they may claim to be Christian? Do you think they have to both be Christian then, audience? What do you think?
Brother Bob: Let’s go to the Bible. And here in 1 John chapter 2, I promised that we would address all the questions and such from the Holy Scriptures, so let’s begin doing precisely that. In verse 4:
Someone may say, “I am a Christian; I am on my way to heaven; I belong to Christ.” But if he doesn’t do what Christ tells him to, he is a liar.
[1 John 2:4 The Living Bible]
Brother Bob: According to the Bible there are people out there who are claiming to be Christian. But the truth of the matter is, they’re imposters. And not only imposters, again what did the Lord call them?
Brother Bob: The Lord called them liars. So everyone has to be very, very careful. Why? They have an intended purpose to tell lies of an intended purpose. What is that purpose of such false kinds of teachers, who are teaching and are claiming to be Christian when in fact are but imposters? And what will happen to them? This time we turn to the writings of Apostle Peter. In 2 Peter 2:1, it says:
But there were false prophets, too, in those days, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly tell their lies about God, turning against even their Master who bought them; but theirs will be a swift and terrible end.
[2 Peter 2:1 The Living Bible]
Brother Bob: Dear friends the Bible then makes very, very clear that their end is going to be terrible. It’s going to be terrible because they have proven themselves to be false teachers with a purpose. And their purpose was to oppose or go against God. So they can claim to be Christian but if that’s what they’re doing, then their claim to be such is proven to be false. So what do the false teachers end up doing with the truths of the Holy Scriptures found here in the Holy Bible? Allow me to read once again, this time we turn to 2 Peter 3:16 which reads:
speaking of this as he does in all of his letters. There are some things in those [epistles of Paul] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist and misconstrue to their own utter destruction, just as [they distort and misinterpret] the rest of the Scriptures.
[2 Peter 3:16 Amplified Bible]
Brother Bob: So what do the false teachers do? They misrepresent, they distort, they twist, they misinterpret and what did God say? It’s not us who’s saying it. What did God say would be their end? He said they would end up destroying themselves. So, what does God expect true Christians to do? Should we — and this is the point I think Monica and those who would have similar type questions really need to pose. Should we not challenge them? Should we not accept their challenge? Should we just employ such ideologies embraced in the world nowadays? “Just live and let live. Never mind! Just let them be; let them do what they want. Be totally complacent.” Can we just allow false teachers to lead people astray and not do anything? Is that OK? Because that’s what so many would want a true Christian to do. “Never mind, just be quiet. Don’t say anything. Don’t rock the boat.” Can we do that? What do you think? Studio audience?
Brother Bob: Can we? Should we?
Brother Bob: Let’s let God give a very definitive response to that. Look how He instructs us. Ephesians 5:11 reads this way:
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
[Ephesians 5:11 New International Version]
Brother Bob: So what was God’s instruction? He says expose them. So dear friends, when any false teacher challenges the truths of God in the Holy Scriptures here, well, by teaching what is false for example, well, wants to discuss the doctrine publicly. Well, we welcome the challenge. Why? To make known the truths that will lead a person to be saved. What will be used to correct that errant doctrine of false teachers claiming to be Christian? I’ll give you a clue. What do you think would be the tool used to correct them?
Audience: The Bible.
Brother Bob: Yes, of course. That’s what’s contained here in the Holy Scriptures. So, how will that tool, the Holy Scriptures, what’s God’s instruction on how that’s to be used? Let’s take a look here 2 Timothy 3:16:
Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),
[2 Timothy 3:16 Amplified Bible]
Brother Bob: What’s the tool to be used? The Holy Scriptures. In what way is it to be used? It will be used to correct. We use the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, which is as we read inspired by God to correct errant or false doctrine, in hopes that they, as well as their hearers, their followers will be restored to obedience and brought to conform once again to God’s will. Beloved studio audience and all those watching on DirecTV or maybe over the internet, it is God’s will that people have to be led to fulfill not the will of anyone. That’s what will happen, people will be led to fulfill God’s will as long as they will allow themselves to be directed only by the teachings of God. So what does God’s will reveal? What’s God’s word and what does it teach us about being a true Christian, because that was the question of Monica? She seemed to be uncertain about being a true Christian when she saw two people with different beliefs because they both claim to be Christian. “How can that be? They’re of the same religion?” Oh no, that’s not the case. That’s not the case at all.
So, did the Apostle Paul use the teachings in the Holy Scriptures, did the Apostle Paul use the word of God, did the Apostle Paul debate those who were in error with the intent to correct them? That’s a question again, and we turn to Holy Scriptures in Acts 17:2:
And Paul entered the synagogue, and was his custom, and for three Sabbaths he engaged in discussion and friendly debate with them from the Scriptures,
[Acts 17:2 Amplified Bible]
Brother Bob: So what do you say, studio audience? Did the Apostle Paul debate?
Brother Bob: What was the purpose? What was the intent of Apostle Paul in engaging in public discussion, in using the scriptures to correct those that were in error? Well, if we go to chapter 18:4, it tells us the purpose, his purpose.
And he reasoned and debated in the synagogue every Sabbath, trying to persuade the Jews and Greeks;
[Acts 18:4 Amplified Bible]
Brother Bob: Apostle Paul’s purpose and intent were very clear. He wanted to persuade people. Once he realized that there were those that were being taught false teachings that would bring about their destruction, he wanted to persuade them so he engaged in such kind of open public debates and discussions. They did not merely do that to compare notes. He didn’t do that just to have an entertaining discussion and he did not do it to make any compromise. He did it to correct. He did it to persuade people to embrace the truth, the truth that will save them. So dear friends, what’s the truth? What’s the truth that will save? Not according to me, not according to any preacher in the midst of any public discussion of any kind. What is the truth according to Jesus that would lead a person to be saved? In the prayer of our Lord Jesus, recorded in John 17, He made mention of this in verse 17:
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
[John 17:17 New International Version]
Brother Bob: How did Jesus introduce the truth? The truth is what, studio audience what’s the truth?
Audience: His words.
Brother Bob: God’s word. And where’s God’s word recorded?
Audience: In the Bible.
Brother Bob: what will it do according to what we just read? It will what?
Brother Bob: Sanctify, what’s the meaning of “sanctify”? Make what?
Brother Bob: Make holy, make clean, it will cleanse. It has the power to cleanse. What does? The truth. If there then are teachers claiming to be Christian but what they’re teaching is not the truth, they have got to be corrected because the people who will follow them will not be cleansed. They’ll maintain being unclean in the eyes of God because of sin, and they will not make it to the kingdom of heaven. The people have to hear the truth and of course, they have to follow and obey the truth, not just hear it and disregard it. So what was an important truth revealed by Jesus the Savior? What instruction did He give, which would lead to our cleansing and ultimately to one’s salvation on the upcoming Day of Judgment? We again turn to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. His response is recorded here in the book of John 10:9, what truth did he say:
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, …
[John 10:9a New King James Version]
Brother Bob: Do we all believe this is the truth?
Brother Bob: Why do we believe it’s the truth? Who said it?
Audience: Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Brother Bob: Our Lord Jesus Christ, and we believe it. It’s the truth. If we want to be saved we must follow the truth, we must obey the truth. What did He say? “Enter in by Me if you want to be saved.” Those who will be saved will not disregard the instruction.
What did all of the early Christians who heard these teachings of Christ and His apostles who were teaching these things, when they heard these instructions, how did they comply? What did they do with this truth? Let’s take a look at the action that they took. It’s recorded in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13:
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
[1 Corinthians 12:12-13 New King James Version]
Brother Bob: What is it that they all did? They all became members of but— what’s the number?
Brother Bob: One. One what?
Brother Bob: One body. They complied with the instruction of Jesus. It’s the truth that they believe would lead them to salvation, they did not disregard it. They followed it and entered into His body, becoming a member of that one body. What’s referred to as the body that they all gathered themselves into? In Colossians 1:18:
And he is the head of the body, the church; …
[Colossians 1:18a New International Version]
Brother Bob: What’s the body?
Audience: The Church.
Brother Bob: The body is none other than the Church. Beloved friends, why do we believe that that is so important, that all of us will comply with the truth of Jesus to be gathered together in one body, the Church, why do we believe that? Because…
Audience: That’s in the Bible!
Brother Bob: Because that’s in the Bible, exactly. And what Church, what did the Apostles believe to be the name of the church into which all people were entering to comply with the instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ? What did they do, just enter any church that was the nearest one maybe to their house? The one that was most convenient to travel to? The one that fits all of their cultural desires, what is it that they did? They became a member of what church? Acts 20:28:
Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.
[Acts 20:28 Lamsa]
Brother Bob: What did the Apostles know to be the name of the church, wherein those who heard the truth and chose to follow and embrace it, they found themselves within the confines of what church?
Audience: The Church Of Christ.
Brother Bob: The Church Of Christ that you are listening to today. The Church Of Christ that invited you here, the Church Of Christ that you tuned into on DirecTV or on the internet, or whatever way that you are viewing this particular program, That’s in the Bible. So don’t be like those, don’t be like so many in this world who just attend the debate or listen to a discussion about doctrinal truth, hear the truth they do, but will not implement it in their life, will not obey it and then just simply call themselves, “Hey I’m a Christian because I believe in Jesus.” No. We can claim to be anyone, we can claim to be anything, we can claim to be a Christian but if we reject Christ’s truth we have no right to call ourselves a Christian. Who then are truly Christian? Those that will follow Christ, obey His instruction for salvation, enter in through Him into His body, into the Church, which the Apostles called the Church Of Christ. That’s why we continue to extend our invitation because these few moments that we spend is just the scratching of the surface.
Remember, not all ideas are always worth debating about. But, for as long as there are false Christians, for as long as there as false teachings, for as long as there are false preachers leading people to their destruction, there will also be true Christians tasked by the Lord to persuade people to come back to the truth, just like what Apostle Paul did. So we thank you Monica for that question that you posed about debates and why is it that we do not shy away from debating. We will never shy away. We’re the holders of the truth of the Holy Scriptures and we will use that to defend always.
Thank you Monica for your question. Thank you studio audience for being with us for these few moments, thank you for being here today. We would like to ask if there is anyone who would like to ask additional questions, reminding you that on your mobile phone, video your question,
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Brother Bob: send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org because there’s no question that is too basic. There’s no question that cannot be answered by the bible when it comes to our life, when it comes to our salvation. If you would like to know more about the basic and fundamental teachings found inside the Church Of Christ, please visit incmedia.org and write in your questions, video in your questions and we will always use the Holy Scriptures to provide the answers, because…
Audience: That’s in the Bible!
Brother Bob: Thank you for being with us, thank you for being patient, thank you for being part of our studio audience. We appreciate you being with us today and always. Tune in to That’s in the Bible. Thank you all.
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