Church Splits Serve a Higher Purpose

Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.  For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.  For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.     ( I Corinthians 11:17-19)

All things work together for the good, to those who Love God and who are the called according to his purposes (Romans 8:28)

I hope my readers will indulge me briefly on this subject a bit further. I blog about what I am going through, in the hopes that these experiences will be transformed into beneficial “teachable moments”.

Trials in churches always present a severe contrast to those going through them. On the One hand it is obvious that Satan, the adversary of the church, is working through unwitting people, setting brethren at nought with each other, lighting fires through careless tongues, and re-interpretting e-mails, letters and comments and even looks to cast everything into the worst possible light.

But there is another side to this according to the scripture above in I Corinthians. Paul tells us that occasional Heresies (Divided opinions, i.e. Divisions) must arise among us, as a test, that those who successfully come through it might manifest the reality of their faith.

In short, God doesn’t cause splits but HE allows them to arise as a test.

It is hard, humanly speaking, to maintain the unity of a disparate group of people of all walks of life, and station. Particularly in these days where the “Love of Self” is taught as a virtue and rebellion is literally the spiritual mothers milk we in our modern autonomous culture are raised on. Slogans such as “Follow Your Own Heart, Don’t let anyone limit you, Be yourself, Be the best You, Define your own code…”saturate the Media, Sports and education systems of our age. People are highly into self, just as Paul warned us.

That is why the ongoing functioning of a true, God centered church is a modern miracle.

I had been a member of a massive Catholic Parish since my youth, but my first encounter with Church in the New Testament sense of the Word occurred in a little Assembly of God church in Ames Iowa in the late 1970s. I walked into a worship service, and saw people from all paths and walks of life lifting Holy Hands unto God, and singing songs of Redemption from the heart, many with tears streaming down their cheeks as they worshipped.

I cannot describe the feeling of deep mystery and awe I felt, some kind of “Knowledge of the Holy”. I didn’t understand much of it, but I knew one thing, there was someone awesome on the receiving end of those songs and prayers. How separate I sensed myself to be from the beauty I experienced,  yet I wished I was worthy to join them in worship, but each hand felt as though it weighed a hundred pounds.

I entered into a world I had never known; a company of people who prayed for each other, loved one another, cared about me, (I was a starving college student, and several times people I didn’t know felt “led” to slip me some cash for food or to invite me into their homes for meals. Eventually the love brought me to the altar of God and to saving faith. I didn’t know what “Church” was until then.

How could a church split be anything other than a hideous tragedy?

What causes splits in churches? Important things, such as differences in doctrine, (Doctrine is not trivial, it is the very body of Truth, the “Deposit” given to us by the Apostles).Other things also cause church splits, such as Pride, Ego, unwillingness to repent or admit to wrong, envy, factions and party spirits which are natural to carnal people, but transcended when people allow the Spirit of God to empower and guide them.

When those issues are forced and even injected into  a body of people, by strong personalities, they present a test.

In our case a couple refused to even consider being corrected for losing their temper and truly being clamorous and abusive, verbally.  Would they put their own feelings of importance above the unity of the church?  Are some people forbidden to be clamorous, but other people who have served longer and risen “higher” exempted from it? (These people were in leadership).

By not accepting the slightest call to repentance, and instead coming up with their own list of grievances against the one bringing the correction…their test became their families’ test and their friends test and their relative’s test, for all of the above were also very much a part of the church.

It is called a “Party Spirit”. Everyone on that wider circle was brought into the test; would they become “partisans” in a fight?  Would they go with the “faction”which had arisen? Or would they put the unity of church even above their friends in the church? Suddenly “sides” are being taken and the beautiful unity of the Spirit which is such a sign and a wonder, evaporates.

Tests do not add anything to anyone or take anything away from anyone, the function of a God ordained Test is to manifest something within all of us which is already there. This is how Splits are beneficial, they show everyone what is in their own heart, and they reveal who is approved of God and who is disapproved.

King Solomon once tested two women who were arguing over a baby, both claimed the baby as her own. The Son of David called for a sword to split the baby in two as a compromise between the two women. The answer seemed reasonable to one woman but outrageous to the other, for she was the True Mother of the Child. In this way Solomon tested to see who was real and who was fake.

The church is like that baby. She is often weak and despised, but precious to God.

When envy and strife arise in a church and factions break out among the members, some completely disregard the good of the church, it becomes evident that the church itself means nothing to them compared to their own sense of entitlement, or grievance, they are more than willing to split or destroy a church to preserve themselves. There is no way they would suffer a possible wrong, or commit themselves and their cause to the LORD, or any such thing. The church is nothing compared to their own feelings of hurt or embarrassment.

Believe it or not, that needs to come out, and God will allow a situation to arise which will bring it out, in the crucible.

I have seen that these things prove leadership as well.  Elders need to be tested and proven. What does a real Elder do when a church is gong through a trial? He cares enough for the flock, to hang in there, humble himself, work for unity, listen and pray with the people, advocate humility and repentance, and submission to God, and keep teaching by word or deed the gospel, applying it to the situation at hand.

But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.  ( John 10:12)

These situations are painful but instructive. We need to know where we stand, just as Peter needed to know HE wasn’t ready to stand and fight to the last man, on the night Jesus was betrayed. God provided a test which showed Peter what was in Peter. Fortunately Peter gained from it, and walked with a spiritual limp for the rest of his Life.

God will keep his church, Only He can do it. The ongoing, true church is a miracle.

Church can be a crucible, where things come out, and all is revealed in a safe, loving environment. The problem with many of us, is that just when we are put in the crucible and things began being revealed about ourselves, and The LORD is poised to do his skimming and refining, we often run away to another greener pasture.

Keep your feet in the fire if at all possible! Let God work! Love the ones He put you with!

The callousness I have seen, of people who simply turn their backs on others who have loved them, been there thru thick and thin, prayed, cried and consoled them and their children, taught their children and youth,  out of offense or sense of grievance, is incredible to me. Is this how it is supposed to be?  Are we Christians?  It is not just the Pastor or leadership you have forsaken, but the other families you were raising children with, or those older people who pulled for you when you were young, or those people you taught in children’s church or Sunday School. Do we not have any obligation to each other?

Church splits reveal that spiritually toxic callousness, that love of Self, that strife, vindictiveness, cowardice, and party spirit.  This is a good thing, although ugly.

We must remember that Jesus told us “If You LOVE ME ,Feed My Sheep”.

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33 Responses to Church Splits Serve a Higher Purpose

  1. Hope says:

    We love you, Pastor Bill. Hang in there! Many prayers are going up for you these days!

  2. Ruth says:

    Thank you Pastor Bill, for being so honest with those of us who are part of your “far away” flock. I will be in prayer for you.

  3. Rosie Higgs says:

    Pastor Bill, there is a typographical error where the word ‘wanting’ has come up instead of ‘warning’. ‘People are highly into self, just as Paul wanted us.’. I thought with all that’s going on and the twisting of things, I should point it out so you can change it, unless I have missed the point! God bless, brother.

  4. Andrew Beamish says:

    Hi Pastor Bill I am living in South Africa. I was brought up in Zimbabwe and in the rural areas, the women would grind their daily portion of corn in a large mortar and pestle which stood about 3 feet high. The women would work together to pound the corn. Sometimes we find ourselves milling together with unbelievers. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. We just need to be faithful to our calling. And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? I think the first few Chapters of 1 Corinthians will be apt for your current circumstance. I often pray for your church and trust God will continue to feed the flock.

  5. Jacques says:

    Praying for you and your church. Those who caused the division might even repent and be reconciled. We have had more than one of these happen in the small body that I’m part of and it can be really tough and have some long lasting consequences. In the end those remaining usually grow closer than before.

    ps, I’m also in South Africa, although I haven’t met Andrew.

  6. Maureen Leigh says:

    Dear Bill, you are dearly loved. It is a great sadness that this has happened, but not unusual, and you have a scriptural view of everything.
    I cannot get to church without a dear brother driving me, but there was a disagreement with the pastor’s wife (over whether a disgraced minister should continue to be pastor. (we said no, she said yes, if he repents) He tried to be reconciled to her and she was angry and rebuffed him; we left and now we don’t go at all. He said there was no more that could be done. I am afraid I disagree, we could have persevered and talked to her lovingly, but he was adamant.
    I think he has put his own feelings first.
    I also can’t help feeling that we are such a disappointment to the Lord.
    May the Lord lead you brother Bill, into paths of peace and truth, and give you great comfort in this difficult time.

    • Lisa says:

      @Maureen,
      Could you call the pastor’s wife and keep lovingly talking with her? Perhaps you could be the one to make peace here between the two?

      • Maureen Leigh says:

        I have thought of contacting her many times; when I mentioned this to my brother he said he thought it would do no good as she was convinced she was in the right. She has a reputation of being able to upset people easily; I think it might open a door but I don’t want my brother to think I am taking her side. He is quite sensitive and was in tears when he told me she rebuffed him that day.
        Thank you for your interest sister, I will pray and try to find a way forward.

  7. Rich says:

    1 Corinthians 11:19 referenced above, “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”
    Very interesting in the context of what you write, Pastor. The heresy (sect or disunion) will manifest the party that is approved. (by God?) The manifestation of approval may not be apparent to all involved and probably will not be.
    We now have the body of scripture which may judge us right from wrong, but when Paul wrote this they didn’t have that. For us it should be easier to go back to scripture and see what it says about a situation but our humanity gets in the way. Maybe it depends on the difference of those who are really among us and those who aren’t.
    Prayers for you!

  8. CSmith says:

    “What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness”(2 Corinthians 6:14).

    The Body of Christ has a similar and continuing challenge as “the night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12).

    “… These fundamental principles are deeply needed in this day, for the saint who seeks to walk truly and thoroughly with God. Latitudinarian unity it may be painful and trying to keep aloof from; it has an amiable form in general, is in a measure respectable in the religious world, tries nobody’s conscience, and allows of everybody’s will. It is the more difficult to be decided about, because it is often connected with a true desire of good, and is associated with amiable nature.

    And it seems rigid, and narrow, and sectarianism to decline so to walk. But the saint, when he has the light of God, must walk clearly in that. God will vindicate His ways in due time. Love to every saint is a clear duty; walking in their ways is not. And he that gathers not with Christ scatters. There can be but one unity; confederacy, even for good, is not it, even if it have its form. Unity, professed to be of the church of God, while evil exists and is not put away, is a yet more serious matter.

    It will always be found to be connected with the clerical principle, because that is needed to maintain unity, when the Spirit is not its power, and, in fact, takes its place, guides, rules, governs in its place, under the plea of priesthood, or ministry, owned as a distinct body, a separate institution: it would not hold together without this.”

    (John Nelson Darby, Separation from Evil – God’s Principle of Unity)

  9. In fact, I happened to join a church that was splitting, didn’t realize it at the time, had no idea why people I liked a lot were leaving other people that I also like a lot–still no idea and (thank God) no one will say, or gossip in the least about those who have left. All I know is, those who remain seem very much to be serious believers, in the Word and in practice, and are good examples to me, on a daily basis. And the Word is Preached, as far as I can see, “In Season and Out of Season”; so I will stay, to learn, and I pray, to grow and truly mature. I pray for all those who have left, that they will find what God desires their hearts to seek, and will either return (they’ll be greatly welcomed!) or will find just the right church to help build in, and to bless and be blessed in,
    Amen in Jesus’ Name!

    • billrandles says:

      Hey Cynthia, you are a really good writer. I plan on answering more extensively, but it is late and all I got from the Lord is two words for now, Talitha Kumi….look it up, and may God.s fire be re ignited in you sister…love pas bill

      On Saturday, June 23, 2018, Pastor Bill Randles Blog wrote:

      >

      • O WOW, we just had that story!!! Didn’t think about it like that, but looks like God didn’t want me to miss it. Thanks, and I did understand that you might well be inundated, but I’m very pleased to hear from you, especially with this confirmation you just sent. God Bless you abundantly in every way, church-wise, spiritually and just personally, Cynthia b. 🙂

      • Ps. I’m in Nova Scotia, are you in Iowa? And if so why does the time show three hours later than mine rather than earlier? This may be a math problem for me, or maybe I’m wrong RE: your location? Or maybe it’s just my iPad that needs some “reeducating” about time differences? Hmmmn… 🙂

      • Maureen Leigh says:

        Doesn’t talitha kumi mean I say to you wake up? It was when the Lord brought the little girl back to life I think. I don’t have any reference books.

      • billrandles says:

        Daughter, I say to you arise!

        On Wed, Jun 27, 2018 at 6:39 AM, Pastor Bill Randles Blog wrote:

        >

      • Maureen Leigh says:

        Thank you pas Bill. See you at Alfreton (Watchorn church)

      • Or Come to life?

        That’s what I took it to mean 🙂

      • billrandles says:

        Those are the two words I received in response to Cynthia’s message, it is not just the Words but Who originally said the Words that counts. Jesus himself is still calling us to LIFE! Love you all- Pas Bill

      • So TRUE, and I very much appreciated your giving me that scripture, as it answered my comment precisely and (haha) was a good (major) “wake up call!

  10. Karen says:

    Praying for you, Pastor Bill, thank you for your blogs.

      • Btw, forgot to hit the “notify me” button after last reply, but just want to say I appreciate being kept in the group. It’s so funny, I thought that out here by the ocean on a curvy, hilly, two-lane country road, I couldn’t get farther from my fellow believers from various parts around Hfx and Dartmouth NS, but now my fellow believers are in Midwest US as well, while I’m out at the edge of the Canadian Atlantic. I really think God is showing me that He knows (of course!) how to make up for the loss of a bus.

        Also, could your books be found online, like e-books? I would be interested to read them!

        And about your health, are you ok now? I sincerely pray so and say amen to my prayer,

        Thanks for keeping in touch, and thanks, Maureen for your comment :)!!!

  11. Just read Do Not Destroy The Church.

    The thing I love about Jesus’s saying that “the gates of hell will not prevail against it”, is that He makes clear that the church will be the Holy Aggressor, and the gates of hell will be nothing before us. But it will be Jesus’s, God’s LOVE that surely breaks it down, with also the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and we the church will manifest it together. I wrote a hymn once that has some related lines in it, may try to find and send it!

  12. Song

    Beautiful feet upon the mountains
    Carrying the precious Word
    Sent to preach a Glorious Saviour
    Blessed be the ears that heard.

    Loving souls that go out weeping
    Sowing seed throughout the world
    They shall doubtless come rejoicing
    Bringing in their sheaves of gold

    Jesus’ soldiers by the millions
    Overthrow the gates of hell
    But find in chains all satan’s minions
    Cuz Calvary is where they fell!

  13. Maureen Leigh says:

    Cynthia that’s a lovely hymn, I love the words “Loving souls that go out weeping”.. I find myself weeping over my unsaved children . My mum was gloriously saved, now my grandson who is growing after dream from the Lord and a somewhat shaky start, the enemy tried to get him back, and he is aware of it now. No one available to disciple him, so I am doing it.
    I think it’s up to me . I always have to do something important when I’m tired or ill !!
    God bless you. I will post my poem when I can.

    • O WOW would love to read it! Thanks so much for writing–here I am, a Michigander, growing old in Nova Scotia, and yet it seems I had to come here to find close friends who are also true believers. Now making Christian friends like you, back in the Midwest, my heart rejoices! Actually, back in 1966-81 I lived about 15 years in Manchester England, where I first became “born again” through meeting a flaming Christian, Angela (of course 🙂 on a suburb playground where our two 4 year olds were making friends. At first I derided her for her silly beliefs; but she loaned me a book, now out of print: “Anything You Ask In My Name I Will Do So That The Father May Be Glorified In The Son” and said just read chapter 8. So on an unusually warm and sunny day in March I sat in our “back garden”, opened to the chapter title “LORD I Come”, and even at that “something happened” inside, even as I followed the steps (I thought “for a lark”, but God had that “Other Plan” we all know so well) for “receiving Christ”. As I finished the chapter I looked up into a lovely blue sky and thought, “I wonder if there IS anything out there?” I knew it was near time for my now 5 year old to come home from school, so stood up to return to the house, but pain reminded me of an injured knee. I thought of the book I’d just read and its title, and mused, “I wonder if I could now ask to have my knee healed?” The afternoon moving on though, I made for the back door. On the kitchen clock I could see I’d better hurry to get to the beds I’d forgotten to make before sitting down with the book; so I ran upstairs (I think two at a time 🙂 and YES, realized what I’d just done. But I said, “No this couldn’t have happened” and thought to try a run downstairs to prove it. At the bottom I said NO, THIS DIDNT HAPPEN! And then thought, “ok, if I run upstairs again and I’m fine, I’ll think again about this” (or sthg on that order). Ran up in twos AGAIN; and at the top, all shaken inside, I went into our bedroom, knelt by the still unmade bed and actually PRAYED: “I don’t know Who You Are, but You Can Have me!” And my daughter came home to a born again mum. I’ve done lots of falling down since then, but in my heart have not looked back. Sadly, none of my loved ones believe (YET!!!) but I do pray for their Salvation. Well, I guess I’ve just given my “testimony”, which it gives me joy to tell… Hope it wasn’t WAY “too long”, love, now, from Nova Scotia–me, cb.

  14. Since then, one of my favourite songs (after Amazing Grace 🙂 says, “Something happened, and Now I Know… He Touched me, and Made me Whole…”!!!

  15. Ps: could I read your poem? 😊

    • Maureen Leigh says:

      Hello, this is my poem.

      Walk, child of God, walk on, walk on,
      Carry your cross for you’re almost home
      Through pain and grief-soon all will be gone
      Not too far to go now, so walk, walk on.

      Down through the years, it’s always been so;
      Lovers of Christ have oft times been low;
      In all of your troubles the Lord makes you know
      He loves you, and guards you, while helping you grow.

      You know, like so many, there’s no other way,
      But in darkness He shines to make the night day;
      In stress and in sickness He will teach you to pray,
      And just walk, child, in freedom, there is nothing to pay.

      As the road seems too narrow, and press you, walk on,
      The Lord is your treasure, your sins are all gone.
      He has made it a truth that you don’t walk alone, so
      One step at a time, we are almost home

  16. Maureen Leigh says:

    Lots of love to you all, I hope you are well, and if not, may the Lord choose to heal, bless you.
    I’m so happy to find born again believers here.
    So tired too , just got 2 tiny kittens 2 brothers !!!

  17. Two kittens? O boy, I’m a cat lover. I have a yellow tabby, but she’s maybe twenty years old. Still fairly spry, but no longer does much running–she likes lying around 🙂

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