Probably a hundred times I have been with someone who saw something that they did not like in a church group and say, “That’s confusion, and ‘God is not the author of confusion’ (1Cor 14:33), so that is not of God.” It does not take a very long look at the social, legal or political systems of mankind to see that God allows men to be the author of confusion. He does not stop it. He allows it. He even allows it in His Church. Notice these scriptures:
“For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you… For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk” (1Cor 11:18-19,21).
“I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church” (3Jo 9-10).
The Apostle Paul said division would be necessary to know “those who are approved”. The Apostle John mentions a church leader who lies about him and puts out true brethren, yet remains “in the Church”.
The letters to the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 show that some believers had the sins of losing their first love, allowing the doctrine of Balaam, allowing the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, allowing the woman Jezebel to teach falsely among them, knowing the “depths of Satan”, having a name of being alive while being dead, and being lukewarm, wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. Some brethren in Smyrna were being jailed.
Is this confusion? I think it is. Did God author it? No, He didn’t. God gave truth and men brought in all of these false doctrines. You might ask yourself, what would you do if you were alive in the first century and Christ sent you to visit those seven churches in Asia? Would you visit only Philadelphia because they do not seem to have any problems? Would you visit Smyrna and risk being jailed? Would you refuse to go anywhere near that false teacher Jezebel?
We do not live in the first century, but we do need to ask ourselves, “If men had created that much confusion in the first century and Christ still claimed the seven as his churches, how much confusion might He be working with today?”
Furthermore, we need to look at ourselves. When someone seeking Bible truth comes to a “Church of God” group, they soon learn about how the WCG preached the Sabbath and Holy Days for years, and how its new leaders reversed that teaching. They see that the WCG ministry and members split into dozens of competing groups which largely do not work together or even acknowledge each other. Would not they rightly label that state of affairs as “confusion”? It certainly is confusion—but it was created by men, not by God! Nevertheless, a person is not automatically an “unbeliever” just because they attend a service with some confusion.
If we expect others to accept confusion among our groups, we ought to be able to accept some among theirs. “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matt 7:2).
— Norman Edwards