Sunday, April 16, 2006

THE POSSIBILITY OF REAL UNITY

Jesus prayed for real unity. He prayed that His closest disciples and those who believe through them (that would be us) would be unified.
"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. " - John 17:20,21
Unity is possible because Jesus wouldn't pray for what was impossible. This unity cannot be an imaginary or superficial oneness that treats individual beliefs as items to be negotiated. Real unity can only be arrived at by listening to and obeying all of God's Word. Anything else is adding or taking from it.

Unity is necessary if the church is to know who is lost and saved, and if the church is to know its part in taking the Gospel to the world. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Lk 19:10) and Paul said that the Gospel of Jesus is the power to save (Rom. 1:16). The work of the church is to spread the Gospel and help bring the unbelieving world into God's grace. This is a big mission that cannot possibly be accomplished by those who won't accept the Bible for what it says. Unity is possible between two men who can agree on that. Jesus' unity is not achieved through compromises to this mission. The "God-breathed" Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16) tells the church to be about the work of Christ. Those who have trouble accepting this are foggy on the real problem facing man and on what is the mission of the church.

The gospels of health, wealth, and good feelings only unify the carnal-minded people of the world. When the "doctrine of demons" join hands with the "distorted gospel", which itself is walking with the "ear tickler", that had already drawn next to the "vain worshiper", then they all assembled to celebrate their unity. The church cannot be unified with those who justify compromises to the Word of God. The denominations that water down the Scripture and justify their carnal money-making schemes are like the money changers of the Bible. The United Churches of Christ whose commercials imply their acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle have abandoned the Scriptures. The churches who teach "salvation by faith alone", which is a direct contradiction to Scripture (Jas. 2:14,24,26), are standing opposed to the Gospel of Christ. Instead of harmonizing James 2 and Romans 4, they teach that Paul is talking about faith toward God and James is talking about faith toward man: they imagine two faiths! Truth cannot be in unity with this error.

Ecumenism speaks of unity, but not the "unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4). Instead it is a unity of compromise where alliances are formed among those who do not agree on matters of doctrine like worship, salvtion, heaven, hell, baptism, adultery, and much more. They sit together and decide for themselves which words of Christ are the most important, and they decide which ones shall be left to opinion.

We can be unified on salvation. Paul said we are "saved by grace through faith." When man puts his faith in the God's gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, he repents of sins and is obedient to the Gospel (Rom. 10:16; 2 Thess 1:7-9; 1 Peter 4:16). Jesus taught the only way to be saved is to turn from sin, confess Him, and be immersed with Him in baptism (See Acts 2:38; 22:16). Paul was told, "Arise and be baptized (immersed) and wash away thy sins, calling on His name." We can agree that salvation is not earned or attainable apart from God's gift.

Unity starts with God. In practical terms, it means we believe and follow to the best of our ability what He has revealed to us through the Holy Bible. The church which Jesus built has no business forming alliances with those who don't respect that the Bible is God's "inspired" Word. Only when we are at one with God, unity is possible with all others who are at one with God. The allegiance of the church of Christ is to God alone. Everyone, no matter where they are in the world, who is redeemed through the blood of Christ by having an obedient faith in Christ, is our Brother or Sister. This is where real unity is found.

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