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The Only Hill To Die On

March 19, 2013
Greetings,
 
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Accept one another, then just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”  Romans 15: 5-7
 
Unity, or oneness in Christ, is something extremely vital to the entire Church.  Unity is not something we can manufacture in our flesh.  It is something that we are given by our Lord.  We just need to recognize and accept it, and then choose to walk in it daily.
 
The fact is that we, the Church, are already one in Spirit.  Our oneness is something the Lord has already provided for us.  Problem is that many in the Body of Christ actively choose to divide rather than come together as one.  The word denomination means to divide and there are many divisions and denominations in the “church” world today.  Most divide over matters of doctrine or teaching.  This is a very sad thing indeed, because if we could just agree together about who Jesus is and what He accomplished, we should be able to work through any other differences or obstacles with relative ease.
 
We are supposed to accept each other as Christ accepted us.  When we fully accept one another there is unity in spirit.  We all need to remember that when Christ accepted us we were all lost, unclean, sinners, without hope or direction.  Our attitudes were often hostile to the truth.  We thought that we were unworthy, undesirable and unlovable.  In spite of all of this Christ loved and accepted us just as we were with all of our blemishes.  Even though our behavior was much less than Christ-like He still loved us and looked past our shortcomings.  The big question is are we willing to do the same for all others that the Lord brings to our lives?  Will we overlook apparent sins and shortcomings?  Or will we instead sit in judgement and deny people equal access to the cross and His Body?
 
There is no unity without total acceptance of those who seek Him and also those who are already found in Him, regardless of what their sins and shortcomings may be.  As followers of Jesus we are to hold the door of acceptance and fellowship wide open to those who seek and love Him.  God is all about relationship and we should be too.  I feel that relationship with Jesus and one another is the one and only hill where we should plant our flag and be willing to live and die.  The quest for purity of doctrine should never be that hill.  I do believe  that we can be iron sharpening iron even when we may disagree on doctrine or practice, but we should always approach one another with faith, hope and love.  Let us not be as some others majoring on the minors and neglecting the truth in love.  Love, acceptance and forgiveness are where unity is found and that is exactly where God gives His blessing.  I will not divide from others on the sole basis of doctrine.  Remember there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.  So always seek to unite instead of divide!
 
Love and …..
 
Kirk Out !

 

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5 Comments
  1. I love the first two paragraphs above as they exemplify the manner in which all of God’s dealings toward His people work out. First, God acts and as a result of what God does we are called to obedience. For example, the books of Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians etc are filled with spiritual blessings which God has begun within individual saints and His body, blessings we are called to both acknowledge by faith and strive to make a practical reality in our own lives. God loved, forgave, reconciled, redeemed, sanctified, united etc and now we are called to obey by allowing these to become a living reality amongst us. What God has begun, we are called upon to work out with fear and trembling with Him to completion. Are we not commanded to exemplify God’s love through the preaching and practice of the gospel? Are we not called to progessive sanctification and helping others to this end? Are we not called to be reconciling realtionships within the body of Christ? Are we not called to be united one with another?

    This post brought this verse to mind: “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you may be complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” [1 Corinthians 1:10] This doesn’t conflict with what Chris has pointed out- that all believers are united in Christ raised now, but states the goal to which God is after among His children. I see two primary reasons which prevent the above verse from becoming a reality these days or in any day for that matter.

    1. Many believers tend to view this verse as some kind of a mandate for fellowship which is not true. Such a false premise leads to each of us defending our preferred understandings of truth at any cost- often at the expense of mutual fellowship one with another. This isn’t acceptable before God.
    2. Unbelief that this goal can be attained. This is almost entirely the result of being deceived by participation with “names” other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Read the verse above again. Where a group of believers fellowships upon the basis of the Lord and His name alone, no competing names (see:denominations) and their influences compete with that. The only people I’ve ever met who believe the above verse is impossible to attain are those affiliated with “some other name.”

    I also agree believers need to emphasis who Jesus is and what He has accomplished as a priority. I don’t see however how this can be accomplished without some emphasis upon doctrine. Doctrine is teaching- and much teaching concerns the person of Christ as well as what He has done. Anyone who claims to know Christ and yet has a wrong understanding of His Personhood, ie; His divinity, His incarnation, sinless birth ect) does not know God. Likewise, those who view Christ as a good teacher and example but reject His substitutionary death for sin are not Christians. Therefore, these people are not accepted by God and in fact are hostile before Him. Acceptance is in the Beloved- in and through one’s relationship with God through Christ.

    I believe the acceptance we must exemplify is with the weak in faith as Romans 14 and 15 bears out. This is in no way justification for a Christian(s) sin or overlooking evil or rebellion (though much patience and longsuffering should be given to new converts). God is not winking at sin or overlooking it anymore but demanding people’s repentance. Provided we are personally dying to ourselves daily, we should have no problem being Spirit led in living out Galatians chapter 6 which carries a warning for both ourselves and those among whom we love and serve. As Paul said plainly, “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” It is this very cross that crosses out our attitudes, agendas and preferences and ushers in the will of our Lord’s in our place.

    Where the cross of Christ is personally embraced, the Spirit of God will bring together, lead, gift, empower and bring to fruition His intentions whether toward unbelievers or within the midst and interaction of the saints. This Life is worth dying for, indeed it must be for the practical unity He requires to be obtained.

    • "BK" permalink

      Well, I guess I have a few questions as I read this…..bear with me, if you would be so kind.
      “I also agree believers need to emphasis who Jesus is and what He has accomplished as a priority.” “BK” here…there is ALOT of discussion that can be had as to ‘what He accomplished’. I’ve of the mind to leave it at Who He is for the unity and let the discussion build from there.

      “Anyone who claims to know Christ and yet has a wrong understanding of His Personhood, ie; His divinity, His incarnation, sinless birth ect) does not know God.” “BK” here….sheesh, I had already walked with Him and loved Him over 40 years before I ever even heard that term ‘person of Christ’. We were pretty good friends for not knowing each other 🙂

      Therefore, these people are not accepted by God and in fact are hostile before Him. Acceptance is in the Beloved- in and through one’s relationship with God through Christ. “BK” here….Hmmmmm, I think Romans 5 says He reconciled us when we were still His enemies and then went to work on the saving us part. I have a precious Buddhist-fell-in-love-with-Jesus and began to follow Him sister who prayed to ‘the gods’ in the Buddhist temple in Japan until one day she recognized Him when He introduced Himself to her.

      God is not winking at sin or overlooking it anymore but demanding people’s repentance. “BK” here….are you sure about that??? I think you are right He isn’t winking at sin anymore….He gave His life to wash it away….while I was still His enemy.

      It is this very cross that crosses out our attitudes, agendas and preferences and ushers in the will of our Lord’s in our place.
      “BK” here, AMEN!

      Where the cross of Christ is personally embraced, the Spirit of God will bring together, lead, gift, empower and bring to fruition His intentions whether toward unbelievers or within the midst and interaction of the saints. This Life is worth dying for… AMEN AGAIN!

      “indeed it must be for the practical unity He requires to be obtained.

      • "BK" permalink

        ““indeed it must be for the practical unity He requires to be obtained.”

        “BK” here….I meant to say I have to admit I haven’t a clue what this statement means 😦 sorry and much love, “BK”

  2. Mickey Merrie permalink

    This is a good thing you boys have written!

  3. Hi BK, since you are addressing my comments, I’ll just leave some brief notes. If you require or desire a longer explanation I’m more than willing to do that for you. You can leave a comment upon my internet site and I will send you my regular email address so we can chat. I prefer not to leave long explanations here- more than 5 pages- lol.
    Obviously every person has certain characteristics and traits that make that person unique- yourself included. If I paint a different picture of a particular person than they truly are can I still know them? Or might that rather constitute knowing about them? Many millions of people claim to know who Jesus Christ is, they even claim to believe in Him and yet what they say about Him is contrary to Jesus’ words about Himself. It is no coincidence that Jesus said to Peter and through him to us: Who do you say that I am? This is what separates those who do and those who don’t.

    As to your second concern, I’m not going to claim to know the exact details of how God saves and reconciles someone to Himself. I am aware of the verse in Romans 5:8 that you quote- a verse that Paul the apostle is writing to Christians at Rome. I’m also aware that God loved His elect before the foundation of the world as well. But does this relate to the whole world or to Christians alone?
    God’s word makes it plain in many places that despite having a love for those in this world in a universal sense, those alienated from God (yet to be saved, reconciled (brought into peace and harmony through relationship) are enemies of God. The Bible makes plain that all of these are children of wrath, dead in sin and alienated from God. This passage in Ephesians 2 also notes the contrast from the two spiritual positions (one in Adam, one in Christ) and the results. Thank God for us He was rich in mercy toward us……but until that is confirmed in others we are never wise to assume that. A failure to test the spirits in others or an assumption of others’ salvation based upon some personal claim is neither wise and could be dangerous. I have not, and will never give any person the benefit of the doubt when claiming to be a Christian. In this day, it couldn’t be more important than to test the claims of anyone and everyone claiming to know Christ.

    Thirdly, the verse about God taking sin seriously is somewhere in the book of Acts. It actually shows how God once overlooked sin in His mercy and how He now commands people everywhere to repent. I am aware of those who believe God no longer sees our sins and I oppose that entirely as the book of Hebrews states otherwise. Yes, a believer’s sins are washed away and true believer’s are declared righteous before God in Christ based upon His merits. That said, no sin is acceptable to God and His standard of perfection is still the goal this side of heaven. Those who continue to willingly sin should be rebuked and even excommunicated under some circumstances. The latter would only be under the extremest of circumstances and even then the goal is always restitution with the family of God.

    Lastly, the last sentence can be summed up as such: True practical unity in the Holy Spirit necessitates that every individual in fellowship must be willing to die to themselves daily by embracing the cross of Christ. The cross is an instrument of execution, it kills everything that remains of my goals, agendas, desires and life. Practical unity is possible when only Jesus and His agenda remains among men.

    I do appreciate you my friend, whether you agree with my conclusions is irrelevant to that concern. I am always open to being challenged or asked to defend what I believe. I consider that an obligation and privilege. Sorry if I failed to be more clear with my original comments.

    Unlike others who post here, I do not consider The Word (Bible) or Relationship as opposed to one another. I do not consider one more important than the other. I believe they are meant to be incorporated one with another, just as any other living relationship of mankind. It’s easy to forget that the word of God is living and active and powerful to do what?

    Thanks for asking. You can “sheesh” me anytime.

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