Saturday, July 23, 2016

One in Jesus Christ


I write quite a bit about what makes simple church different from institutional church. Despite these critical differences, something else is even more important: our unity in Jesus Christ. By "our," I'm referring to all Christians everywhere. We are in fact one body with Jesus as our Head. He has made us so.

Even a cursory glance over the American church landscape shows us a great deal diversity within the body of Christ. We are not all alike. There is little uniformity, even within denominations. Frankly, it's difficult to find even two Christians who agree on all points of doctrine. However, that does not mean that we are not one in Christ.

We are one in Christ because God deems it so. It is what we are positionally. Christ is our leader, and we are His followers. It is our duty to live out what we are: one body. We make a terrible mistake if we consider ourselves to be mostly different from other believers (even if we hold very different views about church). A better practice is to view ourselves as mostly the same as other Christians. All believers in fact believe in the same Gospel. This unites us.

Let's do all we can to be proactive in developing unity within the body. This can certainly be a challenge since church-related views are so different. However, there is a lot of time during the week when we have opportunity to see other Christians (at least I hope you have this opportunity). Whether it be at work, in the park, or in the neighborhood, it is our responsibility and joy to edify other Christians whenever and wherever.

We are one in Jesus. Let's live out what we are. The One who bonds us is stronger and more significant than our differences.

14 comments:

Aussie John said...

Amen!!

T Aagard said...

It is true that Jesus has done everything in our core relationship to him for all believers to show we are unified with fellow believers. However it appears believers have done everything to demonstrate to the world that we are fragmented and not on the same page for fellowship or the purposes of God.

There is a functional uniformity among 99% of believers. They all need a special building for enough people to come in to pay at least one man to lecture the Bible every Sunday and call it a "worship service". Believers have been uniformed in this practice for 1800 years - at least since the church fathers. Unfortunately these points of uniform function bear no resemblance to what Jesus asked for believers to do. They are actually the opposite of what he asked for. The fallout of this disfunction is a disunity in most everything God designed to unite us directly to Christ. The hired expert is now a middle man - an "under shepherd" to be the official truth talker on behalf of the sheep. He is a shepherd between the chief shepherd and the sheep. Now people are following their pastor, not Jesus. The hired man will lead the people to be loyal to a brand name, a hierarchy of some sort which becomes a substitute authority for the authority of Jesus himself. They say it is this way to protect the sheep from false teaching. But it fails at that because this is a false teaching in itself which produces a large variety of other false teachings which believes must follow. Believers appear to be unified in following men, consuming 84% percent of their giving to build buildings for themselves and hire staff, desire one way communication instead of one another communication, never grow up to be "fully trained" to be "like" their "teacher" Luke 6:40, and maintain a leadership hierarchy for titles, reserved ministries, and decision making by a few. This seems to be a very popular rigamarole.

Since this system has been at work for 1800 years an no visible unity to the world is forth coming, only the reverse, it seems like unity is only possible when believers are ready to practice the truth, free of charge, in one another dynamic as simply brothers and sisters, with no brand name except followers of Jesus.

There is a way for God to force this on his people. It is done in China with persecution. Revelation should be enough, since we all read the same book. Unfortunately the book has some bogus translations that support the "ruling" and "obey" structures.

It is great to be free of these false allurements and to be a messenger of the truth regardless of whether God's people will engage or not. It's great to have no authority, title or a false dependency of others place upon us.

I know God is grieved over his church because of this. I know what grief is like since December when the Lord took my wife with Leukemia. Grief is a natural part of God's design for me that flows from his own nature of love for His people. I need to sense his grief for our aberrations from his instructions and repent and fix our eyes on Jesus. It is an amazing journey. It is good to have brothers and sisters on the same road speaking the truth in love.

Eric said...

Tim,

Thank you for sharing. You have been through something that I have never had to deal with.

I agree with you about the significant problems ailing much of the church. Most of man's traditions stifle what the body truly can be. I really have no idea how to deal with the entrenched, systemic problems inherent within the salaried clergy-worship service-expensive building institution. My encouragement to fellow believers is to be united however possible that does not violate conscience. This unity can often take place during the week since it is not generally possible on Sundays.

Paul G said...

Brother T Aagard, I agree with so much that you are saying, although I think that opposition and correction from opposing brothers are necessary for our spiritual growth.
Without them, perhaps we might stagnate or backslide into a false spirituality.

I think that we are in unity only in the Spirit of Christ, but not in our doctrines. It is our doctrines which causes division among believers and doctrines determine our conduct.

The problem I have with the institutional churches is, that another brother wants me to address him as Pastor (Shepard), Father, Reverend etc. the very thing which the Lord Jesus forbids us to do (Mat. 23:8-10).

Well, I don't think that I have an authority problem.
John 10:16 says, 'There shall be one flock and one Shepard' and that is Jesus Christ, and not Pastor wonderful.
If those church leaders transgress in that conduct, where else will they transgress ?

Gunnar said...

You have made a good point that we have much more in common than we have different. I think a lot of people think that you have to have the same doctrine to be “one” and that is not correct.

I think the fact that we have a lot of denominations as a mixed blessing. It is a terrible thing that we all divide over our separate understandings. I think it is terrible that the Calvinists get off by themselves and tell each other how right they are and how wrong everyone else is. And I think it is terrible that the Arminians get off by themselves and tell each other how right they are and how wrong everyone else is. And I think it is terrible that the Charismatics get off by themselves and tell each other how right they are and how wrong everyone else is. And the list goes on.

But I think it is a good thing that we have Calvinists and Arminians and Charismatics and Cessationists. God is a lot bigger than our particular doctrine. I believe what I believe because I believe it is correct. But I am not so arrogant as to believe that I have a completely correct understanding of the Bible, and can’t learn from someone else.

I think oneness happens when we come together with fervent love --- eager to bless the other person and to learn from the other person. To see him as a brother and not a “Calvinist” or a “Charismatic”. I do not at all think that all doctrines are equally correct, but I think that when we develop real loving relationships with each other we will be in a place where we can learn from each other and accurately evaluate each other’s doctrine and not just throw our favorite verses at each other.

T Aagard said...

Paul G
I agree that "opposition and correction from opposing brothers are necessary for spiritual growth". It is a natural dynamic of our progressive sanctification to the "full stature of Christ". This also presumes the dynamic where we receive the correction and repent of whatever error was shown to us.

I don't think it is right to create a dichotomy between the "Spirit of Christ" and "doctrines". I disagree that "it is doctrines which cause division". We have received doctrine from the Spirit of Christ. There are alternative doctrines claimed to be true, but we cannot make doctrines something we can be relativistic on because they come from God, at least the true ones. We are struggling between true and false doctrine, not just doctrine in itself.

"Your pastor" is the one with the authority problem, along with the translators that have made many translation errors in choosing hierarchical English terms not justified by the context of the NT. Perhaps Eric can round these up and do postings on each one of them.

UncoverMedia said...

@ T Aagard - I hear you brother - loud and clear!

I left the corporate church several years ago and have never looked back. Most importantly for me was the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to direct my path in study, worship and walk in life outside the parameters of man's doctrines and traditions.

I was almost immediately led to research "church" doctrines and traditions that I had been taught over a period of almost sixty years. To my surprise, most of those doctrines are the invention of man long after the Apostolic age. In fact, most can be traced directly to the Catholic Church.

I recently read a couple of books by the late Eric H. H. Chang. Chang was a man who was raised in an atheist home in China and was converted to Christianity by a circumstances that he said were God-led. Chang spent the majority of his life in ministry and later had a revelation of sorts that changed his understanding and beliefs about certain doctrines of the "church" that he had taught and defended for many years up until that point.

Blessings to you T Aagard and thank you Eric for the blog.

"The One True God"
http://www.christiandiscipleschurch.org/sites/defa...

"The Only Perfect Man"
http://www.christiandiscipleschurch.org/sites/defa...

Paul G said...

I have been thinking, what do I actually have in common with an institutional church ?

I'm not sure. I wish I could say that we have the Lord Jesus Christ in common, but that is mostly not so.
I have been going to various church services and the preachers did not even once mention the Name of Jesus. And some preachers only mentioned His Name by the way.
But they all are eager to preach tithing, church activities and principles of how to be a better person.


Or perhaps is it 'fellowship' ?
But then again, they think that fellowship is sitting in the pew and listening to the pastors preaching for one or two hours.
And perhaps drinking a cup of tea after the service and talking about the football, or how good the preaching was etc.

Well, my Bible says that the fellowship of the Saints is the fellowship in the Holy Spirit, where the Lord Jesus Christ is centred among the Saints and there He will be in the midst of us working supernatural signs and wonders and miraculous to confirm His Word.

Anything else is just playing church.

I don't think that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a group of people who are meeting every Sunday to listen to a hired holy man telling them to believe in God and to be good people.

If the mature men of God in an assembly do not know what the Scriptures say about every matter concerning life and the life abundant, I mean spiritual and natural life, then there has to be something drastically wrong.

What I see and hear in all the churches is that they preach a God who likes to bless us all, but He seemingly never gets around to do so. Instead He punishes them with the curse of sickness, disease, cancers, mental sicknesses and every calamity common to men.

Where is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ?
It seems to me that He has left a long time ago and they have replaced Him with a god who has no power to save, heal the sick and mend the broken hearted.

Paul G said...

Keith, I have a simple faith and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and I think that everyone who claims to believe in God ought to believe the Scriptures LITERALLY and NOT metaphoric.
It is the literal meaning which profits the reader or hearer. The metaphoric is supposed to support the literal. It should not change the literal into a contradiction.

Either the Lord God came to dwell with us, or the Lord God sent someone else.

The Lord God came to dwell with us, means that the Lord Jesus Christ LITERALLY came to dwell with us, that is not metaphoric.

But to say that God sent His only begotten Son is METAPHORIC.
It is for those who do not know God so that they may believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
A metaphoric statement does NOT mean that God SENT somebody else, a so called Son.
Metaphoric is NOT literal, and to think so is error.

You think that God SENT a man Y'shua, but the real God (Yahweh) stayed back and does nothing, or seemingly instruct a man by the name of Y'shua to do things.
But that is metaphorically incorrect and literally not true.

Paul G said...

I'm sorry Eric, I posted that comment on the wrong post.

T Aagard said...

To UncoverMedia
Your links did not take me to a specific page. When I arrived at the more general site I did not read much, only enough to realize this was a site that reduces Jesus to a status less than God, similar to the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Islam, etc. Of course, the site does not make that connection but the actual results are the same. I'm not a sucker for this kind of deception. I worship Jesus. He is God. If you do not worship Him, you will bow before Him one day in judgement.

UncoverMedia said...

If I believe that Jesus is the Messiah but don’t believe he is “God” incarnate are you saying I’m condemned to Hell?

I assume from your position that you have studied Walter Martin’s book “The Kingdom of the Cults” where he categorizes anyone that does not believe in the trinity to be affiliated with some sort of cult.

I can assure you that I am not a cultist, and in fact am not affiliated with any organized “church” or religious sect.

I find it amazing that the trinity is the least preached on, least studied and least talked about doctrine in almost every church, yet it is the foremost doctrine of most churches as a matter of salvation.

I find it amazing and fascinating that the moment I bring up my position on the trinity, most Christians begin to vehemently defend the trinity and brand me a heretic for not believing it; even though most have never even questioned anything about it in their lives - let alone ever done any research on it. (Notwithstanding those “Bible College” graduates who are now paid professionals that parrot a memorized defense of the trinity they were taught.)

Based on your beliefs, I have some questions if you don’t mind.

1. Why do you believe in the trinity doctrine? Have you researched where it came from and how and when it came to be “church” doctrine?

2. Who is Yahweh exactly? And what about the many scriptures that say He “alone” is the one (echad) true God and that there is no one else besides Him? Where does Jesus fit into that "God?"

Isaiah 42:8 “I am Yahweh, that is My name;
I will not give My glory to another, / 44:6
This is what Yahweh, the King of Israel,
and his Redeemer, Yahweh of Armies, says:
“I am the first, and I am the last;
and besides me there is no God. / 45:5
I am Yahweh, and there is no one else.
Besides me, there is no (other) God.

3. If Jesus said the Shema is the first and foremost command (Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God. Yahweh is one), then do you think that Jesus and the scribe he answered both believed that Yahweh was a three-person God?

4. If Jesus is God incarnate, how could He not be cognizant that he was God from the moment he was born? Since technically God can’t both consist as God and not consist as God, was God the Son’s incarnation a “birth” or “transformation?”

5. Did Mary believe she was changing God’s diapers, potty training God, teaching God to walk, teaching God to talk, and basically sustaining God’s “life” until he was physically and mentally able to take care of himself? Do you suppose God the Son felt a little strange while all this was happening?

6. If God can’t die and Jesus is God, then how can Jesus say to John in Revelation that he “was dead but is now alive?” Was that the “human” Jesus or the “God” Jesus speaking to John?

7. If believing the trinity is a salvation issue, why didn’t Jesus simply explain to his disciples and all those he taught that he was the second person of a three-person God?

8. Of the almost 11 thousand times that the Bible mentions either Yahweh, Elohim, God or Father, why is there not one instance of any of those being specifically identified as three (3) distinct deified persons – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit - or any contrivance of some sort of a three person “godhead” as defined by Trinitarians today?

Be a Berean and take the time to research what YOU believe is true pertaining to Yahweh and the salvation that He alone provides – especially if you believe your eternal life depends on knowing those truths.

“This is eternal life, that they should know you, the one (monos) true God, AND him whom you sent, Yahshua Messiah.” (John 17:3)

Blessings

T Aagard said...

UcoverMedia
I did not bring up the trinity. You did. I only spoke to the deity of Jesus. It is disrespectful to this blog to demand dialogue completely outside the scope of the posting. I'm just pointing out your bait with a hook in it for others to be aware of.

Eric said...

Hi everyone. I've decided to not publish any more comments on this particular post stream. I think it has run its course. Thanks.