Monday, April 21, 2014

The Great Unifier

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free,
and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
I Corinthians 12:13

Unity is a big word today in the church…well, in the world and in "religion," as well.  According to the world and religion, unity equates to tolerance.  If we are going to unite together, we will tolerate each other.  That makes us diverse and we celebrate diversity, right?

Now, this is not going to be a blog dealing with the world's philosophy of unity, but because I can't possibly pass up this opportunity to state a few truths, here goes:

  • There is One God in three Persons - the Father, the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
  • Sin separates us from God
  • There is one way to access Him - through Jesus Christ
  • There is one bride of Christ - His precious church
  • Hell is real and eternal
  • The Bible is the inspired, revealed and illuminated word of God 
  • Jesus literally physically died and rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and is returning for His bride one day
There is enough in those seven statements to separate the believer from the world and from religion, because those statements are not up for debate.  We must not tolerate lies and we must not unite with the world.  We have been called out of the world - we are a separate people.  

That being said, the unity of the church is an incredible thing.  I have travelled all over the world and the instant bond that believers have because of Jesus Christ is hard to explain and wonderful to experience.  And you don't have to go around the world to feel it.  You should feel it when you walk into church.  And remember, it's not because a bunch of nice people are in a church - it's because the Holy Spirit has transformed the lives under that roof.

The reason the above verse is an important verse to know is because today the word "church" can be confusing.  When someone talks of church, are they talking about a local church or the universal church?  And if there is only one church, why are there so many denominations?  Which one is the true church?  Is the church a group of people or a building?  

Because the great liar is still alive and well in our world, sin has clouded the minds of man and muddied the truth about church.  So without causing too much controversy, let's clarify some truth:
  • Believers are called the church (universal) - Ephesians 5:22-25
  • Church is also individual groups of believers (local) - Col. 4:15,16; I Thess. 1:1
  • Church is also a reference to the gathering of believers - I Cor. 14:34,35
  • We are instructed not to forsake gathering together - Hebrews 10:23-25
So context defines how the word is used in scripture.  I added that fourth statement for those who say they are tired of the hypocrisy in church and are done with it.  They don't have biblical support for that mindset.  

So what about all the denominations?

Don't stress about denominations.  Denominations have been formed over the centuries because of traditions, cultural differences, personal preferences and minor doctrinal differences. We are not cookie cutter humans.  There is much diversity and creativity in the body of Christ. Although the early church was a one size fits all due to necessity, today there are many options within one city alone. The important thing is to make sure that the church stands on the truth of scripture (see the top 7 absolutes) and worships the one true God. 

I think when we focus too much on what separates us, we forget what has bound us together and that's exactly where the enemy wants us to dwell. We have to do our homework - be modern day Bereans and examine what is being taught in our churches under the scrutiny of the Word, but there is a huge harvest out there and the Lord works through many denominations to draw His children into a relationship with Him.  We need to celebrate this.

The Holy Spirit through the truth of the gospel is the great unifier - we have a large body spread out all over the world, who are daily laying down their lives for Jesus.  We are not alone. What a wonderful truth!

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