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JESUS PRAYS IN ST. JOHN 17:11, “...so that they (His personal disciples and also all disciples to follow) may be ONE as we (Jesus and the Father) are ONE.” Christ’s first prayer is for “His little company as a company”: to guard them against disunity and falling apart, to keep them that they may hold together and be ONE in heart and mind and purpose—as how the Father and Son (and Holy Ghost) were ONE!
Jesus was not speaking about numeral unity but union—not “one” in contrast to “many,” but metaphorically, union and concord (Jn. 17:11, 10:30, 11:52; Rom. 12:4-5; Phil. 1:27). Christ prayed for His company of new disciples to be united in one-and-the-same spirit and witness. This brings me to today’s lesson on “One Unit.”
Unity Between Believers
THE FIRST basic requirement for “unity” is mental agreement, i.e. , “to be of one mind and to think the same thoughts.” Now, in order for Bible Christians to do this, this posits the need for all believers to have a common body of truth that controls/directs their thinking. The Holy Bible is the truth, in conjunction with the Spirit-inspired Word of God. But we fall pitifully short on this “unity” thing. Somebody, I should say, somebodies, are wrong and others are right.
There is no room for tolerance when it comes to God’s Divine authority of the Scriptures. Since we Christians have been given the Word to be our rule book, our guide book, we must accept its contents.
THE BIBLE says so! But many disagree—maybe not with having the Bible, but on how it is to be interpreted. Herein lies our greatest problem.
There is NO WAY believers can have unity unless believers believe and agree upon the Scriptures. We can just trash what we dislike and embrace what pleases us, yet this is the work of demons.
Of course, the disciples did not have a New Testament, but the principle of unity can’t be overlooked. What Jesus taught His disciples would not and has not contradicted our Bible. New revelations came to the authors of the N.T., but again, they did not contradict the O.T.—maybe abrogated parts of the O.T. Law, but never contradicted God’s righteousness or holiness (besides, Jesus had already done the work of such abrogation through His life, death and resurrection, ushering in the N.T. order). But for study’s sake, let us stick to the N.T. era here.
If Jesus prayed that His disciples would be kept in the Father’s name (Jn. 17:11), then what Jesus prayed was that they (and we too) would be kept in the personal power and character of God. We do rightly state it this way: “Protect them with the power which Thou hast given Me, and bind them in that unity which is Ours.”
THAT PRAYER was a safeguard for the future Ekklesia. As children of God, we are to keep in mind our relationship to our Heavenly Father, and to one another as an earthly Christian family.
Have we forgotten all this? Apparently so, for the Church is so divided, full of contention, quarreling and character assassins, that she is more pagan than the pagans.
SOME ISSUES the Church is divided over are obvious truths like God’s perspective on homosexuality, abortion, money lust, etc. The de-emphasis on sin, overall, has turned into a “giant wave” that is “sweeping over much of today’s Church,” especially the mega “seeker-sensitive” churches. I see NOWHERE in the N.T. where we’re to downplay sin and the sinner.
“There can be no true unity between believers apart from an UNCOMPROMISING AFFIRMATION that THE BIBLE IS WHAT IT CLAIMS TO BE, ‘THE WORD OF GOD’” (Bible expositor E.R. Campbell). I agree. The Bible is our rule book. Of course, we have the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit and the Bible aren’t going to disagree.
AGAIN, I see nothing in the Bible about slick marketing techniques. These silly things put more emphasis upon “crowd size” and not upon “heart depth”; where sin is de-emphasized, demons rejoice! When churches are built by “demographic studies,” “professional strategists,” “marketing research,” putting forth “‘felt-needs’ sermonettes” . . . the crowd will be partly unsaved (or WORSE!) and partly starved—“Biblically and spiritually STARVED.” Tell me, now, can this represent an army of the Lord?
PAUL, IN all his epistles, emphasizes the need for unity (Rom. 12:3-8, 1 Cor 12:4-31, and Eph. 4:1-16 are 3 good cases in point).
The original Greek manuscripts (originals off the originals, that is) instruct believers to keep the unity which is theirs in the Body of Christ. The emphasis on this is there in the Greek, though it may be lost in certain translations.
In reality, some good points are lost in translation. This is not to say that the difficult Scriptures will always be clear in the literal or explicated Greek. Like anything, translators are tempted to be biased on certain pet Scriptures/doctrines. (We sure see this in our time—we now have pro-homo Bibles at the expense of Greek accuracy!) Modern translations therefore may be written beyond that which is accurate in good manuscripts.
Paul writes, “....you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, ‘Do not go beyond what is written’...” (1 Cor. 4:6). Today people are going way beyond “what is written”—in the name of “tolerance” and “unity.”
We are warned not to read into Scripture what we want it to say. This is what many movements have and are doing. This eisegesis will produce an “unjustifiable dogmatic mindset” that certainly will divide the Body of Christ.
Preaching Is Out?
YES, IN some churches. Why? Because the ministers do not want to offend their congregation, saved or unsaved. Pep talks are much better, leaving out the name of Jesus, and the issue of sin. Therefore, “relevance” is in, as they say. Doctrine doesn’t matter as much as “innovation.”
You see, old-time Holy Ghost preaching is “outdated,” so they tell us. Consumer-friendly is the darling now, not Bible Truth. One minister had it right when he said that sin, salvation and sanctification are taboo, replaced by “Starbucks, strategy and sensitivity.” Friends, this is pure religious BULL! Don’t ever believe that demon diatribe.
Overlooking the Obvious
AGAIN, IN defending certain sins, ministers are not interested in “Word” or “Scripture” meanings. I’m not a Bible scholar, but I do know the value of reading the Greek N.T. (translated well into English, of course!). Every Greek word has a basic meaning. This meaning is closely tied to the derivation or etymology of the word; and as Greek scholars tell us, Greek words can be ascertained, established and proven in definition by the way they are used in various contexts.
I personally have spent many months putting together our 6(+) anti-homosexual (behavior) booklets. I contend that sodomy is still an ABOMINATION to God, along with other-sex sins. I have taken the time to read pro-Sodomy writings and find them breaking the rules I’m trying to explain.
With few exceptions, the basic meaning of a certain word or text will either be very obvious, or can be seen in the shadow. I find it repulsive when supposed Bible teachers of the pro-homo camp use pagan scholars to back up their reasoning. Why not stick to the Greek Scriptures? Because they will disprove their “findings.” The same goes for the Hebrew.
If we love the truth, even when it exposes our pet lies, we must adhere to the truth. Holding tenaciously to revealed truths is vital to true unity. This whole pro-sodomy camp has divided, unnecessarily, the Body of Christ. New Testament, even Old Testament truths in many areas, have unnecessarily been made “controversial.” This is a slick trick of the DEVIL. It is truly amazing how the Church masses will hang on to every word these compromising ministers put forth, even when they deny cardinal doctrines!
All across this world are “satellite seminars” packed with perverters of truth who are hungry and thirsty for the latest way to “increase” their congregation, get more wealth, be happy and healthy, slay “Christians” in the “Spirit,” do miracles, perform exotic dances and performances—the list with a TWIST is LONG! But to fast and pray for personal fruitfulness, for the lost and dying, is SHUNNED like the plague!
Scripture twisting has become the “cutting edge”; “doing Church” is right even when Scripture condemns it. Having an active homosexual/lesbian/bi-sexual/transgender speak, draws HUGE crowds. Performing same-sex marriages or unions is so popular that even the world writes about it or runs TV interviews on it.
BUT LARGE crowds, guest speakers, lots of money and contemporary music can be wrong. At least some who found out too late will testify. Some have told the truth that their “doing Church” thing never produced solid disciples—Christian ones. “Numbers,” yes; but Christian disciples, NO!
Millions of dollars have literally been wasted on “doing Church,” while Christians suffer and die for their faith in other parts of the world. Many, too many, have not a Bible. Persecution of Christians doesn’t seem to really bother these “spiritual” churchites, though.
YES, MISTAKES can be corrected. A few souls are at least trying to do this—they are getting back into the Bible. God’s Word will strengthen one’s faith whereas all this “church stuff” produces LAZY AND INSENSITIVE CHURCH SLUGS—STINKING, ROTTING CORPSES—WHO CARE MORE ABOUT PLAYING THAN PRAYING, FEASTING AND NOT FASTING (at least a denial of some sort).
Religious trends and fashions will continue to come and go, being built upon sand and not solid rock. Unless we return to Biblical (and truly relevant) principles, satan will always offer a new “Christless scheme”—generation after generation—that will replace the last one. Let us strive for “grace growth,” as they say, not “numeric growth.” Amen.
[Study material for this article was adapted from its original sources.]
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