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UNITY...AT WHAT PRICE?

Written by: Green, Keith    Posted on: 03/20/2003

Category: Christian Living

Source: CCN

****SOUND DOCTRINE BOARD (303) 680-7209 8,N,1 24HRS 300/1200 BAUD**** #                     UNITY...AT WHAT PRICE?                        by Keith Green      Today there is much talk among Christians about the need for unity. Wherever Christians gather you can hear someone saying, "If only all the believers could get together and agree, then the world would sit up and take notice! THEN the devil would be running scared! Then there would be real revival!!" The whole ecumenical movement is based on such a conclusion.      I must admit the thought sounds wonderful - to have all those different denominations (and "non"-denominations) in love and fellowship with one another - that would be something, wouldn't it! Ah...but don't hold your breath...IT CAN'T HAPPEN. There'll always be a couple of real Christians around to spoil it!      "What?!" You say, "How could REAL Christians spoil it? Wouldn't THEY be the very ones who would be the most loving and ready to unite?" Oh yes! True belivers are full of love - love for God, love for their brothers and sisters, love for souls - in fact, love would be the VERY THING that would make them oppose a mass move of unity.     "What?!" You say again, "Why that's the most absurd thing I've ever heard! How could love keep them from wanting to get together with everyone else who cofesses to love God? You're not going to get me to believe that people with such deep love wouldn't just LOVE to see all the churches and professing Christians come together in unity? Why, what could they love more than that??"      Well, they love THE TRUTH! Yep, they're pretty attached to it - those true believers can even seem right stubborn and ornery at times - the way they stick to the truth.                           UNITY - MAN'S WAY     Some people have the craziest ideas! They want to try and do what only God can do. "Let's play Holy Spirit!" That's what they seem to be saying. They think that if they can just get everyone to quit arguing about their different doctrinal beliefs, then unity is right around the corner. "Let's just all try and fellowship and talk about those things in the Bible we all can agree on."     There's only one problem with that kind of thinking...isn't the Bible ALL true? How can we just find the lowest common denominator to which all Christians can agree to, and label the rest of the Bible (God's Holy Word) "unessential for unity."     In his book, Today's Gospel - Authentic or Synthetic?, Walter Chantry looks into the reasons for the failures of modern evangelism and foreign missions. In the introduction Mr. Chantry writes:     "Having accepted the theory that unity is all-important for world evangelism, both the Church and the individual must lower their estimate of the value of truth. In a large congress on evanelism we could not insist on a truth of God's Word that would offend any brother evengelical. After all, unity (among Christians) is more essential than doctrinal preciseness.     "It is for just this reason that the mission boards are hesitant to answer the question, 'What is the gospel?' Thoroughly to answer that would destroy the mission society, which is a federation of churches who have differing answers to that question. To adopt the position of one church would be to lose the support of five others. The whole system built on unity and generality would crumble."                         UNITY - GOD'S WAY                     (Jesus' prayer in John 17)     Many base their quest for true godly unity on an important passage in the gospel of John. Here in chapter 17, Jesus is praying for His disciples "that they all may be one..." (v.21). This verse certainly shows that the Lord desires His followers to have unity and truly "be one". but in the very next verse (v.22), we see some key words "...that they may be one EVEN AS WE ARE ONE."     How are the Father and Son one? In every way! They have no doctrinal disputes. They have no differing theologies. They do not argue over the rapture. They completely agree...on EVERYTHING!      But you might ask, "How can every Christian agree on doctrine? If we wait for that, we'll NEVER have unity!" You're missing the point. It's not knowing "doctrine" that's important, it's knowing God. Only through entering into an intimate, personal relationship with the living God and leaving behind the doctrines and theologies created by men and church tradition, can we ever hope to find the unity Jesus prayed for: "I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one...Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory..." (John 17:23-24).      What does the word "theology" mean anyway? It means "the study of God". Today, theological students do not study God, they study about God. At best, they study the writings of men who themselves have studied God. Why, they really ought to change the word theology to theology-ology or "the study of the study of God!"                       TRUE AND FALSE DIVISION      How many times have you heard that somebody was "causing division in the church?" Well, maybe they were supposed to! After all, there are two things that cause division according to the Bible: truth and error. (I can just see now all the eyebrows raising.) Haven't you heard the scripture, "Do you suppose I cam to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, rather division!" That's right! Jesus said that "from now on five members in one household will be divided three against two, and two against three" (Luke 12:51-52). He said that whole families would be divided over Him. And there are many occasions in the New Testament when whole assemblies of people were divided because of Jesus (John 7:43, 9:16, 10:19, Acts 23:6-7). You must remember people who love the truth will divide from people who love lies.      Now the Bible does warn us about those who would enter into our midst and cause divisions and factions (Matt. 12:25, Rom. 16:17, 1Tim. 6:3-5, 2Tim. 2:14, 2John 10). And yes, it has always been the devil's strategy to "divide and conquer." But these divisions are obviously based on error, lies, and usually come from bitter and evil motives (Titus 3:10).      Division that comes from the proclaiming of the truth will usually include some intense reaction and opposition, but it will also produce good fruit and the advancement of God's kingdom (not to mention the conversion of souls.)      What bible story is there, Old Testament or New, where the doing of righteousness or the preaching of the gospel does not divide men and separate them into two very distinct categories: those who are willing to turn and obey God, and those who actually turn on the messenger, because he violently  disturbs their false (and usually religious) peace?      And today, when there are so many who are professing religion, is it any wonder that some of the deepest truths in the Bible - repentance, faith, holiness, etc. - are also some of the greatest objects of debate in the Church. It must be said that those who truly want to know God's views on these great pillars of Christian doctrine, will appear to be divisive - and rightly so, in an age when the great gospel message of salvation can be reduced to such a sugar-coated, bakery-item as, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!"                      WHAT THE SCRITPTURES SAY      Those who believe that Christians should stop bickering about their "pet doctrines" are right. Christians should not be argumentative, "...and the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome..." (2Tim. 2:24). How many times have you heard stupid arguments about prophecy? "But I just KNOW the 10th head on the dragon in Revelation is Tahiti!" This kind of "division" is for the birds.      Yet there ARE scriptural commands to defend the truth. "Study to show  thyself approved.

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