A Letter To The Church At Large
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. - I John 4:7-11
The Divided Body Part One
Judgement is coming! The signs are all around us. How can we not know it, when almost daily we hear of some new insanity going on some place in the world. Do we ask ourselves why our light does not dispel more of the darkness all around? Why does it seem that the 'gates of hell'(1) have an ever expanding boundary? Where can we see the truth of the Scriptures being lived? Does the Word of God say in vain: 'Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.' I John 4:4
The Truth is that judgement is now beginning, but not where you would suppose: 'For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.' 1 Peter 4:17-19
Judgement will and 'must begin at the house of God.' God's judgement will be poured out on many lands, but He will clean His own House 'first.' There are many sins we are guilty of, and if we would only come humbly and cry to Him as did the Psalmist,(2) God would lovingly bring us to repentance. The purpose of God's judgement on us is His Hope that we will repent and give ourselves back to Him. This writing only focuses on one of the many sins God is calling us to repent of.
The heart of God is grieved over the lack of true love found among His people. We must never sacrifice the truth for love, but neither can we ignore God's command to love, using 'truth' as an excuse. Truth must always be shared from a heart of love, as love must always be shared only in truth.
This is not a call to merge one group with another.
This lack of love has led members of His Body to have an independent spirit, one of divisiveness. Christians fight and bicker over perceived doctrinal differences, and groups split apart in anger as one denounces the other, many times resulting in the loss of souls, as people are injured emotionally and spiritually.
In very many ways, we have become to our generation like the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They had long departed from the Living God and built for themselves a religion according to what they wanted to believe about the Scriptures.
We too have become puffed up, thinking that we have 'need of nothing.'(3) We gather not only teachers for our itching ears, but followers after our own likeness. We have become infected by the same sins as those who crucified our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. We cannot turn a blind eye and declare we are innocent.
There should not be division among the brethren. One might determine that people are going to have different opinions, and that division is therefore unavoidable. What did the Apostle Paul have to say about it? 'Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.' I Corinthians 1:10 According to the Scriptures, there is only one path to God, and only one Gospel.(4) How is it that Christians cannot seem to agree as to what is truth? At the root of the problem is pride, and hearts not fully surrendered to God. 'Fulfill ye my joy, that ye may be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.' Philippians 2:2-3
Do we really love those that He loves? Do we reach out to ALL the individuals who call upon the Name of the Lord? Do we treat them as if they were Christ Jesus Himself?(5) Do we work together with the members of the Body of Christ, sharing the common goal of fulfilling what He has called each of us to be?(6) The truth is if we don't have Love, we cannot claim to have the Truth.(7)
This is not a call to merge one group or organization with another, nor a call to drop the Word of God for a teaching, supposed prophecy, or body of doctrine. True followers of Jesus have no other creed than the Holy Bible.
There are over seven billion people on this planet today, for all of whom Jesus Christ died on the Cross. How can they be saved if we are too busy with our own little Christian universe to tell them about the Way in which the sinner may be transformed?(8)
In all honesty, we will never teach others anything we ourselves do not live.
We need desperately to guard our hearts and minds; let us not in pride suppose we know all that we need to know. God is still speaking; He is crying out to us. If we would but listen, he may even speak through an ass.(9)
As the Body of Christ, we are the Church, or, as properly defined, the 'Called out ones.'(10) The Bible never uses the word Church to apply to an organization or the building in which we meet: Where we gather is not the Church, when we gather in the Name of Jesus Christ, we are the Church!(11)
As members of the Body of Christ , we must obey God. Christianity without obedience is heresy, plain and simple. We find in the Word that there is a test for knowing whether we are a true disciple: 'A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.' John 13:34-35
If we love Him, we will obey Him,(12) and if we love and obey Jesus, we will love each other just as He loved us.(13) As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are called to unity.(14) The scriptures even suggest that 'unity of the faith' will lead to maturity and that we will no longer be 'tossed to and fro' by deceitful teachings.(15) We are called to 'be of the same mind' and 'live peaceably with all men.'(16)
What can we do in order to reach this unity? We must stop and ask the Holy Ghost to examine our hearts, for perhaps the zeal with which we are fiercely clinging to some of our beliefs is truly nothing more than religious pride. If we were to surrender ourselves to God completely, the Holy Ghost would show us all the same Truth in the Bible. It is desperately important that we never lose the willingness to change our viewpoint if the Holy Ghost is showing us that we are wrong.
Tares Among Us!
'Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.' ... 'The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.' Matthew 13:24-30, 38-39
Through the above parable Jesus has shown us that the mission field he called us to may be sitting right next to us! Instead of trying to root out the weeds we find among us, we need to love the wayward into repenting and returning to the Body of Christ. What if while we are trying to root out the tares we drive a weak brother away from the Lord? What will God do to the person who injures one of His little ones?(17) No Christian has the authority to judge another man's servant.(18)
When meeting a Christian, we should greet them with a heart desiring to love and meet needs, rather than looking at them with suspicious eyes. We ought to seek to share the things of the Lord that we have in common, rather than measure them against our list of acceptable doctrines.
There are reasons for excluding a brother or sister from gathering with us,(19) but the foundation is to be love. Our desire is to be like our Lord's,(20) to win the sinner back to the narrow path to which we were called. It is not our job to take the judgement seat of Christ and condemn one another to hell. When we see a brother or sister sin and thereby stray from the Way, we should first feel sorrow, like the heart of God, the one who would 'leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray.'(21) We should pray for them and then go to them with the heart of a reconciler, in hopes of bringing them back to God.
If we cannot face our own sin, and repent of our own sin, we will never convince others of theirs. May God help us.
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The following is a list of the references used in the writing above. All scriptures are taken from the King James Version.
- Matthew 16:18
- Psalm 139:23-24
- Revelation 3:17
- John 14:6, Eph. 4:1-6
- Matthew 25:31-46
- 1 Corinthians 12:13-20
- I John 3:23, 4:20-21
- Romans 10:14
- Numbers 22:28-33
- Strong Dictionary: # 1577 ekklesia (ek-klay-see'-ah); from a compound of 1537 and a derivative of 2564; a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both): KJV-- assembly, church.
- Matthew 18:20, Ephesians 2:19-22
- John 14:15
- I John 5:2-5
- 'I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians 4:1-6
- Ephesians 4:11-14
- 'Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 'Romans 12:16-18
- Matthew 18:6
- Romams. 14:4
- II Thessalonians 3:14, I Corinthaians 5:5,11
- II Peter 3:9, II Corinthaians 2:3-11
- Matthew 18:12-13