May 17, 2010

Is Christ Divided?…Continued

Posted in Unity tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 11:09 pm by tclickenger

As I finished my post on the division of the church (Is Christ Divided?), I asked the questions “So what is the remedy? In all the many voices claiming to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit and has a lock on the truth, how do we recognize God’s wisdom?” What is the way to unity? I have read a number of messages that insist that unity must be based on truth. It seems to me when someone is saying that, they are just trying to insist that their beliefs are “the truth.” I went on in my post to quote James 3:17-18.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

To put this in context we need to go back a few passages and read James 3:13

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.

So he is describing the qualities of the character and temperament of someone who has a mature measure of Godly wisdom and understanding. What I feel God is telling me in these passages is that we are to not only consider the message of the speaker but also examine the speaker himself. The verses 14 through 16 explains some attitudes and qualities that indicate the message is not from God. Then 17 and 18 some attitudes and qualities that indicate that it is.

As a disclaimer, note that when examining the speaker you cannot base your discernment from a first impression. You need to get to know the speaker, examine his conduct out of the pulpit as well as in it. Not just when he is speaking about God but in his everyday communication. A red flag should go up if he is talking more about himself than about God. Is he so convinced of his doctrinal views that he wouldn’t even consider hearing something that is in opposition to his current beliefs? In writing this I recognize that I am not exempt from this examination and welcome it.

So lets look at the qualities of one, as James said “Who is wise and understanding among you”

  • He is first of all pure – Pure in motivations. Without a hidden agenda.
  • Peaceable – They are more interested in the relationship they have with you than that your views are in agreement with their own. They don’t become angry or argumentative over a different belief.
  • Willing to yield (submissive) – Willing to yield to good reason. If the view they are presented is more reasonable than their own, they are willing to abandon their previously held belief for a better one.
  • Full of mercy – The individual that is wise with the wisdom of God will be more spiritually mature than those they are teaching. The spiritually immature are always getting offended about something and usually respond with offensive behavior. You will find that the one who has the wisdom of God is always extending mercy to everyone. I have personally received that mercy many a times.
  • Full of good fruits – The fruits this is referring to of course the fruit of the Spirit. Those qualities are pretty self explanatory.
  • Without partiality – Receives all people where ever they are in their development. Knows that truth can come from any of God’s children.
  • Without hypocrisy – You will find this person consistently displaying these characteristics. In the best of circumstances and in the most difficult. With their best friend, with their harshest critic, with their persecutor, with someone who has made themself an enemy to him.
  • Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

    So again, what is the way to unity? Of course, we should all work toward being unified in “faith and knowledge” but from my understanding of the scriptures, unity is established and held together by peace. How is unity established and held together by peace? Is it our job to put peace in our hearts or does Jesus do this without any effort on our part?

    May the peace of God through his Son, Jesus Christ, be with you and may he prepare our hearts to receive his truth.

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    January 9, 2010

    Is Christ Divided?

    Posted in Unity tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:59 am by tclickenger

    My first blog post ever.  What is Koinonia about?  The short version of what it’s about is Christian unity.

    One of my brothers in faith recently posted on his FB wall, “One Mind One Body One Purpose thousands of Denominations? Go Figure!”

    I don’t know what he meant by “Go figure!” but I believe this multitude of division is a terribly serious condition that warrants strong consideration.  Does The Word of God, the final authority in all truth, have anything to say about why we would have this sort of condition in the church?

    The Apostle Paul had something to say about this in 1 Cor. 1:11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions (disputes) among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” (divisions, denominations)

    Does this sound familiar? “I am a _______” you insert the denomination title. The term “denomination” has its roots in mathematics. It is a division of a number. You are probably most familiar with it from working with fractions, where we have a numerator and a denominator.

    13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

    Continuing in this thought, Paul begins to compare the wisdom that starts and continues these divisions with the wisdom of God.

    18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

    James had some writing that was very similar to Paul’s on this topic.

    James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, (Would you consider these attitudes that would cause disputes and divisions?) do not boast and lie against the truth.

    Is this such a serious condition that we need to concern ourself about it?

    15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

    Sounds pretty serious to me. In fact it is so important that Jesus said that being ONE is the one and only way that the world will know that we believe in the word of Jesus!! Paul even wrote in the book of Ephesians that being ONE was the ultimate end purpose of God in creating all things (Eph. 1:9-10). Wow! You can’t get much more serious or important than that.

    Notice again, James compares the wisdom that is behind these attitudes with the wisdom of God.  He even goes on to say that this is evil and demonic.  So what is the remedy? In all the many voices claiming to have a lock on the truth, how do we recognize God’s wisdom?

    17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

    I pray that any pride I have in myself is destroyed and never sets my thinking up against the revelation of God and His truth.  Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the Sons of God.