A letter to a brother regarding the Christian ground of unity upon which the Bible insists that Christians properly gather

 

December 14, 2009

Dear Mr. ______,

I am a brother in Christ living, as you can see from above, in __.  I was brought up in a devout Christian environment; but, left home at eighteen in 1970 to pursue my own will (the prodigal son) and actually committed my life to the Lord only in 1979.

I have been viewing with interest a number of your sermons from the _____ _____ Church via the internet.  A NJ sister had initially directed my brother-in-law’s attention to a sermon you gave in October on “A Call to those Who care about the Honor of God”, and he spoke of it to me.  I am struck by your obvious concern for the well-being of souls, and for your zealous spirit in relation to the Divine realm.  I am a devout, fundamental Christian.

I saw last week your sermon on “Unity”, and I am sure that it is a subject of major interest to Heaven.  I do see that everywhere there is substantial disunity among the Lord’s people – you mentioned, in this respect, “a church on every several corners”, or, words to that effect.

It is apparent from Scripture that God has unity in mind (Eph4:3-6,13 and John17:11), and I see that disunity is certainly brought about by deflection on our side from what is intended and set out in Scripture as to the mind of God.

I have felt for a number of weeks that I should contact you, and I just wondered as to your comments on my following thoughts in relation to the disunity that is extant today.

John writes in chapter 16 that the “Spirit of truth” is to come to “guide you into all the truth.”  I am particularly interested in that phrase “all the truth”.  This to my understanding states that, if we are amenable to the voice of the Holy Spirit (“And when ye turn to the right hand or when ye turn to the left, thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it” – Isaiah30:21), we shall be led, in every instance, into “the truth as it is in Jesus”.

This being so, from God’s perspective I can see no reason for divergence from His truth.  In the Tabernacle system the oblation was to be of fine flour mingled with oil, and, unleavened.  We tend towards being lumpy, and leavened with the features of this life.  Jude says, “But to him that is able to keep you without stumbling, and to set [you] with exultation blameless before his glory”.  There could not be any occasion of stumbling when we get to Heaven – of necessity that stumbling must refer to our paths while here; but, the Holy Spirit is recording that God considers that we can be kept here without stumbling.

It seems apparent that the highest expression of our moral standing is that which we have in Christ.  “So if any one [be] in Christ, [there is] a new creation” and “Whoever has been begotten of God does not practise sin, because his seed abides in him, and he cannot sin, because he has been begotten of God.”  There is a standard before God and man for righteousness and that Standard is Christ.

Heaven makes room for our mixed estate, of course, while here on earth – “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” and James writes that “we all often offend”.  Yet, I see that, from God’s perspective, the power to keep us without sin is present – it is our unfaithfulness that prevents us from properly and responsibly filling out the Christian nature that we have through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.  I hope you agree with all that I have said.

All this being said, what is the basis by which unity can be established today out of all the disunity?  I can only see that the unifying power is Christ Himself, and that we, as Sons of God and the brethren of Christ (John20:17) are to “walk in the light as He is in the light.”  Our practical walk displays our Christian standing – i.e., the fruits define the tree.

At what point, then, can we consider that departure from the Word of God – which causes disunity in the House of God – is substantial enough to prevent proper Christian fellowship?[1]  Paul writes to the Corinthians that “But now I have written to you, if any one called brother be fornicator, or avaricious, or idolater, or abusive, or a drunkard, or rapacious, not to mix with [him]; with such a one not even to eat. For what have I [to do] with judging those outside also? ye, do not ye judge them that are within? But those without God judges. Remove the wicked person from amongst yourselves.”

That seems clear enough; however, if we consider, for example, idolatry – What constitutes idolatry?  It is apparent that Satan has built a system of idolatry around the world of sports, for example, not to speak of the arts, and almost everything else in life.  Indeed, the apostle writes that “the whole world lies in the wicked one” and the Gospels show the Lord being tempted by Satan in the wilderness and saying that, if the Lord did him homage, he would give to Him “all this power, and their glory; for it is given up to me, and to whomsoever I will I give it.”

______, I see that it is the active will of man in independence from God that causes the mischief.  An entire, natural world of man in his first, unregenerate estate, has been set up for the glory and pursuit of man in his own will separate from God.  We need principles to understand Scripture; not, rules (we’re not as horse or mule that needeth bit and bridle).  I believe a brother said once that he wouldn’t leave any particular fellowship for sin, per se; but, for unjudged sin (i.e., the allowed activity of man’s mind and will away from the control of God) he would leave.  This fits with Leviticus 13 (especially verse 14) where the very trace of the raw flesh was an indicator of what was unclean (even the individual hair was scrutinized – to my mind that shows that care was to be taken to evaluate the individual).  It is noteworthy that John defines sin as lawlessness (the KJV says “transgression of the law”; however, as has been aptly pointed out, sin was in the world before “the law”).

I apologize for the length of this letter – I’ve written all that I have above because it seems quite clear to me that our unity as Christians depends upon maintaining what is due to God in righteousness.  It says “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord negligently”, and you mentioned half-hearted, etc. readings of the Scripture (using the allusion of the pilot of the plane).  The Scripture is “Where two or three are gathered together unto my name” – a scripture evidently greatly misused today to the end that the notion exists that any (casual) mention of the Lord’s Name suffices.

But, His is a great Name – He is a great King – and at His Name every knee shall bow.  Much is bound up in that Name, isn’t that so?  I cannot see that most Christians are walking whole-heartedly/righteously with the Lord – much less, rightly together with each other – even in any given, particular fellowship – before the Lord.  “Obedience is better than sacrifice; hearkening than the fat of rams”.

In view of what seems to be a mutual concern as to the state of God’s people today, I would be much interested to know what you think as to all this.

Your brother in Christ,

[1] In the tabernacle system there were doorkeepers, and no packages (something concealed) were allowed in the temple