Unity of the Spirit and the Apostasy: “The views and opinions expressed by this lubber do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the crew. Reader discretion be advised.” – Staff
Bond of Peace
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3)
Attempting to keep peace with those who disagree with us is not simply a good idea but a command. The Apostle Paul understood that there would be differences among believers. On at least one occasion Paul and Peter disagreed over a key doctrinal issue: salvation by grace or salvation by works.
After some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I confronted Peter in front of the others. We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:12-16)
Though Paul found it necessary to confront Peter, he did so in love. Later we find that Peter came around to Paul’s understanding of salvation by grace and declared this same message to the a gathering of the Christian Apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 11-13).
In time Paul and Barnabas would disagree over the role of John Mark in their ministry, but in love they agreed to part ways. As a result four, not two, (John Mark and Barnabas, Paul and Silas) carried the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 15:36-41).
Unity of the Spirit and the Apostasy
Some claim that division among believers is destroying the modern church and its testimony.
“One of the greatest problems in our churches is the breakdown of church unity. It is insidious, debilitating, and destructive.” – Church Answers, Thom S. Rainer
Mr. Rainer’s comment reflects many of the calls from pulpits to present a united front for both believers and seekers.
And yet, even Jesus did not sacrifice the truth of the gospel message for the sake of unity. When Peter challenged Jesus over the doctrine of salvation by grace, Jesus rebuked him—and perhaps with less love than Peter expected.
“Get behind me, Satan!” Jesus said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Mark 8:33)
Truth of the Gospel Message
Rather than seek unity on all matters we would be better served to follow the example of Paul and advocate for the truth of the gospel message. What we say matters. And what we teach and preach matters a great deal, for our words carry the power of life and death.
A man shall be satisfied by the fruit of his words. With the increase of his lips shall he be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:20-21)
Every word of Jesus and the Father are true. And every careless comment in conversation and declaration carries consequences.
Jesus says, “I say unto you, that every idle word a men shall speak, he shall give account on the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)
What We Say Becomes Our Future
What we say today becomes our future tomorrow.
“I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. If two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” – Jesus (Matthew 18:18-20)
Let our words carry life not death. And if we find ourselves tempted to speak doubt and death—to promote the agenda of the enemy—let us follow the advice of Jesus to Jairus and remain silent.
When faithless doubters told Jairus that his daughter had died, Jesus said:
“Ignore them. Don’t be afraid. Just believe.” (Mark 5:21-32)
When faithless doubters question, deny, and skew God’s word, let us rebuke them in love with grace and the whole truth of the gospel message—from Genesis to Revelation. Let us have in mind the concerns of God and love of Jesus. In time we may find that our love through the Spirit of Jesus and the power of his living word has changed hearts, leading some to repentance.
And that’s always our Lord’s will.