Tim Johnson, editor
October 22, 2006
God's Unifying Power
"I Once Was Blind..."
In the beautiful hymn Amazing Grace we sing, "I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see." Jesus came to give "recovery of sight to the blind" (Luke 4:18). The preaching of His gospel opens the eyes of sinners and turns them from darkness to light (cf. Acts 26:18). And so, becoming a Christian truly is an eye-opening and enlightening experience. The mysteries of the purpose and pathway of life are unveiled as we come to believe in Jesus and entrust Him with our eternal destiny.
But eyes once opened can close again. Hebrews 6:4-6 warns that those who were "once enlightened" can "fall away." Imagine the awful tragedy of the blind receiving sight only to lose it again. This very thing happened to the Israelites of old. Isaiah describes their sad condition with these words: "We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; we stumble at noonday as at twilight; we are as dead men in desolate places" (Isaiah 59:10).
The same thing can happen to us if we fail to grow and develop spiritually. The apostle Peter tells the saved to add to their faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love (2 Peter 1:5-8). Then he warns that "he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins." (2 Peter 1:9).
I fear that a lot of Christians are well described by the title of Kent Crocket's book, "I Once Was Blind, but Now I Squint.". Jesus came to give us spiritual sight, yet often we don't have it. We grope and stumble through life because we are not daily living lives of faith and virtue, not practicing self-control, perseverance and godliness, and not showing brotherly kindness and love.
What about you? Do you see, or are you starting to squint?
God is very much concerned about unity among His people. He is not divided, and He does not want His people to be divided against one another. He planned and then executed His plan to bring all together in One - in Christ (Ephesians 1:10), reconciling them all to Himself in one body - His church (Ephesians 3:15, 16). By the one Spirit we have access to God through Christ, whether Jew or Gentile (Ephesians 3:18-22). We all constitute one holy temple in the Lord. Now, where do we learn about this vital unity? Answer: God has made it known to us in all of the particulars of its character in the gospel - His revelation of His will to us. Have we not read Jesus' prayer in John 17 and His plan for unity in Ephesians 4:1-6?
Please consider the unity necessarily implied by the one's that are enumerated throughout much of the New Testament. One is your Master (Matthew 23:8, 10). Does He teach His servants conflicting instructions? One is your Father (Matthew 23:9). Does He have children who are not brethren to each other? There is one fold and one Shepherd (John 10:16). How does denominationalism with its division harmonize with this? Jesus said, "I and My Father are one" (John 10:30). He prayed that His followers be one as He and the Father are (John 17:20-23). Can anyone honestly say that this unity is accomplished and extant in the denominational world? The saints at Jerusalem were "of one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32). Does this depict harmony and peace or strife and confusion? Can we say that the church at Jerusalem was one body at that time, with all the members working in harmony as pictured in I Corinthians 12:12-27 and Ephesians 4:15, 16? Paul and Apollos were one (I Corinthians 3:8). They were not the same person, but their doctrine was one. Therefore, if one followed the teaching of Apollos, he would be practicing the same things done by another who followed the teaching of Paul. The students of Paul and the students of Apollos would also be one as their teachers were one.
"There is no other God but one - only one God, the Father, of whom are all things..." (I Corinthians 8:6). Therefore, the Muslim claim that there is one God, Allah, and Mohammed is His prophet cannot be true in view of the lack of oneness in teaching of the Koran and the Bible. Mohammed denied the Sonship and Deity of Christ, but Jesus claimed both (John 3:16; 14:6-11). Likewise the Mormon doctrine of human godhood conflicts with the doctrine of the Bible concerning the one true God, and therefore cannot be true. In view of the unity that God has proclaimed and taught His people to pursue so diligently, He cannot be the Author of the Koran and Mormon doctrine as well as the Bible.
The unity of believers is substantive, not illusory. Believers are one bread and one body (I Corinthians 10:17). Through the instruction of one Spirit, we have all been baptized into one body (I Corinthians 12:13). That did not make some of us Baptists, some Methodists, some Presbyterians, some Catholics; but we all became one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). Therefore, we have one hope, one Lord, one faith, and one baptism by which we were united with Christ and thus united with one another. All of those who have been sanctified are of one (Hebrews 2:11). We have been cleansed and made complete, to be servants of God, by one sacrifice - one offering (Hebrews 10:9-14). There is one standard of worship (John 4:24), one revelation of the work of the church, one source of Divine authorization - the New Testament. When we obey it, it will not make us sectarians, but it will make one a Christian, a child of God, a saint. All who truly obey are transformed (Romans 12:1, 2; 6:17, 18) and will be alike in character and manner of life. There is no other "door" to heaven, no other "road" that leads to life. Such unity simplifies the task of distinguishing true Christians from those who follow other doctrines, standards of life, and other systems of faith and worship - all of which are incompatible with the truth and the unity it makes possible.
-- Gilbert Alexander
In an address on Columbus Day, Professor Lowell of Harvard noted three profound things about the discovery of America. When Columbus left Spain, he didn't know where he was going; when he arrived in the New World, he didn't know where he was; when he returned home, he didn't know where he had been.
As a challenged traveler, I can relate to this evaluation. But there is one area where we cannot afford to be lost - our eternal destiny. "Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have no dominion over me" (Psalm 119:133).
Does God's word direct your steps?
-- Rick Duggin
via The Westvue Messenger