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Godly unity

Striving together 

For the past few weeks there as been much in the way of information dealing with ecumenicalism. This is defined as the initiative to assert and preserve unity among diverse religious groups. (ht. to IrishCalvinist.com) I have blogged about it here, IrishCalvinist is currently doing a blog series on ecumenicalism, and our senior Pastor Patrick Abendroth did a sermon a few weeks ago called “Unity That God Forbids“. Today I want to write about the unity God encourages. This is based on a leadership session pastor Pat did a couple of years ago surrounding Philippians 1:27-30. The audio can be heard here: Striving Together For the Gospel. Philippians 1:27-30:

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Why do we strive together? What is the over-arching theme or reason for striving together? It is for the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ. This is the “big picture” as we strive together as believers in Christ.

Do you know the gospel? Is it your passion to know the gospel? This is the top priority for any believer of Jesus Christ. In order to be unified together for the gospel we need to know the gospel. The following are some phrases to keep in mind when thinking about how to approach the gospel with someone else. I think they can be very useful to prompt your mind with what to say when trying to articulate the gospel to someone.

  • It’s all God’s choice
  • Sin and the fall of man
  • Substitutionary atonement
  • Justification
  • Sufficiency of Christ
  • To the believer (Romans 1:16)
  • Repentance and faith (both are granted from God)
  • Resurrection

In verse 27 Paul tells the Philippians to strive together regardless if he is coming to see them or in his absence. In other words, do it even when no one is watching.  

According to Paul, also in verse 27, we should be standing firm in one spirit, and with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. We should be bold and courageous in the faith of the gospel. We will undoubtedly face many opponents of the gospel because in verse 28 we are told not to be frightened in anything from the opponents of the gospel. We should be on the lookout for false teaching, the largest opponent of the gospel. False teaching is deceptive, most often subtle, and will come in many disguises. The biggest defense we have against a false gospel is to know the true gospel. We will know the true gospel by studying the scriptures, in doing so we will in turn recognize a false gospel.

There is a very important part to godly unity from the audio mentioned above and that is the way we as believers strive together. Do we get bogged down in trivial conflicts of personal differences, or tastes? The proverbial “splitting the church over color of carpet” comes to mind. Do we bicker over the style of worship music used in service? Do we run to others and tell of our conflict with another? In other words: Is the biggest hindrance to unity, how we treat one another? No doubt we will encounter conflicts with one another as we strive together for the gospel because we are still flesh and fallen beings. We should always keep in mind the over-arching theme for our striving: The furtherance and progress of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we keep this in mind all the other stuff will wane as trivial.

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Posted by on May 31, 2007 in Ministry, The gospel, unity

 

Questions of context and unity

A couple of Sunday evenings ago pastor Pat touched on a yoked oxensubject titled “Unity That God Forbids” surrounding the text in 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1. This scripture text addresses the association of believers with unbelievers. Verse 14 begins with:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

Like most folks I adopted this verse as one that speaks to potential marriages between a believer and an unbeliever. The verse is often used out of context this way in the evangelical circles. But since I have learned a few things about bible study and the most significant method of biblical study is understanding the context. But this is not the focus of this posting. I will discuss context a bit later in this posting.

Pastor Pat brought us to this passage in order to support OBC’s stance in not supporting the Luis Palau Festival coming to Omaha this summer. Luis Palau is a very popular evangelist in today’s world. He has been called the Latin Billy Graham. I did not know much about the ministries of Luis Palau aside from hearing some of his sound bites on local Christian radio. Pastor Pat and the elders at OBC, as usual, have done their homework prior to yoking up with a certain ministries also involved in supporting the Luis Palau festival. OBC will not participate based on 2 Corinthians 6. We feel strongly that supporting such an event would be unifying with ministries that present an unbiblical gospel. Spiritual purity and union is the biggest concern the church at OBC has with getting involved. The bible clearly teaches us not to be yoked to unbelievers in ministry. (2 Cor. 6:14)The key to deciding who to yoke with in ministry is the gospel. Is the gospel another ministry teaches, a biblical gospel? We know that the gospel taught in many of the churches supporting the festival is not a biblical gospel. Thus the decision has been made that we will not support this festival as a local church.

One other thing I want to mention here is something I found after doing some personal research on the Luis Palau Ministries. What I found does not surprise me in a way since evangelicals have so watered down the gospel message it is unrecognizable. It is a sampling of a recent article or “script” posted on the Luis Palau ministry web site. The one in particular was titled Don’t Hinder the Gospel.  The article is based on 1 Corinthians 9. Whoever wrote the article (it reads like Palau himself is writing it)took this text scripture way out of context. He uses this “do not hinder the gospel” to support the ministry using contemporary Christian musicians  instead of traditional Christian musicians for the sake of the kids who would come to the festival. Thus not to hinder the gospel.

Paul is actually writing to the Corinithian church concerning the way he and his fellow laborers for the gospel of Christ supported themselves during their stay with them. Paul tells them that he did not invoke their right to ask for financial support from the church but supported themselves so that it would not hinder the gospel. The way Palau is using this section of scripture is a huge stretch to say the least. But folks have been using scripture out of context to support their decisions and behavior ever since the scriptures were written, and I suppose they will continue to do so until the Lord comes back for His own.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2007 in context, Luis Palau, Seeker Sensitive, unity