Sunday, October 25, 2009

On Christian Unity

I was in church this morning with someone who mentioned that he had been raised Catholic, and before I realized it, we were in a quite interesting conversation speculating on whether the Catholics we personally knew really had faith in Christ. Such speculation is always incomplete, though at times fascinating, since who can know the heart except God alone? At any rate I came home thinking of one of the greatest statements of unity of all time was made by Paul the apostle: There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) Of late I have been studying Revelation, and have pondered long on the “Roman prostitute” that is in league with the beasts and also hated by them. Long have I pondered of the meaning of the prostitute, and after 2,000 years of Bible scholars similar ponderings, I confess that I have nothing more to offer other than this weak observation: God will reveal His truth in time, and that time is almost upon us.

The unity of our faith is most precious. But the world unity and the unity which we will have under Christ’s hand seem to me to be very different. In the former, faiths are taught to give up ideals and principles of heritage and doctrine to bring a neutral harmony of mankind; in the latter, Christians are transformed into the correct beliefs of Sonship, and share that transformation eagerly and fluidly with one another for all of eternity. I see the march of many churches fighting to give up one Biblical doctrine after another in hopes of pursuing their elusive goal of harmony balanced with a tolerance that they seem to expect will make them more greatly respected (but, it seems to me, only makes them more despised, for in their efforts towards tolerance they give up their very character, and the one least respected is the one without character).

In our present world thus lies the difficulty; we are commanded to be one, yet find ourselves to be many. If we force ourselves to compromise and be the one, we find no character left to our message, and the world receives it as such. Do let me remind you that the world church will draw together in the last times, and they will proudly proclaim the false messiah. So part of the movement of our churches to unite must be seen as preparatory for the false world church. Our unity is nevertheless our strongest testimony of Christ. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other (Galatians 5:16). And again the prayer of our Lord: May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:23).

I figure my bottom line is to unite in Christ with my brothers present in this world, but is also to hold fast to the doctrines revealed in the Scriptures. In our present time, I admire Mr. Billy Graham for his steadfastness with core principles, yet his ability to reach across to others who accented different strands of the Christian faith.

Lastly, I would say make no mistake for God is not mocked. Whatever a man may sow, we are told, that shall he also reap. If your doctrine is one that splinters man from knowing God, you shall be judged of your false teaching. Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly (James 3:1). But we have this from the Word to comfort us: Abraham believed God and it was reckoned unto him as righteousness. If we are to be saved in these most perilous times, it will be because we believed God when He sent His Son to save us- not for correct or incorrect doctrine. The advantage of steering the correct course of truth is that we become much more free to emphasize the true gospel that can save all men.

If you are Catholic or Protestant or otherwise in the Christian faith, it is not what is false in your teaching that saves you—it is your faith in believing God only which shall save you. I believed God and it was reckoned unto me as righteousness. At that time, we shall become like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And I shall walk through eternity, not with Catholics or Protestants, but with men and women who are changed, just like me, into the very image of our Lord. What a marvelous time that will be! What unity we shall at last have!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Day that Death Dies

Death is the antithesis of life. In Revelation, God tells us that “Death and Hades will be thrown into the lake of fire.” In the third chapter of Genesis the fall of mankind takes place when woman and man both disobey God. God banishes them from the Garden of Eden, and will not allow mankind to escape the penalty of death until the Supreme Sacrifice is made, and time is given to all man to believe their God. Then we are told to look forward to a time on earth when the wolf shall lie down with the lamb, where the child will play next to the adder and suffer no harm, and where “none” shall be told of the Lord, for all mankind, from the least to the greatest, shall know him. Swords will be beaten into plowshears as a time of peace unbeknown to man shall abide on him. The “child” who dies at age one hundred shall be thought to be accursed, since the lifespan of even sinful man shall be extended dramatically.

When well-meaning but thoughtless people say about the death of their loved ones, “Oh, it is just the natural life cycle, and I know that, but I have a hard time with it anyway,” I cringe at their statement even while I try to offer sympathy. The sympathy is easy because there is so much empathy in each of us about the subject of death. Death shadows us all until it at last conquers. We empathize deeply with others losing their grandparents, or their parents because the same has happened to us. But it is only when we come to terms with the gospel of God that we see death is the enemy, the antithesis of what life should be.

There is nothing “natural” about death. The natural state was before the Fall, when man was in harmony with God. The unnatural state is to have to watch older generations diminish and die as they lose control of their bodies. So the position of the Christian should always be to utterly reject this awful penalty of death, for it is a curse, and it is for a specified duration, and it is to one day be lifted.

In our debate on health care, I wonder if it is we Christians who are causing much of the problem. It is our nature, the nature of life, to perceive death as the “last enemy.” Hence we reject utterly the offers of a peaceful assisted suicide, or any giving in to what is now inevitable: the march of death sweeping over mankind. Hence, we tend to support the “heroic” measures that Obama is against because we have such value in life itself.

“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. After that, we who are alive and are left will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.” Death will be no more for we shall be with the Lord forever!