Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

The Lord’s Desire!

Meditation for the week of June 24, 2012

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:  (John 17:20-22)

The Lord desires believers to be unified with one another and to be separated from the world. Believers serve in the world (or this society that has been organized by Satan); however, believers are not OF the world just as the Lord was not of the world. While unity of believers is the Lord’s desire, Satan’s desire is to have division among believers and to have them become one with the world.

Years ago I had a conversation about the Gospel with a man who was a church goer. I don’t know if he really understood the new birth or not. But he did understand some things. As we were talking about the Gospel, he told me that in his church, they understood that the cross had a vertical dimension and an horizontal dimension. He said that if the vertical was not right (if our relationship with God was not right), then the horizontal would not be right (our relationship with one another would not be right). I liked his illustration because this truth is taught in 1 John 1:3. If we are in fellowship with the Father. believers will be in fellowship with one another. If we are not in fellowship with one another as believers, somebody is not in fellowship with the Father. Actually, we can maintain conformity with the world and a professed unity with believers when none of us are in fellowship with the Father. But to have true unity, the vertical has to be right.

One reason for division in the church is that many believer’s don’t accept all that the Lord has revealed to us. Often we hear that certain passages of New Testament Scripture were for the culture of that day and not for the culture of our day. This attitude has allowed the church to pretty much revise the teaching of Scripture at will depending on what people are willing to accept. Many people today avoid the Lord’s teaching on the “new birth” because they personally don’t understand it. However, it is not a teaching that was necessary for Nicodemus but that is not necessary for us. The new birth changes our minds and our attitudes so that the things that we believe and practice don’t have to “make sense”. God says a person naturally does not think like He thinks (Isaiah 55:8-9). Salvation by grace does not “make sense”, salvation by works or by praying or by paying or by being good, that all “makes sense.” Just as we had to have our minds changed about the work of Christ in salvation, we have to have our minds changed when it comes to worshiping Him after we are saved. But because we have a tendency to want to tell the Lord what should please Him rather than letting Him tell us what pleases Him, it is easy to obtain conformity and not true unity among believers. Maybe this is because many people who claim to be Christians were never born again.

In maintaining conformity rather than striving for true unity, some believers develop a concept of essential truth and nonessential truth. I am still waiting for someone to show me where the Lord lays out what is essential and what is nonessential. I understand that all of us need to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth (2 Peter 3:18), and so we need humility, gentleness, patience, and love in the way we teach and hold the truth (Ephesians 4:2-3), but in my mind all truth is worth seeking, and when found all truth is essential. I am reminded of an old testament warrior who “foolishly” defended a patch of lentils. He was a “mighty man” in David’s army (2 Samuel 23:11-12). Food for the Israelites was worth defending, and I consider the doctrines of Scripture to be the believer’s spiritual food. Did they really NEED that patch of lentils? Could they not have replaced the food with a trip to Walmart after the battle was over? Shammah was not willing to give up any ground that would properly feed his people.

In Ephesians 4:3, we are beseeched to keep the unity of the Spirit. In Ephesians 4:13, we are considered mature when we have come to the unity of the faith or of the things that we believe. The only way to achieve Godly unity is for us all to be in fellowship with the Lord. Where there is not unity, we can have conformity and pretend everything is all right, but I believe that true unity comes from accepting all that God has revealed to us.

Bruce Collins

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