W R Burner (Minister of the Gospel)
Unity of the Church is important in a time when the forces of evil are gaining influence in the world. There is a migration towards the ungodliness of man; with those seeking to dominate, amassing powerful foes, in an attempt to erase the godliness of man from the face of the earth.
Persecution of those who profess the name of Christ has been ongoing since the founding of the early Church; and is becoming more severe. Despite this attempt to wipe out Christianity; it continues to grow and prosper, even in nations where persecution is severe.
God's Word promises ultimate victory to all believers in Christ, whether it be in this life or the one to come. However, it is of extreme importance to oppose the ungodliness that is attempting to suppress the godliness of man.
There is a Sodom and Gomorrah setting that is becoming a part of our society. Scripture reveals the nature of the men of Sodom as wicked and sinners (sinful) before the Lord exceedingly (Genesis 13:13). That God turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (of the same setting) into ashes condemned them with an overthrow (destruction), making them an example to those that afterward (after) should live ungodly (2 Peter 2:6).
We are seeing an avalanche of evilness being manifested; openly proclaimed with pride, accepted, and nourished by those in power to help promote that which is condemned in God's Word.
Unity of the Church is one's only defense in times that are undeniably evil. Scripture reveals: Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow (companion): but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
The Church, because of a independent and dominational stance, has become divided, rather than strength through unity of the Church in its entirety. We are seeing traits within the Church that would bring division; that in previous years would not have been acceptable. There is a younger generation of believers who have failed to accept the guiding principles of saints of old; being entertained by worldly allurements rather than godly influences of the past.
The dictionary defines unity as an undivided or unbroken completeness; the quality of being united into one. The Church as a body of Christian believers, holding the same creed, observing the same rites, and acknowledging the same authority; is a collective body of believers.
It has been shown that when persecution arises; there is a dropping off of denominational name tags, with the Church coming together to fight the tyranny of the hour. I read an account of this happening in regard to American prisoners of war in the Vietnam war; where the denomination of a believer was of less importance, having a common bond when facing persecution, of coming together with an unshakable faith in God.
There is a fellowship of saints (God's people), because all have one common bond; that of salvation of the soul through Jesus Christ. Scripture reveals: You (the believer) are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show (proclaim) forth the praises of him that has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10). What a glorious statement with the unity of the Church proclaiming the love of Christ, as its foundational strength, through heart-felt salvation of the soul.
When persecution is at the door, the unity of the Church is more needful than ever before. The denominational barrier will be dropped because it would hinder a coming together in the hour of need. There will be less attempt to bite and devour one another because of belonging to a particular denomination.
The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Galatians, said: You have been called to liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another (Galatians 5:13-15).
We, as Christians, face a common foe (forces of evil); not one another, this will be more pronounced as the evilness of the day arises in greater proportions. The greater the threat the more prevalent will be the need of the unity of the Church.
There is a camouflage in the usage of words; the demeanor that one displays, in seeking to hide the real intent of what is being presented. An example was given through a political leader who made frequent usage of the Christian vocabulary. He spoke about the blessings of the Almighty and the Christian beliefs which would become the pillar of the new government.
He spoke of his spirituality; he displayed his tattered Bible and declared that he drew strength for his great work from it. The Church welcomed him as a man sent from God. Who was this leader, it was Adolf Hitler. The unity of the Church, in standing for the truths of God's Word, needs to ensure that all being proclaimed is Scripturally sound, in order to be not deceived.
Identity as a Christian lies in walking in accordance with God's Unadulterated (Pure) Word. Scripture reveals: Our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven: from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20).
It was noted that if we emulate Christ, we will live like Christians; but if we fail we will become unduly occupied with the enemies of the cross, and not live like citizens of heaven. Jesus gave the recipe for true discipleship in saying:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another (John 13:34-35). The unity of the Church requires such; not allowing anything to undermine the need of such an agape (godly) type of love one toward another.
Scripture reveals: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening (ravenous) wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings not forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil (bad) fruit (Matthew 7:20).
Unity of the Church requires one to exam what is being presented, as in the case of Hitler who influenced through flowery speeches and showmanship; that one not be deceived. Sin today is being camouflaged by nicety of words, to make it more readily embraced, rather than revealing its destructive ways.
Falling away from the truth of the Gospel message is amply illustrated by Apostle Paul, in his writing to the church of the Galatians: I marvel that you are so soon removed (turning away) from him that called you unto the grace of Christ to another gospel: which is not another, but there be some that trouble you, and would (want to) pervert the gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:6-7).
It was noted that the Galatians were quickly deserting, and in the initial stage of defecting from the truth. The unity of the Church bears heavily upon one's remaining firmly entrenched in the Unadulterated (Pure) Word of God.
It was noted the the Church has been of a local and general significance, both the individual assembly and the worldwide community. Upmost importance must be given, by the believer in Christ, towards those who are suffering at the hands of the ungodly who seek to wipe out Christianity.
God's Word affirms that the Church, despite such an attempt, will survive the onslaughter. Jesus told the Apostle Peter: I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock (foundation) I will build my church; and the gates of hell (forces of evil) shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
It was noted that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church should be understood as meaning "shall not stand against." The unity of the Church is necessary to oppose any onslaughter of its foundational belief built on Christ as its redeemer and deliverer.
God has equipped the Church to stand! Scripture reveals: Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles (schemes) of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take (take up) the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand (Ephesians 6:10-13). The whole armor of God consists of: Truth, Righteousness, Gospel of peace, Shield of faith, Helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
In the same text the value of prayer is emphasized: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:18). This illustrates unity of the Church through a willingness to pray one for another.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow noted: As your strength is in your union, your danger is in discord; therefore be in peace henceforward, and as brothers live together.
The unity of the Church is united though love and devotion towards the one who died (the Lord Jesus Christ) that we (the believer) might live; who was resurrected from the grave on the third day, and sits now on the right hand of God, His father, as our intercessor. The Church's victory has already been paid through His sacrifice, love and devotion!
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