Unity with One Another

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 I am grateful to the men of faith that have gone before us, pleading for a return to the Scriptures, and an earnest call to be Christians only. I would like to share a quote published on the front page of the Gospel Advocate as an editorial by F.D. Srygley in 1889… From the article titled We Ought to Agree Among Ourselves, he writes:

 

The basis of our union ought always to be as broad as the conditions of salvation. No man has any right to make his plea for union narrower than this. It is wrong to make anything a condition of fellowship which is not essential to salvation. We draw the line here. That which will damn a soul and separate us in the next world should divide us in this; nothing else should.

There is much that we as Christians can, should and MUST agree on. That Jesus, the Son of God, came to this earth lived a sinless and perfect life, dies on the cross for my sins, your sins and everyone’s sins. That Jesus rose from death and ascended into heaven. And finally, that He will one day return. This is the Gospel. This is essential. This is not optional. Additionally, I think we must agree that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, without error or defect. The Bible tells us about God. The Bible identifies sin and tells us that sin separates us from God. The Bible also tells us how to be reconciled to God. The pattern prescribed requires faith, repentance, baptism, and a daily lifelong pursuit of living His way. To me these are indisputable, essential to salvation, and firmly established in Scripture.

There are other things that scripture calls debateable matters. Things which there may be a difference of opinion on. Romans 14:1-6 says, “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.”

None of the items in Romans 14 have any real thing to do with the essentials mentioned above. Whether I am the weaker brother or the stronger brother the same two things are required of me. Serve, eat, and worship God in a manner consistent with the Scriptures, with a sincere heart and a prayerful desire to understand of God will. I should also recognize that my response to one with a differing opinion on an issue that is non-essential to salvation ought to be one of grace—and probably more study on my own part. This is the example of the many reformers and restorers of the church from the first century until today.

It’s Hot

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It was HOT this week. Everytime the forecast was anounced, I heard a reminder to take care and beware. We have been told to limit our exposure outside, drink plenty of fluids, and wear sunscreen. In 2017, 107 people in the US died from heat exposure. The high temps and risks to health and life are serious. That is why there are so many warnings about it.

            Scripture talks about a HOT place as well. It is an eternal separation from God, often called hell. Listen to some of the descriptions we have been given:

  • Matthew 25:41 – Eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels
  • Mark 9:43 – Hell, the unquenchable fire
  • Revelation 21:8 – The lake that burns with fire and sulfur…

Based on those descriptions of Hell, I would like to encourage you to be aware and take care when considering your eternity. With that in mind I offer these three eternal health tips:

One, limit your exposure to things that lead to “eternal fire”. Avoid places, media, and people that bring you down, that distract you from God and that offer bad examples. Paul will tell us to encourage and restore fellow believers who have fallen away—with this warningin Galatians 6:1, “Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

Two, drink in plenty of God’s Word. It is hard to answer the question, “What would Jesus do?”, if you don’t know what He did! Paul reminds Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16 that,“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” And to the Romans in 15:4 he reminds that the Scriptures give us encouragement so “we might have hope.” And the Psalmist declares that the Words of God are “a lamp to [his] feet and a light to [his] path.” (Psalm 119:105)

Three, wear Jesus. It is only in Christ that we can keep ourselves from being burned. Paul encourages us with these words in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” Did you catch the word, “EVERY”, there are no spiritual blessings outside of Jesus Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:7, we learn that being “in Christ” means we are “a new creation”. And lest there be any confusion about how to put Christ on, Paul explains in Galatians 3:27, that “as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

It is HOT here. But it will be even hotter in that place we don’t want to go. Take care of yourself!

Look to the Bright-side

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Sometimes, I feel down. Some days, it’s my weight and what I see in the mirror. Other days it may be my budget and what I see in my checkbook, or not getting that promotion I was hoping for. Sometimes, I feel rotten because I am facing the consequences of a poor choice I made; or when I compare my situation to someone else. Perhaps, it is because I am sick or need surgery, or just had surgery—and my physical pain weighs so heavily on my heart. Regardless of why I feel that way—whether valid or not—that is how I feel. You may call it feeling down, or self-pitying, or depressed, or the grumps. It doesn’t really matter what it is called, you just don’t like who you are, who you’ve become or the situation you find yourself in. It is in those times that words of encouragement, and sincere compliments can help. If you feel this way, maybe these words, from God to you, will help…

I created you and I know all your days, even before you live them I know them. (Psalm 139:13-16)  I chose you to be mine, out of all the people on the earth, I chose you as one of my special ones. (1 Peter 2:9, Deuteronomy 7:6)  So, do not worry and do not stress. I will provide and care for you—you mean much to me. If you seek me I will provide all you need. (Matthew 6:25-34)  You may not know this, but I have plans for you—plans to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)  I have blessed you with every spiritual blessing through my Son. (Ephesians 1:3)  You can call me, you can pray to me and I will listen. (Jeremiah 29:12)  I am not hidden from you, all you have to do is look and I am there. (Acts 17:27)  I love you—and even when you mess up, when you hurt me, when you ignore me—I love you; and I have proven that by letting my Son die for you. (Romans 5:8)  I am for you. And if I am on your side, who can stand against us together? (Romans 8:31)  Absolutely nothing! Nothing, no matter what, and no one—no matter who, can separate you from my love for you. (Romans 8:35-39)  So again, do not worry and do not stress. (Matthew 6:25)  And always remember, there will be a day, when I will be with you in a way you cannot even imagine. I will wipe your tears away. I will eliminate all death, all grief, all crying, all pain—everything will be new! (Revelation 21:3-5)

I, God, love you.

(John 3:16)