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CAN WE TRULY AGREE?
August 5, 2007 AM
1 COR 11:2
INTRO: Over the years of my preaching life, I have preached of the unity for which Jesus prayed in Jno 17:21. His words are familiar: "That they all may be one..." I have devoted myself to the belief that the restoration of New Testament Christianity is possible in the 20th and 21st centuries. In virtually of the home Bible studies in which I have been engaged I have stressed the idea that we can be Christians exactly like those of whom we can read in the New Testament and that the church described in the pages of the New Testament is a possibility no matter the century. Still, religious division exists in what is called "Christendom". And there is the reality of division even among churches of Christ ... and the reality is growing more evident every day. So...
- CAN WE TRULY AGREE? IS IT POSSIBLE?
- Absolutely, yes!
- Jesus did not pray for the impossible
- God does not ask the impossible of us
- so, we must start from the belief that agreement really is possible
- Consider these scripture references
- 1 Cor 1:10 - "...and that there be no divisions among you..."
- 1 Cor 4:17 - "...as I teach everywhere in every church"
- 1 Cor 11:2 - "...and keep the ordinances , as I delivered them to you"
- Phil 4:9 - "those things, which ye have...learned, and received...do..."
- 2 Thes 2:15 - "...hold the traditions which ye have been taught..."
- 2Tim 1:13 - "hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me"
- Jude 1:3 - "...earnestly contend for the faith...once delivered..."
- there is no doubt that the admonition of scripture is, "Agree"
- SO, WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? WHY THE DIVISION?
- How people view the authority of the scriptures
- if people question the authority of scriptures, no basis for agreement
- without sound regard for authority of scriptures, anything goes
- 1 Cor 14:37 - "...the commandments of the Lord" - if what the writers of the N.T. wrote are the commandments of the Lord, one cannot rationally argue against the authority of the scriptures (cf. Mt 28:18)
- Ignorance of the scriptures
- ignorance of scripture permits an "I'm o.k., you're o.k. philosophy"
- in ignorance people can fall into all sorts of systems, beliefs
- Rom 10:1-3 - ignorance of God's revealed will resulted in religion which was "not according to knowledge"
- A preference for feelings before facts
- emotions, feelings have a way of making facts inconsequential
- "But I feel....," is the beginning of a person's acceptance of, comfort with a course that may not be at all factual - but facts are "cold and hard" - feelings are "warm and fuzzy" ... much preferred by many, many people
- Heb 2:1-3 - the revealed word of God, not emotions and feelings, is the basis for agreement - it is objective; it is clear; it is practicable
- Entrenched biases and prejudices
- prejudice will reject truth ... that is a fact demonstrated in life daily
- prejudiced folks may be very sincere - still, prejudice usually rejects truth
- Acts 19:33,34 - prejudice had no used for gospel truth
- "indifference" often undergirds ignorance – "who cares?"
- "indifference" breeds in an environment lacking urgency and interest in knowing ... "indifference" has its slogans ("It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere" - "We're all on different roads leading to the same place"
- 2 Cor 5:11 - there is a decided lack of "terror of the Lord"
- IS BEING IN CHRIST A GUARANTEE OF UNITY?
- Some apparently think just being in Christ is all that is necessary
- anything else would be a matter of "indifference" - not salvation issue
- certainly, being in Christ is essential - there is no salvation out of Christ
- Eph 1:3 - all spiritual blessings are in Christ
- But true unity still depends on human response to the revealed word
- 1 Cor 1:10-15 - they were in Christ ... but they were very divided!
- and that division was soul endangering - this letter is, in the main, written to address soul endangering division among "in Christ" people
- Mt 28:19,20 - it is not enough to just baptize people into Christ ... they must then be taught the revealed word and conform to it!
CLOSE: Do I believe true unity among people in Christ is possible? Yes, I do. However, I recognize the problem areas which are a constant threat to that unity. And, at the risk of being soundly criticized, I will further say the all too often preachers have contributed to the divisions which even now are occurring in the body of Christ.
Cecil A. Hutson
5 August 2007