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CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Christian Unity

This writer is often asked “Why are there so many church divisions and denominations?”  there is no easy answer to this honest question.

The lack of unity is based upon the diversity of mankind and the desire to be independent and in control as Adam and Eve chose.

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
(Gen 3:4-5 NASB)

Additional confusion has developed when Christian leaders fail to look to Jesus Christ, the Head of the church for His will and direction as in Israel and the time of the Judges.

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25 NASB)

Christian leaders and their followers tend to be prideful over their unique and “true” interpretation of the Scripture, traditions, lifestyle and goals.  Because of these distinctives they look down on those who do not hold them and separate from associating with them.  They warn their followers not to associate with others who do not hold to the same teaching for fear of losing them.

Attempts for Organizational Unity

Over the years some denominations and church organizations have sought to join together, but were unable to reconcile practices regarding the Lord’s Supper (Communion) and the meaning, time and mode of Baptism.  Differences of church government (Pastor led, elder rule or congregational) at times were also divisive.  Jesus said regarding Biblical salvation:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.  (John 14:6 NASB)

Most Christian churches and organizations believe that there is only one way to gain salvation and that is through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.  However, even understanding  the biblical nature of salvation divides.  Must a Christian be a member of a certain church to be saved?  Can one loose their salvation and then regain it by repentance?  Or is a Christian’s salvation secure in Christ and cannot be lost?  Jesus prayed:

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.  (John 17:22-23 NASB)

Even in the early church there were  divisions regarding leaders.

For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you.  Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided?  Paul was not crucified for you, was he?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1Corinthians 1:11-13 NASB)

The Apostle Paul expresses his understanding of Christian unity.

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.  (Ephesians 4:1-6 NASB)

Examples of Unity Among Individual Christians

This writer was a missionary to the US military stationed in  the Philippines.  We ministered to men and women from about 50 different church backgrounds plus many who were unchurched or unsaved.  Our focus was upon Jesus Christ, salvation, bible study and the Christian’s daily life in Christ Jesus.

Rarely were the various church differnces brought up or condemned because of our oneness and focus on Christ.

Who are you to judge the servant of another?  To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  (Rom 14:4 NASB)

Daily Life and Christian Unity

Jesus promised that wherever you go He will always be with you.

For He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b NASB)

Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.  (John 16:24 NASB)

Since the Lord Jesus Christ dwells within you by His Holy Spirit, it is fitting while talking with other Christians indwelt with Him, to give credit and praise to Jesus for all of the factors of your life and whatever your circumstances may be.

It is always appropriate to pray with other believers.  You may pray for Christ’s provision for whatever their needs may be.  You can praise Him for His grace, provision and protection.  You can thank Him for His love and care.

“Making” a Disciple Takes Time

To make a disciple-making disciple requires that someone pours their life with Jesus into another person, until that person looks only to Jesus.

Modern life in the developed world has changed much from the first century but the principle that Jesus illustrates is still the same.  Those who are called to love and serve God must be disciples by others who have gone before them.  New believers must see what it looks like when someone puts God first.  They must watch others as they strive to put God first in all things.  They must observe what it ooks like when another man lives by and obeys the Holy Scriptures.  And they must be in a relationship of trust such that they can ask honest questions.

My first real encounter with this discipling pattern of Jesus, in an intentional way, came when I was taken under the wing of a wise old pastor who lives thousands of miles away form me.  He suggested we talk each week for an hour by phone.  At first we just got to know one another, and he answered some of my pressing questions.  But as time went on I realized that he and I were in a different relationship than any I had had before.  He wanted me to only seek for Jesus’ affirmation.  He only wanted for me what God wanted for me.

My life in the institutional church had not been like that.  Though many in authority would have said otherwise, the general relationship I had with my ecclesiastical superiors was all about organizational accountability and performance.  ...In my forty-four years of ordained ministry, I was never called to talk for an hour about my life and ministry as a disciple of Jesus.

A disciple-making disciple cares about those he is discipling.  He prays for them, and loves them, and gives himself to them.  All he knows of the Lord he shares with them.  And perhaps the most important thing he gives them is time.

Jon Shuler, NAMS Network, September 27, 2016 (excerpted).

About the Author:

Pastor Bingham is the founder of CupBearers, and was for 17 years a missionary with Cadence International and has been the Pastor of Rocky Mountain Evangelical Free Church for 32 years.  He also served on the CMF Board of Directors for several years. 

Shepherding Grace Ministries
PO Box 1930
Englewood, CO 80150-1930
http://www.ShepherdingGrace.org

 

An Army of One-Or-An Army of the One

An Army of One-Or-An Army of the One

We sometimes confuse our own culture with spiritual things.  In America there exists within us an innate desire to succeed as an individual.  Why else would we have team sports in order to learn teamwork?  When we join the military we learn a new concept called unit cohesion.  It is a long recognized phenomenon that is essential for successful war fighting.  Unit cohesion goes well beyond the idea of mere teamwork into an arena where men and women place their lives and trust into the hands of those with whom they serve.  General Krulac, Commandant of the Marine Corps (former), described it in this way: “We must do everything we can to enhance the transformation of young men and women into the marines that our corps needs to win battles.  I firmly believe that unit cohesion is an integral part of the transformation process.  Marines must possess and feel the absolute trust, subordination of self, the intuitive understanding of the collective actions of the unit, and the importance of teamwork.”

“I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me” (John 17:20-23 NASB).

Bob Flynn, President/CEO

Unity is that gift from God that comes as an answered prayer of the Son so that the world (“Satanic System,” Lewis Sperry Chafer) may know the Father sent the Son.  I have heard unity described in terms of what it is NOT, but sometimes we miss the point because we ask the wrong question.  When unity is described as NOT being uniformity, the question should be, “Did Jesus think like His Father?”  When described as NOT unanimity, the question should be, “Did Jesus and the Father completely agree?”  Those who would make the NOT arguments are those who have NOT experienced this wondrous blessing!  There is only ONE reason for NOT experiencing the Unity of the Holy Spirit — you do not belong to Jesus!  We ARE one just as Jesus and the Father are one for the purpose of the Gospel!  It requires more than teamwork, more than unit cohesion, it requires death to self that the Church may grow with Jesus Christ as the head.  If you think you can make it on your own, I suggest you put jam in both your pockets, ‘cause you’re already toast!

“But they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For we are joined together in his body by his strong sinews, and we grow only as we get our nourishment and strength from God” (Colossians 2:19 NLT).
“Instead we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church . Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:15-16 NLT).
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up only one body. So it is with the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12 NLT).
“Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others” (Romans 12:3b-5 NLT).


Christian Military Fellowship

An Indigenous Ministry • Discipleship • Prayer • Community • Support
Encouraging Men and Women in the United States Armed Forces, and their families, to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

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