How many denominations, sects, groups, cults and churches exist under the banner of being Christians? I’m quite certain I have no idea, and nor does any other man upon this earth. Only God knows how many there may be. But there seems to have been a challenge within Christendom going back hundreds of years as new groups form and splinter off from other churches to follow Christ in their own way. And this is expected for we are told as much in the Bible.
Furthermore we are told that there will be divisions in the churches and that divisions are necessary. But with all of that upheaval it can be difficult to know truth from error, and it could become hard to decipher what is true and what is not, or who holds the keys to the truth.
So it becomes increasingly important to learn the truth for yourself and to seek it diligently, regardless of which church you may be affiliated with. In the end we will be judged as individuals, not as members of a church. The church serves an important purpose, but we must learn to stand and seek the truth that will enable us to stand regardless of what any specific church teaches. Continue reading “Christians Unite”
Whether you call it eating the Lords Supper, taking communion, breaking bread or any of the other names for this sacrament of the church, it is important to understand what it is and why we do it.
Over the years I have visited a number of different churches in my travels and I have been amazed at the number of churches that do not uphold this practice. I do not know whether they feel it is unimportant or unnecessary, but for whatever reason they fail to follow this practice.
And we should understand first and foremost that the practice of breaking bread or taking communion was ordained not by men, but by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It was He who commanded the disciples to do this and to ensure this tradition was passed on into the churches as the church grew.
As Christians we are being trained to live in harmony, first with God and secondly with one another. This is the aim of our call to Jesus Christ, to be able to live harmoniously so that we may inherit he kingdom of God and live in peace with Jesus Christ and God the Father.
But the enemy is also at work sowing the seeds of disharmony and destruction amongst the brethren of the churches. He would like to see all Christians fail to find a place of harmony where they are following the ways of God, and it is because of the work of the devil that we see the disharmony that afflicts the church and has done so for many years.
This should not be so. It is not right that the brethren of the church disagree. There is much that is taught in the churches that is not based upon the truth of the gospel and the words of the Lord, and it is because of such false teaching and lies in the doctrine of the church that disagreements flare.
So what can we do about it? We may not be able to fix the broad church, but we have a responsibility to ensure that our own standing with God is in harmony with Him. And that is the exhortation that comes through these verses in Romans 15.
Israel stumbled. They fell from the grace of God. They became hard of heart and stiff-necked not willing to bow before the true God but turning aside to false gods and to gratification of the flesh.
They chose to seek a form of self-righteousness through works of law rather than following in the footsteps of their father Abraham who was righteous by faith in the mighty working power of God.
So they stumbled. And it was over the stumbling stone of Jesus Christ that they finally fell flat and which allowed the Gentiles to come into the fold.
But Paul shows us here that although they stumbled and fell, their fall was not absolute. They did not stumble to a place where they could not or would not arise again. And there is a lesson for us all in these words and this teaching.
When Abraham walked the earth he lived a righteous life. He chose to follow the ways of God and he believed that God could do anything. He understood that when God was testing him by asking that he offer his son Isaac, through whom he had been told by God that his descendants would be named, Abraham knew that God could raise Isaac from the dead if needs be.
Abraham was defined by his faith. We are reminded in scripture in many places that Abraham was a man of great faith. Indeed his faith was so strong and his belief in God’s word that his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness and he was called the friend of God.
And God established Abraham in his faith for God had a plan. His plan was to enable all of mankind to come to Him through faith like Abraham so that everyone would be able to become children of God by faith, and so be children of faith.
This section of scripture looks at the issue of choices. It considers the choices God made and the choices that people made in biblical times, which carry through to today.
God chose Israel to be His chosen people and in other places He calls Israel the “Apple of my eye”. It was God's love for Abraham Isaac and Jacob that led to his selection of Israel as His chosen people.
The people rebelled. Constantly. They grew proud and arrogant in their selection as God's people and believed they were invincible, better than all others and so they lost the favor of God for a time. Not for all time, but long enough that a new way could be established and the promise of salvation become available to all people, not just the physical descendants of Abraham.
When it comes to the old prophets, teachers and patriarchs of the bible, Abraham stands out as being THE man of the faith. All of us today along with those spoken of in bible times and everyone in between look to Abraham as our father, either as a direct descendant in the case of the children of Israel, or as our father by faith.
Abraham crosses the divide that exists between the old and the new covenants for he was the father of the adherents of the old covenant law through the covenant and sign of circumcision, and he is father of those who now come to God through Jesus Christ whose faith is like the faith Abraham had in the word of God.
This section of Romans 4 really spells out the strength and the power of Abraham's faith
“There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened.”
Christians fall into the first group. We make things happen. Not in the sense that the world understands, but in the spirit. Christians are in a work of transformation where they are being changed, molded & transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We know that faith can move mountains as Jesus taught and we believe the words of James when he wrote in James 5:16-18:
16 …The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.
17 Eli’jah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.
18 Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.
But this section of Acts is more interesting because it looks at those in one or the other of the other two categories. The new governor of Judea, Festus, was baffled and he was like the third group left wondering “Wha…wha…what happened?” So let’s take a look at these three aspects and see what value & insights they offer us today.
Do you fear the people of the world and what they may do to you? Do you perhaps hide your Christian faith for fear or worry about what people might say? Do you see the things going on in this world and worry about your life here, especially matters like earthquakes, natural disasters, war, guns on the street, violence and so on?
Well in this section where Jesus prays for His people we see a small verse that does not immediately stand out, but is an amazing promise for Jesus tells us we are under the protection of the Father. There are other scriptures that show this protection we have as Christians too. So let us have a look at these and remember them so that our fears, anxieties and worries can be cast away from us, for they are truly groundless.