Friday, July 3, 2009

Unity (By Fellowship or On Truth)

The restoration plea still goes out today. Raccoon John Smith (speaking for disciples) after pleading for unity closed his message , “Let us then my brethren neither be Stonites nor Campbellites. Let’s just be lights from the Bible.” In pleading for unity, what are we really asking for? What does it mean to be united? An even better question is, does it matter what we unite on? The denominational world says it does not matter what we unite on and we are united as long as we believe in Jesus. The denominational world as well as the new hermeneutic movement focuses on what they see as the ‘Core Gospel.’ This says that if you believe in the seven ones then we can have fellowship. So, fellowship is broadened and unity is now based on fellowship and not truth. Was it this way in the Bible? Let’s look at an example that tells us what it means to have unity and tells us whether or not it matters what we unite on.
On the sixth day God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so. But God had someone in mind to rule over all of these creatures. God said, “Let Us make man in Our own image.” He gave man dominion over all creatures whether flying, creeping or teeming. This responsibility was given to man from the will of God. In order for Adam to have found favor and unity with God he had to do as God instructed him. God also made Adam a helpmeet. God instructed them that they were to eat of any tree in the garden, with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they were to eat of it then they would surely die. Upon these words the man and his wife were to have unity with one another, with the garden and with their Creator. This death God spoke of was not only physical death, but also spiritual death, for through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, for all sinned – (Romans 5:12). This death through sin is a separation from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit which they were instructed to abstain from; separation from God, the garden, and each other came upon them. Adam and Eve had fellowship with one another, but there was something very crucial missing from their lives in order to have unity: obedience to the will of God. Unity is a principle that is as old as time itself and God speaks through His inspired word telling us how we can be united with Him, with one another and with the eternal garden which awaits those who obey His blessed will. In the account of Adam and Eve in the garden it is plain that unity is for those who keep and practice the will of God, and unity is not merely based on fellowship.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Complete in Unity

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. John 17:20-21

The master communicator has been ignored, ignorantly followed, and incautiously misrepresented. By self-admission, I was one who scoffed at the idea of there being a God to adhere to, and following His commandments was out of the question. The religious world as a whole has done the very same thing, even those who claim to be His adherents have willingly ignored His commandments. Christendom has placed the bread of Jesus on the backburner right next to the casserole of truth, only waiting to mix them both in with the soup of relativity. The doctrines and thoughts of men have become more prevalent as the centuries have gone by. Unity is now a term thought to mean: ‘we can all agree to disagree as long as we accept one another.’ Throughout the denominational (including non-denominational) world this is the idea Christianity is built upon. A man, whom I dearly love but disagree with on this point, described the church Christ came to build (Matthew 16:18) as a very large pie with individual pieces that represent the denominations (sects) of ‘Christianity.’ This statement brings forth a question Paul asked to the Christians in Corinth, “Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul” (1 Corinthians 1:13)? The question would be asked differently now. Has Christ been divided? John the Baptist, Martin Luther, John Calvin, or Joseph Smith were not crucified for you, were they? Or were you baptized in their names?
In John 17 Jesus knows His life is about to come to an end on earth. He prays a three-fold prayer for the apostles. First, He prays that the Father will keep them from the evil-one (John 17:15). Secondly, Jesus prays that the apostles will be sanctified in truth (John 17:17). Lastly, He prays that the apostles may be one, and not only one, but perfected in unity (John 17:22-23). Not only did Jesus pray a prayer for the apostles here in John 17, but He prayed for those who believe in Him through the teachings of the apostles. Jesus prays that we would all be one. Jesus says He wants us to be in Him and in the Father, so that the world may know the Father sent Him (John 17:20-21). Jesus prays that we may ‘all’ be one. This ‘all’ corresponds to those who believe what the apostles have taught. We have the letters the apostles have written, so if we believe what they have written and taught, then this puts us in this category of those who should ‘all’ be one. Is it really possible for all to be one? Paul exhorts the brethren in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 1:10 that they should all agree and there should be no divisions among them, but that they be made complete in the same mind and the same judgment. Does this sound like the ‘Christianity’ the world sees? ‘Christian’ denominations do not all agree. The very term denomination denotes division. Denominations are not in the same mind or in the same judgment. The very term ‘denominationalism’ goes against everything Jesus prayed for before His death. ‘Denominationalism’ is defined by Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Eleventh Edition) as the emphasizing of denominational differences to the point of being narrowly exclusive. Paul defines it in Galatians 5:19-21 as a deed of the flesh: dissension. The end of this dissension, or even faction, is not having a part in the Kingdom of God. We can be made complete in unity, but as long as this ‘pie’ of divisiveness exists true biblical unity is unattainable.
The Bible is very clear on what biblical unity consists of:
1. 1 Corinthians 10:14-15=> We partake of the Lord’s Supper as one, because Christ’s body is one.
2. Romans 12:16=> We must not be haughty.
3. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14=> We must be baptized into the one body, which is Christ’s body, the church.
4. Philippians 1:27=> We have to conduct ourselves in a worthy manner of the gospel of Christ (striving together for the faith of the gospel).
5. Philippians 2:1-5=> We have to have the same attitude which was in Christ (humility – corresponds to Romans 12:16) (intent on one purpose).
6. 1 John 1:3,7=> We must walk in the light.
7. 1 Corinthians 12:22-25=> We must regard each other as equals.
8. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11=> We must have a love for the truth.

These are just a few, but the most important of them all lies in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11, which goes along with Romans 16:17. This is the most important because the rest will follow if there is a love for the truth and sort of abstention from those with false teachings. God said to those who do not have a love for the truth, He will send a deluding influence so that they will believe a lie. They will sink farther into the false teaching than they had ever intentioned, all because they did not have a love for the truth. Jesus says in John 17:17 that the Father’s word is truth. Jesus also calls himself the truth in John 14:6. If we do not have a love for God’s word or Jesus, who is God’s word, then we will fall into the traps of the evil one.
Unity is a very biblical principle. Jesus prayed for it. Paul gave us an outline of how to be unified. God has given us the standard on which we are to be unified. We cannot take away from His word, nor can we add to it (Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19). Another principle which can be seen in not adding or taking away from the word which God has given is that we cannot add the thoughts of men to God’s word. 2 Corinthians 4:2 speaks of ‘not adulterating the word of God.’ The adulterating occurs when something not on the same level as the original has been added. When adultery is committed in the marriage relationship something is added which was not originally intended, something not on the same level as the original. Unity is broken when teachings which are not on the same level as God’s word are introduced and taught as God’s word. Creed books, traditions, apocryphal and pseudopigraphal books are not on the same level as God’s word, so they are not allowed to be taught along with God’s word. All of this does not even deal with false teaching from God’s word, but it merely deals with extra-biblical teachings.
So, to say we are all a part of this large pie and we can accept each other for our differences as long as we agree to disagree is based off of an unbiblical thought. God expects us to be unified, but unified on His word. Jesus prayed for the apostles to be sanctified, set apart, in the truth and God’s word is truth (John 17:17). The fairy-tale view of Christendom is stamped out by Jesus’ prayer, Paul’s exhortations, and God’s expectations. Differences do not make us unique, but separate. If we do not all preach the same gospel, then one if not all are in error. “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9)!
Jesus prayed for our unity in Him and in the Father. There is one avenue to which we can become in Jesus and in the Father. That avenue is baptism. “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3)? At this point, many have already tuned out and dismissed everything that has been said forgetting Jesus’ words in John 14:15,21 only to fall into the trap Jesus warned against in Mark 7:9. Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 how we, who are many, can become a part of the body. We cannot be unified until we have rid ourselves of sin and Acts 2:38 tells us that by repenting and being baptized we receive the forgiveness of our sins. There is no other way in the New Testament for non-Christians to receive the forgiveness of sins.
The very core principles of the Bible are the ones which cause such derision and denominating. The core principles have been slighted and given a cold shoulder for the doctrines and feelings of men to have their own way. The issues have been compiled in the dust pan and swept under the hermeneutical rug for far too long. Galatians 5:19-21 urges the opposition to division, lest there be those who do not inherit the Kingdom of God. As long as this pie of division exists the number of those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God will continue to grow, because unity has not been aspired to nor achieved as a byproduct. It is my sincere prayer, as well, that we who have believed in the apostles’ word, which is Jesus’ word, will be made complete in unity. In order for this completeness to occur we must first have unity, but in order to have unity we must first agree on the word of God and its application and erase divisions. Only then can we be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10).
God Bless and may we all attain to the unity of the faith. Maranatha
- Eric Ramseur

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Gospel Speaks

If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord; To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. "For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.".Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name. Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!" My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Genesis 4:17; 1 Peter 2:2; James 1:15; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Isaiah 59:2; 2 Peter 2:11; Romans 6:23; Luke 1:7; Hebrews 4:15; Heb 9:28; Ezekiel 18:32; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3;1 Peter 3:21; Acts 2:40; 1 Corinthians 16:24

Friday, January 30, 2009

Go Write Your Message on the Pavement part 1

Yesterday was one of those "Murphy's Law" days. Whatever could have gone wrong did go wrong. My wife asked me politely to drive our son to the babysitter's house before I went to school, which I had no problem with. So, I try to get out early, because I had never been to the babysitter's house before and I wanted to have plenty of time to make it to school on time. The mapquest directions said she lived nine minutes away. I follow the directions to the 'T' and their address was nowhere to be found on the road it should have been on. It was a 3500 address, but this was a 3600, 3700, and 3800 block. So I drove around the neighborhood asking people if they knew this family. Eventually, I was going to be late for class, so I hauled it back to the school in order to ask her husband where they lived. He gave me different directions, because there are two roads with the same name (I hate Denver). So, I get Malachi out there, and I get back to the school. It's 8:45 now and I've missed a lot of Biblical Exegesis class.

To be continued... it's a long story with a bright ending

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Head of One

If there were one frivolous item dear to myself that I could take on a desert island it would be my BC Rich bass guitar. I love playing bass. I love the sound. I love the feel of flat wound strings. One day I had a problem with the sound of my bass and I thought the problem was the electronics in the body of my bass. The body is the wide and short part of the bass. I took my bass in to be checked out and it turns out that the head of my bass was bent, thus the sound was off. The head of the bass is where the tuning knobs are and where the strings descend from. I was taught a valuable lesson about keeping my bass head in perfect shape. I also learned a lesson about the church. If Christ were not perfect, being the head of the church, the church would not function properly. "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless" (Ephesians 5:23, 27). It also finally struck me that Christ is head of His one church, not many as the world and denominations claim. My bass head could not be the bass head of many basses, but only one. For, if it were not so He would have told us.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Compromise = Demise

The Truth Behind Compromise
Leaders throughout the decades have all had one thing in common. They have seen the detriment in conceding to anything less than what they have set out to do in order to accomplish their specific goal. Leaders have seen the importance of sticking to what they believe works and what they believe will push them towards their goal. Of course what is being spoken of is the idea of compromise. This is not the positive aspect of compromise which allows both sides to find a common resolution with a win-win outcome. The aspect of compromise I want to look at has to do with capitulation or surrender. This aspect of compromise is actually very divisive and creates hostility at times. Never has one idea torn down two sides of the spectrum so far apart as much as compromise has the potential to partition. Arthur Bloch, the American writer who wrote Murphy’s Law has this to say about compromise, “The compromise will always be more expensive than either of the suggestions it is compromising.” 2 Kings 17:33 says, “They feared the Lord and served their own gods according to the custom of the nations from among whom they had been carried away into exile.” The price they paid was salvation.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I was listening to one of my favorite songs the other day by The Decemberists, Engine Driver. This time when I was listening a phrase really stood out to me, "We have power lines in our bloodlines." I'm sure they did not mean to have any religious or spiritual connotations, but I could not help but to think, "Hey, as Christians we truly have powerlines in our bloodline." 1 Cor 10:16 says, "Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?" We share in the blood of Christ! How amazing is this? We share a common bond with the Son of God when we partake of the fruit of the vine. The same blood keeping us bonded together is the blood taking away our sins. 1 John 1:7 says "but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." Even deeper, it is by Jesus' blood we can have confidence in the life to come. Heb 10:19 says, "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus."
We truly have power lines in our bloodline. We are all one in Christ; so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Love Needed as Leaders

Love is the identifying mark of the leaders God left to shine brightly in a dark world. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35). Without love for one another, as Christians, we disobey Jesus. In the context, as leaders, without love for one another we are not recognizable as Jesus' disciples. By inference, without love, we are not qualified to lead God's people. Jesus says our love for one another will make us recognizable to all men. Jesus is not just saying Christians will recognize someone because of the love they have for one another, but he is also saying unbelievers will know them because of the love they have for one another. As leaders we must be recognized by the love we have for those whom we want to take in a particular direction. If we are not recognizable to those whom are outside of our immediate circles as well, then we have not the love Jesus has called for us to have. Jesus shows His dynamic leadership skills in the next verse when Peter asks, "Lord, where are You going?" Jesus answers Him by saying that Peter cannot go where He is going, but he will follow later. Jesus shows that He will be leading even when He is not seen, but He knows that Peter will live in such a way as to attain to the same end result. Peter did not understand at this point in time the vitality of the love needed as a leader of the people whom were to see the apostles' love for one another.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Get the Lead Out - Part 3

To wrap up this three part series on areas a leader must fulfill, I will be discussing the leader's need to have the drive and the vision to lead others. The most influential leaders are known as 'seers'. This involves having the foresight to see what possible hiccups could occur and plan in order to avoid or overcome those problems. (Read the difference between Robert Scott's journey and Roald Amundsen's journey to the South Pole) This also involves having insight, which is knowing what the imminent problems that will be faced are. We need to focus ourselves to not only see the horizon, but also be able to see the sand under our feet. This may seem difficult, but if you're setting out on a scubba diving expedition what would you check? You'd probably check your breathing apparatus, your diving suit, the conditions of where you're diving and the people you're going diving with's credentials. It's not rocket science, but common sense has escaped many. Jesus knew what would happen when He told the apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit to guide them in all truth and remind them of what He had told them. He knew that the apostles would forget a lot of things, so to prevent faulty or shoddy teaching Jesus set up a firewall. In having drive, we must be driven by something greater than ourselves. Paul says, I believe therefore I speak. His belief drove him. Jesus says, in Matthew 5:16 that we are to do good works and glorify our Father in Heaven. So our drive ultimately is in wanting to glorify our Father in Heaven. Once we have our spiritual drive, we can then have a basis for our drive in our works.
Rom 15:20
and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation,
James 3:16
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

So, let's plan with some common sense and build our drive on something greater than ourselves, because if we do not we have set ourselves up for failure.