Unity in the body by the cross

The unity of the Spirit is a critical aspect of God’s will for the church (Ephesians 4:1-3) but another critical aspect of God’s will for the church, when it comes to unity, is the cross of Jesus:

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” (Ephesians 2:14-16 NKJV)

The divisions of humanity are apparent … we look different physically, we live in different cultures, we speak different languages, we live under different governments, we fulfill different forms of employment, and we follow different forms of religion. I have no doubt that you can think of different examples of how humanity is divided through our differences.

Here’s what the gospel does to all those differences – it says we may be divided but we all have one common need and that’s our past and our present need for the cross of Christ when it comes to our future!

The cross of Jesus is a cornerstone of unity within the body of Christ because it’s by the cross that we can let go of our differences in order to lay hold of a heavenly unity that has the ability to erase all of our earthly divisions.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6 NKJV)

#unity #cross-of-Christ #division


Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose. Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. Philippians 2.1-4

What do you think Paul’s reaction would be to the religious world today? When writing to the Philippians, he told them to complete his joy by being of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose. Impossible, you say! However, it is what God expects of his children, of his church.

There is only one way to accomplish this. Only by returning to what God’s word says, will we be able to even come close. As long as each person picks and chooses what they want to include, it will never be done. When people add things not found in God’s word or conveniently forget that something is in God’s word, it will not happen. When you take a verse out of context and twist it to say what you want it to say, unity in spirit and purpose will remain out of reach. When the titles become more important than the service, the motivation is called into question.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians in 4.3 to make every effort to keep the unity. It can only be done if we faithfully follow what God’s word says. We are called to respect his word and to accept it as it is, neither adding or diminishing it in any way, Deuteronomy 4.2 and Revelation 22.18. Are you reading the Bible? Do you read with an open heart receiving what is contained in it? Do you promote unity based upon his word?

#risingjoy #Philippians #unity

God opened doors of faith

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

So they were sent on their way by the church, and as they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, they were relating at length the conversion of the Gentiles and bringing great joy to all the brothers. Acts 15.3

Paul and Barnabas had returned to Antioch. The Holy Spirit had instructed the church in Antioch to send Paul and Barnabas on a mission to spread the gospel through preaching the word, Acts 13.2-3. After completing their mission, they had returned to Antioch, Acts 14.26, and shared with the church how God had opened doors of faith to the Gentiles.

Some time after, there were some men from Judea who arrived in Antioch. They were teaching that you had to follow the law of Moses to be saved.

Paul and Barnabas argued and debated with them about this. The church decided to send Paul, Barnabas, and some other men to meet with the apostles and elders of the church in Jerusalem. As they traveled, they related to Christians along the way of the conversion of the Gentiles. The reaction of the brothers was one of joy.

Before this, we always see Jews and Gentiles. The two were quite separate and were not compatible. However, through the death of Jesus on the cross, the wall of division was abolished. In Christ, we are all one. We have different gifts and abilities, but we make up only one body, Christ’s body, Galatians 3.28. Are you in that body?

#risingjoy #Acts #unity

Part of Christ’s team

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3.27-28

Whose team are you on? With which team do you identify? Do you cheer for a certain team?

If we are Christians, we have professed allegiance to a team. Jesus is the captain of our team. He is the one who gives the directions and orders such as where to go and what to do. Anyone who has been baptized into Christ makes up a part of his team. It does not matter what race we are, nor what gender we are. We are all one team that works together to win the prize.

Baptism is the rite of passage for this team. We have to meet the conditions already set down for qualifying for this passage. It takes us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Of which kingdom are you a citizen? It is your choice. Whose team are you on?

#risingjoy #Galatians #unity

Are you a Christian?

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

“(…)I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me.(…) ” John 17.20-21

Did you ever ask someone to pray for you? How did it make you feel?

In John 17, Jesus was praying to God right before his betrayal. He prayed that God would glorify him. Next he prayed for his disciples that would be left to continue teaching after he returned to God. The last thing for which Jesus prayed was the unity of the believers that would follow through the teaching of his disciples.

Are you a Christian? Are you a part of the church that Jesus talked about building in Matthew 16 and then established in Acts 2? If you are a part of the church, then Jesus prayed for you. His prayer was that we would all be one. Just as God and Jesus are one, his disciples or followers are to be one.

How can that be? It is actually pretty simple. We must follow the Bible in all that we do. There is one message. Do you know what it is? If not, dust off your Bible and read. If you do know what the message is, have you obeyed it? Do you continue to obey it? Imagine. Jesus prayed for you!

#risingjoy #John #unity

Not a pick-and-choose attitude

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

I am praying on behalf of them. I am not praying on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those you have given me, because they belong to you. Everything I have belongs to you, and everything you have belongs to me, and I have been glorified by them. I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them safe in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. John 17.9-11

This is a prayer of Jesus right before he was handed over to be crucified. He is praying for the disciples which will be his apostles and will take the message out to the world. There is a principle here that Jesus makes clear for those who want to see it.

Jesus does not pray for the world. Perhaps this is because the world must submit to God to be accepted by him. The world is not one with the Father. The opposite is true. The world is in rebellion to God, Romans 5.10. The death of Jesus on the cross made redemption possible for every person, but it is not a given. One can refuse to obey and accept God’s grace.

Jesus prays for his disciples because they belong to the Father. Jesus states that everything he has belongs to God and vice versa. Jesus prays that God will keep them safe. He then asks that they may be one just as Jesus and God are one. Paul wrote that he taught the same message in all the churches, 1 Corinthians 7.17.

The religious world has missed this message of unity that is based upon the word of God. The Bible is not to be translated to fit my desires. If that were true, we could all have a pick-and-choose attitude. The Bible is like any document in that God has one message that he wants to share, not hundreds. When we take the message in context, remembering to whom it was written and when, the content should be the same. We do not see the same freedom of division in the Bible that we see in the religious world. We need to be one in the Lord having the same mind, Philippians 2.2.

#risingjoy #John #unity

Hugh’s News & Views (Bible Thoughts On Unity)


“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1).

“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed” (Amos 3:3)?

“I do not pray for these (the apostles, hf) alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You Father, are in Me, and I You; that they all may be one in Us, that the world may believe that you have sent Me” (John 17:20-21). Continue reading

#bible-verses, #hughfulford, #unity

One Lord! One faith! One baptism!

What does Ephesians 4:5 mean?

*One Lord! One faith! One baptism!*

Lessons on this passage in English and Dutch, in text and audio, have been added to the Old Paths Archive:



Please pray with me that this preaching of the word will help lead souls to Christ throughout the world.

You can help by placing links to this article on your own web site or that of your congregation. Not only will this lead people to the material directly, but the more links there are to a certain article, the higher it ranks on search engines.

You might also want to link to the lectures: “Can we be the church of the New Testament?” at http://www.canwebethechurchofthenewtestament.com

Such links can also be helpful to people you are studying with.

May the Lord bless you.
Roy Davison

#unity #Ephesians

A difficulty that needs to be addressed

Reflect on Proverbs 18:19 for a moment or two. As you look at the three translations below, it is easy to see that each version conveys the same idea. To separate oneself from another by thought, words and/or actions makes for a difficulty that must be addressed.

The KJV read, A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle. The ESV reads, A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle. The NET reads, A relative offended is harder to reach than a strong city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a fortified citadel.

What does the word “offended” mean? We are not to understand the word to mean “What she said offended me!”  Instead, what is in view is something much different. One Hebrew scholar used the word “wounded” in this context. A wounded person is one who had been attacked. Another scholar gave this sense, “The proverb is talking about changing a friend into an enemy by abuse” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary-Revised). Continue reading

#offense, #sin, #unity

We Be Brethren

Are you the kind of person who has the faith that Abraham had? Are you the kind of saint that is deferential as Abraham was? When Lot and Abraham gathered much in material possessions, it was Abraham who deferred to his younger nephew for a decision to be made (Genesis 13:8-9). In truth, it should have been Lot who deferred, but Abraham was more interested in unity with his family member than he was with regard to protocol. In God’s spiritual family, let us take a lesson from this. Are we (am I) more interested in my way than I am in taking the “lower” position for my brother’s sake? Paul addressed this in Philippians (Phil. 2:3-8). I do believe we know what the lesson is we should make. RT

#abraham, #love, #unity

The life we share in the body of Christ

The apostle Paul practiced what he urged the Roman saints to do in Rom 12.15, to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep:”

Christians are joined in the body of Christ. What happens to one affects the other. “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not burn with indignation?” 2 Cor 11.29. —QBT

In English we use the figure of speech about being joined at the hip. (Is that phrase still politically correct?) It means that people are very closely connected. Continue reading

#body-of-christ, #fellowship, #unity


(#205) The Proverbs of Solomon 30:24-28-Learn From The Little People

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-29:27 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. Proverbs 30-31 were added and preserved by the Holy Spirit. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 30:24-28: “There are four things which are little on the earth, But they are exceedingly wise: The ants are a people not strong, Yet they prepare their food in the summer; The rock badgers are a feeble folk, Yet they make their homes in the crags; The locusts have no king, Yet they all advance in ranks; The spider skillfully grasps with its hands, And it is in kings’ palaces.”

It is a truly foolish person who fails or refuses to see that the living God has incorporated intelligence and wisdom into His Creation, and that there is NO TRUTH to the blind, unscientific, ungodly false doctrine of Evolution! What the willfully ignorant professors of Evolution attribute to blind chance, the Bible points out as yet another example of the wisdom of God. “The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens; By His knowledge the depths were broken up, And clouds drop down the dew” (Proverbs 3:19-20). Even the least of His Creation shows us His brilliant planning. In a society bulked-up with athleticism, wisdom is often unnoticed!

“The ants” are not known for their strength (although for their size, it is tremendous!), but for the wisdom of continual preparation for the future. This intelligence shows us that we should be industriously preparing for the future with what we have at the present. “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8).

“The rock badgers” (possibly rabbits, conies, or hyraxes) build no houses for themselves, but use the solid rock “crags” for their protection. Under Moses’ Law, an unclean animal (Leviticus 11:5), noted for living in the hills (Psalm 104:18), this is probably the “rock badger.” The wisdom of using what God provides for our protection should be applied to our soul salvation, also. “Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed” (1 Peter 2:7-8).

“The locusts” descend upon grain fields “in ranks” and can completely consume the crops. This is done without “a king,” that is, orderliness is their “natural” disposition. They have been used by God as punishment upon a nation (Exodus 10:12-14; Psalm 105:34-35) only to be blown away by a wind (Exodus 10:19). They may also be useful for food (Mark 1:6). They show the wisdom of being organized and what that can accomplish. When people unite, they can overpower almost anything (Judges 20:11)! Voters need to realize their potential power!

“The spider” can build its webs anywhere, even “in kings’ palaces.” Artistically designed, devastatingly efficient, spiders’ webs show the wisdom of persistently applying design wherever we are for whatever we need to do, and hope for its success. Though easily destroyed, spiders’ webs will be immediately rebuilt showing us the persistence of hope, for once the web is built, the spider waits for its victim to be caught in it.

Jesus used “the birds of the air,” “lilies of the field,” and “the grass of the field” to teach us not to be anxious (Matthew 6:25-30). The wisdom in God’s Creation can provide useful lessons, if we have not been blinded by the stubborn ignorance of those who make their money promoting Evolution. Jesus said, “if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:14).

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#ants, #bible-study, #god, #kings-palaces, #locusts, #practical-lessons, #proverbs, #rock-badgers, #salvation, #spiders, #unity, #wisdom

What Must They Do To Be Saved???

In the recent Christian Chronicle paper there was an article titled, “How the should we interact?” which discussed how certain congregations of the churches of Christ were interacting with three other churches outside their fellowship (a Baptist Church, a First Presbyterian Church and Methodist Church).

Several other issues aside, I want to quickly point out the futility of such work and worship arrangements between “us and them” by using a direct quote in the story.

On page 19 of the (February 2014, Vol. 71, No.2) story a “pastoral minister” for the Southwest Central Church of Christ said, “None of these [works] requires us to deny who we are or compromise what we believe…In a major urban area like Houston, it is not Churches of Christ against Baptists. It is Christians trying to share Jesus with Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Jews and cultural pagans.

Did you catch that? Because therein lies the problem. We can’t just simply “share Jesus” along side Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists. Do you know why? Because we don’t agree, and rightly so, on what those Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Jews and cultural pagans need to do to be saved.

Do they need to say the sinner’s prayer? Do they need to simply “believe” in Jesus? Do they only need to confess Jesus and then all is well? Or do they need to actually obey the gospel?

After Phillip “preached Jesus” to the eunuch of Ethiopia the eunuch was left asking “where’s the water?” When such a one asks that of the Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists in relation to the gospel of Christ they are told “the water is over there, but you don’t need that right now, we’ll take care of that next week, next month or maybe even next year; everything is alright, you’re saved just the way you are.” And even when they do get around to baptizing people it’s not for a scriptural purpose.

Now I don’t want to sound argumentative for the sake of being argumentative, but I came from the Baptist background. I have family that I love dearly who refer to themselves as Baptists. I have friends that I love dearly who refer to themselves as other denominational names. But my love for them, and even for others that I don’t know, has nothing to do with replacing the unity of the Spirit that Jesus wants for His church with a spirit of unity that does nothing more than ignore the important issues that must be settled, such as the answer to question of “What must I do to be saved?” For if we do not agree on such an answer then how could we possible “share Jesus” with others along with them?

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)

Related Article:

#christian-chronicle, #denominationalism, #doctrine, #ecuminical-movements, #religion, #salvation, #unity, #unity-of-the-spirit


Psalm 133 Unity of Brethren

There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.” This Psalm is attributed to David.

Verse 1 pictures a “good” thing;

Verses 2-3 illustrate what it is “like.”

Verse 1: It is “good and pleasant” “For brethren to dwell together in unity!” One of the most satisfying sights is to see “unity” form from many, the very Latin phrase for the United Stated (e pluribus unum). Every hyphenated American has rejected this motto. All hyphenated “Christians” have missed entirely the New Testament teaching. Those who obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:15-16) are “baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13), and are called “Christians” (Acts 11:26). There are no kinds of Christians in the New Testament. When Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways, it was because of a conflict of judgment, not over doctrine (Acts 15:36-40). “Unity,” however, doesn’t mean brethren must stay on top of each other, for there are plenty in the world who need the Gospel. “The unity of the Spirit” includes “the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3), and narrowness in doctrine (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Verse 2: Brethren’s “unity” shows how obedience to God’s teaching sanctifies (devotes, dedicates), just like, under Moses’ Law, Aaron was dedicated with  anointing oil (Leviticus 8:10-12).

Verse 3: “Unity” of brethren reminds us that the unifying doctrine originates with God, not men (James 3:13-18), just like looking at Mount Hermon’s “dew” which settles “upon the mountains of Zion.”

Thought: “Unity” is not a goal, it is a product of obeying the same doctrine (Galatians 3:26-29; 1 John 1:5-7). No “Unity Forum” can unite better than, or equally with, plain preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #book-of-psalms, #church-of-christ, #daily-bible-reading, #hyphenated-christians, #obedience, #teaching, #unity

A Necessary Evil

I cannot stand drama, especially in God’s church. It’s a pet peeve that I desire to see starved. Unfortunately some people thrive off of feeding it!  Anger, jealousies, backbiting, slothfulness and irresponsibility can plague a congregation to death and when concerned Christians see these things happen it can be troubling to say the least. I have wondered to myself several times, “Why does it have to happen?” When things seem to be going good then the bad gets going. But then I remember that troubles in the church are nothing new.

In the midst of the church at Corinth troubled waters were being stirred. Religious divisions were being started (1 Corinthians 1:10-12), brothers and sisters were abusing and being abused by one another (1 Corinthians 6:7,6; 11:20,21), some were living in open sin (1 Corinthians 5:1, 9-11), their gatherings had become chaotic and unruly (1 Corinthians 14:26, 33-35), some were even denying the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12) plus much more (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; 4:18; 8:7). Talk about trouble!!!

This craziness was no doubt causing some of the Christians there to wonder why it was all happening. So what was the answer? Paul basically gives it in 1 Corinthians 11:19 – “For there must also be factions [heresies, divisions] among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.”

The negative is that the church had to deal with some real problems. None of these things were enjoyable but Paul said that they must happen to prove a point.

Burton Coffman had this to say in his commentary about Paul’s statement:

A glimpse of the divine mind is in this. Christians who become upset and discouraged because of schisms, factions and other disorders in the church make a tragic mistake. As God used Satan in the Paradise of Eden to test the progenitors of the human race, he still tests the faith of all Christians. Church difficulties provide an opportunity for Christians to demonstrate that they are genuine followers of the Lord. God never intended that any man should move through life in a constant environment of encouragement and spiritual delight. There is a place in the experience of every Christian where “the rubber meets the road”; and his response to unfavorable, or even tragic, situations will determine whether or not he is “approved” of God. It should always be remembered that “many are called, but few are chosen.” – James Burton Coffman, Vol. VII, First and Second Corinthians, ACU Press, P.178 

Problems will come and go but whoever stays through them will shine. Problems in the church can separate the spiritually dedicated from the spiritually dead. Paul said the problems would show who was approved of God.

The word approved comes from the Greek word “dokimos” and it has some interesting roots. On a computer program I have, a great insight concerning this word is given:

In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens, to stop the practice of shaving down the coins then in circulation. But some moneychangers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money. They were men of honor who put only genuine full weighted money into circulation. Such men were called “dokimos” or “approved”.” – Donald Barnhouse, The Bible Collection Deluxe, ValuSoft

The evils that face the church from time to time definitely contain some negatives but spiritually they are necessary because approval is something that comes from being tried, and being tried only comes by trails.

Think about it, and don’t be so quick to give up when problems start to get you down. EA

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3, NKJV)

#church, #corinth, #divisions, #problems, #tests, #trials, #trouble, #unity