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June 24, 2022 1:00 am
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Some critics of Christianity and its many denominations and ask where is the unity Jesus talked about Bible interpretations vary widely. So how should the believer handle the fact that the faith is represented in so many different ways to find out.
Stay with us from the church in Chicago this morning to win with Dr. Erwin serve as clear teaching make it across the finish line vasculature. It seems Christian unity is an elusive goal. Give us a look ahead for today's message what you know Dave in today's message we're going to be looking at some of the reasons why there is oftentimes disunity. I have to tell you, of course, that there are many times that denominations have been formed.
That should not of been formed. They separated over trivial issues, but there are also times when we need to separate for the sake of the gospel.
The apostle Paul even affirmed that.
So what we must do is to understand that the unity for which Jesus Christ prayed is true of every single believer. We may go to different churches. We may have different beliefs in some areas, but the centrality of the Christian faith must always be there, so let's listen carefully as we have more insight into the topic of division unity. What does the Bible say I have a reading, I'd like to share with you. It's entitled Baptists on the bridge. Once I was in San Francisco walking along the Golden gate Bridge. When I saw this guy on the bridge about to jump. I thought I tried to stall him detaining him long enough for me to put film into my camera. I said don't jump, he turned his head. He said nobody loves me. I said God loves you.
How do you know there is a God. I said of course there's a God, he said, I guess you're right, and a tear came to his eye. I said are you a Christian or a Jew or Hindu or what he said. A Christian I should need to small world Protestant or Catholic or Greek Orthodox. He said Protestant.
I said me to what franchise he said Baptist. I sent me to northern Baptist or Southern Baptist.
He said northern Baptist need to northern conservative Baptist or northern liberal Baptist. He said northern conservative that need to northern conservative fundamentalist Baptist or northern conservatives reformed Baptist. He said northern conservative fundamentalist Baptist need to northern conservative fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes region or northern conservative fundamentalist Baptist Eastern region. He said northern conservative fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes region to northern conservative fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes region Council of 1879 or north northern conservative fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes region Council of 1912. He said northern conservative fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes region Council of 1912 ice cream die heretic and I put I have a question to ask you today. Whatever happened to the church that Jesus built millions of people say that they belong to the church that Jesus built. But we are so divided, and the divine isn't only between Catholic and Protestant you look at the Protestant side of the ledger and you find that there are Methodists and Baptists, and Presbyterians in Episcopalians and then you find it within those groups you have various categories and you have different kinds of Baptist different kinds of Presbyterians.
Why do we differ. That's the question and what can we do about it. If we need to do anything about it. Some people say that we have too much unity already were sacrificing truth.
Other people say what we need is more unity. Where do we go on a superficial level, it's understandable why we might disagree because if you read the Bible for the first time, especially, it is a vast book treating many different topics in many different ways and it's difficult to get your mind around it and some differences are very understandable. It is sometimes said that Martin Luther opened the Bible to the common person that's true, but he was against the idea that I have my own little interpretation going on. He said that if everybody interprets the Bible in their own way then each person can go to hell in his own way. We need to stand on the shoulders of those who have preceded us, we need some collective wisdom when it comes to interpreting the Bible. Let me give you some reasons why we do have differences. First of all we could point to such things as the limitations of man. The limitations of man, it's understandable that there would be disagreements regarding free will versus predestination.
I mean all kinds of mysteries connected with that and so some come down on one side of that ledger and others come down on the other side and so that's understandable. Also some of the verses in the Bible need to be interpreted within a larger context.
For example, let's suppose that the only person the Bible regarding salvation was acts chapter 2, verse 38 where Peter said repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Now that were the only verse about salvation. We might conclude that baptism is necessary for salvation, but then you've got hundreds of references in the New Testament, particularly in the book of John.
That clearly states he who believes is say so what you do and then you look at chapter 2, verse 38 of ask and you realize that there is a reason why Peter connected it with baptism, but baptism isn't necessary for the forgiveness of sin so you can understand that that happened and so differences arise. Also, we have not only the limitations of man. The perversions of our bias, our sinfulness, we all have a tendency to go to the Bible to find out what we wanted to say and if we want to say that we are part of our salvation and that we contribute to our salvation we can find texts that seem to say that and then you can build a whole system of doctrine and sacraments and good works in penance and you can build all those things around to certain theories because of our desire to say that if salvation is free, people are going to misuse it. Also, you have the power of the church throughout history. For example, in medieval times, it was believed that grace was communicated through the sacraments. Now think of what that meant. That meant that the priest had in his hand. The destiny of the souls of his parish if he didn't give them the sacraments, they would go to hell fact there were times such as in the days of John hosts in Prague where the Pope issued an interdict. That meant that there could be no sacraments. Whatever in the city because Hus was preaching the gospel and it was known that if there were an interdict people would become so angry with him that they kick him out of Prague which is exactly what happened because you see if you're told that there are no sacraments. It means that you're all being consigned to hell the power of the priest was absolutely overwhelming and people love power don't play so you have the perversions of men you have the unbelief of an there's some splits and Protestant denominations. For example, there are legitimate right because you have certain bodies of believers who have moved away from the truth of the gospel. Episcopalians are facing the possibility of a split over over ordaining gay clergy and that there are some Presbyterian churches that no longer preach the gospel if I might say. And so there were different to groups that broke away and now you have many, many Presbyterian churches that very clearly preach the gospel but they had to separate the some of that is all understandable, then you have the preferences of people over into preferences where into worship styles. I go to this church because I like its worship style I like it's music but I can't take that church because I don't like it's music and personal preferences today trumps doctrine. It trumps oftentimes the vision of the church because we want to go where it just suits us perfectly. You know, when I met pastors conferences. I'm always asked his moody church at traditional church or is it a contemporary church and I smile when I say we are local church that wonderful and thank God we have both additional and contemporary. As we try to take the best from both but where does this leave us now I do have to distinguish between what is sometimes called the invisible church. I don't like that word very well, but it refers to the whole body of Jesus Christ the church universal. Everybody who belongs to the universal church.
The church invisible as it is called is a born-again believer and will be in heaven and that transcends denominations.
Sometimes God's people are found in the most unlikely places. That's why we do not consign people to hell just because they don't belong to our denomination because we realize that even in some of these churches that no longer preach the gospel. There are saved people and so we recognize is is that there is the invisible church. The invisible church includes the living and the dead. Paul says in chapter 3 verse 14 of Ephesians. He says this very clearly the father, before whom the whole family in heaven and on earth is named in some they will all be together in heaven and that group of the elect is called in theology the invisible or universal church. Every one is a member of is a born-again believer. Let's talk about the local church.
Let's talk about moody church.
What can we say about it.
First of all, it's a mixed multitude to some extent because were not God. When you become a member of moody church you are interviewed by someone who asks you your understanding of the gospel. It's not huge theological test. We just want to know whether or not you saving the believed on Jesus, about 15 or 20 years ago I had lunch with a man over at Michael's and I could go to the table that we were sitting at who was a member and he was saying things that were far out there and he sits there and tells me that in no sense does he want Jesus to bear his sin, but he will bear his own sin for himself and the penalty of it is that I can't expect somebody else to bear my set eyes of the person But that's were grace and love come in. Now you have to understand he's sitting on one side of the table and I'm sitting on the other, and I'm sure I took off my glasses and I looked at him and I said if you keep believing what you are believing you are going to hell and then he said something very shocking is as if I have to go to hell, to bear my own punishment to hell. I will go chilling. He was a member of moody church back then maybe we weren't very good at screening membership. I think we may be improved a little bit on that. But let's not kid ourselves. We don't always know who saved and lost because we can't see the so you have a mixed you have a mixed multitude. In that sense you also have a lot of people who are part of the church who are not members. And there's another thing that you need to know about the visible church is. It is very very imperfect my friend of moody church were a perfect church. I would urge those of you who have never joined to be sure that you never join because if you joined it would be perfect. No longer arrive, but we're just imperfect centers and we recognize that there is carnality there is all kinds of struggle there's struggles with sin, spoke to somebody yesterday was related to main news doesn't go to church and nephew of mine and he said well you know we don't go because there are so many hypocrites in the church. Well, I know there are but maybe it's better that they are there than any other place. Maybe some of these hypocrites will get converted someday if the gospel is preached. I'd rather have the hypocrites in the church than somewhere else.
Yes no where does this leave us. How are we unified Ephesians chapter 4 very briefly. Ephesians chapter 4, the apostle Paul says in verse one. Ephesians 41. I therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you can call live up to who you are. You'll notice he says with all humility and now what he says is we are unified in our attitude, humility and gentleness. Patients bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace were patient with one another.
We don't insist on our rights were not saying it has to be done. My way or else I'm not here we are willing to forbear and to work with and to bear with one another in the bond of peace. Because you see Jesus purchased our unity at high cost as we want to walk in the unity that is been created by the Holy Spirit.
When we receive Christ as Savior. Wouldn't it be wonderful if every church split that ever happened that one of the requirements before you stand up and go to the microphone in a conference that one of the requirements would be that you would have humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. That's what the Bible calls us to.
And you see that's why we have to come to church. We have to meet believers who are imperfect and we have to put up with them and do so in a loving way because we are members of the same body.
All right now, our attitude unites us our life unites us. Verse four it says there is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope we are unified because were members of the same body, and when one part of the body hurts the other part hurts also. We are a part of those who rejoice with those who rejoice, but it isn't just that we are committed to each other. It's because God has metaphysically connected us together. You had this experience as I had you can go to another part of the world and you can meet a believer in Jesus and even though you've never known him or her. There is a whole area of commonality that you know instantly because they too have been born again of the same spirit. They are part of the same body. Paul says that you are one there is one body. There is one spirit. There are many bodies there are many spirits. It's all one, there's one hope by which you were called your believer here today in Jesus it's because God called you and the same call to salvation that I answered at the age of 14 is the same call to salvation that you answered at some point in your life when you believed in Jesus. So what you can see here is that what the Scripture is saying is we are one loaf we are members of the same body we share the same attitude we share the very same life were all connected to the head and were members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. We are one. Even with people with whom we disagree. And people who it is difficult to love my friend, this is Pastor Luther.
Yes, we are unified in Christ all believers are even despite our differences, Rebecca and I have written a book entitled life-changing Bible verses you should know this book doesn't simply list Bible verses, but rather it expounds various topics found in the Scripture.
I believe that it will be life-changing. Why, because in the Christian life would we have to do is to understand the broad scope of Christian ideas Christian doctrine and issues regarding Christian living and all that is covered in this book more than 40 different topics. Each topic is given three or four pages and we deal with issues such as grace, grief, heaven held the Holy Spirit hope justification. It will be a great means of growth for you and for others. For a gift of any amount.
This book can be yours. Here's what you do go to RTW offer.com that's RTW offer.com or call us right now at 1-888-218-9337 remember the name of the book is life-changing Bible verses you should know and you can go to the phone right now and call 1-888-218-9337. Let me give that to you one more time. 1-888-218-9337 it's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor looks her question about the Bible or the Christian life when coming to grips with the purposes of God. Sooner or later believers will face the really tough questions. Brad is now in that category.
And here is his question.
Can I love a God who has destined people to hell, even if they go to hell of their own free will. He still knew when he created the world that this would happen and could have prevented it. Suddenly, though I am a believer I am traumatized with the thought that I am finding it impossible to love God. How could God do what he does. Given the earthquakes in horrendous suffering, all of which could have been prevented. How can I love when all I see are cruel decrees. I am in distress. Help me Brad powerful question and every honest Christian who is listening right now has been where you are.
Maybe they haven't asked the question so eloquently but clearly we've all wondered this couple of comments. First of all, just know that you're in good company. Before Luther came to saving faith in Jesus Christ. He said love God I hate him because all that Luther saw was judgment every time he turned around. God had something to say about your sin all that Luther could imagine is the God of judgment, and it's very difficult to love a God who is nothing but judgment and sometimes God looks that way, but the reason that Luther eventually changed his mind and became a God lover is because when he understood the gospel he discovered that God was also a God of mercy, and so we love God because of his mercy, because of his forgiveness.
Thankfully, he is an only judgment he is always also grace. He's forgiveness.
He is love. Now, with regard to these cruel decrees and we could enumerate them and you've commented on them. The fact is that you and I need to understand that everything that God does is good and right and to believe that God is good in the midst of these decrees does take faith in God is honored by that faith. Furthermore, we would not naturally love God were it not for the fact that he implanted that love in our hearts when we receive Christ as Savior. That's why the people of the world hate God is all that they see is judgment. They don't understand grace. They don't understand his love. They don't understand his forgiveness and so they respond as you are struggling to respond, namely with hatred and no love.
The bottom line is that throughout all of eternity. We are going to agree that God did well and God did justly and lovingly and were going to agree that all the suffering of this world was worth it. If I can put it that way because God is going to get glory justice is going to be administered throughout the whole universe and you and I will sing just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints, and someday Brad were going to love God for his justice and for these supposedly cruel decrees just as much as we love him because of his grace and mercy because we will see things from his viewpoint go on loving God go on trusting God because that indeed is the way to go.
Glad that you're a believer share the good news of the gospel with others that they might also become God lovers and not just God haters.
Thank you Brad and thank you Dr. lutes are if you'd like to hear your question answered. Go to our firstname.lastname@example.org and click on ask Pastor Luther or call us at 1-888-218-9337 that's 1-888-218-9337 you can write to us at running to win 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 running to win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Baptism and the Lord's supper are two sacraments. All Christians observe in one way or another.
Next time I'm running to win Erwin lutes or tell us what we share as other believers, despite our differences until give us a bit extra view of the church from God's perspective. Thanks for listening for Dr. Erwin lutes are this is Dave McAllister running to win his sponsor teacher