One Breath Struggle Question for Christians

How in the world do we balance a zeal for unity among Christians while having a zeal to correct their many errors… including being too zealous in correcting their many errors?

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You’re all a beautiful thing, you ugly people 🙂

Love & Punches in Christ,

-Justin

Categories: One Breath | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “One Breath Struggle Question for Christians

  1. Suzanne

    Well—this is a very broad question and this subject of unity seems to be the order of the day with so many people in my church especially in the ministry. In my own life with Christ I am trying to be obedient to his word. The disunity comes when I am with a brother or sister in the Lord and a discussion about obedience to the word erupts. They usually disagree for whatever fits into their belief system. I am usually left with not loving them enough to stand by the word of God for unity’s sake or having a discussion that sometimes starts World War 3. Should we all not be following Paul’s teaching in 2 Timothy 3:16—All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. There was an older Godly woman in my life 30 years ago who tried to guide me. Because of the feel good teaching I sat under I thought she was too zealous. She owned a book store and exposed all the Name It and Claim It teachers. She removed the books from her shelves and put a statement out to her clients. She lost half of her clients and eventually this wonderful book store had to closed. I wish she was alive today so I could tell her she was right to be zealous and fight for the word to be upheld.
    I pray for that zeal now in my life—The remnants of unity at all costs has a terrible price not only in our intimacy with Christ but usually with our personal relationships and the church which wind up being pretty superficial at best.
    Lord Jesus make us humble—Your ugly friend in Jesus

    • Spine of steel, heart so soft,
      Lord we pray.

      Words of truth, tears of fear,
      Lord we need.

      Strong in love,
      Strong in hate
      For all You love,
      Lord,
      And hate.

      Christ be magnified in our fight to right all the wrong
      During the night.
      Oh Light!
      Please come soon.

  2. stan schmunk

    The first step is to call out numerous theological systems, Calvinism, Arminianism and all the other Christian -isms for what they are; carnal, immature and divisive. 1 Cor 1-3 could not be more clear but it’s the most widely disobeyed passage of Scripture. One fellow teaches that God wants us all to be rich. Another teaches that most folks will go to heaven. Another spends his whole life trying to prove that God only loves a few and that Christ only died for those few. I’m NOT a Calvinist. I’m NOT an Arminian. I’m NOT a Charsmatic. I’m NOT a supralapsarian. I’m NOT a monergist. I’m NOT a preterist. I’M A CHRISTIAN!! What does a Calvinist say to an Armenian or vice versa? We’re both carnal, immature and divisive. God help us!! We need to repent and drop the names.

    • Thanks for the input brother. Might I suggest that a better first step would be to affirm the gospel at every opportunity? Most of what you are railing against would be put to rest by a better understanding, trusting, and rejoicing in the gospel.

      Honestly, the argument against labels is not as cut and dry as you make it out to be. There is so much depth to this discussion, I wouldn’t attempt to make a thesis here about the wisdom of certain labels – I would rather attempt to agree with your sentiment: if any Christian is flying the flag of a denomination or theological system as if it is the end all be all of Christianity – to the detriment of what could be genuine unity otherwise, then that person is in sin and ought to repent and believe the gospel again.

      Let’s renew our zeal for the gospel, but be ready to give a clear defense of why we hold to certain tenets and doctrines which are life-giving and also call for boundaries between people. Right? There has to be divisions among us – Paul said that – in order to reveal who is correct. That’s Bible.
      Grace to ya.

      • stan schmunk

        Not railing, Justin, but Paul was. Christians can’t even agree on what the Gospel is and once they put a name on it they’re locked in seemingly forever. Paul’s comment was dripping with sarcasm and addressed to the same folks he had pilloried in the first chapter. Paul’s point stands. Whether you posit a thesis or not is irrelevant. You might want to work with what Paul said first.

        • I will take another look at that. Thank you. I’d also encourage you to look at this noble idea of label-less Christianity as at best naive, and at worst, just plain arrogant and silly. Even your rejection of all labels except “Christian” is putting you into a camp. Come now.

  3. stan schmunk

    Deal with the Scriptures, interact with Paul. Was he naive? Was he silly? Was he arrogant? What’s naive is your call for all of us to just preach the Gospel. Whose Gospel, Justin? What is the Gospel according to you or to me? “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” Am I wrong to identify with them and be ‘in their camp’?

    • OK – first of all, I am interacting with the Scriptures, Bible is open next to me here – 1 Cor 1:10-17. Paul is pleading with a seriously messed up group who were not nearly close to a good Christian practice in their fellowship. There were many things to address – and their tendency to act as if Paul, Apollos, Cephas, and Christ were different teachers was causing needless division. They had lost sight of the fact that each of those men were preaching the same gospel. That’s the point. Paul wants them off of side issues and divisions over minutae, and in unity around the gospel of Christ – see the rest of the chapter and beyond.

      So then, if I am to be a Christian in the mold of those who were first called Christians in Antioch, then I am to be a gospel man – an evangelici viri. What does that mean? I am committed to the Scriptures as the final authority in all matters of life and godliness – guess what that means? I’m now divided from the cults, the Roman Catholics, and a host of other Christian denominations who are not. What else? I am committed to the doctrines of Scripture as right and revealed by God for us to know and teach – so I can’t be identified with liberals who call themselves Christian… and on and on. In order to have the biblical gospel, I’ve got to have a way to define what that is – and having a label helps to narrow the discussion.

      Again, I empathize with your sentiment – down with divisions and up with unity in Christ! Yes! But you can’t force people into orthodoxy. They will be heretics and errorists until God changes their hearts – but they will call themselves Christians all the while.

      When a Mormon comes to your door and tells you they are the real Christian, how do you refute them, assuming you do?

  4. stan schmunk

    I ask them if they preach the same Gospel Paul preached and they always say yes. Then I quote Eph 2:8-9. Then I quote from the Book of Mormon. ‘For by grace ye have been saved by faith, after all that ye can do…” and point out the contradiction. Then I take them over to Galatians 1 and show them that they’re under a curse. I always talk to the newby and lovingly warn him and tell him that when he has doubts, and he will, that he can come back anytime.

    I’ve known the Lord since 1949 and am as orthodox as you. I’m not referring to cults. I’m referring to divisions within the body of believers. You can’t tell me that James White’s Gospel is the same as someone, who uses John 3:16-17, or someone who says that salvation must be accompanied by tongues, etc. We do not all preach the same Gospel and putting names on it only emphasizes the divisions and keeps every one locked into their doctrinal boxes. BTW, what is the Gospel according to Justin?

    • Wow 🙂 is “1949” a typo? That would be impressive – and I’d be honored/humbled to be addressing someone that much my elder.

      In any case, according to Ephesians 4:1-6, we read

      1″Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (NASB)

      Stan, I didn’t mean to incite any sarcasm between us, so please forgive me for any rude tone here. I don’t mind carrying on with you here, but know my heart is not to prove you wrong or knock you or anyone else in the Body. This blog exists for the glory of Christ, and as a member of His Body, I care for you and mean to treat you with respect, especially since you are my elder. That said, I will share the “gospel according to Justin,” but heaven forbid the negative connotations possible in that phrase be at work in your mind. I hope to be and aim to be believing and proclaiming the one gospel given to us, not made up by us. Alright?

      So the long and short of it is…
      The gospel is the good news that the Creator of the cosmos and of mankind, the One who is holy, separate from sin, uncreated, different than anything we can compare to, this One who is three Persons Father, Son, Holy Spirit would not let humanity fall into utter lostness and destruction, for that would be unthinkable seeing that we are made in His image.

      Instead, seeing that we had wholly undone ourselves in willful rebellion, He made a promise to Eve, He made a promise to Abraham, promises to Israel through Moses, a promise to David, and (speaking with brevity) then carried out this promise by sending His Son, the Son of God, the eternal, uncreated jewel of heaven – Jesus who was born of a virgin as a true, 100% human being, lived a perfect, sinless life in full obedience to the Law of God then willingly offered Himself as an atoning sacrifice for sins for the entire world of mankind past, present to Him, and future.

      In this willing death, Jesus the Messiah of Israel was fulfilling all of the promises of God to His people. Jesus bore the wrath of God in His body on the cross – He was absorbing the angry judgment of an offended, infinitely worthy God of glory – absorbing and propitiating that wrath so that when Jesus died, there was not one drop of wrath left in the Father – and all of this was done by an eternal, unchangeable plan which God preordained to take place for His glory and to demonstrate Himself to the creation as absolute ruler. Jesus truly died having paid for the sins of His people – and He truly rose from the dead in the same body in order to prove it. He walked among eyewitnesses for 40 days, and then ascended bodily into heaven where He now sits at the right hand of the Father. The Father and Son sent the Holy Spirit to regenerate, seal, and enliven all those who are given to Christ Jesus by the Father.

      Jesus promised He would return to judge the world. He said He would separate His people, the redeemed, from the rest of mankind. Those who have loved Him and obeyed His gospel will be with Him, enjoying Him for eternity. Those who have died in the first Adam will experience eternal hellfire and recompense for their sin.

      Today this gospel is for every man, woman, and child. The proclamation of these truths and of the Kingship of Jesus the Messiah is essential to the salvation of His people. There is more in many details to be said, and I have gone outside of the bounds of the gospel as defined in 1 Cor 15 1-5, but I have expounded on the whole of redemptive history.

      If you are going to respond in any kind of detail, please assume the best about my intentions and grant me grace if I missed some element which is biblical and important.

      Overall, brother, I don’t care what I am called or what my church says on it – I believe this beautiful hopeful wonderful lovely awesome life-giving gospel and will do so by God’s grace until the day I die or He returns. I am at the service of His Body, the Church – and I seek to express charity and compassion on as many as possible. If that is not Apostolic Christianity a-la AD 35 onwards, then I must have missed everything.

      • stan schmunk

        Very well done but I notice that you neglected to use the word ‘love’. That was the first word I learned about God in 1949 and it’s the reason I responded to Jesus. Remember? ForGod so loved the world that He gave His only Son…’ ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…’ ‘Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world…’. Quite a large omission don’t you think?

        • Only if in my heart and mind I had meant to or if somehow that was indicative of something deeper, which I doubt. Thanks for your approval.

          The reality of it is – that is the story of love. There is nothing more definitional concerning love than what I summarized up there – yet I will note the importance of using it more explicitly next time.

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