The Simple Gospel

Christianity - The Big Picture

Larry H. Fain

In this day of micro-computers, micro-management, micro this and micro that, have we in the Lord’s church lost sight of the big picture? I heard a story once about a college professor who, desiring to teach without the drudgery of administrative policy, established a course for all his graduate students called "The Big Picture.” Practicalities of the "real world” were stressed in the class, and all who would succeed in the course would be molded to the world view of the professor. The story itself did very little for me, but this premise intrigued me then and even now as I see things happening among God’s people.

Why are we here? For what purpose life? Psalm 8:3-4, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?” The answer to the query of the psalmist, if he never understood it in his life, surely was answered by the Lord while He was on the earth. John 10:10, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” The Lord came to provide for man a way that man could live. Not only did He come to provide The Way for man to live, but He came so that could find a way so that his life might continue. Such an opportunity only comes through God who is the Giver of all life (Genesis 1; John 1:1-5). John 6:44-45, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”

It is real easy today to condemn division. It is the tool of the Devil. Anybody with half a brain knows that. When the Lord Himself prays for something like unity, you know that the Devil is going to make division, the antithesis of unity, a primary plank in his platform to control men and women today. It seems that the Lord’s people are masters at finding something about which to divide. No man can judge another. If the scriptures teach anything at all, they teach that God and God alone is the Supreme judge of all. Even His Son was emphatic in making the declaration He did concerning the judgment of His Father. John 12:47-48, "And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”

That passage gets us to the real issue at hand. Why are people who say they are "of Christ” divided? In the language of Paul, the apostle, 1 Corinthians 1:13, "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” The references by Paul to himself show his own humility and his own aversion to being used by people as a point of division. No child of God would ever want such a situation to arise. We are divided today because people are not satisfied with a "thus says the Lord” for all they do in life. For whatever reason - power, lust, greed, selfishness or any of a multitude of others, men simply refuse to come together.

The result of all this is that souls are not hearing the gospel. There are little churches all over this country that exist because of some division that occurred twenty five years ago that only a handful of people can even remember. But if you were to suggest that one of these close their doors and unite with other brethren of like faith in their same community, that messenger would likely be burned at the stake or worse. And let it be stressed here that I speak of brethren of "like faith!” Amos 3:3, "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” The existence and maintenance of all these little, (most of which are non-productive when they are the result of lingering trivial division), churches costs a great deal of money (preachers have to be supported, buildings maintained, etc.) time and effort that could possibly be used more expeditiously in other local churches. I seek not here to be meddling in other men’s matters or to challenge local autonomy principles, but rather to urge us all to be mindful of the things over which God has made us stewards.

The big picture is seen in that all men are subject to the gospel of Christ in the same way. The only thing that can save them is the preaching of that gospel (Romans 1:15-16). Who will do it? A united brotherhood, in the strictest sense of that concept, or a splintered array of individualists? Let us unite on the word and the word only and take the world back for Christ who made it.

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