Unity Graphic

Unity of the Spirit VS Unity in Diversity

Historical and Biblical Fellowship
Outline of Lesson, December 3, 1998
Forest Hills church of Christ

Intro: What this series of lectures is all about (chart). Fellowship with God and with brethren is desired among all faithful brethren. All should decry partyism, sectarianism, etc.(cf: 1 Cor. 1:12; modern parallels with papers, colleges, sections of the country). As Paul, "give diligence to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3). However, apostasy is an ever present danger and we ignore it to our folly. History is a harsh teacher, looking back over the ruins of fellowship and shattered congregations. Every generation must face this danger or be destroyed, affecting future generations.

Before apostasy becomes a reality, brethren should explore every avenue of Bible study and brotherly controversies with patience and longsuffering (1 Thess. 5:14; Jude 19-23). There should not be a rush to judgment (prematurely drawing lines) or failure to address our differences (ignoring serious issues).

It is axiomatic that, among honest and sincere brethren, Bible study will draw Christians closer together, not drive them apart. Some have rebutted every effort to study. Motives have been impugned and characters assailed. This series is an attempt to call attention to solid evidence of departures from "sound doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:1ff), to sound an alarm to concerned brethren, and to open a door of dialogue to those who care (Ezra 7:10; 9:3-4).

No attempt is being made to be a "brotherhood mediator," establish a creedal formula for fellowship ("spiritual jingo-ism") or dictate a timetable to others. However, I expect and demand the same right as others to preach the word of God wherever opportunities are open. Truth has all the prerogatives of error in dissemination and character assassinations do not change the truth of God.

Claims for moral superiority and spiritual elitism are misplaced (Amos 7:12-13). Error has no place of sanctuary from the searching light of truth (Eph. 4:27). Venerated and esteemed brethren have no license to teach error with impunity (Ezek. 18:25-32); respect of persons is a sin (Ja. 2:1-4). Charges that others are not trust-worthy or have a lack of integrity represent judgments of motives, condemned by Christ (Mt. 7:1). As with Paul, we must ask, "Have I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?" (Gal. 4:16)

Quotations will be given to validate specific dangers to sound doctrine. Diligent care is taken to ensure proper context for all quotations and fair representation of what the speaker/writer teaches. Note that this applies equally well to myself: if anyone will fairly represent what I teach, I am in complete agreement for tapes to be made, reproduced and spread abroad. If I teach the truth, I want my message to go afar. If I teach error, I wish to be corrected. In every instance, no anger or ill-will exists toward anyone and it is understand that God will judge the hearts of each of us.

I. Biblical Fellowship

II. Fellowship with God is severed by sin - God will not have fellowship against His nature (1 Jn. 1:5). One may be in fellowship with a local church but not in fellowship with God.

III. Satan Wants Fellowship To Include Sinful Preaching and Practices. Ancient efforts at "Unity-In-Diversity" - attempts to merge Christians with the world.

IV. Unity In Diversity Largely Successful in Denominational World

V. Historical Fellowship Among churches of Christ - Return to Ancient Order - Restoration of New Testament Christianity has a solid scriptural basis.

VI. Unity in Diversity Is A Present Danger In Our Time

VII. CONCLUSION - Dangers to fellowship with God and fellowship in the local church abound. Major trends toward apostasy are in place and being advocated by prominent and esteemed brethren who are permissive and tolerant toward those who advocate sinful beliefs and practices but are intolerant toward those who speak out against error. This is typical of every apostasy.

If we are to avoid more division among the Lord's people, let us "speak as the oracles of God," open the doors of communication, rise above name-calling and invectives and make every effort to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

e-mail this author at tmr1@flash.net

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