The other day a man said, “All us protestants need to get together.” Yes, unity would be great. I just have 1 question, How would that look? This is no new issue, men of old have been discussing this for years. So, I turn to a gospel preacher from a number of years ago…….
by Robert F. Turner
There seems to be two general philosophies for attaining unity in religion. One school urges men to find their own middle ground — something on which all can agree — making whatever compromise is necessary on the part of each human faction. The other recognizes Gods truth as the only proper basis for unity; but they find it difficult to agree on what constitutes this truth, so they put their hopes in unity in diversity — seeking a level of understanding acceptable to all human parties, and expecting God to be satisfied with this level.
In each case men seem determined to whittle on Gods end of the stick. All agree that unity demands a common ground, and since we are thinking of unity in religion (before God) it follows that God and man are the ultimate parties to be reconciled. God must be taken into consideration; a ground found that is acceptable to God as well as man. Mans free agency gives him the power of choice, to accept or reject, but when men begin to judge the law and declare this part of Gods law essential, that part non-essential, they are whittling on Gods end of the stick. They act as though God had done nothing — made no sacrifice — to unite men among themselves, and to Himself.
Note: God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:19) Jesus said, sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (Jn. 17:17) And Jesus prayer for unity among men was a prayer for those who believe on me through their (Apostles, rt) word. (Jn. 17:20) Gods end of the stick includes the means (Christ) and the instructions (inspired word) for unity acceptable to God.
To contend that men can not come to a common understanding of Gods word (of reconciliation) is to argue that Gods part is imperfectly done. To require more, or less, or a substitution for Gods word, is to reject the completeness of divinity. God wants men united — apparently far more than we want to be united. Have we no faith in Gods desire and plan?
When two men understand and act upon a single step of Gods truth, they are united upon that step. It doesnt make them fellow-Christians. but it makes them fellow-learners. If one stops there, while the other continues to learn and obey, they are separated — cease to be fellow -learners. They can become fellow -Christians by continuing to learn and obey Gods truth (remember God determines this level, not man. This discussed p. ii.) or they can be further separated by the difference in their willingness to trust in God. (Matt. 10:32-f) In all cases God furnishes the means of unity, but it is up to man to use these means.
A divided church is a monument to the shameful fact that men have been and are unwilling to use Gods means of unity. Some may be over—scrupulous (Rom. 14:) (see p. 7) and both sides may err in understanding and practice but THE FAULT lays with those who refuse to continue joint Bible study.
This was from the September 1969 issue of “Plain Talk”
Ask me how to make your calling and election sure. 2Pet 1:10