And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume X, Number 04 October 08, 2006
In this issue:
Sometimes men view the “will of God” from the theological point of view of fatalism: “it’s out of our hands” … “whatever will be will be.” The tragic shooting of innocent children in an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania is one such example of attempts to explain such evil acts.
“They (the Amish, jrp) will look on this as the will of God, which is how they look on most things that don’t make any sense,” said Dr. Ammon (associate professor emeritus of education at Penn State University and an expert on the old-order Amish). “You go on and you never look back.” (“Amish one-room schools are plain, traditional, unguarded,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Caitlin Cleary, Oct. 3, 2006).
Is it “God’s will” that innocent children are murdered? The Bible answer is “no” (Rom. 13:9; Matt. 18:1-3; 19:14). Is it God’s will that we view everything that we cannot explain in this life as God’s responsibility and doing (“God’s will”)? Again, the Bible answer is “no.”
It is true that God is sovereign, overruling the entire universe (Dan. 4:25-26, 35). However, that does not make God the reason (and villain) when evil occurs on earth. God created us with free will, and the choices we make are often sinful (Eccl. 7:29; Rom. 3:23). That does not make God the author of evil or the tempter of men (Jas. 1:13-16). Rather than assess unimaginable evil as the “will of God” we should thank God for providing redemption and reconciliation to sinners in His Son Jesus Christ, and obey Him now (2 Cor. 5:17-21).
Neither are we discounting the horrible tragedies that are daily inflicted upon the innocent. The sad and stark truth is that the innocent often suffer at the hand of sinners (Heb. 11:25; Jas. 5:10; 1 Pet. 2:18-20).
God is not unacquainted with the sufferings of the innocent. His Son Jesus Christ suffered wrongfully, “the just for the unjust” (1 Pet. 3:18; 2:21-24). We go to God in prayer knowing He is well acquainted with grief, pain and loss (Heb. 4:14-16; Isa. 53:3). God will call to account all those who cause the innocent to suffer (1 Pet. 4:4-5, 16-19).
We take comfort in knowing that little children are innocent of sin and therefore safe in the hands of a loving God (Matt. 19:13-15). While their life on earth has been taken, and the blessing of their lives and love ripped from their families, their life with God is secure. That, after all is said and done, is the “will of God” (1 Tim. 2:4).
This article will offend some people. That is not our intent. Nevertheless, that will be the result to the extent that readers love darkness rather than the light of truth (Jno. 3:19-21). We pray this will not be so as you study this subject from God’s word, for by knowing the truth we are set free from sin’s bondage (Jno. 8:31-36).
Denominationalism is not from God. Jesus built one church, which is His one body, “the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4). Rather than condone and commend denominations, the gospel of Christ condemns religious division: Christ is not divided (Jno. 17:20-21; 1 Cor. 1:10-13). One is not following Jesus Christ when he practices what Jesus opposes. If denominationalism is approved by God there should be clear and convincing Scriptures that teach it. We ask for these Scriptures. In their absence have no confidence that God approves of denominational arrangements or the lives of those involved in its practice and doctrines.
Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26). A disciple learns and follows the will of His Master; in this case, Jesus (Lk. 6:40). Since Jesus never taught, endorsed or encouraged denominationalism, one is not following Jesus when he engages in it (Col. 3:17). Such is sin.
Jesus adds saved people to His church, not to denominations (Acts 2:47). Consequently, we cannot count among the saved those who teach and practice denominationalism’s false doctrines (2 Tim. 2:16-19). The Lord knows those who are His.
If there are saved people – Christians – in the denominations, then some things necessarily follow:
1. Denominationalism makes the gospel plan of salvation unnecessary. Gospel preaching that leads to salvation includes the truth about “the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” and baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 8:5, 12; 2:37-38). Denominations do not preach and practice the Bible plan of salvation. If there are Christians in denominations then people can be Christians without obeying the gospel. Such is not true (Matt. 7:21).
2. Denominationalism makes the church of Christ unnecessary. The New Testament teaches the church is essential to God’s eternal scheme of redemption (Eph. 3:10-11). God is glorified “in the church by Christ Jesus” (Eph. 3:21). Yet, the denominations say one can be saved without being a member of their denomination. True enough; and therefore, unnecessary. When one becomes a Christian the Lord adds him to the blood-bought body, His church (Acts 2:47; 20:28; Eph. 5:23).
3. Denominationalism makes contending for the faith futile and factious. If Christians are in denominations should we not embrace them as brethren instead of contending against their error (Jude 3-4)? The error that there are Christians in denominations silences calls to contend for the faith and to hold fast the pattern of sound words; there is no pattern – there are many faiths, all of which are acceptable (2 Tim. 1:13; Eph. 4:5).
4. Denominationalism makes fellowship with error acceptable. The New Testament clearly teaches Christians to not have fellowship with error (Eph. 5:11). To suggest that false churches that practice and promote error contains saved people (Christians) makes a mockery of every verse that warns against fellowship with error (2 Jno. 9-11; Gal. 1:6-10; 2 Cor. 6:14-18).
Are there Christians in the denominations? No. These people, although sincere, are lost. Only the gospel of Christ, not the doctrines of men, will save them (Rom. 1:16-17; Col. 2:8).
Control and Communication
The parents of 21 year old Julianna Redd have been charged by Utah prosecutors with kidnapping their daughter the day before her August 5 wedding to prevent her marriage. They allegedly took her 240 miles away to Grand Junction, CO where they kept her overnight. She convinced them to return to Provo, Utah and was married a few days later to her fiancé, Perry Myers. “It has nothing to do with Perry,” she told The Salt Lake Tribune. “It was just problems our family has been dealing with our whole lives. Control issues. Communication issues.” (“Parents of 21-year-old charged with kidnapping bride-to-be,” USAToday.com, Oct. 4, 2006)
Control and communication are two trouble points in many families.
Sometimes parents have trouble adjusting to the leaving and cleaving that happens when their children marry (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6). Parents must learn to give their married children the respect and space they need to arrange and develop their own marriage. Intrusive parents, who must control the lives of their married children, sin against their children and God.
Control issues arise between parents and children in the home, too. Yes, parents are “in charge” and children are to “obey” with “honor” them (Eph. 6:1-4). But, parents are not to be tyrants. Ruling with an iron hand provokes and discourages children from the respectful obedience such parents misguidedly seek (Col. 3:21).
Communication helps solve control issues in a family – and in a church. One of the problems to be overcome is the “controller” often tries to “control” the communication! It takes both speaking and listening to effectively communicate (Jas. 1:19-20). Without both, the destructiveness of bitterness, wrath, anger, malice and evil speaking infects and destroys marriages, families, churches and souls (Eph. 4:29-32). Kindness and forgiveness, as God forgives us in Christ, provides an atmosphere for communicate to flourish.
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 10/06/2006
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA