Thursday, August 11, 2016

"A Whole Heapin' Helpin' "

"A Whole Heapin' Helpin' "

    "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Corinthians 1:10).

    This is the goal, the unity for which we earnestly endeavor, and the subject of our prayers, considerations together, and sacrifices made for each other.  The present reality, however, does not include the "perfectly joined together" mind and judgment mandated by the Apostle Paul of his Corinthian brethren.  The spirit of antichrist has fomented   division of doctrine and practice among Christians for twenty centuries.  Moreover, the flesh of born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ is no less susceptible to deception and error than our brethren of old.  Thus, we will at times disagree.  And we will find, as one old country preacher recommended, "It's takes a whole heapin' helpin' of God's love for Christians to walk together in the unity of the Spirit!"

    It does.  Genuinely born again Christians, that is, those who hold to the cardinal doctrines of the faith as set forth in Scripture, disagree on matters that seem and may actually be very important.  This does not mean, however, that we should dismiss each other as ignorant, carnal, or unfaithful to God because we hold differing views of God's grace in Christ.  Of course, Truth does exist.  Believers, including ourselves, can be right or wrong about doctrine and practice.  No matter how strongly I hold to my position, even if I believe myself to have spent enough time in the Scriptures to have a position, I must maintain a humility of heart that maintains conviction while also being open to correction.

   The writer of Hebrews greatly illuminates us in this matter.  "We trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly" (Hebrews 13:18).  Recall that the word "conscience" in Scripture means more than merely sensitivity to good and evil.  The word actually bears a broader meaning that involves how we think, believe, and perceive truth and reality.  The writer of Hebrews therefore references the entirety of his internal system of conviction and response to God when declaring, "We trust we have a good conscience".  Regarding our present consideration, note what the writer does not say.  He does not affirm, "We know that we have a good conscience".  He rather writes, "We   trust", that is, confidence of conviction does not correlate to an arrogant certainty.  The willingness to be corrected walks hand in hand with a proper affirmation of cherished beliefs.  "I know whom I have believed… Cleanse Thou me from secret faults" (II Timothy 1:12; Psalm 19:12).

   Conviction and humility are devoted companions.  The willingness to be corrected strengthens the confidence of our beliefs rather than causing uncertainty.  Fear rather than faith leads to arrogance and its dismissive attitude toward those with whom we differ.  The blustering adherent of a doctrinal position spreads his feathers to appear larger than he actually is because he is afraid that he might not be right.  Change would be required if the awareness and the admission of error occurred.  In the hearts of the humble, however, true conviction continually bears witness to the truth that "If any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (I Corinthians 8:2).  I would go so far as to suggest that this declaration of Paul would do well to take its rightful place alongside the cardinal doctrines of our faith.  Indeed, we may know something.  We may know more than something.  And we may be right about the something we know.  But we know nothing yet as we ought to know.

   I can disagree with my brother or sister without dismissing them.  I can hold on to my beliefs without strangling them into a twisted caricature of devilish, carnal self-centeredness that bears no resemblance to the character, nature, and way of the Lord Jesus.  "Nothing yet as we ought to know."  Let us make it personal: I know nothing yet as I ought to know."  If this admission becomes cardinal in my thoughts and attitudes, I can be confident that "a whole heapin' helpin' " of the love of the Lord Jesus will become cardinal in honoring my fellow believers with whom I agree, and with whom I disagree.

"Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?  Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom."
(James 3:13) 

Weekly Memory Verse
    But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
(Hebrews 2:9)

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