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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : Convincing Evidence

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crsschk
Member



Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re:

It is all a matter of still moving on the line of the first man, Adam; a pulling everything down to that level. “Are ye not men?” means not humans, but as men in the disintegration of mankind, and not the integration of the “one new man”. This is the kind of stuff being put upon the foundation of Christ and its doom is foreshown as going up in the flames and smoke of the final judgment of works. Let it be fully recognized that the “wood, hay and stubble” part of Paul’s letter (1 Cor. 3:12) is connected with this whole argument or corrective concerning divisions, and means that to build upon Christ the predilections, preferences, likes, dislikes, natural appraisals, prejudices, partisanships, partialities, etc. of even Christian people is to “be saved: yet so as by fire”. This latter solemn warning has usually been used for Gospel purposes, or for “worldly Christians” in a general way, but its use by Paul was specifically related to this matter of disunion by partisanship.

Then we come to the question of ministries. There is every reason to believe that ministry and ministries had a large place in the Corinthian mentality. To read the two letters with this thought uppermost is to be fully convinced of the fact. Indeed, the letters can be said to relate entirely, in the final issue, to the church’s ministry. But here again the painful contradiction is found. The very thing that was provided and intended for building was being used for unbuilding; the means for unifying and consolidating was being turned to divide and disintegrate. We shall touch upon only one aspect of this here.

The root weakness and therefore the expressed evil was not only the personal bias, i.e. the bias to persons, but to ministries. There was distinct failure in the matter of recognition of and rejoicing in the value and importance of EVERY form of God-given ministry. The evangelistic bias and preference would reject and criticise the teaching ministry, and probably say, “There is no gospel for the unsaved with him or with them.” The teaching bias would take the attitude toward the evangelistic that it was “elementary”, “not feeding”, etc., and so despise it. Thus you go round the clock to every aspect and emphasis of the whole ministry, and people make ministries the means and ground of divisive groups. This is pernicious in every case! Why do not the Lord’s people recognize that what is true of the Body as being one, yet having many members (1 Cor. 12:12), is also true of the ministry; it is one, yet having many aspects. Why say of any, “I (or we) have no need of you”? Then again, is it so inconceivable that the Lord will raise up specific ministries in a corporate way to be complementary to the other things that He is doing? What is the reason for the suspicion and ostracism existing in relation to ministries that the Lord is undoubtedly blessing and using? Let us ask the all-inclusive question regarding this: Is it really, honestly, transparently, and utterly a jealousy that CHRIST shall not lose anything, but rather that He shall have all the increase in spiritual life that is absolutely possible? Is it? Let us test ourselves honestly before God!

If any people in whose spiritual welfare we are interested could really find more of Christ and grow spiritually more fully and quickly in another circle of believers or under another ministry, so that there would be a greater measure of Christ in this world as represented by them, are we willing and happy that they should leave OUR church, mission, group, etc., and go there? Are we really ready for the Lord to deal with ALL that limits Him in us or our connection so that THE DRAW AND THE HOLD IS HIMSELF?

Are we trying to hold up, maintain, and conserve some THING that is not clear, free, open, and adjustable for the ever-growing fullness of Christ? It all amounts to a question of whether the Lord really has sovereignly ordained and determined our ministry. If He has, so long as spiritual principles are not violated, it just must be fulfilled, and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”; but let us be sure that it is the gates of hell against which we are warring and not the come-back of a false conception and mentality as to what the Lord is after!

Can we not rejoice in ANYTHING that truly ministers Christ, without an inward reservation born of fear as to how it may affect OUR interests? Let us beware of putting OUR hand upon the ark to preserve it intact. The Lord will only confound us if we do.

When we come to functions, we are only coming to an extension of ministry. While the SPECIFIC ministries are represented by the specific function (not offices) of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, the whole Body is brought into view as a ministering Body. Every member is an organ and therefore has a function. Interrelatedness and interdependence are the laws of its ministry, and a vast diversity is in an equally vast unity known as “the unity of the Spirit” or “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit”. Thus, the apostle gives much prominence to this great spiritual truth in relation to the impact of the church upon the world, just as did the Lord in John 17. All the strong things said by the apostle about “not discerning the Lord’s body”, and “destroying the temple of God”, etc., are seen to have a corporate aspect, and therefore involve the church in the question of its world-testimony and impact. We just cannot say to any real member of Christ, “We can do without you.” Perhaps we would not SAY that, but do we act that? Is ours a negative or a positive attitude? Surely what Paul meant was “We just cannot do without you!” “We must have you!” The need is not to maintain some earthly thing with a Christian title, but for the expression of Christ and His increase.


_________________
Mike Balog

 2004/11/4 10:21Profile
crsschk
Member



Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re:

[b]Chapter 3 - "That the World may Believe"[/b]

We have said that Christianity as it now is has set up an entirely false basis — an impossible basis — of Christian unity, and divisions among Christians are viewed and judged from a standpoint which is utterly wrong. That standpoint is the one that views the whole question in the light of the system which Christianity has become. It is no longer the all-dominating EXPERIENCE of the absolute sovereign headship of Christ over a living spiritual organism, His church; but it is now a matter of churches, missions, movements, enterprises, organizations, with their respective memberships, clientèle, officers, funds, etc. It is very largely what in the world is termed “vested interests”, in localities, countries, areas, personalities, personal interests, proprietorships, and so on and on. The supreme concern for the SPIRITUAL measure of Christ is governed by all this, instead of governing it or making it completely subservient, if not unnecessary. Realism and honesty demand that we face facts and do not deceive ourselves with false hopes and expectations.

An expression of Christian unity in any adequate way is absolutely impossible while the present position obtains!

We have got to start all over again. Until we do, the mission and testimony of the church is going to be increasingly sabotaged by suspicions, prejudices, ostracisms, and factions. This smoke from hell will stifle and paralyse, and bring increasing limitation, so that Christianity — yes, evangelical Christianity — paralyses itself. The disagreements on points of doctrine, interpretation, the taking up of one point and enlarging it to eclipse ninety-nine other wholly acceptable points on the one hand, and the wearing of blinkers regarding many unscriptural things to get benefits from a small proportion of what is good, on the other hand, is a case of putting the hand upon the ark by those who have no spiritual rights for governing the Lord’s interests, and by their limited spirituality are both standing in the Lord’s way, and ministering to this enemy-action to fill the air with questions as to “soundness” and “safety”.

We have said above that a new beginning is the only way to an adequate expression of unity. WHAT is that beginning, and WHERE is it to take place? This is a much happier line of enquiry and presentation than that wallowing in the morass of the facts, causes and nature of divisions.


_________________
Mike Balog

 2004/11/5 10:05Profile
crsschk
Member



Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re:

[b]The Starting Place and Basis of Unity is the Cross[/b]

Is it the dark shadow of legalism threatening to strangle, or actually strangling, the life of the church as in the letters to the Romans and the Galatians? Then see how the Spirit of life leads the apostle to bring the cross into full view as the only but sure means of deliverance!

Is it the many-sided carnality, the reasserting of the natural man, even unto the realm of the spirituals as at Corinth? Again, see how “Christ crucified” is the EXCLUSIVE remedy!

Is it petty jealousies and standing for rights as at Philippi? Then see the humbling of Himself by Christ, and “obedience unto death, yea, the death of the cross” which is presented as the example for victory! So it ever is: a vital union, a union with Christ in His death which has also become a critical experience in believers, in “ministers”, in “workers”, and in “the work”, is the one and only ground and way to an expression of unity.

We shall have to die, not only to the world and to ourselves, but to our work, our denomination, our mission, our enterprise or our movement, AS SUCH, and in all have only one object which obliterates all other interests and consciousness; that is Christ, His increase and fullness! The “I” of Galatians 2:20, which is supposed to be crucified with Christ, covers a much larger area than a merely legal death, or the legal aspect of Christ’s death. It touches the whole matter of religious and traditional relationships, as the context shows. Paul was really saying that the “no longer I” meant his death to the Law and its ordinances, which meant Judaism as a system which had been transcended by Christ. The Cross not only makes Christ superior to “Christianity” (as we know it) but completely subjugates it to Him.

The church — according to Paul’s statements — is no combination of nations or nationals, or classes, or denominations; it is not “inter” in any respect, it is “uni”; it annihilates ALL, and brings up “ONE NEW Man”, only one, and entirely new — as Christ is the FIRST of a “new creation”.

This has to find its very beginning in a new consciousness of a new-born child. Not this-or-that-conscious, but Christ-conscious, and “all one in Christ” CONSCIOUS, not mere doctrine or slogan. Until this ground is really taken or occupied, and Christ-consciousness just does transcend our religious connection or tradition-consciousness, there will remain inner and outer divisions.

The Cross is a mighty power, and it has to be applied right at the root of our being and of our system of things.

The question is as to whether our measure of Christ is really so much bigger than our particular Christianity-complex that the latter fails to affect us in our attitude toward Christ’s own, just because they are His. This is the only way of manifested unity.

T.A. Sparks


_________________
Mike Balog

 2004/11/8 9:59Profile





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