Yesterday I received a book as a Christmas gift. It was Volume Four of a four-volume systematic theology. One of the topics supported in the theology book is cessationism. The word cessation is the noun related to the verb “cease.” Therefore, I wold have thought that the word means that something has ceased. However, the author defines cessationism as “the view that some of the (spiritual) gifts exist today.” What a wonderful way to spin it!
The author’s deliberation goes this way:
- Since an Apostle had to be an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ, and since only persons living in the early first century could be eyewitnesses, therefore the New Testament gift of Apostleship stopped.
- And, since the gift of Apostleship ceased, and since some gifts were unique as sign gifts of Apostleship (healing, raising the dead, laying on hands for others to receive the gift of tongues), therefore tongues ceased as an Apostolic sign gift.
- And, since the gift of tongues was received exclusively through the laying on of hands by an Apostle, therefore any person speaking in tongues who has never met one of the Apostles is practicing a form of pagan religious gibberish.
While I do agree that some modern tongue-talking is not legit, I don’t agree that the Bible teaches the cessation of speaking in tongues …or loss of the Apostolic gift.
In Second Corinthians 12:12, Paul defended his apostleship by saying, “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.” He did not say that the signs of an apostle were signs and wonders. He only wanted his apostleship to be seen as analogous to the hyperlian Apostles with their signs and wonders. This is not a statement of an Apostolic requisite.
Hebrews 2:3,4 says, “(This message) was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” This passage is cited as textual proof that outward signs were only needed for the establishment of the Church and then were intended to cease entirely. However, the passage doesn’t contain any indication of such a presumptive premise, the cessation of any spiritual gifts. Other passages of the New Testament indicate that the Church could expect the gifts of the Holy Spirit to continue until the return of Christ.
Acts 14:4,14 say Barnabas was an apostle. “But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles… But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd…”
2 Corinthians 8:23 says there are other apostles. “As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are apostles of the churches, the glory of Christ.”
Philippians 2:25 says Epaphroditus is an apostle. “I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your apostle and minister to my need…”
I can’t find any New Testament passage that binds apostleship to the gift of tongues. An apostle is someone sent supernaturally by the Holy Spirit through the Church. This is exactly what the modern church does by ordaining and sending missionaries. Paul’s apostolic travels are called his “missionary” journeys.
Unfortunately, there is an ugly modern view that apostles are loud-voiced people who have a special anointing giving them the right to dominate over others in the church. (Maybe they don’t get 1 Peter 5:1-6.) If these modern super-apostles are truly apostles, then I am a cessationist. This needs to stop.
Not all kinds of tongues are languages known to men. 1 Corinthians 12:10 says that there are various kinds of tongues. On the Day of Pentecost, tongues was languages naturally known to the hearers but unlearned by the speakers. 1 Corinthians 14 says that there someone may speak in tongues of men and of angels. I doubt if any human can naturally diagnose, interpret, or understand the language of angels. In both cases, it is clear that the person speaking in supernatural tongues would not naturally understand either one, tongues of men or of angels.
False tongues does not rule out genuine tongues. It has been pointed out that some pagan religions exercise speaking in tongues. The poor logic says, “…surely God is not giving a miraculous confirmation of paganism.” I say that counterfeits only exist because of the genuine nature of the original.
The promise was not only to Apostles. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter understood that the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit that was evidenced and accompanied by speaking in an unlearned language was premised upon the prophecy of Joel. Joel did not make the promise exclusively to the Apostles. He made it to sons, daughters, young, old, male and female servants.
The author states that Acts 2:7 is proof that only the Apostles spoke in tongues on the Day of Pentecost. “And they were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?'” Since the Apostles were the “men of Galilee”, and since other members of the 120 in the Upper Room were not from Jerusalem and Judea and not from Galilee, wouldn’t this prove that only the Apostles spoke in tongues? It would not, since the Galilean statement is a quotation of the Jews that were staying in Jerusalem for the feast. The biblical record attests that, true or false, the astonished Jews actually said it, not to the veracity of the statement. It could have easily been an overly generalized assumption about all the Christians since they were in the company of Galileans. In no way would an uninformed statement by anyone limit the scope of the promise of the Holy Spirit to specific recipients or exclude those that were not Galilean.
It has been assumed that the only way to speak in tongues is through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. Acts 8:18, “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money…” However, this passage is a statement of what Simon the Magician observed without any application upon the rest of the Church. There is no reason to extrapolate such a rule of limitation from this verse… unless you want need to perfect your eisegesis (the art of forcing a text to mean what you want it to mean).
Finally, the Bible says, “as for tongues, they will cease.” The theology book pulls these six words out of context and applies them to the end of the Apostolic age. Take a look at the passage in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12. “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” It is clearly a passage about eternity, about heaven. When we get to heaven, there will be no need to speak in tongues. They will cease.
If Jesus completely satisfied the requirements of the Law, then everyone who places faith in Jesus is free from any obligation to the Ten Commandments.
It should follow that those who place faith in Jesus Christ are obligated to obey Him and not the Ten Commandments. The law of Christ obligates us to greater things than the 10 Commandments. I am not suggesting that we should disobey the Ten Commandments. While we are obedient to Christ, we cannot be in violation of the Ten Commandments. I do not commit adultery, not because of the Law, but because I desire to honor Christ in my relationship with my wife, specifically in regard to my sexual behavior. The Law will not fill you with the Holy Spirit. The Law will not provide a crucifixion in which you can participate by faith to experience transformation of character through death to self. Jesus is greater than the Law.
We should not obey the Ten Commandments because we are in obedience to Christ.
2 Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse;
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law…
25 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
16 Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 18 …if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
A lot of us don’t understand the inerrancy of the Bible. Inerrancy means no mistakes. This would be possible only if the Bible is a supernatural library of books.
Inerrancy applies to the original text given to the original authors of Scripture. Inerrancy does not apply to the human authors, but only to the specific words of the text. When John, Paul, James, and Peter weren’t writing divinely inspired Scripture, the were ordinary imperfect men. That is what makes the Bible miraculous.
Inerrancy does not exempt a copyist from making a mistake when writing a new manuscript from an old manuscript. Remember, before the printing press, copies were made by hand. The more copies of these hand-written New Testament manuscripts that we find, the more likely we are to find these variations. There are an enormous amount of variations in copied texts because we have an enormous amount of existing manuscripts. In 2016, there were 5,856 Greek manuscripts of New Testament books with an average of 450 pages. (By comparison, the average classical Greek author has less than 15 copies of his work in existence today.) The scholars that compare these 5,856 manuscripts can determine that the New Testament is 99.99% accurate to the originals, and the remaining potential inaccuracies do not affect any important Christian doctrine.
Inerrancy does not extend to translations of the Bible into various languages… including the Authorized King James Version.
Inerrancy does not extend to preachers, evangelists, or modern-day super-apostles. When someone says, “Thus saith the Lord,” it means, listen up and measure each and every word that is spoken against the infallible inspired written Word of God… even if they make up fancy words like revelation-knowledge or other bunk to manipulate you.
Inerrancy does not extend to genuine prophetic utterances, messages in tongues, private or public glossolalia, interpretation of tongues, or other gifts of the Spirit. All these must be subjected to scrutiny by the Scriptures.
If God supernaturally inspired the Bible, it contains no errors. If God supernaturally inspired the Bible, it is an authoritative word over our lives. If the Bible originally contained mistakes, it isn’t likely that it came from God, and therefore would not have much authority.
The Bible is a supernatural book in that it is a God-breathed, collection of genuine prophetic writings, carrying divine authority as the Word of God.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16,17)
(Did you know that when Paul wrote 2 Timothy 3:16,17, the New Testament was still in the process of being written by himself and the other authors. He wrote this about the Hebrew Scriptures that later came to be called the Old Testament by Christians?)
God tells us to bless those who curse you. In fact, it is reinforced in the New Testament at least three times.
Luke 6:27-31. “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
Romans 12:14. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”
So then, wouldn’t you think that church people are expected to humbly accept every and all forms of abuse and insult? For example, wouldn’t these verses indicate that anyone can come into your church on Sunday morning and start cursing everyone, and all you can do is offer them the microphone and a complimentary glazed donut?
The Bible says to bless those who curse you. However, it isn’t the only thing the Bible says.
Jesus’ objective was that we live at peace with one another, that we should be peacemakers, but when his disciples were rebuking the children, Jesus did not welcome their poor attitudes. He became indignant (ἀγανακτέω) and corrected them publicly. When Jesus saw that temple worship had been twisted into an opportunity for financial exploitation, he physically blocked people from doing business and flipped their tables and chairs, and rebuked them. Why didn’t he bless them? That is something to think about.
The truth is that Christians are not called to embrace any and all kinds of speech and behavior. It does not promote peace to tolerate everyone who wants to destroy the peace of God that comes through the gospel.
Paul instructed us not to tolerate anyone perverting the Gospel:
Galatians 1:6-9. “ I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
John commanded us not to bless those who sin and deceptively spread false doctrine:
2nd John 9-11. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
Paul directed the church to remove a persistently divisive person:
Titus 3:9,10. But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.
Paul gave straightforward instruction on how to deal with a sexually immoral person who calls himself a brother:
1 Corinthians 5:4,5. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
It would be wrong to submit to EVERY kind of opposition just so that we can have peace. There is a time to speak out and act up. At least, Jesus, Paul, and John thought so.
Christians must place a high value on making peace and forgiveness. Please don’t use any scriptures as an excuse to continue unforgiveness toward someone or to display anger and bitterness. Seek peace and pursue it… Pursue peace with all people… Let the peace of God rule in your heart… If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men…
Yet, don’t sacrifice everything sacred upon the altar of peace.
How do we know when to answer with blessing and when to answer with a rebuke? Know the Scriptures. Rely upon the Holy Spirit. Seek wisdom and agreement with mature followers of Christ. Pray.
Recently, a conference speaker said,
“If your experience is exalted above God’s Word, you are wrong.”
In my opinion, this was the most important statement that I heard at the ministers’ conference.
The conference speaker led pastors in an organized session of practicing spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, visions, laying on of hands, and other experiences of inspired speech and prayer often associated with the Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit. Imagine a meeting room filled with ministers praying in unknown languages and then taking turns speaking any message that God may have placed in their heart. There were all kinds of statements being made by the participating ministers. Some offered direct quotes of Scripture. Some intended to encourage and uplift the hearers. Others intended to admonish us. However, in all that diversity, I did not hear one minister make a statement contradictory to Scripture.
The Prophetic Experiences of Two Different Groups: A Comparison
I wish this were true of other meetings in which the participants were encouraged to speak prophetically. Awhile back, in a different setting, my wife and I were eavesdropping on a class for a few minutes. The leader asked the students to listen to the Lord and then speak out what God placed in their hearts. Almost every statement was foolish. One student spoke into the microphone that God wanted her to pray to a dead saint. The leader nodded in agreement and spoke affirmation into the mic. The leader was encouraging the students to seek an experience with God that was, in fact, a revelation of God apart from Scripture.
Was there a difference between the two different groups? What led to such different outcomes?
The first group, the ministers, were all life-long students of the Bible. They were committed to daily reading of the Word. They all had practiced memorization of Scripture with the intent that God’s Word was grafted in to their hearts. Each minister had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit as prescribed and described in Scripture.
The second group, the students, were novices without any working knowledge of God’s Word. They had not committed Scripture to memory. Their hearts were filled with silly ideas or even carnal thoughts. Some just wanted to say something to make the teacher happy. The participants had not experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some of them had never even professed salvation through Jesus Christ.
The second group was being encouraged to have an experience, a personal revelation from God. They were doing what the leader asked of them, speaking from what was in their hearts, and the contents reflected exactly what was in their hearts.
The group of ministers possessed hearts saturated daily and filled with God’s Word. They had a desire to tell forth God’s Word. (Prophecy is the forth-telling of God’s Word. We learned that back in Bible college.)
One group spoke from their Scripture-saturated hearts as the Holy Spirit led them. The other group spoke from their own unregenerate soul, human intellect and carnal imagination.
God wants to speak from hearts saturated by His Word.
I have a book written by one of those television evangelists, Charting Your Course By the Dream in Your Heart. “Inside this book is a gold mine of information that will help you develop your full potential and bring into reality your purpose in life.” Yikes. Much of the Bible is about how to stop following your own will, your own heart, because God wants us to learn how to follow His heart. (See Luke 22:42.)
In my opinion, a good way to start a cult is by teaching unfit people to act as leaders. If a person is a non-believer or a new believer (1 Timothy 5:22), don’t encourage or expect them to draw from a deep well and come up with a full bucket. Instead of encouraging them to speak out, let’s ask unfit people to listen quietly and respectfully. (Compare James 1:19 and James 1:21.)
God speaks from a heart that has been faithfully filled with His Word, from a heart that has faithfully listened to His Spirit, from a heart that is dead to sin and alive to God. (See Colossians 3:1-3.)
Don’t be an insecure leader when building up your team.
A team is a collection of diverse individuals with shared objectives and shared resources. Each individual team member must have freedom to perform different tasks, use different methods, explore different ideas. If the team leader desires creativity, he must encourage diverse styles, diverse expression and communication, conflicting opinions, authentic individualism.
The team leader’s function is to provide this mixed group with the tools to work in harmony. The team leader must be able to know the difference between individualism and rebellion.
Squelching diversity is a bad thing. There is a vast difference between a team member who sees things differently than leadership and a team member who desires to destroy the team and depose the leader. Take the destructive team member aside quietly, give them two warnings, then move them out of the team on the third strike. On the other hand, reward the productive member that is brave enough to admit a different perspective and respectfully share it with you.
You will be stuck with your own boring ideas if you don’t bring in associates that see things differently than you do. Stop limiting yourself and your team. Stop creating an autocracy where all the minions mindlessly perform your bidding.
Your team will not grow if it consists of clones of each other. You must have diversity. Seat the I’ll-never-be-a-minion closer to you so you get all the benefit of their nonconformity.
Don’t fall into fear of conflict. Establish tools for conflict resolution, management of differences. Celebrate differences. Be grateful for those who challenge you.
Never ever have that team meeting where you pour out upon the whole team your negative assessment based upon your frustration with one individual.
Never ever give an ultimatum to your team to either squelch individuality or to leave the team.
Intimidation, no matter how polite the euphemisms in which it is published, will only result in a weaker less authentic team trying to prove to you how much suck-uppish mindless blind loyalty that they have. You will reduce them to mere employees instead of visionary partners.
Gather your diverse team. Cast the vision. Send them out on adventure to discover great things. Bring them back together to share their new revelations. Release your team to grow and be fruitful.
Measuring and Grading Towards a Nice Objective May Allow Us to Totally Miss the Greater Goals of Kids’ Ministry
1. Set High Attendance Goals.
In KidMin, we prefer bigger groups over little groups. It really is a nice goal. There are some really cool ways to make your group bigger: more parties, more toys, more candy, more games, awesome videos, awesome staging, awesome costumes, awesome music, awesome dancing. Give them what they want. And put an object lesson in it.
Some of the advantages of having big attendance numbers are:
- Bragging rights to your peers
- Good impression on your ministry supervisor
- Potential for merit-based financial incentive
- Invitations to speak at KidMin conferences
- Ministry success book deal
Obviously, these are not Kingdom goals. And hopefully, you are not like that. You simply want to have more students because that means more kids get to hear the Gospel and experience the love of Jesus. And you know that higher attendance is not the ultimate objective.
2. Promote Team Spirit.
As you move toward ministry improvement, you cannot neglect your team. Volunteers are scarce and insecure. You need to grab them, brand them and keep them. Your team needs to know that they are the best team in the church. You want loyal workers who breathe, walk, and dream children’s church. How can this be done? By creating an environment of possessiveness, dominance, and self-admiration. While these attitudes do not belong in the Church, they are there. Examine yourself:
- Have you ever heard yourself talking about “my workers… my ministry… my rooms… my equipment… my resources… my area” as if you owned it all?
- Do you feel that your ministry is in competition with the “other” ministries?
- When an “outsider” needs to use your space or equipment, which do you immediately display: the animosity of possessiveness or the bliss of openhandedness?
- When one of your faithful workers moves on to another area of ministry, do you experience a sense of generous fulfillment or a sense of bitter resentment?
It is possible to build a team without building a personal kingdom. Encourage team members to contribute, collaborate, fellowship, and unify. Squelch any symptoms of competitiveness, isolation, self-interest, or egotism. Bring your gifts, talents and resources to serve the whole church. There is only one God, one Church, so seek that Kingdom.
3. Make kids behave.
I often say it was a good day because no one got hurt in Children’s Church. It feels good when the kids wait their turn, talk politely, behave respectfully.
However, I know in my heart that good behavior does not necessarily indicate a changed heart. I could be merely squeezing lost boys and girls into my Christian-shaped mold. And I know that it is much more important for kids’ hearts to be transformed by God than it is for kids’ hands to be folded in their lap while I am speaking.
Recently, I have been starting our “free time” with an encouragement for the students to demonstrate the Fruit of the Spirit to each other as they play together, not because I have the goal of an expected behavior but because they need to learn how to live together as Spirit-empowered people.
4. Get kids saved.
We want everyone to come to a knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That’s a good goal. Remember that line from the Great Commission:
Go and make disciples…
We often ask students to do two things: lifting your hand and repeating a prayer. These aren’t bad things to do, but they don’t make you a disciple.
We can be so focused upon adding another kid’s name to a list that it becomes the final goal when it is really just the beginning of a new life in Christ. We need to stop treating the introduction to the Story as if it was the conclusion. There is more. Much more. Inspire your team to lead children to Christ, engage them in mentoring/discipleship, and apprentice them into service/ministry.
“God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” Acts 3:26
I recently took a look at Romans 14:11.
For it is written:
“As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”
I saw an argument that since Paul was quoting the Old Testament, and since Isaiah used the word LORD|YHWH, therefore only Jehovah should be worshipped and not Jesus. So I decided to look into that claim.
Paul is citing a passage from Isaiah 45. It is valuable to know that many passages in the New Testament affirm what Isaiah said. Here is a comparison of some New Testament statements alongside Isaiah 45:18-23:
|Jesus Christ created us:|
"and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him," Colossians 3:10
Jesus Christ created the worlds:
"...has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" Hebrews 1:2
All things are through Jesus:
"For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." Romans 11:36
The World was made through Jesus:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made... He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." John 1:1-3,10
Jesus was named GOD the Savior:
"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
In the same passage, Jesus was also "God with us":
"So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'” Matthew 1:22,23
Mary affirmed Jesus as God and Savior:
"And Mary said:
'My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.'" Luke 1:46,47
Jesus is exclusively the Savior
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12
A good minister of Jesus Christ preaches that He is God and Savior:
"For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." 1 Timothy 4:10
Paul, who was commissioned by the resurrected person of Jesus Christ, describes Jesus as God and Savior:
"but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;" Titus 1:3
"...showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." Titus 2:10
"...looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" Titus 2:13
"But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared..." Titus 3:4
Peter affirmed Jesus is God and Savior:
"Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" 2 Peter 1:1
For thus says the LORD,
Paul gives an authoritative statement about the LORD (YHWH or Jehovah) of Isaiah 45:23. Paul wrote to the church at Philippi:
“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
That settles it for me. Jesus is Jehovah.
Don't get pedantic on pronunciation and mispronunciations of Yehoshuah/Yeshua/Jesus/Iesus or YHWH/GOD/LORD/Jehovah. I have made it clear about whom I have written.
by A. W. Tozer God Tells the Man Who Cares, c 1970, Christian Publications Inc, pp 45-48
When to unite and when to divide, that is the question, and a right answer requires the wisdom of a Solomon.
Some settle the problem by rule of thumb: All union is good and all division bad. It’s that easy. But obviously this effortless way of dealing with the matter ignores the lessons of history and overlooks some of the deep spiritual laws by which men live.
If good men were all for union and bad men for division, or vice versa, that would simplify things for us. Or if it could be shown that God always unites and the devil always divides it would be easy to find our way around in this confused and confusing world. But that is not how things are.
To divide what should be divided and unite what should be united is the part of wisdom. Unions of dissimilar elements is never good even where it is possible, nor is the arbitrary division of elements that are alike; and this is as certainly true of things moral and religious as of things political or scientific.
The first divider was God who at the creation divided the light from the darkness. This division set the direction for all God’s dealings in nature and in grace. Light and darkness are incompatible; to try to have both in the same place at once is to try the impossible and end by havng neither the one nor the other, but dimness rather, and obscurity.
In the world of men there are at present scarcely any sharp outlines. The race is fallen. Sin has brought confusion. The wheat grows with the tares, the sheep and the goats coexist, the farms of the just and the unjust lie side by side in the landscape, the mission is next door to the saloon.
But things will not always be so. The hour is coming when the sheep with be divided from the goats and the tares separated from the wheat. God will again divide the light from the darkness and all things will run to their kind. Tares will go into the fire with tares and wheat into the garner with wheat. The dimness will lift like a fog and all outlines will appear. Hell will be seen to be hell all the way through, and heaven revealed as the one home of all who bear the nature of the one God.
For that time we with patience wait. In the meanwhile for each of us, and for the church wherever she appears in human society, the constantly recurring question must be: What shall we unite with and from what shall we separate? The question of coexistence does not enter here, but the question of union and fellowship does. The wheat grows in the same field with the tares, but shall the two cross-polinate? The sheep graze near the goats, but shall they seek to interbreed? The unjust and the just enjoy the same rain and sunshine, but shall they forget their deep moral differences and intermarry?
To these questions the popular answer is yes. Union for union’s sake, and men shall be brothers be for a’ that. Unity is so devoutly to be desired that no price is too high to pay for it and nothing is important enough to keep us apart. Truth is slain to provide a feast to celebrate the marriage of heaven and hell, and all to support a concept of unity which has no basis in the Word of God.
The Spirit-illuminated church will have none of this. In a fallen world like ours unity is no treasure to be purchased at the price of compromise. Loyalty to God, faithfulness and truth and the preservation of a good conscience are jewels more precious than gold of Ophir or diamonds from the mine. For these jewels men have suffered the loss of property, imprisonment and even death; for them, even in recent times, behind the various curtains, followers of Christ have paid the last full measure of devotion and quietly died, unknown to and unsung by the great world, but known to God and dear to His Father heart. In the day that shall declare the secrets of all souls these shall come forth to receive the deeds done in the body. Surely such as these are wiser philosophers than the religious camp followers of meaningless unity who have not the courage to stand against the vogues and who bleat for brotherhood only because it happens to be for the time popular.
“Divide and conquer” is the cynical slogan of Machiavellian political leaders, but Satan knows how to unite and conquer. To bring a nation to its knees the aspiring dictator must unite it. By repeated appeals to national pride or to the need to avenge some past or present wrong the demagogue succeeds in uniting the populace behind him. It is easy after that to take control of the military and to beat the legislature into submission. Then follows almost perfect unity indeed, but it is the unity of the stockyards and the concentration camp. We have seen this happen several times in this century, and the world will see it at least once more when the nations of the earth are united under Antichrist.
When confused sheep start over a cliff the individual sheep can save himself only be separating from the flock. Perfect unity at such a time can only mean total destruction for all. The wise sheep to save his own hide disaffiliates.
Power lies in the union of things similar and the division of things dissimilar. Maybe what we need in religious circles today is not more union but some wise and courageous division. Everyone desires peace but it could be that revival will follow the sword.
Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor. During his lifetime, he was described as "a 20th century prophet." Tozer exhorted the Church to act as those who belonged to the kingdom of God. His legacy is the library of over 40 books written from his heart to the Church.