October 26

Romans 13-14, Psalm 139

I have a Christian friend who approached her daughter in law in tears pleading with her to leave the church and denomination that she was in. When this met with resistance from her, my friend approached me, knowing that her daughter in law was my patient and that I often share my faith in Christ with my patients. When she came in for her annual visit, I asked her if she knew what the gospel message was( believe it or not probably 99% of people in all denominations do not know the answer to this question), then proceeded to ask her what she knew of the Bible( which was nothing). I then shared my testimony and taught her how to approach God's Word in a consistent and open way. When I saw her the following year she was still reading, and had not chosen to leave her previous church, but was slowly growing in her understanding. Though I love my church, Calvary Chapel of Old Bridge, and believe in what it stands for and enjoy the pastors and their teachings, it would be wrong of me to think that only our church or denomination contains all the believers in the world. Unfortunately there are many filling the Calvary churches who are unbelievers and never committed their lives to Christ. There are also many believers in churches whose doctrine I don't particularly agree with. People need to be in a true relationship with Christ and His Word, and that will point out things that are Biblically incorrect, we don't need to initiate our conversations by pointing them out.

Paul says in Romans 14:1,"Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things." He goes on in Romans 14:3,6, "Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him...He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day to the Lord, he does not observe it...". Though food offered to pagan idols is not central to denominational differences any longer, many things are, such as style of worship, style of teaching, dancing, alcohol, manifestations of the Holy Spirit, etc. Though most today follow Sunday worship, a pattern discussed by the early church fathers like Justin Martyr and Tertullian, there are those who prefer to follow the Jewish Sabbath like the seventh day Adventists. We have many convictions regarding various matters that the Bible does not specifically designate as wrong. We should not accentuate or illuminate these differences, for this divides the body rather than unifying it. Paul goes on in Romans 14:12-13 to say, "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way."

It has been said, "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity." Notice what is mentioned first is unity, not uniformity. The body of Christ is splintered because of those who insist on emphasizing the differences that divide us rather than the qualities that unite us. We should avoid tearing each other apart and find ways to build each other up. If there is something being practiced which is absolutely Biblically incorrect, and you are asked, then answer and point out the truth in love. But lead someone to a consistent and open approach to God's Word and those areas will be seen by the reader. Christ and the apostles always spoke of the church not the denomination. Paul said in Galatians 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Whatever divisions we have placed in our own minds we should insert here: neither black nor white, neither rich nor poor, neither republican nor democrat, neither conservative nor liberal, neither American nor Russian, neither Catholic nor Protestant, neither Pentecostal nor Baptist, etc. The only real division is whether we belong to Christ or not, that, and that alone should be our focus when approaching others.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster