Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 19 Number 9 September 2017
Page 3

God’s Plan for Unity

Gary C. HamptonUnity can only be achieved with a plan. God’s plan includes just one body, the ultimate symbol of unity. That one body is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). There is only one Holy Spirit to give members of the body life and peace through His message. Following that message will result in all followers of Christ having one hope, eternal life in Heaven with God. The hope of Heaven serves as an anchor during life’s storms and is the Christian’s means of remaining steadfast (Ephesians 4:4; Hebrews 6:19).

Real unity is only achievable when all submit to one Master. The Master of the church is the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18; Acts 2:36; 10:36, 43; Romans 10:12; 1 Peter 3:22). The Savior’s life on earth points believers to God’s Word and His will (John 4:34; 6:38; 7:16; 7:25-29; 9:4). The entirety of God’s will comprises the sum of all that Christians believe and is the one faith. Actively following the singular faith will result in being added to the one body through being baptized with the Lord’s one baptism (Ephesians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Baptism in the name of Jesus, the one Lord, gives one remission of sins and begins the walk of a new life (Romans 6:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

The unifying “ones” come from the mind and active will of but one God, the great Creator Who is over all things. Nothing exists without Him, nor is anything outside of His authority. He rules in the entire universe, and we are sustained through His power (Colossians 1:15-17; Acts 17:24-28). Christ’s disciples have a special relationship to the Father through the sacrificial death of His Son. It is clear to see through the previous “ones” that the Almighty dwells in the lives of His purchased people (Ephesians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

May the family of God always follow God’s plan for unity. May we always remember we are one body united in one Lord honoring one Father through yielding to the inspired words of one Spirit.

A Slippery Slope
to Man’s Decisions

Robert Johnson

Robert JohnsonIn the New Testament, one of the words for sin comes from the Greek word “hamartano.” The word means “to sin, to miss a mark on the way, not to hit the mark” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament). As Creator, God is the standard of truth and reveals His truth through Scripture. “Sanctify them in your truth: Your word is truth” (John 17:17). The Bible is God’s pattern or standard, the mark we are to hit for human conduct. “Your word I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:16-18)

How well has humanity done in following God’s commandments? Throughout history, not very well. Paul, shortly after teaching the truth of salvation and Christian living to the churches in Galatia, wrote to them, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7). It is part of the human experience, once influenced by sin, to want to determine for oneself what is right and best. It also applies to the decisions made by nations, once God’s perfect will is rejected in favor of the ideas and desires of humanity. Sin always leads one on a slippery slope into more sin and the negative consequences that accompany it. Paul reminded the church in Rome of this attribute of sin, one which, in their own lives, they had experienced. “I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification” (Romans 6:19). The phrase “resulting in” comes from a term that refers to motion toward a direction. Here, it means sin only leads to more sin. In reality, it is a death spiral, deeper and further into sin, which leads to death (Romans 6:23). Unless the process is arrested, as was the case by their renouncement of sinful practices and turning to the righteousness of God, it only gets worse, never better. The very nature of sin leads to more sin, to worse sin and to the devastation that follows in its wake.

Sin creates dissatisfaction, and whatever is established in it will just lead to a greater influence of it in life. “They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more” (Ephesians 4:18-19). Without the influence of God’s divine will, there is no real authority for right or wrong, except in the changing conditions of society, which is no real authority at all. We can experience God’s blessings by living according to His parameters, or we can substitute the whims of the flesh, which constantly change and bring negative consequences to life. Are we willing to take a slippery slope that can ultimately consume us? “Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

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