God will never leave us nor forsake us.
Hebrews 13:5-6 "Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things that you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you, nor forsake you,' so that we may boldly say, 'The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me.'" (emphasis mine)
(Many, if not most, of us have probably been in physical need at some time. All of us are in spiritual need, and will remain that way as long as we live in this body of flesh with its carnal nature, its lusts, phobias, hatreds, jealousies and myriad other sinful proclivities. But God does not abandon us. Never.
We can always trust in him to be there for us, no matter how hard and how far we fall. The word "never" in this passage is from "ou me", in Greek what is known as an emphatic negative . In other words, "never" means just that! Never!)
2 Corinthians 4:7-11 "But we have this treasure (speaking of the truth of the Gospel and the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ-see 1 Cor. 4:6, preceding these verses) in earthen vessels (our bodies) , that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. Troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus might also be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus might also be made manifest in our mortal flesh."
(Some expect that the Christian life should guarantee immunity from most of the troubles that are common to mankind. As you can see by this passage, the life of the Christian is not free from troubles. In fact, we can expect troubles to come simply because we are Christians. But God is with us always.
We do not seek heaven on the earth, in its societies and institutions, "for we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle (our body) were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our house which is from heaven...." (2 Corinthians 5:1-2)
We tend to let the pressures and traumas of this temporary physical existence cloud our view of the "Big Picture." God is always faithful, and will always be faithful, each and every day.
So, what does this have to do with the church, and reuniting in Christian love?
Simply this: We, the church, the Body of Christ, are "troubled on every side" collectively and individually. Can we really insist that we must remain a broken church, that things are unfixable, when it is God's intent that "the life of Jesus Christ might also be made manifest in our body....that the life of Jesus Christ might also be made manifest in our mortal flesh?"
Each of us, each body, is a member of the complete body. As a whole, we are to be the complete body of Christ, each member contributing as a smoothly functioning part of the whole.
These verses should encourage us, that, although we are beset with all kinds of problems, including division and infighting in the church, Jesus Christ has not forsaken us. He still intends that his very life be manifest, obviously evident, in our individual selves and in the collective body, the church.
Is unity, or any other personal or collective need, impossible and beyond solution for God? We can trust him to empower us to do the impossible. You can count on him always. He is always there to help. There is never a moment when he is not present. There is never a time he is unaware of our every thought and need. He will never leave you nor forsake you!)
Romans 8:31-39 "What shall we then say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that didn't spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, will he not also give us, with him, all things freely? Who shall bring an accusation against the elect of God? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ who died, but, more than that, is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? It is written, 'For your sake we are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' But in all these things we more than overcome through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to be, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
(God gave all that he could give for our salvation. This is the love of a perfect Father. Our Father is the Creator. He will not allow any created thing, natural or supernatural, to separate us from his love.
Everything but God is a created thing. God has absolute rule over every facet of his own creation. There is no enemy or situation that can come between us and our Father's love. And, by the same infinite power and love that provides such a guarantee as this, there is no created thing that can make Christian reunion impossible. In fact, we can count on that same God, all-powerful and all-knowing, to enable and complete our reunion.
Many of our personal miseries are caused by our division. We should be a close, understanding, and deeply loving community. We should be able to confide our deepest feelings and our greatest Spiritual needs to our brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter where they go to worship, and know that we will not be condemned or critically judged and shamed in any way, shape, or form.
There is a huge and terrible void in our lives that exists because we are not one in Christ, at least not to the degree that we should be. Most of us are not even aware that this is the cause of this great emptiness, this unfulfilled hunger, in our lives. There is a closeness and a warmth in the great Christian community that we were offered by Jesus Christ when we gave our lives to him. Isn't it time that we began to allow him to bring this to pass?)
1 Corinthians 10:13 "There has no temptation come your way that is not common to all mankind, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond your strength, but will, when you are tempted, also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it."
(This statement of encouragement is found in a passage that exhorts the reader against continuing in blatant sin, and giving in to temptations of the flesh. It reassures us that the temptations and tests that we confront in this life are not allowed to be more than we can handle. God knows our level of strength better than we do, and he keeps us from being overwhelmed.
Our greatest test as a body is how we will obey the will of God to put aside our own selves and truly lose our selves in him, in the Body of Christ. Then we will be truly healed.)
2 Thessalonians 3:3 "But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil."
(In context, Paul is writing to the church at Thessalonica about false religious leaders who are themselves deceived. God will not allow the true Christian to be taken in and destroyed by false and ungodly religions.
I will add here that this is not saying that every denomination or group that does not agree with me (or you) is a false and ungodly religion. Especially if they won't buy in to what I believe is truth and sound doctrine. But this very attitude seems to be an all-too-common denominator among those who cause unnecessary division.
Some would insist that they have little else to learn when it comes to essential spiritual matters; many of these would further insist that what they believe is correct, and plenty would even further insist that anyone who dares disagree with them is either stubborn, ill-informed, lacking in good common sense, or else a minion of the devil himself. How arrogant!
I would reply that it appears to me that this belief is common to some extent among most of those that disagree ...and on both sides of every doctrinal fence.
I am encouraged by the fact that it seems that there are more and more people that are willing to listen and learn. I hope I am not laboring under a self-deception when I say that it appears that God is beginning to open our hearts to receive more truth in this area. With many, the change begins with an uneasy feeling that there is something very important lacking in our relationship with God, and in our relationship with the rest of his children. From that point on there is hope for us.)
2 Timothy 2:11-13 "It is a faithful saying: For if we are dead with him, we shall also live with him, if we suffer, we shall also reign with him, if we deny him, he also will deny us, if we do not believe, he stays faithful, he cannot deny himself."
(We all have our spiritual ups and downs. God gives us the freedom to accept or reject him. If we do deny him, then he allows the denial to have its consequences, and he, in effect, denies us by staying out of our lives. He allows us to make that choice, but he is always there for us, no matter how far away we have gone, or how hard we have fallen.
He stays faithful, for his faithfulness is infinite. As soon as we turn to him, in that very moment, he is there. His love is perfect and unconditional, even though he allows us to suffer the consequences of our own headstrong decisions.
You can read, in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, of a member of the Corinthian church who was given over to Satan, disfellowshipped from the local congregation, by the apostle Paul's authority. Then, in Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, he tells them to receive the man back with love.
Even if we give ourselves over to Satan, and become friends with the very powers of darkness, still, God is ready to respond the moment we are ready return to him.
If we could always remember the faithfulness of God, we could never doubt that he can and will do today what Jesus prayed for two millennia ago, and what the Bible has commanded Christians ever since. And that is, bring us together in beautiful Christian reunion.
Oh, what comfort awaits us when the Body of Christ is together! "How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" -- Psalm 133:1)
(This is the last in a series of studies of doctrines that lead to unity. To return to the introduction and list, follow the link below to "Who We Are and What We Believe.")
Who We Are and What We Believe
Articles and Sermons
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