My pastor preached from the gospel of John yesterday, and last night, as he discussed the testimony of John the Baptist, he hit on a very powerful one liner from The Baptizer.
“A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.” John 3:27
That is a most humbling and comforting statement. Think about it. You and I have nothing that God did not give to us. That is humbling because it confirms the fact that we are completely dependent on another, namely God. This thought and the ability to construct it in sentence form is mine because God gave it to me. Literally, everything that I have comes to me from God.
This is a comforting statement, but only for those who follow Christ and confess Him as Lord and Savior. It is comforting because as a child of God I have a perfect and loving Father who is perfect in blessing me with good gifts and perfect in correcting me with righteous and loving discipline. Everything that I need He can and will give to me, because He loves and redeemed me with a great price.
I am nothing, and that is good, for in being nothing I put God in His rightful place as above everything. What do you think? Do you believe John’s statement and if so, what are the implications for your life? Please share your thoughts.
There is no question that our Lord desires the Church to be unified. However, achieving unity in the church is difficult. We are sinful creatures who are driven by our individual passions, and those passions conflict. As a result, we choose to avoid each other, or we openly fight with each other. In either case, we are not in unity.
The question is, “can we obtain unity”? James says, “yes, you can, but you have to understand why you lack unity and what it takes to achieve unity.” He begins by asking some questions to which he gives the answer.
”What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3
It is all about personal pleasure. We are guided by our passions, and when our passions are fueled by the motive of personal pleasure, we come into conflict with each other.
It is interesting that James’ answer does not primarily involve changing our passions but changing our activity along with our passions. His instruction to us is to pray; ask God for the things that we want. “You fight with each other because you don’t have what you want, but did you ask for it?” So, one of the reasons we fail to achieve unity in the church is because we don’t ask God to give us what we want; we don’t pray.
However, it does not stop there. Some of us ask but still, we don’t receive. This is where our passions come into play. When our passions are driven by selfish motives (personal pleasure), then our prayers are not answered. Our motives too, must change (Spiritual pleasure must win out). Our motives must be driven by the will of God. “You quarrel with one another and commit murder in your heart, because you do not seek the will of God.”
To achieve unity in the church, the people of the church must pray, asking God for the things they desire in accordance with the will of God. We must be Spirit lead people and people of prayer. This is a sure path to unity.
Recently a document was presented to the National Press Club entitled “The Manhattan Declaration”. It is a document written and signed by leaders of the Roman Catholic church, the Orthodox church and Evangelical churches. The aim of the document is to make a statement concerning the collective resolve of these leaders and the other signatories that we “reaffirm” and “defend” such “fundamental truths” as “the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife and the rights of conscience and religious liberty.”
At the time of this post 123,115 individuals have signed this document. However, it has not been without disagreement among evangelicals. If you are still not sure whether you should sign the document, please consider reading the document and the opposing evangelical reasons concerning signing the document. I provide you with the links below.
I hope you will consider this issue prayerfully.