Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Is Theological Harmony in the Church Possible?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Whatever gift anyone has received from the Giver of gifts, it builds up the church. When you're confused about whether a message you hear or read comes from God or is a counterfeit from the Enemy, just watch and see: does it build up the church?

It is commonly said that theological harmony is impossible in the church until after the second coming of Christ. Theologians must squabble, we think; teachers must disagree; pastors must preach against each other; you're not smart unless you demonstrate where you differ from everyone else.

Paul says no; this "one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Spirit" (Eph. 4:4, 5) means what it says. We are to "grow up" out of our childishness into "the unity of the faith." Christ is not divided. That means a development of character that brings God's people to the enormously high standard of the Son of God Himself--"a perfect man, ... the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (vs. 13).

Someone may ask, "Is that the heresy of perfectionism?" No. "Perfectionism" is indeed a heresy, but this is not it; the heresy part is the idea of perfection of the flesh. The flesh never becomes perfect until Jesus comes. But this is Christlike perfection of character. The Bible does not even claim perfection of Christ's flesh. As a Carpenter, He was a careful workman, but must we say that He never bent a nail or hit His thumb? Hebrews says He learned "perfection" by the "things which He suffered" (5:8, 9).

But let us beware of ridiculing the idea of overcoming sin, because it's what Christ died to accomplish in His people! It's the final fruit of His work as High Priest in the second apartment of His heavenly sanctuary, the time of its ultimate cleansing on this antitypical Day of Atonement. It's His work going forward just now. It's His ministry of the "growing up" of His people that they may no longer be immature, "tossed about" by confusion, but may "grow up" before His coming.

The best good news comes now: the growing up process is going on! "The whole body," the church, is like a human body that grows in perfect symmetry and unity. Paul's idea is that the truest "church growth" is not where specialists come in to cause it, but where the members themselves, filled with agape, are adding new members, and helping those already in the church to grow.

That is the ultimate "evangelism," which will be demonstrated perfectly when that "other angel coming down from heaven, having great authority" illuminates the earth "with his glory," calling every honest-hearted soul to "come out of Babylon" (Rev. 18:1-4). And, praise God! His people still scattered in "Babylon" will heed the Voice and come!

That "other angel" is again a symbol of a people who have the message and are the messengers. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit as "the latter rain" will supply the holy energy. The beginning of that final "gift" was given long ago, but it was not welcomed at the time. But God will not permit His seed to return unto Him void; He is watching over that message, and in His providence it will bear its fruit.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Ephesians: You've Been "Adopted," 2005.
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