― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost Of Discipleship
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Sunday, September 23, 2012
Unity # 4: Peace in the Salvation Boat
Unity # 4: Peace in the
THEME SONG: Jesus Friend of Sinners
Thank You that You never revoke Your Covenant of love with us. You never stop doing good to us and You plant the fear of Yourself within us. Thank You for making us uncomfortable so that we may say, “The Lord is my stronghold, whom shall I fear?” You break down gates of iron. May our hearts align with Your Truth.
In Jesus Christ’s Name,
There is no trial or temptation that He brings to us that He does not use to increase our knowledge of Him. In our acts of repentance, we must have faith that He uses even the consequences of our sin for our good allowing us to share in His holiness. He has used my worst unholiness to build inner strength and He has used prolonged wounding of the heart to plant my desires in the Living Water. This mercy does not justify my evil, but only reveals His incomprehensible promise of love for all of His children. Last week’s letter was about our unity as heirs of the worth of Christ.
This letter is about our unity through His keeping of us together in the boat of salvation until the Day of redemption. Our weaknesses and differences would make it impossible for us to be unified, but as our Savior stands in our midst and says “Peace be with you”, and as we continually encourage one another to stand firm in faith until the end, our unity grows to perfection.
We often do not scratch the surface of true fellowship with one another. We have a sheer layer of politeness with one another, but we have not been confronted with our differences and our weaknesses. Rather we try to avoid bringing them to the forefront. In fact, if our differences and weaknesses were known in more detail to one another, we may be utterly appalled if we are not walking with the Spirit at the time. We are hopeless in our relationships within one another…starting right from our own families extending to our community spheres. On our own we are too selfish, too judgmental, too irritated, too afraid, and too idolatrous to be able to love sacrificially: to lay down our lives for one another as we are called to do. We are prone to declare that our own slew of weaknesses is less harmful or gruesome than that of our neighbor, but our neighbor would beg to differ. From the eyes of our Father, no one is good apart from Him. There is none righteous, not even one. No one understands the Truth. No one seeks God. We have all turned aside and together we have become useless. Our throats were open graves, and with our tongues we kept deceiving. The poison of asps was under our lips. Our mouths were full of cursing and bitterness. Our feet were quick to shed blood. Destruction and misery were in our path. We did not know the path of peace and the fear of God was not set before our eyes. (Rom 3:11-18)
Sometimes the nature of our wickedness allowed us to form and maintain some fickle relationships, but there was no true unity, not true heart-satisfying Agape fellowship. There was no sacrificial love among us. Through the Law, God brought to us the knowledge of our sin. And now, the righteousness of God has become evident to us. This righteousness of God comes to all of us who believe through our faith in Christ. THERE IS NO DISTINCTION. For all have sinned and fall short of His glory and are justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption in Christ. (Rom 3:19-24)
We were all dead in our trespasses against His Law. For in our old self we walked according to the course of this world and the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. This is why it was impossible for us to get along: we all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, being by nature children of wrath, just like the rest of the people in the world. But God being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even while we were dead in sin, made us alive together with Christ, raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places so that in the coming ages He will show us the surpassing riches of His GRACE in KINDNESS toward us in Christ. We are together His workmanship! (Eph 2:1-9).
Now, as the people of God, we are like Noah and his family who are saved together in the boat from God’s wrath against the wicked of the world reserved for judgment. Yes, our differences are great and we still each possess many weaknesses of the flesh, but we are all in the boat of salvation. God is bringing His wrath against the world and He places us where we are as preachers of righteousness. In our righteous souls, we may feel torment day after day by the lawless deeds of those around us. But God knows how to rescue all of us from temptation. In this sense, we are saved together in spite of our temporary hostilities. The day is coming when God will cast the wicked into the pit of darkness, and He will bring the unity of His saved people to completion. (2 Peter 2:4-10). He calls us to not forsake assembling together, as many do, but to encourage one another more and more as we see the day drawing near (Heb 10:25). He tells us to encourage one another DAY AFTER DAY, as long as it is still called “today” so that none of us will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb 3:13). Jesus made it clear that only if we stand firm in our faith until the end we will be saved (Matt 24:13). Our frequent times spent together in the Lord are a vital part in this firm standing. There is a type of hardening of the heart that occurs through the deceitfulness of sin that can be avoided through our frequent fellowship. We stand firm in one Spirit, with one Mind [i.e. the Mind of Christ] striving together for the faith of the Gospel. (Phil 1:27)
Even among our individual journeys of faith, we come across numerous divisive ideologies and practices. There are common pulls between legalism and wantonness, between Calvinism and Arminianism, between obedience through grace versus obedience through concerted mindful effort, between those who emphasize gifts of Spirit and those who do not, between command-and-control leadership and a more dissolved leadership style (more on this later Lord willing), between emphasis on the physical realm and exclusivity of the directing of efforts towards the heavenly realms, between moderate secularism and monasteric restriction, between sensationalism and “level-headedness”, standards of marriage and purity, gender roles… there would be no way for us to be unified. Furthermore, we were set up for endless argument and discussion. We would be like the friends of Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, who spoke many correct truths about God, yet their verbiage was tainted with the selfish judgmental mind that was not subjected to the Living Word. So what is our remedy? How can we escape our miserable plight and future disaster of division? The answer lies in our awareness that we are together in the boat of salvation. What is the boat or rather WHO is the boat? Jesus! Jesus is our boat of salvation and we are contained in Him for salvation in spite of these differences. What we need, dear saints, is for Jesus to come and stand in our midst and say “Peace be with you” as He spoke to His disciples after His resurrection when He appeared in their midst (John 20:26). As we see His glory, our voices of dispute will be silenced and our love for one another will grow as we comprehend His great love.
Even in our personal prayer life, as we comprehend that our Savior died for us WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS and maintains His Covenant in spite of our frequent faithlessness, we can only show a fraction of this grace and love to the people of God. Yes, we may feel apathetic towards some of them, some of them may irritate us or agonize us to the core, but when we understand that God demonstrated and demonstrates His love to us while we were sinners and even now when we commit sins of the flesh, He enables us to show the same towards others. I feel helpless in my unity with some believers, even those whom I love dearly, because of my quietness and sometimes fear and awkwardness. But I am looking to my Good Shepherd, my Good Shepherd, for aid. He is going to help me to crucify my flesh in the time ahead. And He is going to help you too, dear saint, with whatever hinders your unity with the people of God. Let us wait and pray for Him to reveal to us that He stands in our midst saying “”Peace be with you”. We are together in His boat. He alone must be exalted among us as Lord and Savior.
11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
“When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost Of Discipleship
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost Of Discipleship
Please read the other attachment, “If It is Possible, Let this Cup Pass: Who Killed Jesus”
Love in Christ,