Cooperation: Should We All Get Along? (Part 1)

cooperation-images-871Have you ever wondered, “How should Christians work together to accomplish the work of the Kingdom of God? Why do there have to be so many things which divide us? Why can’t we all just get along?” For the purpose of our study, we are not going to delve into discussions of denominational structure or church governance, but rather we are going to look at what the Bible has to say about those things which unify or divide us, both in our personal relationships and our Kingdom endeavors. These truths apply to our lives, not only as a church, but as individual Christians.

Why can’t all people claiming to be Christians be joined together for the advancement of the Kingdom? When looked at on the surface, it would seem this is a valid question. After all, don’t we all love Jesus? Don’t we all want to do His will on this earth? Aren’t we all His children? Why can’t we all just get along?

Perhaps more than any other day since the first couple of centuries of Christianity, we are living in a day of religious pluralism; a day when the most highly touted virtue is tolerance. Tolerance and acceptance are the mottos of the day. These fit hand in hand with the philosophy of the day, postmodernism, which sees all truth claims as being equal. So, when we, as New Testament Christians, because of deep doctrinal differences, refuse to join forces with others who also call themselves Christians, we come off as being intolerant, narrow minded, and elitist. They mock and scorn us, calling us fundamentalists and extremists.

There are those within nearly every church, who in their spiritually adolescent naiveté, question why we cannot simply join hands with anyone who calls themselves a Christian. But, for all their sincerity, they fail to recognize we are bound, not by what seems right to us, not by what the world would dictate as being tolerant, but we are bound by Scripture itself. We are bound by the Word of God.

The Scripture has a lot to say about unity; about with whom we are to associate. But it also has a great deal to say about who we should avoid, about with whom we should intentionally disassociate ourselves.

There are basically two realms in which we are called to be circumspect, vigilant, and cautious about our relationships. One is in the area of personal relationships and the other is in the area of our religious practice. Interestingly enough the two have a way of influencing one another.

Beginning back in the Book of Exodus and throughout the Old Testament, God is clear that His people should not corrupt themselves by allowing themselves to be in fellowship with the pagans around them. As God is making a covenant with the Israelites, He warns them against being in fellowship with the nations who occupied the Promised Land: “Be careful not to make a treaty with the inhabitants of the land that you are going to enter; otherwise, they will become a snare among you. Instead, you must tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, and chop down their Asherah poles. You are to never bow down to another god because the Lord, being jealous by nature, is a jealous God. Do not make a treaty with the inhabitants of the land, or else when they prostitute themselves with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, they will invite you, and you will eat of their sacrifice. Then you will take some of their daughters [as brides] for your sons. Their daughters will prostitute themselves with their gods and cause your sons to prostitute themselves with their gods” (Ex. 34:12-16).

God has always warned His people to keep themselves from being in intimate fellowship with those who are not believers. Invariably, when we are too close to the wrong people, they have a tendency to draw us away from the Lord. Psalm 1:1 tells us, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” Proverbs 4:14-15 instructs us saying, “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.”

Go through the Old Testament and you will find that the Israelites were consistently disobedient at this point and the compromise God warned would occur should they be in fellowship with the nations around them was the very thing which led them into sin. There’s no greater example of this than Solomon himself, whose foreign wives caused him to compromise his walk with God and brought the practice of idol worship back into the land.

The New Testament carries this thought forward, warning us against being in league with the lost who surround us. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: bad company corrupts good character.”  2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked [mismatched] together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” This speaks to who we are in business with, it speaks to who we marry; it speaks to every intimate relationship in our lives. Young people, before you start dating someone, one of the first conversations you have should be about what that other person believes about Jesus. If they don’t believe in Jesus like you do, if they don’t hold to a sound doctrine about who He is, don’t date them. The Bible does not advocate “missionary dating.” You say, “But Pastor that’s rather radical, don’t you think?” Actually, it’s not only radical, it’s also Scriptural. Don’t be unequally yoked.

The Scripture does not tell us we cannot befriend lost people or be acquainted with them, rather it tells us that our intimate relationships should not be with anyone unless they are committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and to His truth revealed in Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, Paul writes to the church at Corinth about this issue. If there was ever a church which faced this issue, it was the church at Corinth. He says, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister [believer], but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.” In 1 Timothy 6, Paul says: “If anyone teaches other doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, they are conceited, understanding nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind…”

Again, in 2 John 9-11, Scripture clearly directs us not to be in fellowship with those who claim to be Christians, but do not hold to sound doctrine: “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.” The clear teaching here is that we are not to be in fellowship, much less join in Kingdom endeavors with those who do not hold to sound doctrine.

This is the very reason doctrine is important. Some people call themselves Christians, but they don’t mean what we mean (or better yet, what the Bible means). Some people do not believe Jesus is the Christ, the only begotten Son of God. Some people do not believe Jesus shed His blood to atone for the sins of the world. Some people do not believe Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, but rather Jesus is a way, a truth, and a way of life.

I ask you, would you want to belong to a church that embraced such heresy? As Christians we cannot join in Kingdom activities with those who do not believe the truth about Jesus. What would we do together? How could we evangelize together when they don’t believe the basic doctrines of the Christian faith (i.e. the atoning work of Jesus Christ)? How could we build churches with those who don’t see the Kingdom of God as we do? Who would we reach and what would we preach if Jesus were merely one of many ways?

This is why we can’t all get along. Fundamental views of truth and falsehood separate us. Foundational differences over the nature of Scripture, the person of Christ, the nature of salvation, the eternal destiny of man, and the end of the ages will forever be the line of distinction between those of us who hold to biblical truth and those who are willing to compromise with the spirit of the age. While the world may call us rigid; while they may accuse us of intolerance and of being narrow minded; our concern should always lie with what Jesus tells us, not with what others say about us.

Maybe what we need in religious circles today is not more union, but some wise and courageous division. The reason we can’t all get along is because we weren’t meant to. Jesus Himself said this in Matthew 10:34 when He said, “Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” We are the light of the world and were not meant to be mixed with darkness. That does not give us a license to be malicious for Jesus or to have a holier than thou attitude; we are still called to speak the truth in love, but at the same time we must be prudent in our relationships, both personal and ecclesiastical.

But we need to bring balance to this truth about division: “There is a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing” (Ecc. 3:5).

In Part 2 of this article, we will consider three broad areas where we as Christians are to be united.

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About Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.

Pastor Joe has been serving in Christian ministry for 15 years. He desires to nurture and disciple believers, helping them experience a deeper level of commitment and faith in the Lord. He is the author of "Back to the Basics: A Guide for Christian Living." Through a commitment to servant leadership, he proclaims relevant Bible truth, equips the saints for effective ministry, and builds up the body of Christ. Married eleven years, Pastor Joe and his wife live in New Jersey and have two children.
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92 Responses to Cooperation: Should We All Get Along? (Part 1)

  1. harolene says:

    I so totally agree!! Would like to reblog this?

  2. Probably never unity theologically as this Protestant finds many claims of Roman Catholic Church and doctrines of non mainstream Protestants absolutely absurd. There can be no compromise on weather Jesus rose in spirit or flesh or whether Jesus is present in spirit or body in communion sacrament (I go with spirit in both cases).

    But there certainly can be unity in helping the disadvantaged people in society.

    • Carl, I disagree. We cannot work together even on helping the needy with those whose faith isn’t Biblical – this is forbidden. We can help the needy without doing this. If we do this, we’ll get pulled in – it’s guaranteed.f
      I don’t want to start a discussion, or embarrass anyone, I just disagree so wholeheartedly.

  3. JESUS cut to the chase, to the crux of a matter! We are not all “meant” to get along. The Love of Jesus is evident and proof positive regardless of denominations or discrepancies in beliefs, if you have the indwelling of The Holy Spirit and Jesus as your foundation it will be known. Pretenders will be revealed for the shams they are…period!
    If there be an intruder among the flock…then we are to make a LOUD noise to alert the brethren!
    The Good Shepherd will deal with the matter.
    God Bless.
    Anthony

    • Just had another thought. Jesus never said “there all better now, take 3 aspirin and call me in the morning” He said “go in peace, your “FAITH” has made you well”. Not I have healed you, not lookee’ what I can do but…your “FAITH” has made you well.
      “Go and tell no one”
      Well that is too bad my Beloved Jesus, cause I’m tellin’ everyone what ya’ did for me consequences or not!
      He knew we couldn’t keep silent:)
      FAITH…in God, Trust in Christ makes one well and heals all divisions if Christ focused.
      Anthony

  4. harolene says:

    Reblogged this on Harolene.com and commented:
    Should we cooperate with all who say they are “believers”? Read this before you decide!

  5. Thanks Pastor Joe. Increasingly Christians are called to choose between the narcissistic, hedonistic culture of today and traditional biblical Christianity. We expect attacks from the secular/atheist world, but the most damaging attacks come from what I call “ liberal cafeteria Christians” who distort the words of Jesus to promote popular social agenda, while ignoring anything contrary to their apriori post-modern ideology. Now with entire denominations embracing homosexuality, abortion (women’s reproductive rights), gay clergy, female pastors and fairness (socialism), we who hold to biblical principles are called bigots and hate peddlers. We are stigmatized as judgmental because Jesus said “Judge not”. Of course Jesus was speaking of hypocritical judgment and the not the responsibility of all believers to determine right from wrong. I fear this bifurcation among “Christians” will increase as the world moves toward the predicted apostasy at the end of the Church age. Still we must continue to defend truth even in the face of increasing opposition.

  6. Rita D. Palmer says:

    Christians are constantly judged by others who are not believers. We are told to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest, if it be His Will… Many times, friends are only friends because of what you can do for them. But, a Christian sees through many of these ruses and waits for God.

  7. You know guys and gals something happened today, well not some “thing” but things, one after another seemed to fall into place perfectly like every domino finding it’s mark in a “good way”.
    And I told my teary eyed wife “why so surprised?” So…caught off-guard? We often look for the “big” blessing, the miraculous intercession, we seldom see the “gold-dust” barely perceptible, the tiny nugget here and there, the cumulative effect, how the seemingly insignificant, unsubstantial, can grow towards blessing or curse as it is cultivated by us.
    As we reap thus we sow…if there is a good yield, give thanks and praise, if there is not give even more thanks and praise.
    if it’s not yet here, that can only mean that it is still on the way…amen?!
    Anthony

    • Rita D. Palmer says:

      I think your comment was well said, Anthony. I have been thinking about what you just said, and I know it is the truth. I will write it down and keep it near :)

  8. amegel says:

    Indeed, the truth is not all-encompassing; rather, the truth is narrow. Therefore, if I speak the truth and I am called narrow-minded, well then I guess I am. Great article!

  9. Streim says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for speaking/writing something that is so very needed in these times. I’ve wanted to write on this subject so many times, but the words weren’t there. I am happy to know “that you know”. We must “stand strong on the HOLY WORD of God.” We must check everything we read/hear against Scripture! Be good Bereans.
    Blessings
    Stephanie

  10. Rita D. Palmer says:

    When I blame God because I am not receiving His blessings when I pray for them, I fall into that sin of pride and greed, and lose trust. I know I don’t have all the things I pray for, and can’t understand why, though I try. What matters is what Anthony just said. Make a list of the blessings we have received over the years, whether big or tiny as a mustard seed..and then ask yourself, what has God given you that has changed your life? Well, the answer is simple. For me, God has given me life, and then raised me up and protected and loved me, and has promised me eternal life and a million more things along the way. I can see what He has done, and I know He has done all those things for me. This blog with all the comments gives me the incentive to be better and to keep going when times are difficult.

    • Amen Rita, I have received great and small blessings in my life and the ones I appreciate most are the most minute ones because those blessings helped to open my eyes to the huge ones that were so near to me that they remained an indistinguishable blur out of focus!
      If one has just awakened from a deep sleep one perceives only a rock wall, but taking a few steps back, sees the mountain, amen?!
      Ever have a fly land on the tip of your nose?
      Either you must close one eye or the other to see it clearly but crossing your eyes gives you a clearer view with both eyes.
      It is not that God is not doing stopped gifting but rather that we are out of focus/off frequency with Him…make any sense to you?
      The many “near death” times were the most peaceful, drowning, heart attack, stroke, cancer surgery(huge malignant tumor), suicide attempt pronounced dead on arrival (divorce),except for the latter, I can only describe as “bliss” and I cannot otherwise say that in this life in the temporal, that word has never been evoked otherwise nor seemed to apply otherwise. I do not say this in boast but as witness to The Lord’s infinite grace, mercy and patience with us and evidence of his abundant blessings and Love for us all!
      God Bless,
      Anthony

    • Miss Rita, Crest a hill, sit down on the cool grass and see the trees in the distance, then see the branches, then the leaves…focus on one of them the best you can, see all that you can see every subtle nuance perceivable. Close your eyes, bow your head and give thanks and praise to the Lord. When next your eyes are opened, you will see ants…the size of elephants!
      God Bless,
      Anthony/Oneagleswings

  11. One day I found myself lost in the woods, now it was not somewhere new, prior to Divine intervention it was my accepted “norm”.and the Holy Spirit showed me a long winding path through time…through those very woods, different stages of my life and growth, the good, the bad, the sins, the charity, the thefts, the lust, the hate, the bitterness, all contradictory to the life of a Christian believer, without the indwelling of The Holy Spirit eventually, I may have never perceived it nor been shown. This is how it was illustrated to me: From where I now stood I could see all the way back to my beginnings(infancy), from there were markings along the way, on trees, buried beneath rocks etc., there was a traceable path (markers) from then to now, from there to here. I saw faces, some evil, some kind, some strangers I’d encountered along the way, every single one regardless of perceived negative or positive experience from the encounter was contributing to where God was leading me and I would hope vice versa for them. From this awakened vantage point “this panoramic vista” as my good friend Doug often says. I could see clearly the answers to how I came to know and Love you Jesus? A wretch like me…how is this possible? And as if in the profound blessed illustration of the breaking of the bread in Emmaus He revealed Himself in every aspect of that long arduous path.
    HE WAS EVERYWHERE, ALWAYS THERE, HOW WONDEFUL IS THAT?
    And there was nothing to do.
    Nothing I could say…
    but fall to my knees and say THANK YOU!
    God Bless.
    Anthony/Oneagleswings

    • Rita D. Palmer says:

      Life is a journey. Sometimes we take the wrong road, but find another road to where we want to go. But the journey was shown to me, from my parents, into adulthood, marriage and then that road ended. When God worked in my, He gave me scripture and directed my steps on the path to where He wanted me to go. I heard Him, even though I did not know Him. Some people would say this is impossible, as I was not yet a child of God. But, I know I was led by the Holy Spirit, and I heard His words, which I did not understand, but remembered.
      The words in the Bible, calling, or chosen is from birth on. We are His and His alone,
      and He does not leave when trouble comes and death shows it ugly face. I became stronger in order to get through the journey, which wanted to consume me. Then in the end of the journey, God called me to come home and brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to me. I would not know my story, unless I knew the reasons behind the calling. and who walked with me the whole way, from birth till now.

  12. It is becoming more difficult to actually know who is truly a Christian that holds to sound doctrine. Everyone claims to know Jesus Christ, yet when you look at their actions, it speaks something else. Jesus said that everyone who says, Lord,Lord will enter into the kingdom of God.

  13. Elaine says:

    Reblogged this on His Well-Watered Garden Ministries with Elaine Brady and commented:
    Another wonderful article from Pastor Joe! Disciples, we must unite and stand strong in the power of His might. We must be actively living our faith lives out loud so that others can see, hear and know God’s Truth is alive and well in each of us. May God grant us strength and courage for the days ahead are dark. Our Brothers & Sisters worldwide are facing persecution. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see a similar persecution in our own country in the coming time. We must train ourselves up now to be ready later. If we don’t, our failure to plan will be planning to fail.

  14. Pingback: Cooperation: Should We All Get Along? (Part 2) | Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.

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  16. I agree with regard to “fundamental views of truth and falsehood”, but we have a problem when we consider non-essentials to be fundamental. “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” That’s fundamental.
    Most everything beyond that is playing into the devil’s divisive hands.

    In Revelation, Jesus had an admonition for all but two of the churches. Perhaps if the churches had labored together, the ones who were lukewarm would have been inspired and challenged by the ones who were on fire. Jesus held these things against them: “In the process of rooting out false apostles you have lost your love.” “You eat food sacrificed to idols and commit sexual immorality.” “You tolerate Jezebel, who promotes sexual immorality.” “You have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Wake up and attend to your unfinished deeds.” “Your wealth has blinded you to your spiritual need and has made you useless.”

    None of these had to do with the minutia of doctrinal differences. So yes, we should not become yoked in work or marriage with those who are sexually immoral (and with the epidemic of pornography addiction, I wonder if that means Christian women should separate themselves from their addicted husbands, I wonder whether Christian young women will be able to find anyone to marry), but I do believe we can serve shoulder to shoulder with those who share our belief that Jesus is Lord, even if we disagree with them on doctrinal issues. There is too much evil in this world not to. Would you really not join forces with a Catholic church to rescue the Christians trapped on a mountaintop in Iraq. Lord have mercy!

    One of your commenters wonders why non-Christains are even allowed in church. Isn’t it a club for Christians? Perhaps he goes to a church where people don’t get saved. I believe non-Christians should be excluded from leadership, but certainly not excluded from worship. Jesus had throngs of people following Him. He didn’t send any of them packing. Instead He looked out over the variegated crowd of hurting people and said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, those who mourn….: And when His teaching became too difficult for some and they walked away, He didn’t chase after them with a revised message that was more palatable. He merely said, “Let him who has ears hear.”

    So let’s teach Jesus’ words just as He spoke them, not sugar-coated so as not to offend anyone. But let’s also not be so diligent in the non-essentials that we lose love. Let non-believers and those whose doctrine doesn’t match yours perfectly work along side you to stem the tide of evil, you might rub off on them.

    John said, “Teacher we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus replied. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.”

    • You make some good points. The life of a Christian who abides in God’s love is a potent witness for God in the world. Men cannot see God, but they can see His love moving us to deeds of helpfulness and kindness. The world will not believe God loves sinners until they see His love at work in His children’s lives. I agree; there are those who consider non-essentials to be fundamental. They confuse biblical principles with personal preferences. That is not what I am suggesting.

      I realize various Christian denominations interpret and apply some Scriptures differently, and we all must walk in the light that God has given us and fulfill the calling of the ministry God has laid on our hearts. Yet we share a common foundation of belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We rejoice whenever the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is lifted up and we affirm the fundamental truths we share in common with other Christians.

      “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” This verse is absolutely fundamental. I believe the Bible also teaches there are other fundamental or foundational truths upon which Christianity is based (i.e. sinfulness of mankind, sacrifice of Jesus, virgin birth, existence of a literal hell, and a few others). What do you think?

      • I think “Men cannot see God, but they can see His love moving us to deeds of helpfulness and kindness. The world will not believe God loves sinners until they see His love at work in His children’s lives.” is beautiful.

        That is why I am not for shutting out or rejecting people who want to serve God, even if they are misinformed. Can you imagine desiring to draw close to God, daring to approach His family and being rejected by His children. I am in a Bible study with a woman who, when she first joined our group, said some pretty wild things. Her view of God was completely based on her own imagination. Over the past few years I have seen her views shift as she has studied God’s word and learned from others. Some in the group bristled the first year she was with us. Some wanted to exclude her. I’m glad we didn’t. I’m glad we were patient and kind. I’m glad she was able to experience God’s kindness and patience through us.

        I know you were talking about post-modern churches in your post, but post-modern churches are full of individuals who are seeking God. Let’s not smack them down because they are not up to speed.

        I also think some of the foundational truths you added go hand in hand with believing that Jesus is Lord and God raised Him from the dead. If mankind isn’t sinful, then we don’t need a Savior, so believing Jesus is one’s savior implies that one recognizes that mankind is sinful and needs to be saved. If one does not believe in the sacrifice of Jesus, what is the basis of their salvation? If not a virgin birth, what qualifies Jesus? If there is no hell, from what are we being saved? Rather than excluding someone or some group, I would rather ask those questions as we labor together.

        It is a tricky thing. I used to be staunchly loyal to the Truth over anything else, but along the way Jesus impressed upon me that He died for people, not doctrine. People are going to heaven, doctrine is staying here. Not that I think we should have an “anything goes” attitude. We need to know the Scriptures and add them to the conversation. If we isolate ourselves from the misinformed, there will be no conversation and they won’t have the opportunity to rethink things.

        Perhaps pastors, rather than trying to guard their flocks, should strengthen them and send them out to be influential co-laborers. Being rooted in the fundamentals will keep them safe enough.

        “But I know whom I have believed,
        and am persuaded that He is able
        to keep that which I’ve committed
        unto Him against that day.”

        That hymn is playing in my head as I type so I thought I’d share the refrain. God bless you, sir.

        • Well said. As a pastor, I view my role primarily as equipping the saints for works of service (or “strengthening and sending out the flock” as you say).

          I know people are afforded a certain level of anonymity on the internet, but I like to get to know others best I can. Feel free to send me a private message telling me a little about yourself if you’d like. My email is joequatronejr@gmail.com. God bless!

        • You actually brought tears to my eyes as I read this comment T.R.B., I was very moved!
          Actually all your comments but this one in particular. I got glory bumps from my head to my toes I know Truth and true passion when I hear it…unmistakable, it moved me, moved through me…it is not common and therefore stands out clearly.
          Don’t be mistaken I would not sin in flattering you but in humility I know The Holy Spirit speaking. This was being plucked right out of the stream as you were receiving it, I know that I’m all smiles right now, this cannot be faked.
          God Bless you and thank you for your candor in truth!
          All glory be to God, in Jesus’ holy precious name!
          Anthony/Oneagleswings

        • Raul Lopez says:

          I’m just wondering about something that, I would like explained, if possible? It is this paragraph that you wrote:

          It is a tricky thing. I used to be staunchly loyal to the Truth over anything else, but along the way Jesus impressed upon me that He died for people, not doctrine. People are going to heaven, doctrine is staying here. Not that I think we should have an “anything goes” attitude. We need to know the Scriptures and add them to the conversation. If we isolate ourselves from the misinformed, there will be no conversation and they won’t have the opportunity to rethink things.

          I’m not sure how Jesus impressed this upon you because the statement simply doesn’t make sense. That Jesus died for people IS A DOCTRINE. Doctrine simply means a ‘teaching’. One of the teachings is the death sacrifice to atone for sin which is what you are claiming Christ did and of which I agree but not fully (Jesus died for a theocentric reason, not a sotero-centric reason. He died to show God’s justice against sin and thereby show God’s glory (attributes on display), Romans 3:25-26. Jesus died to declare God’s righteousness and to declare that God makes someone righteous).

          Also, people go to ‘heaven’ according to ‘doctrine’. It is the doctrine of salvation that opens the door to a person meeting God. When Jesus said; “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” Jesus was ‘indoctrinating’ his apostles and any other hearers. If we ignore doctrine (which simply means the teachings of God) then we ignore God. So, the statement about Jesus dying for people and not doctrine is not quite true. Jesus died for people and to provide judgment against sin and that IS a doctrine.

          The statement about people going to heaven and doctrine staying here is not exactly right either… People go to heaven or hell BECAUSE of doctrine. It is in what you believe about God, the work of his son on the cross and your allegiance to the truths (doctrines) displayed to you that gets you to heaven or hell. Remember, it is faith (trust and allegiance) to God (trust in what? Doctrine – Trust in what God says) that leads us to his grace whereby we are saved from the power, penalty and, one day, presence of sin. In other words, without ‘doctrine’ there can be no faith. We place our trust on information given by a trustworthy source… ‘Information given’ IS doctrine.

          The idea is not ‘one or the other being important’… The idea is ‘one AND the other is EQUALLY important’. It is equally important to be loving to unbelievers just as it is equally important to defend what God says about his person, his plans, and his creation. It is just as EQUALLY important to attempt to balance both a loving temporary tolerance to unbelievers as it is to keep the church pure by separating from those that claim to be believers and completely refuse to conform to Christ. You cannot make one more important than the other. You cannot tear out the whole chapter of I Corinthians 5 and use John 3:16 as an excuse. They are both the word of God.

          • Hello Raul,

            My dictionary defines doctrine as “a set of beliefs that are taught or believed to be true.” Before He returned to heaven, Jesus said, “Go make disciples. Baptize them and teach them everything I have commanded you.” Everything Jesus taught is doctrine we should insist upon. But the church also promulgates a lot of man-made doctrine, add-ons that Jesus warned against: “Beware the yeast of the Pharisees.” As I have studied His word and His character and matured as a Christian, He has taught me to discern the difference. By example (Zacchaeus, tax-collectors, sinners, disciples who were often clueless) He has shown me that I should not shut people out and refuse to fellowship or co-labor with them.

            Doctrine doesn’t save. The blood of Jesus saves (without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness). Doctrine teaches that but it doesn’t do that. So if I have to choose between gently, lovingly, patiently leading someone to a saving knowledge of Jesus or beating them into submission with doctrine, I’ll choose the former. With one there is a hope; with the other there is just a path strewn with bruised, beaten-down, bitter souls who were foolish enough to believe there was room in God’s house for them.

            Unity in the essentials, liberty in the non-essentials and charity in everything. Err on the side of charity and leave the rest to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.

            I hope I answered your questions. Have a lovely weekend.

            • Raul Lopez says:

              Yes you answered the question…

              My only point you’ve stated so far on this response is essentially what I was pointing out. Both are inseparable. Now, as for leading someone to a saving knowledge of Jesus is not an ‘or’ or a ‘chose’. It needs to be both.

              No matter how much you patiently and lovingly lead someone to Christ, the final decision resides in their acceptance or rejection of the ‘message’ (the doctrine that you must present).

              This shouldn’t be a choice of which way to go. It must be ‘inclusive’ of both manners. Lovingly and patiently present the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth (so to speak). It’s an ‘and’ and never a ‘one of multiple choice’. That’s the point I’m making.

              As for essentials – that’s where certain disagreements may actually arrive with me. Who decides what the ‘essentials’ are? Are the ‘essentials’ only those truths that lead us to salvation? Could an essential for unity be that I believe I’m a sinner, Christ died for me, and I’m forgiven of my sins BUT… I refuse to believe in the resurrection? Is the resurrection an ‘essential’? I believe I’m a sinner but I don’t think I’m ‘that bad’ just not perfect like God is. Is this something I can believe and still be in unity with the faith? Or is the reprobation of man as taught in Romans chapters 1-3 an ‘essential’?

              This is why a BELIEVER needs pastors and teachers. Unity in the faith is found, according to Ephesians 4:11-15, by a growth of knowledge to truth within a group of believers. Without it, well… read Ephesians 4:11-15 and it will tell you pretty plainly what occurs if this is ignored.

              BTW: doctrine = didaskalia = simply means instruction, learning or teaching. (Strongs Exhaustive of G1319) as used in Ephesians 4:14.

            • Jesus decides what the essentials are and He spent 3 years showing us and telling us what they are.

              My comments were addressing Pastor Joe’s post about distancing ourselves from those who do not hold to the same beliefs. My point was that the church’s beliefs are not always in alignment with what Jesus taught.

              I don’t believe we should distance ourselves from fellow Christians who may be in error. Where would Apollos be if Priscilla and Aquilla had written him off as the enemy instead of inviting him over to dinner to bring him up to speed?

              I’m glad you brought up didaskalia, because the only time Jesus used the word was recorded in Matthew and Mark in this context:
              “This people honors me with their lips, but there heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine the precepts of men.”

              If I were to ask Jesus how He would rather I spend my time: splitting hairs and arguing semantics OR praying and figuring out a way to help my brothers and sisters who are being slaughtered in Syria and Iraq, I’m pretty sure I know which He’d choose.

              Now, if you will excuse me, I must puree my lentils and feed my family. -trb

      • Raul Lopez says:

        I’m about to comment on this:

        “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” This verse is absolutely fundamental. I believe the Bible also teaches there are other fundamental or foundational truths upon which Christianity is based (i.e. sinfulness of mankind, sacrifice of Jesus, virgin birth, existence of a literal hell, and a few others). What do you think?

        I won’t state that there is any ‘foundational truths’ per se. Truth is truth. There are foundations that we build upon but both the floor and the roof is part of the whole building. What I would state is that we start on a foundation and build upon it as we interpret scripture. You’re claiming that the foundation is, in itself, doctrine. How do you separate what is foundational and what is not foundational if both ‘truths’ come from the same God?

        I would say that one’s foundation is not necessarily in a particular doctrine but in one’s particular method of interpretation of God’s word. Each of the things you’ve mentioned, and I’m assuming you take a protestant approach, follows a line of historic-grammatically methods or, better put, you interpret the scriptures ‘fundamentally’ (normally). One can take the same passages of scripture and interpret them under a different method (allegorical or even contra-validating methods) and the same passages may be either written off as ‘not God’s word’ or, even worse, a completely different idea than what is plainly taught.

        I don’t think that today’s church is really dealing heavily with ‘false God’s’ as the early church was or the validity of Jesus as the Christ (unless you’re dealing with a Jewish person). I don’t see too many problems convincing someone that the Bible is God’s word. The problems I see is the false beliefs of the same word that each of us reads and the idea of “Well, that’s your interpretation.” statement as a dismissal of a discussion involving the truths associated. The false beliefs of God found today is not, in general, an acknowledgement of another God but in an assumption of different attributes of the same supposed God being believed.

  17. Pingback: OF INTEREST: Independent Thoughts from around the Internet August 13, 2014 | End Times Prophecy Report

  18. nuggets4u says:

    Reblogged this on nuggets4u and commented:
    Good article on unity.

  19. Think on this: “when Jesus broke bread he didn’t pull out a serrated knife and make precise cuts. He grasped it with both hands, twisted and pulled apart and passed it around.”
    No one can argue with that can they?
    Everything He did, everything He taught, was “hands on”…agreed?
    Either we are being taught hands on, in the spirit, or not at all.
    Jesus made it real simple…have a doubt? “Follow me” and see for yourself.
    God Bless,
    Anthony/Oneagleswings

  20. Rita D. Palmer says:

    “”Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” Unbelievers are called infidels, another word one seldom hears nowadays
    I have often thought I should forgive those who have hurt me and have done unconscionable things against me. But that is not true.. They never asked for forgiveness. Would God be the same way. If I a sinner did not ask for forgiveness, would he forgive me. No. Unrepentant, unbelievers have not asked God for forgiveness, and are not Christian, so should I love and forgive them for everything they do, regardless how heinous the act? No, I will not.

    • Rita D. Palmer says:

      Forgiveness does not just come from God but also from His flock. Luke 17:3-4 says, Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, “I repent”, you must forgive him. This is not always easy. If repentance is genuine, it must always be forgiven, even if it is the same sin over and over again. Human nature wants to push us in the direction of giving up on someone who is in perpetual sin because we tend to stop believing in someone who is constantly engaged in sin, but the Bible is clear on this issue. God NEVER gives up on His children who come in His name to ask for forgiveness, which is why we cannot give up either.

      I do not hate those who wound me. I always leave myself open in case they change and I call that my forgiveness, as my heart will not let me seek revenge, or hate others. I have seen hate up close and without God, hate would seek revenge.

  21. Jesus embraced children, did He teach the children the very same way He taught the Apostles?
    Were the same “fundamentals” applied?
    Did Jesus say to any child, come to me across the waters in a raging storm?
    Jesus often spoke in parables and made use of hyperbole…but made clearly known the meanings of these teachings to His disciples.
    For some strange reason I just got a visual of Albert Einstein teaching science to a first grade classroom…explains the hair doesn’t it?
    How was Jesus able to speak to all, to the exclusion of none?
    HOW DID HE DO IT…! Because frankly the more I follow the Pastor here and the more “advanced” theologians here the more division I see, and that doesn’t take a genius!
    Who cares about the “theory of relativity?”
    Jesus wants us in a relationship with Him.
    Sunday go to church Farmer Joe knows that…maybe I outta’ go find his blog…at least i’ll learn something useful and applicable to every day.
    Like how to milk a cow or grow crops.
    It seems the more we know the dumber we all sound.
    While satan laughs heartily!
    God Bless,
    Anthony/Oneagleswings

  22. I appreciate the dialogue this and other posts have generated. I believe all of us are doing the best we can with what we know and the resources we have.
    God bless!

    • I am very sorry…I didn’t intend to hurt anyone’s feelings.
      I am very grateful for all of it…it all matters everyone’s input and I am thankful for the patience and forbearance of my brothers and sisters as well.
      Please forgive me for any offenses and sins by influence.
      in Jesus name.
      I think that i might be better off sticking to poetry.
      God Bless.
      Anthony/Oneagleswings

  23. :)
    meant to post this link instead:

    http://www.theberean.org/

    this appeared in my inbox just as soon as I posted my apology…faded right in.
    when I read it my jaw dropped!
    it helped to understand why I had been compelled to write what I had posted spontaneously.
    God Bless.
    Anthony Gomez

  24. Having read this article and all the comments to date I’m left wondering that no-one has questioned how much co-operation or commitment is involved in being ‘yoked’ – whether equally or unequally?

    Marriage or a business partnership is very different from temporally working with someone for a common aim.

    Imagine a person had fallen over in the street and were too heavy for you to help up alone – would you really refuse to take one arm while someone else took the other without first checking that the other believed everything exactly as you do? I doubt that really is what anyone means but it is rather how some of the discussion comes across.

    As I’m typing this, the story of the Good Samaritan comes to mind – there’s not a direct parallel but something of the point Jesus was making in telling that story seems relevant.

    • Rita D. Palmer says:

      Although close relationships are not recommended, it does not mean we turn our noses up and ignore unbelievers, either. Second Timothy 2:24-26 tells us that as servants of the Lord, we are to be kind to and not quarrel with anyone. We should gently teach those who oppose the truth, and be patient with difficult people. Matthew 5:16 tells us, “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly father.” We should serve unbelievers so that they may see God through us and turn to Him in praise. James 5:16 says that there is great power in the prayer of a righteous person, so bring your concerns for unbelievers before God, and He will listen.

      Many people have been saved because of the prayers and service of Christians, so don’t turn your back on unbelievers, but having any kind of intimate relationship with an unbeliever can quickly and easily turn into something that is a hindrance to your walk with Christ. We are called to evangelize the lost, not be intimate with them. There is nothing wrong with building quality friendships with unbelievers – but the primary focus of such a relationship should be to win them to Christ by sharing the Gospel with them and demonstrating God’s saving power in our own lives.

      As Christians it is our duty to help others, and to turn the other cheek, help others to know Jesus Christ and to be a light in this dark world. We do these things, because we love our Savior and God Almighty, who gave salvation and who loves us in return. I am nothing with Jesus Christ.

    • Everything about that story is always “completely” relevant!
      No matter the Christian topic:)
      Anthony/Oneagleswings

    • I am not sure if I understand what you are trying to say, Rosalie. What do you mean?

      • Please bear in mind that I read you article and 74 comments in one sitting and was responding to the general feel of the conversation rather than anyone’s specific point.
        The impression was that although some people disagreed with others, the common background was that for Christians to work together with other Christians of a different persuasion or denomination was equivalent to King Saul being led into idolatry by his foreign wives, both situations being lumped together under the concept of being unequally yoked.
        It simply struck me that it might be useful to explore the concept of unequal yoking before applying it in such a sweeping way.

    • Thanks Rosalie. You make a good point. “How much co-operation or commitment is involved in being ‘yoked’ – whether equally or unequally?” Let’s take a closer look.

      “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers…” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Why did Paul say this to the Corinthian Christians? Because rival suitors vied for their affections and allegiance. The rival suitors were possibly pagan idolaters or more likely false apostles (2 Cor. 11:2–4).

      The solution to the dilemma was for them to separate from the false apostles. Whatever may have been their own and others’ estimation of their spiritual status, Paul considered the false apostles to be unbelievers (2 Cor. 11:13–15) from whom the Corinthians needed to separate.

      Paul did not say that Christians (then or now) should have no contact whatsoever with unbelievers. Earlier, he argued the absurdity of such a position (1 Cor. 5:9–10). But religious unbelievers might lead true believers astray from “sincere and pure devotion to Christ,” and that fact concerned Paul greatly. A believer can be rightly yoked only with Christ.

      To illustrate, Paul asked five rhetorical questions that reflect the wide chasm between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of Satan:
      1. “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?”
      2. “Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
      3. “What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?”
      4. “Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?”
      5. “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” (2 Cor. 6:14–16).

      What do you think?

      • I think subject has been changed. Originally the discussion was about different Christians working together for the kingdom of God. Now it seems to be about believers and unbelievers working together (or, more to the point, not doing so) for an unstated purpose.

        • I agree, Rosalie. Thanks for the feedback. God bless!

        • Raul Lopez says:

          No, I think it hasn’t changed. The idea of working with unbelievers for a secular cause is no problem so long as the cause does not go contrary to Christ (such as voting for the next president as an example).

          The subject matter is the relationship between ‘believers’ and ‘so called believers’ (professing believers). When one states that they are a believer and are not conforming to the word of God, they are one of two things and both require a separation from a ‘true believer’
          1. A person that is ‘acting’ as an unbeliever (or giving the loyalty to a doctrine or stand that is contrary to the faith as shown in the scriptures) yet is a believer. – This person falls under I Corinthians 5.
          2. A person that is proclaiming a loyalty to Christ but is either ‘acting like’ or proclaiming pagan doctrines and is not a believer. – This one falls under what is mentioned in II John and Titus 3:10 as two examples.

          This is the judgments that we, as believers, have to eventually make. Unity is not a free-for-all simply because you state a loyalty to Christ. You need to state a loyalty to the ‘correct Christ’ (as found in scripture and not a subjectively invented one) and, at least, the desire to intend to obey this correct Christ. Only in this respect should a unity be shown.

          Also, unity, according to Ephesians 4:11-15, should be a ‘growing unity’ (till we all reach unity). This is done by proper training in the word of God and can’t be accomplished any other way.

  25. Eliza says:

    I was invited by Pastor Joe to make comment on this post. I wanted to share a post that I think will help add clarity and conviction regarding the truth; walking and abiding in the truth. God bless you:)

    http://holdingforthhisword.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/walking-in-truth/

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