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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Divisive Christianity?

For the word of God is living and powerful,
 and sharper than any two-edged sword,
 piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, 
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 

You will find no argument here that the above statement from Scripture stands just as true today as it did when it was penned in the first century. The question that might arise here is whether or not the context is the same in the 21st century! Most Christians would be quick to tell you that, while we have already entered the Rest to which the author refers, we have not yet fully entered that Rest, for obvious reasons. It is manifestly apparent that we have not yet inherited our Resurrection Bodies, as they still perish, pain & tears continue to plague us & evil persists', they might be tempted to say. John wrote, after all, that 'when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is' ( I John 3:2b )!

Heresy might better be defined as divisiveness. The divisiveness that threatened the early Church, though essence seemingly not that different than the doctrinal differences which plague the Institutional Church today, was of a different nature, so to speak!  The Judaizers that the apostle Paul, in particular, labored against tried to force the new Christians, both Jew & Gentile, to live according to the Law they had held sacred for thousands of years. Jesus, as the Christ, the Jew's Messiah, fulfilled that Law & even, as Paul later wrote 'wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross' ( Colossians 2:14 ). Having ushered in that 'age to come' ( Luke 18:31 ( Luke 20:27-38 ) Ephesians 1:21, Hebrews 6:5 ) which He had promised throughout the Scriptures, Jesus made His disciples a New Creation ( II Corinthians 5:17 ), One which is not divided!

Evil still exists, the can be no doubt, but it only persists as men & women persevere in doing wickedly! Again, there can be no doubt that there are many who continue to do evil & so there must be divisiveness, of a sort, to separate those who do righteously from those who do wickedly. However, within the Body of Christ, there is no such division! The Body of Christ, though different in nature than the Institutional Church, yet seems to be plagued by similar doctrines of demons as those that were adversarial to the Church of the 1st century. There are those among us, in the Institutional Church, who have been influenced by the ungodly culture that surrounds us, who would have us accept those things which the Word of God forbids. On the other hand & at the other end of the spectrum, so to speak, are those who, though the Law was fulfilled by the Christ, still endeavor to keep that same Law & teach others to do the same! 

The Law in question, in essence what we call the Ten Commandments, is still in force, though as Jesus elucidated in Mark 12:30 & 31, not quite quite in the same manner as under that first ( covenant ). In Fulfillment of the Law, Jesus showed Himself ( to be ) the Spirit of the Law; in a manner of speaking, the Law Incarnate! Since we are 'in' Christ, we are, in that sense, in ( fulfillment of ) the Law; no longer must we make every effort to keep those jots & tittles which were about to pass away ( Hebrews 8:13 ). Those who refuse to surrender to their wills to their Heavenly Father are thus guilty of the greatest evil & will never find that Rest, though they search for it with many tears!

Having entered our Rest, as those Christians in the 1st century did with the destruction of Jerusalem & the Temple, we no longer are divided! The Word of God functions still as that 'two-edged sword', helping us to discern between what is good, just & right & what is wrong, wicked & evil, but , as far as the Covenant is concerned, His job is done. We, on the other hand, have only begun; with the Strength of the Spirit that enables us, we must separate ourselves from those who do wickedly by refusing to participate in their wickedness, thus making a division between us & them.

The heresy that the apostle Paul battled in the 1st century was not a question of those within & those without, so to speak; it was rather a matter of divisiveness within the Body, a heresy which separated the Body of Moses from the Body of Christ, or as the apostle put it, 'The first man Adam' & 'The last Adam' ( I Corinthians 15:45 ). The divisiveness which now seems to divide the Body of Christ is not unlike this heresy of old in this sense; it proves which is truly the Body of Christ & which is merely a construct of man, full of doctrines of demons!

As we there continue in Fulfillment of the Law, let us be careful to discern that which unites us & that which seems to divide us!

Charles Haddon Shank

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