A Cohesive Theology
July 21, 2013
Topic: Sermon Passage: 1 Corinthians 1:10
“A COHESIVE THEOLOGY”
1 Cor. 1:10
I believe that God has called Belle Aire to TOUCH HEARTS & GLORIFY GOD.
However, I do not believe that is POSSIBLE if we do not JOIN HANDS – that is, if we do not COME TOGETHER in GENUINE UNITY.
First & foremost, we come together around a COMMON SALVATION, which deals with HOW we are SAVED. As our CHURCH COVENANT states, we have “been led, we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour.”
We also are joined together by a COHESIVE THEOLOGY. This deals with the issue of WHAT we BELIEVE.
Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
What is that “tie that binds”?
Is it our common CULTURAL VALUES?
Is it our MUSICAL TASTES?
Is it our POLITICAL LEANINGS?
Is it our SHARED EXPERIENCES?
All these are common, LEGITIMATE “ties” – but they are NOT “the tie that binds.”
Then what is? It is our BELIEFS. It is:
In WHOM we believe (Jesus Christ);
In WHAT we believe (Scripture).
This is “the tie that binds” ALL Christians. After all, the TRUTH of God is not intended to DIVIDE BELIEVERS in God!
God’s DESIRE is expressed in the prayer of JESUS: “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21)
But all Christians do not INTERPRET or UNDERSTAND all the scriptures the SAME way.
That is the key REASON for different DENOMINATIONS, or different TYPES of CHURCHES.
We are a SOUTHERN BAPTIST church – and, as Southern Baptists, we hold to some BASIC beliefs.
Those beliefs are SUMMARIZED in a document known as The Baptist Faith and Message (1925, 1963, 2000).
As MEMBERS of Belle Aire Baptist Church, we should be in AGREEMENT with those very BASIC beliefs.
But, beyond these BASIC beliefs, we can & often do DIFFER in our opinions.
For example: V. God’s Purpose of Grace: “Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners.”
Exactly HOW does God ELECT, & WHO does God elect?
My conviction is that we can DISAGREE on the DISTINCTIVES of election, while AGREEING on the basic belief that ELECTION is clearly a COMPONENT in SALVATION.
As we will sometimes DISAGREE on some of the FINER POINTS of our beliefs, it is always good to keep this famous advice in mind:
In the essentials, unity;
In the non-essentials, diversity;
In all things, charity.
It is the RESPONSIBILITY of each LOCAL CHURCH to determine WHAT BELIEFS are ESSENTIAL for their UNITY.
And so, we are talking about DOCTRINE.
The GOSPEL itself is a DOCTRINE, for it is a TEACHING of what God has done for our SALVATION.
Regarding doctrine, we need to have firmly-established CONVICTIONS – but we also need a degree of TOLERANCE.
WHY is TOLERANCE NECESSARY?
Because we all DIFFER in terms of our SPIRITUAL GROWTH, which includes our growth in UNDERSTANDING SCRIPTURE (this reality also applies to CHURCH LEADERS).
Because Scripture itself recognizes that it contains varying LEVELS of DIFFICULTY.
For instance, speaking of PAUL, PETER wrote that, regarding his letters, “there are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” (2 Pet. 3:16)
Because not all Scripture is EQUAL in IMPORTANCE.
As Jesus said, there are “the weightier matters of the law.” (Matt. 23:23)
This UNDERSCORES the importance of INTERPRETING SCRIPTURE by scripture, & not by our OWN ARBITRARY standards.
What are some basic ways in which TOLERANCE can be exercised within the local church?
By FOCUSING on our areas of AGREEMENT, rather than our areas of DISAGREEMENT.
By considering the COST of DISUNITY, which basically gives SATAN the VICTORY.
By the pursuit of HUMILITY.
But again, TOLERANCE is not the same as INDIFFERENCE!
It is NOT ENOUGH, for instance, for a church to simply state that they adhere to the AUTHORITY of SCRIPTURE.
CULTS do the same thing! Therefore, we must go into much greater DETAIL than some simplistic, blanket statement.
As John MacArthur stated, “The teaching of the church should not be a smorgasbord from which its members can pick and choose . . . Even if the groups get along with each other and tolerate each other’s views, doctrinal confusion and spiritual weakness are inevitable.”
We need to keep these DISTINCTIONS in mind:
There is a UNITY of the HEART.
1 Cor. 12:25 states that it is God’s desire “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.”
This refers to a COMMON LOVE & CONCERN that we have for one another.
Therefore, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Cor. 12:26)
There is a unity of the MIND: 1 Cor. 1:10.
We will never achieve PERFECT UNITY: 1 Cor. 11:18-19.
As stated earlier, there will NEVER be a time in which EVERY MEMBER of the church has the SAME LEVEL of MATURITY & KNOWLEDGE.
We will never achieve perfect unity, but we should ALWAYS be STRIVING for it.
As Paul said to the Philippians, we should be “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel . . . being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Phil. 1:27b; 2:2)
To achieve HEART unity at the EXPENSE of MIND unity is to actually have DISUNITY.
We must not confuse WISE TOLERANCE with COWARDLY COMPROMISE.
The TRUTH is worth STRIVING for, & the truth is worth DYING for.
That reality serves to remind us that, if the TRUTH is worth DYING for, it is sometimes worth SEPARATING for.
Sadly, there are times when DIVISION is NECESSARY: 2 Tim. 4:3-4 – when the CLEAR TEACHING of scripture is DENIED, DIVISION is required.
Our UNITY (both mind & heart) is worth STRIVING for, because it GLORIFIES GOD: Rom. 15:5-6.
It is the TRUTH “that binds our hearts in Christian love.”
If we are to TOUCH HEARTS & GLORIFY GOD, then we must JOIN HANDS around a COHESIVE THEOLOGY.
“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Cor. 13:11)