What Makes Small Churches Great Churches:
Part 3: Unity
Dr. Thomas Douglas
Parkway Baptist Church
Kansas City, KS
This is the fourth article in the series on the importance of small churches. The previous articles are:
The Introduction (an overview and rationale for the series)
Part 1: Truth (an overview and rationale for the series)
Part 2: Mature Love (the imperative of having a loving fellowship)
During the Revolutionary War John Dickerson popularized the saying “United we stand, divided we fall” in The Liberty Song. In refuting the religious leaders’ claim that Jesus cast out demons by the power of Beelzebub, He articulated unity in this way, “A house divided against itself cannot stand (Matt 12:25).” If you have been part of a local Baptist church built squarely on the foundation of congregational polity, then you know the challenge unity poses. Something as insignificant as wall colors or a yellow pages advertisement can spark a sharp discord within a church. When discussing how a church can remain united when members disagree, a lady in our church responded, “The same way you remain united in a marriage when you disagree. Your love for one another unites you stronger than the disagreement divides you.”
For a church comprised of members who have placed themselves under the authority of God’s Word and have committed to a mature love for each other that never fades, the challenge of unity becomes achievable. Small churches are great churches when their members unite in the essentials of the faith, in seeking the best for each other, and in reaching the world for Christ. Paul’s call for unity in the Ephesian church (ch. 4) stems from three chapters of heavy doctrine. Paul wanted the Ephesian church, comprised of converted Jews and Gentiles, to experience all the possible blessings and power associated with their faith in Christ. To do so, Paul goes outside of this world with its limitations of time and space and provides God’s perspective on the Christians gathered in Ephesus. God has chosen both the Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ (1:4), having “destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility (2:14)” through Jesus’ death. The unifying act of Jesus’ death leads Paul to pray that the church experiences “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (3:18).”
Why Your Faith Is Secure, Part 4:
It Is a Logical Necessity
We have been examining reasons for the security of the believer from Ephesians 1 and other Scriptures – that persons who are genuinely saved are saved forever. We have seen three reasons in previous articles why the Bible teaches that we cannot lose their salvation:
In this fourth article of the series is the most compelling reason why we believe that we cannot lose our salvation – because eternal salvation is a logical necessity.
We have seen that Eph. 1:13-14 describes the Holy Spirit as sealing and guaranteeing our salvation. On the basis of this Scripture and many others, we believe the Bible teaches that once someone has a genuine salvation experience is saved forever – sometimes described as “once saved, always saved.” However, other Christians disagree with this teaching. As evangelist Angel Martinez used to point out years ago, there are two logical alternatives to this view, both of which are held by other Christian groups. Besides the “once saved, always saved” view, there are those who believe (a) that you can lose your salvation once, and never regain it, or (b) you can lose and regain your salvation many times.
Which of these views is correct according to Scripture? We must ask a key question of those who believe that you could lose your salvation – “Where in Scripture does it say what would be required to lose our salvation?” More specifically, what Bible verse says which particular sins would be so heinous as to cause you to lose your salvation, and what Bible verse identifies how many sins would be required to lose your salvation? I challenge anyone to find a Bible verse with specific answers to these questions with clear reference to former Christians losing their salvation. Many verses tell us what it means to be lost, but none tell us the kind of sins or the number of sins that would be required for believers to lose their salvation.
The BioLogos-Southern Baptist Theologian Dialogue:
Theistic Evolution vs. Creationism
The BioLogos Foundation is a group of Christians who see “evolution as the means by which God created life, in contrast to Atheistic Evolutionism, Intelligent Design, and Creationism.” In essence they are looking to prove that the findings in science are compatible with the Christian faith. BioLogos was founded by Francis Collins, the former head of the Human Genome Project and currently head of the National Institutes for Health.
A dialogue is now underway on the BioLogos blog entitled “Southern Baptist Voices: An Ongoing Series” between a group of Southern Baptist theologians and some BioLogos scholars (most of whom are scientists) over the issue of the BioLogos affirmation of a version of theistic evolution. The Southern Baptist scholars were recruited by Dr. Ken Keathley of Southeastern Seminary, writing their articles at the end of last year. The BioLogos scholars are responding to them article by article over a period of time. There are comment sections after each of the articles in which anyone can join in the discussion.
By Ron F. Hale.
He has served as Pastor, Church Planter, Strategist (NAMB), Director of Missions, Associate Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Planting for a State Convention, and now in the 4th quarter of ministry as Minister of Missions.
While living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I loved looking down at the cityscape from the perch of Mt. Washington. You could ride the incline car up the steep hillside and see the confluence of the Ohio River as the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers came to an end at “The Point” in downtown Pittsburgh; Three Rivers Stadium is nearby. Depending on the weather in southwestern Pennsylvania, some days you could see muddy waters from one river flowing into the headstream of the Ohio River, while the other river brought much clearer water. These two rivers (one cloudy and one clear) seemed to flow side-by-side while slowly mixing and mingling together in the formation of the mighty Ohio.
Two rivers of theological thought have historically flowed through the mainstream of the Southern Baptist Convention. The waters have been muddied a bit by the Great Awakenings in America, the Sandy Creek revivalist tradition of Separate Baptists in the South, the Charleston tradition influenced more by Particular confessions of faith and their pastors trained in Presbyterian seminaries like Princeton, and the adoption of new Baptist confessions and statements of faith forged in the New World.
Monday Exposition Idea:
A Sign for Good
By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.
These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.
Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) put it well in his classic titled Lectures to My Students:
Fits of depression come over the most of us. Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.
Rev. Spurgeon also states, “I note that some whom I greatly love and esteem, who are, in my judgment, among the very choicest of God’s people, nevertheless, travel most of the way to heaven by night.”
Dr. W. A. Criswell (1909-2002) explains in the Believer’s Study Bible, “This is the only Psalm in Book III attributed to David and it is largely made up of quotations from other parts of the Psalter.”