A Devotion for 3 February 2021 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
(Ephesians 4:1-6; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Only those who are truly IN Christ can walk WITH Christ. There is no division of love or truth in Christ. If we are in Christ, it is His will that has made us free and One in Him – not any act of self-will (popularity mislabeled ‘free will’ by the world) There is no free will outside the bonds of love in Christ. Our wills must conform to the will of our Lord else we cannot claim Him as Lord. If we are One with Christ, we will be united as One with all who place their full trust in Him. So how do divisions arise in the midst of the churches? It is because there is no union of all who profess Christ in following His word and Truth. Far more churches are divided over mundane considerations such as building plans, carpets, windows, and political issues than over truth and faith in His Immutable Word. That reveals a division which is external to Christ.
Our Lord has revealed to us: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7) There is only ONE Way, and ONE Truth, and ONE Life! The plethora of verses in which we are counseled to be IN Christ are too numerous for the scope of this devotion, but I believe it profitable for us to explore at least some of those verses and how they relate to the Christian walk.
First of all, only those who are chosen and called can enjoy the benefit of being in Christ. All who are without the Ark of Christ will perish in the coming fiery ruin of the world and its elements. All who remain without that Ark at the last trumpet shall remain so throughout the destruction that is coming upon the earth. Just as in the case of Noah, only God can close the door to that Ark of Salvation in Christ. “And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. 16And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.” (Genesis 7:15-16)
The yearnings of faith, generated by the work of the Holy Ghost in hearts of men, is the instrument whereby God calls out His people from the world. One of my youth once asked me how God knows which are His and which belong to the Adversary? I explained that God was like a great iron Magnet. When He passes over the children of men, those who are made of the same metal and nature are attracted to Him and drawn up. Many who are made of base metals of a different nature are left behind. Of course, being IN Christ, we rise as He rose on that first Easter morning.
In order to walk WITH Christ, we must be IN Christ and sharing that same Mind which He possesses. There are none who walk with Christ who evince disparate thoughts and doctrine of those of the Lord. In order to stand with God, we must own a part in His heart of hearts. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24) “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)
The most profound counsel of our Oneness with God the Father and God the Son comes from our Lord Himself: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:15-22)
Evidence of failure for worshippers to be of one mind in the church is the divisions and dissensions we see today. If the church is centered on God, they will be agreed on the pure doctrine of the Gospel and no room for disagreement. Church is not about buildings, investments, or even growth – it is about teaching men and women the pure truth of the Gospel and sharing that Gospel abroad.
When we walk together with Christ, we must be in agreement with Him in all things. And all others who share that walk must likewise be in agreement. There is no room for the mind of the sinner to walk there. Whatever thing God calls sin must be acknowledged by the Church as sin. This pertains to the preservation of innocent life, the dignity and sacredness of Holy Matrimony between one man and one woman, and all other Commandments given by God and enforced – not by constraint – but by love.
How far will you follow Christ? Will you only follow as far as the Galilean shores, to the shores of Jordan Banks, to the Mount of Olives? Will you stop short of Calvary, or will you bear your cross to the borrowed tomb and beyond to the resurrection morning? If we intend to claim our part in Paradise, we must go there by way of the walk of our Lord for He is the ONLY Way!
Perhaps the most devastating failure of the modern church is the failure to agree with God on that which God considers sin. The Church has failed to exercise discipline claiming that the saints are not to judge. What a grievous misunderstanding of the Word – either in ignorance or intention. Jesus commands us to judge in the Gospel of St. John and other places: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24) So, what is righteous judgment. IT is judgment based upon the Commandments and Will of God and not the frivolous notions of man. In our churches today, the Word and Commandments of God are being watered down to suit social mores and not Godly virtues. The end of this heretical teaching is death for the wages of sin is death. If we are unable to agree with God on sin, we have no part with Him in His Kingdom.
There are many churches in the world, but only One Church that is the Bride of Christ. The latter is a Church that is obedient to her betrothed and subservient to Him in all things. Those other churches that have launched out to promote the will of man have no claim and no name with Christ. The Word of God is not subject to the whims of man or his corrupt society. The social church will be those on our Lord’s left hand who are cast away for lack of love and faith in the Bridegroom.
The best description of the true Church is found in the Words of her Maker: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 46Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 47And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:31-47)
Where do you fit in with the above description? Are you In Christ or without?