Archive for April, 2009

Doctrine Divides! Love Unifies!

April 30, 2009

One of the basic ideas of today’s philosophy of ecumenical evangelism is that love is more important than doctrine. Often I hear the cry for the body of believers in Jesus Christ to join forces in love, to agree to disagree over doctrinal differences for the sake of unity and the advancement of the kingdom. Anyone not willing to agree over doctrinal differences is accused of being judgmental and unloving, of causing division. Is this really biblical? Does doctrine really divide and love unify? Can there be true unity without a shared view of the truth? I believe the answer to this last question is no.

True Unity – Union in Christ thru faith in the Truth
True unity is a major theme in the NT. Diversity is celebrated in things such as gifts and ministries [1 Cor 12:4-11; Eph 4:11], personalities, positions and cultures [Acts 1:8, 16:1, 14-15, 29-33] but never in core beliefs or doctrine.

All true believers are united in Christ by a spiritual union with Him as a result of the work of the Spirit in our hearts through faith in the Truth of the Gospel. The Scriptures command us – NOT to create unity (which is there and real already) – but to preserve this unity through acts of love in the context of local churches. (Jn 17:17,22-23; Rom 12:4-5; Eph 4:3-6,13-15; Col 3:13-16)

Love is defined in terms of obedience to the Truth/Word. (Jn 14:15,21,23-24; 1 Jn 2:3-6)

Because Christian unity comes through faith – it involves a unity in Truth and a commitment to preserve this unity by upholding the Truth(Jn 8:31-32).

True Division – Preservation of unity by rejection of error in doctrine or deed
Just as adherence to the same truths unifies Christians, we see that divergence from those truths necessarily causes division. We are warned to test everything in order that our unity be preserved (Rom 16:17-18; Ti 1:9-11; 1 Jn 4:1). Where people deny their faith by heresy or immorality, the Scripture insists that we separate from them(1 Cor 5), NOT because we are causing division – but in order to preserve the spiritual unity we have that they now deny.

Seen in this light it is error or the preaching of false doctrine that divides.

Romans 16:17-18     I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

***

A stern warning over preaching another gospel – Paul eternally condemns such twice. I believe this warning also applies to those ‘yoked’ with ones preaching another gospel ….

Galatians 1

No Other Gospel

 6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

 10Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

 

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Related:

The myth of Anglican unity without truth

Monday, 17 Mar 2008
More news

Unless Anglicans can agree on their foundational beliefs, unity will not be achievable, argues Tim Patrick.

Response from John Davis

At a time when the worldwide Anglican Church is developing significant internal cracks, the solution offered from several quarters is the recommitment to unity. It’s argued that unity is essential to the Church and necessary for it to flourish again – perhaps even crucial to its very survival. All this is fine as far as it goes, but it fails to engage with the deeper and more primary question of where our unity is to be found. Historically, Anglicans have found their unity in commonly held beliefs. But as our beliefs grow ever more diverse, the question is, Can there be true unity without a shared view of the truth? For the following reasons, I think ultimately the answer is no.

Firstly, while it’s true that ‘unity in diversity’ is a major theme in the New Testament, to understand this idea properly, we must look at the types of diversity within the church that are presented in the NT and also how the NT understands unity to be achieved. Diversity is celebrated in things such as gifts and ministries [1 Cor 12:4-11; Eph 4:11], personalities, positions and cultures [Acts 1:8, 16:1, 14-15, 29-33] but never in core beliefs or doctrine. In fact, in the Bible we find that shared belief about the nature of God and his unique work in and through Christ and the Holy Spirit is the kingpin that binds otherwise diverse peoples together [Col 3:11]. And just as adherence to the same truths unifies Christians, we see that divergence from those truths necessarily causes division. Paul, for example, openly rebuked Peter for acting inconsistently with the truth of the gospel [Gal 2:11-14] and he also repeatedly wrote about the need to be strict in doctrine [eg. Eph 4:14; 1 Tim 1:3; Titus 1:9, etc.]. Without shared truth, the church’s foundations crumble.

Secondly, if we aren’t unified in truth, it’s not at all clear what we are unified in. Some will want to say ‘Anglicanism’ and formerly this would have been helpful as Anglicans once shared the faith outlined in the 39 Articles. However, nowadays there are even Church leaders who are not committed to these. Here in Melbourne, we have clergy who deny that Christ is the unique incarnation of God [Art II], deny that a personal and lively faith in Jesus is the only way to salvation [Art XVIII] and deny the supreme authority of the Scriptures in all matters of belief [Art VI]. Of course, some may argue that Anglicanism should be defined less by its doctrine than its traditions. But this position is unsustainable given that the Articles themselves prescribe against such an understanding of our Church [Art XXXIV]. With no commonly held doctrine and no necessary tradition we have no clear ground for unity.

Finally, it is also a practical reality that full unity as a Church cannot exist without agreement on truth. A personal story. Around the last election synod, I met several times with another Melbourne clergyman who sits at the other end of the Anglican spectrum to myself and we discussed our priorities and hopes. Now, some will suggest that this sort of coming together is key to achieving unity, but while it may be valuable, the more we talked, the clearer it was that our differences were more than cultural or stylistic – they were serious divergences over matters of first importance: how we read the Bible, our understanding of repentance, etc. On some vital doctrines, we were poles apart. Please note, this did not mean that we were rude to each other, fought or anything like that – our meetings were always courteous, quite open and honest and even friendly – but for all this, they brought us no closer to being unified as Anglicans. I doubt that either of us would ever invite the other to preach. Though we were civil, our very different beliefs mean we share no deep or practical unity.

So where does all of this leave us? It seems that if we really want unity, the way ahead is to neither ignore nor just acknowledge our different beliefs, but instead to establish a common mind [Phil 1:27, 2:2]. I think it would be quite reasonable to expect that all Anglican leaders affirm their commitment to the theological foundations of Anglicanism as captured in the 39 Articles. And if any leader can’t affirm these, they should have the integrity to ask if their personal views are the cause of division as they have departed from the very basics of Anglicanism. I know that to some, all this may sound too rigid, but the reality is that unless we start by agreeing on the foundational truths, all talk of unity will simply be empty rhetoric and wishful thinking.

The Revd Tim Patrick is Assistant Curate at St Jude’s, Carlton.

A Garden Enclosed; A Fountain Sealed

April 29, 2009

Song 4:12-16
A [rock] garden enclosed 
Is my sister, my spouse,
A spring shut up, a  fountain sealed.

Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
With pleasant fruits, fragrant henna with spikenard,

Spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
With all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes,
With all the chief spices––

You are a fountain [springing up] in a garden,
A well of living waters,
And flowing streams from Lebanon.

Awake, north wind, and come, south wind!
Blow on my garden,
That its fragrance may spread abroad.
Let my lover come into His garden
And taste its choice fruits.

This is a beautiful picture of the bride of Christ. The bride is a rock garden enclosed. This brings to mind the images from my article ‘Sing to the Well’. Singing (or speaking) to the well (Num 21:16-18) was  linked with striking the rock in order for abundant waters to flow. Christ is this Spiritual Rock (1 Cor 10:4). The Rock and those who believe in Him have a well of living water that flows forth (Jn 4:14, 7:38-39).  

The bride is a sealed fountain. In biblical times wells were sealed to both keep out dust and dirt and to declare ownership (Gen 29:3). Similarly God has reserved us for His very own and protects us with the seal of the Holy Spirit.  

Ephesians 1:13-14    And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.  

A garden enclosed, sealed; a secret place within hearts belonging to God our Father(Gal 4:6 ) thru our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. A beautiful hidden place of communion and fellowship with the Lord to behold His beauty. A garden enclosed is a place of rest and protection, high upon the ‘Rock’, high above any foe (Ps 27:4-6 ), secure beneath His wings(Ps 91:1, 4, 14 AMP ).

enclosed

A Garden Enclosed
Karen Holland 7-5-06

A garden enclosed, chosen and made
Sealed, hidden deep within the heart
The secret place of the Almighty set high upon the ‘Rock’
A place to seek His face, His beauty to behold.

A garden enclosed, planted and tended by the Father’s hand
Beautiful, fed, by everflowing streams it stands
Ever fragrant, evergreen
Sweet refuge, under the shadow of His wings.
Awake mighty wind and blow
Spread abroad, this sweet garden scent – a sweet perfume
Breath of life breathe, faith, love, joy and peace
That this garden enclosed may in His grace, always abound.

Isaiah 58:11 
And the Lord shall guide you continually
And satisfy you in drought and dry places and make strong your bones,
And you shall be like a spring of water whose waters fail not.

He Shall Pour Water from His Buckets

April 28, 2009

The Lord’s glory is revealed by His voice of many waters(Rev 1:15). His bride in His likeness has the same voice(Rev 19:6).

Notice that the Bride’s voice of many waters is heard after the command to praise(Rev 19:5)! It’s after this that the King of Glory is seen in an open heaven(Rev 19:11).

Numbers 24:7    He shall pour water from his buckets[01805], And his seed shall be in many waters. “His king shall be higher than Agag, And his kingdom shall be exalted”.

From: http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Num&chapter=24&verse=7
buckets[01805] — or doliy {dol-ee’}; from 1802; a pail or jar (for drawing water):-bucket.
see HEBREW for 01802

Isaiah 32:1-2   A King shall reign in righteousness; and princes shall rule in judgment; and a MAN shall be as an hiding place from the wind,  and a covert from the tempest; as RIVERS of WATER in a dry place.


The pouring out of this water from His buckets — His buckets used to draw water from the well with joy! 

Isaiah 12   And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.

The result of this pouring out of water from His buckets — Zion is restored (Isa 33)! AND …

Your eyes will see the King in His beauty;  –Isa 33:17

… there the majestic LORD will be for us 
      A place of broad rivers and streams, 
      In which no galley with oars will sail, 
      Nor majestic ships pass by  {satan dethroned & destroyed!}
      
(For the LORD is our Judge, 
      The LORD is our Lawgiver, 
      The LORD is our King; 
      He will save us); –Isa 33:21-22

 No one living in Zion will say, “I am ill”; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven. –Isa 33:24   {there is healing in these waters!} 

***

Sing for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done this
      
shout aloud, O earth beneath. 
       Burst into song, you mountains, 
       you forests and all your trees, 
       for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, 
       he displays his glory in Israel. –Isa 44:23

The Lord’s glory will be revealed in Zion thru the voice of many waters and 

‘They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.‘ –Isa 11:9-10


Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters

April 26, 2009

Do not become weary
Do not lose heart
Continue to cast your ‘bread’ upon the waters
Bread upon the waters attracts fish
Bread is prepared to be eaten, softened by the water.

Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.  — Rev 14:1-3

Do not give up, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest.

 As the rain and the snow  come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. –Isa 55:10-11

Do not become weary in doing good
Continue to cast your ‘bread’ upon the waters!
With the voice of many waters, continue to cast your ‘bread’
It will not return void!


The expression “cast your bread on the surface of the waters,” is taken from the custom of sowing seed by casting it from boats into overflowing rivers, or in marshy ground. When the waters recede, the grain will fall to the soil and in due time spring up producing more seed.

 

Ecclesiastes 11:1-6   Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. 

Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land. 

If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie. 

Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. 

Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

Galatians 6:9-10    Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Fragrant Heart

April 13, 2009

fragheartsg

Song of Solomon 1:3-4 Because of the pleasing fragrance of your good oils, Your name is purified oil poured forth; Therefore the virgins love you.
Draw me away!
We (the Beloved) will run after you.

Fragrant Heart
Karen Holland … 4-13-2009

The Word sent to dwell among us

From a broken vessel
Sweet oil poured forth
Rich, pure, strong
A perfect sacrifice –Isa 53:12
A pleasing aroma
A scent strong enough to fill the whole house. –Jn 12:3

Jesus You breathe Your fragrance on me
I breathe in deeply
My heart is stirred
Forever changed
Living waters flow.

My heart ignited, burns, pants, runs after You
Jesus draw me away!

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. –Ps 84:1-2

Jesus breathe on me
Let me bask in the aroma of Christ
Fill me, saturate me with Your fragrance
The sweet fragrance of life
Until all see
You are mine and
I am Yours.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

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See how I was prompted to make this picture
http://propheticvisionart.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/fragrant-heart/#comment-5

Only The Lamb

April 9, 2009

Revelation 7:17    For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

The Lamb leads to springs of living water — to being touched and lifted by His hand. This is a good thing to remember when the tears fall. 

Only  the Lamb

When the tears fall remember the Lamb
Faithful and true 
Only the Lamb can lead to springs of living water
Where all things are made new.

Only the Lamb leads to the springs
Springs everflowing, never fail
Springs where tears are wiped away
Precious gems, collected and saved
Turned from pain in a heart
To a blessing, a fresh new start.

Only the Lamb
Faithful and true
Can lead to where all things are made new.

 

Psalm 56:8    You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle! You have recorded every one of them in your book.

 

Psalm 30:5    For His anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime or in His favor is life. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

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Related posts:

Precious Gems

When The Tears Fall

Tears

He Sees Every Tear

Arise Beautiful One, My Fair One{Blossom}

April 8, 2009

During worship the image of spreading your wings while waiting on the Lord to be ‘saturated’ with His presence was impressed on me. I thought it was the eagle from Isaiah 40 — anticipating the wind to ‘soar’ BUT it was the dove!!! The image of the bride — budding, blooming spreading her wings in anticipation of the union with the bridegroom! IT IS TIME FOR LOVE, TIME TO FLY INTO HIS WAITING ARMS. 🙂

The Beloved to Her Lover:
Song 7:12  Let us rise early and go to the vineyards; Let us see whether the vine has *budded{flourished} and its blossoms have opened, and whether the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love.

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From: http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Sos&chapter=7&verse=12 
*flourished – parach [06524]
a primitive root; to break forth as a bud, i.e. bloom;
generally, to spread; specifically, 
to fly (as extending the
wings)
; figuratively, to flourish:-X abroad, X abundantly,
blossom, break forth (out), bud, flourish, make fly, grow,
spread, spring (up).

This is beautiful …

bridegate

The Lover to His Beloved:

Song 2:13   The fig tree has ripened its figs, and the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. ‘Arise, my darling{love}, my beautiful{fair} one, and come away!’

The time to arise and come away
The time to be joined in love and union with the Bridegroom
The time when the flowers burst forth and appear on the earth
The blossoms flourish, opening spreading their wings
A sweet fragrance fills the air, the whole house is filled  -Jn 12:3
The time of singing has come.

Spread your wings, arise beautiful one, My fair one and come away!

Who are these who fly like a cloud,
…and like doves to their *roosts? –Isa 60:8

Who shine with the Lord’s glory? –Isa 60:1-3

My dove, you are called Hephzibah [My delight is in her]
My beautiful one you are a crown of glory
A royal diadem in My hand
As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride
So I AM rejoices over you.

O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret places of the cliff, Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely. –Song 2:14

Spread your wings, arise beautiful one, My fair one and come away!
The time of singing has come
The time of love has come
The time to fly into the Bridegrooms waiting arms
The time of union is here.

 

Isaiah 62:3-5   You shall also be [so beautiful and prosperous as to be thought of as] a crown of glory and honor in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem [exceedingly beautiful] in the hand of your God. You [Judah] shall no more be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land be called Desolate any more. But you shall be called Hephzibah [My delight is in her], and your land be called Beulah [married]; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married [owned and protected by the Lord]. For as a young man marries a virgin [O Jerusalem], so shall your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. 

Isaiah 60:8   Who are these who fly like a cloud, and like doves to their *roosts?

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From: http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=isa&chapter=60&verse=8
*roosts – ‘arubbah [0699]
feminine participle passive of 693 (as if for lurking); a
lattice; (by implication) a window, dove-cot (because of the
pigeon-holes), chimney (with its apertures for smoke), sluice
(with openings for water):-chimney, window.
see HEBREW for 0693


His Way Is In The Storm!

April 1, 2009

Nahum 1:3,7   The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet. … The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power. This is the only place in the bible where ‘slow to anger’ is linked with the Lord’s power. In other places the Lord’s abounding mercy is mentioned (Neh 9:17; Ps 103:8; Ps 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2). It’s because of the Lord’s great power and mercy that He is slow to anger, that He waits to act. Because of His great power and mercy His way is in the storm.

How do we find His way in the storm?

Usually when we are in the midst of a storm, we find it difficult to wait patiently for His way – especially if we don’t see it in the natural. But take heart, it’s in this patient waiting that the Lord proves our faith and perfects it as refined gold. His way is in the storm, His perfect way, that you may come forth as gold lacking nothing. He who has called you is faithful and He will do it!

1 Peter 1:6-7   In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,  that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

James 1:2-4, 19-20   My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. … So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;  for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24   Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful and He will do it!

Job 23:10   He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

It’s sometimes hard to remember that while you are patiently waiting on the Lord, your faith is being refined as gold and your way is being made perfect. It’s made perfect to reflect our Lord Jesus Christ in our lives.  It’s by patient waiting in the storm that His way is perfected in us. His way IS in the storm, we just need to stand strong and continue to diligently seek Him. BELIEVE He rewards those who diligently seek Him!

 

 

 

 

 


Within Our Grasp

April 1, 2009

Invisible in His own nature,
God, in His great love
became visible in ours.

Beyond our grasp
in His great love
He chose to come
within our grasp.

– St. Leo the Great   (1002-1054)

 

The Eternal Word

John 1:1-5   In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend{can never extinguish} it.

The Word Becomes Flesh 

John 1:14   And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Humbled and Exalted Christ

Philippians 2:5-11   Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation{nothing}, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.