religion, christianity, articles
fellowship, revelation, bible, christianity, unity, ecumenical

Fellowship and Revelation

By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs

religion, articles, christianity

Reel unity is the result of accepting truth, all else is sham and pretense. Truth, by its nature, can only teach one thing. If one person says something and another person says a contradictory thing, then either the first person is wrong and the second person is right, or the first person is right and the second person is wrong, or they are both wrong, but they cannot both be right; that is the nature of truth. The essential oneness of truth is a self-evident and a universally recognized maxim.

No sane person would deny this verity.

"If we walk in the light [truth], as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another" (1 John 1:7).

If you and I speak the truth, we are in agreement. If you speak a truth and I an untruth, we are not in agreement. This proposition is unmistakable and unanswerable.

An untruth is a lie. Truth is a fact. A given position is either fact or lie and cannot be both. To imply the Bible teaches conflicting things on the same subject is to assert the sacred Scriptures are unreliable and treacherous. Since God is the author of the Bible, to say the Bible teaches contradictory things is to accuse God of being a liar—and that is blasphemy. To revile God is to be accursed.

Agreement is of God, because God is true. Division is of the devil, because he is the father of lies.

It follows, as the night the day, that unity is the result of accepting truth. In unity there is harmony and strength. Consequently, we should cherish, defend, and promote truth. Conversely, we should abhor, oppose, and defeat untruth.

What is truth?

Jesus is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth (John 14:17). The spirit of truth comes from the heavenly Father (John 15:26). God's Word is truth (John 17:17). The gospel is truth (Gal. 2:14).

It boils down to this: To know, love, and obey the teaching of Jesus is to be of the truth; to reject, discredit, and disobey the teaching of Jesus is to resist and defame truth.

Those who love and obey the truth of the gospel are united; those who follow their own will instead of the will of Christ cause division. To follow truth is to promote unity. To ignore truth causes division. Jesus prayed that his disciples of all ages be united on the basis of the teaching of the apostles, which is truth (John 17:20-21). Those who faithfully follow truth are answering the prayer of Jesus; those who misunderstand, misrepresent, and misuse truth are frustrating his prayer.

It is sinful for one who knows truth to make compromise with error. To side with truth is noble. To side with error is shameful. When it comes to the revelation of God's will, we are either right or wrong — there is no in-between.

If we love the truth and follow it, we are in league with all other lovers of the truth; if we despise the truth and disobey it, we are in company with all other unbelievers. You cannot serve both God and mammon. You cannot be on the side of truth and unity and at the same time be on the side of error and division.

If a person rejects the teaching of the Bible on any given subject, he has refused truth and embraced error. He has denied unity and promoted division. Those who deny baptism involves immersion and resurrection are guilty of dividing. Teachers who say that baptism is not "for" the remission of sins deny revelation and, thereby, deny Jesus. People who accept mechanical instruments in worship of God, instead of offering a sacrifice of harmonious human voices, are disturbers of peace — it is sin. Teachers who deny the verbal inspiration of the sacred Scriptures rend the body of Christ. The list goes on and on and includes every aspect of the nature, purpose, and work of the church for which Jesus died.

A person who honors the Bible and follows carefully its every precept is a promoter of unity and an enemy of division. There is no alternative.

Teachers in denominational bodies, universally, reject truth and follow error. They divide, dissect, and destroy. They are hateful to God, who is truth. They are children of the devil, who is the father of lies.

To hold to truth and unity is to follow a narrow path. It is not a broad way. "Many are called. Few are chosen." The majority is usually wrong. To be hungry to follow a multitude is to lay the groundwork for division and become the foe of truth and unity. The pressure to get on the bandwagon and go with the crowd is so great that even the elect are sometimes deceived.

Having multiplied these words, I now call your attention to some statements made by Mark Henderson and Bill Banowsky at the latest ACU annual lectureship. The lectureship, by the way, was directed by William Young, who is, of course, responsible for its content.

First Henderson:

Another preacher asked me to meet him at the Ministerial Fellowship's weekly prayer meeting. Ours is the only Church of Christ in Boulder, so l accepted the chance to meet these colleagues in ministry, though I had some anxiety about how we would deal with our many differences.

I needn't have worried. Those 15 or 20 men didn't come together to debate; they came together each week to get to the serious business of prayer.... As I sat there, a silent observer for the better part of an hour, I found a lump forming in my throat while I listened to these men from so many different fellowships unite with one voice before the Lord for the sake of each other and for the sake of the lost of Boulder. Finally, I interrupted and told them who I was and which church I was from. I told them about struggles we were facing in our church, and asked for their prayers. Nothing in my experience could have prepared me for what happened next. For the next ten minutes, all they did was pray for me and our congregation. They prayed God would give me a powerful ministry and that our church would be an effective witness for the sake of the kingdom. Many words were said by a Baptist, a Presbyterian, someone from a Reformed church, the preacher at a community church, another from a Charismatic fellowship, but I will never forget the prayer of a man I later learned preaches for the Assembly of God fellowship. He only knows how to pray at full throttle.... As I listened to the voices of all those men, whom many of us have regarded as enemies, flooding me and flooding us with their prayers, great tears of release began to roll down my cheeks as I received that anointing with the precious oil of unity.

Now, Banowsky:

(Banowsky began by speaking of (1) The mystery of Christ; (2) The universality of Christ; and (3) The indwelling of Christ. Near the end of his speech he made the following statements.)

How do we concede that Christ may be enlightening others without opening Pandora's box? How do we join hands with our committed allies in the fierce fight for morality without being so worried about where they worship? ... And how do we honor men like Doctor James Dobson who has done so much to save our families? ... We fear opening the door, even a tiny crack lest we have no place to stop. Let us start and let us stop with the person of Christ.... Christ said, ... 'I am the good shepherd. I know mine own and mine own know me. And many other sheep have I which are not of this fold. And them also must I bring.' Who are the other sheep? Where is this other fold? ... All personal relationship with Christ was not faith and reason, neither was it faith through reason. It was faith not reason. The heart has reason that reason does not know.... In the last analysis, brethren, not a proof-text but experience of Christ is the irrefutable argument. Even our own brotherhood rationalists, who may appear to prefer doctrinal logic, actually end up as we do in the leap of faith.... This next point is a clearly personal and painful problem to me of how to treat all of these television preachers.... How do I fairly treat these charismatics? Well, instinctively I join John—'Master, we saw one casting out demons in they name and we forbade him because he followeth not with us.' But Jesus said, 'Forbid him not. For he that is not against you is for you.'¹

Well, that gives you the flavor and gist of the Henderson and Banowsky speeches at the most recent ACU lectureship. These two men, with the clear endorsement and approval of the university, advocated feeling over fact, and emotion over truth, which led them to embrace division over unity. They proposed open fellowship with all denominations even if it meant sacrificing the truth of the gospel.

To Banowsky, at least, logic is a bugaboo. He who follows his mind has no heart, and he who follows his heart can forget about reason, according to Bill Banowsky (who, strange to say, spent a large part of his adult life in education). Bill, I hope you will not consider me rude if I say that I will take you on in any forum and at any time on this issue.

Banowsky wants Christ but not truth and seems oblivious to the New Testament teaching that Jesus is truth, and the Holy Spirit guided the apostles in all truth, and that Jehovah is a God of truth.

We are made free by knowing truth (John 8:32). Those who hear the truth hear the voice of Jesus (John 18:37). We can come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). We can believe and know the truth (1 Tim. 4:3).

It is also possible for us to besmirch truth. We can hold the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). We can change the truth into a lie (Rom. 1:18). We can not obey the truth (Gal. 5:7). We can receive not the love of the truth (2 Thess. 2:10). We can believe not the truth (2 Thess. 2:12). We can err concerning the truth (2 Tim. 2:15). We can ever learn but never come to a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 3:7). We can sin willfully after knowing the truth (Heb. 10:26). We can lie against the truth (Tames 3:14). Jesus said, "He that believeth not shall be damned."

Thank God, it is also possible for us to know, and know that we know, the truth. "Ye shall know the truth" (John 8:32). "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly" (Acts 2:36). We can read and understand the words of Jesus and the prophets (Matt. 24:15; Mark 7:14) We can understand Paul's knowledge in the mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:4). By faith we understand the worlds were framed by the Word of God (Heb. 11:3).

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you (1 Pet. 1:22-25).

Truth saves and makes us free. We must continue to exalt the truth of the gospel and never give ourselves over to whim and fancy. When we receive and obey the words of Jesus — the words by which we will one day be judged — we will and should feel good, but the order is faith based on revelation (Romans 10:17) and then emotion — not the other way around.

The unity commanded in the New Testament is unity based on truth ... a unity that prizes truth above emotion ... a unity that grows out of having an absolute objective standard and conforming to it absolutely ... a unity that compels recognition and rejection of every false way.

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they arc of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Trying the spirits and branding the false prophets is necessary for good -- both theirs and ours.

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¹Banowsky seems oblivious to the fact that Jesus was talking about people who were in agreement with him and not about people who taught a different doctrine, and thereby opposed him. If I reach the truth of the gospel and you do the same, it would be wrong for me to forbid you, but if I teach the truth of the good news and you Beach error, it is right for me to forbid you, and show the error of your teaching, and warn people that to follow you would be to forsake Christ and be eternally lost. Jesus said, "He that is not with me is against me" (Matt. 12:30). He did not contradict himself because a house divided against itself cannot stand. To teach "in the name of Jesus" is to teach with his authority and by his approval. The men John talked about were casting out demons "in the name of Jesus." The men Banowsky is talking about teach a different (perverted) doctrine and therefore do not reach "in the name" of Jesus.

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Published August 1996