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Unity in the Truth
by David A. DePra
But if I tarry long, that thou may know how thou ought to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Tim 3:15)
For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. (2 Cor 13:8)
I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. (1 John 2:21)
I’m not sure what is more important than the Truth. Of course, I’m speaking in a Christian context, but really, truth is likewise the most important thing in ANY field. For example, if you operate in error regarding gravity or other law of physics, what will happen? If you lack the Truth about economics or accounting, then what? If you live in error with regards to your family relationships it will likewise result in many bad consequences. How much more essential is the Truth in our relationship with God, and with other Christians!
In the church today, we live in a day and age where Truth doesn’t matter anymore. What does matter is church growth, people feeling good about themselves, signs and wonders, and political correctness. Add all of these things up and not only do they mean Truth doesn’t matter, but they mean Truth is to be despised. For once Truth matters, all of the rest of these things must be adjusted to the Truth. And all of them will be exposed as error and purged out of the church.
Jesus Christ said, "I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life." He likewise said, "You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free." Do the math. If I think Truth doesn’t matter, then I think Jesus doesn’t matter, for HE is the Truth. And if I think Truth doesn’t matter, then I think freedom doesn’t matter – for the Truth sets me free. Furthermore, read the gospels and the epistles. In them you find a continual contention by Jesus and the apostles FOR the Truth. In the end, it cost them their lives. Truth matters. Indeed, Truth is everything.
Truth exists because God exists. Because there is an Absolute Being, there is absolute Truth. Indeed, it is only by knowing HIM that we can know the Truth – it is only by knowing Him that we have a frame of reference for all else.
This is why God is described as LIGHT. It is why Jesus said, "I am the Truth." Truth is described in doctrines and communicated through teaching. But in the end, Truth is God Himself.
This brings us to a conclusion that cannot be avoided. It is a conclusion that ought to be so self-evident that it should form the foundation of ALL ELSE. And yet the moment you hear it, you will know that even in churches today such a statement would be controversial. That conclusion is this: Truth is not optional. It is central. Indeed, if you believe that the Truth is unnecessary you are already deceived. If you believe that knowing the Truth is impossible or unimportant, you are already deceived. If you believe that knowing the Truth takes second place to anything in the Christian walk, you are already in danger. There is nothing more vital, essential, and central to walking with Jesus Christ than is the Truth. To say anything else is a LIE.
Do we realize that one of the many ways in which we could, in a sentence, describe the purpose of Jesus Christ, is to say that He came to restore the Truth? Sure. Even His Redemption was, in one sense, unto that end. How? Well, obviously, the Redemptive work of Christ was not merely a doctrinal statement. It was an actual breaking of the realm of darkness, and the ushering in of resurrection life. But as it pertains to Truth, the Redemption made it not only possible for you and I to know Truth – the Redemption made it possible for you and I to be MADE TRUE.
Now ask: How could you and I be MADE TRUE to God, and restored back to the relationship God always intended, unless we know God IN TRUTH? Indeed, how can you and I walk with God – the God who is THE TRUTH – unless we know the Truth about Him?
The bottom line is this: Christianity – when everything is said and done – IS THE TRUTH. Have we recognized this? What we call Christianity is God’s revelation of Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ – made real to us, in us, and through us. Therefore, once you say Truth doesn’t matter, you are denying the very essence of Christianity itself.
There are thousands of professing Christians today who are convinced that as long as UNITY is preserved, they are on the right track. They grab out of the Bible verses that tell us that unity is God’s will, and they translate that to mean, "unity at all cost." Thus, if you preach the essential of uncompromising Truth, these people will accuse you of dividing the Body of Christ. They will say that you are, "judging." They will make you out to be the bad guy.
Let’s be very clear about some things. First, it is possible to have perfect unity in ERROR. There is such a thing as group deception, or church deception. And where that is the case, everyone will say the same thing – the WRONG thing. Everyone will have the same mind – the WRONG mind. And most of these places will seek to preserve that unity in error – because it cannot be preserved unless THEY force it. They will grab verses and passages out of the Bible that encourage unity. But the problem is not that they need to preserve unity. The problem is that they have no Truth.
Isn’t it amazing how the teaching of the Bible cannot even apply to us unless we have the right foundation? For example, when Paul teaches that we should all have the same mind, and say the same thing, he means THE TRUTH. He doesn’t mean ERROR. Thus, if the church to which I belong doesn’t know the Truth, but teaches error, these commands by Paul do not apply. Commands to speak the same thing cannot apply unless that SAME THING that is being spoken is the Truth. Paul is NOT saying, "All of you need to be in agreement. It doesn’t matter if what you agree upon is the Truth. All that matters is that you agree." Nonsense. The only solution in such cases is that the entire foundation of error be broken, and a new one be established in Truth. Until then, commands to speak the same thing don’t apply. Ones that command that we know the Truth DO apply.
And yet, as mentioned, Christian people continue to harp on unity, and ignore the Truth. This is a blindness and a deception. It comes directly from, "the father of lies." What could please Satan more than to have a group of people who are completely deceived, and yet in complete unity in that deception? What could make him happier than to have people who brag about their unity, and yet who have no consciousness that their unity is in error and heresy?
Therefore, we need to get this straight: Christianity unity means NOTHING – if that unity is in error. It means nothing GOOD, that is. The only kind of Christian unity that is according to the will of God is unity that is in the Truth.
Now, this ought to clear up the meaning of a few Bible verses. For example, what did Jesus say about the INITIAL IMPACT He would have upon unity?
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. (Mat 10:34-39)
Can we see what Jesus is saying? He is saying that wherever He is preached, and wherever He enters the picture, all unity that is NOT in Himself; that is NOT in the Truth, is going to be disturbed, toppled, and hopefully destroyed. But unto what end? Well, in order that a NEW ORDER and a TRUE UNITY might be formed in Himself.
How could it be otherwise? If I am in a church or group, where the Truth is NOT being preached, or where the Truth is NOT important – where error reigns – then there isn’t any way to deal with such a thing until the unity in apathy and error is broken. And it is a fact that the Truth will always expose and break error. Always.
Truth is NEVER neutral. It is NEVER anything but absolute and total. The Truth ALWAYS divides between light and darkness. Any church that has a foundation of error is going to absolutely be divided if the Truth is introduced! And that is a GOOD thing.
I can tell you what will happen if Truth is introduced in a place of darkness. First, those standing in Truth will be attacked. Second, TWO lines will form. One will consist of all those who desire the Truth. The other line will consist of those who don’t. And I will also promise you that many people will refuse to stand in EITHER line – which, if they only knew it, is really equal to standing in the line with those who don’t want the Truth. If the place that Truth is introduced is a church, many people will leave. Perhaps the pastor will be fired if it is him that introduces the Truth. But Truth always divides. It must divide – in fact, God WANTS it to divide if things are initially unified in error or apathy.
If you have ever entered a creepy, old abandoned house, and gone down the cellar with a flashlight, you will know what I mean. Shine that light into a place where darkness has become normal, and what happens? All the critters scatter and run for the darkness! Pardon my French – but this IS Biblical – if you shine the light of God upon any place of darkness all HELL is going to break loose. And I do mean HELL. Have we forgotten that there are spiritual forces behind these situations?
What applies to the group applies to the individual. If I am a person who is comfortable, apathetic, and really doesn’t want to be bothered with Truth, then how must God initially deal with me? He must disturb my self-contained unity. He must upset my life. He must put me in a situation where I MUST find the Truth – or choose greater darkness.
It is an understatement, but we simply do not know that we don’t know. We are blind. Many THINK they know the Truth, but they don’t. The only way in which God can deal with us, and set us free, is to disturb us. But even then, some won’t turn to God. They walk into greater darkness.
I really believe that many in the Body of Christ do not want to be personally accountable to God. TRUTH will always require this – for to know the Truth means more than just knowing true doctrine. It means to be MADE TRUE TO GOD. And that means standing in the light. Many will NOT be exposed before the Lord – they simply won’t have it. But this same light will also reveal to us the Truth about God. It is simply not possible to separate the two – if you want to know the Truth, you must be made true. In effect, our knowledge of the Truth ties directly to our willingness to be accountable to God Himself in Truth.
So what we see in all of this is that DIVISION is good, and GOD-ORDAINED, if the division is caused by the presence of Jesus Christ – if the division is caused by the Truth. It is good because Truth will break up all unity in error, for the purpose of salvaging those who respond to it, and establishing a new unity in Christ.
Truth will break up error. But Truth will unite those who are made true by it. And this unity will not need, and cannot be, FORCED. You don’t need to force unity among those who are individually centered in Christ.
There have always been groups and churches who force unity with religious laws, rules, and legalism. Sure. You can force unity by establishing, "accountability principles," and fear tactics, and peer pressure. But none of it will be REAL. Real unity is in Christ – in the Truth.
Unity in the Body of Christ, if it is real, is the result of EACH individual having a relationship with Christ – in Truth – that rightly relates them to each other individual who have a relationship with Christ -- in Truth. That is communion and fellowship. Thus, the very basis of body unity is each individual’s relationship with Jesus.
This is so often distorted. Many people continue to think that in order to have communion with each other, we must forfeit or relinquish our personal relationship with Christ – to whatever degree it takes to keep the unity. No. In reality, EACH believer needs to be presented mature in Christ. And then, unity will be the outcome. The Body of Christ will only function according to the Truth to the degree that the members know the Truth.
There is an important principle in all of this, as it relates to some of these errors about unity. That principle is this: The wrong kind of unity will always strip the individual believer of their personal relationship with Christ. The wrong kind of unity will cast the individual adrift, at best, or make them unable to function as an individual at worst in the Lord. But the right kind of unity will work towards BUILDING UP EACH believer in Christ. And if EACH believer is built up in Christ, the BODY will be strong as a unit.
I have known of places where almost no one has a healthy personal relationship with Christ – and yet they all glory in this, thinking that their submission to leadership IS that personal relationship. That is deception.
Any leader who tells you that you cannot be right with God, or grow in Christ, or find God’s full purpose – unless you come to God through THEM, submit to THEM, or sit at their feet – that leader is a false teacher. Indeed, if a leader is right with God, and a true servant of God, they will seek to make others strong in Christ for themselves. They will seek to make themselves as useless as possible, if you know what I mean, so that each believer can be presented mature in Christ.
The only alternative to knowing the Truth is deception. Note that – the ONLY alternative to Truth is error. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot sit on the fence. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would seek to guide us into all Truth. The question is – are we open for this work?
If you haven’t noticed, more and more today, the Truth is being sacrificed on the altar of religious unity. Indeed, those who insist on the Truth are now the bad guys. I realize that some who insist on the Truth do it in an unloving way. But the Word of God nevertheless commands, "Speak the Truth in love." There is no compromise with Truth if you love Jesus.
God warned us of these times all through the Bible:
Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; (1 Tim 4:1-2)
A, "seducing spirit," is one that has something attractive about it, such that it is able to lead someone away from the Truth – all the while they THINK it is the Truth. Sure. Satan always appears as an angel of light. And doctrines of demons? Does that sound serious to you? Well, we have been warned, haven’t we? It is all right there, in our Bible. And yet look how many people – and sadly, many of them quite young – are being led astray into these false revivals. Look at how many today don’t even TALK about the Truth. It isn’t even on the table for discussion.
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Tim 4:1-4)
Here we see instruction as to the responsibility God has given His people. For those who DO know the Truth, we are not to remain neutral. We are to proclaim it with whatever means God provides. You will note that this is a CHARGE BEFORE GOD. Again, do you think this is serious? Actually, it is a matter of spiritual LIFE and DEATH.
The church is supposed to be the PILLAR and GROUND of the Truth. Get that. The church is supposed to be the living representation of the Truth – as a witness unto Christ Himself. And if we are NOT? Well, then we are a FALSE witness unto Christ. That is not a pretty picture. But it is a fact that needs to be faced.
We are in the middle of the great apostasy. But none of us need be part of it. It is always possible to turn to God for the Truth. And if we do, He will be faithful.
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