Unity, Fellowship and Inclusiveness
There’s a lot of talk today about unity, fellowship and inclusiveness. I’m all for being inclusive, however, if we are talking about true Christian fellowship and unity, inclusiveness is only found around the person of Jesus Christ.
John wrote, “That you also may have fellowship with us and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). “That you also may” reveals he is showing us how we may have fellowship. He preluded this with a statement about the incarnation (1 John 1:1-2). Also read John 1:1, 14 and 18.
We can socialize and hang out with anyone and everyone. In this way, we can always be inclusive. True Christian fellowship and unity however is different. I remember my overseer in the ministry saying that we have to be very narrow minded to be a Christian. This is absolutely true according to Jesus and the Word of God. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the Life. No man comes unto the Father but by (through) me” (John 14:6).
Jesus said this in the context of taking us to heaven with Him. Peter said, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The only way we can be saved, forgiven of our sins, and go to heaven is through Jesus. There is no other way than through Jesus and Him alone! He is the only common denominator for true spiritual fellowship, unity and inclusiveness.
There are many peripheral areas of theology that we can disagree on and still be saved, go to heaven, experience unity, fellowship with one another, and be inclusive. However, there are some very important areas that we have to agree on or there can be no inclusiveness spiritually. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean we don’t accept people the way they are (Romans 15:7), but we are talking about spiritual unity and fellowship. That is something totally different. This, of course, is assuming we believe the Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God.
The Bible makes it abundantly clear there will be a great deception in the last days (Matthew 24:3-5; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 1 John 2:18; 4:1-3). In fact, Paul said “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts (desires) they will heap (accumulate) to themselves teachers having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables (myths or what they want to hear).” There are false Jesus’ and false gospels (Galatians 1:6-9 and 2 Corinthians 11:3-5).
Below I will set forth the foundation for what we must agree on to have any kind of true spiritual inclusiveness, fellowship and unity.
Jesus’ eternal existence (Micah 5:2). In a prophecy about Jesus being born in Bethlehem the prophet writes, “Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Chuck Smith once said there were two words for everlasting. One meant the vanishing point and this one was from beyond the vanishing point. Jesus’ existence was from beyond the vanishing point of eternity past. As God incarnate, He had no beginning.
The virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:26-38). Jesus was conceived of by the Holy Spirit. Mary, His mother, was a virgin and not just a young lady. It is imperative we are clear on this. This is not something we can disagree on and still be true born again believers.
Jesus is God incarnate (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; John 1:1. 14, 18; 5:18; 8:56-59; Exodus 3:14; John 10:30-33; 14:8-9; Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:6-11; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:8). If the Jesus we serve isn’t God, we have the wrong Jesus. Read, study and memorize these verses. This is the area in which all false teachers and cults deviate on. They may often use the same terms as us and mean something totally different.
When someone says Jesus is the Son of God, ask them what they mean by it. If they do not mean He was very God they are propagating false doctrine – a false gospel. The Jews of Jesus’ day knew Jesus was claiming to be very God when He said God was His Father. That’s why they took up stones to stone Him. Jesus was not just a prophet, priest or great teacher, but God Almighty (Revelation 1:8).
The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:3-6). Jesus was put to death, His blood shed, buried, and three days later rose from the dead a physical resurrection. He didn’t just rise from the dead spiritually. After the resurrection Jesus appeared to Thomas telling him to touch the wounds in His flesh (John 20:24-29). That is inevitably much more than spiritual.
Salvation is by faith alone (Romans 4:4-8; 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9). It is faith in the finished work of Christ plus nothing else. We are saved by grace through faith. Faith is how it is appropriated. When confronted about faith and works John Calvin said, “It is faith alone that saves but faith that saves is not alone.”
Salvation is by grace apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 2:21; 3:1-3; 5:4; Romans 11:6). It can’t be grace and works – it’s either one or the other. If you are trusting in works (law) for your salvation, you will be judged accordingly when you fall short. If it’s by grace alone through your faith in Jesus then God sees you through Jesus’ righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The return of Jesus (Zechariah 14:1-9; Matthew 24:29-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Acts 1:11; John 14:1-3; Titus 2:13). There are many scriptures about the second coming of Jesus to this earth. We may differ on our view of the rapture, and as to when Jesus will return, but that He will return we must agree on.
A literal heaven and hell (John 14:1-6; Revelation 20:11; 21:1; 20:14; 21:8; Matthew 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). We don’t like to talk about hell, but it is real. Jesus talked as much about hell as he did heaven. There is false teaching going around that hell is just here on earth. We do go through times of difficulty here, but believe me it is not hell. You see that is why Jesus came. He came and suffered and died for us, in our place, so that we might be reconciled to God and go to heaven and not to hell (1 Peter 3:18).
There is also a resurgence concerning universalism. This is the belief that Jesus paid for everyone’s sin who has ever been born. They use verses like 1 John 2:2, “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Yes, Jesus paid for the sins of the entire world, but His payment for our sins must be appropriated by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 5:1). If we reject Christ, His payment for our sins is of nullified.
“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
“How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant? It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” apart from Christ (Hebrews 10:29 and 31).
Jesus is the only means of salvation (John 14:6 and Acts 4:12). There is no other way to be saved and be reconciled to God the Father other than trusting Christ as your only hope of salvation. He is the only one who can lay His hand upon God and Man and bring the two together again (1 Peter 3:18). HE IS OUR ONLY HOPE!
Inclusiveness. Jesus paid the price on Calvary so that all might be included into His kingdom and family. It is all-inclusive, if we come to Him for forgiveness and salvation. If we refuse to come to Jesus – reject Christ, God help us, we will be excluded (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). If you haven’t accepted this real and living Jesus as both your Lord and Savior, let me invite you to do so right now.
Prayer: Lord Jesus I come to you now for forgiveness and salvation. I want to go to heaven and be with you one day for all eternity. Come into my heart Jesus, forgive me of my sins and help me to live for you from now on and forever. In Jesus mighty name, amen!