The Purity & Peace of Christ’s Church
Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
– LUKE 12:51
Unity which is obtained by the sacrifice of truth is worth nothing.– J. C. RYLE
It is not the unity which pleases God.
PAUL AGGRESIVELY OPPOSED PETER in Galatians 2:11-14. He wrote, “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?'”
Commenting on this text, John Stott wrote that, “Paul’s opposition to Peter was both ‘to his face’ (verse 11) and ‘before them all’ (verse 14). It was just the kind of open head-on collision which the church would seek at any price to avoid today.” Stott is describing the same Paul who taught we are to, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18) But the church’s purity and peace are not an either/or; they are, “if possible,” a both/and. And if peace is not possible, and the truth of the Gospel is at risk, we, like Paul, are to oppose that error aggressively. The church’s peace is never built at the expense of the church’s purity. Rather, a Godly peace is always built on Godly purity.
Also note how Paul opens his letter to the Galatians: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:3-10)
Church Conflict 101
By Ray Ortlund:
I have heard it said by a Christian leader, “In every conflict there is always wrong on both sides.” Really? In every conflict? Always wrong on both sides? That sounds plausible in this world of universal sin. But it is wrong—and dangerously so. Covered by this slogan, real wrongs can lie undisturbed, unconfronted, unrelieved, which helps no one and further injures everyone involved.
For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.– I CORINTHIANS 11:18,19
Peace and Purity
By Bill Peacock:
To carry out this calling, we must read and meditate on Scripture, pray to God for wisdom and guidance, follow the theological and cultural debates of our day, fellowship and discuss these issues with our brothers and sisters, and actively seek to apply the wisdom born of this process to the issues, debates, and challenges we encounter in our life in this fallen world.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.NUMBERS 6:24-26
NOTE: For a list of questions to ask your teaching and ruling elders, go to this page.