The Holy Spirit Moves For Unity
East Alton, Illinois
In a recent edition of One Body (Spring, 1986, p. 4), a report is filed relative to a unity meeting (the fourth one) at Milligan College in Tennessee between members of the Christian Church and churches of Christ. During the course of the sessions, Rubel Shelly delivered a lecture dealing with the "sixth basis for unity" that being "The Spirit-filled Life." Shelly's basic appeal was to discard the debate and argumentation of the past as unprofitable works of the flesh and allow God to work the fruits of the Spirit within us.
"He also said that it is obvious the Holy Spirit has brought about these unity meetings and not our lectures, books, and debates." While it is certainly not unusual to read such statements from Shelly, it is further proof of his departure from the faith. Obviously, Shelly has little regard, he even refers to such actions as "acts of the flesh," for the efforts to teach the truth on instrumental music by such men as James Miller, F.B. Srygley, N.B. Hardeman and others or the efforts to oppose premillennialism in the church by James Bales, Foy Wallace, etc. al. He would compromise these under Christian liberty (and misuse Romans 14 to do so) and have fellowship with those who hold and practice such. Then there is the missionary society, the celebration of special days, clergy/laity distinctions, fundamentals on the nature of the church (which Shelly never has understood scripturally), ad nauseam and Shelly wishes us to believe the Holy Spirit is directing it.
The Holy Spirit wrote the following:
And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain others of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question (Acts 15:1-2).
Stasis (dissension) is a-Greek word meaning "to stand" (Vines, Vol. 1, p. 324) and is here translated "dissension" (KJV), "sharp dispute" (NIV). Webster defines dissension as "partisan and contentious quarreling" (New Collegiate Dictionary, 1976 Edition, p. 331). Zetesis is here translated "disputation" (KJV) and "denotes, firstly, a seeking, then, a debate, dispute, questioning, Acts 15:2" (Vines, p. 322).
Now Shelly wishes us to believe that debating and disputing issues are opposed to Spirit-led behavior. The Scriptures, however, show two men guided by the Spirit, disputing and debating vigorously a position. Who shall we believe?
The Holy Spirit wrote the following: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8).
Brother Shelly, is the use of instrumental music in the worship a matter of opinion or is it preaching another gospel? if instrumental music may be placed under the guidelines of Romans 14, can counting beads, burning incense, arch bishops, diocese or papal authority? And how about the folks in the Christian Church who accept premillennialism? Premillennialists dethrone Jesus Christ. Shall you open your arms to them?
The real issue is that of authority. Some wish to call these people brethren yet they speak of merging two churches (or three as some count). Yet, my Bible speaks of only one church (Eph. 4:4). If those in the Christian Church are brethren, then they are so out of obedience to the gospel of Christ and as faithful saints have been added to the one body of Jesus Christ by God (Acts 2:47). Then, if so, they should be marked as walking unruly for they teach that not found in Holy Writ and those who give credence to them as faithful saints are guilty as well. In which case, those who are in the Christian Church would be without God having ceased to walk in the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9).
If they are not Christians (and I am persuaded such is the case), then they are part of a man-made organization and without God being yet in their sins (Eph. 2). In which case, those having fellowship with them are fellowshipping with servants of Satan. "What concord hath Christ with Belial?" (2 Cor. 6:15)
This scribe would agree with Shelly concerning one thing. The lectures, books, and debates of the past have, for the most part, proven unsuccessful. But only because those in error were content with the idols of Ephraim. They like the worship of Baal. They were comfortable in Dan!
The Spirit is calling for unity - unity based upon the Lordship and authority of Jesus Christ. Let Christ rule; divorce ourselves from our mistresses; cleanse our hearts of idolatry and worship at Zion!
Guardian of Truth XXX: 22, p. 691