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Bible verses about Unity with God
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 2:24

This verse shows that two human personalities can become one flesh. Why, then, can God not be one with two distinct personalities who work independently yet in complete harmony? Paul adds in I Corinthians 6:17, "But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." If a human can be one with God and remain entirely distinct, why cannot another spirit being with a separate personality be one with Him?

John W. Ritenbaugh
God Is . . . What?


 

Leviticus 23:26-32

To put it even more succinctly, on the Day of Atonement, we are not to eat, drink, or work at all for the entire twenty-four-hour period. It is a day of worship, instruction, prayer, and humbling ourselves before God in thanks for His marvelous work in atoning for all sin and in bringing mankind into unity with Him (see Leviticus 16:29-34; Isaiah 58:1-12; Revelation 20:1-3).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
How Do We Keep God's Festivals?


 

Psalm 133:1

This first verse expresses the goal, the hope, the prayer of all Christians. What a great thing it would be if all the people could live together harmoniously! What things we could accomplish! What great pleasure we would have! How attractive that would be.

This verse certainly expresses the joy that results in brethren being united, when they have unanimity, when they are "at one." An irony of this "psalm of unity," however, is that the word "unity" does not literally appear in it. The literal translation of the last phrase is "when brethren dwell also together." The idea of unity is obviously there, but the final Hebrew word is yachad, meaning "together," "both," "joined." The phrase can be translated, then, "when brethren are joined in dwelling" or "when brethren dwell together." "In unity" is the translator's interpretation, not a direct translation.

The word "good" here is a fairly general rendering, but the psalmist's idea is "proper": "How proper it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" "How fitting, how right it is for God's people to be one."

Pleasant has the sense of "attractive": "How attractive [charming, lovely] it is when God's people dwell as one." And since we are God's dwelling, we could say, "How wonderful it is when God's dwelling, the Temple of the living God, is one building and not scattered pieces all over the place."

In God's sight, unity or togetherness among His people is proper, and it pleases Him to no end. It has the same effect on us. Brethren who are thus joined together receive the benefits of the goodness and pleasantness unity produces. That is why we should yearn for this unity, because it is right, good, and fitting and because it is lovely, attractive, and appealing.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 133


 

Haggai 2:7

Jesus Christ is the desire of all nations; people are yearning for Him, longing for Him, even though they do not know it. They are yearning for solutions, wisdom, power, understanding, vision, and love, and He is all those things. He will bring them all with Him. He is going to bring with Him what He is—His undivided mind that is filled with the way that He and the Father have lived for all eternity. He will instill this way of life into their minds.

The solutions to man's problems will come because He is sitting on the throne of nations. But we have been called to seek Him now and not fail where Israel failed. It is in the process of seeking Him that we become just like Him. This is what God expects us to do with our life now, and we must do it. We must show Him that we are thankful for our calling, for His forgiveness, for His Spirit, and then seek Him to be one with Him.

This is the solution now to both coming out of Babylon and avoiding Laodiceanism. It is to seek God with all of our heart in order to have the oneness of His mind. We are not to seek Him just to find Him, because He has already taken care of that by calling us to give us access to Him. Our seeking is to facilitate our coming to know Him so that we can be like Him. Thus, prayer, Bible study, meditation, occasional fasting, and obedience, driven by gratitude and passionate desire to be like Him and with Him, are the keys to oneness with Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Knowing God


 

John 14:10-11

The word in could prove to be quite a puzzle because, if we understood it as "inside" rather than "in union with," we would have God and Christ crawling inside and out of each other. It would create a farcical, "Where is He now? The Son is in the Father. No, the Father is in the Son." Or, because Christians are included in verse 20, it would be, "No, He's in me." "No, He's in you." Or, "No, I'm in Him." We could get all confused. But God is logical.

Here, the sense is definitely "in union with." The Father and Son are two separate Beings who sit side by side in carrying out the responsibilities of providing for and maintaining the operation of His creation both physically and spiritually. When the Son was on earth, He was in union with the Father, and the Father was in union with Him.

It is almost as if they were—well, humanly, we would say "one flesh." When a man and a woman marry, are they two different beings? Yes, they are. Are they commanded by God to marry for the purpose of becoming one, in union with each other? Yes (Genesis 2:24).

Do they crawl in and out of each other? No, of course not. Nevertheless, a blending takes place: a blending of mind and personality. And what eventually happens? It is something that begins even before the two become married. No matter where one of them goes, because of their experiences together, he or she carries the presence of the other with him or her, and they can call up those memories in the blink of an eye. Is that not simple?

The same principle is involved in the union of the Father and the Son—and the union of God and the Christian.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 4)


 

John 17:4

He says He had glorified the Father. Since the Son has returned to the Father in heaven, and the church is formed and joined to the Son as one organism, the church now has the responsibility to glorify the Father. How? By becoming one with Him just as the Son was—by the power of God's Spirit given to us.

Christ glorified the Father by successfully completing the work the Father gave Him to do. He qualified to be our Savior, Redeemer, and High Priest, and along the way, He preached the gospel to others. Our responsibility is to yield to Him, allowing Him to form us into His image by growing, overcoming, producing fruit, and carrying out the works of the church as He assigns them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
All in All


 

John 17:11

Deuteronomy 6:4 states, "The LORD our Elohim is one LORD." In John 17:5, Jesus establishes that there was a time when He was alongside the Father, but now He says that He is with, alongside of, His disciples. He is not alongside of the Father, and in this context, He asks the Father, "that they [the apostles] may be one as we are." What kind of oneness is this, if it is not being "alongside of"? John 17:21 shows this unity is actually "inside of"!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Nature of God: Elohim


 

John 17:20

We are reading their word right now, that is, the word that the apostles wrote. Jesus' prayer, then, is that those of us who now believe through the writings of the apostles may be one with the Father and the Son, and that oneness may come through the reading of the word that they wrote.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Nature of God: Elohim


 

John 17:20-22

Salvation can easily and accurately be described as "being at one with God." As long as we are separated from God, we do not have salvation. When we are "at one" with God, it means that we are becoming like Him, that we are walking along the same path with Him and will be saved.

Jesus Christ's death bridges this impossible situation for us. We can then begin to contribute to being at one with God. What remains yet undone, despite the gap being bridged, is a change in character and in attitude that must be worked in us in order for us to become like God. It takes living God's way for us to become like God. This is why humility is necessary.

We can see from Jesus' prayer and from our own experience (and from the history of man) that mankind is not at one with God, yet that is God's aim. Satan motivated Adam and Eve, and subsequently all the rest of mankind, to separate themselves from God. As long as Satan can keep us separated from Him, salvation is impossible. Satan's thinking, which was passed on to Adam and Eve and then to us, is that we all have the right to set our own standards or codes of right and wrong. He has convinced mankind that they have the same prerogatives and that these Satan-inspired, man-made standards can produce abundant prosperity, good health, peace, and a sense of well-being in our lives.

But they do not, and that is the problem! Humbling oneself means giving up that devilish notion and submitting to what God says. He has given us free moral agency to choose whether to obey His standards and codes, not the freedom to set our own.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Division, Satan, Humility


 

John 17:21-23

Christ's request refers to a oneness in unity, as a unit, of agreement. This same principle is found in Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus"—to be one in mind, one in heart, one in spirit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Nature of God: Elohim


 

John 17:21

Christ is indicating a union: "That you might be unified, with the Father, in the same way that the Father and the Son are."

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 3)


 

1 Corinthians 1:9

This particular verse is written in such a way as to be translated either "with" or "in": Our fellowship is with Christ, or our fellowship is in Christ. It can go either way. The case is both subjective and objective in I Corinthians 1:9.

Fellowship means "sharing," "communion with," "companionship with," or "association with." We have been called into an association—a companionship, a fellowship, a communion—with Christ. All these words are synonyms. The only difference might be the degree of the intimacy that is expressed. In addition, fellowship indicates people having things in common—they do things together because they share common interests. What we have in common is our love for Christ.

We are drawn to the brethren because of the common tie—the common love for the same Person. Even when we meet people in the church for the very first time, we do not feel as though they are perfect strangers to us because of that commonality. We recognize the spirit or attitude that emanates from them. It is almost something that we can feel or see because our senses seem to be attuned to it. This is why world travelers with the church say that they can go into another congregation and know that it is of the same Spirit as the one that they traveled from.

There is a bond or union between us because we love the same Person. To the Christian, then, Christ's friend is our friend. We are members of the same body. We are children in the same Family. We are soldiers in the same army. We are pilgrims on the same road. These same analogies are used many places in the Bible.

John W. Ritenbaugh
How to Know We Love Christ


 

1 Corinthians 1:10-13

Dictionaries define an idol as "any object of ardent or excessive devotion or admiration." If we obey the dictates of a person, church, or some other group contrary to the direct commands of God, we are guilty of idolatry. The individual or group becomes the idol, replacing God.

Martin G. Collins
The Second Commandment


 

1 Corinthians 1:10-12

There is no doubt that the church is now badly divided—and it shows no evidence of reuniting—yet we are all commanded to speak the same things.

Paul goes on to use the words "mind" and "judgment." Mind is actually related to the power of observation—the way that we see things. He is saying we all need to see things in the same way. Judgment deals with the forming of an opinion.

The Corinthians obviously did not all see things the same way, and they therefore could not possibly come to the same opinion. So they did the natural thing and divided. They did not actually leave the congregation, but cliques formed within it, and the members were not at peace with one another.

Why did they not see things the same way? The context shows it depended upon whom each person decided he would use as his authority. Some used Paul, some Apollos, some Peter, and of course, some Christ. There is no evidence that those named as authorities were divided, but people made it seem so. No wonder they were divided! Today, sadly, many are doing the same thing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

1 Corinthians 1:10

This section reveals that speaking the same thing is a choice. We have to choose for the sake of unity. It is not an option for those who consider themselves to be converted; it is commanded. There is no option. We have to choose to follow Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

1 Corinthians 6:17

Reading I Corinthians 6:17, a person can easily become misled or confused by an inference in contrast to a direct, concrete statement regarding spirit. From this verse, one could conclude that, if he is joined to the Lord, then he is a spirit just as the Lord is. "He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." The hat-pin test disproves this very quickly. We are not a spirit, not the way the Lord is a spirit.

When we read it in its wider context, Paul reveals that he is not writing on the theme of spirit composition at all. His theme is "closeness of connection," which he illustrates by a man being "joined to a harlot." Unity emerges as the theme as he brings Christ into the picture, and in this case, a Christian's unity with Him is the highest, purest form of unity that a human being can be involved in.

Paul is suggesting, then, that a sheep may wander from the shepherd, a branch may be cut from a tree, a limb severed from the body, a child alienated from his parents, and even a wife from her husband; but when two spirits blend into one, nothing can separate them. So close is their unity that what affects one affects the other. This is why Jesus says in Matthew 25:40, "Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."

So, Paul concludes, do not involve Christ in sin. We should do everything in our power to affect that intimate spiritual relationship, that unity, for good. Our unity with Jesus Christ is spiritual and so close that, as God looks at it, it is closer than being joined in intercourse with a harlot! The reason for this is that, even in such a situation as that, the man and woman are, in reality, still two beings.

However, if we are in Christ, we are actually in His body, which is why Paul employs the word "spirit." We cannot see His body. It is invisible, but it is real! We are in Him! Are we truly aware of that? We need to be growing in the understanding of it. We are cells in His body, as it were, and as Paul explains in I Corinthians 12:26, when one part of the body hurts, the whole body hurts. When one part of the body is strengthened, the whole body is strengthened.

We must begin to understand that, when God uses the word "spirit" in this way, it suggests a unity that is extremely close. It is a matter of the joining of minds!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 1)


 

2 Corinthians 4:17

One source, God, produces the commonality that makes us a spiritual Family. He engineered and created it. He is the personality who guides, directs, and accomplishes this unity through His Holy Spirit. All of His teaching, His truth, is being funneled from the Father through the Son, Jesus Christ, and out to the church by means of the Holy Spirit.

We hold a critical position in all of this because we have the power to accept or reject His truth, and the acceptance or rejection of the truth of God determines if we will have greater and better fellowship. We will either become a more unified part of His Family or less. Our choice is the critical factor.

God is faithful. He has done what He has done. He has initiated the contact, making the bridging of the gap possible through Jesus Christ. He has given us the mechanism by which a relationship can be accomplished, and now the critical part is in our hands: yielding to the truth that He gives to us. If we yield, then God's creative efforts in us are not going to be frustrated.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 4)


 

2 Corinthians 5:17

Christians are to be in union with Christ. This explains why it is so important to study the Bible, to meditate on it, to spend time trying to understand it, to communicate with one another with the Word and with the Father. What are we doing as we absorb God's Word? God's Word is part of His mind, His personality, His character. It is the way He thinks.

We cannot be in union with someone we do not know or who we have no relationship with. We cannot be in union with someone we never think about.

The more we think about Him, the more we carry His word in our mind. The more experiences that we have with Him, the deeper, stronger, sharper, clearer, and more real the union becomes. It all pivots around the Word of God. Jesus says, "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).

They are an invisible force and power because, if we believe His words, they begin to work in our lives because we use them. They begin to produce what God intends them to produce. As we use them, we become more one with Him because we are becoming like Him. Our lives begin to be operated by His mind expressed in His Word. The more we use them, the more we become like Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 4)


 

Galatians 3:26-29

These verses pair groupings or concepts that separate people and keep them divided and sometimes at war with each other. Paul shows racial differences (Greek and Jew); religious differences (circumcised and uncircumcised); cultural differences (barbarian and Scythian); social differences (slave and free); and finally sexual difference (male and female).

These are in no way all the differences that divide humanity, but they give enough of a representation for God to make His point. He makes it clear that we cannot be united to Him and separated from our brother at the same time. To do something for or against a brother is to do it to Christ (Matthew 25:31-46). Because we, as brethren, are "in" Christ and He "in" us, we are one organism. John says if a man does not love his brother, he does not love God (I John 4:20)! This is serious business. We must be one with both.

The person who is truly converted is motivated, guided, inspired, led by, yielding to, and empowered by the radiant energy flowing from Christ, who lives and works in Him. It is almost as if Christ and His converted brethren are driven together because they share the same nature.

John W. Ritenbaugh
All in All


 

Galatians 3:28

For those who have been called by God and have properly responded, social distinctions - whether national/racial, conditional/financial, or gender - recede, even disappear. The unifying element is the righteousness of Christ, which the Christian puts on and begins to emulate. Romans 10:12 points out that after justification, we have the same Lord and Master, and He is rich in His gifts (grace, mercy, talents, blessings, etc.) to all.

A unity comes with God's calling and justification. We are united in our need for a Savior. We are united in our acceptance of His blood for the remission of our sins. We are united through common experience: We all recognize that the only reason we have physical or spiritual life is because of God's grace and mercy. We are united in our receipt of God's gifts, when all we have earned is death.

When we recognize that the playing field has been completely leveled, and that we all had/have a debt impossible to pay, there is no room for boasting. There are different roles and responsibilities, because God gives His gifts as He sees fit and some people receive more talents than others. But no Christian is inherently better than another.

See also Romans 10:12; I Corinthians 12:13; Colossians 3:11.

David C. Grabbe


 

Ephesians 2:1-3

From the time we were born, Satan began to inject us with his mind, thoughts, ways, attitudes, and purposes, so by the time that God gets to us—but in God's good time He calls us and begins to convert us—we are in union with Satan. All our lives, he has been broadcasting, and we are in agreement with him. This is what has to be overcome.

Satan is with us always. But we have to understand that nobody, not even God, can take away our right of choice of whom we want to be in union with. When God begins to convert us, He makes us well aware that we have a choice and that we can resist and determine who we want to be united with—God or Satan—just as we can determine in our own lives who we want to be friends with.

We can choose our friends. We can choose, then, the kind of relationships we have with them. We can walk away from them, if they are pulling us down—away from union with God.

Unfortunately, that has to be done sometimes so that we be in union, at one with, the Father. We hope that does not happen very often. Parents know that at times they have tell their children, "We don't want you to hang out with him or her." Why? Because they know that that other kid will pull their children down, so they do not want them in union with him. It is a simple principle.

God has put us into the position where we have the opportunity to use our time and energy to make the choice of whether we will be in union with Him. He leaves the choice to us. It is a tremendous thing that He does this because it produces wonderful effects.

So we are juxtaposed between, on the one hand, God, and on the other hand, Satan. But we are free from Satan because we have the choice of whom we want to be in union with.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 4)


 

Ephesians 2:10-18

In verse 15, Paul says that God "create[s] in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace." The apostle defines what these "two" are in verse 11: "Therefore, remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh - who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands. . . ." The two, Gentiles and Israelites, share one Spirit in Christ, "who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us" (verse 14). Whether physically Gentile or Israelite, those who have "put on the new man" have one Spirit, God's Holy Spirit.

Charles Whitaker
Choosing the New Man (Part Two)


 

Ephesians 2:19

Formerly, before God began to work in this way, there were two kinds of people on earth: the converted and unconverted. However, let us be a little bit more specific. In the context of Ephesians 2, the two kinds of people were Israelites and Gentiles. When we understand verses 16-20, He is saying now a third class of people is arising. There is the Gentile, the Israelite, and the Christian—the new man.

This is what God is creating, a family, a nation. He is creating something that is unique on the earth: a family that gets along with each other. Such a thing is unseen in the history of men. There are no wars (considering nations being families grown great) that are more vicious and terrible than inter-family wars, which we call "civil wars."

God is creating a family that gets along with each other, and this harmony begins with the acceptance of the blood of Jesus Christ. However, God expects that it will not end there. Because of the fellowship that we have with Him through Jesus Christ, as we begin to have more things in common, it will begin to expand out to others whom He is calling. It begins with the Spirit of God working with the person and eventually in him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 4)


 

Ephesians 2:20-22

This creating, building, or growing that Paul writes about here is the process by which we come to have more and more in common with each other so that there can be a continuing fellowship. The Holy Spirit, mentioned in verse 18 and again in verse 22, is the mechanism by which this is accomplished.

The eradication of the differences that we bring with us into the church and the building of the commonality are primarily the creative work of God. He is the Artisan at work, and we are being created in Christ Jesus into a fellowship that is so close that it is likened to a family. Families have things in common. It begins with a biological affinity, and the children of a mother and a father are genetically closer to each other than they are to their parents. What are we called in the church? Brothers and sisters.

Families have looks and practices in common, too, among other things. What they have in common makes them a family. So, in the church, God has to build a commonality to give us the family and therefore the fellowship that will enable us to continue with Him and with our brethren.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 4)


 

Ephesians 3:8-11

Paul says virtually the same thing here that he says in chapter one. He just changes the vocabulary. What have we been called or invited to? To be one with God—to be in His Family, His Church, and His Kingdom—all of these are a progression of the same basic thought. God is drawing everybody to Him, to be one with Him (a unity that was broken in Adam and Eve's sin of submitting to Satan rather than submitting to God).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 6): Ephesians 4 (C)


 

Ephesians 4:2-3

With admonitions like these, we step into the intimate personal relationships within a congregation or family. They show that unity depends more upon the exercise of the members' moral qualities than the structure of the institution. Paul shows in Ephesians that the life we are called to live is characterized by five qualities: humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, and love, the last of which embraces the preceding four and is the crown of all virtues. Each of these qualities enables us to act in mercy and live at peace. God's Spirit empowers us to use these qualities to overcome the ill will and the bitter, passionate rages that lead to clamorous slander, destroying reputations.

Such ill will and rage hardly promote kindness, compassion, and acting in grace toward each other. "Acting in grace" is an acceptable translation of the Greek word, charizomai, rendered "forgiving" in Ephesians 4:32. Acting in grace catches the essence of how God has acted toward us and our sin against Him. And because He has forgiven us, we are commanded to forgive each other (Colossians 3:13).

Mercy begins with the way we feel about or toward each other and moves toward merciful acts. God loves us and has an outgoing concern for us. If God so loves us, then we ought to love each other (I John 4:11). Thus, we are bound to forbear with one another and act kindly, in mercy. Anybody focused on himself as the center of the universe will have a difficult time thinking kindly of others, and unity will be difficult, if not impossible. It is no wonder, then, why so much divorce occurs, as well as division in other areas of life. A focus on the self does not allow much room for humble, kind, and compassionate thoughts of service for others.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 5: Blessed Are the Merciful


 

Ephesians 4:13

Perfect unity will not occur until we all believe and know, and therefore act, like our elder brother, Jesus Christ. This is why the ministry goes over the same territory Sabbath after Sabbath—because we have not reached perfect unity yet. We have by no means "come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God." We have not come "to a perfect man." We have not come "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," so the ministry keeps on preaching. It is its job, and if the preaching of it becomes trite, repetitive, boring—sorry, that is the ministry's job.

Ministers have to keep going over it until the perfect man is produced in the body of Christ. We will probably never reach it in this life, so church members should get used to hearing the same old sermons every week. It is hoped that ministers can come at it from new angles, provide deeper knowledge, explain things in a little bit better way each time, and make it seem fresh and interesting. But God, who gave the ministry this goal, desires that we strive to attain it, and so the ministry, if it is going to be faithful, will keep on preaching because it is in everyone's best interest that it do so. We all want to be in God's Kingdom.

It is obvious that the church has not reached perfect unity, and in fact, some of us have regressed in recent years. We can easily see this because, though Christ is not divided, the church is. We have schisms, and schisms are there to prove who is on His side. Paul says there must be schisms, factions, heresies, in the church because they expose, make manifest, those who are really following Christ (I Corinthians 11:19). The goal is that there be no divisions (I Corinthians 12:25), but Paul tells us that there will be, and that is the way God set up the church.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
It Takes a Church


 

Ephesians 4:17-32

Most of us realize that the unity of the church of God courses through the book of Ephesians as a general theme. Paul illustrates the church as a complete body of which Jesus, though in heaven, is the Head, and the elect here on earth comprise the rest of it. Early on, Paul declares how God has planned the organization of His purpose from the very beginning, determining whom He would call, give His Spirit to, and perfect as His children.

In Ephesians 4, the apostle begins to clarify our Christian responsibilities regarding works. He appeals to us in verse 1 to make every effort to live a manner of life that measures up to the magnificence of our high calling. He then makes sure we understand that we must carry out our responsibilities in humility, kindness, and forbearance as we strive to maintain doctrinal accord in purity.

He explains that Christ has given each of us gifts to meet our responsibilities in maintaining the unity of God's church. Foremost among these gifts are teachers who will work to equip us for service in the church and eventually in the Kingdom. This same process will enable us to grow to completion, to mature, no longer wavering in our loyalties, certain in the direction of our lives, and not deceived by the craftiness of men.

With that foundation, the "therefore" in verse 17 draws our focus to the practical applications necessary to meet the standards of the preceding spiritual concepts. We must not conduct our lives as the unconverted do. They are blinded to these spiritual realities and so conduct life in ignorance, following the lusts of darkened minds.

Because we are being educated by God, the standards of conduct are established by His truths and are therefore exceedingly higher. We must make every effort to throw off the works of carnality and strive to acquire a renewed mind through diligent, continuous effort so that we can be created in the image of God in true righteousness and holiness (verse 24).

In verses 25-29, Paul moves even further from generalities to clear, specific works that we must do. We must speak truth so that we do not injure another through lies, as well as to maintain unity. Because deceit produces distrust, unity cannot be maintained if lying occurs. We must not allow our tempers to flare out of control, for they serve as an open door for Satan to create havoc.

We must be honest, earning our way so that we are prepared to give to others who are in need. We must be careful that what we speak is not only true but also edifying, imparting encouragement, empathy, sympathy, exhortation, and even gentle correction when needed.

In verse 30 is a brief and kind reminder that, in doing our works we must never forget that we owe everything to our indwelling Lord and Master. We must make every effort to be thankful, acknowledging Him as the Source of all gifts and strengths, enabling us to glorify Him through our works.

In the final two verses of the chapter, Paul delineates specific responsibilities concerning our attitudes toward fellow Christians within personal relationships.

This brief overview of just one chapter shows clearly how much works enter into a Christian's life as practical requirements that cannot be passed off as unnecessary. How else will a Christian glorify God? How else will he grow to reflect the image of God? How else will he fulfill God's command to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19) except by faithfully doing those works that lead to life?

Through the whole process of sanctification, the Christian will make constant use of two additional works: daily prayer and Bible study, which must be combined with his efforts to obey God. No one who is careless about performing these works can expect to make progress growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ during sanctification.

Why? Without them, he will have no relationship with either the Father or the Son, and thus will not be enabled to achieve the required works. They are the Source of the powers that make it possible for us to do the works God has ordained. If we do not follow through on these two works, we will surely hear ourselves called "wicked and lazy" and be cast into "outer darkness" where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:24-30).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is the Christian Required To Do Works? (Part Four)


 

Philippians 1:7

Christian union is built around the fact that we are all partakers with one another in the grace of God. Unity, then, will vary from person to person. With some, it will be tenuous because the relationships and experiences together are just not that strong. On the one end, we have casual acquaintances. We know these acquaintances are part of the church of God, and thus we share a Spirit with them, as well as a hope, a dream, a goal. We are on a pilgrimage with them to God's Kingdom. Because they are in our minds, we have a tenuous union with them.

On the other extreme is the union that we have with our mate, who likewise shares with us the same Spirit, the same hopes and dreams. However, with our spouse, we share a great deal more intimacy and far more experience. Our union with him or her is far deeper. Spiritually, this also applies to our unity with the Father in heaven.

This epistle was written while Paul languished in prison. His fond memories of his experiences with the Philippians made him feel confident, as if he were not alone, as if they were with him in his chains, giving him encouragement in his desperate situation. It is as if he is saying, "Because of our unity, I can feel your support."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 4)


 

Philippians 2:9

Jesus is not against greatness or having power, but He wants it to be given by God. God will give it to those who are in harmony with His law, His government, and His way of life. Unity with Him begins with the right attitude toward Him, toward others, and toward the self.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace


 

Colossians 3:10-11

Considering these two verses in context, Paul is saying that because the Colossians had undergone the radical transformation of receiving the new nature and being renewed, they should work hard at making practical the salvation Christ made possible. They should do this by ceasing to do the things that separate and starting to do the things that bond. From chapter two, he carries over an underlying assumption that some measure of doctrinal difference is probably exacerbating the unity problem.

John W. Ritenbaugh
All in All


 

James 3:16

This verse shows why the Day of Atonement is needed. It is a day that pictures at-one-ment, the state of being at one. It is needed because men are horribly divided from one another. Some are trying to pull the nations of the earth together as one, but their attempt will fail because it does not originate from God and is not being conducted in a godly manner. It is not being orchestrated by God or His Son, Jesus Christ, and is, instead, being done in a carnal way, which will produce the exact same fruits that all of the other past efforts at unification have produced—division, destruction, and death! In this, we are witnessing a major, worldwide attempt to bring the earth together under one, anti-God system, even as was attempted in Genesis 11.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Division, Satan, Humility


 

1 John 1:3

We have been called into a fellowship—both with Christ and with those who make up His church—to be with Him and in Him, indicating in the church, the Body of Christ.

Physically, we may not have a great deal in common. We may be different nationalities, we may even speak different languages, we may come from somewhat different cultures, but spiritually, we have the same Father and Christ. This unity in God in no way automatically removes the reality of our differences, but because of that commonality—because we agree on the most important things of life—we can walk together and overcome the differences because we love Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
How to Know We Love Christ


 

1 John 4:16

John wants us to understand how much God loves us and to believe how special we are to God—our faith in how much He loves us. The fact that God is love is repeated from verse 8 to emphasize how complete God's love is toward us. The verse ends with the fruit of this kind of love—unity.

Pat Higgins
Faith to Face Our Trials


 

Revelation 21:8

Revelation 21:8 lists various classifications of sinners who will die in the Lake of Fire. This does not indicate, though, that if a person has committed one of these sins that he is automatically doomed. Nor does it mean that people are free to commit sins that are not listed here and be safe from the second death.

Instead, these verses describe two broad groupings of people: Those who are in union with God and those who are against Him. Those in union will have overcome throughout their lives, while those against will manifest their resistance through the sins mentioned here.

David C. Grabbe
What Is the Second Death?


 

 




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