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"Only let your conduct be worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the Faith of the Gospel and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of Salvation and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me." Philippians 1:27-30
In the Scripture we receive many commands for unity. Not the fake unity of the World Council Churches and the Roman Catholic apostates, but Biblical unity as in Philippians 1:27: "Only let your conduct be worthy of the Gospel of Christ…" Standing fast in one spirit with one mind striving together for the Faith of the Gospel. We are not called to have unity with the world. Our Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane, prayed for His people. He made it very clear as He prayed: “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” John 17:9, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth." John 17:17
Unity in Christ
What is the basis of truth? The Word of God. "As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their Word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me." John 17:18-21
The Great Commission is Our Supreme Ambition
The purpose of our unity is not for some New World Order airy-fairy New Age agenda. The purpose of Christian unity is for the advancement of the Gospel, seeking first God's Kingdom, fulfilling the Great Commission. "And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are One: I in them and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me." John 17:22-23
Unity Amongst Regenerate, Faithful Disciples
The Lord makes it clear. He is not praying for unity with the world. He is praying for those who will believe in Him, who will be faithful to His Word, those who have been sanctified by the Word of God, those who are students of the Bible and faithful disciples. Jesus makes clear He is praying for unity amongst the true Church, those who are regenerate, the born-again. It is a disgrace and rebellion to Almighty God to not be united with fellow believers. I have found it easy to be united with Christians of a wide variety because I am in Missions and somehow it is easier for Missionaries to co-operate with Christians from different denominations. It is even more natural for missions to the persecuted Church to co-operate.
Tortured for Christ
As Richard Wurmbrand said: "When you end up in the same cell and concentration camp, or torture chamber, you recognise an Orthodox priest as your brother in Christ, if he is suffering for Christ." Yes, Richard Wurmbrand was Lutheran and the other man was Orthodox and there are a lot of doctrinal and practical differences between them. When you are suffering for Christ, everyone else who is suffering with you can be seen as brothers and sisters in Christ. Richard Wurmbrand wrote a book, If that was Christ, Would you give him your Blanket? He was speaking about an Orthodox minister who was in the same prison cell. Richard Wurmbrand realised he had to give this man his blanket, because that is what he would do if it was Christ… "Whatever you did unto one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."
The War Taught Us to Work Together
On a Mission to Angola, I had discovered a Bible College in Lubango, which was Presbyterian, Assemblies of God and Baptist! One Bible College run by Presbyterians, Baptists and Assemblies of God! How was this possible? How do you work together? They answered: "the war taught us to work together." Indeed, when you are dealing with communist terrorists, like the Cubans, who were burning churches, murdering pastors and burning Bibles, it is quite clear who the enemy is. Those being targeted by the enemy are our brethren. That is why I have been able to minister amongst Baptists, Lutherans and Orthodox in Eastern Europe and amongst Pentecostals, African Independents, Anglicans, Lutherans, Brethren and vast range of other denominations across Africa from Mozambique to Nigeria, from Zimbabwe to Sudan, from Zambia to the Congo. It is natural, because we are in a war. When you are in a war it provides perspective.
In the army we were taught to work together as a team. One of the exercises was the Vasbyt (bite the bullet). It was an 8,4km race against other platoons and we were given tyres, poles and barrels to transport in this race to the end of the 8,4km. If everyone just decided to run, taking a tyre here and there, that would not have been very intelligent. If we worked as a team, you take the one side, I take the other and we put as many of the tyres as possible on the poles. Others took poles and we combined our ropes from our backpacks and strung the barrels between the poles. Then we ran in step. We achieved far more, in far less time and with far less struggle when we worked together as a team!
Unto the Least of These
We learned the first time we completed one of these exercises that it is not the first person across the finish line that wins. It is the last person of the team across that wins. You do not win by being a Rambo/Lone Ranger running by yourself, saying I am going to win! You have to help the weaker members. So, the stronger people helped to carry the kit of the weaker. Some even carried their teammates, who had passed out on the way. Only when the last member of your team crossed the finish line had your team completed the course. It was on that result that the decision was made as to who received the pass/leave for the weekend, the trophy, etc. The Military taught us to work together, united as a team.
Competition to Increase Competence
In the army there was a tremendous competitiveness between every platoon, company, battalion, regiment and unit. A person from Bravo company who tried to cross Charlie company’s line, might end up having a metal eating pan beaten over his head. There were fights over all sorts of things because of the fierce competition between the units in training. It was intense. There was especially fierce competitiveness between units of the Navy, Air Force, Army and Police.
Recognise Your Enemy
However, the moment we were deployed to the border, even the Police and Air Force were on the same side - as we were facing a common enemy. In war, one's whole perspective changes. It is healthy to have some competitiveness in training in order to strengthen your skills, to improve your abilities, to increase your speed, to perfect your teamwork, to see how you can work well together. However, once your training is complete and you are deployed onto the border against a common enemy, now competitiveness would be foolish and destructive. You now have to work as a team and it doesn’t matter whether they are Marines or Air Force. They are our allies, on the same side, under the same flag. We were fighting the same communist enemy.
United Against Evil
Christians need to adopt that same constructive attitude. When we understand who the real enemy is: satan and his minions: radical Islam, communism, secular humanism, the New World Order, we will not waste our time fighting fellow believers! Certainly not fellow Evangelicals and Reformed believers. There are so many passages in the Scripture that speak on this. "So we, being many, are one body in Christ and individually members of one another." Romans 12:5. "For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread." 1 Corinthians 10:17. "For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ." 1 Corinthians 12:12
Unity of Purpose
One does not have this hand competing with the other hand and this foot competing with the other foot. We work together. You need your feet, hands and fingers to work together. You need your mind and your tongue to be connected and engage brain before putting mouth in gear. We have to be able to co-ordinate every part of our body together, if you need to achieve anything important in athletics, hiking, paddling, ice skating, or anything! So, it is in the Church. There is a wide variety of diversity in our churches, but we should all be part of the same Great Commission Mission and same cause of advancing God's Kingdom. If we can realise a renewed vision of our Mission and understand where we stand in the battle of beliefs, in the world war of worldviews, in the cultural war that is raging, in the battle for the family, the battle for the mind, the battle for the heart. We will see that we can work effectively together with other believers.
Without a Vision a People Perish
As we travel, many people are surprised that our Mission works with so many others who are not exactly our kind of belief. Why do we do that? Try to see the big picture. We have a vision of fulfilling the Great Commission. Reformation. Revival. We want to work towards the fulfilment of the Great Commission, which is our supreme ambition. Therefore we will work with anyone who is in the fight. Some of the people's knowledge of the Scripture is weak and some of them do not know basic Biblical doctrines on a whole range of issues, but they are there. Whether we talking about the Congo, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia, or in Sudan. If we can place Scripture and Bible teaching materials in their hands, if we can inform, inspire and direct them, if we can come alongside them, educate and encourage, help meet some of their needs, help re-orientate them to be more effective in the fight and to get their focus on God's Kingdom, seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then we are achieving something important.
Be Bold and Brave
Why? A victory for one part of Christ's Church is a victory for all of us. If you think in terms of military warfare, you do not win battles on your own. It is a team effort. We see this with Jonathan in 1 Samuel. Jonathan and his armour bearer saw the need to do something about the Philistine threat and were bold and brave. Jonathan said: "let us go up and see if God will give us victory over them." God can give us victory, whether by many, or by few. His armour bearer said: whatever the Lord has put in your heart, I am with you, heart and soul. They took initiative, went up and engaged the enemy and won the victory.
United in Battle
That is why David and Jonathan became the best of friends. They identified with each other as warriors, fighters, willing to take risks, initiators, willing to take on the enemy, even when heavily outnumbered. These two are one of the most magnificent examples of brotherhood, of a friend who can stick even closer than a brother. They were united in God and they were united in battle. There is a unity that comes amongst military people that is unique, which most people cannot understand. In the Army, we were told: "You have never lived until you have almost died and for those who fight for it, life has a flavour the protected will never know."
There is a bond between soldiers who have been together in battle that you cannot break. It is the same in the persecuted Church and Missions. When people have been under fire, bombarded in the trenches, in persecuted Churches, when you have ministered to people who are risking their lives to worship Christ, or to deliver Bibles, or whatever the mission at that time is, then there is a bond that cannot easily be broken.
Unity in Battle
Most Christians will never know that bond, as most people never commit to a fight. Most are not involved in the culture war, nor the battle for the family, nor the battle for the mind, nor the world war of worldviews. They do not know what it is to engage the forces of darkness. They do not know what it is to be involved in real spiritual warfare. They have never risked anything for God. How can they relate? There are soldiers who my Father and Grandfather fought with and even against, who they loved. The Afrika Korp and the 8th Army's mutual respect and bond was immense.
A Higher Call
Luftwaffe Fighter Ace, Franz Stiegler, let American bomber pilot, Charlie Brown and his B-17 crew, go because they were so badly damaged, even escorting them to safety out over the flak gunners. They became the best of friends. General Adolf Garland, the head of the Fighter Squadrons in Germany and Douglas Bader, one of the top British Aces, became the best of friends and wrote Forewords for one another's books. Their families spent holidays together. A special bond is formed in some of these situations that most people will never understand. That is why most of the attempts by Christians to achieve unity will fail, as they are based on sloppy, sentimental, fuzzy ideas. It is the difference between building your house upon the rock, or building on the sand.
Unity of Vision, Purpose and Sacrifice
Real unity will come to the church when people understand: "Be Thou my vision…" When the vision is God and God's glory, then they will be able to love their brethren. When their mission is God's Mission, the Great Commission, when they see themselves as not so much a member of this denomination, or congregation, but of God's Kingdom. Being Kingdom focussed. Battle focused. When they see the needs and are involved in the battles. Only then we will be able to worship with and rejoice with, Russian Orthodox, Ethiopian Coptics, Egyptian Coptics, Anglicans in Sudan, Pentecostals in Nigeria, Baptists in the Congo and Independents in Zambia. When we are involved in the same Mission. When we are experiencing the same threats. When we are facing the same challenges. Only then will unity come and it will be real Bible-based, Christ-centered unity.
United in Christ
What we have to do is follow the Biblical principles. "Till we all come to the unity of the Faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:13. The kind of unity the Apostle Paul is talking about is unity of the Faith, unity of knowledge and unity in Christ with Christ as the perfect example, that we are trying to grow up to all that He has called us to.
If we try to compare ourselves with fellow Christians there is room for both despair and pride. Our goal is Christ. He is our example. We follow in His footsteps. There are weaknesses and blind spots in every Christian leader, even the best of them. There is bad in the best of us because we have fallen. There is evil in the best because we are fallen creation. But there is good even in the worst, because we are God's creation. Fallen creation gives us the balance.
Reject the False But Seek True Unity in Christ
Unfortunately so many of these Biblical concepts have been hijacked by the New World Order, the liberal, World Council Churches apostates. They talk about unity so much that many Christians who seek to be faithful to God, have a fear that we have to be anti-unity because they correctly perceive that this false call for unity is something that is wrong. But we are missing the many calls for real Biblical Christian unity in Christ, unity on the Bible. "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:3
Be of One Mind
"I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord." Philippians 4:2. Paul called for two people who were at odds with one another, in a certain congregation, to be of one mind together. "…Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you." 2 Corinthians 13:11
"That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ." Colossians 2:2
United for Victory in Christ
"Now I plead with you, brethren, by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." 1 Corinthians 1:10
An example of how we should not operate was at the Rustenberg National Conference of Churches in 1990 where I was a delegate. At one time Ray McCauley stood up to do a devotion. Everyone from Tutu, Boesak, many of the apostate clergy were there. Rev. McCauley said: "It is time for us to lay aside doctrine and seek unity with our brothers in the World Council of Churches!" At teatime, I went to Ray McCauley and said: "Ray, I never knew that you took up doctrine! How could you lay it aside?" He laughed and thought I was making a joke. But I was serious!
Onward Christian Soldiers
We need to be united in Christ, as the family of God. United in our Mission of the Great Commission. United in our love for God and for His Creation. United in purpose, to be salt and light. Working for Reformation, praying for Revival. Seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. United in battle. There is the battle for the mind, the battle for the heart, the battle for the family, the battle for Faith and freedom. United in the battle for Christian civilisation that is under attack.
Recognise the Threats
We are under serious persecution. Never has the Church faced the kinds of threats it is facing right now from insidious anti-Christ, GayGB, pink inquisition who are seeking to bully, intimidate and pulverize Christians into re-defining marriage and the Gospel. We have whole denominations that have run up the white flag and re-defined marriage to include perversion. Many have accepted unrepentant, fornicating, adulterous perverts into their pulpits and call them "ministers", him or her! Entire denominations are apostatising right, left and centre. They are willing to ignore vast passages of the Scriptures in their eagerness to please the world and adopt their secular agenda.
Compromise and Cowardice
Why? Many do not want to be called horrible names, like: a bigot, or legalist or judgemental! They would rather: betray God, violate their ordination oath, throw out the church constitution, ignore the Bible, take the scissors to the Bible, tippex out those offensive passages, whatever is necessary. Shred the Bible if need be. But do not call us horrible names! Wimps, wets and weeds who have no doctrinal back bone. Filleted of spine. Spineless evangellyfish. No Holy Spirit fire. No fervour. No courage, absolute cowards, traitors and apostates. Churches are apostatising and giving in to the New World Order, or they are just being quiet saying: we will just focus on nice happy thoughts of love, unity and peace, let us blow a shofar, etc. They may not get persecuted, but they have missed the whole purpose of what we are here for! They have spiritual amnesia and they have forgotten the Great Commission of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
United to Crucify Christ
We can see that our enemies are united. The enemies of Christ united to crucify Him. There was not much in common between the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Scribes, the Herodians and the Romans. Yet they co-operated to crucify Christ. In Jerusalem the enemies of Christ had nothing much in common except that they worked together when it came to the illegal trial, shameful abuse, torture and crucifixion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The UN Co-operate for Evil
Our enemies know the benefits and power of unity. The United Nations, which are neither united, nor nations, work together often for evil purposes. Muslims, radical Jihadists, feminists, Marxists, socialists, New Agers, Greens, they can all work together against Christian interests time and again. What do the secular humanists, the religious liberals, LGBT, transgender, GayGB, Pink Inquisition and Muslim Jihadists have in common? Often they work together because they hate Christ and Christians.
Divided and Divisive
Christians are often divided on almost anything. Some Christians are not only divided, they are divisive, schismatic and continually attacking one another, even within the same denomination! Even Christians within the same denomination, who have much in common, fight because of envy, jealousy, back-biting, gossip and misunderstandings, sometimes for no other reason than hearsay and gossip.
Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Biblical
The last command of Christ should be our first concern. The main thing is the keep the main thing the main thing. Our priority on earth is to fulfil the Great Commission, to seek first the Kingdom of God, to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbour as ourselves. May God find us faithful to His Word and resolute in His service.
"…contend earnestly for the Faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Jude 3
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
The audio CD of this message, as presented to Livingstone Fellowship, along with other audio CDs and MP3 boxsets, is available from Christian Liberty Books, PO Box 358, Howard Place 7450, Cape Town, South Africa, tel: 021-689-7478, fax: 086-551-7490, email: firstname.lastname@example.org and website: www.christianlibertybooks.co.za.