So we, being many, are one body in Christ,
and every one members one of another.
As the years go on we are blessed to see more and more souls come into the glorious truth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many see repentance in Christ as the end of a long journey. In reality – the journey has just begun. As you would expect, newly repented brothers and sisters are eager to fellowship with other like minded believers in a Church that uplifts the doctrine of Christ. All too often what they find is an environment of sin, corruption, anger, secret hatred, and strife. How does this happen? The answer is simple. While many churches claim to be expert in the mysteries of God – the state of the congregation proves that they are novices in one of the most basic and most important lessons of scriptures (Love thy neighbor as thyself).
1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, [even] as unto babes in Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas [there is] among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
When the Lord Jesus Christ founded his church he knew that the corruptions of men would also enter his congregation. This is why Christ gave such explicit detail concerning how his TRUE disciples would deal with conflicts among themselves.
The Coming of Offences
Luke 17:1-2 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe [unto him], through whom they come! (2) It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
As brothers and sisters escaping the corruptions of the world, we are often overcome by our carnal nature. Because of the envy, strife and hatred that are within us, we can say and do things to each other that are hurtful, cruel and evil. Worst yet, when we are reproved for these things, we are often too blinded by pride to acknowledge our faults. This is why Christ explained to us that offences would come in this ministry but destruction comes to the person who brings the offence. However, the wisdom of the scriptures does provide a way out for all souls who truly seek repentance.
Matthew 18:15-17 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. (16) But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. (17) And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
The true beauty of Mathew the 18th chapter is that Christ provided instruction on how to reconcile and make peace with your brother. By following the instructions above, you have a chance to make peace with your brother “one on one” before there is an opportunity for tale bearing or sowing of discord to take place. If you are not able to reconcile with your brother one on one, you have the opportunity to involve other church members that will judge the matter with an unbiased eye (Meaning that they will judge according to the scriptures). In some cases a person may not see or accept his fault even after being reproved by additional witnesses. These cases are brought before the congregation at which time if it is shown that one party no longer wishes to abide in the doctrine of Christ, they will no longer have the privilege of fellowship. (but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.)
Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Luke 11:4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
These words are taken from the Lord’s Prayer which was taught to us by Jesus Christ. Part of the reason we readily forgive one another is because we are mindful of how patient and merciful the Lord has been with us through our offences.
Luke 17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
The Lord instructs us to rebuke or correct our brother when he sins against us and “IF” he repents (Confesses and forsakes his sin Proverbs 28:13 / Not a sin unto Death) you must forgive him. It is not always easy for us to forgive each other, especially if the offence was very hurtful or angered us. The scriptures tell us that times will come when offences make us angry but the spirit of Christ admonishes us to avoid sin.
Ephesians 4:26-27 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (27) Neither give place to the devil.
The scripture tells us to be angry and sin not – Don’t let your anger lead you to the breaking of the commandments by giving in to hatred and grudges. The Lord commands us to reconcile before the day/even comes to an end. When we give in to our anger, we are (giving place to the devil) and the devil has NO place in the Body of Christ!
The New Commandment
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (35) By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Just as the Lord Jesus Christ showed his love for his disciples by his actions, so too must we treat each other with the same love and compassion. This love is the proof that we are the disciples of Christ and servants to his will.
1John 3:14-15 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death. (15) Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
Forging a Family
To our beloved brethren worldwide who are waking up to the glory of Christ we admonish you to take heed to these scriptures. When the time comes that the Lord blesses you with a Church family, we pray that it is a family that exemplifies the love of Christ – if not – then let your light shine and become the best example of Christ that you can be. It is evident from reading the epistles that every church had its own set of unique problems and challenges but those who were obedient to the words of Christ always stood together. It may be that the Lord would deliver his true believers from wicked and unreasonable men.
2 Thessalonians 3:1-3 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have [free] course, and be glorified, even as [it is] with you: (2) And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all [men] have not faith. (3) But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep [you] from evil.