Only One Question

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Lev. 23:10-11 π Mt. 24:4 π Mt. 24:10-14 π Mt. 26:39 π Mt. 26:41 π Mt. 26:42 π Mt. 26:44 π Jn. 10:27 π Jn. 17:20-23 π Acts 15:1 π Acts 15:14 π Acts 15:19 π Acts 15:22; 2nd π Acts 15:32 π Acts 20:30 π Rom. 8:29 π Gal. 2:9 π Gal. 2:12 π 2 Pet. 3:17 π 1 Jn. 2:21 π Rev. 12:11 π Rev. 14:6-7 π Rev. 14:15 π Rev. 17:5

Jesus prayed, “I do not pray for these [Twelve and Seventy] 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. 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.” ( Jn. 17:20-23; top )

If any attribute of the genuine Christian life should trouble us, it should be the issue of unity and oneness among the people who follow Christ. On this issue hangs the world’s ability to perceive the genuineness of Christ and the love of God. The unity of the body of Christ is to be the proof that Deity has moved among us and changed us to be more like Him.

In contrast to Christ’s High Priestly prayer above, however, Jesus, speaking of the days immediately prior to His return, prophesied, “And then many will be offended [stumbled, fallen away], will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness [what is right in one’s own eyes] will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” ( Mt. 24:10-14 ) Many of the people of Christ (if they really are the people of Christ) will not attain to the unity and oneness of Christ until He returns to rule with a rod of iron and the gospel will not be preached to all the nations until an angel does it! ( Rev. 14:6-7; top )

Yet there will be a remnant who will attain to that unity – at least with those others of the relatively few remnant who live in answer to the above prayer of Christ “that they may all be one.” These will one day stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion because the Father’s name is written on their foreheads and these will sing a song that only they could learn. “These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.” ( Rev. 14:15; top )

Let us highlight the description of this remnant:

These are the characteristics of Christ’s enduring remnant who shall be saved. One could preach and teach at length on the various elements on display here but let us press on past these more outward proofs and seek to find the deepest question that is the quintessential element that determines whether we are in the enduring remnant or in the deceived, falling away apostasy.

It is one of Christ’s last prayers that gives us insight into this deepest question: In the garden of Gethsemane, He most earnestly prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Again, a second time, He prayed, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” He prayed a third time, saying the same words. ( Mt. 26:39 , 42 , 44; top ) Then the men from Jerusalem, led by Judas Iscariot, came to take Him to His trial and crucifixion.

One of the chief purposes of the work of God in us is to conform us to the likeness of Christ. ( Rom. 8:29 , etc.) If any part of our self ever needed to be brought into the likeness of Christ, the will is probably the weakest link in our makeup. As Jesus said to His disciples that last night before His crucifixion, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” ( Mt. 26:41; top ) We are, as fallen human nature dictates, much more prone to be carnal or fleshly than we are to be spiritual! Apart from Christ’s indwelling Spirit, we simply do not have the power or ability to do that which is the will of God – no matter how much we might desire to do it or even when we know that it is the right thing to do.

Why are the last days characterized by rampant disunity and even hostility toward one another? Because those who are offended (stumbled, falling away) live after the desires of their own will and not after God’s will. There is some thing, some position, some status, some “theology” which they prefer over and above the absolute righteousness and purity that is God. Those who set their will to attain to God’s will are those who will endure to the end so as to be saved. This is the pattern for the individual lives of those who would be counted among Christ’s remnant.

When we apply this to any corporate gatherings of people who follow Christ, this brings us to the only question we need to answer: “What is the will of God on the matter before us?” When we move away from the petty dictatorships of “pastors,” boards and busybodies and make certain

  1. that the matter is being addressed to and by those who are committed to attaining only to God’s will in all things,

  2. that the matter is to be decided by all those who are affected by any forthcoming decision (as best we can do at the time is sometimes all we can attain to in this imperfect world), and

  3. that the matter is to be unanimously agreed to or not put into practice,

then we can see that the only relevant question is: “What is God’s will?” It does not matter what we personally prefer or believe to be “theologically” correct – it matters only what God is doing, how He is doing and through whom He will do it. The agreement of all the people is simply the proof that God is among us and is changing us to be like Him.

Someone – especially someone trained and brainwashed in various seminaries and Bible schools – will surely raise the objection: “Impractical! Someone must lead.” Indeed, the genuine body of Christ has its leaders. But it is in the unanimous recognition of the leading of the Holy Spirit where we find the evidence of how well the leaders are doing their job! That this proof of good leadership is almost entirely absent is only evidence that these “leaders” have been speaking forth a corrupted version of the gospel and drawing followers after themselves and not after Christ. (see Acts 20:30; top )

This unanimity is the “one accord” that we see in the book of Acts. Certain men from Judea came to Antioch teaching that circumcision was required for salvation. ( Acts 15:1 ) Paul and Barnabas then went to Jerusalem and brought the matter before “the apostles and elders, with the whole ekklesia.” ( Acts 15:22 ) After listening to the sharp debate where everyone voiced their opinions and views, James, the brother of Jesus, the head of the circumcision group, the man much more inclined toward Judaism and Jewish superiority than complete Christlikeness (see Gal. 2:9 , 12 ), even this James followed the Spirit of God and said, “Simon [Peter] has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name… Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God.” ( Acts 15:14 , 19; top )

From this declaration it came about that “it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole ekklesia, to send chosen men of their own company – namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren – to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas… [Once in Antioch] Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.” ( Acts 15:22 , 32; top )

This is the corporate pattern of life in the body of Christ – “not my will, but Yours be done, O God.” That the last days will be characterized by a different attitude only shows how “the many” will be driven by a spirit other than the Spirit of Christ. “The few,” Christ’s genuine enduring remnant, are those who continue to place the will of God – even if it means crucifixion (as it did for Christ) or some other unpleasant form of death (as it has for countless millions of followers of Christ, even in this day and age) – as the highest priority, goal and attainment in their life. Anything else or less is merely one of the deceptions laid as a snare to cause believers to stumble and fall away from their security in Christ. (see Mt. 24:4 , 2 Pet. 3:17; top )

Let he who has ears hear.

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