Calvinist. Arminian. Baptist. Methodist. Presbyterian. We have so many labels … that are all man-made! This is a powerful reminder from Charles Spurgeon about the power of being unified around the essentials in the Word of God. Check out this portion of Spurgeon’s sermon—
“You know, brethren, that there is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer, I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to admit it. But, my dear friends, far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none within her walls but Calvinistic Christians, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views. Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him, that, while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley. The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one of whom the world was not worthy. I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, who nevertheless have received Christ into their hearts, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist out of heaven. I thank God we do not believe in the measuring line of any form of bigotry.” —Charles Spurgeon (emphasis added)
Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:32-33)
“…unity of mind on the part of the people of God precedes the blessing. I have often heard people pray, ‘Oh Lord, send the Holy Spirit that we may become a united people.’ That is all right except it is precisely backwards. The Holy Spirit comes because we are a united people; He does not come to make us a united people. Our prayer should be more like, ‘Lord, help us to get united in order that the blessing might flow and there might be an outpouring of oil and dew and life.’ That’s the way we should pray….
“This teaches us that unity is necessary to the outpouring of the Spirit of God. If you have 120 volts of electricity coming into your house but you have broken wiring, you may turn the switch, but nothing works-no lights come on, the stove doesn’t warm, your radio doesn’t turn on. Why? Because you have broken wiring. The power is ready to do its work with all the appliances in your home, but where there is broken wiring, you have no power. Unity is necessary among the children of God if we are going to know the flow of power.” —A.W. Tozer (emphasis added)
“I would prefer to combat the ‘I’m special’ feeling not by the thought ‘I’m no more special than anyone else’ but by the feeling ‘Everyone is as special as me.’ In one way there is no difference, I grant, for both remove the speciality. But there is a difference in another way. The first might lead you to think, ‘I’m only one of the crowd like anyone else.’ But the second leads to the truth that there isn’t any crowd. No one is like anyone else. All are ‘members’ (organs) in the Body of Christ. All different and all necessary to the whole and to one another: each loved by God individually, as if it were the only creature in existence. Otherwise you might get the idea that God is like the government which can only deal with the people in the mass.” —C.S. Lewis
At UNITED, Pastor Craig said there was a strength and a story that comes from Christians being united in their love of God and others, and in their service to their community.
This was especially true in the ancient Roman world. Melinda Penner writes, “Ancient societies and religion were not known for their care for the sick and dying. Christians who often risked their lives to care even for non-Christians represented a radical difference in the values taught by the Bible than anything else known at that time.”
Melinda writes about the way the sick were abandoned, infants and the elderly were left behind, and the Christians stepped in to help. In fact, history records that it was Christians who not only set the example for compassion to all people, but they systematically organized their care to form the first institutions like hospitals, orphanages, and nursing homes. Read Melinda’s fascinating article by clicking here.
“Today, we take for granted the responsibility to care for the sick regardless of religious convictions.” Melinda writes. “It was Christians practicing what the Bible taught them that began caring for those in need.”
Let’s continue that tradition of compassionate caring in Cedar Springs.
Let’s make sure our unity of compassion tells a story of Christ’s love.
If you heard Pastor Craig’s message at UNITED this year (or you can read the recap here), you heard him talk about how many times the New Testament uses the phrase one another in reference to Christians in unity.
Aaron Gray has a great post entitled “Ten Ways A Church Family Can Love One Another.” You can read Aaron’s full article by clicking here, but he says…
Pray—1 Thessalonians 5:25
Do community—Romans 12:16
Encourage—1 Thessalonians 5:11
Pursue—2 Peter 1:5-7
Let’s do all that we can to measure up to the call of unity God has given the church.
Let’s find ways to help “all y’all” as much as we can.
Nine area churches suspended regular Sunday services and united for a joint worship service together at Morley Park, in Cedar Springs, on Sunday, August 24. This is the 6th year the churches have held the joint service, which they call “United.”
About 500 people attended the event, which included contemporary worship music, a sermon by Pastor Craig Owens, of Calvary Assembly of God, prayer, lunch, and a worship concert.
Churches attending included Calvary Assembly of God, Cedar Springs United Methodist, Crossfire Ministries, Grace Evangelical Free, Hillcrest Community, North Kent Community, Pioneer Christian Reformed, Solon Center Wesleyan, and The Springs Church.