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Conquering the Challenge of Biblical Unity

Here are some verses that support this statement: Deuteronomy 6:4Matthew 3:16-17Galatians 1:1Ephesians 4:6Romans 9:5Colossians 2:9John 1:1Acts 5:3-4Exodus 3:14Isaiah 6:31 John 4:8.

Theological Truth #2: God’s Son

Heretics, some of whom rejected Jesus’s humanity, infiltrated the early church. The Docetists believed that Jesus only seemed to be human. Today, there are groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Latter-Day Saints, who attack the deity of Christ.

This is why a statement like this may be helpful:

Jesus Christ is the second Person of the Trinity. He has always been fully God and became fully God and fully human when He was conceived in Mary’s womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. He lived the perfect life we could never live and died the horrible death we deserved. He rose physically from the dead, victorious over sin and Satan. Forty days after His resurrection, He ascended physically into the heavens. He is interceding for us at the right hand of God the Father. He will come back to establish His Kingdom on Earth and rule and reign forever with those who have trusted in Him.

Notice there’s no mention of when Jesus is returning (pre-, mid- or post-tribulation), nor is there mention of one’s view of the millennium. These are side issues that can and should be discussed within the hallways of one’s own church and not around the network table.

Here are some verses that support the doctrine of “Christology” in its most basic form: Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:231 Timothy 3:16John 1:1-14Philippians 2:61 Corinthians 15:3-7Romans 8:34.

Theological Truth #3: God’s Spirit

All members of the network should be able to agree on a statement such as the following about the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity, who was fully active in the creation of the world and is fully active in the regeneration of those who put their faith in Jesus. He indwells believers at the moment of salvation and is with them continuously until the day of redemption. He empowers believers to live a life full of “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to believers that allow them to serve others, and He empowers them to clearly and confidently share the Gospel with unbelievers.

When it comes to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the inevitable conversation about the existence of sign gifts or the cessation of them arise. It can easily turn into a version of the Broadway musical West Side Story, with the Sharks (cessationalists) on one side and the Jets (charismatics) on the other—without the knife fights of course!

I strongly suggest that the network table should not be the place where we flex our views for or against these gifts. Baptists and Pentecostals have far more in common than not, and these arguments can derail the unity we could have for the Gospel. Again, these are important issues that should be discussed in our own churches, but around the network table and in joint network events/trainings, they can undermine the good work God wants to do.

Wherever you stand on these issues, all of us can learn from Jesus’s response to the disciples in Luke 10:17-20:

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.”

In essence, Jesus is reminding us to focus more on the steak (salvation: “your names are written in Heaven”) than the sizzle (miracles: “even the demons submit to us in your name”). We praise God for miracles but praise even more for the miracle of salvation—the biggest miracle of all.

On the other side, there are Christians who never even mention the Holy Spirit. Their version of the Trinity is “Father, Son, and Holy Scriptures.” This too is dangerous. Without the Spirit we have no power and no fruit that remains.

Here are some crucial Scriptures on the Holy Spirit: Genesis 1:2John 14:26Acts 1:8Acts 5:3-41 Corinthians 12:4-132 Corinthians 3:17-18Ephesians 1:13-141 John 2:20.

Theological Truth #4: God’s Word

The following statement can be used as a uniting truth regarding the Bible:

Scripture was written by men but inspired by God. This means that every word, passage, and chapter of the Holy Scriptures, though penned by humans and retaining the writing style and personality of the human authors, was inspired by God Himself. The human authors came from various backgrounds and lived in many different places and time periods, but the Holy Spirit guided each author as he wrote. God’s word is reliable, not only in matters of faith and practice, but on every matter it touches.

Here are some supporting Scriptures: Psalm 19:7-11Psalm 119Matthew 5:18Luke 24:44-462 Timothy 3:16-17Hebrews 4:12-132 Peter 1:20-21.