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Pastoral 2013

Cannibals in the Church!

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Are you surprised by the title?

You might be saying, “Well, I know that the Gospel transforms cannibals into Christians. Many a missionary has come back from the foreign fields with thrilling stories of the power of the Gospel to change cannibals into Christians. Then, how can there be cannibalism in the church?”

Interestingly, there is another kind of cannibalism which the apostle Paul speaks of in Galatians 5:15 – “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”

The Galatian church had been a centre of dynamic Christianity. Paul himself had ministered there. The Gospel had been presented clearly and the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the people had been evident. The love of Christ was an active force in personal relationships. Paul said they had loved him so much that “if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me” (Galatians 4:15). They loved him so much that they would have given to him anything, however dear; they would have done anything to contribute to his welfare.

Sadly, there was a real deterioration in their relationship with one another. The church was infiltrated by Judaizers and other false teachers. It was increasingly becoming legalistic and schismatic. As dissension set in, love departed from the church. Paul lamented their spiritual degeneration!

Biting One Another!

How could they have bitten one another? Men do “bite” one another by severe and venomous words. By slanderous words, false accusations and unkind remarks, people wound one another. When members of the church start railing at one another, without patience and forgiveness, they inflict serious injuries on one another.

Devouring One Another!

When Christians engage in heartless bickering and infighting, they destroy one another’s testimony and their ministries. When vengeful actions are taken against one another, they disable and demolish each other. Soon fraudulent and vicious methods which are meant to undo one another would decimate the unity and effectiveness of the church. Uncharitable contentions would lead a congregation to utter destruction.

Take Heed!

Let there be no doubt about the certainty and sadness of the danger that will engulf a church that is ridden with ungracious and proud dealings – lest ye be consumed one of another. Such malicious discord would ruin our fellowship and consolations. It will hamper and wreck our exercise of spiritual gifts and practice of true religion as well as hinder us from raising a good posterity. Disharmony and divisions; wrangling and prejudices, eat out the growth if not the life of the church.

Observing the Galatians’ discord, Paul warned that if they kept eating away at one another, they would eventually consume one another. They had become “Christian cannibals”! John Calvin commented: “How distressing, how mad it is that we, who are members of the same body, should be leagued together, of our own accord, for mutual destruction.”

There is no room for cannibalism among Christians. Instead, we are to “...love one another with a pure heart fervently” (I Peter 1:22). When Christians conquer their spiritual cannibalism, another great missionary story will be told. Those observing real love among the people of God will turn to the Saviour. The church will fulfil its mission at home. And this will enlarge its missionary ministry around the world!

 

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Letter of Encouragement for Bible Witness

Greetings,

Thank you for sending along your wonderful publication, Bible Witness. How amazing is our God who helps us in these spiritually dangerous times. This issue on the church looks to be most helpful. I look forward to reading it.

Construction on our building addition is underway for which we praise the Lord. Foundation and floor concrete to be poured this week (August 27th). Our regret is that Dr. Steele is not here to see this new facility; but he is present in that “building, city” whose founder and maker is God.

Beloved, keep strong in the Lord,

Rev Morris McDonald
Suncoast Bible Presbyterian Church
Palm Harbor, FL 34683 USA