Summary: Presented at the Uncompahgre Baptist Association Annual Exec. Board Meeting, in Paonia, CO, Sept. 14, 2002
“And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”
The way to begin a sermon on Scriptural unity, I think, is to define the Christian. After all, there is no Scriptural unity in anyone or between any people who are not Christians, so if we are to discuss Scriptural unity, we need to make clear from the outset just what a Scriptural Christian is.
C. H. MacKintosh describes him this way;
“A Christian is one whose sins are forgiven, who possesses eternal life, and knows it; in whom the Holy Ghost dwells; he is accepted in and associated with a risen and glorified Christ; he has broken with the world, is dead to sin and the law, and finds his object and his delight, and his spiritual sustenance, in the Christ who loved him and gave Himself for him, and for whose coming he waits everyday of his life. This...is the New Testament description of a Christian.”
Now if we are to be realistic and not bury our heads in the proverbial sand, we have to acknowledge that there is such thing, however you label him, as what I call the ‘cultural christian’.
A cultural christian is the person who has entered the church for some purely human motive. Seeking fulfillment, meeting an emotional need; I suppose they are many. But the fact is that there has never been true repentance for sin, there has never been a work of regeneration done; yet this person has found the church environment comfortable and has stayed. In some cases, the cultural christian has been around so long and been so successful in looking like a Christian on the outside, that he or she has risen to a place of prominence and leadership in the church; and no one but God knows that person is spiritually dead.
Of course, if we were to follow the admonition of Jesus, we would observe their fruit over time and realize that nothing of an eternal value comes from them.
Now, I am well aware; all too aware, that true Believers often act according to the flesh, and not all the problems in the church are caused by these cultural christians. Otherwise there would be no exhortation in scripture to confess our sins, with the promise that out of God’s faithfulness and according to righteousness, forgiveness would flow out to us from Him.
Nevertheless, people who have deceived themselves into thinking they are Christians because they have made their lives so significantly linked to the church and yet have never known Him, are in our midst, and unfortunately, they often have a very strong influence over the inner workings of a church. Especially if a church has left its moorings and begun to be run as a business instead of a spiritual house.