Title: Judges 12. Jephthah, part 8: War with Ephraim. Peace and unity in the church.
Gilead under the leadership of Jephthah goes to war with Ephraim. The jealous and self-centered Ephraimites provoked war with hostile threats against Gilead, who are a sub-set of Manasseh. Gilead will resoundingly defeat them, but the fact that there is a war at all, Jew vs. Jew, is a testimony to the breakdown of unity amongst God's elect nation. Under God and under His law they were to be unified in love for God and therefore their neighbor. This has led us to a study on the peace and unity that is commanded of the church, the body of Christ, with specific reference to the local community of believers.
Peace exists where righteousness is in harmony with righteousness. Man cannot create his own righteousness and so he cannot make peace. God provides both righteousness and peace.
Peace must exist in the believer's soul and when two believers are in that condition they will experience divine peace and unity amongst each other. As the Trinity is united, so will they be.
Some believers are alone. For whatever reason they have no likeminded believers in their midst. Others have some believer's in their midst, but no local church to attend. The plan of God is perfect for each of us. It is not fleshly to desire the company of other like minded believers. We will document that from scripture.
Also, one should not support a local church that is teaching falsehood. It is a common question for internet listeners if they should attend a local church to fulfill the admonishment to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. They each must decide for themselves and they can because they are believer priests and no one can judge you for it. I know listeners who do attend another church and those who do not.
Paul stated that though he desired to be with the Thessalonians in body, he was with them in spirit.
It is a fact that without our internet listeners, GTM could not exist as it does.
All of us, no matter what church atmosphere we find ourselves in, or lack of, must understand something that is foundational to this doctrine. We do not determine our surroundings or our fellowships. In the end it is God who shapes us and our environment. He is the potter and we are the clay. Moses never determined to spend 40 years in the wilderness of Midian. He never determined to be the leader of Israel. Korah determined to be the leader of Israel and usurp Moses. He was executed by God. Aaron did not determine to become the first high priest, nor did he ask for his line to be the line of all high priests. The same is true of all that we see in the OT and amazingly, it is also true of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the Son of God, He did not determine His way on earth. He left all in the hands of the Father.
"Then I said, 'Behold, I have come
(In the roll of the book it is written of Me)
To do Thy will, O God.'"
The Son of God did not determine the incarnation. He was sent. He did not determine His way. He only did the will of the Father.
"I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me."
Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
We do not only trust God for the circumstances of our life, but for how we turn out or mature personally. Since it is God who causes the growth, God who reveals truth in His timing, God who gives a spiritual gift, God who determined the time of your birth and so determined your parents, family, genetics, location, etc, God who prepared beforehand the works that we each were to walk in, God who out of the variety of gifts, variety of ministries, and variety of effects chose yours, God has determined you. He is molding you as the master potter. All of these things deeply effect our personalities and so it is God who is determining your personality, and not you. You likely used to dream about who you wanted to be. God had a different plan. And all of us are called to be conformed into the image of Christ. We do not all become the same, but we share the virtue of Him.
It takes trust to entrust Him with absolutely everything, but when we do, we find perfect peace.
Not only did we once dream of who we would like to be, but we likely dreamed of what we would like to see our church as, our marriages, our professions etc. These are also things that we don't get to determine. We determine who we marry, what church we attend, what job we will accept, but we don't get to choose from every person on earth, every church on earth, or every job on earth (nor from all history). And the ones we chose did not turn out to be what we exactly imagined. God leads us or we reject His guidance. If we reject His guidance He still leads us, just in a different fashion.
1PE 4:19 states that believers are to "entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right." In other words, we follow the path, the path and way of righteousness, following the commands of God while we entrust our very souls and lives in His hands. If we choose lifestyles of sin then we reap what we sow.
We can't blame God for the circumstances of our bad decisions. However, we can blame Him for the circumstances of our choice to follow Him and entrust Him with our lives.
We have many members of our congregation who are far away from us and some of them are alone, without the fellowship of other Christians of like mind. Last night I read an excerpt from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's work entitled Life Together.
Yearning for the physical presence of other believers is not sin or fleshly. Paul desired it. Jesus desired it.
ROM 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.
ROM 1:9 For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you,
ROM 1:10 always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you.
ROM 1:11 For I long to see you in order that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established;
ROM 1:12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine.
ROM 1:13 And I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented thus far) in order that I might obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles.
ROM 1:14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.
ROM 1:15 Thus, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
1TH 2:17 But we, brethren, having been bereft of you for a short while — in person, not in spirit — were all the more eager with great desire to see your face.
1TH 2:18 For we wanted to come to you — I, Paul, more than once — and yet Satan thwarted us.
1TH 2:19 For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?
1TH 2:20 For you are our glory and joy.
1TH 3:1 Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone;
1TH 3:2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith,
1TH 3:3 so that no man may be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this.
1TH 3:4 For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know.
1TH 3:5 For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor should be in vain.
1TH 3:6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you,
1TH 3:7 for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith;
1TH 3:8 for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.
1TH 3:9 For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account,
1TH 3:10 as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?
1TH 3:11 Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you;
1TH 3:12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you;
1TH 3:13 so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.