November 18, 2023

We Need Each Other

INTERESTING FACTS : John Quincy Adams , born July 11, 1767, Braintree [now Quincy], Massachusetts [U.S.], died February 23, 1848, Washington, D.C., U.S.; Eldest son of President John Adams and sixth president of the United States (1825-29). In his prepresidential years he was one of America's greatest diplomats (formulating, among other things, what came to be called the Monroe Doctrine); in his postpresidential years (as U.S. congressman, 1831-48) he conducted a consistent and often dramatic fight against the expansion of slavery.[1]
"My hopes of a future life are all founded upon the Gospel of Christ and I cannot cavil or quibble away [evade or object to]. . . . the whole tenor of His conduct by which He sometimes positively asserted and at others countenances [permits] His disciples in asserting that He was God."[2]
Daily Reading : ACTS 14 - 15; 16 - 17
TEXT : Acts  15:36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the Word of the LORD, and see how they do.  15:37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.  15:38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.  15:39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;  15:40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.  15:41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the Churches. 
THEME : Encouragement
Acts 14 
We have, in this Chapter, a further account of the progress of the Gospel, by the ministry of Paul and Barnabas among the Gentiles; it goes on conquering and to conquer, yet meeting with opposition, as before, among the unbelieving Jews. Here is,  I. Their successful preaching of the Gospel for some time at Iconium, and their being driven thence by the violence of their persecutors, both Jews and Gentiles, and forced into the neighbouring countries (Act_14:1-7).  II. Their healing a lame man at Lystra, and the profound veneration which the people conceived of them thereupon, which they had much ado to keep from running into an extreme (Act_14:8-18).  III. The outrage of the people against Paul, at the instigation of the Jews, the effect of which was that they stoned him, as they thought, to death; but he was wonderfully restored to life (Act_14:19, Act_14:20).  IV. The visit which Paul and Barnabas made to the Churches which they had planted, to confirm them, and put them into order (Act_14:21-23).  V. They return to Antioch, whence they were sent forth; the good they did by the way, and the report they made to the Church of Antioch of their expedition, and, if I may so say, of the campaign they had made (Act_14:24-28).  (Matthew Henry)[3]
Acts 15 
Hitherto we have, with a great deal of pleasure, attended the Apostles in their glorious travels for the propagating of the Gospel in foreign parts, have seen the bounds of the Church enlarged by the accession both of Jews and Gentiles to it; and thanks be to that God who always caused them to triumph. We left them, in the close of the foregoing Chapter, reposing themselves at Antioch, and edifying the Church there with the rehearsal of their experiences, and it is a pity they should ever be otherwise employed; but in this Chapter we find other work (not so pleasant) cut out for them. The Christians and ministers are engaged in controversy, and those that should have been now busied in enlarging the dominions of the Church have as much as they can do to compose the divisions of it; when they should have been making war upon the devil's kingdom they have much ado to keep the peace in Christ's kingdom. Yet this occurrence and the record of it are of great use to the Church, both for warning to us to expect such unhappy discords among Christians, and direction to us what method to take for accommodating them. Here is,  I. A controversy raised at Antioch by the judaizing teachers, who would have the believing Gentiles brought under the yoke of circumcision and the ceremonial law (Act_15:1, Act_15:2).  II. A consultation held with the Church at Jerusalem about this matter, and the sending of delegates thither for that purpose, which occasioned the starting of the same question there (Act_15:3-5).  III. An account of what passed in the synod that was convened upon this occasion (Act_15:6). What Peter said (Act_15:7-11). What Paul and Barnabas discoursed of (Act_15:12). And, lastly, what James proposed for the settling of this matter (Act_15:13-21).  IV. The result of this debate, and the circular letter that was written to the Gentile converts, directing them how to govern themselves with respect to Jews (Act_15:22-29).  V. The delivering of this determination to the Church at Antioch, and the satisfaction it gave them (Act_15:30-35).  VI. A second expedition designed by Paul and Barnabas to preach to the Gentiles, in which they quarrelled about their assistant, and separated upon it, one steering one course and the other another (Act_15:36-41).  (Matthew Henry)[4]
Acts 16 
It is some rebuke to Barnabas that after he left Paul we hear no more of him, of what he did or suffered for Christ. But Paul, as he was recommended by the brethren to the grace of God, so his services for Christ after this are largely recorded; we are to attend him in this Chapter from place to place, wherever he came doing good, either watering or planting, beginning new work or improving what was done. Here is,  I. The beginning of his acquaintance with Timothy, and taking him to be his assistant (Act_16:1-3).  II. The visit he made to the Churches for their establishment (Act_16:4, Act_16:5).  III. His call to Macedonia (after a restraint he had been under from going to some other places), and his coming to Philippi, the chief city of Macedonia, with his entertainment there (Act_16:6-13).  IV. The conversion of Lydia there (Act_16:14, Act_16:15).  V. The casing of an evil spirit out of a damsel (Act_16:16-18).  VI. The accusing and abusing of Paul and Silas for it, their imprisonment, and the indignities done them (Act_16:19-24).  VII. The miraculous conversion of the jailer to the faith of Christ (Act_16:25-34).  VIII. The honourable discharge of Paul and Silas by the magistrates (Act_16:35-40).  (Matthew Henry)[4]
Acts 17 
We have here a further account of the travels of Paul, and his services and sufferings for Christ. He was not like a candle upon a table, that gives light only to one room, but like the sun that goes its circuit to give light to many. He was called into Macedonia, a large kingdom, Act_16:9. He began with Philippi, because it was the first city he came to; but he must not confine himself to this. We have him here,  I. Preaching and persecuted at Thessalonica, another city of Macedonia (Act_17:1-9).  II. Preaching at Berea, where he met with an encouraging auditory, but was driven thence also by persecution (Act_17:10-15).  III. Disputing at Athens, the famous university of Greece (Act_17:16-21), and the account he gave of natural religion, for the conviction of those that were addicted to polytheism and idolatry, and to lead them to the Christian religion (Act_17:22-31), together with the success of this sermon (Act_17:32-34).  (Matthew Henry)[4]
Some Christians do not understand the fact that we need each other.  Yet, this is the truth.  The body of Christ is just like the physical body that has various parts.  From the head to the feet everyone is part of the Body.  Therefore, it is ludicrous to think one part of the human body does not need the other.  In life, we can live without some organs or some body parts.  However, in the Body of Christ, we cannot live without each other.  Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things, has designed his body (that is, the Church) to have a mutual need one of the other.  This is the truth of the Holy Scriptures.  We need each other.
It Acts Chapter 15: 36 it tells us that Paul said unto Barnabas - "let us go again and visit our brother in every city we have preach to where the LORD, and see how they do." This shows a concern of the Apostle Paul for all who were considered Christians or disciples.  It expresses the desire of his heart, as you often see in his see in his epistles - he cared much for the brethren.  This brings us to the point - you and I should have equal concern for all who are called by the name Christian.  Even if we do not agree on certain (nonessential) doctrines, you and I must at all times love one another.  This is the command of Christ, and it is the example we see in the New Testament, in the Apostles and early believers.
There is something to point out in the 15th Chapter of the Book of Acts.  Namely, Barnabas (whose name means "son of encouragement"), in Acts 15:37 states he was "determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark." This is the same Mark who wrote the Gospel according to Mark.  However, the Apostle Paul in Acts 15:38 did not think it was good to take John Mark with them, because he had deserted them from Pamphylia and did not go with them any further on that missionary trip.  Then, in Acts 15: 39, it tells us that the contention was so sharp between Paul and Barnabas that they departed from each other.  Barnabas took Mark and went to Cyprus.  Paul took Silas as all the brethren recommended him and Silas to the grace of God.
This is an unusual text in that it shows Christians do not always agree on (again - nonessential)[7] doctrines or decisions to be made by the Church.  Remember, the Apostle Paul wrote more than half of the New Testament.  Barnabas on the other hand is a prominent figure in the Book of Acts and the early Church.  Yet, they have such a sharp disagreement between them; they will no longer travel with each other for a season.  The reason this is unusual, is that it seems - on the surface, to undermine the command of Christ to love one another.  However, love does not always need to agree on matters of life where opinions differ; and, when what is at stake is not critical or vital to (Christian or moral) life itself.  In other words, Christians are allowed to disagree.  However, they are not permitted to cease loving one another.
What is so astonishing about this event is that Paul and Barnabas are both right and their opinions of John Mark. Paul, with a view to the dangers of missionary work and evangelism, knows that John Mark is not (at least not at this point in time) suitable or able to withstand the rigors of Christian ministry.  On the other hand, Barnabas, once again the encourager sees something in John Mark that is still important and certainly not beyond redemption.  More specifically, through Barnabas' encouragement, John Mark would go on to serve - not only the Church, but the entire world, with his 16 Chapters on the life of Christ.  In other words, Mark is somewhat like Paul in that both of them play a part in writing the Word of God, the New Testament.  Of course, the Apostle Paul would write more than half of it.  Still, John Mark is a Christian "scribe," like the Apostle Paul.
In the end, Barnabas served a great purpose in his encouragement of John Mark.  Through him we have today four accounts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Matthew, "Mark," Luke, and John.  These are the four reports (Matthew, Mark, and Luke being "synoptic"[viii] and John's being supplementary and supporting)  of the life of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.  Once again, it is interesting to see how John Mark, or simply - Mark, turned out.  Yet, you may think - what would have become of his life if someone did not encourage him?  Keeping in mind the providence and sovereignty of God, we can entertain the question as to whether Mark would have wrote the Gospel of Jesus Christ (or one account of Jesus' Gospel), or how his life would have went in general.  Remember, in one sense, he was a failure.  He deserted the Apostle Paul and Barnabas on a missionary trip.  In those days, desertions from Christian duty were extremely serious.  For instance, in the early Church, if a bishop or elder recanted his testimony of his dedication to the Lord Jesus Christ during a time of persecution, they would be thrust from the Church.  In other words, the bishop or elder not only lost his position of leadership, but he also lost his fellowship in the Church.  Therefore, we can see the reason the contention was so sharp between Paul and Barnabas.  Desertion of Christian duty was viewed as not only as an act of cowardice, but it was almost tantamount to sacrilege.
Thus, the story of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas contention is an important one.  First, it shows us that Christians can disagree and still be brethren.  Second, it shows us that every Christian leader is not always 100% correct all the time.  As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul would write of his confronting the Apostle Peter when Peter refused to eat with the Gentiles when the Jews were present.  The Apostle Paul states clearly that he "withstood him to the face." This may seem odd to you, seeing that all these men were filled with the Holy Spirit.  However, being filled with God, and being dedicated totally to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, does not make any Christian infallible.  It simply means that God is guiding and strengthening his Church, who are, after all, just average people.  Remember, the Bible states clearly that all have sinned.  Further, whether you translate the word "all," in Greek, Hebrew, or any other language it means "everyone." It includes every single person whether they are the rank and file Christian or a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ.
As mentioned, in the end, John Mark goes on to be a great asset to the Christian Church.  Mark would not only go on to write the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but in general he was profitable to the ministry - as the Apostle Paul records.  "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry." (2Ti 4:11) Knowing what took place at Pamphylia, this is a great a statement.  Again, it shows what good can be done when one brother encourages another.  For in 2 Timothy 4:11 the Apostle Paul acknowledges that Mark is (now) "profitable." Obviously, he would not have said that same thing years earlier when he and Barnabas disagreed about the future of John Mark.
Concerning in what specific way Mark was profitable, the Apostle Paul does not say.  Albert Barnes gives his thoughts on 2 Timothy 4:11.
"In what way he would be profitable, he does not say; nor is it known why Mark was at that time with Timothy. It may be observed, however, that this is such language as Paul might be expected to use of Mark, after what had occurred, as recorded in Act_15:38. He felt that he was now about to die. If he suspected that there was on the part of Mark any lingering apprehension that the great Apostle was not entirely reconciled to him, or retained a recollection of what had formerly occurred, nothing would be more natural than that, at this trying time of his life, Paul should summon him to his side, and express toward him the kindest emotions. It would soothe any lingering irritation in the mind of Mark, to receive such a message." (Albert Barnes)[8]
In any case, we need each other.  There are many "Lone Ranger Christians," in the world today.  There are some who say they do not need the Church.  Or they say they do not need the pastor or the brethren.  However, this is a great error.  Christ did not design any of us to be alone in our walk with him.  Sometimes, it is unavoidable that we may be isolated or alone, but in the ordinary course of events, we are to be together and to stay together.  In short, we are to love one another as Christ commanded.  Remember, loving the brother in is the signal indication that a person is true be saved and going to Heaven.   "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." (1Jn_3:14)
Today, if possible, find fellowship with another brother or sister in Christ.  Once again, the reason being - we need each other!

  • [1] Encyclopedia Brittanica, Deluxe Edition. Chicago: Encyclopedia, 2011, 2011.
  • [2] John Adams and John Quincy Adams, The Selected Writings of John and John Quincy Adams, Adrienne Koch and William Peden, editors (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946), p. 292, John Quincy Adams to John Adams, January 3, 1817.
  • [3] Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. Public Domain, 1662 - 1714.
  • [4] Ibid;
  • [5] Ibid;
  • [6] Ibid;
  • [7] Essential Doctrines of Christianity by Matt Slick; ; Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry © Matthew J. Slick, 1995 - 2012
The Bible itself reveals those doctrines that are essential to the Christian faith.  They are 1) the Deity of Christ, 2) Salvation by Grace, and 3) Resurrection of Christ, 4) the gospel, and 5) monotheism.  These are the doctrines the Bible says are necessary.  Though there are many other important doctrines, these five are the ones that are declared by Scripture to be essential (I call them primary essentials since the Bible declares them as essential).  A non-regenerate person (i.e., Mormon or Jehovah's Witness, atheist, Muslim), will deny one or more of these essential doctrines.   Please note that there are other derivative doctrines of scripture that become necessary also, the Trinity being one.
1. The Deity of Christ
A. Jesus is God in flesh (John 8:58 with Exodus 3:14). See also John 1:1,14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 1:8
i. 1 John 4:2-3: "This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.  This is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world."
a.  The above verse needs to be cross referenced with John 1:1,14 (also written by John) where he states that the Word was God and the Word became flesh.
b. 1 John 4:2-3 is saying that if you deny that Jesus is God in flesh then you are of the spirit of Antichrist.
ii. John 8:24, "I said, therefore, to you, that you will die in your sins.  For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins."
iii. Jesus said that if you do not believe "that I am" you will die in your sins.  In Greek I am is 'ego eimi,' which means ‘I am.'  These are the same Words used in John 8:58, where Jesus says "...before Abraham was, I am."  He was claiming the divine title by quoting Exodus 3:14. 
a.  The Greek Septuagint is the Hebrew Old Testament translated into Greek, done by Jews around 250 B.C.  They translated Exodus 3:14 as 'ego eimi' "I AM".)
B. Jesus is the proper object of faith 
i. It is not simply enough to have faith.  Faith is only as valid as the person in whom you put it.  You must put your faith in the proper person.  Cults have false objects of faith (false gods); therefore, their faith is useless -- no matter how sincere they are.
ii. If you put your faith in a guru, a philosopher, or a past teacher (and not Jesus) to save you from your sins on Judgment Day, then you will be in a lot of trouble, no matter how sincere or strong your faith is.  You might have great faith, but so what?   Faith in something false has the same effect as no faith at all.
C. The Doctrine of the deity of Christ includes:
i. The Trinity - There is one God who exists in three persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are all coeternal and of the same nature.
ii. Monotheism - There is only one God in all existence (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8; 45:5,14,18,21,22; 46:9; 47:8).  Mormons believe that many gods exist, though they serve and worship only one.  Therefore, they are polytheists which excludes them from the camp of Christianity.
D. The Hypostatic Union - That Jesus is both God and man.
i. The sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ - The sacrifice of Christ is completely sufficient to pay for the sins of the world and it is only through Jesus' sacrifice that anyone can be saved.
ii. As God - Only a perfect sacrifice to God is able to cleanse us from our sins.  This is why Jesus, who is God in flesh, died for us.
a.  He had to die for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). Only God could do that.
iii. As man - Jesus must be man to be able to be a sacrifice for man.
a.  As a man He can be the mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5).
E.  This means that the Jehovah's Witnesses, The Way International, Islam, etc., are outside of Christianity.
2. Salvation by Grace
A. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast," (Eph. 2:8-9, NIV).
B. "You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace" (Gal. 5:4).
i. This verse and its context plainly teach that if you believe that you are saved by faith and works then you are not saved at all. This is a common error in the cults.  Because they have a false Jesus, they have a false doctrine of salvation.  (Read Rom. 3-5 and Gal. 3-5).
ii. You cannot add to the work of God.  Gal. 2:21 says, "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (NIV)
C. "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin," (Rom. 3:20).
i. "However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness," (Rom. 4:5).
ii. "Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God?  Absolutely not!  For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law," (Gal. 3:21).
D. Salvation is not universal resurrection as Mormonism would declare.  Rather, it is the saving from God's righteous judgment.  Furthermore, salvation, which is the forgiveness of sins is accomplished by faith alone (Rom. 4:1-11).
E.  Roman Catholicism denies salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ alone.  Therefore, Roman Catholicism is outside of Christianity.
3. The Resurrection of Christ
A. "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith," (1 Cor. 15:14).  "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins," (1 Cor. 15:17).
B. To deny the physical resurrection is to deny that Jesus' work was a satisfactory offering to God the Father.   It would mean that Jesus was corrupt and needed to stay in the grave.  But, he did not stay because his sacrifice was perfect.
C. These verses clearly state that if you say that Jesus did not rise from the dead (in the same body He died in -- John 2:19-21), then your faith is useless.
D. The Jehovah's Witnesses and the Muslims deny Jesus' physical resurrection.  Therefore, they are outside of Christianity.
4. The Gospel
A. "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!  As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" (Gal. 1:8-9, NIV).
i. Verses 8 and 9 here in Galatians are a self declarative statement that you must believe the gospel.  The gospel message which in its entirety is that Jesus is God in flesh, who died for sins, rose from the dead, and freely gives the gift of eternal life to those who believe.
ii. Furthermore, it would not be possible to present the gospel properly without declaring that Jesus is God in flesh per John 1:1,14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 1:8.
B. 1 Cor. 15:1-4 defines what the gospel is: "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the Word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures," (NIV).
i. Within these verses are the essentials: Christ is God in flesh (John 1:1,14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9); Salvation is received by faith (John 1:12; Rom. 10:9-10), therefore it is by grace; and the resurrection is mentioned in verse 4.  Therefore, this gospel message automatically includes the essentials.
5. Monotheism
A. There is only one God (Exodus 20:3; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8)
B. "You shall have no other gods before Me.  4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments," (Exodus 20:3-6).
i. We can see that God will visit iniquity on the descendents of those who do not follow the true and living God.
C. Mormonism, for example, is not monotheistic.  Mormonism teaches that there are many gods but only one is worshipped.  Therefore, Mormonism is outside of Christianity.
Secondary Essentials
Secondary essentials are necessary truths, but there is no self-declared penalty for their denial -- yet they are still essential to the Christian faith.  Again, by way of example, Jesus says that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by him, (John 14:6).  I call this a secondary essential because there's no penalty associated with its denial.  Nevertheless, it is a statement of absolute truth and is an essential Christian teaching that cannot be denied.
1. Jesus is the only way to salvation
A. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me,'" (John 14:6)
i. Jesus declared that he was the only access to God the Father.  To deny this is to deny what Jesus said.
2. Jesus' Virgin Birth
A. "'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which translated means, 'God with us,'" (Matt. 1:23).
i. Without the virgin birth, we cannot substantiate the doctrine of the incarnation of Jesus being God in flesh.  This would put at risk what Jesus said above in John 8:24, where he said, "I said, therefore, to you, that you will die in your sins.  For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins."
3. Doctrine of the Trinity
A. Matt. 28:19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," (see also, Matt. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6).
B. This doctrine is not represented by a single verse per se, though it is hinted at.  The doctrine of the Trinity is arrived at systematically by looking at the totality of Scripture.  It is, nevertheless, the proper representation of scriptural revelation concerning the nature of God.
C. The Trinity is denied by Mormonism, the Jehovah's Witnesses, Islam, The Way International, etc.
  • [8] Barnes, Albert. Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible. Public Domain, 1798 - 1870.
  • © 2023 Time For Truth Ministries | (518) 843-2121