"The Unity That Pleases God"
G. H. P. Showalter, (In Firm Foundation)
They want us to unite. That sounds good, provided it is a unity that pleases God. Harmony is God's order and one has said that order is heaven's first law. Order first, unity follows. But as long as there is disorder, there is no unity, nor divine sanction for it—not among the people of God. Paul was in favor of unity, but he wanted to walk orderly. Of himself and his companions he said, "We behaved not ourselves disorderly among you." He and all those who walked not disorderly were a unity, but the disorderly were not united with them, neither did God want them to be. They must first quit their disorderly ways. Of these the apostle wrote plainly: "For we hear of some that walk among you disorderly." Well, what of these? We are now urged to unity, regardless.
But what says Paul? He spoke with the Spirit of inspiration and here is what he says: "Now we command you brethren in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which they received of us...". (Read the entire third chapter of 2 Thessalonians.) The things that brought on division among a once happy, influential, and united people—influential and happy because united—are things that confessedly are "not after the tradition which they received of us" (Paul). Now these same things stand today as they did when the division took place. They divided then, and they divide today. They are barriers that stand like a mighty stone wall to prevent unity. If and when they are removed we will again be united. Now Brother Witty thinks that the five points of "Prayer," "Survey," "Friendliness," "Co-operation," "Study and Discussion" will iron it all out, though some have walked, are walking and propose to continue to walk not according to the traditions received from the inspired and holy apostles of our Lord.
But Paul said from these "withdraw yourselves," and he said, "We command you" to do this, and added that the command was "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." Somehow Paul and Claude do not write just alike. Paul's plan was to withdraw from those who did not follow after Christ, Brother Witty's plan is to survey and be friendly and co-operate and study and discuss. All this is trying to be like each other in order to unite, while God's order is to try to be like Christ and get rid of everything that is unlike Christ, in order to unity. And that will bring unity as sure as the Bible is from God and completely furnishes the man of God unto every good work. It seems that brethren could see that God's unity means that we be of "one mind," and "one heart" and that this "one mind" must be "the mind of Christ." Why not read what Paul says to the Corinthians along this line? There are just plenty of brethren united in loyal congregations, in this way, and others may be so united, without compromise of the truth or sacrifice of scruples.
There are three to be pleased in order to the proper sort of unity—each of the two human parties that desire unity, and then a third party, the God of heaven. Two robbers might be a unity in a plan to rob a bank but they would certainly have to leave God out of it. It would be a bad piece of business, and a unity abhorred of heaven. Ananias and Sapphira were a unity when they conspired together to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price. They left God out of it and God was not well pleased. Not all unities please God—not by any means. I am opposed to the entry into any unity of religious people that leaves God out.
He is left out of any arrangement that disregards his law and leaves out of consideration any of his commands or prohibitions.
The Lord abhors incongruities and things in inharmonious. The law of Moses in material things laid down many great principles that find an application in spiritual things under the law of Christ. And Moses says, "Thou shalt sow thy vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest the whole fruit be forfeited." "A woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment." "Thou shalt not wear a mingled stuff, wool and linen together." "Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together." Well, what is that to us someone says. For ''our admonition" they were written, declares Paul. "Is it for the oxen that God careth, or saith he its assuredly for our sakes? Yea, for our sake it was written." And I am not yet persuaded that God wants Witty and Murch hitched up together to plow the spiritual fields in the vineyard of the Lord. Not unless they are more nearly of the same spiritual species than I had supposed.
It is good and acceptable to God to be united in the Lord's work and way. If we all go to Christ and stand there we will be united. For my part, if my brethren and I are doing anything not according to the tradition delivered us— not according to the sound doctrine of Christ—I want to know it and to turn from it. I am perfectly willing to test it by the word of God. But it is not our practice that is under challenge. It is the religious service that is being rendered by those who have brought in certain innovations among the Lord's people without one particle of authority from the writings of inspired men. The removal of these things from the churches will bring concord, peace, harmony and happiness, and not only promote, but secure, establish, and perpetuate among a great people with a great ideal, a great purpose, and a great plea that unity for which our Master prayed which the apostles labored, and which God desires and God requires. It is the only unity among his people that is well pleasing in his sight.
(P. S. Brother Witty, you are kindly requested to put this in the next issue of your Quarterly Journal to be published from Detroit. If you have room, include also my article in Firm Foundation of June 24.-G.H.P.S.)