Why Satan Loves Churches” (ch. 2, pg. 23-33)

What are we known for in the churches of Christ? Are we known for our appreciation of true grace? Are we known for our patience with people who do not see eye-to-eye with us? Are we known for our gentleness? York and I both agree that generally speaking, we are known more for what we are against than what we are for in most cases. People know us as the ones who “do not use musical instruments, the ones who believe baptism is essential for salvation and the ones who believe they are the only ones going to heaven.”

There are 2 things we are to be known for as followers of God. First, the love that we have for God’s created beings (Ecc 12; 1 Jhn. 3:23; John 13; 1 Cor. 13; Matt. 22; etc.). Second, The unity that is a fruit of said love (John 17; 1 Cor. 1; Rom. 14; etc.). Granted, the world may have a false understanding of what “true love and unity” are, but that does not change the fact that Scriptures say what they say. We are to be known for practicing the good works because of the good news (Tit. 3). We are not to be known and defined by the things we are against or our arguments.

The greatest evidence for God and the greatest evangelistic tool is not the perfect doctrine, it is not the perfect pattern, and it is not the sign by the road. It is practical Christianity. I am not saying we should not have any type of pattern from Scripture or an argument for what we believe. Our pattern is Jesus. But patterns of legal code is not how we are to be known. Jesus prayed that the Father makes His disciples one so that the world may know that God had sent Him.

Causing division, according to York, is Satan’s greatest tool. If Christians are divided, then they are not showing love. If they are not showing love, then they are not of God. If they are not of God then how can it be said that they are a light to the world?

If Satan can cause division then he breaks up something pure and beautiful. In fact, division is his goal. He wishes to divide us from God. He entices us to sin; knowing that it is sin that separates us from Him. He has been doing this since the beginning. He did it in the garden, the temptation of Jesus in the dessert, and even in the early church in Acts. He even persuaded the disciples to argue about who was the greatest among them.

He has a way of getting us to worship the book instead of the writer (Jhn. 5:39). There is a foundation and concept behind everything in Scripture. That foundation is Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We must interpret every verse with the overall concept of Jesus at the forefront of our minds.

York speaks of the truth that so many times we let our convictions become our faith. We think because we have a valid argument supporting what we believe that we are right. First, validity does not necessitate soundness. In other words, one might be technically logical about their argument, but the foundation might be buried in ignorance. Second, what if “right arguments” are beside the point? Just because we are convicted of a position does not mean we are right. Even if we are right, that does not mean that the issue at hand is a matter of salvation.

We should look carefully at the first centuries context and what makes someone saved or heretical. If a Christian believed in the Gospel and was striving to conform to the image of Christ, then he was continually cleansed from all sin and therefore saved. Jesus was sent in the flesh to live a sinless life and die and be raised again in order to take our sins away (1 Cor. 15). We are to try to be like Him (Rom. 8:29; 1 Jhn. 1:7). If we strive to be like Him then we are saved (1 Jhn. 1; Rom. 8). If one believes and practices these things then he is not a heretic. If one is not a heretic then he is our brother. Everything else is a matter of growth or opinion.

York says that both the Reformation and the Restoration movements were striving to get away from authoritarian mindsets. God is our only authority. We fellowship who He fellowships, and we withdraw who He withdraws. This is a good way of doing things. Why give Satan opportunity to cause more division through uninspired men. York ends this chapter suggesting that maybe a relational approach to Christianity would be more appropriate. Not to mention, more biblical! – Jesse

A Review of “The Jesus Proposal” By Rubel Shelly and John O. York Ch. 1