By Pastor James Bell
The following is a newsletter sent by Pastor James Bell of Southside Church in Gallatin TN. Pastor Bell is a wise Christian with almost 5 decades of local pastoring experience in one church, a soldier of God laboring for His name you don’t hear about but are stationed in his spot in the global body, persevering every day for the saints in love and grace.
Pastor James Bell wrote: PLEASE use the Grow in Grace Newsletter for your own spiritual growth; and as a resource to help equip you to minister to others! The Grow in Grace Newsletter is a w Bible weekly study, plus local church news notes— designed first and foremost for members and those attending services at Southside Church; and is sent forth with the desire to aid one and all, (including friends far and wide), in the experience of 2 Peter 3:18. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our LORD JESUS CHRIST!”
VITAL, BIBLICAL TEACHING ABOUT ‘UNITY’
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the UNITY of the Spirit in the bond of peace! (Ephesians 4:1-3, NKJV)
Over the last 47+ years I have been and I am very blessed to serve in and be a member of a congregation who, (NOT with perfection!), has exhibited and who continues to exhibit love, forgiveness, purity, unity, perseverance, and other manifestations of Christ! and yes, sadly, there were a few times when we had significant love and unity failures. [STUNNINGLY, DURING THE SAME 47+ years other congregations IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE, EVEN LARGE ONES, have ceased to exist— due to DISUNITY, LOVE FAILURES!]
TRULY, ONE OF THE GREAT TRAGEDIES is when Christians believe beautiful Biblical truth but at the same time they/we produce the ugliness of lovelessness in relationships at home and at church— thus causing the Word of God to be blasphemed!
WE MUST BE ON GUARD— for any and all are capable of love and unity failures! With profound gratitude I am glad I can say that God has enabled a core group of saints in Christ to simply keep on keeping their EYES ON JESUS…and/or to keep placing them BACK ON JESUS after failures! There is, by the grace of God, ‘a sweet, sweet spirit’ in the assembly of the saints at Southside!
THEREFORE: Let us be careful to guard this precious unity of the Spirit and to press forward in the work of ‘adorning’ (Titus 2:10) and making Christ visible to our MISSION FIELD!
HERE IS GREAT GOOD NEWS: When we are walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-24) and not in the flesh (Gal. 5:19-22) and when we are walking in the love of God (1 Cor. 13:1-7) — the Holy Spirit is UNGRIEVED, UNQUENCHED, and UNLEASHED!
Galatians 5:22-24: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires; AND our hearts are ALREADY FLOODED with the love of God by the Holy Spirit! (Romans 5:5; 1 Cor. 13:1-7)
TO encourage us to maintain the Unity of the Spirit:
- CONTINUALLY PREACH THE GOOD NEWS OF GOD TO YOURSELF AND STAY CLOSE TO JESUS and HIS OTHER SHEEP!
CHRISTIAN! Remind yourself often of your GRACE BLESSINGS: When a person is genuinely saved, they become the temple/the dwelling place/the home of the Holy Spirit! They are FLOODED with the love of God, by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5) They are forgiven of all sin. Sin and satan’s dominating power are broken, (Romans 6:1-14)
They experience CRUCIFIXION to the old works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21); and a new life of walking in the 9 fold fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25) Real Christians are supernaturally empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit and supernaturally joined into Christ and joined into a local assembly of saints. (1 Cor. 12:1-13)
Forgiven, they become forgivers. Loved, they become those who love— ALL THIS AND MORE IS THE CREATION OF GOD IN ALL OF HIS REDEEMED CHILDREN BY THE MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
- THUS, There is an automatic and foundational unity among all who are truly saved by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. (Ephesians 4:1-7) JESUS IS THE KEY to the unity of the Spirit in a local assembly or Christian home. Jesus Himself is the great attraction, drawing card, and bonding factor of genuine New Testament Christianity. Preaching the gospel to ourselves is great encouragement to a revival of ‘symphonizing’ around Jesus! Being in Christ, we already have supernatural unity— we must simply endeavor to keep it!’
- UNITY Marks of the Early Christians, Christians through the centuries, and Christians today are that they/we literally embrace the teachings of Jesus! They were and we are looking for Second Coming of Jesus! They were and the Holy Spirit will move us to be united in a passion to tell others about JESUS!
MOREOVER, the Early Christians were conscious of having been saved from ULTIMATE DISASTER— the eternal wrath of Holy God! Thus, let us ‘drink deeply’: Eph. 2:1-10; Titus 2:11-3:8
HOLY SPIRIT EMPOWERED UNITY REALITIES:
** Being rightly related to Jesus overflows into right relationships one with another! Being POORLY RELATED to fellow believers usually reveals serious FLAWS in our communion with Christ! It is by this reality of LOVING ONE ANOTHER that all men shall know that we are truly His disciples! (John 13:34-35)
*** THE AWESOME POWER OF JUST ONE: Even just ONE person in a home or even just one person in a church will be supernaturally EFFECTIVE when the Holy Spirit in them is unquenched, ungrieved, and (thus) unleashed!
**** Forgiven, WE become forgivers. Loved, WE become those who love—All this and more is the creation of God in all of his redeemed children by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. There is an AUTOMATIC and foundational UNITY among all who are truly saved by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. (Ephesians 4:1-7)
We Christians have serious responsibility in the issues of the Holy Spirit empowered symphony of love, forgiveness, purity, unity, perseverance, and other manifestations of Christ!
SO, WE ARE EXHORTED: “Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)
THINK ABOUT IT:
- Holy Spirit produced HARMONY/SYMPHONY can be seriously DAMAGED— or else we would not be exhorted to guard it!
- Holy Spirit HARMONY/SYMPHONY can only be kept by EFFORT. We must be eager and earnestly guarding/keeping the harmony produced by the Holy Spirit.
[NOTE: WE MUST DISTINGUISH BEWTEEN ‘UNITY’ and ‘UNIFORMITY’ — Unity: Unity refers to the union or harmony of a group of people. Uniformity: Uniformity is the state of always having the same form, manner, or degree. Unity: When there is unity, people tend to tolerate and accept differences. Uniformity: Uniformity implies that everyone is alike, so there is no room for differences. WE WILL SHARE MORE ON THIS LATER… until then, STUDY ROMANS 14 & 15]
THE SYMPHONY of the Christian Church and Christian home has some deadly ENEMIES! THEREFORE: WE MUST DAILY MORTIFY all the ‘works of the flesh’ (Galatians 5:19-21) and daily mortify our tongues which have the potential to be “a WORLD OF INIQUITY!” (James 3:1-18) HOW? BY HEEDING THE WORD OF GOD:
- NO BACKBITING— (Prov. 25:23; Rom. 1:30; Psalm 15:1-3) NO speaking negatively against another when he/she/they are not present.
- NO SLANDER— (Prov. 10:18; Numbers 14:34-37) Vines Dictionary of New Testament Words defines the slanderer as “one who is given to fault-finding with the demeanor and conduct of others, sending their innuendo and criticism throughout the church.”
It is the same word that is often used of satan in his role as the accuser of the brethren. In Numbers 14, spies were sent to check out the promise land. TEN of them came back with a slanderous report and infected the whole nation of Israel!
Countless homes, churches, mission organizations, and Christian ministries are paralyzed with murmuring, slandering spirits.
In Old Testament days MILLIONS wandered for 40 years and then DIED in the desert because of MURMURING: 1 Corinthians 10:1-14
- NO WHISPERING— (Psalm 64:1-4; Prov. 16:28) O the power of the whisperer to separate even the closest of friends, by evil reports whispered behind another’s back!
- NO GOSSIP— (Psalm 41:5-9) A GOSSIP: “one who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger.” A Sportswriter once wrote: “I am more deadly than the screaming shell from a cannon. I tear down homes, break hearts and wreck lives. I travel on the wings of the wind. No innocence is strong enough to intimidate me. No purity is pure enough to daunt me. I have no regard for truth, no respect for justice and no mercy for the defenseless. My victims are as numerous as the sands of the sea. I never forget. I don’t forgive. My name is GOSSIP!”
- NO SOWING OF DISCORD— (Prov. 6:16-19) those who ‘sow discord’ go around dropping words and attitudes of unbelief, gossip, slander, faults and failings. Words have a way of germinating in folks minds.
A harvest develops, all in accordance with what was sown! IF ONLY words of hope, love, forgiveness, faith, earnest prayer and generous blessings been sown— A GRAND SYMPHONY of love and Christ-likeness would be the result!
- NO TALEBEARERS— (Prov. 20:19; Lev. 19:16; Prov. 26:17-22) Many churches, ministries, work places, and homes are destroyed by Talebearers. The talebearer is greatly loved by the Backbiter, the Gossip, and the Discord Sower. Why?
Because talebearers get their kicks from being ‘runners’ for the Backbiter, the Gossip and the Discord Sower; and talebearers never reveal their evil sources. They spill their evil reports and then, triumphantly declare, “I cannot tell you who told me— I would not want to break confidentially!”
NOTE: Talebearers tell the WRONG people! SYMPHONY LOVERS tell the RIGHT people! (Gal. 6:1; 1 Cor. 1:11)
GODLY WEAPONS to GUARD the SYMPHONY… to Guard UNITY!
- Walk in the Spirit (Eph. 5:18-23; Col. 3:16) and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh!
- Keep a very still tongue! (James 1:26; 4:11; Titus 3:2)
- SPEAK EVIL OF NO ONE! (Titus 3:2)
- OBEY God’s method of Direct Communication: Matt. 18:15 / Gal. 6:1
The early Methodist Revival, during the days of Wesley and Whitefield, lasted a long time— NO DOUBT in part, because they GUARDED THE SYMPHONY!
Here is an edited version OF COMMITMENTS they commonly made one to another in their churches:
- I will not listen to tale bearing/whispering/discord sowing/slander or willingly inquire after any ill concerning others.
- If I do hear any such ill of anyone in the assembly, I will not be so forward to believe it.
- Moreover, if I hear of such ill, I will as soon as possible communicate this matter directly to the person about whom the ill was spoken.
- AND, until I have done this, I will not speak a syllable of it to any other person. After going directly to those concerned and/or going to those who need to know because they are responsible before God to work for Godly solutions…
- Neither will I mention this/these matters to any other person whatsoever.
- I will make no exception to these guidelines unless I am absolutely obliged by God’s Word and God’s Spirit to do so.
“Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and everything] they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven.”
(Matthew 18:19, Amplified)
Volume 47, No. 26, July 5, 2022 / Southside Baptist Church / P.O. Box 1594 / 1028 South Water Avenue, Gallatin, TN 37066 (615) 452-5951 /
Great Grace to All! wwwsouthsidegallatin.org