– by Dr. Richard Paige
“Fulfill ye my joy, that ye may be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” (Philippians 2:2)
In traveling throughout the country and visiting in many of out NTA churches, I have been impressed with the excellent spirit evident in our fellowship. I believe we see evidenced in our NTAIBC churches a spirit oflove and cooperation among brethren who stand together on God’s Word. Allow me to try to identify this spirit that seems evident.
We can notice first what this spirit is not. It is not the “Spirit of Diotrepheism.” According to III John 9-10, Diotrephes was lifted up in pride and sought preeminence among his brethren in the church. He would not allow anyone to hold another viewpoint from his in the church. He would not allow others to visit the church as they might introduce concepts conflicting with his own. He possessed an arrogant, dictatorial spirit. This is not the spirit of our fellowship. Neither is it the “Spirit of Phariseeism.” John 9:34, indicates that these men possessed an unteachable spirit. Their spiritual pride and self-satisfaction produced a smug attitude that prevented them from learning even from the Lord Jesus Christ. Our spirit is not the “Spirit of Corinthianism.” According to I Cor. 3: 1-3, this church was possessed by the spiri!of carnality. Their divisions and personality cults evidenced their lack of genuine spiritual understanding and a carnal outlook. This is not the spirit of the NTA. Finally, it is not the “Spirit of Demasism.” II Timothy 4:10 reveals his spirit was that of worldliness. We desire to be in the world, but the world should not be in us. Worldliness should not be the spirit of the NTA.
Let us rather continually strive to demonstrate a Godly spirit in the NTA. A Godly spirit should be evidenced in a four-fold manner. First of all by a genuine love for Christ as the driving force in our lives (as witnessed in II Cor. 5:14). Then, there ought to be an enduring love for the Word of God, as Paul bore witness in Phil. 2:16. In addition there should be a sincere love for the souls of men. Christ Himself indicated this as He called His followers to “become fishers of men.” Furthermore, He prayed to His Father, “As Thou has sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” And again He said to His followers, “Continue ye in my love.” How we need this spirit to be evident among His followers today. Finally, a Godly spirit is evidenced by a sincere love for the Brethren. Many passages exhort us to “love the brethren,” such as I John 4:19-21 and I Peter 1:22-23. How easy it is tofail in this aspect to demonstrate a Godly spirit.
Let us strive in the NTA to demonstrate a Godly spirit as evidenced by a love for Christ, for the Word of God, for the souls of men, and for our brethren in Christ.