Quotes by Joseph Stowell
In contrast to the two commands of Christ, the Pharisees had developed a system of 613 laws, 365 negative commands and 248 positive laws… By the time Christ came it had produced a heartless, cold, and arrogant brand of righteousness. As such, it contained at least ten tragic flaws.
1. New laws continually need to be invented for new situations.
2. Accountability to God is replaced by accountability to men.
3. It reduces a person’s ability to personally discern.
4. It creates a judgmental spirit.
5. The Pharisees confused personal preferences with divine law.
6. It produces inconsistencies.
7. It created a false standard of righteousness.
8. It became a burden to the Jews.
9. It was strictly external.
10. It was rejected by Christ.
The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit for Him.
As important as unity is, it is not our most important value. Jesus Christ taught that truth transcends unity as a priority. It is critical to recall that in Christ’s high priestly prayer, before He prayed that we would be one, He prayed that we would be set apart in the truth (Jn. 17:17). From God’s point of view, truth is not only more important than unity but it is in fact the basis for unity. The Bible does not know a unity that is just for unity’s sake. Authentic Christian unity is a unity forged in a common cause, a common conviction, a common interest. Biblical unity is forged in our mutual bondedness to the truth in Christ, “the way and the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6). When we embrace the truth, we are free to embrace one another in the truth.
The intrinsic drive to please the significant people in our lives reflects the fact that we were built to bring pleasure to someone outside of ourselves – God. The highest satisfaction of life is knowing in our spirits that He indeed is pleased with us.
We have unfortunately come to believe that a watching world will know that we are Christians by the worldly things we avoid or the churchy things we do. Christ has a different perspective. Our identity with Him is marked by the oneness that comes from our mutual love for each other.