What God hath Joined Together
When one carefully considers God's word, one finds certain matters that God has joined together. Furthermore, these matters are shown as being incapable of being separated and still be pleasing to God. Man can distinguish, but is not allowed to separate. Nonetheless, man seems to be forever busy, even religionists, attempting to divide and render single these particulars.
God joins husband and wife. God is the author of marriage and blesses the union of man and woman (Gen. 2: 18-25, Heb. 13: 4). Jesus reinstated God's original marriage when he enunciated, "And said, for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matt. 19: 5, 6, see vs. 9). Notwithstanding, man commonly "divides the bond of God." Divorce and subsequent remarriage are rampant and performed with little thought as to right and wrong and consequences.
Baptism and "conversion." God has joined water baptism and conversion or turning to God. When one considers and compares Acts 2: 38 and 3: 19, one will see that it is in the act of water baptism (preceded by faith, repentance, and confession) that the lost officially turn to God and experience salvation or the forgiveness of sin (to study these verses in detail, click here). Peter said to "repent and be baptized " in Acts 2: 38. In Acts 3: 19, Peter said "repent ye therefore, and be converted ." Hence, the turning to God is experienced in baptism (see Rom. 6: 2 ff.). Man attempts to divide and separate water baptism and turning by teaching that "water baptism has nothing to do with man's salvation .man is saved before baptism ."
Love and obedience. Most realize, in general, the necessity of love. Jesus not only taught the essentiality of love, but also the scope and degree of required love (Matt. 22: 34-40). While many religionists will not oppose teaching that stresses the need of love, they will often determinedly resist any teaching that accents the need of obedience. However, Jesus just as clearly and forcefully taught the necessity of obedience (Lk. 6: 46). The truth of the matter is, God has joined love and obedience, just as He joined husband and wife. "For this is the love of God," the apostle of love wrote, "that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (I Jn. 5: 3). Those who have trouble with love and obedience being joined, usually have equal problems with "commandments" being presented in a required climate. John later wrote, "And this is love, that we walk after his commandments " (2 Jn. 6).
Christ and his plan. We have heard the statement, "preach the man, not the plan." However, the scriptures teach that the Man (Christ) and his plan are joined together. Consider the example of Philip in his preaching to the man from Ethiopia (Acts 8: 26-40). We are told that Philip "preached unto him Jesus" (vs. 35). In the very next verse we read, "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" (vs. 36.) How did the eunuch know to request baptism, unless Philip included baptism in preaching Jesus to him? We are told that Paul preached Jesus to the Corinthians (I Cor. 2: 2, 3). Yet, in the original account of the turning of these people to God, we read "And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house: and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized" (Acts 18: 8). Beloved, there is no contradiction, preaching Jesus entails preaching his plan of salvation.
The church and salvation. The expression "in Christ" or its equivalent is often used to denote a relationship between Christ and the believer. In this setting, Jesus' spiritual body is often meant. The body (body of Christ) is said to be the church and the church the body (Eph. 1: 22, 23, Col. 1: 18). Freedom of condemnation, all spiritual blessings, and redemption are in Christ, the church (Rom. 8: 1; Eph. 1: 3, 7). Paul wrote that salvation is in Christ (2 Tim. 2: 10). If you are wondering about an anterior point regarding baptism, baptism places one into Christ or his spiritual body (Rom. 6: 3, Gal. 3: 26, 27). Men de-emphasize the church and socialized it, however, God has joined the church and salvation. There is no salvation outside of Jesus' blood purchased institution (Eph. 5: 23; Acts 20: 28). Jesus overcame death in order to build his church (Matt. 16: 18, 19).
Blessings and faithfulness. Concerned reader, God has also joined together blessings and faithfulness. I am aware of the popular teaching that the way a man lives has nothing to do with his being blessed and saved of God. However, the scriptures definitely blend faithfulness and God's blessings. Please consider James' statement, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him" (Jas. 1: 12). Jesus said, "If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them" (Jn. 13: 17, ASV).
In conclusion, we must remember what Jesus said about what God has joined together: "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matt. 19: 6). In regards to marriage, baptism and turning to God, love and commandments, Christ and his plan of salvation, church and salvation, and faithfulness and blessings, man needs to remove his unholy hands and cease attempting to separate these matters that God has joined together.