Unity in the Church

19 06 2006

[Included here are sermon notes & application questions from this past Sunday morning at Omaha Bible Church]

It is good to talk about unity. Not so much because we are experiencing disunity, but because we are experiencing the evidences of grace in our midst. The reality of things is that if you are around other believers, specifically here at Omaha Bible Church, you will be wronged and will probably wrong others, because as saved as we are, we still are not living in the perfection that is coming when we are glorified.

So in this section we’ll consider four conclusions concerning Christian unity from the book of Philippians.

1. Unity is a biblical mandate (V.27)

Here is a bold strong charge from the Scriptures to get along, to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (v.27). This is a charge to not allow small, insignificant, inconsequential disagreements hinder the prominent charge of the passage to pursue the furtherance and amplification of the glory of God.

Unity is a major artery in the biblical philosophy of ministry. It is critical that we are willfully devoted to standing firm, striving together for the gospel.

2. Christian unity is not an end in and of itself (V.27d)

It is not just that we are united for unity’s sake, but when you read the passage, the emphasis is not upon just getting together and not arguing, but rather, the emphasis is upon being united for the furtherance of the gospel!

If we find ourselves focusing on unity as the main objective and end then we find ourselves in the marginalization of the cross of Jesus. The unity that God demands here is unity that huddles around the cross only to promote and defend the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Unity that is not centered upon the cross will promote passivity in ministry. Disengaged passivity promotes grumbling and discontentment, which will bring about division! There is something about being so fixed upon the cross and its promotion that tends to drown out the rivaling agendas who would compete with the gospel.

3. Christian Unity is never at the expense of the gospel

In chapter 3.1ff the Apostle warns the believers who were just called to unity to watch out for the dogs! These guys here are those who compromise the gospel, they are false teachers who put confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3.3ff) and so therefore undermine Christ. Here believers are exhorted to be unified against such folks. The Christian unity that is prescribed is not at the expense of the gospel. We are about promoting and defending the gospel, this is our goal!

There is a religious unity that is sinful (2 Cor. 6.14). If we are uniting ourselves with folks who do not believe the gospel of Christ then we are in sin. Christians are not to join in spiritual endeavors with unbelievers, they are to evangelize unbelievers!

4. Christian Unity is built on Christ like Humility

In chapter 2 of Philippians the Apostle Paul pleads with his hearers to apply this truth of striving together for the gospel, specifically to: be of the same mind, maintain the same love, be united in spirit, intent on one purpose (which would be the gospel (1.27ff), be selfless, while humbly considering the interests of one another as more important than yourself!

And what is the basis? It is all of Christ!! The illustration here is of the greatest promoter of the gospel, the gospel himself, the evangel himself, the Lord Jesus Christ! He was wronged by others, those close to him, he was rejected and betrayed, and he still loved and saved his people!

So therefore we as Christians are called to follow their master in setting aside rights, wearing humility, magnifying obedience even unto death for the sake of the glory and magnification of God!

Application questions………………………………………………………..

-1- According to chapter Philippians 1, what are Christians to uniquely and supremely strive together to promote & defend?

-2- Why are Christians to unite and “lock arms” for this purpose?

-3- What is the inevitable result of neglecting the gospel as your main focus?

-4- Identify ways in which you are actively striving together for the main thing as identified in v.27.

-5- What is the providential affect of fixing Christ in our minds as the measuring stick of humility and faithfulness in ministry?

-6- How was Jesus committed to the gospel in his earthly ministry?

-7- In the upcoming days, how can you be more like Christ in your interaction with others (cf. Phil. 2.1ff)?

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2 responses

20 06 2006
Mike Ratliff

I feel like someone has taken a baseball bat to me lately. I am a self-righteous, judgemental control freak who demands that everyone believe exactly like me. 😦 Why? I’ve taken a stand against the PDC and have left my church because they will not listen. I didn’t enjoy it then and I’m sure not enjoying it now. They say I’m destroying the unity of the church by pointing out false doctrine and doctrinal errors such as the seeker-sensitive “gospel.” I think God has sold me a bill of goods and deceived me into this walking the narrow path stuff. Whine, whine whine.

Sorry, I had to be self-absorbed a litte. 🙂

Just a few thoughts from one who is little beat up right now.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

20 06 2006
erik

Mike,

Biblical unity is always around the truth; the truth unites, error divides. There is definite biblical precedent for taking issue with those who would add to, delete from, or otherwise obscure the biblical gospel (Gal. 1; cf also 2 Cor. 6.14ff). I believe that PDL & PDC abbreviate and obscure the truth, so departure of biblical principles seems to be solid verses disunity around the color of the carpet 8->. I saw this firsthand when I visited Saddleaback.

I will pray for you know, that you would find comfort and strength in the God who brings it about through his saints' increasing dependence…even through trials! He is the sovereign God not only over redemption but also tribulation (cf. Rom. 5).

btw, there is plenty of room here on the narrow road for those who would line up behind the Savior!!

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