One in Christ

Go Forth in Unity 

One in Christ

Sunday, October 3, 2021

 

Welcome! Unity in the Spirit. 

Let’s pray and invite the Spirit to bring unity to our hearts and minds this morning. 

What a beautiful gift this is for God’s children. I have encountered this in powerful ways the last couple of weeks. 

At our IMA conference in CO, the Holy Spirit was moving in powerful ways and our hearts were brought together in worship of God and His greatness, and in awe of God and what He’s doing through His servants, to make the name of Jesus known and to expand territories in His Kingdom, in love for one another as brothers and sisters. The IMA does offer licensing and credentials for ministers and covering for churches-which we benefit from, but most of all, it is an association focused on the fellowship and equipping of the saints. It is the Body of Christ operating together to build God’s Kingdom and to encourage the shepherds and workers in the fields. 

We don’t all believe exactly the same doctrine-there are main beliefs yes of course, in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, in His death and resurrection, that He is the way to God the Father, that the entirety of God’s Word is flawless and true, that, that we are to be baptized as believers in obedience and relating to Christ in His death and resurrection, that we are all commissioned to go out and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the world around us, that we are to love God with all our heart and love others the same, that we are filled with the Holy Spirit and to yield to His teaching, direction, and counsel, that we have the power of Christ in each of us who believe. These are all truths we learn in the Bible. 

But how we operate in our churches and ministries can vary greatly and that is ok. This association is not created to send out demands on what has to be preached from the pulpit each week and how worship must look. We always rotate where we hold our conferences-both at the district level and at the national level and what I love is every conference and gathering-has a little different flavor-that of the host church and their community. The values of IMA remain true each time and are upheld, but the experiences will vary, and that is a beautiful thing. We can see just how vast our God is that He is not kept to a box just because of something we like or something we’re comfortable with.

His truth expands beyond our reasoning.

He cannot be contained to man’s ideals or man’s limited understanding. As we seek Him, He reveals more of Himself to each of us in personal and profound ways.

If we are growing in our faith and maturing in our relationship with Christ, our theology should be ever-expanding.

Why wouldn’t it? Let us not ever be stuck in one way of thinking and refuse to receive more that God wants to share with us as we grow.  Our association understands this truth.

When we gather, it is not about nit-picking doctrine, it is all about lifting up praise to Jesus and encouraging one another in the Body. This is what makes these gatherings and events so special and so powerful. This is why I love and need to go-it’s so important for me-which ultimately affects all of you. We come together through the bond of peace; we let the love of God flow through us and we see each other as a brother and sister in Christ. We honor one another as such fellow heirs to the Kingdom, children of God who have been redeemed and called to a purpose. We all leave lifted, strengthened, encouraged, and filled with renewed hope in what God is doing and how we fit into His purposes-for that is what we’re called to do and that is how we are called to live- united in Christ. 

When we focus on these things-Christ first and His love for each of us and advancing His kingdom, the little details don’t matter so much because they will eventually perish.

Think about that for a moment, really think about the stuff we can allow ourselves to get hung up that extends into division and discord and even judgment against others…. Will there be Republicans, Democrats, or even independent in heaven? Will there be covid and masks or no masks, conspiracy theories in heaven? Will there be inequality based on race, gender, social status, geography…in heaven?

Or will we all just be risen saints, called to glory, lifting up praises to our Savior who reigns supreme over all and will we enjoy the sweet fellowship of all including the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

Everything else in time will perish and fade away. Not to say things aren’t important in this world that we live in, but let us remember we are in this world, but not of this world. Let these things not consume your heart and your life. The world and its ways and views do not define us. Christ does and we as the Church set the culture around us if we follow after Christ and how He lived. 

If you joined us for our Dear Daughter of Mine Conference -you also experienced this unity in the Spirit. It’s so beautiful, isn’t it? We come from many different churches, some from no church at all, some just trying to find hope in their life and the Holy Spirit brings us all together in love, in His Truth, and through the kindness of friends. We don’t spend time talking about our doctrine over someone else’s, or dive deep into our views of this world…we focus our time, our hearts, our conversations on Jesus-all that He is in and through us!

And did you notice when conversations are focused on Him- how good and pleasant that fellowship it? How comfortable we are with one another, how gracious and supportive we are when we come from a place of compassion and understanding? That’s Jesus flowing through us. There is only one way to unity and that is through the Spirit of Christ in us. There is nothing more precious and powerful to share the bond of Peace with brothers and sisters in Christ. 

For October, we are going to look at different examples in the Bible where God’s people chose unity in the Spirit, to the glory of God, and to the advancement of His Church. 

The Church is how God chooses to raise up, equip and send out His people into the world. The Church is an extension of Christ Himself for He lives in each of us. The Church must always keep the unity of the Spirit for when it doesn’t, it will surely crumble quickly. 

The apostle Paul was a great teacher to many of the early churches and we get the benefit of his teachings that were recorded in the Bible, so we too, can heed warnings, remember Truth, and follow the example of Christ in all we do. Today we’ll look at his message to the Ephesians about who they were and who they are with Christ in them. He also brings clarity to the purpose as to why Christ died and what that means for us as we live our lives. In this letter, Paul is speaking to you and me as well. 

                                                Ephesians 2: 12-20 NIV                                                                                      

12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

  • Unity in God’s Kingdom  

We are all graciously brought into the kingdom of God as we believe in Jesus Christ. 

Ephesians 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,

Have you ever traveled to a foreign country and while you might enjoy the wonderful views and other experiences there, you felt out of place, not at home? Not one of them as a people group because you’re not. You wouldn’t have the same rights as local citizens do. There would be things you could not do or have access to. You might be kept from certain aspects the local citizens could enjoy.  Even permission to enter a country could be limited and how long you stay in a country is limited. What kind of work you can do, maybe where you can live…. Can all have limits on someone who is a foreigner.

But in God’s kingdom, this is not the case. When we are adopted as His sons and daughters, we become heirs with Christ and we inherit every heavenly blessing and have full access to His kingdom-every part of it. It can’t be taken from us; we don’t have to keep getting visas to enter; we won’t be kicked out after a certain period of time; we aren’t limited in what we can partake in. All of it is ours for this is God’s heart.                                                                               

Colossians 1: 13-14 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

We are rescued-from darkness, from sin, from death and brought into the kingdom of the Son He loves…how beautiful is that to ponder? 

He places within us  His Holy Spirit as a deposit and guarantee of what is to come the promise of eternal life with Him, that promise that He will come back to bring us to be where He is. In the meantime, the Spirit gives us access to the Father and teaches us the ways of righteousness. The Spirit brings us wise counsel, comfort, truth and shows us the heart of the Father. He speaks to us as we tune and listen for His voice. He tells us who we are when the world wants to speak lies over us and condemn us, the Spirit reminds us we are chosen and redeemed by God and that we are His children whom He loves. 

 Romans 8: 16-17 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.        

These are promises for each of us to cling to for this is the Word of God. This is Truth we can stand-in.   

The Spirit unites us all to not only God the Father, to His Son Jesus Christ, and to one another in His kingdom-all throughout the world. The same Spirit resides in the heart of every believer, drawing us to the heart of the Father. Drawing us to Peace, which is Christ Himself.    

Jesus clarified the kingdom of God is not like any other kingdom. Luke 17: 20-21  

One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. 21 You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’    For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”

  • Unity in the Body                            

Ephesians 4: 4-6 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is overall, in all, and living through all.

As we are joined to God the Father and Jesus Christ through the Spirit, we are also joined to one another as we make up the Body of Christ.   We cannot say we love God and hate a brother or sister in Christ. We cannot say I will work and serve with this part of the body, but not that part. I don’t like them or agree with them, so I will not associate with them. We cannot say I believe in You God but want nothing to do with the church. It’s just me and You God-it’s personal and I don’t need to share my faith with anyone else. No. This is all wrong thinking and not by God’s design. This is all muddied by humans and because we have been hurt by people-we want to shut others out.

We are part of the Body and we need all parts coming together in unison for the Body to function properly.

Think of your own physical body.  How difficult does it become to do many tasks if you injure your arm or even a hand? You could say well I still have my other arm and hand, I’ll be just fine. And you do adjust for many things, but you will be limited without the use of both arms and hands. Or what about something internally-if your liver begins to fail or your kidneys aren’t functioning properly, or your nervous system is out of whack. Do these things affect your ability to do the things you want and need to do? Of course, they do, because our body was designed to have the many noticeable and unnoticeable parts working in unison and harmony.

We know it when something isn’t working right-we’re off, our energy is drained, our productivity is often affected, our joy can be lessened or lost altogether and our purpose lost. Can you relate today? 

So it is with the Body of Christ.   When all parts aren’t healthy and operating in unison as they are designed to be everything is impacted; joy is lessened, the purpose is lost and the impact of the Church is reduced significantly. 

We don’t get to choose who is part of the Body of Christ- God does. We don’t get to choose who is part of our local church-God does. And isn’t it grand to watch how He grafts His people together perfectly? If we look through His lens we can see the glory in it all. 

This is why I love coming together for community worship services and events-because we are ALL the Body of Christ and when we worship and serve together, we are reminded of that and are stronger for it.                                    

Galatians 3: 26-28 26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.  

We are all ONE in Christ. We are Christians. We are believers. We are Christ-followers. We are brothers and sisters.               

1 Corinthians 12:24-27   But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

We are grafted into the Body of Christ, united with Him and all who believe in His great name.                                                                                                

  • Unity Through Love 

God calls us then to go forth unified through the power of His love in us. 

There is nothing that brings God greater joy than to see His children of one heart, loving each other as He loves us. 

 

Psalm 133:1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

Paul again teaches how we do this as he is instructing the church in Ephesus.      

Ephesians 4:2-3 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.   

Keep the unity through the bond of peace. Christ, Himself is our Peace.

Through the bond of Christ in us. When we choose to remember we are all God’s children whom He predestined and called for His glory and purposes, we can choose then to be humble, gentle, patient, and bear with one another. Christ is the bond that enables us to do this. 

Apart from Him, we can do nothing. Apart from Him, we will not keep the unity. Apart from Him, we will not love our brother or sister- or at best we’ll be selective in our love. We are to fix our eyes on things above; things not of this world; things that is eternal. Things that build up the Kingdom of God that we will inherit.                      

 

1 Corinthians 13:13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.                                                                                                                                                                            

ConclusionThrough Christ, we are no longer strangers, but are fellow citizens with God’s people, rescued and brought into the Kingdom of God’s Son, a Kingdom of peace. A Kingdom that unites all who believe in Jesus through the Holy Spirit who dwells in each of us. Let us live then according to the Spirit who always acts in unity to God’s will.

Let’s pray. 

Be magnified in us and through us Lord. Let Your Spirit rise up in us and help us through the bond of Peace you place within us, to keep the unity of the Spirit. Help us remember we are all the Body of Christ, all who believe in You Lord. We are all sons and daughters to God. Our opinions can and will vary, our doctrine might even vary, but Lord help us to be of one heart and one purpose-that is building Your Kingdom and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord! Help us to choose compassion, seek to understand, remain humble and honor one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Lord You showed us how to do this. You have gifted us with Your Spirit; the same Spirit resides in each of us. Let us yield to Your Spirit as our guide in how we love others and how we maintain unity. To Your glory and praise Jesus! In Your  name we pray. Amen. 

 

Communion: John 15: 9-17 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

It was because of love that Jesus offered Himself as the Lamb of God on heaven’s altar. It is the power of God’s love that overcame the grave and extinguished the sins of the world. Love is what led Jesus to the cross for you and me. Love is what redeems us from our sin. Love is what makes us a new creation and love compel Him to make our hearts His home so He can be near to us. 

Let us remember and give thanks today for Jesus’ great sacrifice so we can live not only free from sin, but united in the Body of Christ, and heirs in the heavenly kingdom. 

This is My Body, eat of it in remembrance of Me. 

This is My Blood of the covenant of grace, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins and the cleansing of all impurities. Your blood Lord washes us and makes us spotless before God. Drink of this 

Thank You Jesus. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *