Unity of the Spirit
Unity of the Spirit.
We are ONE: [Turn to Ephesians 4] Robin can confirm but I’ve heard that the AA serviceman is not called out mostly for little old ladies who don’t know how to get their cars started; but on Monday morning after the young-male fix it yourself has done the damage in the weekend – fixes the car and ends up worse than before he fiddled. Pull the engine to pieces, put it back together, all the bits are there but if the timing isn’t set right that engine just won’t run. If that spark doesn’t happen at just the right time in coordination with the pistons and valves that motor will not run sweetly. Everything has to be in its proper place, performing its right function at the right time – working as a coordinated whole rather than an assembly of miscellaneous bits. My sister in the UK gave Hannah some lego for her birthday – toys are really for dads so I set to, followed the instructions step by step and built the house. Alex visits has a play with the house, takes some bits off, tries to reassemble it – all the bits were there but it didn’t quite turn out the same – didn’t follow the instructions. The Bible talks of the Church as a building where God dwells by His Spirit. All different shaped stones and we have to fit in just the right place. Each is a different individual but together makes one perfect dwelling – each shaped for the position that God intends for Him. The Bible also uses the picture of a body – many different parts – vastly different in shape, size, nature but each just right for the function intended for it. Many different parts - but ONE body. There is UNITY. Christ is building His Church and He made it to be ONE body functioning in perfect unity and coordination. We have also seen those tragic cases where there is a person who has some abnormality, often a tiny error in the DNA, and it leaves the body uncoordinated, spastic, unable to function as it should. All the members are there but instead of working together they are each doing their own thing not obeying the directions sent to it by the head. A message that I believe is of utmost importance in our own fellowship at this present time – there are issues before us that have the potential to divide. You may not be aware of them and if so, that is great, you have my permission to snooze through the rest of the message – but others of you know what I’m talking about. There are differences and disagreements that can break the unity that God has created in the Church He formed. Brother and sister this SHOULD NOT BE! We must be one. [Ephesians 4:3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.] [OHP]. We must maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. [Ephesians 4:1-16 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.” And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.] We are one! Each different, yes, but united. [Matthew 23:8 For One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.]. Christ is the head and we are His body, moving at His direction, just as He coordinates us; each doing his special task for the good of the whole. But for it to work, we must be doing what the head says. 1 Corinthians 10:17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread Romans 12:4-5 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 1 Corinthians 12:4-27 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honourable, on these we bestow more abundant honour, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honour to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.]
False Unity: First let us look at what unity is not – the false unity that the world promotes: human unity: [five “con” words – human unity is a con!]
Not conformity – The world makes clones – go to school, teachers college and they all turn out the same (ticky-tacky). All are identical – individuality is stifled – it is false unity. There is diversity in the body of Christ but we are still one. We are all different, different gifts, natures, different members with different functions. We are not all the same – praise God! Some have milk in their tea, some have sugar. Daryl and I happen to differ on our eschatology – but we are still one, fellowship is not destroyed – unless I go and insist on my view and form a break away group – dividing – that is what happened in the Corinthian church [1 Corinthians 1:10-13 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?]. That is why we have so many denominations – it shouldn’t be. There are some matters that are inviolable, e.g. the authority of Scripture, the Lordship of Jesus, His death and resurrection. But there are matters where there can be difference of opinion – they add richness and variety – we are not all clones.
Not consensus – the world operates by democracy, the majority is right, what the majority wants goes, that is consensus – an agreement, a unity but it is false. Some churches operate by democratic principles, vote on issues. Everyone’s opinion is valid and the predominant one holds sway – No! There is only one view that matters and goes – that of Jesus!
Not control – but in the world it is not all democracy; there are the tyrants, the dictators – they are in the church, they impose their will on the rest, controlling them, bringing them into line – there is unity but it is imposed by man and it is false.
Not conciliation – when there is an employment dispute that meets an impasse, what do they do – go to arbitration. Someone conciliates between the two and brings resolution. Man works it out. It is not God’s way.
Not compromise – this is similar to conciliation, man works it out – two parties disagree so each one gives a bit of ground and they meet somewhere in the middle. God hates compromise. These are ways man uses to bring differing parties together – but it is not unity – there differences are still there (iron and clay), they have just been suppressed and papered over. There is not oneness and we are one!
Unity of the Spirit: We are one because we have one Spirit. It is not unity of conformity, consensus etc. It is not man-made unity, it is unity of the Spirit! Unanimity – different but one Spirit [Psalm 133 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for there יהוה commanded the blessing—life forever.] The oil (Spirit) is poured on the Head, Jesus the Messiah, the Anointed One. From there it flows on to the whole body – but if you are not part of the body, that oil will not flow onto you. The head is where the mind is – and our thinking must be aligned with the head. If we are all thinking the same, have the same mind, then we will not be divided. We are to have one in mind – the mind of Christ [Philippians 2:5 Have this attitude (mind) in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Romans 15:5-6 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Philippians 1:27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; Philippians 2:2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.] It is not my opinion or yours that is right – it is the mind of Christ! And that has been given to us! – the most staggering verses: [1 Corinthians 2:10-16 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.] What happens when we encounter, differences, division? Well, the Spirit is one – so either one party, or the other, or both are not in the Spirit – it is as simple as that. If I have the mind of the Spirit and my brother does too, how can there be any difference? It is only when we stray into the flesh that division comes. How do we know the mind of the Spirit? Well, firstly you ask: [Colossians 1:9 ….. that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.] Secondly, the Holy Spirit has given us gifts [1 Corinthians 12:4-11 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.] - in particular the gifts of wisdom and discernment. How does it operate? For example – say the elders come together they all are in agreement then one difficult one comes with an objection – is he destroying unity? Not necessarily, remember unity is not consensus. That one may have been given spiritual discernment into the situation – that needs to be heeded, the Holy Spirit may reveal through one, we need ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. Or the gift of the word of wisdom: there is a difficult situation, there seems to be no way to solve it – then one has a revealed to him wisdom that is from God, no one would have thought of it, and the situation is resolved, defused and the threat to unity removed. But the unity is from the Spirit of God and it is Divine, by revelation and not by human means. Love is what unites us and it is from God: the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us [Colossians 3:14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.]
Preserve the unity: The body is a whole, not a collection of limbs that are disconnected. Unity is inherent in the body, what we have to ensure is that it doesn’t get broken, that limbs become disconnected or cease to function or cease to do what Jesus tells them to. Jesus made us ONE – that was what He asked the Father to do [John 17:11 Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. John 17:21-23 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me]. The church was one in the beginning [Acts 4:32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.] We must maintain the unity that is already there – and it requires diligence, diligent effort – do nothing and the unity will be lost. We are exhorted to “preserve” the unity – we don’t do it so much these days, we just throw things in the freezer, but everybody used to do preserving – fruit in syrup and bottled in the oven, salting veges etc. Left to itself the fruit goes bad but a peach that might last a few days could be kept for months without going bad when it was preserved. There is stuff around everywhere that makes things go bad, corrupts - things that destroy the unity that God created. We need the salt of purity and the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit to preserve the unity. It is the Holy Spirit that produces unity, we must be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit otherwise He will withdraw His presence and disunity will arise. We must be continually filled with the Spirit. Guard against that which corrupts and makes the fruit go bad. Beware of that which divides; enemies of unity: Asterix – sowers of discord – there are some people who cause division and discord wherever they go they corrupt the unity and integrity of a fellowship – we need to be on guard because there is a spirit behind it that is not the Holy Spirit. One thing that destroys unity is legalism – it splits people into factions and was a great threat to the unity of the early church as we see in the book of Galatians. satan knows he can make the church useless if he can cause division, instead of working together, working in opposition, each doing their own thing. Individualism – great enemy of the army, the Church. Number one enemy of unity – selfishness! – Individuals all doing what they want instead of carrying out the directions of the Head. Pride is another thing that destroys unity. They all work by distracting our attention from the Head – if our eyes and ears are fixed on Jesus then there will be unity, if we have His mind, the mind of the spirit then we will be one. [Philippians 2:1-5 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude(mind) in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,]