The Challenge of Church Unity

After all, the cult of the Next Big Thing is always the assertion of a new generation of emerging adults.  Movements are largely youth-driven, whereas institutions are usually run by elders.  The challenge, especially in the church where we are drawn together in Christ from different ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and generations, is to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 69

Importance of the Fruit of the Spirit in the Life of a Christian

The Christian life, however, should also be directed toward the positive expressions of Christian character, what Paul called the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22.  In fact, all of Paul’s ethical teaching is characterized by this twofold approach of putting off the old self and putting on the new self (Ephesians 4:22-24).

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 84

Does God Care About Our Obedience?

Does the fact that God has forgiven us all our sins mean that He no longer cares whether we obey or disobey?  Not at all.  The Scripture speaks of our grieving the Holy Spirit through our sins (Ephesians 4:30).  And Paul prayed that we “may please [God] in every way” (Colossians 1:10).  We grieve God and we please God.  Clearly, He cares about our conduct and will discipline us when we refuse to repent of conscious sin.  But God is no longer our judge.  Through Christ He is now our heavenly Father who disciplines us only out of love and for our good.

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 12-13

Perhaps the Holy Spirit Grieves More than We Understand

Fifth, the Spirit has emotions.  For a long time, whenever I read that we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 63:10; Ephesians 4:30), I thought that was a bit of an exaggeration.  It almost seemed sacrilegious to say that I could grieve God…

The Spirit is grieved when there is a breach in relationship, whether it be relationship with God or relationship with other people.  When we are disunified, unloving, hateful, gossipy, etc., that is when we grieve the Spirit of God.  And since He is the creator of emotions, I believe that the Spirit grieves more deeply than we can even understand.

– Chan, Francis; Forgotten God: Reversing the Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit; David C. Cook Publishers; Colorado Springs, CO; copyright 2009; p. 72

Five Reasons for Theological Unity

Theologically, unity is to be pursued by churches and among churches for five reasons:

  1. Jesus prayed for it often.
  2. As the leadership goes, so goes the rest of the church.
  3. Without unity, spiritual health and growth cannot be maintained because the church gets diverted from Jesus and his mission for them.
  4. Unity is fragile because it is gained slowly and lost quickly, which requires that it never be assumed or taken for granted.
  5. Paul repeatedly commands unity in churches (I Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 4:3; Philippians 1:27)

– Driscoll, Mark and Gary Breshears, Vintage Church: Timeless Truths and Timely Methods, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL, 2008, p. 136

In All Times and In All Ways

Jesus Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:9, 22-23; 4:15; 5:23), the leader who builds the church (Hebrews 3:1), the senior pastor and Chief Shepherd who rules the church (Matthew 16:18).  It is ultimately Jesus who closes down churches when they have become faithless or fruitless (I Peter 5:4).  Therefore, it is absolutely vital that a church loves Jesus, obeys Jesus, imitates Jesus, and follows Jesus at all times and in all ways, according to the teaching of his Word (Colossians 3:16).

– Driscoll, Mark and Gary Breshears, Vintage Church: Timeless Truths and Timely Methods, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL, 2008, p. 64

Ten Explanations for Our Current Condition

Here aer ten of the biblical explanations of our condition apart from the new birth and why it is so necessary:

  1. Apart from the new birth, we are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-2)
  2. Apart from the new birth, we are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3)
  3. Apart from the new birth, we love darkness and hate the light (John 3:19-20)
  4. Apart from the new birth, our hearts are hard like stone (Ezekiel 36:26; Ephesians 4:18)
  5. Apart from the new birth, we are unable to submit to God or please God (Romans 8:7-8)
  6. Apart from the new birth, we are unable to accept the gospel (Ephesians 4:18; I Corinthians 2:14)
  7. Apart from the new birth, we are unable to come to Christ or embrace him as Lord (John 6:44; I Corinthians 12:3)
  8. Apart from the new birth, we are slaves to sin (Romans 6:17)
  9. Apart from the new birth, we are slaves of Satan (Ephesians 2:1-2; II Timothy 2:24-26)
  10. Apart from the new birth, no good thing dwells in us (Romans 7:18)

– John Piper, Finally Alive, Christian Focus Publishers, copyright 2009, page 48-58