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The source of Christian unity is the love of Christ. Real Christian unity has at its root a deep understanding that we are forgiven in Christ. Unity that glorifies God and vindicates the wisdom of the gospel is unity that is powered by our understanding that we have been forgiven in Christ. No, the unity for which we strive is one based on something that the world simply cannot fit neatly into its godless categories. Finally, the place where Christian unity is primarily worked out is the local church. Of course, Christian unity is not limited to an individual local church, but it works itself out most practically in that context.

It is in the local church that we learn to rejoice with people with whom we may not naturally rejoice, and to weep with people with whom we may not naturally weep. In the local church we learn to share our lives with people who share one profound love with us: the love of our Lord Jesus Christ who has forgiven us of our sin.

True Christian unity is found in God-glorifying, gospel-revealing love for all brothers and sisters in Christ, fueled by our forgiveness in Christ that expresses itself most clearly in the assembly of the local church. The unity we seek in the local church is not just theoretical. It has real implications for our lives, and real benefits to us as Christians.

For the next few minutes, I want us to turn our attention to exploring some of the benefits that unity brings to a local congregation. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. John is writing here about the importance of loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.

When we look at our relationships with other Christians and see unity and love rather than discord and strife, it should encourage us that we are in fact the children of God. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

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These verses begin with a stirring call—to hold unswervingly to the hope we profess. This type of encouragement cannot happen in an atmosphere of dissention and strife.

1. Worship is practice for eternity

It happens when there is unity. Unity protects our doctrine. Look at where we left off in verse Remember, Paul was writing about building up the unity of the church. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. What will have this kind of impact?

The unity Paul has been describing for the previous thirteen verses. It protects us from the tyranny of faddish teaching, from the danger of being pulled into error. More than creeds and statements of faith, more than bishops and popes, unified congregations have been the primary means God has used to protect the core teachings of the Christian faith.

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Today, efforts to recapture unity often get a bad reputation precisely because they come at the expense of orthodoxy. But far from seeing a delicate balancing act between doctrine and unity, Paul sees unity as our main hope for preserving our doctrine. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.

The Greatest of These Is Love: An Introduction to the Series | Desiring God

May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Moreover, it is part of how they will come to understand the love of God. That ambitious, God-given objective should make us consider the role our church plays in our own evangelism. Exposing a non-Christian to the love we have for each other as Christians is a powerful witness to the work of God in our lives.

Remember the question with which we began the class: how can an imperfect people display the glorious character of a perfect God? Over the next twelve weeks, we think practically about how we can build a church marked by that kind of unity, one that therefore protects and proclaims the life-changing message of the gospel.


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I pray that God will use these weeks to help us better understand the role that each of us is to play in that great work. Our work is possible by the generosity of our readers. Give Today. Resources Donate. Class I: Introduction. Article To put it simply, we need this class because two things are true: First , God calls Christians to gather together in local churches to worship him and to reflect his glorious character to the world. Second , we are still sinners. Unlocking the Mystery of the Gospel To give you some context, Paul has spent chapters 1 and 2 describing the power of the gospel—that though we as Christians were dead in our transgressions, we are now alive in Christ and reconciled both to God and to each other.

Skip ahead to verse six: This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.


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  • The Purpose of Gospel Unity But why is unity in the gospel so important? Look at verses , where Paul talks about what should characterize our relationships in the church: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

    Jesus continues this thought in his prayer for believers in John May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. One Extreme—Unity at All Cost Some people say that Christian unity means that all people who call themselves Christians should organize together institutionally, or at least cooperate together as a single body of believers. Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ?

    The same Alpha content is run all over the world, by Christians of all traditions, and provides a common expression of proclamation, service and witness. Millions of people have experienced Alpha in over countries and over languages around the globe. Eating food together creates space for people to connect, relax and share life on a deeper level. The Alpha talks are designed to engage people from all walks of life and inspire conversation.

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    The discussion time is an opportunity for people to respond to the talk, hear from others, and contribute their own perspective in an honest, friendly, and open environment. The Alpha Youth Series is one of the best resources I have seen in years. It is accessible, clear, fun and deep. I cannot recommend it enough as a wonderful fresh tool with which to reach young people with the Gospel. I especially appreciate the ecumenical spirit of Alpha: there is no pressure on anybody to join a different denomination, but just to join Jesus.

    No one has to teach a Christian to worship God. In some way, every believer responds worshipfully to an encounter with God. That religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless, wishes, raising us but a little above a state of indifference. When we experience a life-changing encounter with God, worship is a natural impulse. As David was known to do, we need to command ourselves to worship by declaring:.

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    Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. There are times when something stirs in our hearts and everything inside of us responds in worship, but those are grace-filled promptings of the Spirit. It is the pleasing of God that is at the heart of worship.

    While we all have personal preferences for the kinds of music we enjoy or the sort of environments we find most worshipful, our praise should be grounded in our common understanding of God from his word. The closer you get to the truth, the clearer becomes the beauty, and the more you will find worship welling up within you. If our understanding of God is poor, our worship will be too.