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1 21. Unity and Church Governance “How wonderful it is, how pleasant for God’s people to live together in harmony!” Psalm 133:1 I. Biblical Concept. 1. Image of the Church as the Bride of Christ requires UNITY. There can be only ONE bride, especially in the context of the Biblical ideal for monogamous relationship (Genesis 2:24). There is also idea of unity between the bride and the groom 2. The metaphor of the Body implies the unity between the Head and the Body. One Christ – One Body. Just as Apostle Paul was confirming to the new believers that “we are baptized by One Spirit into One Body” (1st Corinthians 12:13) a. Many congregations, but the Church is One, requiring a visible unity. b. Ephesians 4:4-6 “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God and Father of us all” c. Jesus’ final prayer (John 17:23,21) for all disciples to be ONE. Glory = the Presence of God we can be united only when we have God’s presence among us, within us. Seeking His presence is key for unity of mind a. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Diversity of gifts but unity of purpose st 2. Vine and branches (John 15:1-6). Christian unity is in being grafted into Christ. 3. One Kingdom that cannot be divided. (Luke 11:17) 4. Unity of Mind in Christ by the Spirit. a. Romans 15:5-6 “be like-minded toward one another,... with one mind” b. 1st Corinthians 1:10 “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” c. 2nd Corinthians 13:11 “be of one minds and live in peace” d. 1st Corinthians 2:16 “we have the mind of Christ” 5. Unity as a tool of effectiveness. a. John 13:35 unity is the evidence to the world that validates claim of Salvation. II. Sources of Unity. How do we achieve unity? 1. Power of the Father. John 17:11 2. Father’s Gory that Christ gave to all His followers John 17:22 3. Christ’s indwelling in the believer John 17:23 4. The Holy Spirit’s presence in individual lives of believers Galatians 5:22-23 5. The Word of God as the Source of Truth John 17:17 6. The Cross John 12:32 by lifting up Jesus he draws all closer to Him. a. The wheel Christ is the hub, the closer we get to Christ – closer we are to each other. III. Implications today 1. Cultural differences are not longer divisive in Christ. a. Galatians 3:26-28 entrance of the Holy Spirit removes prejudices of culture, race, status. b. Barriers between casts, tribes, wealthy, slaves, genders are broken in Christ. c. Redemption is given to every nation, tribe, tongue and people. (Revelation 14:6). And the Remnant Church that preaches the Message of Three Angels practices Global perspective. 2 d. James 2:9 partiality, favouritism based on status is a cause of disunity, and is not acceptable among Christ-followers. e. Matthew 25:40 serving the least of people is serving Christ Himself. f. Local churches are equal around the world in their importance and voice, no matter if some are rich and contribute money, and others are poor and are on the recipient end of mission. g. Unity of the world-wide universal church is built on this principle. Adventist church pastors are treated equally no matter of the size of their congregation. Unified financial structure enables the church to advance world-wide. 2. No hierarchy among humans exists in Christ. a. Spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit as He pleases for INTERDEPENDANCE. b. Ephesians 4:3,13 gifts are designed to develop the Unity of Faith. c. John 15:5 without Christ we cannot do nothing by ourselves, none & nothing! d. Galatians 6:2 we are to carry each other burdens. 3. Unity of faith as unity of beliefs. a. Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 15:26) b. Holy Spirit guides into ALL Truth (John 16:13) 4. Conflict among professed Christians is the obstacle to unbeliever’s acceptance of Christ. 5. Strength of the church is determined by the unity among members. Truly United church on earth reveals that its members are serious in their expectation of living together in heaven 6. Unified church exhibits answer to a society divided to the extreme individualism. IV. Practical Steps 1. The New Commandment of Jesus (Matthew 22:39; John 15:12 & John 13:34) is about Expression of Unity the Loving Relationships. It is one of Quality Characteristics of a Healthy Church 2. Reconciliation ministry is the step toward unity. 3. Unity in the home, family relationships are primary training ground for understanding unity. 4. Intentional aim for Unity is necessary. Daily prayer for unity, and conscientious efforts to minimize differences, to avoid arguments, focusing not on what divides, but seeking to understand each other is the beginning of journey toward the unity.... 5. Working together for salvation of others unite people. Teamwork makes workers ONE TEAM. When the people put their hands and minds together for the common goal differences disappear. 6. Avoiding divisive attitude spirit of self-sufficiency, superiority, prejudice, criticism, pride, selfishness, all work of the evil spirit that leads to separation and disorder. 7. Unity is not produced by human efforts alone, but is a result of human surrender to the Work of the Holy Spirit. Only when people as individuals give credit to God and recognize God’s presence among them the Unity becomes possible. 3 V. Denominations? Church Governance? 1. The New Testament Church was one. No division among churches existed until 1054 A.D. when the Eastern Ortodoxy split from Roman Catholicism. Luther’s Reformation of 1514 A.D. birthed over 34,000 of denominations, giving permission for individualistic definition of faith. 2. “Heretics” were not considered church, and there was no unity among them either. The Visible church provided, and sought universal unity, hence “catholic”. 3. Mark 9:40 Jesus did not object for an “outsider” to do the gospel work with words “whoever is not against us is for us” 4. Paul and Peter clashed in their understanding of theology, and could not be working together....
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