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Vision 2020 Series Sermon 6
~The Church of Unity~
Tyson Graber, Herscher Christian Church
April 10, 2010
Acts 2:42-47

Isn’t it good to come together as a church family?  It is great to be united by God!

God says in His word in Psalm 133:1-3
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in unity! ... For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.”

One of the greatest blessings HCC has enjoyed over the past 9 years, I believe, has to be the consistent Christ centered Unity that God has provided. 

You can see it among the staff, in the Leadership, and in the entire church family as a whole.

With that said each of you should know that the Elders have declared time and time again in private, in prayer and in public that we as leaders are committed to UNITY for the sake of Christ.  We have made effort after effort to seek UNITY in every way possible while always being committed to the truth of God’s Word.

Today, in this final sermon from our 20/20 Vision series, I pray that our unity in Christ becomes even more strengthened and secure as individuals and as a church.

The Elders and I have a continued Vision that HCC would always be a church that Embodies Unity.

Many of our greatest blessings we have experienced as a church and as individuals, I am confident, have been directly connected to our pursuit of unity in the church through God’s power.

Psalm 133:1-3  leads me to this pursuit.  Read this again...

When God’s people come together in unity that is where God’s blessing will be found.  But,  in just the same way, when God’s people are not living in unity or harmony with one another, when God’s people have disagreements, when God’s people purposefully pursue division, when God’s people are hostile towards each other ..., the blessings in our lives will be limited if not removed all together.

I want no part of this limited blessing for us.  God desires to bless us now and in the future, but we must pursue Unity for His church every chance we get.

Sin and Disunity Limits Blessing

Do you feel unfulfilled or limited in your life or your relationship?  I believe there are two main issues that could be limiting a blessing.

The first is sin, and we have talked about that recently.  The second is closely related and may not exactly be thought of as sin, but it is all to often a reality for many churches - That is  disunity among believers and the church body.

Examine your relationship with God’s people.   Is a lack of unity and harmony hurting your relationship and blessings in life?  Are you building up the body of Christ and other believers ..., or are you looking to please and protect only yourself?

If your marriage is struggling or maybe there seems to be no blessing left in it at times,  consider the unity you have with your spouse,  or for that matter, the church.

And in the church as a whole, if there is no blessing of growth and changing lives, let us always be prepared to examine our efforts to pursue unity and harmony at all cost.

Ephesians 4:3  says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” 

What does church unity really look like, and how do we pursue it?

Read Acts 2:42-47

I believe this text gives us a tremendous Biblical description of Unity in the church.  They were united with one mind and purpose to honor the Lord and amazing things happened.

They were committed to Teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread, and Prayer.  Church Unity is at its best when we focus on those core elements of church life that God set up for the church to do.

Are you teaching and being taught? 
Are you pursuing fellowship with other believers? 
Are you committed to weekly focus on the Lords Supper and sharing it with others? 
Are you praying consistently for the well being of the church family and the lost world we are commissioned to reach for Christ?

The church described in The Acts had amazing unity and God blessed them.
 READ Acts 2:47 again

What is it that keeps this church together and moving forward?
What is it that has held us together and sustained us in the past?
And what is it that is going to keep us together in the future?

I believe the church in Phillipi gives us some great answers to those questions about our source of unity. Throughout the book of Philippians, Paul alludes to what it was that enabled their church to endure. We need to take a look at what was holding the Philippian church together in Christ, to see how we compare, and what we must adjust to stay committed to unity in Christ.  Let us never forget that Christ is the KEY!

Read Philippians 1:3-6

I. SALVATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST HELD THEM TOGETHER

We can see from this verse that Paul recognized they were in a partnership with each other concerning the gospel. ‘The Gospel’ is the message that Jesus Christ died, that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day.

The church at Philippi was in agreement with Paul about the gospel and they all shared those same beliefs. They shared in the salvation given by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and they were committed to spreading that Good News.

How does sharing in the salvation offered through Jesus Christ unite and hold us together as a church?

A. Salvation offers freedom from the past.

Our past is all the same as we come to Christ and the church, we are all the same, sinners who have been saved by Grace. 

Once we turn to Christ and repent of our sins we no longer have to worry about the sins of our past. It is true that we may still face earthly consequences from them, but in God’s eyes we have been washed clean. We can then find joy by uniting with others who have turned to Christ and have committed to live for Him moving forward together.

B. Salvation offers purpose for the present.

Read Mark 16:15-16

We have a mission in this life after receiving salvation to help lead others to that joy found in the forgiveness of sin and hope in eternal if through Jesus.  Let us continue to meet together and worship the one who saves.

C.  Salvation offers hope for the future.

Look back to Philippians 1:6

It’s true, and a very sad thing, that those who have not accepted Jesus Christ cannot stake claim to a home in heaven. The Bible plainly tells us that the only way to get to heaven is through Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, it is a joyful thing that those who have accepted Jesus Christ can look forward to spending an eternity in heaven worshiping the Lamb who was slain. The assurance that one day Jesus Christ  will split the sky and take the church home to live with Him gives us hope for the future.  Make no mistake, the church is united first through the work and grace of Christ.

II. SERVANTHOOD HELD THEM TOGETHER

Philippians 4:14 -  Paul says “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.”

The Philippian church took care of Paul. We do not know exactly what they did to help him, but it is clear that whatever it was helped Paul out in a great way. In verse 14 he tells them that they had done well in their efforts. They were there for Paul when he needed them. They were his servants in the gospel.

In our Christian walk today, the blessing of servanthood can unite us in at least four ways.

A.  First as we Bear each others burdens

Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

The Bible gives us a command to bear one another’s burdens. As Christian brothers and sisters we need to be there when we are needed. There are people within our congregation right now who are hurting and in need of someone who is willing to bear part of the load that is weighing them down.

Are you willing to put aside your own selfish desires and help out someone in need? It is required to hold us together.

B. Secondly by Praying for each other.

Philippians 1:4 “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.”

Look at what Paul does and how he does it. He makes mention that he is praying for the church at Philippi and that every request is made with joy.

How many of us can say that we joyfully pray one for another? It has been my experience that the average Christian spends as little time as possible in prayer and then it certainly isn’t done joyfully. It is more of a hurried up prayer done in haphazard fashion.

If our church, or any church, wants to do more than just survive, and if we want to thrive under the Lord, then the members must spend time in prayer for one another before Almighty God. I don’t mean to only pray when a sickness or problem comes up.

As 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.

Pray that we can be better teachers, leaders, fathers, mothers, and children.  Pray that we will grow in spiritual maturity and have a desire to serve the Lord.  Pray that nothing will come between our individual relationships with Jesus Christ.

Prayer will hold us together!

C.  Loving one another.

Read 1 John 4:7
 
John tells us that when we love one another we are displaying the fact that we are born of Him.

In contrast, 1 John 2:9 tells us that if we hate our brother we are showing that we are still in the darkness and have not experienced the love of Jesus Christ.

Many churches today all over the world are filled with hate and strife among the people. Do you know what that is telling me? By reading the two scriptures above it is telling me that our churches are filled with lost people claiming to be Christians! It is perfectly clear that if love is not present in someone’s life then God is not present either.

What can we do about that?

The best thing that we can do is not examine the walk of others, but examine ourselves. We have got to make sure that there is no hate in our own hearts, that there is not hate among our church family. In doing so, we need to take a close look at our walk with God and make sure that it is genuine. If we want our church to hold together then we have to love one another.

D.  Put Others Before Yourself

Philippians 2:3

This particular verse wraps everything together. If we bear one another’s burdens, if we pray for each other, if we show genuine love for each other, then we can honestly say that we have placed others needs above our own. That is what being a servant is all about. A servant is there to tend to the needs of others.

This type of servant attitude not only follows the example of Christ, but it wins others to His love. 

[Video Testimony by Scott Elbert]

Philippians 2:3

The only way for our church to hold together is for every member to put aside his or her selfish desires and place others needs before their own.

The most important bond holding any church together is the salvation of its members. Salvation offers freedom from the past, purpose for the present, and hope for the future. There has to be a common belief of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior for any kind of peaceful relationship to exist.

Along with that salvation should be a spirit of servanthood among the people.
If we can bear one another’s burdens, pray for each other, love one another, and look at others and see them better than ourselves, then we can create a powerful bond that will never be broken.

Where does our church stand today?

Where will it stand in the future?

Think about how you can make a difference.
 
Make a commitment today,  right now,  to pursue unity for the sake of Christ!