Summary: To establish that unity is possible only when all agree to follow the divine standard of God -- the bible, which brings unity to the body of Christ. This lesson encourages all believers to strive for "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
1. Jesus’ Prayer for Unity
2. Spirit’s Plea for Unity
3. Father’s Plan for Unity
1. Unity is only possible when all believers respect and follow the divine will and word of God. Jesus prayed for unity, the Spirit pleaded for unity, and the Father has outlined a plan for unity in the word of God. We are charged by the apostles to “walk by the same rule, and to mind the same thing,” Philippians 3:16. The prophet Amos suggests that: “If two walk together, both must agree,” Amos 3:3. And David wrote: “Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity,” Psalm 133:1. Our lesson today we will be discussing the theme: “divine concern for unity.”
2. First, we will notice the prayer of Jesus for unity among believers. In John 17; the Lord is observed pouring out His heart regarding the unity between Him and the Father. The Lord desired a similar relationship with His disciples. If what Jesus prayed for was possible then; and experienced in the first century church. And the prayer of Jesus becomes our prayer; then we can experience the same unity, in the 21st century church of Christ.
3. Secondly, we will consider the plea of the Holy Spirit for unity. The Spirit’s plea for unity has not been answered in this generation. Men are still guilty of dividing the church. Unity must be our plea also, as well as that, of the Holy Spirit.
4. Finally, we will discuss the Father’s plan for unity in great details. No one can claim to love the Lord, by accepting the Son of man; but, denying His Plan. To accept the person of Jesus Christ; requires, that we accept and follow God’s plan for unity. The church has been guilty of talking about unity; but has failed to implement the Plan. In many cases, the Lord’s church has not been a good example in maintaining the unity of the faith. Some churches have lost the desire for unity among its own membership; and with other congregations. I pray this is not the case here. Let’s consider our first point, Jesus’ prayer for unity.
BODY OF LESSON
I JESUS’ PRAYER FOR UNITY
A. The prayer of Christ for all disciples-believers. We find in John 17, the prayer of Christ for his apostles; and for all of their disciples, that would become believers because of their preaching and teaching. Notice:
1. The prayer of Jesus: “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee... Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe in me through their word,” John 17:1; John 17:20-23. The eve of his death, he prayed for unity among his apostles; and for those disciples that would believe on Him through their preaching.
2. The prayer’s purpose:
a. First, “That they all may be one; as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us:” That they might share the spirit of unity with the Father.
b. Further, “That the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Our message is failing in the church, in the community and in the world. Why? Because the church lacks the unity for which Christ prayed to exist among His disciples everywhere.
1) Who would be chief; who would sit on His right hand and on his left. Notice: “And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John,” Mark 10:41. Our Lord knew of the evils that resided in them.
2) This happens always when the mantle of leadership is to be past; when the man of God, has not prepared the church for it. This means whether:
a. He is moving to another work elsewhere.
b. He has grown old is stepping down from the work.
c. Who has he prepared among the brethren to take over the work?
d. Illustrate: Normandie Church of Christ.
B. That they all may be one. He prays: “That they all may be one, as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…that the world may believe that thou hast sent me,” John 17:21. Work in cooperation and singleness of purpose.
1. Unity among his disciples. He prayed for unity among his disciples whom God has given Him. He prayed for the 1st Century church of Christ. See Acts 1:14-15. Jesus prayed they all be one. God has made us partakers of the divine nature, 2 Peter 1:3-4. There are blessings in the unity of believers.