Summary: This is a fairly in depth exploration of Unity in Christ, on many levels.
The Importance of Our Unity in the Lord
Pastor Eric J. Hanson
July 14th, 2013
This has been a life theme for me, starting with the theme verse of the music ministry I was part of back in 1974 & 75 “The Gospel Express”. That verse was II Corinthians 5:19, especially that He (God) has given us this ministry of reconciliation. I tried very hard, somewhat naively, to get the South Paris Baptists and Hosanna Church together as friends in the 70s, especially through the ministry of the “Lighted Lamp” Coffee House. Then I wrote “Come Together My People” in a moment of personal renewal and repentance in 1978. Then God gave me “Please Stop Fighting” in 1988 and “Coming Together in Jesus” in 1991.
The theme of the Four levels of Unity is a major Lifetime thrust for me. Ever since my ordination in 1982, I have worked as part of the regional and citywide Church through promoting and seeking to strengthen the “Pastors Prayer Fellowship” both locally and in Lewiston/Auburn. For years I sought to get HCS and PCA to come together as a regional Christian school, writing a blueprint for it. I have seen that come true.
Today, I am coming back to this major theme. The second message that I ever preached at Hosanna Church was called “The Four Levels of Unity”. (1977) Today I am revisiting the major themes of the Four Levels of Unity within the Lord’s Church. I am doing so because these are super important within God’s economy, and especially they are important in connection with the people of a community being able to become true believers in Jesus Christ. Let’s jump right into them now.
Main Outline of Message
I. The first Unity Level: The Individual and God (John 15:4-5)
A. (John 3:3 & 3-17) You must become Born Again.
A. (Ephesians 5:22-33) Husbands and wives need to heed this.
B. (Ephesians 6:1-4) Children and Parents
III. Level 3: The Local Church Family
A. (Ephesians 2:19-22 & I Peter 2:1-5) We are a house made of living stones built together as a habitation for the Lord. Dropping out of reliable fellowship with your church family, coming to church primarily as a consumer of goods and services, or engaging in church hopping destroys this dynamic.
B. (Ephesians 4:29-32) No rumors; no evil speaking; no hard heartedness; no unforgiveness: This heads off trouble before it can start up.
C. (Ephesians 5:21) This is the attitude for every believer, even apostles to walk in continually. It’s only possible through the work of the Cross; dying to self, living to and through God.
D. (Philippians 2:1-5) This is an overall attitude blueprint for unity and unselfishness to reign in the Church Family.
Special Note: There are other dynamics which must function in a healthy church family. We cannot wink at sin. Men who will not work must be chided. Those who continue in fornication, rage, or hatred must be warned. Those who gossip maliciously (like Diotrophes) must be stopped. Those who seek to build personal kingdoms within the Church with personal agendas must be exposed. Those who, after some time, care only for their own concerns and don’t show sensitivity concerning the needs of other people, need to be challenged, personally. Yes, Church discipline, done in the matrix of love and restoration to full potential, must exist.
IV. Level Four: Unity of All True Believers in Christ (John 17:20-23) Notice (in this scripture) the condition and the result of the condition being met.
Notice that the New Testament Church was one in each city. That is God’s perfect will and plan for the Church. Then it can be fully equipped, lacking nothing, doctrinally balanced, with a great combination of Ephesians 4 equipping gifts flowing together through the servant leaders who make up the local elders, along with trustworthy traveling equippers. In God’s perfect plan, which absolutely requires the power of the Cross, these brothers are to demonstrate mutual submission and harmony to the World around us.
B. (I Corinthians 1:10-15, 3:1-9) Only Jesus Christ is exalted.
The Citywide church needs to get away from the exaltation of persons, and fully recognize that the title of (greek) “arche-poimen” which means “over-shepherd” or, in common usage “senior pastor” is reserved in the scriptures for Jesus Christ. It occurs in I Peter 5, where all of we undershepherds are told to care for the flock (that is the people-sheep of God) over which the Lord has made us overseers. Then, if we are faithful in this, when the senior pastor shows up from Heaven, we shall receive crowns.