Summary: This message explores four levels of the godly unity that Jesus prayed about in John chapter 17. It starts with the individual and God, moves through the levels of the family, the local church, and finally the Church in each city. This message can challen
THE POWER OF UNITY
Pastor Eric J. Hanson
This has also 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. I first preached a message by that title back in 1977 at Hosanna Church. Ever since my formal 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 in the Oxford Hills and in Lewiston/Auburn. For years I sought to get two small struggling church based schools to come together as a regional Christian school, writing a blueprint for it. I have seen that dream come true.
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 to walk in continually. It’s only possible through the work of the Cross; dying to self, living to and through God.
By the way, all traveling ministers, and all para-church ministers must be vitally connected to a local church; a church family that they are sent forth from to perform ministry functions; and which they report back to, even as Barnabas and Saul/Paul did in Acts Chapter 13 and following. Every man in Christ needs to walk in the rigorous realities of local church life, graciously flow within the give and take there, and go regularly to the Cross of Christ and die to self, in order to be part of the solution in the working through of problems in his local church. Every believer is a living stone set into a wall. Every believer is a cell, vitally connected within a living and interdependent local expression of the Body of Christ. Any man who will not humble himself to vitally connect as part of a local church, even though all local churches are flawed, dis-qualifies himself from traveling in ministry or heading up a para-church ministry such as Full Gospel Businessmen, a Christian coffeehouse, or what have you.
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 of being taught the word, care only for their own concerns and don’t show sensitivity concerning the needs of others, need to be challenged, personally. Yes, Church discipline, done in the matrix of love and restoration to full potential, must exist.