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FACTORS INVOLVED IN CONGREGATIONAL UNITY (2)

Victor M. Eskew

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A.    Unity is seen in many places and in many things in our world.

1.      The human body

2.      The military as it “marches in step”

3.      A marching band at a half-time performance

 

B.      The Lord wants His people to be unified (John 17:20-21).

 

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me though their word; 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.

 

C.     In order for us to have unity, we must engage in certain actions as members of this congregation.  In a previous lesson, we looked at four things we must do.

1.      Practiced like-mindedness in truth

2.      Do not struggle for power

3.      Practice selflessness

4.      Do not engage in sinful activities

 

D.    In this lesson, we will look at four more things that we need to do in order to have congregational unity.

 

I.                   TREAT OTHERS RIGHT

 

A.    One of the things the New Testament focuses upon is relationships. 

1.      One of the phrases mentioned often in the New Testament is “one another.”

a.      The Greek word is “allelon.”

b.      The word involves reciprocal, that is, back and forth action between two or more people.

c.       Some of the phrases are

1)      Negative, indicating things we are not to do to each other (Col. 3:9).

 

Lie not one to another, seeing ye have put off the old man with his deeds.

 

2)      Positive, indicating things we are to do to and for each other (Rom. 12:10).

 

…in honour preferring one another.

 

d.      If we would fulfill these one another obligations, the church would be able to maintain unity.

 

B.      Jesus gives us a summary passage for all relationships in Matthew 7:12.

1.      We might not recognize the passage, but we all know it as “The Golden Rule.”

 

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them:  for this is the law and the prophets.

 

2.      How do you want to be treated?  Then, treat others the same say.

How do you not want to be treated?  Then, do not treat others that way.

 

II.                DO NOT FORM CLIQUES

 

A.    The word “clique” is from a French word that means “latch.”

1.      It suggests the idea of shutting someone out.

2.      A clique is an exclusive group that will not let others into it.

 

B.      The Holy Spirit countered the idea of cliques with His use of the word “same.”

1.      The word “same” means “identical in kind and quality.”  It does not mean “different.”

2.      Verses:

a.      “Be of the same mind one toward another” (Rom. 12:16).

b.      “…be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment” (I Cor. 1:10).

c.       “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another” (I Cor. 12:25).

d.      “…having the same love…” (Phil. 2:2).

e.       “…even so minister the same one to another” (I Pet. 4:10).

 

C.     The Holy Spirit confronted cliques with other terms as well.

1.      I Timothy 5:21

 

I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

 

2.      James 2:1

 

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

 

III.             LEARN HOW TO SOLVE PROBLEMS

 

A.    Two Bible examples:

1.      The Hebrew and Grecian widows (Act 6:1-7).

a.      The problem (Acts 6:1)

 

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

 

b.      Problem solving (Acts 6:2-6).

c.       Increase (Acts 6:7)

 

And the word of God increased and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

 

2.      Barnabas and Saul

a.      The problem was over John Mark (Acts 15:37-38).

b.      The problem as not resolved and the two men divided from one another (Acts 15:39-41).

 

B.      A truth:  Problems will arise within churches.

1.      Bad behavior does not solve problems.

a.      Blaming, name-calling, taking sides, threatening, quitting

b.      None of these behaviors promotes unity.

2.      The parties need to get together and seek to solve the problem between them.  Resolution of problems promotes unity (Matt. 18:15).

 

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone:  if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

 

IV.             DISTINQUISH BETWEEN DOCTRINAL AND OPTIONAL MATTERS

 

A.    Doctrinal matters are established by God in Scriptures.

1.      Example:  Taking the Lord’s Supper

a.      The only day authorized to take the Lord’s Supper is the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

 

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…

 

b.      We cannot take the Lord’s Supper on Monday through Saturday.  The only day authorized is Sunday, the first day of the week.

2.      NOTE:  If a member of the congregation refuses to adhere to matters pertaining to doctrine, he creates division within the church (Rom. 16:17).

 

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

 

B.      Optional matters involve things that have been specifically commanded in Scripture.

1.      Examples:

a.      Do we partake of the Lord’s Supper before the sermon or after the sermon?

b.      Should a preacher use sheets, a blackboard, an overhead projector, PowerPoint, or none of these?

c.       What time should we have services?  9:00 a.m.?  11:00 a.m.?  2:00 p.m.?  7:00 p.m.?

2.      When optional matters are made binding, they created division among the people of God (I Tim. 4:1-3).

 

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

 

a.      Two optional matters that would be made binding

1)      Marriage

2)      Eating of meats

b.      Binding these things would not promote unity.   They would be part of the apostasy.

3.      NOTE:  In the local congregation, elders have been appointed as the overseers (Acts 20:28) and have the responsibility of making decisions when it comes to optional matters in the church (Ex., service times, when the Lord’s Supper will be taken, etc.).

 

CONCLUSION

 

A.    Unity is:  good, strong, valuable, hard, fragile, and God-ordained.

B.      II Corinthians 3:11

 

Finally, brethren, farewell.  Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.