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The Marks of Spiritual Unity

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
February 25, 2022 3:00 am

The Marks of Spiritual Unity

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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February 25, 2022 3:00 am

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A Christian asked this way toward his fellow Christian humbly, gently, patiently forbearing with and lovingly, and does everything he can to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace that solid Christian is Dragon bitterness division people are running to separate themselves based on race and gender political party age or any other trait they can think of. So in a world filled with hostility and conflict. How can your church be different. How can you be an example of love and unity and what role do you play in promoting unity in your church. What specific steps can you take to help Christians around you truly care for one another for answers stay here on grace to you as John MacArthur continues his series a plea for unity.

Now here's John with a lesson. Let's open our Bibles now to the second chapter of Paul's letter to the Philippian church.

Philippians chapter 2 will be focusing on the first four verses the formula for spiritual unity. The formula for spiritual unity in acts chapter 4, Luke wrote these words, the multitudes of believers were of one heart and one soul. Acts chapter 4 and then he said a little later in that same chapter as a result of that unity they had power and great grace was upon them all power and blessing are related unity.

Jesus of course made priority out of the unity of the church and so does the apostle Paul. It is a great concern to his heart and thus he writes these opening for verses in the second chapter not draw them to your attention. If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ. If there is any consolation of love. If there's any fellowship of the spirit, if any affection and compassion make my joy complete by being of the same mind maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself. Do not merely look out for your own personal interest but also for the interests of others. It's my conviction that in those four verses you have the most concise and practical understanding of unity that is given in the New Testament this explanation. As you know flows out the exhortation in chapter 1 verse 27 where he said I want to hear that you are standing firm in one spirit with the one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, having called for unity. He now explains it.

He now defines it, and as you remember from last time he focuses on three aspects of unity. The motives the marks and the means. That is the why the what and the how, why is unity so vital. Why should we have unity in the church. What is that unity how is it defined and how do we attain it or how do we maintain it a passage that has to be considered also in concert with Philippians 2 is Ephesians 4 and I would draw your attention to it. Just as a supporting background to the thoughts that Paul will give us in this section of Philippians.

In Ephesians 41 he writes. I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called in other words, he says act like a Christian act like a believer that is a believer act with all humility and gentleness, with patients showing forbearance to one another in love. Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

A Christian act this way toward his fellow Christian humbly, gently, patiently forbearing and lovingly, and does everything he can to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. That's how a Christian is to act the reason is given in verse four. There must be unity because there is one body and one spirit, just as you are also called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all who is over all and through all and in all and because of all that inheritance supernatural oneness. The church then is to maintain its oneness as the outworking of its very calling. So we are called the unity and our unity is based upon a great profound theological unity within the very Trinity itself back to Philippians chapter 2 and we focus specifically on the text before us last time we looked at the motives for unity and we pose the question why why is unity called for why unity in the church. What are the strong reasons and we noted last time that there are four of them given in verse one and the word if because it is a first-class conditional is best translated because and so it would read this way because there is encouragement in Christ because there is consolation, or comfort of love because there is fellowship of the spirit because there is affection and compassion make my joy complete by being of the same mind. In other words, your unity is motivated by these things.

The first one is encouragement in Christ because Christ has encouraged you exhorted you helped you faithfully come alongside to enable you.

In other words, because of the work of Christ in your life, past and present because of all that Christ has done to encourage you. Secondly, the consolation of love follows up because all of Christ's love and tender mercy and pity and sympathy and grace and forgiveness and care and comfort has been bestowed on you be of the same mind.

In other words, having received so much from Christ. Can you not give back, which is that which is dear to his own art he who prayed in John 17 to the father about the church that they may be one desires unity in his church and he is simply saying, in view of all that Christ is done for you by way of encouragement and comfort in view of all the Christ is done for you by way of exhortation and sympathy a by view of all the Christ is done for you by way of enabling help and mercy and pity and grace. Can you not give back to him that which is dear to his own heart and we pointed out that you must see this unity and a bitter spirit. You must see your antagonism to the unity of the church as a direct act of defiant, rebellious in gratitude to the Christ who has given you everything and to whom you desire to render nothing and you must see it for what it is.

It is a sin against a relationship, not an ethical code. It is a sin against Christ and then he moved to the Holy Spirit for the next two and he says because there is fellowship of the spirit.

In other words, because of all that the spirit who communes with you from within you has done for you, regeneration, sanctification, gifting, ceiling enabling and interceding, filling, making fruitful strengthening in the inner man to resist temptation providing power for witness because of all that the spirit has done in his communion with you and then he says because of affection and compassion and goes to a second dimension of the Spirit's ministry and that is sympathetic kindness. Not only has he granted you power, but is granted you sympathy not only is he granted use ability to serve, but is granted you tender, compassionate care and intercession on your behalf, so he says not only the work of Christ.

But the work of the spirit is motive enough. Why because it is the Spirit who longs for the unity of the church is the unity of the spirit. Ephesians 43 that is the bond of peace. And since the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit have done all of this for us who are unworthy sinners is that not motive enough for us to give back that which is dear to their heart. Can we say to the Holy Spirit. I take everything you give I give nothing in return I take everything you give that I do not give back to you that what your heart desires the unity of the spirit season for what it is is a quenching of the spirit is it it is a doing despite under the spirit of grace.

It is an abuse of a relationship in which the son of God in the spirit of God give all to you and you give back nothing and then Paul adds one more motive in verse two he says make my joy complete. Not only should we be motivated by the relationship with Christ in the relationship with the Holy Spirit, but the relationship with the pastor as well. Paul says if you can't do it for Christ sake and the Holy Spirit, and do it for my sake. In Hebrews chapter 13 verse 17 we remember that the writer of Hebrews calls upon the believing community to be sure that they respond to those that are there leaders and he says that you are to obey them and submit to them and you are to do this so that their work will be with joy and not with grief. Another words, or to bring joy to the heart of your Shepherd in first Thessalonians 5 it says we request of you brother.

In verse 12 that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you who have charge over you in the Lord and who give you instruction that your shepherds your pastors, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work and what is the outflow that you live in peace with one another and you admonish those who are unruly and you see that nobody repays evil for evil, but that everyone seeks what is good for one another and for all unity you want to please your Shepherd seek unity in the church. So it's a pastoral plea as well. The motives and are clear because of your gratitude and love for Christ because of your gratitude and love for the spirit because of your gratitude and love for your Shepherd be of the same mind be of the same mind and understand please that if you bring discord to the church you have sinned against Christ you have sinned against the Holy Spirit and you have sinned against your God-given leaders so see it for what it is. It is the violation of a relationship not just a code, not just an ethical standard not even just a biblical principle. It is the violation of a relationship that should be motive enough going one step beyond motive, we ask the question what what is unity what does it look like, how are we to view it. What is its nature. What is its essence. How is it defined and he will give us four statements in verse two that define the marks of spiritual unity. They are very rich.

They are somewhat overlapping and yet they have each of them a distinctiveness which can be noted as we examine this great verse. Look at verse two, he says make my joy complete. Here's how. And he gives us the four marks of spiritual unity by being of the same mind maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose for great great truths.

They are the marks of spiritual unity and I want you to understand them and I want you to understand that some of them as well as the parts, so listen carefully.

The first marked is this being of the same mind being of the same mind. The Greek verb for now is used here and it basically means to think the same way.

That's what it means to think the same way. The key to unity is thinking alike unanimity of thought is essential to true spiritual unity. We have to think alike go back with me for a moment to compare diverse in the first chapter of first Corinthians 1st Corinthians 1. Paul writing to a church that obviously was disrupted terribly all kinds of factions and schisms.

In fact, so many of them that he said I have to speak on you. In chapter 3 is on the carnal and out of the spiritual because are so many divisions but is prayer for them in chapter 1 and verse 10 is this and he launches right into it after his introduction I exhort you, brother, and by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree is an amazing statement you you mean he is asking a church to agree that there be no divisions among you, that you be made complete in the same mind that means thinking the same way it very same idea and that you have the same judgment all agree no divisions same mind same judgment and then he says right after that it's so sad that you're so divided and quarrelsome your to have the same mind. This is not an arbitrary thing. This is something Scripture repeats we are to think the same way I listen. Unity comes when believers think alike.

Now listen carefully. I'm not talking about doctrine and neither is Paul, this is not just cold hard facts. We are all here. We can all sign the same doctrinal statement that doesn't mean we think alike. This is something beyond that, what is really talking about here is attitude. Having the same attitude. The same mindset the same disposition fact, you will notice in chapter 2 and verse five he speaks of having this attitude in yourselves which was in Christ. In chapter 3 verse 15 in the new American it talks about having this attitude again in verse 19 he says regarding the ungodly that they set their mind means on earthly things. There attitude is controlled by the earth.

The world and the system around so he uses this concept of mind and attitude interchangeably, and that is a proper understanding of the term were not here talking about the same facts were talking about the same feeling disposition attitude, and thinking pattern common to use another word concern common understanding as to how you get that to challenge and it does not come by human means, that is, it cannot be engineered, it cannot be orchestrated. I have watched for a number of years and even presently, I'm watching the inability of human beings to orchestrate unity can happen. It can happen on a fleshly level it can happen on a human level, it will happen only on a divine level.

We will never think alike until we have understood the spiritual realities that make for that and we will never know and do wholeheartedly and unanimously the will of God until we think alike you have conflict when people don't think alike. The spirit of God is not saying get your doctrine together. That's not the issue, Philippians, and have any doctrinal problems are not even an allusion to one in this entire epistle isn't saying that your ethical standard. Worked out they didn't have any problem with that. There is no glaring sin in that church, to which he directs any verse. The problem was attitude and that is the thing that is so elusive you can identify heresy is very clear when it's spoken, you can identify sin is very clear when it's done what you can't find his underlying attitude and that's why it's so devastating. That's why it's so destructive and so Paul is right on target when he says you have to think the same way, your attitudes have to be in perfect harmony. So how in the world can we do that. All I want to show you how I taking the term is used here.

The verb for now and finding it in a few other places. I want you to follow how it's used and see if we can't build a little theology of thinking here that will help us know what it means to think the same way.

Let's go back to Romans and I will point out to you several usages that I think are applicable in Romans chapter 8, I would draw your attention to verse four it says at the end of verse four.

Do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit that's really the end of a sentence that introduces us to a contrast between flesh and spirit, then verse five. For those who are according to the flesh set their mind on the things of the flesh same word as we saw in Philippians 2 but those who are according to the spirit implied set their mind on the things of the spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. Now you have two possibilities, you can either think with the spirit, or you can think with the flesh. If we are to think the same, then we must all think in harmony with the Holy Spirit. So the first principle is that if we are to be of the same mind we must think on the things of the spirit of God.

We must have spiritual thoughts we ascend beyond our own realm our own agenda our own flesh our own unredeemed humanness that which the Puritans called remaining sin that must be mortified in us and we must realize that the conflict is between the spirit and the flash. Note this number the spirit and the spirit understand that you don't have to people thinking with the mind of the spirit in conflict. If there is conflict. Somebody is thinking in the mind of the Spirit or no one is and someone else's thinking in the flesh, and so he says if we are according to the spirit and we think the things of the spirit.

So if would have the same mind. We must be thinking on the things of the spirit of God. Chapter 12 verse three and will come to a practical conclusion of what all this means, in a moment, may just build the blocks.

A little higher in verse three of chapter 12, through the grace given to me.

I say to every man among you.

Please note this not to think same term more highly of himself than he ought to think what to think, so as to have sound judgment as God has allotted a stub that second were to think with sound divine judgment means objectivity where we get into trouble is when we think subjectively. We have discarded all different levels of relationships because first of all, were not thinking the things of the mind of the spirit and secondly were not thinking objectively. It's not sound judgment, it's subjective. We got our own agenda. We've got our own priorities.

We got our own little enterprise.

We got our own little turf we got our own personal ambition got our own little fortress to maintain and defend. We got our own pride that compels us to whatever ends its evil longings pursue and so we have not objectivity where the victims of our subjectivity. Paul says, think on the things of the spirit and think with sound judgment with God is the source have not only the mind of the spirit, if you will, but have the mind of God. Romans chapter 15 verse five now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you is the same term to be of the same.

I think the same. At the same disposition attitude and concern with one another. Here comes according to whom Christ is now we have Christ in the picture we think the things of the spirit. We think the things of God which gives sound judgment and we think the things of Christ presupposing that's John MacArthur with today's lesson from his current series a plea for unity. John is a pastor.

He's the featured teacher here on Grace to you and he's chancellor of the Masters University in seminary. John the aspect of unity that you discussed today being of the same mind. We received a letter from a woman named Kaylee who shares a heartbeat with Grace to you and she is seen up close what happens when unity breaks down in the church so read the letter you have there will I will and this is nothing rare faithful people face this in churches constantly. The breakdown of unity, but this is Kaylee's letter.

Thank you for preaching God's word faithfully in standing up for the truth. My dad is a pastor and uses a lot of your resources.

Your sermons are encouraging and I have learned a lot from them today. I listened to one of your recent messages from Ephesians 2 about the church being unified. It was a good reminder to love the church as a pastor's daughter.

I see a lot of church politics and how stressful being a pastor can be. I've been hurt to see church leaders not support my dad and go behind his back.

All because they wanted to avoid conflict in the church and not here biblical truth. As a result, my dad had no choice but to resign. Ephesians to remind me to love church members even when they hurt you. Thank you for your sermon and the reminder to forgive and love others. Kaylee, I want to thank Kaylee for writing this letter and I want to say that we all know that she's not alone. This happens to pastors all the time in churches. In fact, I suppose, in most churches pastors are attacked by somebody in the churches are tampering with the unity of the church and it's so important for us to understand that so let me help you. Maybe help your pastor and your church members to to be the source of joy for the leadership and the pastor by encouraging you to go to GT Y.org and search for the title. The church is one body. There is a part one of the part two. You can download those right off the website and that would be helpful instruction for you. Are others in your church so that you can be an encouragement to your faithful pastor and by the way, when you support Grace to you. You help minister to people in difficult circumstances, and you connect people like Kaylee with biblical truth that steadies the heart and gives encouragement and certainly in a day when Bible teaching is becoming harder to find and more needed than ever let us know. You stand with us and let the station know they're doing it right contact the staff and thank them for Grace to you. Yes please do that friend your support really does make a difference in people's spiritual growth.

It allows us to take God's word to places with strong churches and to reach more more believers and unbelievers around the world to partner with us in life changing ministry get in touch today mail your tax-deductible donation to Grace to you.

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You can also donate online@gty.org or when you call our toll-free customer service line at 855 Grace that number again 855 Grace and special thanks to you. If you are one of our greatest keep in mind you can also support this ministry. When you send us your feedback. Let us know how your benefiting from Grace to you so if John study a plea for unity has shown you practical ways to serve others in your church. If our recent series on restoring marriage improve your relationship with your spouse, or if someone you know has come to faith after hearing this broadcast would love to hear your story. Email us at letters@gty.org or send your letter to box 4000 panorama city, CA 91412 now for John MacArthur. I'm Phil Johnson reminding you to watch Grace to you television this Sunday and then be here next week when John looks at how you can love everyone in your church, even those you disagree with. Join us for another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to you


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