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858. The Unity of the Church

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
November 11, 2020 7:00 pm

858. The Unity of the Church

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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November 11, 2020 7:00 pm

BJU President Steve Pettit continues a discipleship series entitled, “Seeking Things Above” from Colossians 3:12-17.

The post 858. The Unity of the Church appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.

The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. His intent was to make a school where Christ would be the center of everything so he established daily chapel services. Today, that tradition continues with fervent biblical preaching from the University Chapel platform. Today on The Daily Platform, we're continuing a study series entitled, Seeking Things Above, which is a study of the book of Colossians. This study explores and applies the timeless truth that Christ is our sufficiency in all relationships, responsibilities, and circumstances.

If you would like to follow along in the study booklet, you can get one on Kindle or you can order a printed copy from the website, Today's message is from Colossians 3, 12 through 17. Paul was emphasizing the privileged position in being part of Christ's Church. As God's true representative on the earth, the local church has all its needs supplied in Christ. The title of today's message is, The Unity of the Church. Please take your Bibles this morning and turn with me to the book of Colossians, Colossians chapter 3 this morning. For the sake of time, I'm going to forego the reading of the scripture where we are looking this morning in verse 12, and we will work our way down as time allows to verse 17. I want you to imagine this morning that you are a believer living 2,000 years ago in the city of Colossi in central Turkey. Suddenly, news spreads like wildfire among the Christians that two men, one's name is Tychicus, and a runaway slave named Onesimus has just arrived from Rome with a letter from the apostle Paul. But it's more than a letter, it is actually inspired scripture that is addressed specifically to the Colossian believers and is going to be read to the entire church.

Now let me ask you a question. Would you be excited? Would you anticipate what Paul has written? What is he going to say? But even more specifically, how is it that Paul is going to address a problem everybody knows about that exists in the church? Well, all the Christians gather together, prayer is offered, and the reading begins. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy, our brother to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colossi, grace to you and peace from God our Father. And then they begin to read through this letter.

And as the letter is read, what does everybody hear? Well, it's very clear that Paul is exalting Christ as the creator of all things and that the believer is connected to Jesus, the head of the church. Paul also makes it very clear that all believers are complete in Christ at the very moment of their salvation experience. And then, Paul launches into an expose of the false teachers who had taught the need of an extra spiritual work outside of Christ in order to be spiritually complete and Paul reiterates the truth that the church has all its needs supplied in Christ that we are complete and sufficient in Him.

And then we come to the third chapter and suddenly it turns to beautiful. Because Paul declares the believer's amazing identity as a Christian and our focus on things above and not on things below. And then we come to verse 12, which we'll look at now. And here, Paul zeroes in on the relationship and the responsibility that all believers have to the church. It is clear that the false teachers were dividing the church. Through their teaching, they were implying that the preaching of the Gospel and the believers' relationship to the church is not enough, it's not sufficient for the spiritual life of all Christians.

They need something more. And Paul is insistent. If believers withdraw from the fellowship of the church with the idea of getting something richer and better in reality, it will turn into a terrible loss. That God has provided His church for the spiritual needs of His people. And so beginning in verse 12, as we read through it, Paul commands the believers how they are to respond to the church. And he gives four specific commands to counteract the effect of the false teachers and to develop and strengthen the unity of the church. And so therefore, the emphasis of this passage is the unity of the church.

And let's look at these four commands this morning. Beginning in verse 12, we read, put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercy and kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another and forgiving one another. If any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. Verse 14, above all these things, put on charity which is the bond of perfectness. What is the first command that Paul gives concerning our relationship to the church? And he tells us, all of us, to put on love. Verse 14, above all these things, put on charity which is the bond of perfectness. Paul is telling us that love holds everything together in the church just like a belt holds up your pants.

You take off the belt, for some it becomes an embarrassing situation. And so love is the belt that holds us together. Notice verse 14 as it begins with a conjunction and. It is connecting us back to verse 12 where Paul commands us to put on the grace qualities that reflect the new life. And I say grace qualities because they can only be developed through grace. Let me remind you that in chapter three, Paul is showing us the essentials of how to live the spiritual life.

How do we, how do we live in victory? And Paul tells us that first of all we have to get a grip on our identity and our focus in Christ. We have to know who we are in Christ. Secondly, we have to put off the sins of the old life. And then thirdly, we have to displace the old sins primarily by replacing them with new graces. For example, I emphasize this in my fourth message to you on the Believer's Focus where I talked about a Scottish writer named Thomas Chalmers. He wrote a piece entitled The Expulsive Power of a New Affection. And the point he made is that the way that you remove or displace the old life of sin is not just by focusing on the negative actions.

Don't do this, don't do this, and don't do this. But it is by exchanging an old affection for a new one. In other words, yes, Paul does say we stop sinning. But how do we do that? We put on the graces of Christ through the grace of Christ. And so in verse 14, Paul is saying that the supreme grace that we are to put on is love.

So, where do you develop that grace? And the answer is within the body of the local church. And above all these things, put on charity which is the bond of perfectness, the bond of maturity. It is binding us together.

Love will keep us together. I think we have to always be reminded, folks, that the church is a body of saved sinners. We're saved, but we're still sinners. And worshiping with saved sinners is the place where we develop this true Biblical love.

It's where we learn compassion and kindness and humility and meekness and patience and love. A number of years ago, our revival team was down in the state of Florida. We had a girl on the team who graduated from Bob Jones, a wonderful girl. She played the flute, sang. She was actually a very good flute player, had beautiful tone in her playing. But she just made lots and lots and lots of mistakes.

And it, and it was really frustrating. And one day after practice, after a frustrating practice session, we were walking out in the parking lot, her name is Danielle, and I turned to Danielle. I said, Danielle, I said, can I ask you a question? I said, are you afraid of me?

And she looked at me and she went uh-huh. I said, Danielle, I said, let me tell you something. I am so thankful to God that you are on our group, on our team.

I said, Danielle, I want you to know that I love you. I am thankful for you. I am glad that you are with us. And not only that, but God is using you just like we use each other to build up one another.

Without you, I can't grow. And as we grow together, and as we learn to love one another, we both grow in Christ. And that little conversation, and every time I see Danielle, we talk about the conversation in the church parking lot.

That it was a, it was, it was revolutionary for both of us. As we recognize that God was using this relationship to actually build our love one for another. The atmosphere of the church is to be a relational atmosphere. Where Christians learn to love one another in spite of one another. And what it seems that Paul is implying is that there were those who wanted to break away from the church in order to have a deeper spiritual experience with a more spiritually elite group. But the problem is that they were missing one of the most important values of the church, and that is it gives believers the opportunity to be matured by learning to love an imperfect body. Folks, if you're looking for the perfect church where perfect people worship together, don't join it because you're going to mess it up.

God intended for the church to be filled with people who have messy lives, who are growing, and we learn to love one another. So Paul is saying that greater unity is developed in the church by putting on love. And then secondly, notice what he says in verse 15. He says, and let the peace of God rule in your hearts to the which you are also called in one body.

The second command is to let peace rule. God's peace is to be presiding over the church. Now the verse here is often used as a proof text for those who are trying to determine God's will for their life.

In other words, I have peace about it. But that really is not what this verse is teaching. There are other verses, for example, Philippians 4, 6 and 7, we're to pray about everything and God gives us a peace that passes all understanding.

But this is not the purpose of this text. Paul here is commanding believers to make peace a priority in the church. Jesus is the head of the church. He's the prince of peace. He reigns over a kingdom of peace. He makes peace with us. Therefore, it would be wrong for Christians to be reconciled to God and live with unreconciled relationships and unresolved conflicts within the church body.

Does the church have problems? Yes. So how — what are we to work towards? We are to work towards peace. And how does this peace work?

Well notice the text. It says let the peace of God rule. The word rule means to act as a referee. Could you imagine what a basketball game would be like without a referee? A guy goes up to shoot the ball and he gets fouled, he gets hacked. What does a referee do?

He blows his whistle when there's a foul. He stops the game because the peace of the game has been broken. So what he's saying is let peace like be — be like a referee. If the doctrine of the false teachers is leading to a disruption of peace and a disunity within the congregation, then somebody needs to blow the whistle. Because Paul believes and Paul is stating that the church should strive for unity and how do we do that when we as a body seek peace?

I used to ask my dad, dad what do you want for Christmas? And he would look at me and say, peace and tranquility. There is — I'm telling you, there is nothing more satisfying and joyful for a — for believers to be in a congregation where there is the reigning rule of the peace of Christ and when the peace is not there, then we need to work towards peace. James said the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. And then he says there's a third command that we should have within the church that — that focuses on unity.

And notice verse 16. He says, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. The third command is to focus on the word of Christ. The central unifying focus of the church is to be the word of Christ. It is the duty of pastors to enrich the congregation with an abundant supply of Christ-centered Bible exposition. Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers stated it so succinctly. He said let your sermons be full of Christ from beginning to end, crammed full of the, of the Gospel. And what is Paul saying?

Paul is saying that the preaching of Christ is sufficient for the spiritual growth of the church. My daughter, a number of years ago, attended a church one summer in a community where she was working. After her ninth service, her ninth weekend, I asked her, how was the preaching?

And at first it was very quiet. I went, oh no. She said, dad, I get really tired of rhetoric.

I said, okay, sweetheart. Next Sunday, let me encourage you to go to this church. And I want you to go listen to this pastor.

And she did. And after Sunday service, I called her and asked her the same question, but her response was very different. She said, dad, I preached Christ out of Colossians one and I wept through the whole service. The preaching of Christ is bread to the hungry. It's water to the thirsty. It's guidance to the traveler and truth to the seeker. It is strength for the weary and it is comfort for the broken hearted. When the word of Christ is preeminent in the preaching ministry of the church, then it holds the entire body together.

You could say Jesus is like super glue and we're all held together in him. But let's look even deeper at this verse. For Paul says that believers are enriched when the word of Christ is not only preached, but when the word of Christ is sung. This is one of the few verses in the New Testament regarding music.

There are about 14 verses. It should be noted that this verse is in the context of the unity of the church. This is important to consider because music is intended to unify and edify the body. However, it is unfortunate today that music in churches is not the great unifier. In many cases, it's the great divider. And I think this is the reason why we often describe this today as worship wars.

We know that's not right. So the way we approach the subject of music is a very big deal. And Paul is commanding us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly through singing. You could almost say that Paul is actually giving us New Testament inspired instructions in how to sing.

So let me ask a few questions about this verse. First of all, what should we sing? Who decides what we sing? Do we decide?

No. For the Scripture tells us, Paul says, we're to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Some have suggested that these are three types of psalms, that is the songbook of the Jewish people, the 150 psalms, and so they could be psalms of praise, hymns of reverence, and songs about the spiritual life.

Others have suggested that these are three types of songs, psalms, hymns of praise, and songs of the spiritual experience of the Christian life. In either case, the text of the hymn or the song must find its source directly in Scripture. It must clearly and accurately reflect the truth of God's word. The lyrics of sacred music must be balanced, reflecting both doctrine and practice, and it should emphasize the complete experience of the Christian life.

The word should be beautiful, both in order and meter, and presented in a very clear manner. And I think the main point here is that the primary emphasis is on the text. That should be number one. What are we singing about? Before we ask any other questions, what is most important?

It is the word of Christ. But then second question, what helps us to sing? In 1 Corinthians 14, 15, Paul says we're to sing with the spirit and understanding. We should be caught up in the song with an engaged heart. There is no excuse for singing in a half-hearted manner. Maybe you'll say, well, the song is boring. You know, there's really not a boring song. It's just a boring singer. You are boring. You ought to let me preach to you every day.

Some of you are boring. I can sing about anything if it's about Christ. I can be engaged in it. But we're to also sing with understanding.

What does that mean? Well, it means that we understand what we're singing about, and what's the best way to get understanding? It is actually to study the word. The word of Christ is dwelling in us richly. The single best thing to enable us to sing is studying our Bibles. Our minds are enriched through the knowledge of the Scripture so that when we sing the words, it's almost like the words sort of jump off the page.

It's just like, oh, this is beautiful the way this comes out. Bible study is like filling up the lake with water. And singing is when the dam that holds the water breaks open. You can always tell if the congregation studies the Bible.

How do we know that? By the way, they sing. Have you ever been in a preacher's meeting? Have you ever noticed how preachers sing? It's always loud. It's not always beautiful, but it's always loud.

Why? Because they've been studying the Bible all week and they explode from their heart. That's how we are to sing. And then the third question, what are we doing when we sing together?

Well, Colossians 3.16 says we're teaching and admonishing one another. When we sing, we are actually preaching to one another. I used to tell our team that I know when our music is becoming effective, it's when our singers start preaching to the congregation. For singing is preaching set to music.

That's why hearty singing is always motivational to us. It stirs the congregation. It's a powerful witness for the Gospel. Oftentimes, one of the most moving experience for an unbeliever is to enter into a congregation and to listen to the hearty singing of the believers. Then finally, what notes shall we use when we sing?

Well, it's interesting. No notes are mentioned in Colossians 3 or Ephesians 5 where we find another parallel verse, but Paul does say we're to sing with grace. Someone has described this as grace notes. The best notes are grace notes. The best musical notation is not written in the hymn book, but with the pen of God written on the hearts of the singers. We express gratitude as we sing melody in our hearts. And it is very clear from Paul that the music of the church should unify and edify the body as we sing around the word of Christ.

And then finally, very quickly, what is the last command? And that is Paul says we're to be thankful. Three times he says that. Verse 15, be ye thankful. Verse 16, sing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Verse 17, give thanks to God and the Father by Him. Someone has said that Paul's theology can be summed up in grace and his ethics in gratitude. The spirit of unity is maintained through a continually thankful heart. Being thankful for Christ because He's the focus of our life. Being thankful for the church because He elevates its importance in our hearts and minds. Being thankful for Christians because they help us to realize how God uses them in our lives. It's been my experience over the years, especially with Christians, and I've experienced this in our own ministry, that when we take time to express gratitude to one another, either in words, publicly or privately, or whether in written form, what it does — there's something about gratitude and grace that go together that affect our hearts, that unify our hearts, and in so doing, it unifies the church.

So what are we to do? We're to let peace rule. We are to let the Word of Christ be center in all that we do in the church. We are to be thankful, and we are to put on love, and these are the commands Paul gives us in order for us to have unity in the church. Father, we thank you for your instructions for us as your people, and help us to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Christ.

In Jesus' name, amen. You've been listening to a sermon from the study series in the book of Colossians by Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. For more information on Dr. Pettit's series, visit our website at, where you can get a copy of Steve's study booklet entitled, Seeking Things Above.

A Kindle version is also available. The Bob Jones University School for Continuing Online and Professional Education offers convenient and affordable online programs. Whether you're seeking to expand your skills, pursue a passion, or develop a ministry on your own time, qualified and engaged instructors will help you reach your goals. For more information, visit or call 888-253-9833. Thanks for listening, and join us again tomorrow as we continue the study in Colossians here on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-28 12:22:09 / 2024-01-28 12:31:09 / 9

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