The Unity of the Spirit

Preached by Chris Adams, May 25, 2008

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One of the greatest challenges to our first century brothers and sisters keeping the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3) was the Jewish-Gentile controversy. But even before Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to plead their case against a number of Jewish brothers from Jerusalem questioning the salvation of the non-Law-following Antiochene disciples, there was a crucial fruit of the Spirit growing strong in ALL the disciples (not just the leaders): that was trust in God. Look in Acts 14:21-28:

They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders[a] for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.

From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

Andrew, Mike, Chris and Kerri-Sue commending the DC mission team to the work of God’s grace!

What an awesome example lived out by Paul and Barnabas! Leaders must be willing to lead the way in trusting God over men, but that trust is proven in the way they work with men. Keeping the unity of the Spirit in both salvation and opinion issues was made possible when disciples committed themselves and each other to God through prayer and fasting! Rather than a comfortable, smooth ride, this same unity of the Spirit would lead to incredible hardship and persecution as Paul warned later in the Book of Acts that false brothers would rise up from amidst their own ranks to draw people away from the truth.

But this unity of the Spirit persisted as the unmistakable beacon of God’s Kingdom when Satan was trying to confuse and destroy the church. This same unity of the Spirit can stop Satan from dimming the light of the gospel, so we can illuminate all of Central New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Washington DC and eventually the whole world in our generation. We are so thankful and fired up to be part of a movement of churches where every single member is committing themselves to Jesus’ greatest cause!

“The Unity of the Spirit” preached by Chris Adams
Sunday, May 25, 2008

Acts 14:6-7
• Every trial that you go through makes you stronger.
• The Book of Acts is about the acts of the Holy Spirit.
• God moved across the Earth.
• God used Peter in a powerful way.
• He preached the gospel that Jesus rose from the dead all the way to Jerusalem.
• God used Paul to evangelize the whole region of the world.
• He was reminded of the grace that God gave him.
• God used Peter to usher in the Kingdom of God for the Jews (Acts 2) and the gentiles (Acts 10).
• Satan tried to use the Jew/Gentile controversy to divide the church.
• Paul, Barnabas and John Mark went to the island of Cyprus.
• The governor of the island became a Christian! (Acts 13:6-12)
• John Mark deserted Paul and Barnabas in Pamphylia. (Acts 13:13)
• Emotions and sentimentality can stop you from preaching the Word of God.
• Some Jews refused to believe and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles. (Acts 13:44-45)
• Paul and Barnabas had to be strong in their faith.
• While they were fleeing, they shared their faith wherever they could.

Acts 14:8-18
• When you do not have convictions from the Bible, you can become unstable and won over by every wind of teaching.

1. Great trust.
Acts 14:19-28
Questions: What stops you from preaching continually?
• They helped people to become Christians.

Romans 8:28
• Even the persecutions, challenges, trials and obstacles were working for the greater good.
• God is calling you to believe that He is going to work.
• Your call is to love God through the trials.
• Paul and Barnabas were committed to the grace of God.
Question: Can you help someone else to trust God when you aren’t trusting in God?
Question: What if someone came up to you and said that he had been fasting and praying for you?
i. When leaders put their trust in God, the church thrives.
ii. Trusting God means trusting the leaders.
• It is so great to get your heart discipled.
Question: How excited are you?
Question: Are you going to trust God by trusting Chris and Kerri-Sue Adams’ leadership?
• God will do immeasurably more than you can imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)
• You get to trust one another and God.
• God will do incredible things.
• Pray for one another.
• If you look around, you see people growing in their leadership in our church!

2. Great unity takes great trust.
Acts 15:1-35
• Church is a celebration of good news.
Question: Is your attitude when you come to church to share the good news with the church?
• Debating in a sharp way is not necessarily wrong.
• The unity of the Bible is not to agree to disagree.
Question: Who were these Pharisees?
• The Pharisees in 200 B.C. wanted to protect the honor of God from worldly leadership and a flood of pagan influences.
• They were a group of “separate ones” whose goal was to maintain the standard of God’s Word and a holiness in people’s lives.

Matthew 5:20
• Two hundred years later, the Pharisees drifted from their original intentions.

Matthew 16:11-12
• The influence of their false teaching and hypocritical lives on others, was what Jesus so intensely opposed.

Mark 12:28-34
• A Pharisee was completely convicted and in line with Jesus’ heart towards God!
Question: How much conviction did this guy have to have to walk up to the Son of God and ask a challenging question?
• Jesus did not throw this Pharisee in some category, saying ALL Pharisees are this way.
• There is wisdom in how you share your faith . . . especially with religious people who do love God! (Remember Paul was zealous for the truth and thought he was pleasing God by exterminating Christians.)

Acts 21:27-36
• Is your Bible Study sustaining your soul? Challenging you to trust God more?
Question: How do you apply the Word of God to your life?
• These were likely the same Jews who killed Stephen in Acts 7 (some Jews from Asia).
• These were the same Jews who persecuted Paul in the different cities he planted churches with Barnabas.
Why would Paul be worshiping in the temple and even submitting to following the Law post Acts 15?!
• Paul knew that it would likely be his last chance to preach to them the saving message of Jesus’ grace.
• Paul would submit himself and respect the customs of other people to have the chance to preach to them.
Question: What kind of trust are you willing to build with other disciples?

Acts 22:21-22
• Paul preached his last sermon to the Jews, his friends and his relatives.
• Paul did this because he trusted in God.
Question: How do you apply this to yourself?
Question: Are you obeying all of God’s commands?
Question: Are you sharing your faith with other people?
Question: Are you going into people’s homes to share your faith with them?
Question: Are you bringing other people into your home to share your faith with them?
Question: What kind of changes do you need to make in your life?
Question: How are you going to preach the Word of God despite the personal persecution that you will have to go through when you share your faith with them?

Matthew 21:43
• If you do not rely on His Word and obey His Word, then you will be thrown away. (John 15:5-6)
Question: Will you produce fruit in the Kingdom of God and bring it before God?
Question: What is the fruit of repentance in your life?
Question: What fruit do you need to produce to stay in God’s Kingdom?
Question: Are you going to preach and bring forth the fruit of the Kingdom of God?
• The Bible needs to be read daily in order to bring forth the fruit.
• Encourage each other with that trust.

Acts 15:30-35
• The decision came from James after much discussion with all the brothers, including Peter and those from the party of the Pharisees—one did not have to become a Jew (follow the Law) to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
• Judas and Silas were with James in Jerusalem but completely accepted and obeyed by the Antiochene disciples! This is great trust!!
• They were totally entrusted with preaching the Word of God.

Ephesians 4:3
• The Spirit wants this unity.
• You got to trust in other disciples.
• Learn to trust in other people.
i. Bringing forth the fruit.
ii. Trusting your leaders.
Question: What fruit will you bring forth to stay in the Kingdom of God?