Preserving the Unity of the Faith

Preserving the Unity of the Faith

Launch your study by reading Ephesians 4:1-6. What does verse 3 urge us to do? Unity is a big topic to the Apostle Paul. He saw it as a sign of maturity for the body of Christ to become one in faith, Ephesians 4:13. Discuss in your group some simple ideas for unity in Christ’s body and list them here:

1.

2.

3.

The call to the hard work of unity is upon us all. It was hard work even for Paul and his apostolic sidekick Barnabas. They had a spat about ministry that drew them apart for a while, Acts 15:36-41.

Preserving Local Church Unity

Galatians 3:26-29, Dealing with “categories”

  • Look closely at the categories of people listed here. Did God see His people in those categories? What categories do we tend to put each other into?
  • How would the Lord expect each group to treat each other when they gathered for worship? (Just imagine slave and free, rich and poor, male and female, Jew and Gentile in the same confined space worshiping Jesus.)

 

Colossians 3:12-15, What do do about disagreements

  • If you have a complaint against someone in your fellowship, what are you to do (verse 13)?
  • How do we go about “putting on love” (Verse 14)?

 

1 Corinthians 12:4-11, The variety of gifts

  • The Corinthian Church had some problems. Maybe the greatest one was division. They divided over who baptized them (1Corinthians 1:12, 13), over communion practices (1 Corinthians 1:17-22), and elevating one spiritual gift above another, (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).
  • The answer to these disagreements is to acknowledge that each person is a part of the ONE body and that each has a gift as given by God. The greatest gift is the gift that blesses the body of Christ the most.

 

Jesus looks at us today as one church in many locations. He loves every one of them and desires to see each fellowship flourish as an expression of His love to the town or city each one is planted in. Pray that our fellowship will express His love as a united front.

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.                          May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Biblical Unity

 

John 17:20-23

 

No doubt you have heard talk about church unity and have paid hesitant lip service to the possibilities. We are hesitant because we are not even sure it is possible and if it is possible, surely it will be watered down theologically!

 

Churches in the first century:

  • They had positional unity as described in Ephesians 4:4-6. Positional unity is what we already have through Christ. Talk about the unity you each already have through salvation. Can non-believers have this unity?

 

  • They had to work on achieving practical unity, Ephesians 4:1-3
  1. Verse 2 shows us the behaviors that lead to unity
  2. Verse 3 the word “effort” means “to labor, give diligence, exert yourself to achieve”) Practical unity is what we hope to achieve.
  3. Also, in verse 3 we find that the goal is “unity in the Spirit”. How might this differ from any other type of unity?

 

What did Jesus pray for in John 17:20-23? Was it just positional unity or did it include practical unity? Consider:

  1. The oneness being described is for all believers throughout all time, vs 20.
  2. The oneness being described is compared to the unity Jesus and the Father had, vs 21-23
  3. The oneness being described is called “perfected in unity” vs 23 “complete fulfillment, accomplished and complete”.
  4. The oneness being described will be noticeable by the world (mentioned twice in verses 20-23). Is the world seeing unity right now?

 

Take a vote. How far can unity go in this present world or should we just wait until we all get to heaven?

If more unity among Christians is possible what can you do to promote it?

Let Him Speak!

It happens to all of us. We run across people who claim God speaks to them all the time. They seem a little “off”. We become critical of anyone who claims God has spoken to them. It that the right conclusion?

Let’s allow the Scriptures to shed light on this topic:

  • Sheep need direction from a shepherd. They need to hear his voice. Fortunately, he communicates – John 10:27
  • God speaks to us through creation – Psalm 19:1, 2. What does creation tell you about God?
  • God speaks through difficulties – Psalm 119:67, 68. Share one lesson you have learned from difficulties.
  • God speaks through the Holy Spirit, John 14:26
  • God speaks through Scripture, 2 Timothy 3:16, 17
  • God speaks through supernatural manifestations, Exodus 3:1-4
  • God speaks through fellow believers, Philemon 1:7

If you have time, discuss ways that we hinder the Lord’s voice from getting to us.

When you know God has spoken to you, how do you share that with others?

 

Prayer: Ask your Heavenly Father to give you ears to hear and eyes to see. Trust Him to give you the whole counsel of God that you might grow daily.

Sermon-based Bible Study 01/18/2020

Sermon Based Study – January 18th & 19th, 2020

Read John 16:7

Do you agree with what Jesus spoke? Why?

Read John 14:15-17

The Greek word translated, ‘Helper’, has all these meanings: Comforter, Counselor, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, & Standby.

Have you experienced the ministry of the Holy Spirit in any of those ways?
What are some examples?

Jesus calls us to share in His mission, the Great Commission.
Let’s continue, to see how He helps us fulfill our part of that mission.

Read Acts 1:8

What do we receive when the Holy Spirit comes upon us?

One commentary states: “meaning the power of the Holy Ghost, strength from him to preach the Gospel, and work miracles in confirmation of it, and courage and greatness of mind, amidst all reproaches and persecutions, to face and oppose their enemies, profess the name of Christ, abide by his truths and ordinances, make their way through all opposition and difficulties, and spread the Gospel all over the world.”

Do you agree with this quote?
Can you see this proving true throughout the book of Acts?
(Acts 2:1-13; Acts 8:4-8; Acts 10:44-46; Acts 19:1-7)
Are you experiencing that kind of power through the Holy Spirit, as you move forward in fulfilling the mission the Lord has given you? Give some examples…

EXTRA CREDIT

Here are some ways to increase the power of the Holy Spirit in your life:

Consume (read, study, meditate upon) the Word of God. (John 6:63)
Pursue God’s Face. (Acts 1:14; Acts 13:1-3)
Believe, and act upon, the Promises in the Word of God. (Gal. 3:5; Heb. 11:6; Luke 11:13)
Abide in Him. (John 15:4, 5) “…apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Love One Another. (John 15:12, 17)

We are Friends in Jesus

We are Friends in Jesus

John 15:12-15

 

Read the scripture and count how many times ”friend” appears.

  • From these verses, what is the characteristic of a good friend?
  • What is the requirement of a friend of Jesus?
  • What is the difference between a friend and a servant and why is that important to understanding this passage?

 

 

Jesus is elevating the definition of friend in John 15. He is keeping us from shallow relationships that abandon us when we hit hard times. A friend is someone you love unconditionally, no matter what happens to them, Proverbs 17:17a.

 

David and Jonathon had this type of friendship. How is their relationship described in 1 Samuel 18:1? How did David respond to news of Jonathon’s death, 2 Samuel 1:26?

 

Some people are hard to befriend because of their habits and lifestyle

  • Proverbs 22:24, 25 why is this person hard to love?
  • Proverbs 13:20

Passages about true Christian friendship.

  • Colossians 3:12-14
  • Proverbs 27:5, 6
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10
  • When we act like this, we are demonstrating the friendship Jesus modeled.

 

Pray about who you can be a good friend to.

Pruned by the Word

Pruned by the Word

John 15:1-8

 

In John 15:1-4, Jesus is instructing his disciples to stay connected to him (the vine) even after he went to heaven so that they continued to bear “much fruit”. They had no trouble bearing fruit while He was with them. Since Jesus would no longer be physically present, they would need to receive the Holy Spirit and continually be pruned by the Word of God.

 

Pruning is the removal of unproductive branches. The old branches and sucker branches can use up nutrients that should go to fruit. These rogue branches want to spend all the blessings on getting themselves bigger and stronger. Our Father wants fruit and He is willing to prune us (make us smaller) to get it.

 

The fruit comes in two forms:

 

  1. The fruit of the Spirit or inward fruit. Can you name the 9 fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5:22, 23
  2. The outward fruit of finding, winning and discipling people. How do you do this? Mark 1:17.

 

Why bearing fruit (which includes pruning) is important, John 15:7, 8

 

  • This brings much glory to the Father. You don’t have to read much of John’s Gospel to find out that Jesus’ goal was to use His life for the Father’s glory. Jesus came to seek and save lost people. Shouldn’t our mission be similar to His?
  • To prove you are a son or daughter of God, see Hebrews 12: 8. God doesn’t prune unbelievers because He doesn’t want any more of their fruit. Name three ways the people in your group have been pruned by God. In what way has this pruning made them more productive?
  • To have a vibrant prayer life. Everyone wants one but there is a condition to this promise. What is it?

 

The Pruning Process or the Word at work in us

  1. The Word can’t do much for you unless you either hear it, read it or remember it. How do you get a daily connection to the Word?
  2. Even then it must be received (James 1:21) in a heart that has been prepared (Matthew 13:23).
  3. Once received, it will begin to do its work separating the good and bad thoughts and intents of your heart, Hebrews 4:12.
  4. You get to choose to allow the Word to prune the bad stuff away so that you may become more productive for the Kingdom. If you choose to allow the Word to do its work you will become clean, John 15:3, and Gods purposes for you will flow freely as you bless many others.

Sermon-based Bible Study: Pursue Peace

Now, may the Lord of peace himself give you peace, at all times and in every way.                                  2 Thessalonians 3:16

Our God is a God of peace. He loves peace and even calls His Son the “Prince of Peace”. Conflict can do a good work in our hearts, but it should not last. We must work toward an abiding and deep peace with God and man.

Look at 2 Thessalonians 3:16 and identify the source of peace and the extent of peace. What percentage of your average day is peaceful?

  • We must exert effort to achieve peace, Hebrews 12:14 and 1 Peter 3:10, 11.
  1. Can any of the Bible study members share a story of pursuing peace?
  2. How did it turn out?

 

  • We need a disciplined mind, Isaiah 26:3, Romans 8:6 and Colossians 3:15.
  1. List some ways that you can allow Christ to rule your mind and heart.
  2. What does a life look like when ruled by Christ?

 

  • Avoid strife, Proverbs 20:3 and James 3:17, 18. We all like a brawl now and then but we best leave the physical fights to the people in the ring. Our real fight is against an unseen enemy which must be fought from a foundation of calmness and confidence.
  1. When we are calm, we make wiser decisions and consider consequences more thoroughly.
  2. Do you believe that when we lose our peace, we lose the battle? Explain.

Final note: Throughout history and particularly at the cross, our Father has “fought the battle for us”. He knew we could not win many of our battles in our own strength so He stepped in and defeated he enemy for us and will continue to do so. Praise His Name!