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1. Church Leadership: The Purposes Of The Church

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When discussing the topic of the philosophy of church leadership, we must understand first and foremost that we don’t make this up. We don’t sit down and try to put together our own philosophy or mission. Rather, we seek to follow the mandate for the church and its leaders as set out in the Scriptures.

It is imperative that, as pastors and church leaders, we understand and be able to articulate a biblical philosophy of ministry, since that is our vocation - if we don’t know what ministry is about, how can we effectively do it? Since the church is the entity in which we conduct our ministry, we need to understand the biblical theology of the church and its ministry in order to be able to lead it in conformity with its biblical mandate.

In order to properly formulate a biblical philosophy of ministry we begin with a biblical theology of the church (its origins; its purposes; its functions; its mandate). As Alex Montoya asks, “How can a pastor minister effectively if he cannot identify, clarify, simplify, and execute the purposes of the church he leads?” (Alex D. Montoya, “Approaching Pastoral Ministry Scripturally” in Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry (Nashville: W Publication Group, a division of Thomas Nelson Inc., 1995), 65).

A “Philosophy of Ministry” focuses us on what we are supposed to be doing. What do you think are the primary purposes of the church? The following texts will help you summarize the purposes of the church: Matt. 22:37-40; Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:41-47; Eph. 3:21; 4:12-16; Phil. 1:27-30; Col. 1:28; 1 Thess. 1:1-10; Heb. 13:15-16.

Alex Montoya lists 6 ministries of the Christian church:

(1) The ministry of the gospel (Acts 6:5; Rom. 15:16; 2 Tim. 4:6)

(2) The ministry of holy living (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Pet. 1:12-16)

(3) The ministry of prayer (Acts 6:6; 13:2-3; 1 Tim. 5:5; Rev. 4:8, 10, 11)

(4) The ministry of serving others (Rom. 12:1-8; Phil. 2:17, 30; Heb. 13:16)

(5) The ministry of gratitude (Eph. 5:19-20; Col. 3:16-17; Heb. 12:28; 13:15)

(6) The ministry of giving (Rom. 15:27; 2 Cor. 9:12; Phil. 2:4; 4:18; Heb. 13:16).

By way of introduction to our topic and for the sake of simplicity, we will study the basic purposes of the church under the following four headings:

I. The Great Commandment

II. The Great Commission

III. A Great Church

IV. A Great Prayer

I. The Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37-40)

A. Worship - “You shall love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37).

If you ask people what the number 1 task of the church is, they will often say: “To evangelize.” But I think the Bible makes clear that the first and foremost purpose of the church is not to evangelize people but to worship God (cf. Ex. 7:16; Eph. 1:6a, 12b, 14b). Worship comes before service, and worship generates service. It is among, through, and in his people that God is truly worshipped (1 Pet. 2:9), both individually (e.g. Ex. 34:8; Josh. 5:13-15) and corporately (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 5:4).

B. Service “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39).

Ministry is demonstrating God’s love to others by meeting their needs and healing their hurts in the name of Jesus, whether they are people who attend our church or non-churched people. Jesus said his ministry purpose in terms of serving: “I came not to be served but to serve” (Matt. 20:28; cf. Mk. 10:45; Jn. 13:1-17).

II. The Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20).

The first step in making disciples is…

A. Preaching The Gospel (Evangelism, Missions).

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19a). Making disciples really involves the whole spectrum of church ministry but it starts with evangelism. Evangelism is not optional - it is commanded by Jesus (cf. Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47-40; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; also Jn. 17:18). Evangelism is a mandatory church ministry, first in its own immediate community (Jerusalem) and then beyond to other regions (Rom. 15:18-29). In its own community the entire Jerusalem church was involved with evangelism. In the regions beyond, certain men were commissioned to carry it out (Acts 13:1-3).

Evangelism is the responsibility of the church – not just individual evangelists. In Paul’s terms it is something we do, not just because we are commanded to do it but because we are internally compelled to share the gospel (1 Cor. 9:16-18). Evangelism is at the heartbeat of the church (Lk. 24:45-48). Evangelism is not merely sending money to missionaries overseas - that’s easy. It’s actually doing it ourselves. A significant part of pastoral ministry involves motivating the church to be engaged with and active in evangelism.

The fruit of evangelism is baptism: “…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19b). Baptism is the public confession of one’s faith in Christ. Biblically, one’s verbal confession of faith and public confession of faith via baptism really go together.

So then, what is the purpose of baptism and what does it express? My answer is that baptism is the public, symbolic, and experiential declaration of the conscious reality of one’s salvation, expressed in two relationships…

a) Union with Christ. Baptism is the practical sign of salvation through symbolic union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection.

b) Union with the body of Christ. Baptism is the public identification with, accountability to, and fellowship with other believers through incorporation into, identity and union with the body of Christ.

Baptism can be described as a sign, a seal, and a symbol:

a) A sign of salvation because it marks you as a disciple of Christ.

b) A seal of salvation because it is the experiential statement (confession) of faith, rather than only a verbal statement of faith.

c) A symbol of salvation because it represents our death and resurrection with Christ.

The second step in making disciples is…

B. Teaching The Truth (Edification, Discipleship).

“…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19c). The church exists to edify, build up, and educate God’s people. It is the church’s responsibility to develop people to spiritual maturity.

One of the church’s duties is “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:12) by utilizing each person’s gifts (cf. 1 Cor. 12:4-31; Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Tim. 4:2).

III. A Great Church (Acts 2:42-47)

The best example of the purpose of the church is found in the first church at Jerusalem described in Acts 2:1-47. They learned together, fellowshipped together, worshiped together, prayed together, served together, and evangelized together on a continuous basis.

Today the purpose of the church is unchanged. A great church is a Spirit-filled church ...

A. A Spirit-Filled Church Is Devoted To Continuous Learning.

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ doctrine” (2:42a). The apostles were their teachers and they persevered in what they learned. This is edification, discipleship.

Pastoral ministry must be committed to continuously teaching the Word. This is fundamental to the purpose of the church. It begins with teaching the apostles’ doctrine. (cf. Eph. 4:7-16; Col. 1:24-29).

B. A Spirit-Filled Church Is Devoted To Continuous Fellowship.

“And they devoted themselves to… the fellowship” (2:42b). What is fellowship? How do you create and encourage it? This has to do with mutual encouragement and relationships. Pastoral ministry must create an environment and the opportunity for fellowship among believers.

C. A Spirit-Filled Church Is Devoted To Continuous Worship.

“And they devoted themselves to…the breaking of bread” (2:42c). Worship is rendering to God his “worth-ship.” This is the exaltation of God. We were created to worship God (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14; 1 Pet. 2:4, 9). Our worship of God is first expressed in our love for God which manifests itself in total submission to him in thought, attitude, behavior, and speech. As John Piper puts it: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him” (John Piper, Desiring God, 9).

Worship is a lifelong, daily occupation. We worship God individually and collectively. The church is the collective community in which we worship and work together (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16; 1 Pet. 2:5). Robert Saucy says: “The ultimate purpose of the church is the worship of the one who called it into being” (Robert L. Saucy, The Church in God’s Program, 166).

D. A Spirit-Filled Church Is Devoted To Continuous Prayer.

“And they devoted themselves to…the prayers” (2:42d). “The” prayers refers to either specific prayers or prayer times. Prayer was the constant focus of their lives, a communal event – corporate, systematic, and intentional (cf. Acts 6:6; 13:2-3; 1 Tim. 5:5; Rev. 4:8, 10-11). Prayer is thus (1) The basic building block of the church; (2) The power that moves the church forward; and (3) The measuring rod of a church’s spiritual vitality and reality.

E. A Spirit-Filled Church Is Devoted To Continuous Unity (2:44-47).

1. Unity in caring (2:44-45). “And all who believed were together and had all things in common and they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”

They were united physically – they were “together.” They were united practically - “had all things common.” They worked together, caring for each other together, ministering to the community together. The tendency today is to forsake being together and stress individuality. Some people even think they don’t need to belong to a church or attend church to worship God. They think they can do it through a TV program. Evidently this also became a problem in the early church (Heb. 10:25). Fellowship and togetherness is vitally important in the ministry of the church.

2. Unity in testimony (2:46-47). Their united testimony was…

a) Public: “Day by day they attended the temple together.”

b) Private: “…breaking bread in their homes.”

c) Joyful and sincere: “…they received their food with gladness and generous hearts.”

d) Expressed in worship: “…praising God.”

e) Respected by the world: “…having favor with all people.”

f) Rewarded in conversions: “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

Unity is both the strength and the weakness of the church. Why is it the strength of the church? Because unity enhances our energy (not spent on squabbling), preserves our enthusiasm (not distracted by extraneous activities), sharpens our focus (all pulling in the same direction), and accelerates our purpose (the sum of the parts is greater than the whole).

Why, then, is unity also the weakness of the church? Because our flesh prefers individual initiative over corporate purpose and because the church’s unity is Satan’s primary target of attack. He knows that his best offensive in attacking the church’s purposes is to destroy our unity.

With this in mind, Jesus prayed for the unity and protection of his people - of his disciples back then and of his people throughout the future age. Let’s look at that part of Jesus’ high priestly prayer that deals with the church’s unity in John 17:20-23...

IV. A Great Prayer For Unity (John 17:20-23).

Why do people unite? People unite for various reasons: common circumstances, common beliefs, common interests, common goals, common concerns (e.g. about social and governmental acts).

What happens when people unite? When people unite they focus on a common object, they gain strength from each other, their abilities are multiplied, their resources are expanded, their energies are shared.

When Christians unite we can do so much. We can accomplish tasks that individually we could never do. We can have a powerful impact on other people who would otherwise not take any notice.

In John 17, Jesus prays for Christian unity. This high priestly prayer divides into three parts:

1. Jesus prays for himself (17:1-5).

2. Jesus prays for his present disciples (17:6-19) – for their oneness (17:11) and for their preservation in the world (17:15).

3. Jesus prays for his future disciples (17:20-26).

Jesus’ emphasis in John 17 is that Christian unity is a formidable force to impact the world for God by continuing Jesus’ mission.

Christians are those who hold a common belief in Jesus: “I do not ask for these only (i.e. his original disciples) but also for those who will believe in me through their word” (17:20). It’s as though Jesus scans the centuries and sees all Christians – present and future (“those who will believe in me”) - just as if they had all been saved at that moment, that great spiritual community of faith that is held together by a common belief in Jesus. This belief in Jesus is made possible “through their word.” All future generations of disciples would believe the message that the original disciples had received from Jesus, a message that reveals God to us (vv. 6, 8), a message that has been recorded for us in holy Scripture and preached to all subsequent generations. That same message forms the basis of belief and proclamation for all Christians of all time.

Jesus’ desire is the unity of those who believe in him: “…that they may all be one” (17:21a). Notice that this statement is inclusive of “all” but it is exclusive to only “those who believe” (17:20).

Jesus knew very well that unity would be the Achilles’ heel of Christians, that we would bicker and fight and argue rather than serve, love, and obey. And so he prays that the entire body of all believers of all time (from the first disciples down through church history until the end) will be united in their testimony to the world.

Jesus prays for the unity of all Christians because…

A. Christian Unity Impacts The World For God Through The Presence Of Divine Life (17:21).

“…that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in You (17:21b).

1. It’s a unity like that of the Father and the Son (cf. 6:37; 14:10) - not temporal but eternal, not external but internal, not essentially physical in nature but spiritual, not merely an ethical unity (i.e. of duty or deed) but a unity so intimate, so vital, so personal that it is patterned after and based on the relationship which exists between the persons of the Trinity.

It’s a unity like the Godhead - distinct but inseparable. Jesus is at the same time one with the Father in being yet distinct from the Father in person. Jesus and the Father are one in thought, purpose, and action. There never was (nor ever will be) a difference or disunity between them. Of course, believers are not one in essence in the same way that the Father and Son are – they cannot be - but we can and must be one in thought, purpose, and action. This is the kind of unity Jesus prays for among believers - distinct in person (the church is not a cult where each individual’s personality gets lost in the crowd) but inseparable in thought, purpose, and action.

Christian unity, then, is like the unity of the Father and the Son, and ...

2. Christian unity finds its source in the Father and the Son. It isn’t simply that “they may be one” but “that they also may be one in us” (17:21c). This unity is only possible because of our inclusion in the unity of the Father and the Son as his sons and daughters by faith. Just as the branch abides in the vine (see John 15), derives its life from the vine and bears the fruit of the vine, so believers abide in the Father and Son. Our life is in them and the fruit of our lives bears testimony to that reality. We are dependent upon and inseparably united with the Father and Son for life and effectiveness in the world.

Only Christians are “in” the Father and “in” the Son. And only those who are in the Father and the Son are spiritually one - one in fellowship, testimony, purpose, belief. This unity is not created by an external organization, nor by a creed or customs, laws or liturgy. Rather, it is a deep, vital relationship the pattern of which is the Father and Son and the power that brings it about is the abiding of all believers “in us,” Jesus says.

The relationship that exists between Jesus and the Father must be reflected among Christian believers. We are to be living examples of the divine unity and divine life of the Father and the Son. It’s this foundation that gives God’s people stability, purpose, perseverance, endurance, and resistance to attack and discouragement.

Do you experience this unity in your church fellowship? A unity that supersedes normal human affinities and ties. A unity that is evidently formed on and established in something far beyond your abilities and expectation. A unity that is connected with the Godhead. A unity through the presence of divine life.

Is Jesus’ prayer answered in your church? Do you enjoy a unity that stems from your connection with the life of God, divine life itself? Christian unity impacts the world for God through the presence of divine life in us!

That’s what Jesus prays for, Christian unity. Christian unity is a unity like that of the Father and the Son. Christian unity finds its source in the Father and the Son, and …

3. Christian unity has as its purpose the transformation of the world: “ that the world may believe that You sent Me” (17:21d). Jesus says in effect, “Christian unity will impact the world for God by continuing my mission,” a mission to convince the world that Jesus is the sent one from the Father.

Jesus wants the world to believe in his mission and message, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world (1 Jn. 4:14), that the Father sent the Son to make God known to us. The united belief of Christians leads to belief in the world, belief in Christ’s mission and message, belief in the truth of who Jesus is, the sent one from God.

A united Christian community manifests to the world that the life of Christ (divine life itself) is in us. This is a powerful testimony that convinces the world of the truth of Christ’s redemptive mission in the world. When our unity expresses the unity of the Godhead, when our unity reflects the relationship between the Father and the Son and our relationship with them, when our unity displays the presence of divine life in us, then the world will believe our message. Then the world will be convinced of the reality of Christ’s redemption because that is the only plausible explanation for such unity.

Our unity must be of such a character that the world takes notice of it and draws the conclusion that Jesus must be who he said he was – God manifest in flesh, to whom we are inseparably united. The united life and testimony of God’s people should cause the world to want what we have and to believe what we believe, because in us they see the truth of Christ’s atoning death and the value of the Christian life.

When God's people present a common front, we can exert great power and influence in the world. When we show in our lives that we have been with Jesus, our attitudes and actions will point to him as the source of our strength. When we do that, the world will believe that Jesus is the sent one from God. But if we are divided by conflict, the world will discredit our testimony because a divided Christian community denies by its behavior the very message it proclaims.

The uniting factor, as Don Carson points out, “is not achieved by hunting for the lowest common theological denominator but by common adherence to the apostolic gospel, by love that is joyfully self-sacrificing, by undaunted commitment to the shared goals of the mission with which Jesus’ followers have been charged, by self-conscious dependence on God himself for life and fruitfulness” (D. A. Carson, “The Gospel According To John,” The Pillar New Testament Commentary, 568).

Is your unity like that? Is your church impacting the world for Christ? If I were to ask your community what their impression is of your church, what would they say? Is your union with the Father and the Son so visibly lived out as a community of believers that the world takes notice? The express purpose of Christian unity is to testify to the reality of the message that the Father sent the Son to make God and his redemption in Christ known. The more we manifest the life of Christ and the unity that comes from him the more we will correspond to the unity that Christ desires of us and the more we will impact the world around us. If there is one thing the world wants and desperately needs it’s unity - unity of relationship and unity of life.

So, Christian unity impacts the world for God through the presence of divine life in us. And...

B. Christian Unity Impacts The World For God Through The Evidence Of Divine Glory (17:4, 22-23, 28).

1. Jesus glorified the Father: “I have glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (Jn. 17:4). And again, “‘Father, glorify your name.’ Then came there a voice from heaven saying, ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again’” (Jn. 12:28). Indeed, in his person and his life Jesus was the radiance of God’s glory” (Heb. 1:3).

The glory of the Father was “in” the Son. God was “in Christ” reconciling the world to himself (2 Cor. 5:19). They were “one” in this work. It was the glory of the Father that Jesus came to manifest to the world by displaying the very nature and character of God. He perfectly manifested the glory of the Father who was in him and in so doing he displayed their perfect unity.

So, too, we are to glorify God. The Son’s glory was to manifest the Father. And that same glory Jesus gives to his disciples – to manifest the life of God in us, which manifestation is evidence of our unity with God and with each other.

When all believers reveal the glory of the Son as the Son revealed the glory of the Father then Jesus’ prayer will become reality - we will be perfectly one; the chain will be complete; the Father in the Son and the Son in all believers.

We can and must reveal the glory of God…

a) … through displaying a united relationship with Him.

b) …through declaring a united message he has given us.

c) … through living a united life that bears witness to him. That’s our mandate before the world, our commission, to bear witness to Jesus in his relationship with the Father and our relationship with Him.

2. Jesus received glory from the Father: “The glory that you have given me… (17:22a). What was the glory that the Father gave to Jesus?...

a) Jesus received glory from God the Father on account of his person. Peter says of Jesus: “He received from God the Father honour and glory when that voice came to Him from the excellent glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (2 Pet. 1:17).

b) Jesus received glory from God on account of his work. Peter says that God the Father gave Jesus glory when “he raised him from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:20-21). This was the glory of full acceptance by God of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice at Calvary’s cross.

c) Jesus received glory from God on account of his position. “God also has highly exalted him and given him a name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Phil. 2:9-10).

d) Jesus received glory from God on account of his deity. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3) – i.e. Jesus fully and perfectly manifested God to the world.

So, first, Jesus glorified the Father. Second, Jesus received glory from the Father. And…

(3) Jesus has given that same glory to us: “The glory that you have given me I have given to them” (17:22). He has not only communicated to us his divine life but also his divine glory. The glory that God gave to the Son “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). we have received the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

“The Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us (John says), and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn.1:14). Christians are to display that same grace and truth of Christ and as we do the world takes notice.

Paul puts it this way: “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18). We are being transformed into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29) and the world takes notice.

So, Jesus has given the glory of the Father to us and…

a) The evidence of divine glory in us unites us: “The glory that you have given me I have given them, that they may be one even as we are one” (17:22). The presence of divine life and evidence of divine glory in us testify to the world of a unity that finds its source in God. And the key to that unity is that Jesus himself is the connecting link between the Father and us: “I in them and You in Me” (17:23a). He is the connecting link in the chain of two overlapping unities: (1) The Father’s unity with Him; and (2) His unity with his people in the world (cf. 17:21; 14:20f).

And as a progression of thought, Jesus adds: “…that they may be made completely (perfectly) one” (17:23b). Not just any old oneness, not a oneness marred by human imperfections, but a oneness that is being “made perfectly one” by the mutual indwelling of the Father in Christ and Christ in us. That’s the link that fuses us into one perfect entity.

This perfection will take place when the unity of divine life and divine glory are both fully evident in us, when we will be knitted together as one - no chinks in the armor, no weak links in the chain.

Do you reveal the glory of God before the world? Do they see Christ in your unity in such a powerful way that they are convinced of who He is? Though we do not display that glory perfectly now, we will display it perfectly in a day to come “when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints” (2 Thess. 1:10).

The evidence of divine glory in us not only unites us, but also…

b) The evidence of divine glory in us convicts the world. Jesus’ desire is now twofold. As before, he desires “that the world may know that you sent me” (17:23c). The evidence of his glory in believers (just like the presence of divine life in believers) convinces the world of the reality of Christ’s mission. The unity of Christians (through the evidence of God’s glory in us) will have such a powerful impact on the world that they will “know” (not just believe but know based on the evidence) that he came from God, that he is the self-revelation of God to the world.

And now Jesus adds: “...that the world may know (not only that you have sent me, but also) … that you have loved them (his disciples) as you have loved me” (17:23d). The unity of believers is evidence of the love of God for his own. It’s a love like the love of the Father for the Son, a deep, abiding, eternal love, a love because we are “in” the Son, secure, united with him and in him. Our unity is a public witness, an announcement to the world, that Jesus is God’s well-beloved Son and that God’s love rests upon us as on his own Son (cf. Eph. 3:17ff; Jn. 5:20; 14:21; 15:9). So the purpose of Jesus’ mission is complete, that “the world may believe” (17:21) and “know that you (the Father) sent me” (17:23). It’s the radiance of the life of Christ and the glory of God beaming from millions of Christian lives that convicts the world that God sent Jesus Christ to make himself known.

Do you realize how powerful that testimony is? Does the love of God radiate from your church and your life? Are you united in displaying this love to others? If you are, you will have a powerful effect on your community. Do you understand how this vitally affects your connection with the world? Do you see how Christian unity is a formidable force to impact the world for God by continuing Jesus’ mission? In fact, I believe that the united testimony of the New Testament is that the purpose of the church is to continue Christ’s work in the world.

Final Remarks

Jesus says he was not praying for the world “but for those whom you have given me” (Jn. 17:9) – i.e. “those who will believe in me through their word” (17:20). But Jesus had not abandoned or lost interest in the world. Rather, his prayer is that through the presence of divine life and through the evidence of divine glory, the unity of believers will be so convincing and convicting, that the world may believe (17:21) and know (17:23) that the Father sent the Son. His prayer is that Christian unity will impact the world for God by continuing His mission down here. God’s love for the world was the heartbeat of Jesus mission and his prayer is for those through whom his mission in the world would continue and expand, “bringing belief and knowledge to the world concerning God” (G. Campbell Morgan, “The Gospel According To John,” 273).

Notice that Jesus does not pray for uniformity of practice (i.e. the absolute similarity of organization, style, personality, appearance) or for unanimity of thought (i.e. the absolute agreement of opinion within a group of people) or for unity of denomination or creed (i.e. religious affiliation) or for unity of nationality, musical preferences, or educational backgrounds. Merril C. Tenney wrote: “Within the church of historic Christianity there have been wide divergences of opinion and ritual. Unity, however, prevails wherever there is a deep and genuine experience of Christ; for the fellowship of the new birth transcends all historical and denominational boundaries. Paul of Tarsus, Luther of Germany, Wesley of England, and Moody of America would find deep unity with each other, though they are widely separated by time, space, by nationality, by educational background, and by ecclesiastical connections.”

Jesus prays for a unity of spiritual life that binds us together, a oneness of heart in faith and purpose, a oneness that is based on a common belief, a oneness that is derived from a common divine life that fuses together each person’s being yet retains their individuality, a oneness which only the Holy Spirit can bring about and that is only achieved through faith in, and love for, Jesus Christ, a oneness that comes from life within not from pressure without. Remember, Christian unity is a formidable force to impact the world for God by continuing Jesus’ mission.

So let me encourage you to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:8), to pray that we, as the people of God, will be united in thought and object to glorify God with the express purpose of connecting with the world so that they may know and believe the message that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Related Topics: Ecclesiology (The Church), Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Leadership

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