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Doctrine of the Church: Introduction

February 26, 2023 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Topic: Doctrine of the Church Scripture: Ephesians 4:1

Review/ Introduction

Scripture: Ephesians 4.1-16

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 25

Article 1, 2

The church spoken of in the confession of faith:

  • it is a universal catholic church.
  • it has unity.
  • it has holiness.


  • Unity is found in Jesus Christ alone.

This is not a call to complete ecumenical practices.

  • This is a call to oneness of mind.
  • This is a call to the oneness of spirit.
  • as we witness to the presence of Jesus Christ.

We are to have the same mind of Christ.

  • In what we teach
  • In how we live

One essential aspect of unity is the sameness of mind, the oneness of mind, and the oneness of spirit.

Quote by Thomas McCrie

The unity of the church is implied in the most general view we can take of its nature, as a society instituted for religious purposes.

True Religion is essentially one, even as God its object is one. It as its name imports, binds the professors to one another, as well as to the soul and common object of their supreme homage and service.

It is indeed the great bond of human society.

In all its various and graduated relations, preserving the unity and peace of families, neighborhoods and nations, strengthening the subordinate ties by which they are connected, and preventing men from becoming a prey to each other, as the fishes of the sea and the creeping things that have no ruler.

Mr. McCrie speaks to the unity of the church:

  • as that which provides unity in all spheres of life.

Only as we are united in Christ.

  • can we be united in these other spheres of life.

We are going to spend some time thinking about what it means to be a church.

  • not only a particular church.
  • but broader than these walls.
  • but broader than simply our denomination.
  • but to include the entirety of the church.

We are going to try to understand how divided the professing church really is:

  • that we would be humbled to the point of grief
  • that we would look to the Lord for His help
  • that we would look to the Lord for
    • His means of His direction
    • His teaching
    • His method

There have been many ways that men have carnally pressed for the unity of the church:

  • mostly at the expense of Bible truth.
    • but that's not unity.

True unity is unity only because it is united to Christ.

Raise Up Our Affections for the Church of Christ

We want to learn to desire her union in truth.

When we talk about the body of Christ, and its union, and its unity:

  • we want to learn to love the church.
  • we want to learn to desire to see her drawn together.

Isaiah 52.7,8

How is it that the church will be drawn together?

How is it that the enemies of God will call upon the name of the Lord?

How is it that the enemies of God will be united unto him and to one another?

  • Through the preaching of the gospel
    • How shall they hear without a preacher? (Rom 10)
  • And in that day, the Lord promises that thy watchman shall see eye to eye.
  • No more will there be a division among the watchmen of Israel.

Brother and Sisters, we want to pray for that.

  • The Lord has promised He will bring it to pass in his due time.

It is good to pray that the Lord would cause the watchman to see eye to eye.

Raise up our desire for Unity.

Our desire for unity is the same as our desire for truth.

The church's unity must be founded upon the truth of her Lord:

  • or it is not her true unity that we pursue.

Again, our unity is unity in hearing the voice of our shepherd and following Him.

  • And His church will be purged of her errors only when we put away those other voices.

We can't go down the road together and say:

  • You think we should worship on Sunday?
    • I’ve got a family thing…
    • I’ve got a vacation thing…
  • I’ve got *something else to do*…

If we say that, how could we ever worship together?

  • We can’t say:
    • “You do what’s right for you, and I’ll do what’s right for me.”
    • I’ll show up but that all’s I’m going to do.
    • Attending upon the word of the Lord is not necessary every week.
    • Listening to the elders appointed in the Church by the gifts given to me by Christ is not necessary.
  • Somebody's wrong, and somebody's right.

The only way we work that out is by doing hard work.

  • by sitting down with our Bibles open.
  • by discussing and talking.
  • by working.
  • by doing the hard work towards unity.

Think about this with me for a moment.

  • Much of our disunity is founded:
    • on pride.
    • on sloth.

Unity is hard.

  • It's hard work.
  • It's difficult.
  • It requires that we challenge ourselves.

We may have to challenge long cherished things.

We may have to challenge ourselves based on Scripture.

We may have to challenge ourselves on things that have become very dear and very comfortable to us.

Question Before We Continue

Are we willing to do away with such attachments?

Are we willing to follow Christ?

  • to hear his voice
  • rather than let those other voices come in.

These are the two questions we need to consider.

  • Yes, doing so may be hard.
  • Yes, doing so may be arduous.
  • Yes, doing so may be tedious.

But doing so is necessary as we work towards the unity of the church.

What Do The Scripture Teach?

We must remember:

  • There is one God.

If we are serving this one God:

  • we ought to be united in that service.

There is one way to serve Him:

  • the way that He has commanded.

If we are serving Him in other ways:

  • outside His commands.

If we are obeying Him in other ways:

  • outside of His commands

While we might call that obedience

  • it is not obedience to God.
  • It is obedience to something else.

This is why having a proper understanding of the unity of the church is so very important.

The people of God are bound together:

  • in the worship,
  • in the service,
  • in the belief and practice of the one true God.

We saw this in our reading: (Eph. 4.4)

  • there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father, who is above all, and through all and in you all.

There is a diversity that Paul immediately follows on there in verse 8:

  • this diversity means that we are not all carbon copies of one another within that one church.

But it is the one God that we worship.

Therefore, because there is one God:

  • His Church
  • His name
  • His people should be one.

They should be one.

There are such diverse practices in the church today:

  • Some are quite contradictory to Scripture.
  • Some are quite contradictory to each other.

This cannot be the characteristic of church in unity.

We must desire unity.

We must desire:

  • that pure worship of God,
  • that pure doctrine of His,
  • that pure administration of the sacraments,
  • that pure preaching of the gospel,
  • that pure government that God has laid down in Scripture.

If you want to be in union with something else:

  • don't call it the church,
  • call it the united brotherhood of we want things our way.

The church is called the church:

  • because she worships the one true God
  • because she takes her cues and directions from Him.

The apostle Paul will say in Colossians, that there are certain that are blameworthy Colossians chapter one, because they do not hold fast to the head. Not holding the head.

The unity of the church in the NT

John 17.17-23

The central character being presented is:

  • this oneness of mind,
  • this oneness of spirit.

We are to have the mind of Christ as the body of Jesus Christ.

  • Doesn't matter what denomination,
  • Doesn't matter whether it is a local church,
  • Doesn’t matter whether it is a regional church,
  • Doesn’t matter whether it is the visible universal church upon Earth,
The fundamental means for unity in the church:
  • Is to be sanctified by the truth of Scripture,
  • Is to think, like our God thinks,
    • based upon the Word of God.

There is no other foundation for unity in the church:

  • except by the Word of God.

Christ is praying for the church to be sanctified:

  • that they may be a testimony to the world
    • that Christ was obedient to the Father,
    • that as the father was in Him, and He is in the Father,
    • that there was a oneness of mind with them.

Oneness of mind is based upon sanctification:

  • through their cleansing
  • through their maturing
  • through the word of God
The fundamental principle and means for unity in the church is the word of God.

There is an urgency to establish the authority of Scripture as our primary foundation for all that we do.

  • in theology
  • in ecclesiastical practice

Following the scriptures is the only way to have the mind of Christ.

We read that oneness of mind.

  • Leads to a testimony and a witness that the Father has sent the Son to the world:
    • So that the world may believe.

John 10.16

Note the unity of the church here:

  • Christ is talking about Jews and Gentiles from every nation.

Christ will call out his church:

  • to be one church,
  • to be one flock.

There can be but one Shepherd.

  • one true head of the church
  • one true church
  • one true Body of Christ.

We must be unified in Christ.

And we must follow everywhere the Shepherd leads:

  • and nowhere that He does not


The emphasis must be on the very essential nature of unity.

The emphasis is unity:

  • a oneness of mind,
  • a oneness of spirit.

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