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Doctrine of the Church: Paths Toward Unity of the Church

March 12, 2023 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Topic: Doctrine of the Church Scripture: Isaiah 52:1–12


Scripture: Isaiah 52.1-12

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 25
Article 1, 2

Unity is found in Jesus Christ alone.

  • This is a call to oneness of mind.
  • This is a call to the oneness of spirit.

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


A happy reunion of the divided church is the promise of the Word of God or is promised in the Word of God. It is implied in those promises, which secure to the church the enjoyment of a high degree of prosperity in the latter days, in which God engages to arise and have mercy upon Zion, to be favorable to his people, pardon their iniquity and hear their prayers caused their reproach to cease and make them a praise a glory and a rejoicing in all the earth in one word, in which he promises to pour out His Holy Spirit and revive his work. God cannot be duly glorified religion cannot triumph in the world. The church cannot be prosperous and happy until her internal dissensions are abated, and her children come to act in greater unison, and concert.

Thomas McCrie


Isaiah 52, is where we see:

  • the promise of God of drawing the people of God together into one into a unit.

We don’t have this yet because we, as a church, are sinful.

  • it is the anger of the Lord that has divided us.

One of those voices that ministers ought to have today is a voice of repentance:

  • for the people of God to repent
  • for the church to repent
    • of false worship
    • of false doctrine
    • of false action in the bringing everything that the world values into the church
    • - of false action of not bringing everything that the Lord values into the world.

We should seek the good of the church:

  • according to place, station, and opportunity
  • according to the ability that the Lord gives.

Brothers and sisters, we ought to strive to be a force for unity:

  • in the church at large
  • as we are dedicated to the truth of what Christ has taught us in His Word
  • as we speak peace, one to another.

As we talk about unity:

  • about having the same mind
  • about having the same spirit
  • about being united to Christ
    • in the capital “C” Church

We ought to take some time talking about what this unity looks like and how we are pursue unity:

  • so that we don’t try to be united to churches preaching a false gospel
    • as gospel based on works and decisions
    • but a gospel based on Scripture.

Path 1: Full Gospel Preaching

We’re going to spend our time walking through Scripture to take some direction and, at the same time, comfort from the promised given to us by God.

Isaiah 52

If we were to look at our own abilities toward the unity of the church:

  • we might not find any encouragement at all,
  • but we will find it in the promises of God.

The evangelical Prophet in this passage, speaks of the days of a greater restoration of Zion and Jerusalem.

  • We must be sure to understand his meaning, and not fall into literalism.

Some have said this means that the Jewish nation is going to come back and be restored as it once was:

  • that the temple is going to be rebuilt,
  • that sacrifices are going to be reinstituted.

We know that's not true.

  • We remember Daniel 9

We remember that Daniel prophesied that at the time of Messiah:

  • sacrifice and oblation shall cease,
  • because he offers that one final sacrifice.

This is talking about the days of Messiah and the Church that Jesus Christ will build.

  • This is the prophecy that we're looking at.
  • The promise applies to the church of our age.

We can see this in this passage.

Isaiah 52.3

The apostle Peter echoes this, when he says, You have sold yourselves for naught, and you shall be redeemed without money.

  • 1 Peter 1.17-19 → pass the days of your sojourn in fear knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things like gold and silver, but with the precious blood of Christ.
  • Peter is referencing Isaiah 52 when he says you will be redeemed without money.
Isaiah 52.6

We see the promise of the Lord, as the promise of the New Covenant, that they all shall know Him.

Listen to what He says:

  • Therefore, my people shall know my name.
  • Therefore, they shall know in that day that I am he that does speak behold, it is I

This is that same promise as in:

  • In Hebrews 8.10-11
  • In Jeremiah 31.33-34
  • This is that promise of the latter days.
Isaiah 52.7

This is a passage quoted by Paul in Romans 10.15.

  • speaking about the days of the New Testament

Paul, specifically quotes from Isaiah 52

  • that is the publishing of peace,
  • that is the publishing of salvation,
  • that is what the preacher is now preaching:
    • o the gospel of peach.
  • Paul quotes from Isaiah 52, to tell us that the days in which we live.
    • o that the days of the New Testament are the days prophesied in Isaiah 52.

Then in verse 3, in verse 6, and in verse 7:

  • are 3 references in the NT that point to Isaiah 52
  • telling us that these are our days.

We do not need to worry if this is a promise for us.

This is not a promise for the restoration of Jerusalem:

  • after the days of captivity.
  • although that was a type of what was to come.

We recognize there was a restoration under Cyrus and Nehemiah, and Ezra:

  • when the people of God came back to the land,
  • when the people of God rebuilt the temple,
  • when the people of began sacrificing again.
  • but that's not what this passage is talking about.

That, too, was a type that was the shadow of what was yet to come:

  • the full restoration in Jesus Christ in the days of the New Testament.

Therefore, we see that in verse 3, verse 6, and verse 7.

  • it's important that we get that straight.

Further exploration of the substance of the passage

Starting in verse 7:

how beautiful on the mountain are the feet of him that bring good tidings.

This is a message of good news.

  • It is a gospel message.
  • It is the message of God being reconciled to men through Jesus Christ.

Why is it good?

The word good is a relative word, isn’t it?

The word good cannot stand alone:

  • It must be used with a standard.
  • It must be used with a reference.

We hear that something is good.

  • But we need to ask what do you mean by good?
Back to verse 7:

What does it mean the ministers have beautiful feet?

Why are their feet beautiful?

  • Why would you say someone has beautiful feet?
  • In Scripture feet are one of the most shameful things you can expose?
  • When the angels stand in the presence of God, they cover their feet.

Why? --Because feet are shameful.

Now, why would the Prophet and the apostle say, How beautiful are the feet of him, that bring us good tidings?

Their feet are beautiful:

  • because they're carrying the message.
  • because it is the message that's good.
  • because the message is beautiful.

To properly understand this, we need to understand that good is with referent to the truth of Scripture.

Unless we understand the bad news, the good news won't seem so good. Think about that for a second…

If we believe with the Universalists, that everybody is going to go to heaven.

  • Then there is nothing special about the good news.

We must rightly understand:

  • that all men are under judgment
  • that all men come into this world speaking lies
  • that the wrath of God abideth upon them

If we don’t understand that good news.

  • then the gospel is not really that good, isn't it?

This is why when the Spirit of Truth comes:

  • the Spirit is the promise of the New Testament
    • o I'll pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
  • the Spirit will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.

Now, why sin, righteousness, and judgment?

  • because nobody is convinced apart from the Spirit of God.

This is why there is no such thing as good news for the natural man:

  • because he doesn’t understand the bad news.
  • because he doesn't really know what's coming.

He may have a fearful expectation of judgment.

He may have a tickling of his conscience:

  • but he's learned over time how to suppress it.
  • but he’s learned how to hold the truth in unrighteousness.

It is only by the Spirit of God, that the conscience is wounded again and begins to cry out.

Without the understanding of the bad news.:

  • The good news is not really all that good.
  • There is no need for the good news.

But this is assumed in the passage:

  • because it comes right along with prophecies concerning judgment and destruction.

If we remember this, we remember the good news.

The good news is that there is indeed a remedy for the judgment that is raining down upon all men

  • whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved?

What do we understand by the word “saved”?

Saved from what?

  • saved from the coming wrath of God himself.

So, without that bad news first,

  • The good news does not seem really so good.

The apostle is speaking in the midst of a passage where he's defending and providing an apologetic:

  • If the Lord has made promises to the Jews (Romans 10)
  • Why does it seem most of the nation is unbelieving?

Paul will say:

  • there is no difference between Jew and Greek
  • that Jews as well as Greek come to Christ and salvation through faith.
    • whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

With full gospel preaching that is being promoted in Isaiah 52.7

  • those feet bring good tidings, that is good news.
  • those feet bring good tidings, that is, the gospel.

The First Step in Unity

The first step of unity is that we must have a consistent gospel message being preached.

  • Without that, there can be no unity.
  • Without that, we cannot unite two churches.

Churches that are synagogues of Satan:

  • who have perverted the gospel of Christ,
  • who are not preaching the gospel,
  • who are preaching a false gospel,
  • who are preaching a dominionistic salvation,
    • cannot be united with us.

This is the first step here in Isaiah 52.7

  • Full gospel preaching that is being promoted.

So, the bad news must come before the good news:

  • then repentance toward God,
  • then faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the apostolic message.

This is the Christian message.

This is the preaching to which we ourselves must be united.

  • repentance toward God
  • faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the first mark we must look for in a church when we pursue unity.

If there is to be unity:

  • There must be a proper understanding of the gospel,
  • There must be a proper preaching of that gospel.

We ought not to look for a different kind of unity.

We ought not to sacrifice and comprise the truth of the Gospel for the sake of counterfeit unity.

We ought to look for that unity that is commensurate with God's promise.

Let us then make every effort for the ministers of such churches to spend time together, to learn to see eye to eye.

  • but let us not waste efforts contrary to the Word of God
  • but let us not align ourselves with those who have perverted the gospel of Jesus Christ

With Christ, all are encouragement to come, right?

  • Come to him.

In other words, he sends no one away that call upon Him.

  • Matthew 11.28
  • Luke 14.22
  • John 6.37
  • Psalm 102.17
  • Isaiah 55.1-7

Gospel preaching is that whosoever will…may come.

But, apart from God’s prior action…

But apart from the Spirit of God convicting….

But apart from the Spirit of God regenerating….

None will truly come.



Speech must be done in love.

We must never draw back from speaking the truth.

This is not as easy as it sounds.

  • We need the Spirit of God to help us.

Some people think that it doesn’t matter how or when to speak the truth:

  • But it must be done in season.
  • But it must be done in a way that others will hear.
  • But it must be done in a way to maintain relationships with one another:
    • so that we can weather the confrontations that will arise.

If we can’t do this – or are unwilling to do this:

  • we will not be contributing to the unity of the church,
  • we will be contributing to division and strife.


We must unite ourselves to those who are agreed with us in the full and proper preaching of the gospel.

This is the first point of many that we will examine.

The first step in understanding is that we cannot compromise on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We cannot compromise on what the Spirit of God has said in the New Testament about

  • sin
  • righteousness
  • and judgment.

Those things must come before the gospel will ever be effective.

That is God's method.

That is God's means.

Now Can God work apart from means apart from method he can, but should we expect him to?

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