Doctrine of the Church: Paths Towards Unity of the Church II
March 26, 2023 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith
Topic: Doctrine of the Church Scripture: Isaiah 52:1–12, Romans 5:1, Romans 10:15, Romans 14:6–17, 1 Timothy 4:1–6, 1 Timothy 6:1–5
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.
Last week we started speaking about the paths we can take towards unity.
The first criteria we examined was that, in order to come together and have fellowship with another church:
- There must be the pure preaching of 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.
There are churches that are synagogues of Satan:
- They have perverted the gospel of Christ,
- They are not preaching the gospel,
- They are preaching a false gospel,
There cannot be a preaching of:
- Jesus is waiting and hoping for you to choose, or
- You just need to open the gift on the table, or
- You must first walk across the bridge to Him, and
- THEN Jesus will respond and save you.
This is not the gospel.
This is a false gospel.
This is not the biblical teaching of salvation.
This is man-centered and not Christ-centered.
This is not exercising faith toward Jesus Christ:
- This is exercising faith toward man.
This is the first mark we must look for in a church when we pursue unity.
This is the first mark we must look for to have true Christian fellowship.
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.
If we truly love God:
- We will love truth.
If we love truth:
- We will not sacrifice truth for the sake of unity.
Path 2: Proper Preaching of Peace
We saw in Isaiah 52.7:
- It was feet that brings us good tidings.
- the good tiding was the proper preaching of gospel.
Part of that pure preaching of the gospel is the proper preaching of peace.
- it must be the right kind of peace.
As with the pure preaching of the gospel, there is also confusion on the proper preaching of peace.
We must be clear on what is meant by “peace.”
Isaiah will repeat the phrase:
- there is no peace, saith, my God, to the wicked.
- Isaiah 57:20-21
- Isaiah 48:22
- The Lord denies to wicked men that “peace” of which they are unworthy.
- Isaiah is the evangelical Prophet preaching peace.
If there is holding to, a believing in, a false gospel:
- There can be no true peace with God.
Let's take a look at a few passages of Scripture.
Let’s first remember -> peace is not tranquility.
- Free from agitation of mind or spirit
- a harmonious relationship between two parties
- a lack of animosity and disputes
Unbelievers can enjoy tranquility,
- but they do not enjoy peace.
Unbelievers don't have peace with God.
- But they are the enemies of God.
Unbelievers are as the apostle Paul writes, in Eph. 2:
- o the children of wrath,
- o not the children of peace.
Even those who are elect from before the foundation of the world:
- God says I've loved you with an everlasting love,
- Yet are the children of wrath before believing in Christ.
Because God loves us from everlasting:
- in His due time…
- He will give us that faith and will draw us to Jesus Christ.
This might be hard to understand:
- it seems contradictory that we can be loved by God,
- o and be His enemies at the same time.
But it is what the Bible says.
We don't argue with what the Bible says.
- We simply seek to understand it,
- o not explain it away.
We believe that in time:
- men come to faith in Jesus Christ
- because God gives them faith
We believe that in time:
- that upon the event of faith they are justified,
- o declared innocent before God.
- that then they begin their career of sanctification that finishes out in glory.
- That then, and only then, do they have peace.
- That then, and only then, are they reconciled.
But before this event:
- all are the enemies of God,
- all are certainly not at peace with him.
If there is not a pure preaching of peace…
If there is not a pure preaching of the gospel…
- One cannot expect to have peace.
There may be a sense of tranquility:
- Where a person rests in that he has done enough works to obtain righteousness
- Where a person hopes that he has been saved and reconciled.
- But this is not true peace.
These men come preaching peace in Isaiah and give the terms of peace to wayward and lost people
- To those that come into the church
- To those that are invited to the church
1 Corinthians 14.25
- through preaching are the secrets of man’s heart revealed
- through preaching man will fall down on his face
- through preaching man will worship God
This is another mistake in our age:
- we've tricked ourselves into thinking that evangelization takes place outside the church.
- that people are being saved outside the church.
- that after they get saved, then they come in here.
The Bible says that the ministry of the gospel preaches peace.
He sent his ambassadors, his ministers to come and sue for peace. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
- This is an important matter.
- What government would believe a random person of another government’s intent if that person was not officially sent?
- With respect to salvation, what reason would one have to believe a message from God if that messenger was not sent by Him?
- o If that messenger was not ordained by God to speak to the Church, representing His message?
Are you at peace with God through Jesus Christ?
- Do you have the marks of what it means to be at peace with him?
- Are you still laboring under a fearful expectation of judgment?
- Do you have the faith of sons and daughters?
The Ministry of the Gospel comes preaching peace.
To have this peace, there must be a pure preaching of that peace and the pure preaching of the gospel.
Anything other than this is a lie:
- And we cannot unit with falsehood.
- And we cannot turn our head the other way and confront the lie.
- We must love and contend for the truth.
This verse draws this together for us.
The Gospel is indeed the preaching of peace.
- It is the only way for people who are sinful and defiled.
- It is the only way for people that come into this world corrupted.
- It is the only way for people to be reconciled to God.
- It is the only way for people to be drawn into peace with Him.
This the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Cor 5.18-20)
- We need to understand this.
Let's make sure we're praying that the ministers of the gospel will preach peace only through Jesus Christ.
- not peace through social action.
- Not peace through our initial efforts.
This misunderstanding and false gospel preaching is dividing and splitting the church into various factions:
- not only in the church,
- but in society as well.
Any church that rises up and tells you that people will be better if you just give them more opportunity:
- They're not preaching peace.
- They're preaching enmity with God.
- We'll never be at peace with one another as long as we envy each other’s stuff.
We’ll start wrapping it up…
Remember, Rome was a cosmopolitan city:
- Jews and Gentiles were worshipping together in the same church.
- o some would eat certain things,
- o some would not each those certain things.
- Jews and Gentiles would accuse each other of sinning.
- A similar thing goes on with regard to the Jewish Sabbath on the last day of the week,
- o and other holy days that were still observed because the temple was still standing.
The Apostle Paul says to them:
- He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
Paul gives them leave to continue to follow the Jewish Sabbath
- as long as the temple remained standing.
Now, with all of that, we see these different groups being brought together in the church:
- as they are coming into contact with each other, there is some envy and some strife.
- and there can be no peace among them because they have their eyes on the wrong thing.
But if the ministers are doing their job properly:
- they are preaching peace through Jesus Christ
- o not through economic advantage
- o not through racial preference.
- o not through any other thing.
- But through Jesus Christ, and His gospel.
This is the only thing by which the people of God can be drawn together into a unity --- into one.
And so, we see that there were divisions then,
- just like there are divisions now.
But the remedy then is the same as the remedy now:
- It's preaching peace through Jesus Christ.
- It’s refusing to pervert the gospel of Christ into something else.
If we start perverting the gospel and/ or unifying with others that preach a false gospel:
- We will end up being divided from Christ.
- We will end up not holding fast to the head.
- We will end up uniting with falsehood and fail to live as lovers of truth.
- o 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
- We will be contributing to the church's division:
- o rather than furthering her unity.
Unity must be according to Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 4.1-6
Ministers must bring tidings of good things:
Here is what the good things are:
- stay away from false religion,
- eat what you please before the Lord,
- but give thanks to God.
Those are the good things that Timothy is told to preach.
1 Timothy 6.1-5
Paul tells Timothy that servants are to serve their masters:
- with even greater care if they are their brethren because they partake of the same benefit.
These words are good and wholesome words, wholesome preaching:
- if any man says contrary, he is a man of a perverse and disputing mind:
- o destitute of the truth,
- o teaching that gain is godliness.
These are very practical exhortations that the apostle says are good and should be included in his preaching.
This reminds us of Isaiah 52.7
- that the ministers that come with beautiful feet shall come preaching the gospel,
- that the ministers will come preaching peace.
- That they will preach good tidings of good things.
Ministers are going to help the people of God live according to everything that is good.
This is who we want to unite ourselves.
The first step in understanding how to move forward with unity in the church:
- Is to understand that we don’t unit with just anything that comes along and claims the title “Christian.”
- We must understand their understanding of the gospel.
- We must understand if the church is preaching the true peach of the gospel.
- We cannot compromise on the gospel of Jesus Christ
- We cannot compromise on sin, righteousness, and judgment.
These 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 His means?
- Sure, He can, but should we expect Him to?
So, we must encourage fellowship and communion between churches:
- that are not confused on the gospel of Jesus Christ,
- that are not confused on what peace is between men and God,
- that are not confused on what peace is between man and man,
Any unity pursued outside of these means, outside of being united to Christ as He is presented to us in the Scripture:
- will always bring division and strife.
Because they do not hold us the head.
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