Please remember that the following sermon notes are meant to act as a guide and may not be exactly what was preached.
According to God’s Word in the first 9 verses, here we have received all that we need in and by God’s grace to be the church to our communities where God has placed us.
When we speak or ask for something in the name of someone else, we are speaking and asking in their authority. Paul is speaking for the Lord, in His Authority. Paul is an Apostle called of Jesus Himself on the road to Damascus to be His witness, to proclaim the Gospel (See Acts 9 and Acts 22). He is God’s representative to the congregations this letter is addressed to, “The God of our ancestors has appointed you to know His will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the words from His mouth, since you will be a witness for Him to all people of what you have seen and heard” (Acts 22:14-15).
What Paul is saying is that by the authority of Christ Jesus, be in agreement, and that there will be NO DIVISIONS among you. In context, he is speaking to the local house churches, but this is to be applied to all of The Church. We are commanded to love one another as members of God’s Household, as family, as brothers and sisters. There are many Biblical commands that come to us from the Apostles, from those speaking in Jesus’s Name.
So, the command here is that there is to be no divisions amongst you… let’s deal with this in the context of the Local congregation of God’s Church… At this time we are divided physically, but that does not mean that we can’t be of one mind, in agreement. We can agree that there is One God, Father, Son, and Spirit and we can agree that you are saved by faith and not by works, that you must repent of your sin and be born again, but can we all agree on music, drums, guitar, organ, or piano? Hymns or contemporary? Pews or chairs? Is 70 degrees too hot or too cold? Some things are not as important to agree on as others. But we can have a general agreement over all as a congregation.
Well at least for the most part, can we agree to disagree and still be united? I believe and the Bible teaches that we can; when we choose to focus on Christ and not on our differences. But we as human beings tend to make mountains out of mole hills. We must set aside our differences in the Love of God and the grace He provides and stay connected not only to our power source, but also to one another, “If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). It is in the congregations that Saint ministers to Saint, it is there within your congregation, that we watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, and we encourage one another knowing that the last day is coming! We must be meeting together, though for now we can only do it on line, via the phone or on zoom, skype, messenger, or face time…
The 2nd thing we as Christ followers have is purpose, and that purpose is the Great Commission.
Let me put it another way; when you “go” about your everyday routine, as the Spirit gives you opportunity, plant seeds of love, grace, and the gospel. When you “go” calling or visiting, with the Spirits prompting, water the planted seed. And when you “go” about your everyday routine, or you “go” calling or visiting– then as the Spirit gives you opportunity, follow up and harvest the crop!
This is the reason there must be no divisions amongst us; this is the reason we are told in the Word, “Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning For you know that such a person has gone astray and is sinning; he is self-condemned” (Titus 3:10-11). Division can destroy a congregation, even in its earliest stages it can hinder and stop the ministry we are called to.
Have you ever witnessed a rowing competition? Have you ever watched how they all pull together, how they are all connected? Those rowers are all different people, often different ages, but their focus is about getting to the finish line. They are of one mind, pulling together, and connected by their focus. That is how it is to be within the congregations of God’s Church.
In our congregation our focus is Reaching up to God as we are Reaching Out into our communities. We reach up to build our relationship with God as together we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. And we Reach out in obedience to build community and relationships so that God can build His kingdom, His Church, through us, through our obedience. And through our obedience turn our communities upside down!
Our being in agreement does not mean that we are in total agreement all the time, but it does mean that each congregation should all be headed in the same direction. How do we reach the same understanding? How do we have the same convictions? How can we all be certain of the same things? “By not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing,” by learning with one another, learning from one another, and putting into practice the “one anothers” of the new covenant (Hebrews 10:25).
What if Jesus came to your church? What would He find? Is there division? Or is everybody of the same mind? Are you divided into your own little groups? Or are you all pulling in the same direction? Are you all learning and growing together? Is there opportunity given for you to be growing with one another, to be of one mind, united in the same understanding?
I know that in just about every congregation there are some just along for the ride, or worse, hindering those that are pulling and working and connected to fulfill the purpose and vision given. Are you involved, are you seeking to be connected, seeking to grow with one another as a congregation of God’s Church? Since there are no divisive people in our congregations, what are you doing to build connectiveness where God has you?
If Jesus came back today would He find His Church united? Is Christ divided?
“Being much concerned about the rise of denominations in the church, John Wesley tells of a dream he had. In the dream, he was ushered to the gates of Hell. There he asked, ‘Are there any Presbyterians here?’ ‘Yes!’, came the answer. Then he asked, ‘Are there any Baptists? Any Episcopalians? Any Methodists?’ The answer was ‘Yes!’ each time. Much distressed, Wesley was then ushered to the gates of Heaven. There he asked the same question, and the answer was ‘No!’ ‘No?’ To this, Wesley asked, ‘Who then is inside?’ The answer came back, ‘There are only Christians here’” (Source).
- How are you connected to your congregation?
- How is God’s love, grace, and mercy seen in your participation with your congregation?
- What is your focus as part of His Church?
Further Reading: John 17, Romans 15:6, Philippians 1:27-28, Philippians 2:2-3, James 3:13-18, Titus 3:4-11