Sunday: The Importance of Unity
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Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-13. What does this passage tell us about how important Paul believed unity in the church was?

Having refuted the allegations that his gospel was not God-given, Paul directs his attention in Galatians 2:1-2 to another charge being made against him.

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The false teachers in Galatia claimed that Paul’s gospel was not in harmony with what Peter and the other apostles taught. Paul, they were saying, was a renegade.

In response to this charge, Paul recounts a trip he made to Jerusalem at least fourteen years after his conversion. Though we’re not totally sure when that trip took place, no trip in antiquity was an easy affair. If he traveled by land from Antioch to Jerusalem, the three-hundred-mile trip would have taken at least three weeks and would have involved all kinds of hardships and dangers. Yet, in spite of such difficulties, Paul undertook the journey, not because the apostles had summoned him but because the Spirit had. And while he was there, he set his gospel before the apostles.

Why did he do that? Certainly not because he had any doubt about what he was teaching. He certainly did not need any kind of reassurance from them. After all, he already had been proclaiming the same gospel for fourteen years. And though he did not need their permission or approval, either, he highly valued the other apostles’ support and encouragement.

Thus, the accusation that his message was different was not only an attack on Paul but also an attack on the unity of the apostles, and on the church itself. Maintaining apostolic unity was vital, because a division between Paul’s Gentile mission and the mother-church in Jerusalem would have had disastrous consequences. With no fellowship between the Gentile and Jewish Christians, then “Christ would be divided, and all the energy which Paul had devoted, and hoped to devote, to the evangelizing of the Gentile world would be frustrated.” — F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), p. 111.

What are some issues that threaten the unity of the church today? More important, after we define them, how do we deal with them? What issues are more important than unity itself?
Amen!(35)

Comments

Sunday: The Importance of Unity — 25 Comments

  1. I'm strongly believing that the church at Galatia faced a serious doctrinal difference brought by the troublemakers who felt that by virtue of being Jews by birth and vast knowledge on Torah the gentile converts are half-baked in Christianity since they had not met full stature through circumcision. This brings me to liberalism v.s conservatism in the church today where church policies change after every five years and new revelation and teachings arise,since our church was established as a result of a movement, we're prone to changes and new lights now that Christianity is progressive. Which view should the church adopt,liberalism or conservatism?

    Amen!(9)
    • I don't see anything about liberalism or conservatism in the Bible. And there is certainly nothing that says you have to have a liberal (or conservative) view in order to be saved. Having said that, of course I am aware there are liberals and conservatives within the church. Fortunately I have friends from both views and if they have taught me anything at all, it's that there are wonderful Christian folk right across the spectrum. And we can be united in Christ, even when we hold different views.

      Amen!(37)
    • If we as a church would focus on the pure, undefiled gospel these disputes every five years and every day in between, would diminish in significance. However, it is because we seek to control behavior and to seek to maintain unity in Adventist beliefs and practices that these problems arise. Disputes in the early church were occurring because some were seeking to add Mosaic law to the gospel. When we seek to make Adventist tradition as important and life-saving as the gospel, we corrupt the gospel message and are in effect preaching a different gospel, which is no gospel at all.

      Amen!(20)
      • I think that within Adventist circles we would have a great deal of difficulty defining the pure undefiled Gospel. Part of the problem lies in the notion that we are seeking some sort of eloquent "mission statement" Gospel that we can all assent to. While we are seeking that goal we often involve ourselves in an unholy row, defending our own vision of the Gospel. Living the Gospel is apparently much more difficult than speaking it.

        Amen!(11)
      • It iis essential that the gospel in its purity be preached to all nations and that we keep our eyes on the cross and what Jesus did for every single person! E.G.W says " the believer, kneeling at the cross has reached the highest point to which he can attain." She also says, "taking the cross from the Christian, would be like blotting the sun from the sky." This was her view near the end of her life.

        Amen!(11)
  2. The power of the gospel is in the fact that God is no respecter of persons; all are saved by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. All who follow Christ are commissioned to “go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things, whatever I commanded you.” (Mathew 28:19, 20. MKJV) It is the work of the Spirit of Truth to fit all to the gospel commission in whatever role he has determined.

    But it is when a person is defined as a “second-class” Christian because of culture and tradition—prevented by “Judaizers” and those who follow the path of Peter’s hypocrisy—from fully following the call of Christ on their lives, that there is an issue with the principle of the gospel. I think back in the (relatively recent) history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, that it would be unthinkable that a black man would baptise a white man. Even more unthinkable would it be that a black man baptise a white woman.

    But I think of now—the present—when it appears to be totally unacceptable that a woman would baptize anyone at all, regardless of what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

    Amen!(18)
    • I found the quotation in Friday, July 14, of the SS Guide interesting in the context of my previous comment:

      "Even the best of men, if left to themselves, will make grave blunders. The more responsibilities placed upon the human agent, the higher his position to dictate and control, the more mischief he is sure to do in perverting minds and hearts if he does not carefully follow the way of the Lord. At Antioch Peter failed in the principles of integrity. Paul had to withstand his subverting influence face to face. This is recorded that others may profit by it, and that the lesson may be a solemn warning to the men in high places, that they may not fail in integrity, but keep close to principle." SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, p. 1108.

      Amen!(12)
    • Thank you for your statement ! Absolutely great and true ! And I would add, there is also no reason, why a woman should not become a preacher of the gospel !

      Amen!(2)
  3. Divisions occur in our church when personal preferences are elevated to the status of orthodoxy, eg worship preferences, gender preferences, cultural practices, etc. It seems to me that at times we're more interested in unity by conformity as opposed to unity through the diversity that is the body of Christ. More genuine Christ-like humility is needed among all of us. Otherwise we will continue to be polarized and divided around our pet "doctrinal issues."

    Amen!(12)
  4. Speak the samething, same mind, same judgement
    How could Paul say that when we are all different?
    Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ.
    Paul ends the passage pointing us back to the cross and the newness of life in Christ.
    Who is our standard?
    Who is our identity?
    Our identify is found in Christ alone.
    What is the Adventist message. "Christ alone."

    Amen!(11)
  5. I do not understand the title of the lesson - "Unity of the Gospel." There is no such thing. The gospel is a singular indivisible truth. Anything added to it or separated from it is as Paul says, is no gospel at all. He rightly adds, if anyone preaches (or teaches or practices) anything other than the pure singular gospel, let him be accursed.

    So the unity being discussed in the lesson and the comments is not unity of the gospel, but unity of believers, unity within Adventism, etc. The terms liberalism, conservatism, progressivism, and other modern day terms, are not gospel related terms, but behavioral and cultural idiosyncrasies and belief systems that have nothing to do with the purity of the gospel. I pray for the unity of believers in the body of Christ as we teach and preach and live the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Amen!(21)
  6. You are right, I believe the uniqueness of Seventh day Adventist is not just the Sabbath, but also our understanding of righteousness by faith. Sanctification is not 50/50 it is one hundred percent Christ righteousness, with us making the choice to turn to Him.

    Amen!(3)
  7. Most of the divisions which might be rocking the church are coming from peripheral issues.We are often tempted to major in minors and minor in majors.The case of the early church which was divided between Jewish traditions of circumcision .It is often that we bring our traditions into the church and take them as part of the gospel.For example in Africa especially in Southern Africa we have adopted the western traditional white wedding as the standard wedding/ marriage whilst the bible only encourages one man one woman relationship which therefore means an African traditional wedding is not necessarily short of being Christian as long as it is between one man and one woman

    Amen!(3)
    • Unity was an issue in the early church. But if you look at the main issue then, Gentile circumcision, the unity was with diversity of belief and practice. The Apostle Paul/Peter difference on this was not to destroy the unity in regard to the Gospel. Because unity was on the Gospel and its understanding.
      Instead of the church's focus on unity on Woman's ordination we should be focusing on having a unity on what constitutes the gospel. It is the differences on what constitutes the gospel that has raged for over a century and a quarter within Adventism. The early church had it together on the Gospel, so the diversity in regard to other questions did not destroy their unity. We would do well to follow their example, and iron out that difference and not force uniformity on questions like Ordination

      Amen!(1)
  8. Can someone help me to understand whether we can use any reference book to backup any topic of discussion, in this case I am referring to the quote given at the end of this lesson by F.F BRUCE. I believe this is just a commentary.
    Are we not safe to quote from Inspired writings only? Please help and guide.
    Thank you.

    Amen!(1)
    • F. F. Bruce is one of England's most highly respected Biblical Scholars. He is well known for his work on the historical accuracy of the New Testament. He has also written a number of commentaries on individual books of the New Testament.

      We would be remiss if we did not recognize the outstanding work of dedicated men and women outside of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in their search for a deeper understanding of Christianity. In my own search for a deeper meaning to my personal understanding of God's will, I have found the people like F F Bruce, C S Lewis, and C A Coulson have given me valuable insights and provided me with examples of deep personal study.

      Amen!(7)
  9. As Seventh-day Adventists we should always preach the same message in the church even outside the church

    Amen!(0)
  10. The Galatians were Gentiles whom Paul had won to Jesus. But they were being convinced by infiltrating Jewish Christian legalizers that the Law/Torah was universal and eternal and that submission to its 613 commandments was just as essential as submission to Jesus. Paul does not suggest that they are legalistic, but that they have been "bewitched" (conned) into placing themselves under the Law/Torah that had been given only to the nation the Lord had rescued from Egyptian slavery, and was temporary even for them--lasting only until the Promised Seed came and freed them by His death.

    "The law is not of faith."{Gal 3:12) We bury that truth when we substitute the red herring of legalism.

    Amen!(2)
    • Harry where does it say the law was only given to those rescued from Egyptian slavery? was the rich young ruler a former Egyptian slave, when Jesus told him to keep the commandments? Were the Ephesians former Egyptian slaves when Paul quoted the 5th commandment and its current valid promise in Ephesians 6? Paul said the law would last till the seed came but he did not say "only until the seed came" as you quoted. In 1 Timothy 4:13 Paul tells Timothy, "Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." Of course Paul did not mean to do those things "Only till I come." It is true that obedience to the law will never earn God's favor regardless if we are Jews or gentiles. Not even the perfect angels in heaven earn their eternal life. It is always a free gift. God's favor was never earned. The NLT puts it like this, "his way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, “It is through obeying the law that a person has life.” Galatians 3:12. It is not by the law but by faith that a person has life. But when Jesus gives us life we keep the commandments out of love and faith.

      And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. John 17:3
      And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. 1 John 2:3

      life equals knowing God. Knowing God equals obeying the commandments. We obey because we love Jesus because He first loved us while we were disobedient sinners. We do not obey in the strength of the works of the flesh, but by trusting in God's love.

      Amen!(4)
      • You have some good general observations, but we study Galatians to understand the the argument he is making to these people who have fallen for the Judaizers' claims that they must be circumcized and become Jews.

        I don't know how basic to get here. One of my books of scripture looks like any other old fashioned Bible, but the gold letters on the cover say "Torah". It contains Genesis - Deuteronomy. Every time we read the word law in the KJV OT, the original Hebrew word is Torah. There are 613 commandments or mizvot in the Torah by "official" Jewish count. This 5-volume book is the law that Paul is talking about. (The ten commandments are never called "the law" although they are a part of the 613, of course.) Were those 613 commandments given to anyone before Sinai? If the Torah is still in force--for everybody--then Jesus didn't rescue anyone from the "curse of law" and we'd better start keeping a lot more sabbaths.

        Please read my first post again and test my observations against Paul's specific line of thought. I have concluded that he is not arguing against getting circumcised and keeping the rest of the law because they are legalists; he's arguing against getting circumcised and keeping the rest of the law because they they think that they are under its jurisdiction.

        Amen!(1)
        • Ah, I see where you are coming from now! I am a little slow sometimes (a lot of times? lol). Yes Paul says that a lot of those commands were shadows of things to come, which was Christ. Colossians 2:14-17.

          Amen!(0)
    • The Law is holy just and good. It demands perfect obedience. Our obedience to the Law is never holy just and good, but always imperfect. The Gospel recieved by faith provides a perfect righteousness from God. It is a gift from God from the beginning of the christian life to the end when Jesus comes. Not until this mortality puts on immorality can we say we are perfect. The closer we come to Jesus the more sinful we appear in our own eyes.(SC) This has been an issue in Adventism since 1888: those who demand obedience as a joint requirement with faith in Christ, as oposed to those who see only Christ righteousness as the requirement. Obedience is a requirement but it must be perfect, so only Jesus has that kind. So our acceptance with God is totally dependent on His obedience. So by His life and sacrifice He has made perfect forever all those who are being made holy.(Heb :10) We are a work in process till he comes.

      Amen!(1)
      • Fred your comment reminds me of Romans 5:10 which says we shall be saved by His life. I don't have a perfect life to offer but Jesus' life stands in the place of my life. I am not only saved by His death, but also by His life. When I ask Jesus into my heart I then have the power of His life living in me. Galatians 2:20. Ephesians 3:19.

        Amen!(1)

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