Tuesday: Unity in Diversity
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Read Galatians 2:1-10. Paul says that the false brothers “slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery” (Gal. 2:4, ESV). What are Christians free from? Read John 8:31-36; Rom. 6:6-7; Rom. 8:2-3; Gal. 3:23-25; Gal. 4:7-8; Heb. 2:14-15. How do we experience for ourselves the reality of this freedom?

Unity in Diversity

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Freedom, as a description of the Christian experience, is an important concept for Paul. He used the word more frequently than any other author in the New Testament did, and in the book of Galatians the words free and freedom occur numerous times. Freedom, however, for the Christian means freedom in Christ. It is the opportunity to live a life of unhindered devotion to God. It involves freedom from being enslaved to the desires of our sinful nature (Romans 6), freedom from the condemnation of the law (Rom. 8:1-2), and freedom from the power of death (1 Cor. 15:55).

The apostles recognized that Paul “had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised” (Gal. 2:7, ESV). What does this suggest about the nature of unity and diversity within the church?

The apostles acknowledged that God had called Paul to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, just as He had called Peter to preach to the Jews. In both cases, the gospel was the same, but the way it was presented depended on the people the apostles were trying to reach. The gospel would bring “this oneness which is the basis of Christian unity, precisely as unity in diversity.” — James D. G. Dunn, The Epistle to the Galatians (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993), p. 106.

How open should we be to methods of evangelism and witnessing that take us out of our “comfort zone”? Are there some forms of evangelism that bother you? If so, what are they, why do they bother you, and how do we know if a new method is good?
Amen!(31)

Comments

Tuesday: Unity in Diversity — 19 Comments

  1. The law of Moses is seen in this time as the law of bondage. The freedom in Christ is stated in Romans 8:1-3. The former Jews were freed from the law of bondage to observe the law of the spirit of life in Christ.

    Amen!(19)
    • Dear Curys,
      It is interesting that this is the very argument people use for living a life in desobedience (not keeping the ten commandment) and pay a lip service to Jesus. Note that Romans 8:2 present us with two laws: that of the spirit of life in Christ and the law of sin. Missing this point is soundly misleading. This is why you have avowed Christian living a sinful live as if it were normal for Christians. May God bless you.

      Amen!(12)
    • Austin, Rom 8:1-3 begins with "therefore" which ties it to Rom 7, where the law Paul was talking about was the Ten Commandments (Rom 7:7). Are you therefore saying that the Ten Commandments were seen as a law of bondage, from which Paul was "freed?"

      Amen!(7)
  2. There is not situation or purpose of life ;that bible principle can't not cover.
    If disaggrement uprise among belivers only the bible can give answer to our disputr.so when read john 10:25, when we try to change or rearrange things it can greatly affect someones else idea of God. For that matter it necessary for us to studyand live by the princinples.Hence God purchase a high price.amen

    Amen!(5)
  3. Are we all reading the same Sabbath School lesson today (or this week)?

    As the author stated in the last paragraph of today's lesson, "In both causes (preaching to the uncircumcised and preaching to the circumcised), the gospel is the same"; it's the method used to reach them that is different.

    Which is also why the author asks us the question at the end of today's lesson, "How open should we be to methods of evangelism and witnessing that takes us out of our comfort zone?" In other words, are we willing to try New Methods to reach today's communities. Unfortunately, it is obvious from your comments to Austin that we are not open to doing this. Sob!!

    Please, let's try to get the point that the author is trying so hard to give us. When you have diversity, whether in the church or workplace, or in areas where we are trying to share God's word, sometimes there will be a need for us to use different and new methods that we have not use in the past. But we want to say, "Our methods lead me into the church and to Christ, why can't we continue to use those methods."

    Please wake up my brethren! We are living in a new era, new culture; this world and our communities are not the same as when I joined the church and give my heart to Christ, 30 years ago (in my youth). What worked for me is no longer working for the youth and the unchurched adults of today's culture. Why can't we use new methods? And as the author said, we can evaluate and test these new methods to see how effective and efficient that are; but first we have to be open to trying new methods.

    Amen!(22)
    • Yes, indeed, there can be "oneness" in spirit, even while there are differences in practice. God does not call for uniformity in the body of Christ but a unity in diversity such as Paul wrote about when he compared members of the church the the different "members" of the body. We have a diversity of gifts, diversity of temperaments, diversity of languages, diversity of cultures, even some diversity in understanding - but by the grace of God we are to be united in love and in purpose in the body of Christ.

      Unity in diversity was also the goal of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15: Gentiles did not have to observe the Jewish laws - not even circumcision. But the Jewish Christians continued with these practices for quite some time. Neither was forced to change. All were to be united in evangelizing the world and in uplifting Jesus as Saviour. This is, in fact, the particular issue addressed in this lesson. And it should teach us that that different practices may be followed in different cultures while all are committed to Christ.

      Amen!(8)
      • But the unity is not in the differences, but in spite of them! Unity is in what we share in common. Paul said in chapter 3 "there is neither Jew nor Greek . . ." Ethnicity, gender, status are ignored because we are ONE. In fact he seems to be saying they don't exist!

        Amen!(4)
  4. I have to ask the same question as Toni - "Are we reading the same lesson?" Or more importantly, are we reading the same Galatians epistle?

    The issue for Paul in Galatians 1 and 2 that we been reading so far, is not an attempt for there to be unity, but a call to the true gospel. The Judaizers were pointing to the works of the law as necessary for salvation. Paul refuted that saying that anyone who adds anything to the gospel should be accursed.

    He is not looking for unity among the brethren. He is not looking to unify the diversity of methods of reaching the lost, he is looking for the upholding of the one and only true gospel. We have many tangents at play in the lesson presentation and in our comments, and may miss the salient point of the epistle so far.

    It is one thing if we have differences in the presentation of the gospel to different audiences, and yes our diversities come into play, say for example in the kind of music used, the intonation of the presenter, the packaging, the methodology, etc. That is not what Paul is addressing. He is adamant that there be the pure undefiled gospel, not polluted with legalism. Stamping out legalism is Paul's focus.

    Amen!(6)
    • Thank you for support, for given our other brethren more clarity on this issue. I agree with you wholeheartedly. If we are preaching the true gospel given to us by Jesus Christ himself, the method doesn't matter, it's the Same Gospel.

      Amen!(0)
  5. Fred
    Not sure if I have understood you correctly but Rom 7 refers to 2 specific and separate laws, not just to the 10 Commandments as you appear to say. No 1 - God's law or the "Law of my mind" (see v 7, 8, 22,25); and No 2 - the "law of sin" / "law of sin and death" (v 21 - 24). He sets out clearly the impossible position we find ourselves in the constant and unwinnable battle between these two laws.
    Then in Rom 8:1-4 he introduces us to Law No 3 - the "law of the Spirit of life" which frees us from law No 2. This Law No 3 meets the "righteous requirements of the law" when we live "according to the Spirit. This law of the Spirit of life is the New Covenant he makes with us.

    Amen!(2)
    • Geoff, it is not "The law of the spirit of life." it is "The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus." This is the law of mercy, love, etc. It is the fruit of the spirit. It is the law that gives every Christian a robe of Jesus' righteousness in spite of his or her flawed obedience to the requirement of his 10 commandment law.

      Amen!(1)
      • It's what Fred said in the comments above; it's ridding ourselves of legalism, and replacing it with Jesus Christ's righteousness.

        Amen!(1)
  6. Adopting different methods of outreach should be encouraged because we all have unique ways of praching the gospel. But one way that we are all familiar with is the message preached at divine service. I have to say that on some occasions the time is miss spent on the preacher talking mostly about themselves rather that keeping the focus on Jesus. What ever method we use let us ensure that the message always convicts the heart of sinners to bring them to the foot of the cross and repent of their sins. If the message fails to do that then we have wasted our time.

    Amen!(2)
  7. Unity through diversity is much like the comments on this subject in this forum. There are many ideas to accomplish an objective. However to say that Paul had one goal in mind may have been different than he wanted. The needs were the most important depending which was the most pressing. If we continue to read Galatians 2&3. There is unity because it's what Paul and the other disciples displayed, a certain amount of mutual trust. The confrontation between Peter and Paul do not show an example of brotherly love, unity or agreement. Certainly when accused of being a hypocrite.

    Amen!(1)
  8. What issues of contention do we struggle with today in churches? Is there something the church does/say to make salvation issue, like circumcision requiring everyone to comply with? If not so why are baptismal candidates vetted before baptism? Say the convert is a polygamist they are denied that right.Why not accept them because they met the merits of John 3:16 " whosoever believe...". Why do we blame these people who wanted to see compliance to what God himself instituted? If we read Acts of the Apostles chapter 19, we will understand why Jewish converts insisted on Gentile converts meeting these requirements.

    Amen!(1)
  9. Geoff

    In your comment above you rightly point out "the impossible position we find ourselves is the constant and unwinnable battle between these two laws." The battle is unwinnable, because we have been taught that we are struggling between two laws or competing laws. However, the real battle is between the flesh and the Spirit. In Rom 6:3-6 we are reminded that when we come to Christ, giving our hearts and lives to Him, our old man is crucified with Christ, and we are buried with Him through baptism, and we are raised to walk in newness of life. That is the life of the new man walking in the Spirit.

    Paul is making a play on the word "law" throughout Romans chapters 1 through 8 and beyond. Paul was writing to law-focused Jewish saints in Rome, and he is taking them from a place of familiarity - the concept of law, to an understanding of Spirit filled living. Sometimes he uses the word law to mean a principle. The "law of the Spirit of life in Christ" in chapter 8 is not a new law, furthermore it is not even a law. It is the surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit to live inside of us, guiding us, convicting us, sanctifying us, and empowering us to live a sinless life. That deep indwelling produces fruit - the fruit of the Spirit.

    No law can produce that. Gal 5:22, 23.

    Amen!(3)

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