As the holiday season approaches we often think about family. One thing that I enjoy about family is the unity that is involved. Where I come from we have the saying, “blood is thicker than water.” May be you all here have the same saying or something similar that carries the same thought. Well as Christians we have all been bought with a price and the price that was paid was the blood of Christ that cleanses us from all sin. We are all a part of the family of God, and today we are going to have our family Thanksgiving together. This is an eternal family that will be together forever. Doesn’t just thrill you to think that you are going to get to spend eternity with Pastor Brad (not me I mean the other Pastor Brad – The way I am it is kind of “iffy.”)
Today in our text the apostle Paul is going to talk about Unity in Gospel Living. The unity that we have as the family of God, as we strive together, suffer together, and share together.
I.Striving in Unity (V.27-28)
A.Paul starts out this section by encouraging his readers to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ whether he is present of not. Paul is talking about holding up the family name. I remember growing up and being taught by my grandfather the importance of having a good name. Proverbs 22:1 says “A good name is to be more desired than great riches, Favor is better than silver and gold.” I always was taught the importance of upholding the family name. There were many families in our area who were well known for their history of causing trouble, stealing, and cheating. Once the family gets labeled it is very difficult to escape.
B.Paul is referring to living in a manner worth of the gospel. In other, words live up to the name that you carry. Practice what you profess. Like the gospel of Christ we must be true and faithful, peaceful and loving, gracious and humble. Our walk must be consistently the same whether the church leaders are around or not.
C.The apostle Paul desired to hear of their unity. He new that he would if they would conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Paul now lists some things here that will be a sure indication that they are conducting themselves in a way that upholds the family name.
1.Stand firm in one spirit – It is the Holy Spirit that lives in us and give us a common bond as Christians, but Paul has something more in mind here. Here he puts forth the idea of a unity based on the common denominator of the Holy Spirit. Us as believers proactively standing in one spirit against the worldly ideas that would be an enemy and pose a threat to the gospel of Christ. This may include tolerance, the health and wealth gospel, the signs and wonders gospel, the church growth movement, or anything else that has its origins in humanistic thought and brings opposition to the written Word of God. To stand firm in one spirit moves over into the next idea on Paul’s list.
2.With one mind (or soul) – Here we see a picture of us moving in one direction with one goal in mind which is the gospel of Christ. In so many situations today this is often forgotten. Unity is based on tolerance in much of the church today. But not according to Scripture. Our American Church culture often teaches us in opposition of Scripture. We must be careful. In the Scripture there is no unity outside the gospel. As humans we could never be unified any other way to produce true unity. Why? Because everyone refuses to think like me. If everyone were like me then we would be okay see, you would all be right and have it figured out and everyone would get along. This is the way the fleshly human mind thinks, so many church leaders today just hack people out who will not submit to them. Pastor Brad and I were talking this past week. These people are called “Resistors.” I am a resistor in the eyes of many and you should be too. It means we are resisting their false humanistic unity by standing firm in one spirit and with one mind only in the gospel and striving together.
3.Striving Together – What does Paul mean by striving together. Not in a way of contention, but in a way of united endeavor to promote and defend the cause of Christ. See we have to understand the cause of Christ. We cannot get these little unessential side battles going. That is what the enemy tries to do, divide and conquer. We hear, “I don’t like doing it this way, I want it my way. We need to do this or do that.” No what we need to do is to consider the body as a whole and decide how we can be most effective with the stewardship that the Lord has provided for us. We cannot allow the small non essentials to divide us as a body or we are doomed for failure. We must strive together for 1 thing only, and then everything else will be added to us.
The Faith of The Gospel – Jude admonishes his readers to be contenders for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. There are many different faiths in the world today. Someone may say, “What faith are you?” That is why it is important that we be very specific, even in the church where many false prophets have arose to lead people astray. We need to focus on a specific faith the faith of the gospel, the one true faith that comes to us from God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, that one. See the Scriptures are very specific and precise and if we are not in the Word allowing the Word to dwell in us richly we soon lose our focus and what we are to be striving for. There is a lot of striving in the church today but unfortunately very little of it has to do with the faith of the gospel. I could give you tons of examples nationally and locally but we need to focus on striving together in one spirit and one mind for the faith of the gospel.
D.But what about the ones who would come against us? Look at verse 28. Many of the opponents of the apostle Paul and of Jesus were the religious leaders of the day. The church guys that had moved away from the Word of God and had formed their own opinions of how things should be done. In their minds Jesus, Paul, and all true believers who strive together for the faith of the gospel are “resistors.” Well there is nothing new under the sun. These guys are still around in the church today. Paul reassures us that we need not be alarmed by our opponents but just stay on task. Sure we need to rebuke, reprove them, try to correct them and admonish them, but if it does not work or when you have done all you can do to stand, stand firm in one spirit with one mind striving for the faith of the gospel in true unity. As people who oppose the faith of the gospel kick harder and harder against the Word of God it is only a sign of their certain destruction, but it is also a sign of certain salvation for the ones who stand firm striving together in one spirit and one mind for the faith of the gospel. Paul writes in II Thessalonians 1:5 “This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you many be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering.” Be sure that we have faced persecution and will face it more and more. Most of it will come from the inside from the false teachers and false Christians who have left the faith of the gospel and God’s Word and continue to strive for their our selfish ambitions. Don’t be alarmed. Just stand firm in one spirit and one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel because nothing else matters.
II.Suffering in Unity (V.29)
A.Here Paul reminds the readers that it is not a strange thing that they should face opposition and suffer for the cause of Christ. As a matter of fact it kind of goes with the territory so to speak. Paul says 2 things have been granted.
1.To Believe in Him – Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. No one comes to the Father except they be drawn by the spirit to Christ and it is through Him that we are granted eternal life. Mankind is so depraved and corrupt that unless the Holy Spirit open our eyes and draw us to Christ we are forever walking in the darkness of our own sin. So even to believe in Christ has been granted to us.
2.To Suffer for His Sake – Suffering for the sake of Christ has also been granted to the ones who believe. The two cannot be separated. Paul told Timothy in his second letter to the young pastor, “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (II Tim 3:12-13). Persecutions will come and many of them will come from within the church from false teachers and deceived leaders who think they are doing service for God. Even Paul himself had been one of these false spiritual leaders. It has been granted for all who stand firm in one spirit and one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel to suffer for His sake.
B.This is okay though we should be happy to suffer for the Kingdom of God and we will be once we are convinced of our cause and we understand the true mission that has been given to us as ambassadors for Christ. The word used for granted here is a Greek word derived from a word which means grace or favor. Believing on Christ and suffering for Him are both associated with God’s grace. In Acts chapter 14 the apostle Paul and Barnabas are n Iconium preaching and teaching. In verse 19 we see Jews (Probably religious leaders) win the favor of the crowd and they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city leaving him for dead. But Paul being the hard headed spirit filled guy that he was gets up and goes back into the city stays over night, gets up the next day gets Barnabas and heads to the city of Derbe to preach again. They make disciples there in Derbe and then head back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. In verse 22 it says “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God.” What a wonderful picture of God’s sustaining grace. See the church today for the most part has missed it. The story I just told from Acts 14 is a long cry from, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” The true story is God loves you and has granted you the grace to believe the gospel message as to be saved and also to suffer for it. See this is what we are to stand firm in one spirit with one mind striving together for. The faith of the gospel. So many in the church today have been radically misinformed. Many operate out of ignorance and misunderstanding because they have moved so far way from the Word of God, just like the Jewish leaders who tried to kill Paul on the day they drug him out of the city of Iconium and left him for dead. But let it be known as a warning to all the nay sayers. “You can knock us down but you can’t knock us out as long as we stand firm in one spirit with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
III.Sharing in Unity (V. 30)
A.As we share in this unity we must share in all things. Look at verse 30. Paul is talking about sharing in the conflict that they have saw in him. Even now at the time of this writing the apostle Paul once again sits in prison because he has been striving for the faith of the gospel.
B.We hear of people in far away lands being persecuted for the sake of the gospel. We too face persecution but in a different way. All true believers stand firm in one spirit with one mind striving together for the gospel. We all share in the sufferings of Christ according to how He appoints us and where He appoints us, but we will experience conflict if we are convinced and true to the cause. Why? Because the way this world operates is in direct opposition to what we stand firm and strive for. The faith of the gospel. From a biblical perspective one measure of success for the Kingdom is persecution in this world. Oh don’t worry no need to go looking for it. Just stand firm in one spirit with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, it will find you. You will experience the same type of conflict that we see in the apostle Paul’s life. If you are not seeing this kind of conflict you should re examine your life. Maybe you have fallen in step with the world and have lost your effectiveness for the Kingdom.
There is a true unity in gospel living. Why? Because as we stand firm in one spirit with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel we become family, an eternal family, and blood is thicker than water. It is always exciting to meet new people who are true allies. It is like meeting some long lost cousins for the first time. We can tell that they are family by the way they conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the same gospel we are striving for. We can also tell imposters as we strive together. How? Because they tend to either be dead weight or pull against the cause. So as we enter this Thanksgiving Holiday Season lets us be thankful for the unity we have in gospel living. And as a body I want to challenge us to stand firm in one spirit with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel regardless of our circumstances.