The Unity of the Gospel
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 3 Sabbath Afternoon
Read memory text, “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:2 ESV
What is the text telling us the one thing we are to be unified upon is? We must have the same mind, be in one accord about what? Love! We must come to the truth about what God’s character of love is; His methods of love, how love works. It is a unity of love that we must have!
Can anyone tell me how love works? Love gives, love is other-centered, love is outward moving, love is selfless, love is patient, kind, gentle, humble, interested in the welfare of others—which means love does what is in the eternal best interest in how we relate to others. So this means—we always give what the other wants? Does God give us everything we want? Why not?
Read paragraph one:
“Protestant reformer John Calvin believed that disunity and division were the devil’s chief device against the church, and he warned that Christians should avoid schism like the plague.”
Avoid schism on what?
Read the next two paragraphs,
“But should unity be preserved at the cost of truth? Imagine if Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, had in the name of unity chosen to recant his views on salvation by faith alone when he was brought to trial at the Diet of Worms.”What does it mean to not compromise on truth?
Does it mean we are unified with the right facts, the right interpretations of Scripture, the right doctrines, the right definitions, the right fundamental beliefs, the right rituals, that this is what matters?
Can we obtain unity of the gospel by coming to unity of fundamental beliefs?
Before we get into historical evidence, let’s break it down to some very straightforward questions:
- When Jesus comes again—at the moment of His appearing in the clouds, amongst those who ARE saved, will there be any single person who understands every detail and fact of the Bible correctly; interpret every symbol accurately, knows the true meaning of all prophecy?
- Or will every saved person have many facts wrong?
- But will there be some element that will be common amongst all the saved? What?
- Will all the saved have been renewed in heart/character to love God and others more than self?
- Will all the saved have been changed in character to practice Godly methods, which are truth. i.e. honesty, love, and liberty?
- Will any selfish and deceitful person be amongst the saved?
- And what is the avenue for the heart change to occur?
Remember the cascade of sin:
- Lies believed break the circle of love and trust
- Broken love and trust result in fear and selfishness
- Fear and selfishness result in acts of sin
- Act of sin damage mind, body, relationships—terminal condition
- Truth believed destroys lies and restores trust—about what?
- Restored trust we open the heart to God and love is poured in
- Love and trust cast out fear and we engage in acts of righteousness, giving, beneficence, love
- Acts of righteousness, giving, love, witness God’s kingdom and we grow in godliness
But the healing always starts with the truth about God and His character and methods of love. When we substitute other TRUTHS for the truth about God we obstruct healing.
For instance, if we substitute the truth of God’s character and methods of love, which win us to trust and open our hearts so we experience the indwelling Spirit and are transformed, with say…the truth about baptism by immersion and suggest if a person isn’t baptized by immersion then they have not obeyed, and God has rules and doesn’t tolerate deviations in the slightest from His rules—Adam and Eve only ate a piece of fruit but God wouldn’t tolerate it. Uzzah only touched the ark but God wouldn’t tolerate it. So, if you haven’t been baptized by immersion God won’t tolerate disobedience and you won’t be saved.
Do you see what just happened? The truth about God has been replaced with the truth about baptism, but because the truth about God is not central then a lie about God is presented, and people rather than having trust in God restored have fear of God increased and instead find security in legalism, either rule keeping, or the false penal substitutionary fable of paying God a legal fee.
We are to be united in character, and this only happens when we come back to the truth about God. Now to examine some history:
Was Martin Luther’s protests primarily focused on doctrines, or were His 95 thesis examples of evidences to point out some other problem?
When a doctor identifies a constellation of symptoms, what is the purpose? To help recognize an underlying problem or disease state. It is the underlying disease state which causes to the constellation of symptoms.
What was Martin Luther’s list designed to expose? That salvation, or healing from sin, comes from trusting God, and the 95 thesis were examples of practices and teaches that undermined trust in God. Why? Martin Luther exposed that the methods of the institutional church are not the methods of God and that the methods the institutional church used of falsehood, coercion, bribes, manipulation, fear, survival exploitation, were not God’s methods, and therefore failed to win trust, heal hearts and minds, and transform characters to be like Jesus.
As evidence that Martin Luther was right, and that we are right, what have so-called Christians who value the imposed law, with all these human methods done throughout history?
- Run mafia organizations—then attend mass and church
- Attack, murder, exploit, and deceive the American Indians, then go to church each Sunday and sing hymns while calling the native people savages.
- Murder one million Tutsis by rival Hutus in a few months, primarily killing zones were the churches, often right after kneeling at the alter and partaking mass
Is there a difference in examining doctrines and examining the impact those doctrines have upon our views of God and our character development and how we treat others?
Did the Pharisees in Christ’s day have wrong doctrines about:
- Which day was the Sabbath?
- God as Creator?
- The Inspiration of Scripture?
- Which foods were on the permitted list?
- Paying of tithe?
- Who could serve as priest?
Did they have the right view of God? Did they have God’s methods in their hearts? Were they united with heaven in fulfilling God’s purposes?
So, is the most important thing to get doctrines right, or to get our understanding about God and His methods right and then form our doctrines?
Would it be a good test of our doctrines to ask, what do they say about God?
Can we have a healthy belief system if we have stand-alone doctrines that we support with proof texts—but which are not directly connected to how we understand God and His methods?
“… For neither circumcision amounts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” Galatians 6:15
What did Jesus say would demonstrate we are His followers?
That we love one another—is there a difference between unity of love and unity of doctrine?
Why is there such an emphasis on right doctrines? It is because of people stuck at level four thinking who believe right doctrines are actually what matter, when they are only important in regard to how they enlighten us to God and His reality.
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