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Endeavoring to Keep the Unity of the Spirit (Part 3)

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Endeavoring to Keep the Unity of the Spirit (Part 3)

Wade Webster

In the first part of our study, we laid the foundation for unity.  In the second part, we made the first of three connections that exist between Jesus and unity – The Prayer That Jesus Prayed. In this third installment, we will notice a second connection.

The Price That Jesus Paid

A tremendous price was paid for the church, the one body (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4). Jesus “gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:25).  He “purchased it with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). It should be noted that the church, the one body, is made up of many members.  To the saints at Corinth, Paul wrote, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many” (1 Cor. 12:12-14). Within the context, Paul went on to explain the importance of every member of the body.  Although every member doesn’t have the same function, they all have the same worth.  After all, each member is purchased at the same high price (1 Cor. 6:20). 

I believe that one of the ugliest things about division is the fact that it ignores the price that was paid for each individual member of the body. A least a couple of times within the epistles that he penned, Paul encouraged the brethren to consider how their actions could affect a brother or a sister in Christ. Please note that as Paul did so, he reminded them of the price that Jesus had paid.  To the Christians at Corinth, Paul wrote, “And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? (1 Cor.  8:11). In like manner, to the redeemed at Rome, Paul wrote, “But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died” (Rom. 14:15).  Please note that Christ died even for the weak brother.  Although the strong brother is not to let the weak brother control the church, he is to consider the tremendous price that was paid for the weak brother and act accordingly.

We must never forget that Jesus died to reconcile men to God and to one another in the one body.  To the elect at Ephesus, Paul wrote, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Eph. 2:13-16).

Division ignores the price the Jesus paid for unity.  It separates that which Christ died to bring together.

Endeavoring to Keep the Unity of the Spirit (Part 2)

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Endeavoring to Keep

the Unity of the Spirit (Part 2)

Wade Webster

In the first part of this study, we laid the foundation for unity.  In this part of our study, we want to see the first of three connections that exist between Jesus and unity.

The Prayer That Jesus Prayed

In His prayer for His disciples, Jesus prayed, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me (John 17:20-23).  Jesus wanted His present disciples and His future disciples to enjoy the unity that He enjoyed with the Father.  Their unity would show the world His deity and the Father’s love. Without unity, the world would never believe the message of the disciples.     

The early church did their best to fulfill this prayer of the Lord.  Luke records, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46; cf. John 13:34-35).

Furthermore, Luke recorded, “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.  And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need” (Acts 4:32-35). Please note that they were of one heart and one soul.  They shared what they had with each other. That is unity.  That is love.  That is what Jesus was requesting in His prayer.

Today, we need to consider anew the prayer that Jesus prayed for His disciples.  If we will do so, then it will help us to keep the unity of the Spirit.

Endeavoring to Keep the Unity of the Spirit (Part 1)

Friday, July 14, 2023

Endeavoring to Keep

the Unity of the Spirit (Part 1)

Wade Webster

To the saints at Ephesus, Paul wrote, “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).  Endeavoring means “to make effort” or to “labor” and keep means “to guard from loss or injury…by keeping the eye upon.” Clearly, great energy and effort is required to keep the unity of the Spirit.  After all, unity can be lost very easily.

Sadly, unity had been lost in the church at Corinth.  Upon hearing from the household of Chloe that there were “contentions” and divisions at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:11; 3:3), Paul wrote to them begging them to be united.  We read, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10; cf. Rom. 2:16; 15:5-6; Phil. 1:27; 1 Pet. 3:8; 2 Cor. 13:11). 

Although they were together physically, they were worlds apart spiritually.  Paul wrote, “For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it” (1 Cor. 11:18; cf. Rom. 15:7; 1 Pet. 4:9).  Paul made clear that this division was contrary to the design and desire of God.  He wrote, “For our comely parts have no need:  but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked:  That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another” (1 Cor. 12:24-25). 

Please note that the members were to have the “same care” one for another.  They were not to care for one more than another.  Earlier in the letter, he declared, “And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another” (1 Cor. 4:6).

In like manner, to the saints at Philippi, Paul wrote, “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Phil. 2:2; cf. 4:2; John 13:34-35; Jam. 3:17; Rom. 15:5).  Repeatedly, in the letter that he penned to Corinth, Paul called Christ into focus.  He knew that the only way to keep unity was by fixing one’s eyes and mind on Jesus.  In this lesson, we want to see three things as we focus on Jesus.

I Would Do It All Over Again

Friday, July 07, 2023

I Would Do It All Over Again

Wade Webster

 Winston Churchill’s wife was named Clementine.  He affectionately called her Clemmie.

Churchill wasn’t generally considered handsome.  He wasn’t athletic.  He wasn’t rich.  He wasn’t the young man that most moms were dreaming of for their daughters.  Clementine’s mother, Lady Blanche Hozier, wasn’t overjoyed at the thought of her daughter marrying Winston.  But, despite Winston’s many shortcomings, he possessed the one essential ingredient needed to make marriage work - love.  He loved Clementine.

At a banquet late in life, Churchill was once asked, “If you could come back as anyone after you die, who would it be?” He thought for a moment, stood, turned to his wife, and said, “Mrs. Churchill’s second husband.“

I’m sure that Winston got some major brownie points for that. History records that those weren’t just empty words.  He deeply loved Clementine. They were happily married for 57 years.

I hope that all of us might say the same thing about our mates, not just physically, but spiritually.  If we could come back and do life again, I am sure that we would make many changes.  However, there is one thing that we would not change - being married to Christ. Marrying Christ is the best decision that we ever made.

Paul wrote, “Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God” (Romans 7:1-4).

Jesus couldn’t have loved us more than He did.  Again, Paul wrote, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:25-33).

We enjoy such a good life with Jesus now and the future promises even greater blessings. In Matthew, we read, “Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:27-29).

If we could do life over again, marrying Christ is one thing that we wouldn’t change.  If you are not a Christian, then I highly recommend becoming one.  You will never regret marrying Christ.  Every imaginable blessing is found in Him (Eph. 1:3).

He That Wins Souls Is Wise (Part 2)

Saturday, July 01, 2023

He That Wins Souls

Is Wise (Part 2)

Wade Webster

By inspiration, Solomon wrote, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30). 

It Is Wise To Win Souls Because Satan Opposes Such

The Bible makes clear that Satan is our adversary (1 Pet. 5:8).  Every day, he seeks to defeat us and to enslave us.  As soldiers of Christ, we are to be actively resisting him (Eph. 6:10-17).  In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus made clear that Satan opposes efforts to sow the seed into the hearts of men (Mt. 13:19).  In like manner, the great missionary Paul made clear that Satan hindered his work (1 Thess. 2:18). Satan opposes our efforts because he doesn’t want anyone to be delivered from his kingdom and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col. 1:13-14).

It Is Wise To Win Souls Because The Early Church Practiced Such

Isaiah prophesied the evangelistic nature of the church that God would establish in Jerusalem (Isa. 2:2-3).  As you know, such was the case from the very beginning (Acts 1:8; 20:20).  In fact, the church was evangelistic even in times of great persecution (Acts 8:3-4). Paul encouraged the Colossian Christians to “walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” (Col. 4:5). It is interesting that the word “winneth” in our starting text (Prov. 11:30) means to “catch.”  As you recall, when Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be His disciples, He promised to make them fishers or catchers of men (Mt. 4:18-20).  Sadly, it has been far too long since some of us have been fishing.

It Is Wise To Win Souls Because Heaven Rewards Such

In our starting text for this study (Prov. 11:30), Solomon declared that the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life (Prov. 11:30).  The word “fruit” means “reward.”  Doing what is right, winning souls, has rewards now and eternally (Rev. 2:7, 10; 22:14).  Daniel declared, “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).

It Is Wise To Win Souls Because Hell Necessitates Such

Those who are not won for Christ will one day be punished with “flaming fire” and “everlasting destruction” (2 Thess. 1:8-9).  Knowing the “terror of the Lord” we should be busy trying to persuade men (2 Cor. 5:11; Acts 24:25; 26:28; Heb. 10:31). 

In the two installments of this study, we have noticed seven reasons why it is wise to win souls.  Based on what we have learned in this lesson, those who aren’t involved in the work of winning souls will have no excuse on the Judgment Day.

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