What Every True Church Should Be - Part 2 - John 17 - Skip Heitzig
God isn't really something to worship.
I guess there's a God out there somewhere.
I hope there is a God.
God isn't really something to worship.
God is everywhere.
I'm glad you're here today. 2020 is almost over, isn't that good news? I can't wait to have 2020 in my rearview mirror. I'm just done with 2020. Of course, you never know what 2021's going to bring, right? But God's been with us in 2020. He'll be with us in 2021. Not to worry.
Would you please turn in your Bibles to John, chapter 17. We're doing a series called, "2020." And we're looking at the main major teachings, doctrines of the scriptures. The person of God, the nature and characteristics of God, the attributes of God, the person, nature, and work of Jesus, his salvation. We've looked at the Holy Spirit. We've even considered angels one week, demons another week. And we're looking at the church the last few weeks.
Last time we were together, we started in John 17, and we looked at what Jesus himself prayed to the Father and what every true church should be. Before we get started, you should know that in John 17, you have a monumental chapter. Because what you are reading is the work of Jesus in interceding for us. The Bible says, he ever lives to make intercession for us. And you get a snippet of that, for this is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus to his father in the scripture. Here he is praying for his followers, those who were following him then and those who would be following him in the future.
So it's an incredible chapter. Before we get started this morning, let's pray together. Father, thank you for the truths of every song we just sang, that you have been faithful, you have been good. And we really can't wait to see what you have for us in days, weeks, months ahead. And so Father, we want to just dedicate the new year to you coming up. As tough as this last year has been for nearly everyone on this planet, Father, we just pray for your grace in the future.
For your mercy in the future. And help us, Lord, to view everything through the correct lens. The world view, the lens of truth, as given to us in Your word. We ask in Jesus's name. Amen.
Experimental prototype, community of tomorrow. Experimental prototype, community of tomorrow. EPCOT. That was Walt Disney's dream. You have heard of Epcot Center. Many of us have visited Epcot Center. We know it today is an overpriced theme park in Orlando, Florida. But what you may not know is it was not intended by Walt Disney to be a theme park in Orlando, Florida. It was designed by Walt Disney to be an actual city of 20,000 people living together using the latest technology.
That's what his vision was. Walt Disney died before his vision, his dream could become a reality. And no one in the Disney corporation had a vision big enough like Walt Disney had for that future city. They didn't get it. They didn't ever latch onto it. So it never became what Disney intended it to become. Rather than a living, breathing city that Disney wanted, it has become as you know a theme park. It has become a place that people go to be entertained. It is a place that people visit.
Jesus also had a vision, a dream you might say, of a new community. He called it his church. Matthew 16-- "I will build my church," ecclesia. A group of people called out of the world who do life together. Jesus also died before his dream was realized. But he predicted it, he anticipated this new community. He prayed for it in John 17. And then he rose again from the dead to ensure it would become what he intended it to become-- the new community called The Church.
We must be committed to not letting the church become another Epcot-- an entertainment place, a place where people visit occasionally but don't do life together. We have to be committed to that. Which brings us to the central issue and that is, what is the purpose of the church? What function are we to fulfill? What was Jesus's vision? What was his intention? And what are the characteristics that Jesus anticipated for his church to be?
Well, we began looking at that question and answering that question last time we were together, in John chapter 17. And I gave you two of the four characteristics of what every true church should be. We noted when we were together that every true church should demonstrate the glory of God. And that every true church should communicate God's truth. And we looked at that. We discussed that. We delved into that.
That number one, when we gather, God is on center stage. It's all about him. He gets top billing and our lives get reoriented to true north. That's the glory of God. So we meet together and the purpose of our meeting is not to meet felt needs, not to just be built up and encourage, though those things should happen, but primarily, to live for his glory. And the best way we can live for his glory effectively is by that second thing we looked at-- to communicate God's truth, to preach the word.
And so the church, you might say, is a textual community. Yes, we live our lives together. We have community, but a very specific kind of community, it's a textual community. That is, we take our cues from the scripture, from the text of the scripture. So then to sum up where we've been last time, you might say that the church, His church, the true church, is both theo-centric-- God centered-- and biblio-centric-- Bible centered. It's centered on God and His glory and to ensure that it is, it is biblio-centric, centered on the scripture, which tells us how that can happen.
Now according to Jesus, there are two more characteristics that he, the founder, is praying for and anticipating his church, his community to become. And both of these qualities that we're going to look at today focus on our relationship to the world, those who are inside the church, and how we should relate to those who are outside the church. So let me begin with the third characteristic, and that is, every true church should penetrate, penetrate God's world.
Let's begin in John 17, the 14th verse. Jesus, praying to his Father said, "I have given them your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth."
So it's pretty obvious that Jesus anticipated that his followers would go out into the world and spread the message. That's what verse 18 is all about, you sent me, I'm sending them. Later on, he is going to send them. He's going to give them a command, a very, very blatant command. When before he ascends into heaven after his resurrection, he'll tell them, go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Furthermore, if you look down at verse 20, he says, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word." So again, it's pretty obvious Jesus anticipated that his followers are going to go out and preach truth, preach the word. And there will be some people who will hear that message and will believe in Jesus. Now go back to the 18th verse. That is the hinge verse of this, "as You sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world." It's a very important word, the word "sent." I'm going to say it to you in the Greek and you're going to tell me what word comes from that-- "apostello," apostle.
Someone in the first service thought, pistoli. I don't know where he got that from. But I guess there's sort of a similarity there. But apostello is apostle, and an apostle simply means somebody sent out-- a sent out individual, an ambassador, an envoy, somebody who is sent out for a specific task by someone who is in authority. So Jesus's plan was for his followers to penetrate the world around them with the truth so that more might believe. So that becomes one of the characteristics Jesus planned for, prayed for his church-- that we would penetrate God's world.
Someone once said that church is the only society on Earth that exists for the benefit of non-members. We must never allow the church to become a "bless me" club. Here I am. You got an hour to bless me, better be good. I want to be blessed. Listen, I want you to be blessed. We should all be blessed. But a blessing from God and the feeling we get at church is secondary to the primary purpose of gathering. Yes, we should be blessed as we gather together.
But the purpose isn't that we be pampered. The purpose is that we glorify God, that we hear the preaching of the word-- all of that equips us to go out and do something with it. And just so his disciples were clear, Jesus told them, it's always time to evangelize. It's always time. There's not like, well, now isn't the time to get the message out. That'll come later. It's always harvest time.
There are always people who need to hear. There are always people ready to respond. Jesus in John chapter 4 said to them, "do you not say there are still four months and then comes the harvest? Behold, I tell you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields for they are already white for harvest." That's an important word for believers because churches have a tendency over time-- all of them have this tendency, it's human nature-- that over time, churches turn inward toward themselves rather than outward toward the world.
They may begin with an outward focus, an evangelistic focus. We want to change our community and we want to change our nation. But over time, most churches, most organizations start to turn inward. So that even though Jesus said, go into all the world. It seems that the message of the church is, come, come to church, come and hear the message. And that's important. We want people to come to church and come and hear the message. But the coming to church and coming to hear the message is simply a preparation so that we might go out and make a difference.
There was once an old church in England I read about, that was a beautiful building and it had a great purpose statement, a sign on the front of the church. And the sign said, "we preach Christ crucified." It's a great section out of the New Testament, "we preach Christ crucified." That was the sign in the front of the church. Over time, ivy that was growing around the church building started growing up on the sign, and over time, as the years went by, the last word in the statement was obscured. So you'd look up and it said, "we preach Christ."
That's good, it's still good. But as you can imagine, over time the ivy kept growing until pretty soon, it just said, "we preach." And nobody cut it down, so you know what's coming next. Over the years, the only word you could see over that church was, "we." And eventually, the church died. Any church that turns inward and makes it all about we, us, me, mine, will die. John Stott, who pastored a church in England, said, "if all churches had been faithful, the world would long ago have been evangelized."
So how do we? How can we? How do we do it effectively? How do we penetrate the world effectively? I'll give you three words and then I'll show it to you in the text, three words. We need to know. We need to grow. And we need to go. There are certain things we need to be knowing. And then there's a certain way we need to be growing, but eventually we're going to have to get going.
So what do we have to know? Well, we have to know our position. What is our position? Verse 14, "I've given them Your word; the world has hated them because--" here it is, "they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." Now back in verse 11, in praying for the church, he says, "they are in the world." Here, he says, "they are not of the world." Again in verse 16, "they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." So that's our position. We're in the world, but we're not of the world.
You've heard that before. We're in it, but not of it. We live in the world. We're surrounded by people who have their belief system, but we are not of them. We have another home. We are just passing through. This world is not our home. So we're in it, but we're not of it. Now look at the word, "world." I brought this up to you before, I just want to underscore it. In the New Testament, the world "world," "cosmos," doesn't primarily refer to the physical world, the earth, the biosphere et cetera. It refers to a world system.
A system of ideas, values, philosophies, morals, activities, and people run by, controlled by the devil, Satan. 2 Corinthians chapter 4, Paul writes, "Satan, the God of this evil world, has blinded the minds of those who do not believe." So we're in the world, we're not of that world. Earth then for us is simply a stopping off point on our way home-- heaven. And until then, we have a task to perform in this world. But we're not of it. What we have to be careful about is not becoming too immersed in the world that we live in. We're in it, but not of it.
So if we get too immersed in our world, it is as ridiculous as making a flight across the country, and you stop in an airport to make a connecting flight, you're only going to be in that airport for an hour. So you're flying from here to your destination. You stop off in an airport. You're there for an hour, you're making a connecting flight. You go into the bathroom and you say, this bathroom needs a remodel. I'm going to remodel this bathroom. Your relative or friend who is with you go, you're going to remodel the bathroom in the airport? You're only going to be here an hour.
I know, but this is important. OK, but it's not that important, because that is not your destination. So to get too immersed in the world is as ridiculous as remodeling a bathroom in the airport where you're making a connecting flight. Romans chapter 12 verse 2, Paul says, "do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." You see the position of the Christian is sort of like an astronaut in space. Space is not the natural habitat for the astronaut.
If he's up there, he's going to need special protection because that is not his natural environment. Or a scuba diver in the ocean. The ocean is not the natural element. So unless we realize our position, in the world, but not of the world, we're going to get swallowed up by the world. You know why? Verse 14 tells you why, "I've given them Your word; and the world," is what? What does this say? "Hated them." Mark that. It's not like the world just tolerates you, they hate you.
The system of values and philosophies that make the world system run by Satan and his minions is against you. The world has hated them, hated them. Because they are not of the world. Now, this happens to be an occupational hazard. Get used to it, get used to it. When you follow Jesus Christ and you make that your aim, your ambition, the occupational hazard of that is the world's hatred. So we need to know our position-- that's number one.
Number two, after knowing is growing. We need to grow in preparation. Verse 15, he continues, "I do not pray that You take them out of the world, but that You should keep them." The word, "keep" means preserve them. Don't let them go, preserve them "from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." Now he tells you how he keeps you, how he preserves you. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." That's how you survive. That's your spacesuit. That's your scuba gear.
The word of God, the truths, the principles of scripture that you immerse yourself in allow you to be in the world, but not of the world. Allow you to walk through this crazy place called Earth without being tainted by it. You know, Paul even pictured the Christian life. In Ephesians 5, you'll recall this as I tell you, he wrote about the Christian experience here as a battle. He wanted you to know that this isn't a playground, this is a battleground. And so Paul writes, "put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wilds of the devil."
Think of the spaceman, the astronaut in the spacesuit. Put on the armor of God, that you might be able to stand against the wilds of the devil. Then he lists all the pieces of armor. But he finally says, "and the sword of the spirit," which is the word of God. So Jesus says, sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth. That's the Bible. The Bible-- read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy. Or as Peter put it, as newborn babes desire the sincere or pure milk of the word that you might grow thereby.
So you need to know and you need to grow. We need to be knowing our position. We need to be growing in preparation. But at some point, we have to be going. Because if all we do is know and grow, you know what happens to people who just accumulate a lot of knowledge and keep growing and growing and feeding and feeding on truth? They get fat, spiritually obese. It's like, I got all this great knowledge. OK, so go work it out. Work it off. You got to go out.
And so after knowing our position and growing in preparation, we have to be going for penetration. And that takes us back to verse 18, the word, "sent." "You sent Me into the world, I have also sent them into the world." That is the goal of knowing. That is the goal of growing. I made a list of five things. I've discovered there are five different responses that Christians have historically had to the world around them.
There may be more, but just to make it easy, there are five basic responses that Christians in any era, at any time, in any age have toward the world system around them. Response number one-- and it's not the best response-- is to isolate. They isolate themselves. They become isolationists. Their whole goal is to escape the world. I'll go live in a monastery. I want to get away from all the bad things that are happening. The world is evil. It has fallen.
There have even been attempts in American history to create Christian communities, Christian villages, towns, cities that are only occupied by Christians. Because, gosh, wouldn't it be great just to have all your neighbors as born again Christians? OK, you're describing heaven now, but I get it. Or people say, wouldn't it be great to work around Christians all day long? The only people you work with are believers. Take it from somebody who works with Christians all day long, it ain't what you think it is.
We're still fallen human beings, sinners saved by grace, just like anybody else in any place else. So response number one-- and it's not the right response-- is to isolate. Here's another response, historically, Christians have had toward the world. Not to isolate, but to insulate. They become insular. It's all about protecting themselves. I'm in this bad place called the world, so I need to protect myself and to protect my children and protect my family. So I'm going to be way over here. And I'm going to notice the bad things in the world and I'm going to point at them and say, that's a bad person. That's a bad thing. Look how bad that is.
Some people, all they do is spew negative bad comments about all the bad things around them. You know who was really good at that? The Pharisees. Pharisees didn't evangelize, they just pointed out all the bad people. Even Jesus, they thought, was bad because he ate with tax collectors and sinners. He mingled with them. And they pointed out, that's bad. So you can isolate and you can insulate. Those are not the best responses. A third response, historically, the church has had toward the world is to vegetate.
I think this is even worse because this is a person who is apathetic. He's just vegging out, man. He has no passion for the lost, no concern for the lost. He looks around and notices people are dying and going to hell. So? At least I'm not. And their goal is to make it through life with as much personal comfort as possible, and who cares about everybody else? That's vegetate. All three are not what Jesus intended. We are not to isolate, we are not to insulate, we are not to vegetate.
Let me give you a fourth response-- and this is not a good response either-- to imitate the world. Be just like them, act just like them. And some believers, some Christians actually think this is a good strategy. Yeah, man, I want to show the world that I'm as cool as they are. I do what they do, I can be like them. Well, you're not going to attract unbelievers to the same thing they are. The only thing that's attractive is that you are different from they are.
You've raised the bar. So these responses, as you can see, are not the best responses. We are not to imitate, we're not to isolate, we are not to insulate, we're not to vegetate. Here's the best response-- to penetrate. To penetrate the darkness with light, to go out into the world, to rescue souls out of it. That's penetration. We want to go for penetration. Because Jesus said, you're the light of the world, you are the-- what's the next part-- you are the salt of-- you can, it's church, you can talk back to me at least-- you are the salt of the Earth.
Last time I checked, salt doesn't do a whole lot of good in the salt shaker. Just sits in the salt shaker. The only time salt as good as when you empty the salt out of the salt shaker. Then it's on your food, and you go, mmm that tastes good. Salt it up a little bit, spice it up a little bit. I'm so grateful for the salt being here in the salt shaker. But at some point, we need to get out to rescue souls. I'm going to throw something up on the screen and let's read this together. I love this paragraph.
"Live churches are constantly changing. Dead churches don't have to. Live churches have lots of noisy kids. Dead churches are fairly quiet. Live church's expenses always exceed their income. Dead churches take in more than they ever dreamed of spending. Live churches are constantly improving for the future. Dead churches worship their past.
Live churches focus on people. Dead churches focus on programs. Live churches dream great dreams of God. Dead churches relive nightmares. Live churches don't have 'can't' in their dictionary. Dead churches have nothing but. Live churches evangelize. Dead churches fossilize."
Now, think of that last part, because that's true for churches, that's true for individuals. You have one of two options. If you don't evangelize, you will fossilize. You'll start turning inward. It's all about me and my blessing and my group, and that's the tendency. Evangelize or you will fossilize. So we need to be knowing our position, growing in preparation, going for penetration. Listen, I love people coming to church. I love the church full.
But the goal is not to fill churches. The goal is to fill heaven. To fill heaven. So that is one of the marks of the church. That's what Jesus prayed for. That's what he wants. We are to be those who are demonstrating God's glory, communicating God's truth, and penetrating God's world. I'll give you a fourth and a final mark, trait, characteristic that Jesus wants and praised for his church. We are to be a church that emulates God's love. We are to emulate God's love.
Now, we come to the final part of this prayer in verse 20. And it's the most exciting part of the prayer because you're in it. You are. He is praying for you. Verse 20, "I do not pray for these alone," these 11 apostles, I'm saying 11 because of Judas, "but also for those who will believe in Me through their word." Well, that's us. We believe the testimony passed down from the apostolic era, last 2000 years to us. What does he pray for? "That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent me.
And the glory what You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one-- I in them, and You and Me; that they may be perfect in one, that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You ; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."
Now that's a mouthful. So I want to distill it down. Jesus prays for, and four times he prays for, four times he mentions that he prays for oneness, prays for unity, that they may be one as we are one. Which is to me very interesting, that of all the things Jesus, in looking to the future of the church, what he prays for, he does not pray for our safety. He does not pray for our health. He does not pray for our successes. He does not pray for our happiness. He prays for unity.
That's noteworthy. That's high on his list, that they may be one as we are one. Now, let me explain unity because I want you to know what it does not mean. Unity is not unanimity. He is not somehow praying for some ecclesiastical ecumenism, where we're just going to forget denominations, and all get together in one group, and then hold arms, and sing Kumbaya, and just all get along. That ain't going to happen. If you're thinking that's going to happen, that's an unrealistic expectation. Because as I read my New Testament, even the best and closest followers of Christ didn't see eye to eye, in fact, didn't get along sometimes.
There was an argument among the apostles as to who would be the greatest in the kingdom. And at one point, two of the apostles were asking Jesus to sit in the kingdom, one on the right hand, one on the left hand, which brought the whole mess up again and they argued again. And then Peter and Paul argued about the law in relationship to the Galatian Christians. There's a couple of chapters in Galatians, all about that argument, one in particular. The Jerusalem council enacts chapter 15 had a falling out, had a quarrel, as to the requirements of salvation.
And then there's that classic argument between Paul and Barnabas. They had a falling out. And it says that the contention between them was so sharp that they split company into two completely separate evangelistic groups. That's in the Bible. That's just the early church. So when he says, I'm praying that they may be one, he's not praying for unanimity and he's not praying for uniformity. Unity is not uniformity. Or we're all going to think the same. We're all going to vote the same.
We all have to read out of the same version of the Bible. We're not going to agree on everything. Somebody once told me, a mentor told me, if you find two people that agree on everything, one of them isn't thinking. So we're not going to agree on every topic, every subject, every theological subject. We're not going to agree on church policy. We're not going to agree on every song that we sing. There are some of you go, I hate that song. Or somebody saying, I wish we'd sing that song more. That's just what it is. That's style.
And we should understand that because we're all from a family, right? You grew up in a family of brothers and sisters. Presumably, if you had a large family, you know what diversity and unity are all about. You're one family, but you're very different from one another in that family. You have, one kid is rambunctious, one who's very, very quiet and off to himself or herself. You may have one person who's a morning person, one who's a night person. Very different personalities, but still one family. There is unity in diversity.
Welcome to the church. All the kids are different. You got some fuzzy fundamentalists. You got some crazy charismatics. You got some reformed. You got some deformed. You got some pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib. You got amillennialist, pre-millennialist, post-millennialist. And you're thinking, I have idea what you just said. Hang on a couple of weeks, we'll be explaining all that. Some prefer stained glass, windows, anaerobes, and candles, and the organ, and hymns. And others prefer guitars and granola.
But we're still God's people. It's unrealistic to think we're going to agree on everything. And let me say how thankful I am that there are different churches in this community and other communities to accommodate all the different people with different styles. That can be a good thing. So when he says that they may be one as we are one, what is he praying for? Listen carefully. Jesus is praying for unity based on truth. Unity based on truth. Unity based on what? Truth. Wants you to get that, unity based on truth.
And in particular, unity based upon the truth of who Jesus Christ is and what he has come to do. That's the unity. And it's not like he's saying, boy, I hope that they have unity. He is knowing that they will have unity. It's not something we hope we get. We already have. We already have. And I want you to see that. Go back to verse 8.
Jesus said, "I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I'm glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are."
You get that? Our unity is based on the belief that Jesus came here to do the Father's will. That's what he said. So here's what it means-- I'm a Christian the same way you're a Christian. I believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ, sent from heaven to die on a cross for my sins. You're saved by the same belief. My Savior, if you've received Christ as your Savior. That's the unity. So if you believe that Jesus Christ has been sent from the Father and has come to pay for your sin, we're family.
If you don't believe Jesus Christ is sent from the Father to pay for your sins, we ain't family. You might be a neighbor. You might be a nice guy or gal, but you're not family. Because there are certain things that we would call essentials of the Christian faith. Other things we would call non-essentials. When it comes to essentials, we divide over that. We make a division. You have a kooky idea about Jesus, a kooky idea that's not biblical about how you get saved, we're not family. But if you believe that, that Jesus is who he said he is, what the Bible says he's come to do, the Father's will, die on the cross for your sins, you can believe anything you want, pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib.
You can have any belief you want about styles of worship, modes of baptism, et cetera, because all of that is non-essential, it's secondary. And we're still family. So as Augustine put it, "in essentials unity; in non-essentials liberty, but in all things charity." Now Jesus, as I mentioned, prays for unity based on truth four times in this last section, four times, over, and over, and over, and over again, he prays that they may be one as we are one. So it's pretty important for him to repeat it to the Father four times.
Why? Why is it so important? Verse 21, here it is, "that they may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they may also be one in Us," that's the unity, here it is, "that." Or better yet, so "that the world may believe that You sent Me." You see, unity helps create belief. Our unity makes outsiders want to be part of the community. They're looking for a real place that gives authentic love and is together over the essentials. They're looking for something like that.
And when they see it in us, that's attractive to them because they can't get it at the Elks club or any other club. They see it in the church. So unity among Christians proves the reality of the Christian message. You want to hear that and even write that down. Unity among Christians proves the reality of the Christian message. That's why, that the world may believe You sent me. You see we live before watchful eyes. And they, the world, is noticing with great scrupulousness our unity or our disunity. Imagine how ridiculous it seems to an unbeliever when they look at churches and see them fighting over the wearing of robes, the colors of pews, the styles of music, the length of hair, the modes of baptism.
It's absurd because we're out there supposedly trying to rescue them from their plight and bring them into God's family. And they're saying, I don't need rescuing. I don't need to go into your family because your family is like a soap opera. Right? So division in the church, bickering in the church, will turn people off. It will send people away. I want you to see what Paul Billheimer wrote.
He said, "the continuous and widespread fragmentation of the Church has been the scandal of the ages. It has been Satan's master strategy. The sin of disunity probably has caused more souls to be lost than all other sins combined." Powerful statement. Think of your New Testament. There was there was arguments within congregations back then. Paul wrote to Romans and Corinthians. And there were people arguing over eating meat, not eating meat, right? To idols. So Paul never said, listen, you got an argument going on. Go down the church street and start another church, just for meat eaters only. And then the other group go down the street and start another church for non-meat eaters only.
No, he just said, work it out. Those are non-essentials. Let there be unity over the essentials. So then our challenge is to become the people that God intended us to become, the church that Jesus prayed for. One that would demonstrate his glory. One that would communicate God's truth. One that would penetrate God's world. And one that would emulate God's love. If we don't, if that isn't what we're fixed on doing and being, then we're going to turn out to be another Epcot-- an entertainment place.
A place that people go to visit occasionally, instead of what he intended-- a place where people do life together. Father, we want to thank you for the unity we have because of what Jesus has done. We believe what he has done. We believe it is enough, it, is sufficient it saves. How thankful we are that our Lord Jesus prayed this prayer. And that John wrote it down and we can years later read what our head expected, anticipated, and rose from the dead to ensure would be his church.
I pray that we individually, as well as collectively, would be those who live for your glory, communicate the word of God, the truth of God, the scriptures of God. That we would penetrate the world around us, rescuing souls from it. And emulating, showing your love to one another here and in the community, other congregations who may do things a little bit differently, yet believe the essentials of the gospel. May we welcome them and embrace them. And fellowship. In Spirit and truth, we ask it in Jesus's name, Amen.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.