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Lesson 9: The Most Convincing Proof *

Introduction: In most of our lessons in this series, we discussed what we could do to be more unified. Is there a "grace" aspect to the question of unity? Has Jesus already handled the problem? Has He done what is necessary for us to be unified? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Unity in Jesus


    1. Read John 11:45-48. The members of the Sanhedrin considered Jesus a threat. Why? Why would He cause the Romans to take away their nation? (Read Acts 1:6. Jesus' disciples, even after three years of teaching by Him, believed that He was going to set up an earthly kingdom. The Pharisees believed it too, and thus thought the revolution would destroy their nation.)


      1. If they believed Jesus was the Messiah, would the Jewish leaders have this same view? (No doubt they thought the true Messiah would defeat the Romans. This tells us one of two things. First, the Jewish leaders did not consider Jesus to be the Messiah. Or, if they did, they had the serious problem that Jesus did not endorse them.)


    2. Read John 11:49-50. Why does Caiaphas say that Jesus must die? (So the nation will not be destroyed by the Romans.)


      1. What is the irony in this? (The nation was destroyed by the Romans not too long after that.)


    3. Read John 11:51-53. Why does this text say that Jesus died? (To bring the people together and make them unified. Caiaphas spoke correctly, he just did not understand the full import of what he was saying.)


      1. How does Jesus' death bring unity?


    4. Read Ephesians 2:11-14. What additional light does this shed on the idea of Jesus bringing the people together by His death? (He brought the Gentiles together with the Jews. He destroyed the "dividing wall of hostility.")


    5. Read Ephesians 2:15-16. What other hostility did Jesus reconcile - other than between Jews and Gentiles? (He reconciled us to God!)


      1. How did Jesus reconcile us to God? (He abolished the law.)


      1. What do you think this means - the statement that Jesus abolished the law and regulations with His flesh? He just threw them on the scrap heap and burned them up? (Read Matthew 5:17-19. Jesus explains that He fulfilled the law. That is, we do not have to keep the law to be saved, because Jesus already did that on our behalf. That is the way in which He "abolished" the law and regulations. That is how He reconciled us to God.)


    1. Read Ephesians 2:17-18. What is our point of access to God? (The Holy Spirit. Notice what this verse says: Jesus reconciled both Jews ("those who were near") and Gentiles ("you who were far away") to God. We all need reconciliation to God and to each other. Jesus is the way in which this unity is achieved through the Holy Spirit.)


    2. Read Ephesians 2:19-22. To what does the Bible compare this unity among Christians? (To a house! This gets back to the word picture we recently studied in which we learned that members collectively constitute a "temple." This is a temple in which the Holy Spirit lives.)


  1. Gospel Unity


    1. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-19. If you are a Christian, what is your message? (One of reconciliation!)


      1. What reconciliation are we presenting? (Jesus reconciled us to God - "not counting men's sins against them." What great news this is!)


        1. Does reconciliation bring unity?


        2. Would this include the message of reconciling Christians to each other? (If we are reconciled to God, why would we not be reconciled to each other?)


    2. Read Romans 14:1-3. How does gospel unity apply in the practical day to day events of life? (We realize that God is the Judge, we are not.)


      1. This past week, I preached at one local church for the first time. On one hand I was impressed by the spirituality of the church, and wondered if my own local church needed to improve in that area. On the other hand, I noticed that this church suggested that we use the Thanksgiving time (an American holiday) to promote the gospel by talking about our good diet. Who is the "weak faith" person in our text? (The one with the limited diet.)


    3. Read Mark 7:14-23. What does this suggest about marketing the gospel through what we eat or don't eat? (It suggests that this is not how we should do it.)


      1. What does it say is the true battle front for spirituality? (Our mind!)


      2. Let's look at this from a practical point of view. If you want to attract new members based on diet, you would hold cooking classes, right? What would you hold if you wanted to improve minds? (Perhaps you would hold entertainment classes. You might suggest ways for the family to have fun without a screen being involved.)


    4. Read Romans 8:5-8. What does this suggest is the best way to improve our thoughts? (Having our mind controlled by the Holy Spirit, as opposed to it being controlled by our sinful nature.)


    5. Read Romans 8:9-11. What does this suggest instead of a cooking class? (A class on the Holy Spirit!)


    6. Let's get back to the message of unity in Romans 14. Read Romans 14:13-15. How does this tell us to handle disagreements about diet? (It tells us to avoid creating problems. Don't pass judgment, and don't flaunt the fact that you have a different view.)


      1. I've been a vegetarian for over fifty years. I recall during the early years how hard it was to eat well when I was traveling in rural areas. This morning I read a complaint that "vegans are as bad as homosexuals, they won't keep quiet." Think about that complaint. Apparently it is now popular in some circles to be a vegan! We say that people should not define themselves by their sexual views - it seems so odd in the abstract. Is it just as odd to define yourself by your eating habits? Does the Bible (Romans 14) condemn that as being judgmental and divisive?


      2. Consider the related bigger issue - should we evangelize on what makes us different?


    7. Read Colossians 3:12-14. What does this suggest promotes unity? (These virtues combined with love. Love "binds them all together in perfect unity.")


      1. If I described someone as being compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient and forgiving, would you expect that person to evangelize on the basis that they worshiped on a better day, had a better diet, or had a superior understanding of the future?


    8. Read Matthew 3:1-2, Matthew 4:17 and Acts 2:38. John the Baptist, Jesus and Peter evangelized by calling people to "repent" - to change their attitude! To turn away from sin and turn to God. Doesn't this suggest a superior understanding of how to live?


      1. Let's continue with the message of Peter. Read Acts 2:40-41. What is Peter saying about people being corrupt? Isn't he suggesting the people should come out of corruption and into the light of the gospel? Isn't this a suggestion that the people are corrupt and Peter is not?


    9. Are you now totally confused about how to evangelize? About unity? (Read Ephesians 5:8-14. God calls us to point out the difference between light and darkness. He approves calls for repentance, for that is what Jesus did. At the same time, Jesus calls for love and compassion, and He calls for us to avoid disputes over minor matters.)


    10. Friend, Jesus reconciled us to God the Father. His grace gives us unity with God. The compassion that Jesus showed to us we should show to others. Will you ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in calling the world to repentance? To guide you in showing love, compassion, and humility towards others?


  2. Next week: Unity and Broken Relationships.
* Copr. 2018, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2018 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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