How to Have Church Unity

By John Thiel

Psalms 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant [it is] for brethren to dwell together in unity!

The subject of unity is a very important subject, a subject that we all love to imagine to have. Perfect unity lies in our imagination but living on this planet with all its experiences and circumstances, it seems to be evading and elusive. Every now and then we get a taste of what it could be when we break those barriers. There is that bliss and joy and then again it diffuses with the experiences of this sinful planet. It is my prayer that we will look to a unity that will come from God alone. It is a unity that exists in the universe. God’s banner of true unity is what we are craving for.

Here is an interesting challenge, here in this fellowship by Gods grace we may demonstrate to the church worldwide, something that the church needs to have. It is possible and we need to know how. Our study is to look at that unity in the study of Gods doctrine of the sanctuary and the harmony and blending of humans with God and God with them and the Hebrew sanctuary, the body of Christ’s sanctuary.

The Church Sanctuary

Whether it is to have unity in our family, with one another in the church, children, marriage and across the world, how do we and by what means do we gain this beautiful unity? God has a deeper yearning than we have.

Exodus 25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.

Not just visit them no. God wants to dwell among His people. He wants to be united with His people. What are His people like? Who is He prepared to dwell with and be at unity with?

Psalms 68:18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, [for] the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell [among them].

Who does God want to dwell among? The rebellious also. Weren’t the children of Israel rebellious? Are you picking up Gods yearning to be with the human race?

Leviticus 26:11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.

Drink in Gods thought here. Rebellious sinners, I will not abhor you, I will walk among you. God is making a proposal of unity that should touch our hearts. He hates the wrong that people do but, what does He do? He comes very close and doesn’t abhor them. This is so different to our attitude. If someone annoys me and is doing something wrong or evil we say, “Don’t come near me, I don’t want to associate with you, you confuse me, you make me feel bad because you are doing this and I’m supposed to associate with you?” It is not in the heart of man to find unity.

There is nobody that has a natural condition to come to unity. It can be found in God. You can try, but you can see what the world is doing around us. They conduct marriage guidance counsels to bring marriages together. They conduct United Nations councils and look what you get. You get some wonderful prospects and then it falls apart again. Man ruins it again.

Hope of Unity

God makes a proposal. No matter obnoxious you might be to me, if we will work together if I’m allowed to walk with you, we will find unity. As we gaze upon this personality, it becomes more incomprehensible that God will dwell among us in that sanctuary.

John 2:18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

What material was the temple of His body constructed of? Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them. The people had to bring to the sanctuary the materials. When Jesus body temple was made, what was it? What were the contributors to this body temple?

Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

What did the body temple of Jesus comprise of? The same flesh and blood as mine. Let them make me a body temple sanctuary that I may dwell among them. I will come close to you into the same body temple. What sort is that?

Romans 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

According to the law of hereditary in the members, it is the hereditary condition of sinfulness. Now understand Gods way of coming close to you and me.

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

So much did God want us to become one with Him and one with us, that He came into this indescribable unity that He God entered a body temple that was under the law of sin with all its weakness and all its corruptions; the law of sin that brings me into captivity. Jesus the Son of God came in the likeness of sinful flesh so He could deal with it. Walk not after flesh but after the spirit. A beautiful account of this great condescension of Jesus body temple was a construction of what man has provided for Him by the law of hereditary.

Yet this was but the beginning of His wonderful condescension. It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life. {DA 48.5}

We are here to gaze upon God. If I let my emotions go, I could fall down in a heap to let this sink in of the humiliation to take on the body temple of Adam. He took 4000 years of hereditary sinful flesh. Think about the life experiences that were melded and developed of Christ’s human flesh. Think about it and you will be overwhelmed at the amazing yearning of God to become one with us. For what purpose? So that He might give us an example of a sinless life in sinful flesh.

Ephesians 5:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

The beautiful harmony of what we dream a marriage should be is what Jesus has entered into with every human being. As you think about this, it can make every marriage successful. Unfortunately people don’t look at it. What did Jesus do? He became one with someone that was sinful for the purpose of something very precious.

In his relation to Christ he will be bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh, one with Christ in a peculiar relationship, because Christ took the humanity of man. He became subject to temptation, endangering as it were, His divine attributes. Satan sought, by the constant and curious devices of his cunning, to make Christ yield to temptation. Man must pass over the ground over which Christ has passed. As Christ overcame every temptation which Satan brought against Him, so man is to overcome. And those who strive earnestly to overcome are brought into a oneness with Christ that the angels in heaven can never know. {7BC 926.5}

Can you see Gods great desire of unity? He even came so close to us that it would even endanger heaven itself. Would you do that for anyone? Is this your natural pre-disposition? I will come so close to those I love that I will even endanger my spirituality. That is what Jesus did. That is what God did. That is the amazing story but it doesn’t just stop there. He did it for a purpose. He did it so that the people He wants to be close to will be changed and conquer sin.

John 17:23 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.

God wants the world and the rebellious people to know His great yearning for them and the unity He wants with them. He wants to demonstrate it to those that study it. How can we remain estranged from one another as He comes close to us like that? How can we go on doggedly moving along in our own sweet way and not permitting God to work in us? He knows our experiences and draws near to us and says I understand, I have compassion, I’m so close to you. Will you press close to this union with Him? God is prepared to live through Jesus in each one of us.

2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

What has He provided for us? God the divine nature is prepared to come and dwell so close; more than just close to me but in me so that the divine nature can be erected in me as a righteous perfect person.

Man has the assurance that he can become a partaker of the divine nature, even as Christ became a partaker of human nature. In Christ God pledges himself to come under obligation to mankind, if man will comply with the conditions. Take my yoke upon you, he says, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. God purposes to yoke up with human instrumentalities. This must be a work of cooperation; for how can two walk together, except they be agreed? Never did an earthly parent pity and love his children as our Heavenly Father pities and yearns for those who strive for the overcomer’s reward. Promises of his love and his grace could not be more abundant. And this that we might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. {RH, August 28, 1900 par. 3}

The divine nature can be part of us. By this unity, God facilitates the true unity that is to exist among brethren. The person who opens his mind to this amazing unity, a unity that does not stand back and say, “Step back; I am holier than thou”, but a unity that comes close and knocks at the door and says “May I come in?” If we reject Him, He won’t come and when we invite Him in, He does not abhor us. We might say, “I’m too sinful, you can’t come too close.” That is what some people say. Jesus can’t be that close, but those that will accept Gods yearning to dwell among sinful people and develop a life that will soften their hearts to Him.

This is what God wants so as to so inflame our minds. We will find a natural consequence of a deep relationship like that with Jesus. As we become absorbed by this amazing story, this picture of Gods intense desire, what happens to our hearts? What mental exercise takes hold of you?

If we are Christ’s, our thoughts are with Him, and our sweetest thoughts are of Him. All we have and are is consecrated to Him. We long to bear His image, breathe His spirit, do His will, and please Him in all things. {SC 58.2}

Who has the heart? Of whom do we love to converse? If we open our hearts to the enormity of what we have been looking at, you will indeed be so occupied with Jesus in your heart that because you can’t stop thinking, talking and engaging in a consecrated affectionate relationship with Him. You have no room to hold any negativities to anybody – nobody. If there is conflict between human beings it is because Jesus is not totally engaged in the way written in the book Steps to Christ.

It is inadvertent that when you become absolutely charmed with Jesus, you have no time or desire to occupy yourself with the negativities of other human beings. You will weep as Gods people will sigh and cry for the sins done in the church but you won’t look at those things in the way of lack of unity but how can I bless, uphold and uplift the church to Gods glory. They will concentrate on uplifting Jesus while others are pulling them down. This is when Jesus becomes everything to Gods people when He walks in their body temple and when He walks in the church.

We meet with others with the same experiences who are charmed with the beauty of Jesus and we can’t help but be drawn to each other. It’s so vivid, alive and thrilling that we can’t help but have a deep unity with each other. This is the only way by which the yearning of Father, Son and Holy Spirit can be fulfilled when we cling to this representation bonded by such unity.

1 Corinthians 12:12 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. 13 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.

Can you see unity? It is to be absorbed with the body and flesh and bones and blood of Jesus Christ which is His word. The details of the manifestations of Gods amazing love in becoming a body temple with us. As we are so occupied, we are occupied intimately with one another.

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

These words don’t just describe what a church can be in unity; they describe the intimacy of what God can be in us. The sanctuary engagement is embraced.

Christ, the true foundation, is a living stone; His life is imparted to all that are built upon Him. Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house. Each several building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord. 1 Peter 2:5, R.V.; Ephesians 2:21, R.V. The stones became one with the foundation; for a common life dwells in all. That building no tempest can overthrow; for– That which shares the life of God, With Him surviveth all. {MB 150.2}

Here is the true unity concept of a chemistry that is typified in stones melding together so that the foundation and the stones become one mass. No more cement mortar in between, no more. They come together and join. This is the atonement of Jesus Christ so that the church becomes a temple that is so bonded together that when there is a storm, it sits there. No matter what the storm is, the house can stand. In Central America there was volcano that poured down its molten masses in a city and destroyed everything in its path. There were no survivors bar one. There was a prisoner in a concrete block that had no joints. He was protected. Concrete today has a similar picture where there are no joints.

“On 8th May 1902, Mt Pelée, in Martinique erupted. A glowing avalanche (pyroclastic flow) from the eruption destroyed the town of St Pierre and its 28,000 inhabitants. Only one person, a prisoner, survived.”

God comes close to us and as we are affected by His closeness in such a dimension that it gets bigger and bigger the more you study. I’ve seen different ones among us fall into tears as this story becomes real to them till they become melded together. Those who have not builded on this foundation cannot understand this melding.

But every building erected on other foundation than God’s word will fall. He who, like the Jews in Christ’s day, builds on the foundation of human ideas and opinions, of forms and ceremonies of man’s invention, or on any works that he can do independently of the grace of Christ, is erecting his structure of character upon the shifting sand. The fierce tempests of temptation will sweep away the sandy foundation and leave his house a wreck on the shores of time. {MB 150.3}

We want unity. The only way in which we will ever unite in the marriage, church and world is if we build correctly on the foundation on the atonement of Jesus Christ. Then the relationships that we crave for will be truly satisfied because Jesus is very close to me as I gaze upon His agonies. I was meditating upon His agonies this week and I also gave some studies once to some people in Adelaide. As I was studying with them the sufferings of Christ, they didn’t want to hear it. What is it that really warms our heart? Isn’t it the sufferings of Jesus Christ? It warms my heart so much that I embrace Him and I’m prepared to conquer sin in my flesh as He did. What we do for love. We’ll do anything for love, we’ll suffer anything. We will love and suffer with Him. As we suffer together we’ll also live together. This chemistry and unity that I may dwell among them in this dimension, this is what we are called to.

2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Here is clearly introduced this sanctuary of the church. You are the temple of the living God among whom He dwells. The apparent paradox of don’t unite together with unbelievers is quite fascinating as we’ve noted that God comes close to the rebellious. When God comes close to the rebellious, He wants them to open their heart to Him but if they reject Him, they are an unbeliever and we don’t associate with Him. But before that happens, we come close to help them.

Christ came close to every man for the purpose of having fellowship with Him. I want to be part of you as I want to be part of a church. Those who are building on the right foundation will be in unity. If it’s not done this way, it will never happen. This is why the subject of the atonement or dimension of any other of Gods truth can never be comprehended.

In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption–the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.–Gospel Workers, p. 315. (1915) {Ev 190.1}

If you want to understand unity correctly then study it in the atonement, it’s the only way the subject can be rightly understood and appreciated. The source of this unity is the atonement as taught by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is part of the sanctuary.

1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

The oil of anointing as it abides in us causes us to comprehend even the subject of unity.

Psalms 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant [it is] for brethren to dwell together in unity!

This is a unity that God loves to behold.

Psalms 133:1 A Song of degrees of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant [it is] for brethren to dwell together in unity! 2 [It is] like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, [even] Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; 3 As the dew of Hermon, [and as the dew] that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, [even] life for evermore.

Isaiah 66:22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. 23 And it shall come to pass, [that] from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.

That is what we look forward to. We can never enjoy it in heaven while we do not enjoy it here and engage in the atonement unity. This is to be our mind occupation, to talk and think and live the realities of Jesus Christ.


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Posted on 23/02/2012, in Divine Service Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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