Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Real Unity, Biblical Unity, Which Is Required, Versus Fake Unity, The Overwhelmingly Most Common Today -- pt. 3

Part One   Part Two

God requires unity.  His Word says it is to and can occur in each individual, true church.  It is total, complete unity, described several times in the New Testament, and based upon the truth.  We looked at this in part one.  Then I began and continued exploring reasons why no biblical unity and, therefore, fake unity, which isn't unity at all.  I've covered two of my originals so far.

  • It requires biblical and doctrinal clarity, which takes preparation, study, and effort, and people aren't sure or they have too many doubts about the Bible.
  • It requires a lot of work and conflict, because you have to deal with people who don't want to unify and will cause division.
  • It requires accepting biblical unity and not a fake kind.
A very good bit of advice I received when I was in college that the most important quality of a good teacher is that he wants his students to learn.  If you are going to get unity, you've got to want unity. You can't settle for the fake.

A church that accepts something less than biblical unity isn't obeying scripture, because scripture teaches it.  You've got to want it.  If you want it, then you'll use the tools given to church leadership and the church to have it.  Since the Bible teaches it, it is God's will.  Every believer should be praying for God's will.  If you are praying for God's will, then you are praying for unity in the church.

If you want unity, you'll talk about it as a leader.  A good time to do this is the Lord's Table.  It is, after all, communion.  A church should have communion at communion.  Unity comes from purity, so the desire for unity starts with purity.

Last Sunday night at our church, I preached on spiritual gifts.  The body is one.  Oneness also requires diversity, which isn't division but compatibility.  People need to accept their God-ordained role in the church.  That can be taught -- fitting together.  Paul emphasized love in 1 Corinthians 13, the proper use of the gifts, not the gifts themselves.  The Holy Spirit divides the gifts as He wills, but the church employs those gifts with love, to the benefit of the whole body.
  • It might shrink the size of the assembly or, put another way, restrict numerical growth, which is considered to be a primary indicator of success and other future desired opportunities.
Churches trade unity for size today.  They don't think they can have unity and a church large enough to be self-supporting.  Or, they don't think they will be big and, therefore, successful.  They turn true unity into fake unity, because numerical growth is more important.

It works like the following.  Someone doesn't want to fit in.  He says he won't unless he is allowed to be divide.  The church accepts the division to keep him.  You have to keep people to get bigger.  The church changes the definition of unity in order to keep more people and also stay together on lesser terms.  The toleration of false doctrine and practice becomes the new standard.
  • It brings attack from those who accept and practice fake unity and treat it like it is biblical, when it is not.
There isn't a biblical teaching of the fake unity.  Scripture teaches against it.  Since it can't be defended with the Bible, a typical defense is an attack on those holding to true unity alone.  It is equal to "calling good evil, and evil good."  They call division unity and unity division.  They say toleration of division is unity and intolerance of division is division.  Divisive people are intolerant of division.  Intolerance isn't allowed. Those who accept division encourage unity, except that it is fake unity.  It isn't real or true unity.

Another attack is that it is unloving to expect people to get along.  It's unloving not to accept a wide diversity of faith and practice.  I'm saying that opponents of true unity will attack it for being too narrow and unloving.

The idea you'll see today are core values and those values are a short list.  It's not based on all of scripture, because that won't be possible if they want to get big.  If you expect more than "core values," you'll be attacked as too strict or intolerant.

The church isn't a big tent that accepts many diverse beliefs and practices.  It is a very narrow tent that accepts only what God says in His Word.  Where scripture is silent, church members have liberty, but obedient churches won't settle for anything less that true, biblical unity.


Tyler Robbins said...

A nice Christian lady has been attending our church. She wanted to join. She went to the membership class, where we go over the statement of faith line by line, and explain what we believe. She disagreed with something. We told her it was non-negotiable. She left and has not returned. I care, but yet I don't care. Unity.

David said...

Pastor Brandenburg,

I apologize for placing this comment here when it does not tie in at all with the post above, but I thought my question may have a greater change of being seen and answered if it were placed on a newer post rather than an old post that seems to have the comments closed.

I have read through your posts on prayer. Thank you for the thought-provoking stance on prayer. In studying through 1 John, what you wrote was very helpful in dealing with I John 5:14-15. I had some questions arise, though with v.16. "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it."

Applying the principles of prayer that you shared in your series, I am confused as to how they all apply here. For example, how do we know whether the sin that was committed is unto death or not? If I am to pray according to God's will, it seems I would need to know this first. Obviously, if the person dies, that would be an indicator, but by then, there would be point in praying since it is too late. Commentators are varied on their interpretations of this verse. Some say it refers to an unbeliever and the death and life are spiritual. Others say it refers to a believer (brother) and the death/life being physical (which is my understanding). Does this teach that if we pray for a true brother in Christ who has not sinned unto death (chastisement through death), that we have a promise to pray for him and he for sure will repent? This seems to align with believers being overcomer. Thoughts? Thanks.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I agree that's about how it works as a part of it. To have unity, you have to do that at least.

Kent Brandenburg said...


First, thanks for reading what I've written here on prayer. I want people to think about what scripture teaches on prayer.

Second, consider what John Gill writes about this section:

a sin [which is] not unto death;
every sin, even the least sin, is in its own nature mortal, or deserving of death; the proper wages of sin is death, yea, death eternal; yet none of the sins of God's elect are unto death, or issue in death, in fact; which is owing not to any different nature there is in their sins, or to their good works which counterbalance them; but to the grace of God, and to the blood and righteousness of Christ, by which they are pardoned and justified, and freed from obligation to punishment, or eternal death, the just demerits of them: but how should another man know that a brother's sin is not unto death, when it is of the same nature and kind with another man's? it is known by this, that he does not continue in it; he does not live in the constant commission of it; his life is not a course of iniquity; that sin he sins is not a governing one in him; though he falls into it, he rises up out of it through divine grace, and abides not in it; and he has a sense of it, and is sorry for it, after a godly sort, loaths it, and himself for it; is ashamed of it, ingenuously confesses it, and mourns over it and forsakes it: now when any strong believer or spiritual man sees or knows that a brother has sinned, and this is his case,

he shall ask;
he shall pray to God for him, that he would administer comfort to him, discover his love, and apply his pardoning grace to him, and indulge him with his presence and the light of his countenance:

and he shall give him life;
that is, God shall give the sinning brother life; by which may be meant comfort, that which will revive his drooping spirits, and cause him to live cheerfully and comfortably, that so he may not be swallowed up with over much sorrow; or he shall grant a discovery of the pardon of his sin unto him, which will be as life from the dead, and will give him a comfortable hope of eternal life, of his right unto it, and meetness for it:

There is a sin unto death;
which is not only deserving of death, as every other sin is, but which certainly and inevitably issues in death in all that commit it, without exception; and that is the sin against the Holy Ghost, which is neither forgiven in this world nor in that to come, and therefore must be unto death; it is a sinning wilfully, not in a practical, but doctrinal way, after a man has received the knowledge of the truth; it is a wilful denial of the truth of the Gospel, particularly that peace, pardon, righteousness, eternal life, and salvation, are by Jesus Christ, contrary to the light of his mind, and this joined with malice and obstinacy; so that there is no more or other sacrifice for such a sin; there is nothing but a fearful looking for of wrath and fury to fall on such opposers of the way of life; and as the presumptuous sinners under Moses's law died without mercy, so must these despiteful ones under the Gospel; see ( Matthew 12:31 Matthew 12:32 ) ( Hebrews 10:26-29 ) . Some think there is an allusion to one of the kinds of excommunication among the Jews, called "shammatha", the etymology of which, according to some Jewish writers, is (htym Mv) , "there is death" F20.

I do not say that he shall pray for it;
the apostle does not expressly forbid to pray for the forgiveness of this sin, yet what he says amounts unto it; he gives no encouragement to it, or any hopes of succeeding, but rather the reverse; and indeed where this sin is known, or can be known, it is not to be prayed for, because it is irremissible; but as it is a most difficult point to know when a man has sinned it, the apostle expresses himself with great caution.

To Be Continued

Kent Brandenburg said...


I think you're asking what is a sin unto death, and if we're going to pray in God's will, it would seem that we would need to know that. The people John wrote knew. Do we know? I think we know well enough. Since it is something that we can assume we know, it is a professing believer, who won't listen to correction, so is done with the ministry of the Holy Spirit in his life. If it is a believer, he'll be killed. If it is an unbeliever, he can't get right, he's had his last opportunity. This can happen. You will know because here is a person you try and try and try to help and they don't listen. By giving that person spiritual aid, it just hardens the person more.

Let me know if that is enough.

Mark Sennes said...

40 kids, 20 pianos, 1 conductor, 1 written score of music.

I was watching one of my daughters at a rehearsal for a large concert of young piano players (mostly 9-11 year olds in this case), and after the children played a portion of their piece, the conductor said she noticed they didn’t all agree on something - I think either the tempo or the dynamics - and they would need to work on it some more to be perfectly together and to play in unison according to how the music was written.

When she said that, my mind shifted from simply enjoying them working on their music to thinking about how this compares to unity within a church. I immediately thought of Ephesians 4:11-13: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

Some parallels that came to mind were: the 40 children are like church members, the 20 pianos are like spiritual gifts being used in ministry, the 1 conductor is like a pastor that is teaching the proper interpretation and application of the 1 written score, which is the Word of God. Thankfully in this case, all the children seemed to genuinely want true unity in performing their music, and were working diligently to that end.

It’s sad that in many cases today, pastors are not interested in carefully and diligently teaching the whole counsel of God, and many are not interested in hearing that kind of preaching or in being Scripturally unified. I’m thankful for the several pastors and churches I personally know of that are attempting to have Scriptural unity based on the whole counsel of God.

Mark Sennes

Kent Brandenburg said...


I concur. Thanks.