“I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.” (John 17:20–21, CSB)
Jesus, on the night He was arrested, prayed for the unity of His Church. But unity can only be built on commonality. United as what? By what? If we look back at the 17th verse, we discover that this unified people are a sanctified people: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” Unity is God’s gift to His set -apart people. We are made His children as He embraces us in love. We are unified as those who love the God who has revealed Himself to us. We are unified as those who now have been adopted as His children.
But heresy and idolatry sometimes infiltrate the Church. We are tempted to revise God’s word to fit the culture around us. This is seen today in once great denominations who readily accept heresy and promote abortion and sexual immorality. This redefinition of God and His word is heresy by its very definition. “No servant can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other….” (Luke 16:13, CSB)
When faced with a similar impetus to kowtow to political pressure in 1934, the Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church wrote these words in opposition to the syncretism of the German Church with Nazism:
"In view of the errors of the 'German Christians' of the present Reich Church government which are devastating the Church and are also thereby breaking up the unity of the German Evangelical Church, we confess the following evangelical truths:
'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.' (John 14:6). 'Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber ... I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved.' (John 10:1, 9.)
Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death.
We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God's revelation."
Unity as God’s gift is the direct fruit of being embraced by the love of God. For that love that has embraced us, now transforms us. And as a transformed Church, we now change the world!
Yours in Christ,
St. Paul’s United Methodist Church has invited us to join them for Sunday Dinner on June 30th. The meal will be a potluck in their Fellowship Hall after both congregations’ morning services. St. Paul’s is located about one block Southwest of our church: 2201 S Culberhouse Street. We would like everyone to be there that day—and yes, we will be inviting them to join us for an event sometime in early fall. We will have information about the dinner next week.
Team Evangelism class continues Sunday
9:00– 10:00 AM in the Parish Hall.
What a great turn-out we had for the first class on Sunday. We had over 80% of our average attendance take part. Thank you! This is a sign that the congregation as a whole is ready to move forward in the work of the kingdom. If you were not here last week, you can still take part.
40 Days of Prayer
Our 40 days of prayer continues. Please continue to pray for our church.: 1. For God to lead us in His paths. 2. For the leadership’s readiness to hear and to act. 3. For the energies and talents of every member to be given freely. 4. That the Holy Spirit will go before us to prepare the fields. 5. That God be glorified through His Church and especially St. Timothy’s.
Sermon for Sunday, June 16
Text: John 3:1-21 Title: Rebirth