God’s Prototype of the Local Church
A Unified Church
Acts 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
Intro: This early church – this first church – this prototype of the local church – was a unified church.
They were made up of every possible dynamic that would make unity impossible.
They came from different countries.
They spoke different languages.
They had different cultures.
They had a variety of religious beliefs and traditions.
ILLUSTRATION: When we were serving in South Africa back from 2001 to 2006, we had the opportunity to work with a variety of people. Just in the city of Bloemfontein we worked in, there were no less than three language groups and about four different people groups. We saw people saved that spoke Sesotho, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, and English. We worked with Whites, Blacks and Coloureds. We watched God break down cultural and racial barriers almost every day. We saw them worship together, sing together, go soulwinning together, sit in the Bible Institute and study God’s word together, eat together, fellowship together. It was something to behold!
There are some things stronger than a common culture, common language, common traditions and common background.
It is a common faith.
It was their relationship with Jesus Christ.
The one thing that united this group of over 3,000 believers from all over the world was their faith.
Their love for God and for truth and for the Bible superseded their love for themselves or their own agenda.
However – this unity was no accident. It was God’s plan from the beginning.
Notice first of all:
I. The Prayer for Unity
In John 17, Jesus prayed multiple times for the people of God to be unified.
- Vs. 11 – And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
- Vs. 21 – That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
- Vs. 22 – And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
- Vs. 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.
Jesus understood the power of unity.
He understood the amount of opposition and adversity that the church would face.
He wanted the church to be a powerhouse – a force to be reckoned with.
He knew that division would cripple the effectiveness of the local church.
- Matthew 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
II. The Pattern of Unity
The pattern for unity that Jesus prayed for was the unity between God the Son and God the Father.
What an amazing pattern!
- Vs. 11 – …that they may be one, as we are.
- Vs. 21 – That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…
- Vs. 22 – …that they may be one, even as we are one:
The will of God for every believer is that they achieve this unity.
Notice the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4
- Ephesians 4:13 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:
III. The Parameters for Unity
The key prerequisite for unity is doctrine.
There can be no unity apart from an agreement on doctrine.
Notice the Biblical admonition concerning unity and doctrine:
- Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
- 9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
- 10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
- 11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.
SEE Ephesians 4:3-6
- 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
- 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
- 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
IV. The Proof of Unity
Not every church is a unified church.
In fact, there were churches in the New Testament that had lost sight of the importance of unity.
They had allowed their selfish agendas and personal differences to jeopardize the power of God in the church.
The Apostle Paul begged the carnal Corinthian church to fix their unity issues.
- 1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and [that] there be no divisions among you; but [that] ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
He stressed that division and strife is a revelation of extreme carnality.
- 1 Corinthians 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas [there is] among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
Paul explained that the body of Christ should not have division or dissention.
- 1 Corinthians 12:25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
The church of Corinth had drifted far away from God’s prototype of the local church.
They were nothing like the Acts 2 church. The Acts 2 church was a Unified Church and they proved it.
This wasn’t a pretense. This wasn’t an act. These Christians were unified in every possible way.
Notice the emphasis placed on this in the Scripture.
- Chapter 2:44 says they were together – they had all things common.
- Chapter 2:46 says that they continued daily with one accord.
- Chapter 2:46 says they ate their meat in singleness of heart.
- Chapter 4:32 says the multitude of them were of one heart, and one soul.