From Gary... Mustard seeds, miracles and monitions

This is a closeup picture of a mustard seed.  Quite a small thing, really, but Jesus used it as a powerful illustration in the passage below....

Matthew, Chapter 17

  14  When they came to the multitude, a man came to him, kneeling down to him, saying,  15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is epileptic, and suffers grievously; for he often falls into the fire, and often into the water.  16 So I brought him to your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 

  17  Jesus answered, “Faithless and perverse generation! How long will I be with you? How long will I bear with you? Bring him here to me.”   18 Jesus rebuked him, the demon went out of him, and the boy was cured from that hour. 

  19  Then the disciples came to Jesus privately, and said, “Why weren’t we able to cast it out?” 

  20  He said to them, “Because of your unbelief. For most certainly I tell you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.   21  But this kind doesn’t go out except by prayer and fasting.” 

Belief and unbelief: powerful concepts!!!  The miracle almost seems unimportant here as compared them. That the healing was a difficult one is obvious from verse 21, but it is interesting that Jesus didn't seem to do either (vs. 18).  I think its important for us to focus on really believing in Jesus.  That belief will move mountains in our lives; that is, it will radically change them.  The apostles of Jesus needed the power of miracles to confirm the word- we already have it.  Our part is to believe it.  Just do it and things will really change in your life!!!

From Bill Dayton... “More About Jesus…”

More About Jesus…”
6/30/13 AM


A. The Theme for this years VBS was “Tell Me the Story of Jesus.”
B. I would like to follow up on that theme…”More About Jesus.”
C. As we begin this series of studies, ask yourself these questions... Do you have problems, confused, lost?

D. If you do, you are not alone...Job 14;1,2 Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble….”
Job's words, spoken nearly four thousands years ago, express the feeling of millions today

E. However, there is a way out: Jesus Christ...! "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." Jn. 14:6

I. More About Jesus: A Better Life

A. Jesus: "...I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." – Jn. 10:10
A loving Father in Heaven, Who cares for His children – Matt.6:31-33
B. The happiest people in the world are those who truly commit themselves to following Jesus….no matter what!

II. More About Jesus: Forgiveness.

A. Jesus is the only solution to our problem…SIN! Rom.3:23; 6:23
B. Because Of Jesus, God Provides Forgiveness. 1Jn.1:9-10 (propitiation) Eph.1:7 (blood) LK.13:3(repentance)

III. More About Jesus: Reconciliation
A. Jesus came to this world to reconcile man back to God the Father. 2Cor.5:17-20; Jn.14:6…only way to Father
B. One will never experience "eternal life" without an intimate relationship with the Father, Son. Jn.17:3
IV. More About Jesus: Less Religious Confusion

A. Many are confused by the thousands of different churches/doctrines who profess to be His church.
B. Jesus certainly does not approve it Matt.16:18; Jn.17:20-21..added by the Lord (Acts 2:47)

V. More About Jesus: Eternal Life

A. It is appointed for men to die once, then the judgment –Heb.9:27. Eternal Life/CondemnationMatt.25:46
B. To die in Jesus is to die in the way to life eternal! – Jn. 6:27; 11:25Rev 14:13 (Read)


A. I hope that I have sparked your interest in wanting to learn “More About Jesus.”

B. My purpose in this series is twofold...

1. For those who are Christians: To increase their appreciation of Jesus as their Lord and Savior…to serve!
2. For those who are not Christians: To encourage them to let Jesus be their way to everything that is truly good

3. Both in this life and in the life to come..Offer Invitation. 

From Jim McGuiggan... Conditional Immortality (3)

Conditional Immortality (3)

Conditional Immortality & Resurrection 
A final response on James’ questions. I think the scriptures are plain on this matter: God created humans as embodied beings and meant and means them to enjoy life and fellowship with him as embodied beings. If that’s true then "death" is more than biological breakdown, it is something that thwarts God’s creative purpose—it leaves humans bodiless. This would (in part) explain why 1 Corinthians 15 calls death an "enemy" that needs to be destroyed. You see this in the book of Revelation also where God is said to destroy Death and Hades. (Of course death has more than one face—it is also God’s righteous judgement against sin—Romans 1:32 and Genesis 3, closing verses.)
As I understand scripture, a human isn’t "a spirit or soul that inhabits a discardable body for a while." Nor is a human "a reasoning, self-reflecting piece of animal matter that becomes extinct at death." The body is not the human—end of story. The soul is not the human—end of story. A ghost is not a human. A corpse is not a human. A human is an embodied being that is not fully human unless embodied.
Death short-circuits that fully human experience and if humans remain permanently disembodied then death has triumphed because it has successfully deprived humans of fullness of life, of the life God purposed for them. This is one of the reasons why death had to be abolished and it is abolished in Christ by his resurrection to immortality (2 Timothy 1:10). Of course if God created us embodied but fully intended to jettison bodily existence then we have an entirely different picture. But that’s not the picture we get from reading scripture. Whatever this or that one in the OT believed back in the days before light came in the person of Jesus Christ—whatever they believed it was always God’s intention to live with gloriously embodied humans.
Those who are embraced in Christ’s redeeming work are destined for a glorious resurrection. The resurrection and glory of Jesus Christ is the basis for and guarantee of all the rest (he is "the firstfruits"—1 Corinthians 15). Those alive when Christ makes his "final" appearance will be transformed in body and those who have experienced the rupture (not rapture) of death will be resurrected. In both cases the mortality (susceptibility to death) will have been destroyed so that they will be beyond the reach of death—they’ll be immortal.
But who will be immortal? It won’t be a brand new creation. It isn’t the case that "Wilma" dies and someone like Wilma is resurrected. There’s only one Wilma, she experienced death and she is redeemed from it. She sinned against God, was graciously forgiven; it is that one that is gloriously redeemed. Whatever fine-tuning might be involved that Wilma might live anew in the better world—Wilma’s back. Wilma, like everyone else, is more than what she’s "made of". She is history, memories and relationships. Her experiences in life (sinful and sacred) are the experiences of a specific and irreplaceable embodied being. The idea that she became utterly extinct and was replaced by someone else is, I think, what conditional immortality logically requires since "the first" Wilma ceased to exist and the "second" Wilma is a numerically different "Wilma". If it's an entirely new Wilma then it isn't Wilma--she no longer exists.
If that’s the case, death is eternally the victor over Wilma. For conditional immortality there is no Wilma. Clearly God could (so to speak) "clone" her. He could create a new being with all Wilma’s memories and experiences built in but it could not be identified as the Wilma who was brought to Christ by loving parents, who suffered for the Christ and died trusting him. Though I have a host of unanswered questions (and I’m sure there’s a host of questions I don’t know to ask) I think all the "Wilmas" are coming back. They are the resurrected originals. As original as the transformed ones who never died. In light of how I see scripture and reflect on it conditional immortality doesn’t work for me.

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, the abiding word.com.

From Jim McGuiggan... Conditional Immortality (2)

Conditional Immortality (2)

Those who believe in conditional immortality don’t believe "we’re nothing but animals" because they believe that God has created us with the capacity for conscious and voluntary fellowship with him and mere animals don’t have that. But they do believe that we’re made out of the same "stuff" as animals and that like animals, when we die we simply cease to be. They believe that humans, as far as what we’re "made of" is concerned, are simply one form of matter that can reason and choose in a self-conscious existence. With the decay of the matter the person decays and with the complete disintegration of the matter the person completely disintegrates. It’s obvious then that at death the person ceases to exist. One such thinker said it isn’t so much that man is made of dust, he is dust.
Many of us who don’t believe that the person ceases to exist at biological death tend to think there’s a second "substance" ("spirit" or "soul," whatever that is thought to consist of). That leaves the body and goes elsewhere. Hollywood movies show us "ghosts" that are sort of vapors that sometimes bear the resemblance of the bodies they left. It isn’t necessary to think that if we survive biological meltdown there must be some kind of second "substance". That might be true but it might well be some structured energy that isn’t tangible in the way our bodies are. Whatever it is, it is "us" and we will know it is us. (A little more on that later.)
If God has so made us that "we" express ourselves in this realm through our fleshly/animal aspect but continue on after death, it might not be important for us to know how "we" express ourselves without a fleshly body. That is, maybe it doesn’t matter if we can't come up with an answer to the question, "Is the soul/spirit a substance?" I’m sure it’s profitable for us to search the scriptures and reflect theologically and otherwise on the question but if the scriptures reveal our continued existence after death then at least we can rely on that and work forward with educated guesses.
A human can survive a bad accident, a human can survive the loss of a limb or eyes or arms, of course, but the scriptures teach that a human can survive the loss of his head. Conditional immortality says that a human can only be a human as long as he or she is organic life but Paul believed that he could continue in personal fellowship with Jesus Christ even after his organic life was destroyed (Philippians 1). It would appear that he took seriously the teaching of Jesus that people could kill your body but could not destroy your soul (Matthew 10:28).
But it’s a mistake to say, "it’s only the body that dies" when a person dies. (We hear that quite a bit from well-meaning people at funerals. "She isn’t dead only her body has died.") It’s not only that the scriptures wouldn’t speak that way—it gives the wrong impression about death. Death happens to the entire person. Death is the loss of embodied life. Something happens to the body but something also happens to "the soul". The soul is robbed of the present possibility of life expressed in an embodied mode. Does a person live on after biological death? Yes. But it isn’t embodied life because that has been shut down by death. We can say what we want about the joys of life in the disembodied state if we’re Christ’s but we mustn’t despise the glory of embodied life. The creation, the incarnation, resurrection and glorification of Christ forbids it!
We live biologically, we die and (the scriptures teach) we live again in the general resurrection (compare John 5:28-29 and Acts 24:15). Those embraced in Christ’s redeeming work are resurrected to embodied immortality. God never intended his children to ceaselessly exist as disembodied beings! That would mean that death reigns! The destruction of death is glorious resurrection. The body is for the Lord and what is perhaps even more startling the Lord is for the body (1 Corinthians 6:13 and 19-20). God has no intention of jettisoning the body; the whole person is to be completely redeemed from the curse. What God created when he created a human is a being that enjoys a bodied existence.
That is why the disembodied state is often called "the intermediate" state. It has nothing to do with "where" we exist but has everything to do with "how" we exist. At first we’re embodied and are subject to death and later, we are gloriously embodied and immortal and in between death and the glory we are disembodied. That is "intermediate". It would make no difference if we knew that when we died we went and sat in the Holy Father’s lap. We would not be in our "final" state, which is embodied and all glorious! That glorified and embodied state is the state that follows our glorious resurrection (Philippians 3 and 1 Corinthians 15).

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, the abiding word.com.

From Jim McGuiggan... Conditional immortality (1)

Conditional immortality (1)

A reader asked: "After death what?" Does the "soul" die? Are we made of two different kinds of "stuff"? Let me offer several pieces in this area. 
Some people say that God created matter (a form of energy) and took some of it and gave it the capacity to reason, choose, sin, worship—in short to be a self-conscious being called a human. Out of that same matter God formed the elements like rocks and rivers and growing things like grass and trees. And out of that same matter he made animals and other living things. But he did not give animal matter the capacity to be self-conscious or to reason or worship. Only the matter we call "humanity" is given that ability.
These people insist that a human is "made of" material and nothing but material, material that can think and reason, material arranged in a particular form—the form we call a human. They think that these capacities are imbedded in the (human) material so that when a person dies nothing survives the biological death. When a person dies it’s "all over". That’s part of what "conditional immortality" means.
But someone who believes in conditional immortality says more than that. God will resurrect the dead in Jesus Christ and they will be given life that death can’t touch, they will be made immortal. That immortality is only for those who are redeemed in Jesus Christ. That’s the condition and that’s what conditional immortality means.
Those who hold this view don’t normally believe in eternal conscious torment (I myself don’t believe in eternal conscious torment) though they believe in a resurrection to judgment and eternal punishment, which is an eternal second death, eternal non-existence. (I strongly tend toward that view myself but I’m working with some difficulties connected with it.) 
But is it true that a human as made is wholly and totally mortal? That is, does everything about a human become extinct at biological death? It’s clear that if God chose to make us utterly cease to exist we would cease to exist. If he can create us then it’s nonsense to say that he can’t "uncreate" us. But that’s really not the question. The question is this: has God so made us that at biological death we simply cease to exist? Putting it another way: do humans exist in some disembodied state after biological death? I think they do. It seems to me that that’s what the scriptures teach us.
I think that there is something about us that survives biological death. Call it what we will (soul or spirit or "inner man") there is something that is identified with me, the self-conscious person, that continues on in a disembodied state. This seems to be the simplest and best understanding of Paul in Philippians 1 when he says he had two desires and one of them was to die and go to be with Christ. And while I think in 2 Corinthians 5 he has more in mind than simple separation from his fleshly body I think that that is included when he speaks of being "away from the body" rather than being "at home" in it. Whatever difficulties are generated by believing that the thief went that Friday to be with Jesus in paradise it appears to be simplest and best to believe that that’s precisely what he did. And if he did then the "me" and the "you" (see Luke 23:42-43) that was the dying thief continued to exist in a disembodied state while his corpse was there to behold. See also 2 Corinthians 12:2-3. 
It’s vital that we understand that "life after death" is not the same as the full hope of resurrection to immortality that Jesus is the guarantor of.

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, the abiding word.com

From Jim McGuiggan... Christ and Death at a funeral

Christ and Death at a funeral

Death must have attended funerals with a smile on his face. One more down and many more to go. Clients in a long line following the one that was now in Death’s trophy case. Sad or carefree, smiling or weeping, rich or poor, brilliant or ordinary, learned or ignorant—it made no difference, he’d drag them all down.
But some years earlier he had noticed a boy in a line that followed a coffin. There was something about this child he couldn’t quite put his finger on...what was it...hmm? He saw him numerous other times as the years passed and sometimes he looked in Death’s direction but it must have been only that—a general look in the right direction; he couldn’t have really been looking at him. Still, the vague and distant sense of unease stirred in the abyss that made up Death’s thoughts. Ach, what did it matter—this...something or other—that nibbled at the edge of his mind, the boy’s day would come like all the rest and Death would have him. Oh these humans all acted courageously when they were young and in their prime but now and then as they grew older they sensed Death’s presence and the thought of him began to vex them. Death knew this—had seen it time without number.
It wasn’t that this (now) young adult didn’t take Death seriously. He took it seriously all right, more seriously than all the other mourners; and yet, he had the look of someone that was biding his time. "Strange thing that," Death mused to himself.
Then there was this hullabaloo that began with the appearance of a wild one called John the Baptist. His movement spread like wildfire but before too long it cooled to a glow and the once excited revivalists said nothing when a peevish king threw the prophet in prison. But that’s when the youngster Death had first noticed, now a grown young man, began to preach and heal and...raise the dead. With a growing feeling of doom Death now realised why he had a vague unease at the sight of the boy. No wonder Death had sometimes thought that the boy had actually seen him as he had hovered on the fringes of the mourning. He hadn’t merely been looking in Death’s direction—he had been looking at him. As if he had been calmly saying, "Watch my lips, you and I are going to meet one of these days and I’ll bury you."
Oooh, I do love Sundays, when the bread and the wine are set before us and we commune with the living Jesus Christ, proclaiming his death "until he comes."

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, the abiding word.com.

From Mark Copeland... What Is Truth? (Jn.18:37-38)

                          "THE GOSPEL OF JOHN"

                       What Is Truth? (18:37-38)


1. When Jesus appeared before Pilate, the subject of truth was
   a. Jesus claimed to bear witness to the truth - Jn 18:37
   b. Pilate raised the perennial question: "What is truth?" - Jn 18:38

2. Today, many people sound a lot like Pilate...
   a. A Barna Research Group survey on what Americans believe asked the
      question, "Is there absolute Truth?"...
      1) Sixty-six percent of adults responded that they believe that
         "there is no such thing as absolute truth; different people can
         define truth in conflicting ways and still be correct"
      2) Seventy-two percent of those aged 18 to 25 expressed this
   b. In a series of more than twenty interviews conducted at random at
      a large university, people were asked if there was such a thing as
      absolute truth - truth that is true across all times and cultures
      for all people. All but one respondent answered along these lines:
      1) "Truth is whatever you believe"
      2) "There is no absolute truth"
      3) "If there were such a thing as absolute truth, how could we
         know what it is?"
      4) "People who believe in absolute truth are dangerous"
   -- Info from http://www.christianity.co.nz/truth1.htm

[What is the Christian perspective regarding truth?  Is truth whatever
you believe?  Can we know what is absolute truth?  Let's first summarize
two basic views regarding truth...]


      1. Commonly called the "correspondence view" of truth
      2. A statement is true if and only if it corresponds to or agrees
         with factual reality
      3. This view presupposes a law of logic called the law of
         a. Any unambiguous, declarative statement must be either true
            or false
         b. It cannot be neither true nor false; nor can it be both true
            and false
         c. E.g., the statement "I am standing in front of you"...
            1) Is true only if, in fact, I am standing here in front of
            2) Must be either true or false, it cannot be both true and
      4. The correspondence view of truth holds that propositional or
         declarative statements are subject to verification and
         a. A statement can be proven false if it can be shown to
            disagree with objective reality
         b. E.g., the statement "The world is flat"...
            1) Is either true or false, it cannot be both
            2) Photographs from space have falsified flat-earth claims
      -- This view of truth was held by the vast majority of
         philosophers and theologians throughout history until recently

      1. Commonly called the "relativistic view" of truth
         a. What is true depends on the views of persons or cultures
         b. Not on whether statements correspond to objective reality
      2  For a statement to be true simply means that a person or
         culture to believes it to be true; people with this view of
         truth say things like:
         a. "Well, if that's true for you..."
         b. "We can't judge other cultures"
      3. Poet Steve Turner wrote a parody of this attitude and called it
         "Creed". In part he said:

         I believe that each man must find the truth
            that is right for him.
         Reality will adapt accordingly.
         The universe will readjust. History will alter.
         I believe that there is no absolute truth
            excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

      4. When truth is deemed dependent upon the person or culture
         holding the belief, anything can become "true"); for example...
         a. One person can say "Jesus is Lord" and another can say
            "Allah is Lord"
         b. Both statements will be true, if they accurately express the
            sentiments of the speakers
         c. This view seems to advance tolerance and civility, but it
            does so at the expense of logic
         d. The very definition of "Lord" precludes the possibility they
            are both "Lord"
      5. Those who say there is no absolute truth make decisions every
         day based things they believe are true or false; for example...
         a. They turn on a light believing in the reality of electricity
         b. They drive a car believing in the effectiveness of the
         c. No one flying would want to be directed by a navigator who
            did not believe in the truth of his instruments
         d. No one undergoing brain surgery would want to be operated on
            by a surgeon who did not believe that some things about the
            brain were true and some not true
      6. If there are no absolutes, there is no right and wrong
         a. I can kill you, steal from you, lie to you, and you can't
            say it is wrong
         b. Because if I believe I should do such things, and succeed,
            then it works for me and it has become my personal truth
            (and who are you to judge me?)
         c. "In the absence of truth, power is the only game in town."
            - Richard John Neuhaus
      -- Despite its absurdity, this view of truth has become the
         darling of all who want to be free to "do their own thing"

[Christians have historically affirmed the "correspondence view" of
truth.  For good reasons, because it is consistent with...]


      1. True (alethes) - "unconcealed, manifest...actual, true to fact"
         - Vine
      2. True (alethinos) - "denotes 'true' in the sense of 'real,
         ideal, genuine;'" - ibid.
      3. Truth (aletheia)
         a. "objectively, signifying 'the reality lying at the basis of
            an appearance; the manifested, veritable essence of a
            matter' (Cremer)" - ibid.
         b. "subjectively, 'truthfulness,' 'truth,' not merely verbal,
            but sincerity and integrity of character" - ibid.
      -- When the Bible speaks of truth, it describes that which
         corresponds to reality, what is factual and absolute, not

      1. God is a God of truth - Deut 32:4
      2. Jesus is the truth, and full of truth, and spoke the truth - 
         Jn 14:6; 1:14; 8:45
      3. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, and guided the apostles
         into all the truth - Jn 14:17; 16:13
      4. The Word of God is truth - Jn 17:17
      5. The judgments of God are according to truth - Ps 96:13; Ro 2:2
      6. Christians should walk in the truth as revealed by Jesus,
         including the standard of morality He taught - cf. Ep 4:17-32;
      7. Christians should patiently teach others the truth - cf. 2 Ti 2:23-26
      8. Many will turn their ears away from the truth - cf. 2Ti 4:1-4
      -- Much more could be said, as the Bible reveals so much about
         what is truth


1. What is truth...?
   a. Truth is what is real
   b. God is real, and reveals what is real
   c. God is truth, and what He says is the truth

2. Call yourself what you may, but you cannot be a Christian unless...
   a. You hold the correspondence view of truth
   b. You believe in moral absolutes of right and wrong
   c. You accept Jesus and His Word as the ultimate source of truth,
      especially in regards to morality and salvation

For those willing to accept Jesus as the ultimate source of truth, they
will be greatly blessed... - cf. Jn 8:31-36

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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From Mark Copeland... That The World May Know (Jn.17:20-23)

                          "THE GOSPEL OF JOHN"

                   That The World May Know (17:20-23)


1. Shortly before His betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion, Jesus prayed
   to His Father...
   a. For Himself - Jn 17:1-5
   b. For His disciples - Jn 17:6-19
   c. For all His future believers - Jn 17:20-26

2. His prayer is truly remarkable...
   a. It has been called "The Lord's High Priestly Prayer"
   b. It is truly "The Lord's Prayer", a title normally given to the
      sample prayer found in Mt 6:9-13; Lk 11:2-4

3. We learn what weighed heavily on our Lord's mind, knowing that
   "the hour has come"...
   a. He sought to be glorified by His Father
   b. He was concerned for the well-being of His disciples
   c. He wanted His followers to be one, even as He and the Father were
      one - Jn 17:20-23

4. It is our Lord's concern for unity that I want us to examine in this
   a. Why was unity so important to Jesus?
   b. What has Jesus done that it might be accomplished?
   c. In our religiously divided world today, how can we maintain unity
      among those who believe in Jesus?

[As we look closer at our text (Jn 17:20-23), we are immediately
impressed with...]


      1. Without unity, it is difficult to persuade unbelievers that
         Jesus came from God
         a. Those in the world care little about doctrine and
            theological distinctions
         b. But in a world with racial, ethnic and cultural divisions,
            unity can capture their attention!
      2. This is not to say that doctrine is not important!
         a. Jesus had already emphasized the importance of abiding in
            His word - Jn 8:31
         b. But the proclamation of truth must be accompanied by unity
      3. When we are united in Christ, it gives credence to our claims
         a. That Jesus was sent from God
         b. That as the Son of God who rose from the dead...
            1) He lives in our hearts
            2) He has transformed our lives by the power of His
               resurrected life!
      -- Which is why some have referred to unity as "The Final
         Apologetic" (Schaeffer)

   B. "THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW" - Jn 17:23
      1. Jesus again emphasizes the power of unity among His disciples
         to convince an unbelieving world!
      2. Not only that they may know God sent Jesus...
         a. But that God has also loved them! - Jn 3:16; 1Jn 4:9-10
         b. Indeed, even as God loves His only begotten Son ("as You
            have loved Me")!
      3. What a powerful message we have to share with the world!
         a. God loves them even as He loves His Son!
         b. But to convince the world of such love, unity among
            disciples is imperative!

[In light of Jesus' prayer for unity, no true disciple can be content
with religious division as it exists today (cf. 1Co 1:10).  Paramount
in our discipleship should be efforts to eliminate any kind of
religious division that is contrary to the will of Christ!

But how can we be one, even as the Father and the Son are one?  Here
are some thoughts on...]


      1. "Glory" which He had received from the Father - Jn 17:22
         a. Which He had given to His disciples
         b. Which enabled them to be one just as He and the Father were
      2. What is this "glory" to which Jesus refers?
         a. It may involve the idea of Jesus abiding in us
            1) I.e., the glory of Jesus abiding in us even as the
               Father abides in the Son
            2) Through such abiding, we may be made perfect in one
               - Jn 17:23
         b. Certainly without abiding in Jesus, we can do nothing
            - cf. Jn 15:4-5

   [Whatever the "glory" refers to, we should note that true unity
   comes from Jesus Himself; with this in mind, note the following...]

      1. As Paul expounded in Ep 2:14-16
         a. The division between Jew and Gentile ended at the cross
         b. Jesus died to make it possible for us to be one body!
            - Ep 4:4
      2. When we come to Christ through obedience to His gospel, we are
         united with all believers in His one body!
         a. We are baptized into one body - 1Co 12:13
         b. Thus we begin the Christian life united with all believers
            in Christ!

[When it comes to "attaining" unity, Jesus accomplished the unity for
which He prayed!  Our challenge is "maintaining" this unity if we wish
to honor Jesus' prayer...]


      1. Unity is impossible without adherence to the same standard
         a. Unless there were standards regarding weights and measures,
            confusion and division would result every time we went to
            the store
         b. Religious division occurs because people accept different
            standards of authority
            1) Some accept the authority of a pope, presbytery,
               prophet, or preacher
            2) We cannot maintain the unity for which Jesus died unless
               we can agree on the same standard
      2. For Christians our standard of authority must be that which...
         a. Originated from Christ - cf. Jn 8:31; Mt 28:18
         b. Was delegated to His apostles - cf. Jn 13:20; Mt 28:20;
            Ac 2:42
         c. Was proclaimed and written by His apostles - cf. 1Th 2:13;
            1Co 14:37
      3. Taught by His apostles, we must be careful to...
         a. Observe ALL that He has commanded - Mt 28:20
         b. Not allow traditions of men to make void the commandments
            of God - Mt 15:3-6
         c. Not teach as doctrine the commandments of (uninspired) men
            - Mt 15:9
      -- The "apostles' doctrine" (i.e., the New Testament) must be our
         standard of authority, even as Jesus acknowledged when He
         prayed "for those who will believe in Me through their word"
         (i.e., the apostles' teaching) - Jn 17:20

      1. As Paul instructed the Philippians - Php 2:2-5
         a. There is no place for selfish ambition or conceit
         b. We must esteem others highly, and look out for their
      2. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians - Ep 4:1-3
         a. We must manifest lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering,
            forbearance in love
         b. With such diligence, we "keep" (maintain) the unity of the
            Spirit in the bond of peace
      -- Without this "mind" of Christ, we will misuse the word of God
         and destroy the unity Jesus attained through His death on the

[With His doctrine before us, His mind in us, we can maintain the unity
Jesus attained.  With lives transformed by His teachings and His
attitude, we provide visible proof to the world that Jesus did come
from God and that the Father loves them also.

Finally, some thoughts about a providing a "visible" unity ("That The
World May Know")...]


      1. It is in the context of the local congregation that unity will
         be most evident
         a. For that is where interaction of Christians most often
         b. Note that the warnings against division were often
            addressed in the context of the local church - e.g., 
            1Co 1:10-13; 3:3-4; 11:18
      2. Therefore unity truly begins "at home"
         a. We may rightly deplore the religious division elsewhere
         b. But our first concern must be preserving unity in our own
         c. How sad when those who condemn religious division in the
            denominations can't even preserve unity in their own

      1. In the New Testament, each congregation was self-governing and
         a. Governed by a plurality of elders (bishops, pastors) whose
            authority was limited to the flock of God among them - cf.
            Ac 14:23; 20:28; 1Pe 5:1-2
         b. There was no authority above the local congregation other
            than that of Christ and His apostles
      2. It was only after the apostles died that things soon changed
         a. "During the second century A.D. churches came to have a
            single bishop, and then that bishop came to exercise
            oversight over nearby rural churches as well as the city
            church so that his ecclesiastical territory became known as
            a "diocese" or "see" ("eparchy" in the East).  Bishops of
            churches that had been founded by apostles were said to be
            in succession to the apostles, and hence their teaching was
            held to be authentic and their authority collegial.  By 400
            A.D. in the West, the bishop of Rome began to assume
            extraordinary authority above other bishops." (Holman Bible
         b. "Ignatius shows that in the early second century the office
            of bishop over the elders had developed, but Lightfoot has
            shown that it was not so in the first century." (Word
            Pictures, A. T. Robinson)
      3. Such changes were not only unscriptural, but set the stage for
         denominational division
         a. Churches were expected to line up under one bishop,
            patriarch, or council
         b. Rather than let the Lord Himself judge each church (cf. Re
            2-3), religious hierarchies began determining which
            churches were faithful
         c. This has led to the denominational division so rampant
            today, and which presents a religiously divided picture to
            the world!
      -- As long as the denominational practice of organizing churches
         under some hierarchy above the local church continues,
         religious division will remain!


1. No true disciple of Jesus should treat religious division with
   a. It is contrary to our Lord's prayer for unity - Jn 17:20-23
   b. It is condemned by Paul as a manifestation of carnality - 1Co 3:

2. Unity among disciples of Christ must be a primary concern, for
   a. Died on the cross to attain unity
   b. Believed it to be "The Final Apologetic" to convince the world
      that He came from God

3. Since Jesus attained unity through His death, our task is to
   maintain it by...
   a. Following the doctrine of Christ as communicated through His
   b. Displaying the mind of Christ as we interact with one another in
      our local churches
   c. Honoring the New Testament pattern of church organization, which
      is designed to slow the growth of religious division whenever it

It is not always possible to avoid religious division (cf. 1Co 11:19),
but may we do all we can to preserve the unity we enjoy in Christ!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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