Fellowship By The Cross, Part 2
What we’re looking at tonight is really impossible to live. It’s one of those scriptures that you lay out and unless we go back and are really crucified we won’t be able to fake this, we won’t be able to put it together by self effort. In fact, if we seek to do it by our own power and our own strength it will absolutely destroy us in the process. In Acts 4:32 it says:
Acts 4:32 – All the believers were one in heart and mind . . .
A lot of churches try to agree in doctrine, they have a list of doctrinal beliefs, they have an idea of what they believe and they try to get other people to come along with that belief. It says that the first church right after Pentecost, right after the cross of Jesus Christ in verse 32 that all the believers were not only one in mind but also in heart. It would be an amazing thing to find a church where everybody was united in terms of the same thoughts of God. That is, as they looked at scripture they all agreed that that’s exactly what scripture said. As they applied scripture to other people’s lives they would agree that that’s how those scriptures should be applied in their life. That would be an amazing enough thing to find. To find a church where not only is the mind united in Jesus but also the heart, that would be literally amazing to almost everybody. The heart is the passion and the heart is the putting into action of that which you agree upon. And to find a heart that everybody is beating with the same heart, moving with the same energy and the same zeal for what they believe would really glorify God in a tremendous way.
Acts 4:32 – All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.
The first thing the scripture lists is there was a unity again in heart and mind and then it talks about the material things that they owned. Usually the churches try it the other way around. They try to get together and have a benevolence fund or certain things where they give to other individuals or some will even try to have everything in common in terms of a material sense, but we tend to take the idea of the mind and the heart and put it on the back burner because it’s impossible to live without the grace of God. In verse 33 it says:
Acts 4:33 – With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.
Verse 33 again, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and must grace was upon them all.” We’re talking about having the grace of God in our life we’re going to have to become a people that are perfectly united in heart and in mind.
Let’s look at Philippians 4:2. Because the only way we’re going to have the same hearts is if we die at our own hearts. And the only way we’re going to have the same mind of Christ is if we’re crucified to our own mind and to our own thoughts. And so in Philippians 4:2 Paul says this:
Philippians 4:2 – I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.
Paul doesn’t lay before us something that is impossible. And God doesn’t come to us and say that we need to be perfectly united in heart and mind and lay before us something that we cannot obtain and that we cannot have. And we dishonor God when we agree to disagree. When we have an idea that says this is impossible to do and to put forth and so we just kind of ignore it and pretend it’s not there or we say there’s unity when there is no unity. He says, “I plead with them to be united in the Lord.” And so we’re asking for a prayer. We’re coming before God and we’re saying that we want to be a body in a church where everybody has the same heart and everybody has the mind and everybody pursues the same thoughts in the same way with the same actions and with the heart that beats within us.
Let’s go to 2 Peter 1:2 and let’s begin to see and believe that God is able to work this if we have willing hearts—and there’s the key. If we’re willing to surrender before God, if we’re willing to give up all our thoughts and our minds and our hearts and let God put in us the mind of Christ we will literally have the same thoughts, we will have the same heart. But the problem is we don’t die enough to self for that to happen. In 2 Peter 1:2 it takes all the excuses we have for not being righteous and holy and it totally demolishes those. It says:
2 Peter 1:2 – Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
As we come to an understanding that God is laying before us and saying, “You can be of one heart. You can be of one mind. You can preach the gospel in this fashion.” If we have that knowledge and we understand that, then we can give ourselves to God so that He can work that and He can glorify His name. Again, remember it says much grace was upon them all. If we want to preach the gospel with power, if we want people to really see the glory of God then we must give ourselves to have one heart and one mind.
2 Peter 1:3 – His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
We’re going to need divine power to be of one heart and one mind. We will not be able to conjure this up, to create it. We will not be able to develop a check list long enough to go down the list and say, “Okay, we’re perfectly united.” We might become perfectly united in every thought. Let’s say that we went after that kind of thing and we had this list that says we agree on all these doctrines. Who can make the heart the same for everybody? Only God can do that. The only way to be united in heart and mind is to have His glory and His goodness within us. And we need to be a people losing our glory, our opinions, our ideas and our thoughts and our own glory to have His glory.
So let’s go to 1 Corinthians 1:10. Because Paul lays before us an appeal that we can live and that we can be a people that are obedient to if we will die to ourselves. If we will go and see Jesus Christ portrayed as crucified and died for our opinions. It will really come down to some very simple things. It will be that we have this thought and we have this idea about things whether it be Scripture or even things in the world. And we literally come before God and we lay that on the altar to be crucified that we might have the mind of Christ. And we take our heart and our passion and the things that we want done in the Lord and we ask Him to crucify those that we might have what His heart desires. Everybody has their ministry, don’t they? Everybody has their calling, everybody wants to fulfill what they have in the church. Everybody has certain things that they want to see done. It’s those things that we take before God and have Him crucify that we can have His heart.
1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
Let’s just think about that for a moment. To be “perfectly united in mind and in thought.” But if each of us has the mind of Christ then the thoughts that flow from there will be perfect unity. And talk about the world saying there’s brain washing going on, they’ll say that for sure. But we need to be a people going back and asking God to make us one in heart and in thought. Verse 11:
1 Corinthians 1:11-12 – My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
You’ll notice that in verse 12 they still call upon Christ. “Well I follow Jesus Christ and you follow Paul over here and we have this opinion over here and we have this thought over here and we have this project over here.” Everybody has that which they want to go for and that which they think is so noble and so each person aligns themselves with the other person who agrees with them and pretty soon you have all divisions happening out here. And we’re not talking about agreeing, say on a project, for instance we could all agree that we want to build a new church building. And everybody come into agreement with that but not necessarily by the cross because the thinking process to get to that agreement may not be there. That is, the mind of Christ might be saying I want to build a church in order to glorify My name. Whereas the mind of man is saying I want to build the church in order to what? To lift up the ministry. There’s two different things happening there, even though there’s an agreement. “Be perfectly united in mind and in thought”—the way that we come to our conclusions.
1 Corinthians 1:13 – Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?
Jesus doesn’t have fifteen different emotions and ideas and concepts about things and the way things should be done. There is one thing, it is the mind of Christ, it is the heart of Christ, and He works those things out to perfect unity and so what He’s looking for are empty vessels where He can fill up His mind and His thoughts. We take all of these names and all of these divisions and even the name of Jesus Christ, even that, tacking on that banner that says I follow Jesus Christ and I don’t follow all those men. And we use Jesus Christ to what? Justify our opinions and our thoughts and what we want to do and we simply come before God and we say, “God, crucify my feelings and my emotions for what I want to do and give us Your mind and give us Your heart in all things.”
1 Corinthians 1:14-16 – I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.)
He was thankful that he didn’t come and make his ministry and make his name and come in declaring that he is somehow doing something for himself and aligning people over here. And this is what most people do in terms of preaching the gospel. It’s what most churches do. We set out to make a name for ourselves or to build up a particular church. We’re not teaching people to what? Have the mind of Christ and His heart. We’re teaching them to believe what we believe and to get involved in the projects that we have. Among almost every church—and sometimes pastors—are taught to have a project and keep those projects going because it keep the people united. If you want to keep a church growing and excited and zealous, build a church building. Build a larger sanctuary because as long as the building is going along, as long as you have this outward kind of thing you’re focusing in on, everyone seems to give themselves over to that project. But let that project be completed and then you stop at that point and you begin to find the fighting going on and self begins to come out. We’re talking about becoming dead to all of our things and the things that we want and our pet projects in Jesus Christ that God might work within us His complete unity and His heart.
1 Corinthians 1:17 – For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
He didn’t send me to do a particular work. He didn’t send me to build a particular church or a building or a name for my ministry or my work over here. He sent me to preach the gospel. “Not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” So what we’re coming back to in order to become one in heart and mind we have to let God crucify our hearts, we have to Him crucify our mind and put it to death. And though we say the words how hard we hold on to our opinion. And how hard we hold on to the things that we want done in the way that we want them done. So God is not able to glorify His body and He’s not able to bring us into unity because all of us are trying to fulfill our calling in Jesus Christ—or what we believe should be done. We don’t give way to one another because we feel it could be done best this way.
1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
We’re talking about letting the cross of Christ come in and say, “Tim, you know you may be right on this but let’s put it on the cross and let’s put it to be crucified and let’s do it this way for the sake of your brothers and sisters.” It’s everybody what? Taking on the very nature of a servant that says, “If it is God’s will I want to serve you in what it is that you think is best in Jesus Christ.” And if everybody has that then everybody is dying to what they want to do and what they think is the best thing in Jesus Christ and what brings them pleasure in Jesus Christ and they begin to serve one another and God is able to what? To work His mind and His heart and His will on the body like that. But when we hold on to what we want to do and our opinions about things and the way the church should be conducted then everybody is running around playing God and forcing everybody else to bow down to their wishes. We make ourselves into idols in the name of Jesus Christ.
Let’s go to Philippians 3:12 and let’s begin to see how we can achieve this and how we can get there. Obviously the only way is to embrace the cross, that’s why God allowed Pentecost to happen. They had seen Jesus Christ crucified, they had seen Him in His weakness and they knew they had nothing in them of strength or glory and so they were open to His strength and His wisdom and glory.
Philippians 3:12 – Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
He didn’t walk around with an attitude that says, “I have this complete knowledge and I have a complete understanding of the way things should be done.” He didn’t walk around with an attitude that says my opinion is law and what I say has to be done in this way and this fashion because why? I’m an apostle in Jesus Christ and I’ve achieved all these things. He didn’t have that kind of attitude. He saw instead how far he needed to go rather than how far he had come. And most men walk around with how far they have come rather than how far they have to go and so therefore they think their opinions are more justified and their emotions are more holy than somebody else. Or their projects are better than somebody else. “Not that I have already attained all this or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” And so you find here within Paul what? Jesus Christ laying hold of Paul or Paul laying a hold of Jesus Christ? And so what it comes down to is that kind of embracing, that kind of fellowship. And what we’re talking about here to have a body that is united in heart and mind is everybody just needs to go back home and embrace Jesus Christ and let Jesus Christ embrace them. That’s how it happens and that’s how it takes place. Verse 13 says:
Philippians 3:13 – Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead . . .
He repeats it again, he declares it loud and clear. “I press on.” We’re talking hard work here. This is not easy. This is not some type of easy glorious thing that goes in and says, “Okay, God, we want You to glorify Your name. We want to know what Your will is. We want to be perfectly united in mind, Lord.” You’re going to have to strain for this. You’re going to have to fight for this. You’re going to have to be crucified for this. You’re going to have to wrestle this through because many will what? Fight for and protect and guard their opinion almost above everything else. Men will divide friendships and whole churches over an opinion about certain things in Jesus Christ, or certain projects or works that should be done. You have to strain to hold on to that cross and to grab hold of that and to say, “Crucify us, God, and put it to death that we might know what Your will is.” Now verse 15 says, “All of us who are mature”—and here’s the hard part, here’s the tough part.
Philippians 3:15 – All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
If you’re not mature in the cross of Jesus Christ you can’t take this view. And it’s very difficult for a man to do what? Admit where he is not. And this is where the humility and the brokenness comes in where you say I don’t have the fullness of the cross for this. I don’t have the fullness of the mind of Christ. What we want to do is to sit together and we want to talk and we want to debate and we want to get in and reason the scriptures. We want to analyze, we answers for this over here. We want answers for that over here and we want to know how this project should be done over here, but we may not be qualified to do the project or to understand or to get to the answer because we don’t have that maturity in Jesus Christ. And it’s a tough man to be humble enough to sit down and say, “I’m not mature enough to discuss this or to understand it right now.”
We have a promise that if we differ on something in Jesus Christ no matter what the topic is or the doctrine is or the issue is or the project is, that God will make clear to us what His will is and what His heart is in that. We have that promise. There is not a single issue in Jesus Christ that should ever divide a brother and sister because we have the promise, we have the divine power. We have the surety that God will make it clear to us what the truth is. Let’s look at it again, verse 15.
Philippians 3:15 – All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
So why so much division and why so much fighting and why so much arguing? Because we will not admit where we’re at. We will not stand before man or before God and say, “I’m not mature in the cross of Jesus Christ. God is not able to come to me and crucify my flesh in this particular area so I can’t hear from God what the truth is.” We will not come before God and say, “God, I’m not mature enough to go into this project here. I need to have more self crucified before I get involved and try to get the answers for this or try to do this work.” We think that if we’re baptized and we come to Jesus we’re ready for anything. We can get out of the boat, we can walk on water, we can do all kinds of things in Jesus Christ because why? We have this knowledge, because knowledge of course what? Easily puffs up. We’re talking the cross here and that’s what you need to ask yourself, how much has the cross of Christ been formed in you? Not how much scripture can you quote. Not how many commentaries you can quote back. Verse 15 again. “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think different, that too God will make clear to you.” Now:
Philippians 3:16 – Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
What happens is we throw away the good that God has worked because we can’t answer this question over here. God has been able to work so much in the cross and He’s been able to crucify so much of our opinion and our thinking of who we are and what it means to follow Him and we let go of all of that because we get stuck on this one point because we can’t agree with somebody else about the particular point. Or we think a project or a work in the Lord should be done in a specific manner. We have our opinion about the way that should be done and so we throw it all away and we come into a place of total division and the work cannot be done. “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” Take the measure of the cross that you have and hold on to that and put on hold those things that you are not qualified nor are you ready to get involved with to work in or to have an answer for.
So many of us are like first graders and in first grade you won’t even understand calculus. Thinking we know it all and we have it all understood, that we understand it all. Now verse 17 says:
Philippians 3:17 – Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.
So how do we get to a place of unity in terms of thought and mind and in everything? You have to walk among the body and you have to say, “Okay, who is picking up the cross of Jesus Christ and being crucified? And who is being put to death?” And you take note of who those individuals are and you say, “How do they do that?” What is it about their heart, and what is it about their life that permits God to continue to do the work in them? “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” Now look at verse 18.
Philippians 3:18 – For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
And so there has to be within us a clear understanding that the power of the cross can bring us into complete unity in terms of heart and of mind and we go out and we take note of those who know that power and have experienced that crucifixion and we say, “That’s what I need to do and that’s the example I need to follow in order to get to a place of unity with Jesus Christ.”
Look at 1 Corinthians 11:18. And keep in mind that Paul says, “I say with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” Until you weep over the cross of Jesus Christ and how it is not formed in other people’s lives you are not fit to do what? Many things in Jesus Christ. Or to answer many questions because it is the cross of Christ that gives us power to understand scripture and it is the cross of Christ that makes us qualified to do work in Him. Until you have that emotion, until you have those tears there you haven’t yet tasted enough of the power of the cross to be involved in too much to call yourself a child.
1 Corinthians 11:18 – In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.
There has to be a division taking place in the church that as you walk around you begin to see what? God seems to bless these individuals here and He seems to the work here and the cross seems to be over here. “Take note of those who live according to the pattern I gave you” because “many live as enemies of the cross of Christ,” “and now say even again with tears.” And so you look among the body and you say, “Okay, who is picking up the cross and who is being crucified to self and who is getting the mind of Christ and who is just living for self?”
1 Corinthians 11:19 – No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.
So God comes into a body and what He literally begins to do is to say, “This heart is correct. And this is what I will honor. And this is how I will glorify My name. And this is how I pour My thoughts out. And this is to whom I give My heart to.” Instead of us becoming indignant and jealous what we need to do is say, “Okay, that’s the kind of heart, that’s the example, that’s what needs to happen.” God works these divisions that we might know which way to run the course. He works differences within the body, He works different kinds of blessings that we can see and say, “Okay, that’s how I need to live and that’s how I die to self, and this is how the process is done.” But what we usually do is say, “I can do it some other way,” or our opinions are held up as gospel or we hold on to our own hearts, our own emotions and then what? We become jealous of those who are able to hear from the Lord.
In Galatians 6:3, it’s only one verse but let’s turn and take a look at it. Because again the hardest thing for us to do is to admit where we are not. How few of us can stay out of things that we’re not qualified for? The reason is because we think we’re qualified for everything.
Galatians 6:3 – If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Pretty clear, pretty direct. If you’ve ever thought, “I’m not qualified for this kind of work,” or project or to understand this scripture in the Lord right now, if you haven’t even had the thought, if the cross is not even worth that, if you haven’t even walked away saying, “I don’t concern myself with things too wonderful for me,” if they’re not something you can just leave on the back burner and say, “That’s not mine to touch, it’s not for me to lay hold of,” then the cross hasn’t done its work. There’s a lot of things I don’t even begin to move into because I am not qualified to lay hold of those things. Whether from lack of faith or too much flesh or just lack of maturity or the need to grow. And so what happens is as we go do this whole business of trying to come into perfect unity everybody says, “Okay, let’s dive right in and let’s all see if we can agree about everything.” And so everybody throws out all the doctrines they have, we will literally never come into unity there.
You know when you were a kid and you used to play games and everybody would sit around and try to decide what the rules were of the game? You spent more time what? Discussing the rules then you ever did playing the game. And then you spent more time fighting about the rules while you were doing the game. And then when the person won you debated whether or not he had played by the rules or not and whether he really won or not. That’s how many Christians are because we don’t understand the cross of Jesus Christ. We think we’re something when we’re really nothing. So God is not able to work the unity that we say that we want.
Let’s go to 1 Corinthians 2:11. For we have to come to the conclusion if we’re going to have this unity, that we don’t know anything. And I know that we can say that with our lips so easily but we’re talking here about being convinced by the Holy Spirit that we really don’t know anything. As I said before, what did Jesus Christ do for three and a half years with the apostles? He taught them that they really didn’t know anything. No doubt that when Jesus Christ first called Peter and he fell down and said, “Go away from me, I’m a sinful man,” that Peter would have run along saying, “Well, I humbled myself. I had that conversion experience, I had that brokenness.” But Jesus Christ really had to convince him just how weak he was. In order for us to be able to taste Pentecost, in order to have that kind of unity and that kind of power we really have to be convinced that we don’t know anything and our passions are corrupt. That Jesus Christ would literally send us on a missionary journey we would go into a town, we’d heal the sick and we’d do all those things and then we’d come out and say what? May we call down fire because they did not repent. We did everything backwards just as they did. We have to have His passion, we have to have His heart, we have to have the purity that is there and we have to have His mind.
1 Corinthians 2:11 – For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
Do you know my thoughts? You don’t know my thoughts and I don’t know your thoughts. And you’re the only person that knows your own thoughts. And the same thing is being applied to God here. Who knows the thoughts of God? And yet we read the Bible as if we were mind readers. We pick up ink on paper and we say, “Okay I have the mind of Christ. I understand exactly God and all His thoughts and all the ways that He conducts Himself.” What is the declaration of scripture? The declaration of scripture is “I am a very large God that cannot be contained. And I’m way beyond your comprehension and I do things all kinds of different ways and you’re not going to be able to box Me in, you’re not going to be able to quantify Me and put Me in a little corner and say, ‘Okay there’s our God.’” Who knows the mind of Christ? Who knows the mind of God? Only God does. This is very simple, only I know my thoughts and only I can disclose those thoughts if I want to. In the same way God has His thoughts. But He can only speak to those who are listening. How common sense all of this really is.
Ever been in an argument or a debate with anybody and you’re espousing all your thoughts and what you’re saying and if they’re not listening and they’re arguing back nobody is hearing anybody on anything. And until we get the cross that crucifies our own opinions and our own hearts God will not be able to speak to us to a place where we will be able to hear what He has to say. Now as we go home tonight and we lay in our beds God is going to try to work and to speak to each of our minds about what He wants this body to do in terms of works to glorify His name. But if I’m filled with my own thoughts of what I think will glorify God or if there’s certain things that I want God to bless or to work in a certain way I will not be able to hear what He has to say. And if you have a different thought, then God will not be able to work any of it at all. Verse 12:
1 Corinthians 2:12 – We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
For God gives us divine power as we saw on Peter. He wants to speak to each one of us but the problem is we’re doing too much talking or we’re giving too much advice. God comes along and He says, “I want to glorify My name in this way,” and we go, “Well, what about this way? Or what if we twist it this way? What if we go over here and do this work this way? Or I think it might say this also, what do you think, God?” And so He begins to convey His thoughts to us. He tries to give us what He is thinking to work that unity within the body but we are too busy listening to our own opinions and ideas of what we think is right. “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” How easy it would be if we were at rest and at peace before God? If we were dead to our opinions and our own hearts and our own passions and we just received from Him His heart and His mind?
1 Corinthians 2:13 – This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
Paul was saying, “I don’t come into a town and preach a list of ten things of what it means to understand God. I don’t come in with the Apostles’ Creed. I don’t come in with a list of human wisdom to say, ‘Okay everybody that agrees with this is a Christian.’ I don’t come in preaching human wisdom.” What does he preach but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. That is, the words that I declare come from the living God. I have the mind of Christ. I have the heart of Jesus Christ. The words I declare are His words not mine.
1 Corinthians 2:14 – The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Literally what that is saying is that as we declare the message of the gospel and God gives us His words the way that we are declaring them, people will not understand them unless God is on the other end telling them what we are saying. Unless God will open their minds and open their hearts to understand what we are declaring they literally will not be able to what? Understand what you are saying. What do most churches do and most Christians do? They try to make it understood. They try to take human words and human wisdom and present the gospel. And so many people who come to conclusion about Jesus Christ are doing so from human wisdom, not because the Spirit has given them insight. We become embarrassed by the foolishness of what God tells us to say. We become upset because we don’t want to say it that way. We want to say it some other way. We either want to be too soft or too hard or whatever it is we think is best. So it’s not God opening people’s minds and hearts. That’s why the unity never stays. It’s all dependent upon a man on the way he can present the gospel and how well his logic is. What happens if someone comes along and they present an argument and somebody goes, “Okay, that’s really true”? And they believe it for a while and then somebody comes along with a better argument and they go, “Well, that’s true too,” but it’s the opposite viewpoint. People get tossed back and forth all the time and he with the best logic wins. But he who has heard from the living God and knows what the truth is from Him—it doesn’t matter what a man tells me because I have the truth directly from God and that’s who I’m listening to, not to the logic of what a man says to me in front of my face.
1 Corinthians 2:15 – The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
There isn’t anything a spiritual man can’t judge. Because why? His wisdom is not based on this world, it’s not based on how much schooling he’s had. It’s not based on his IQ, it’s not based on his experience, it’s not based on anything he has done, he literally has the mind of Christ. And Jesus Christ knows all things and can judge all things and it’s not him who judges.
1 Corinthians 2:16 – “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” And yet we do it all the time, do we not? God comes along with a project, He comes along with a work in the Lord and we begin to instruct him on how that project should be done and his time table and the way that it should be completed and how he should finance it and how it should be done. Most of the time most prayers are involved with telling God how we want it to be done. It’s not a matter of coming in before the Lord and saying, “Tell us what it is You want us to do and how this should be done,” and everybody is hearing the same thing and so there would be unity and there would be joy there. And there would be passion because it would be His heart. For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. Only if we are dead to self. Only if we have wrestled out in the prayer closet holding on to an opinion over here that we just will not let go of.
There have been lots of debates I have been involved in over the years and so much of it has been going back and wrestling out before God to let go of my opinions and the way things should be said and the way they should be done. Usually it started with my wife a long time ago. She’d say something—disagree—the words wouldn’t be exactly right and I’d mow her down. I’d win the argument every single time until I went back into the prayer closet and there was somebody much larger than her. And He would wrestle it down and He would crucify it and He would put the pride to death and we would continue to wrestle back and forth until He was finished. We have the mind of Christ if we lose our mind—if we will be a people that are out of our minds. But we have an opinion we hold on to, we have a concept, we have our heart, our passions, our favorites, our dislikes and our likes and He cannot work a perfect unity where self lives.
Let’s go to Philippians 2:1 because this isn’t as hard as it sounds. All you have to do is admit, “Okay this is a large area over here where I am not, so I’m not going to mess with those territories, I’m not going to go into that kind of work. But I will live up to what I already know here and I will strain toward the goal and I will go on to a maturity. I will get to a place where the cross is fully formed.” That is, you get to a place, “God, make real to me this message of the cross. What do You mean by that? Crucify me so that I understand and I experience what that is about.” Then we can get into all these other issues over here. Because if we debate anything and if we argue anything and we discuss anything and we do any work without the cross being the central thing it will destroy us.
Philippians 2:1 – If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
Just circle the word “any.” It doesn’t take this much, it just takes a little bit of surrender. It just takes a little bit of giving away because how many issues that we debate and we argue about really are all that earth shattering that will make a difference? For instance, there was a time in the body many years ago when somebody wanted to join the church and they believed in once saved always saved. And normally that would have excluded them from fellowship and even joining and being a part of the body. But God said, “Allow that person to come into the body,” and what we did was we taught him the message of the cross, of allowing God to crucify his opinions and his thoughts. We didn’t badger him about that particular issue, somebody else we might have badgered him a little bit. But just let him come in and pick up the cross. And one day he was in the prayer closet and he was literally in the prayer closet, this was a college student and they didn’t have much room in their apartment so they prayed in the closet. And he comes out of the prayer closet one day praising God, indignant with himself saying, “How could I ever believe that doctrine?” So God allowed him to come in because what? It wasn’t earth shattering to what? To fellowship. If he died he was still accountable before God. But God was going to work the message of the cross and God was going to work maturity there and then He could be giving His thoughts and then He could give him what? His heart.
And “If you have encouragement from being united with Christ, if you have any comfort from his love.” Do you have any? Do you have just that much comfort and knowledge of Jesus Christ? “If any fellowship with the Spirit”—do you have any? Just circle all the “anys” in here—it doesn’t matter how much as long as you have just any. “If any tenderness or compassion.” Do you have any of that? Then take all the issues that are not earth shattering that you don’t have to make a decision for right now today, that you are not responsible for, put them all in the prayer closet before God to be crucified later and get on with understanding what the cross is about. Take all the things that God has not laid before you to make on decision on and don’t worry about it because it’s none of your business. But take all the things that God has placed in your life that you need an answer for, that you have to be responsible for, that you need to know what His heart and His mind is and you get the cross with those situations that God has brought before you and you gain the maturity in that and then you get to a place where you help other people with their projects and their things and what God is bringing in their life. We basically just get involved in things that are just not our business. We have to know everything that is going on. We barely know what’s going on in our own lives, I don’t know why we pick on everything else.
Philippians 2:2 – then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
Again, Paul doesn’t lay before us something that is impossible, we’re just unwilling. Because Paul goes back again and he says, “If you have any comfort or any fellowship or any tenderness or any compassion then be like-minded.” It doesn’t take that much, it’s just that we’re not willing to bend our opinion. And we’re not willing to bend to somebody else’s needs or a way of doing something. We’re not willing to back up for just a moment and say, “Is this really all that important? Do I have to have an answer today? Is this the way that God has said it has to be done to glorify His name or is there some other way that I can do it? Can I be submissive to this person and it not cost their salvation or mine?” And “Can I pursue the way that they want it done with all my heart?” If you have any compassion, if you have any tenderness, if you have any love, then serve others. It’s not that hard—again, we’re just not that willing. Because if you have any compassion he says to be like-minded, that is, perfectly be thinking about the same thing.
Will all of us go home tonight and say, “God, how do You want to glorify this body? How do You want to glorify Your name in this church? What is the work that You want us to do next?” How hard is that? And then everybody hear from God what that is. And then you say, “How do you want to do that, what’s in your heart? How’s it to be done?” Well it’s to be in the Spirit. How hard is that? Having what? “Being one in spirit and purpose.” Having the same reasons for why we do everything.
Let’s look at 2 Thessalonians 1:11. It’s no wonder the first church had much grace on everyone. Because as each person died to their heart and to their own mind and their own thoughts that when they acted God could fulfill what they acted in and what they did. What happens so much within the church? Everybody has their own project or their own ministry and everybody is praying and trying to get all the support they can for that work, is it not? That’s what the goal is.
2 Thessalonians 1:11 – With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.
By His power—not by our efforts and not by our strength and not by organization and not by committee but by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. Now think about this kind of church and this kind of body. Here’s a group of people dead to their opinions and their strengths and their efforts and they’re all united about something and their faith rises up to do a work. What do you think God is going to do there? If they are dead to self and what it is they want to do and they are dead to their own opinions and the way things should be done, that when faith moves within that body God will fulfill and He will work that which they are setting out to do because it is Him setting out to do the work. It is the embracing, as Paul said, of Christ and Christ embracing him. It is that union and that love of fellowship doing the work.
2 Thessalonians 1:12 – We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Look at the unity again, look at the embracing, look at the love there. I take hold of Christ and He lays hold of me. You see them hugging one another and that’s where the labor comes and that’s where the work comes. Not from doing some project or something that a committee has come up with or it feels good for us to do. These are people what? Embracing Jesus Christ, dying to who they are and then out of that kind of work, out of that kind of labor then everything else flows and no wonder God looks down and He smiles and He says, “Okay, I will fulfill that act prompted by their faith.” Not prompted by human wisdom or by zeal or by getting everybody all excited but because why? Faith is moving forward and God is reaching down and fulfilling that which He is working. This is a work of love and this is a work of a labor of love. According to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. It says how they’re one in heart and mind and they embraced Jesus Christ.
Look at John 15:7. It says:
John 15:7 – If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
Why could their prayers be answered and why could every act of their faith moved within them cause God to answer their prayers? Because His words dwelled and lived within them. This was not a memorization of scripture and just praying scripture and sing to it and get a formula here. It’s not kind of a witchcraft kind of thing where we study the spell book called The Bible, we get the words just right and we claim things just right and then God decides, “Okay, I’m going to act.” These are people embracing Jesus Christ and being alive in Jesus Christ and what begins to happen is the word dwells and works and it’s God coming up within us, it’s Jesus Christ giving us His mind and His thoughts and so we know what to do, we know what to pray, we know what to act on and He will fulfill that. And He will answer those prayers. So ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.
John 15:8 – This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
We know that it’s God will to make us what? Perfectly united in heart and mind. That’s how He wants to glorify His name. Until we have that let’s not worry about all the other peripheral things that we think are so important.
John 15:10-11 – If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
We miss the joys and the works and the labors and the project because why? It’s we who are doing the work. It’s our project, it’s what we labor for. And everybody that supports us in it we love and everybody that doesn’t support us in it we can take them or leave them one way or the other. But he who is dead to what? His projects and his plans and his mind and his emotions and his likes and dislikes has unity with Jesus Christ and there’s a joy and a fellowship there that they have that the world knows nothing about.
Let’s go to Psalm 133:1. A very short psalm. It starts out by saying, “A song of Ascents,” that is, going up high, going up to fellowship with God and meeting Him there. It says:
Psalms 133:1 – How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
Let us not think that this is some option. You think there are fifty zillion different opinions about who God is up in glory? You think by the time Jesus Christ was through working with the apostles and they went and saw Him crucified that when Pentecost came they had twelve different opinions about who Jesus Christ was? What His message was and how to present that? They were all perfectly united in mind and in thought and that came out in terms of the church. How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! When they live and they dwell and they work and they bump elbows with each other and they talk with each other and they just look at each other and there’s a unity there that the world cannot touch. It is not based on a project, it’s not based on a work, it’s not based on what this brother or this sister can give me, but it is based on what? A unity in Jesus Christ. It is based on pure selfless love. And that only happens when what? I’m willing to hate my own opinion in order to love this brother over here. Because that’s what it comes down to so many times. Is my opinion, what I think, more important than this man that stands before me? Is my project more important than this person over here? How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
Psalm 133:2 – It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.
It is that which eases the every day toil that is in Jesus Christ. It is what makes work a pleasure in Jesus. When I have a brother that I can call brother for whom I am truly united perfectly in thought and in heart it makes the labor and the work a joy.
Psalm 133:3 – It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
You give me a brother who is stupid, you give me a brother who is immature, one who makes all kinds of mistakes, who says things he should not say, goes where he shouldn’t go, but if he is willing to die to himself and his opinions and to be perfectly united in Him, I will hold him up as brother and I will die for him. It is oil that eases the roughness of life that causes the body to what? To be able to stand together against anything. Satan comes in so often, he whispers an opinion over here and a slight alteration in scripture over here or maybe it can be done this way over here and pretty soon he’s got everybody fighting everybody and just sits back and smiles.
Look at Ephesians 4:1.
Ephesians 4:1 – As a prisoner for the Lord . . .
Think about what he’s saying. Helpless and trapped, unable to help in this he says:
Ephesians 4:1 – As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
And does he list all kinds of grand works and sufferings, hours of quiet time and labor? Does he talk about their churches and their projects? No, this is what he says in verse 2:
Ephesians 4:2 – Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
This is a life worthy of the calling of Jesus Christ to be perfectly united in mind and heart and what that means and how that is done is to have the humility only that the cross can work. My opinion, literally, is nothing. And my opinion gets in the way of what God wants to do. And my passions and what I like and what I don’t like caused Jesus Christ not to be in my life or my brothers’ and sisters’ lives. It is a complete humility and brokenness that says, “I will let all of my things go in terms of what I believe and what I think and my projects and my passions, I will let them go in order to serve somebody else.” “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” How many things we fight and argue about and labor against, the minor things that don’t mean anything—I’m not saying there aren’t times when you have to separate, there certainly are. But you can probably list what those important things are on your hand.
Ephesians 4:3 – Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
“Make every effort.” Let me put it to you this way: until you have made every effort to keep the bond of peace in the body don’t get involved in any issue. Until you understand what it is to say with tears, “many live as enemies of the cross of Christ” don’t open your mouth. Make every effort as you do any work as you do any labor as you talk about anything in Jesus Christ, to keep the unity of the Spirit. Not the unity of the church, not the unity of men agreeing with one another. But a unity of the Holy Spirit of asking, “Is the Holy Spirit in what I am saying?” When you open your mouth, when you declare something, ask yourself, “Is the Holy Spirit in what I just said?” Make every effort to check before you say anything before you declare any opinion, before you claim anything that the Holy Spirit is what you just said. I don’t care how correct you are, I don’t care how right you are if it is you speaking it will divide and it will separate and it will slow. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Make sure that peace overshadows every single thing that is being done.
If I ask a brother to do something in the body, to labor in some way, you ought to see me say, “Is everything at peace? Is everything fine?” I don’t care about the work that you’re doing. What I want is the bond of peace that is there and the unity in the heart and the labor and the understanding of the gospel as we do that work. It’s not the thing that I want done; it’s the bond and the peace that comes from the Holy Spirit that is important. But how we talk and how we act and how we speak. We don’t make every effort first. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Ephesians 4:4 – There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—
Our projects will disappear and our sufferings will disappear and our desires will disappear but not our one hope.
Ephesians 4:5-6 – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
See God in everything that you do and everything that you say and everything that you work and say, “God, are you in that which is happening right now?” Better to stop a discussion no matter how important it is until you get the bond of peace that comes from the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:7-10 – But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
What he is saying is that Jesus Christ is in charge of all these things, that He is everywhere if we will do what? Make every effort to see if the Spirit is in what is happening. He is everywhere. How come we can’t sense Him? How come our opinions become more important than the presence and the Spirit of God? How come our projects and our labors and our likes and dislikes become far more important than the very presence of the living God? We are far more idolaters than we realize. Now verse 11 says:
Ephesians 4:11- It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
They’re supposed to be gifts. Leadership is supposed to be gifts, it’s not usually that factor.
Ephesians 4:12-13 – to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
The goal is complete unity in Jesus Christ. Everybody fully matured, fully in Jesus Christ, totally dead to self, that’s why they’re there. “[U]ntil we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” So we start off by saying what? There is a unity in terms of heart and mind in Jesus Christ and maintaining that and growing in that until the place of full maturity is the work of teachers, prophets, apostles and all that is supposed to be done. But do we see unity taking place? We see self and we see sin and it all comes down to our opinions and our passions.
Ephesians 4:14 – Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
How does the body become mature? Not by reading all the self-help books about how bad the Mormons are or the Democrats or any other particular group. It comes by attaining the fullness of the measure of Jesus Christ. And so what is the job of the apostles? What is the job of Peter? It is to point out the flesh that keeps us from attaining the maturity that is in Jesus Christ. It comes back to the cross. So the very thing that you don’t like is the very thing that they’re supposed to do. They’re supposed to come to you and say, “The reason you don’t understand Scripture, the reason you don’t understand Jesus Christ in this area, the reason you can’t do this work is because this flesh over here is getting in the way of hearing what Jesus Christ wants to work within you in terms of immaturity, in terms of who He is.” But no, we want to debate and we want to reason and we want to argue. We want to think that we’re something when we’re nothing. And so we’re taken in by men who are cunning, by men who are crafty and men who are deceitful. We refuse the cross and so men are able to whisper to us what our flesh wants to hear. We refuse the cross that will crucify our own thoughts and so we’re willing to take the thoughts of someone who is willing to agree with us whether they are right or not.
Let us be a people that come before God and plead with Him to have perfect unity in terms of heart and in terms of mind. Then much grace will be upon everybody else.
Let’s go ahead and pray:
Father, we really do pray the impossible. We ask You, Father, to make this body completely and perfectly united in You. Everyone, Father, fully matured, fully assured in You. Everyone in this body, Father, so solid in the cross and crucified to self that when men come in with their deceitful scheming they find no room to work. Father, we ask You to speak to us as a body, what do You want to do to glorify Your name? What fruit do You want to bear and how do You want to manifest that upon us? Father, make us one in heart and mind. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.
Post # 5608