Class 1 – The Spirit Unites Disciples Because He Enabled Our Confession that Jesus is Lord

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1–6 NIV11)

Main Point For Today: The Spirit unites us by our mutual confession that Jesus is Lord

“I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3 NIV11)

– He is thinking back to something we all did – in heart and with mouth:

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9–10 NIV11)

– “This is an orienting, entering confession.” Hicks. We said it, meant it as a seal on our repentance and a precursor to baptism.
– This is covenental language – fundamentally changing our status with God

“…you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV11)

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13 NIV11)

– You and me, all those in your family group, are unified by the Spirit because we we all baptised by him and we have all drunk of him.
– This unity is a reality because the Spirit is present – not because we said some words a few years ago.
– We have new life because of the Spirit, and we live the confession that Jesus is Lord day by day because of the Spirit who provides us with that life, that strength, that power.
– As you talk to your brother or sister in Christ, you are talking to somebody who has been fundamentally, miraculously changed by the Spirit who enabled them to not only say “Jesus is Lord”, but empowers them to live that declaration.
– And this is corporate. Paul is writing to a church (a church riven by division) to remind them on what their unity is based. or rather, on whom it is based. Our relationship with God is never just “Jesus and me”.

What does this mean for our congregational communities?
– When I am with my brother or sister in Christ, I am with somebody who shares the most fundamental bond possible which is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
– If this person has been enabled by the Spirit to say Jesus is Lord, then my default attitude to that person must be to love them and trust them, giving them the benefit of the doubt.
– We love, trust and forgive one another not because they perform right, nor that we might earn God’s approval (“Look God, I’m loving a difficult Christian!”), but because we take delight in working within the presence of God in accord with his heart/will, and because our happy obedience to God’s desires will find it’s home in the heart of our fellow-disciple who has the Spirit in them (Rom 8.9).
– Can you imagine a wedding where one said, “I promise…….” and the other did not? A marriage has hope not because two people are good enough for each other, but because they both covenanted their love to each other.
– Our Christian communities have hope for ever-deepening love not because we are in the same church, believe the same beliefs, share the same values, but because we, by the Spirit, have been enabled to say, “Jesus is LORD”.
– Therefore, to reject a brother or sister in Christ is reject the Spirit of God!

1. In what way does it help your unity with fellow-believers to know that you have both / all confessed “Jesus is Lord” by the Spirit?
2. What does it mean to you to ‘drink’ the Spirit?
3. How can this understanding of the Spirit bringing unity help you to grow deeper in your love of the other members of your group?

Next time
– Transformation: The way the Spirit unifies us in our transformation into Christ-likeness
– Send me any comments or questions

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God bless, Malcolm