Perfected in Unity

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November 15, 2020

John 17:22-23

Allen Burns

Perfected in Unity

The natural thing for us to do when thinking or talking about unity is to think about what it means to get along with other people. We think of the human experience. We desire unity in our home. We seek unity in our workplace or nation. We pray for peace and unity in the world.

We cannot begin to think, talk, or act towards unity until we fully understand unity with God. If we do not have unity with God as individuals or collectively as a church, we will never have unity.

The main idea of the message this morning is: Be perfected in unity by being in unity with Jesus.

We have spent nine weeks speaking about unity. Every message thus far has spoken about unity as it relates to God. Today, we will review what it means to have unity with God. We need to be sure we have unity with Him, for, without that foundation, we are building our house of unity on the sand. When we have unity with God, we have unity built on a rock foundation. When difficulties come, our unity will stand strong and persevere.

One way to think about unity is to think of it as a place. We use words such as “in” to describe unity. We stand in unity. We exist in unity. We need to think of it as a spiritual place. When we stand in unity, we stand on holy ground. We consider it holy ground because unity is a characteristic of God. The Trinity is unified and exists eternally in unity.

To help us tie together what we have come to know about unity over the past nine weeks, we will talk about unity as a Kingdom. Let’s talk about the Kingdom of Unity.

The Creator of Unity

Who made this place?

The Kingdom of Unity has a Creator. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. God created everything.

The Creator is a God of unity. His essence is unity. The creation account says:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness … (Gen. 1:26-27)

There is a plurality to God. God is not a single “agent,” acting alone. Three times a plural pronoun is used; “Let Us,” “Our image,” and “Our likeness.” We know the plurality of God as the Trinity. There is one God who exists in three persons. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

The Trinity is in unity. They share in their divinity and are recognizable as belonging to One another. Another aspect of their unity is that they communicate and are in fellowship with one another. They are in a relationship. The Trinity is not in disagreement but agreement as they work together for the same purpose.

We can learn all there is to know about unity from observing the Trinity.

The Decree of Unity

The Creator of the Kingdom of Unity is sovereign. He knows that for unity to exist, His decrees need to be obeyed. Unity exists when there is no rebellion. When there is rebellion, there is no cooperation, harmony, or peace. Rebellion brings discord and anarchy.

The Creator knows what is best for the Kingdom of Unity. The created beings must believe and trust that His decrees are for their good. The Creator desires to protect and provide for all who live in the kingdom. He gives commands saying what the subjects of the kingdom may and may not do. He says, “you shall,” and “you shall not.”

The decree is a decree of love. You shall love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. You shall not have false gods. You shall not murder (and so forth).

The Creator desires that His beings have fulness of joy and life. When the Creator is obeyed, life is joyful and blessed. When the Creator is disobeyed, the result is death and destruction.

Life in Unity                      

It is not surprising that the Trinity, a relationship of unity, creates a Kingdom in which unity is essential for life.

Unity is necessary to make the world go round. Light and dark, hot and cold, north and south, bring about the cycle of life. There are countless forces of action and reaction, pulling and pushing, and bending and staying firm.

When God creates man in His image, He makes the man rely upon unity to sustain life. When a male and female come together in a harmonious relationship, they become one flesh—the union results in life. Without the bond of unity, people fail to exist. The union of marriage is God-ordained.

After birth, unity is needed throughout life. People need unity in the workplace and at home. Nations need to be in unity, or they are at war. Driving down the street requires people to be in unity with vehicle laws or they crash into one another.

The Kingdom of Unity requires unity for life.

The Enemy of Unity

The Kingdom of Unity has an enemy whose name is Satan, and he seeks to disrupt the unity between God, the Father, Son, and Spirit and the unity of the created beings in God’s Kingdom.

The enemy’s name is Satan. He brings disunity between angels and God. He is a fallen angel who seeks to glorify himself above God.

Satan works to turn our affections away from God. To create disunity, one must battle the affections of the heart. If we do not love God, we will not be in unity with Him. The battle against unity is to destroy our relationship with God. He wants us to hate God. When we do, we are in unity with Satan. When we are not in unity with God, the result is, as God says, death and destruction.

Destroyers of Unity

It is vitally important for us to understand those things which destroy unity. There are four ways Satan seeks to destroy unity in the Kingdom of Unity.  

The first tactic is to cast doubt on God’s word (Gen. 3:1). He asks questions such as, “Has God said? He wants people to question whether the Creator may be trusted. Is God good? Satan will cast doubt on God’s word by twisting it, so it becomes confusing.

Second, Satan will blatantly contradict the truth (Gen. 3:4). Satan is the father of lies. He seeks to trick the people of the Kingdom of Unity into thinking God cannot be trusted and doesn’t know what is best for us.

Third, Satan wants people to not be in unity with God, but with Him. He desires we worship him and not God. The way for Satan to be worshipped is to convince people to not love God or believe God intends good. Satan teaches that worshipping God is a life of sacrifice and misery. He teaches that true joy is found in not doing what God asks.

Satan will have people think that God is holding back. There is more to be had, but God does not want us to have it. A loving God ought not to keep all the good things for Himself. God is not worthy of love and devotion because He holds back fun and enjoyment in life. Satan wants us to believe the only way to satisfy our hearts is by not obeying God.

The fourth way Satan seeks to destroy unity is to present fleshly temptations. Satan seeks to make the temptations seem as though they will satisfy our heart’s desires.

1 John 2:16 sums up the temptations of our flesh.

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world (1 John 2:16).”

We give in to temptation because we believe it will satisfy our hearts. We no longer believe God can satisfy our hearts, so we give in to temptation. Every person is guilty of disobeying God and not being in unity with Him.

Rebellious creatures are not welcome in the Kingdom of Unity. All are banished. God’s Kingdom of Unity is forever closed to rebellious, disobedient sinners.

The Destiny of Unity

There is good news in the Kingdom of Unity. God knows beforehand that people will fall to the lies and temptations of Satan. He knows they will rebel.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

Before the Kingdom of Unity is created, God chooses those who put their faith in a Savior to be saved. Their sin of rebellion is made clean.

It is the Creator’s kind intention of His will that He will adopt as children those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. God fully intends that His Kingdom of Unity will stand firm.

God is full of love and grace. The Bible says God is kind. It is the kind intention of His will to restore unity to His Kingdom.

The Bible speaks of the restoration of unity using many terms. Salvation. Adoption. We were once His enemies and become His children. Reconciliation; we are no longer enemies, but we are at peace with God. Regeneration. We are born-again from spiritual deadness and restored to unity. It is an act of grace (unmerited favor).

The Savior of Unity

God accomplishes two things to restore unity in the Kingdom. First, God makes it so we may gain access to the Kingdom, and second, God brings order out of the chaos by establishing authority which may have no rebellion.

To allow access into the Kingdom, God redeems the relationship damaged by rebellion. Those who rebel must pay the penalty of punishment, and God ensures the debt is paid.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:8-10)

Despite our sin of rebellion, God demonstrates His love toward us by sending us His beloved Son to take the punishment we deserve. It is the love of God that compels us to put our faith in Jesus, so we worship Him. Jesus is our treasure. He is more valuable than anything this world has to offer. He satisfies our soul. Our love of Jesus pleases God.

God pays an infinitely valuable price for our restoration to unity with Him. All who put their faith in the Savior are saved from the just wrath of God.

The death of Jesus saves us because it reconciles us with God. Reconciliation brings us into unity with God. No longer are we enemies, being in disunity, but we are God’s children. We are at peace with God. 

The King of Unity

It is Satan’s plan to be the king of Creation, but that will never happen.

It is God’s plan from before the foundation of the world to eternally establish His Kingdom of Unity with Jesus, the Son of God, as the eternal King.

He establishes order and restores the Kingdom of Unity by placing God the Son on the throne. Jesus is given ultimate authority and power. King Jesus’ administration is suitable for the fullness of time.

He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:9-12)

The Kingdom of Unity is amazing because Jesus is King, and there is no rebellion. Every citizen willingly submits to Jesus and obeys Him. All who put faith in Jesus pray for His Kingdom to come, and His will to be done.

When King Jesus is sitting on the throne, swords are turned into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Nations gather together and share their abundance. There is no fighting, discord, or words of cursing.

The first command of the King is called the Great Commission. Jesus commands those who live in His Kingdom to make disciples.

Making disciples is a call for salvation and a call to bring all people under the authority of Jesus. Jesus is Savior and Lord. The name of Jesus is above every name. At His name, every knee will bow, in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Philippians 2:9-11)

The Union in Unity

The Kingdom of Unity thrives on love. There is no more excellent bond of unity than with those who love one another.

The decree of the Kingdom of Unity is to love God and love one another. When we step through the pearly gates of the Kingdom of Unity, God unites His church, the bride, with the Bridegroom, His Son.

All the saints of Christ will gather in the Kingdom at a great wedding feast. We will celebrate living in the Kingdom of great abundance and being in union with Jesus. There will be no dividing line between the rich and the poor, free or slave, Jew or Greek, male or female. Everyone has a seat at the table.

We will have great fulness of joy because our Bridegroom establishes perfect comfort and security. There is no enemy at the gate because He defeats every foe. All we hear spoken are words of love, kindness, and gentleness.

We will enjoy that the Bridegroom makes His home with us. He never leaves us or forsakes us. He loves us dearly and wipes away every tear. There will no longer be any death, mourning, crying, or pain. He anoints our head with oil; our cup runs over.

The Glory of Unity

Listen to Jesus’ prayer, which He prays the evening He is betrayed.

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. (John 17:22-23)

First, I have to confess that I don’t even know how to speak about the depth of this passage. Our being made one with the Trinity is beyond words.

It is vitally important for us to understand unity. We are not in unity unless we are first in unity with God. Our unity with God is the basis for all unity. It is the foundation. People may believe they are in unity, but if they are not in unity with God, they live in a false unity.

If we are in Christ, we are in unity. Jesus gives us His glory, so we are one with Him. We are gloriously made holy and just. We are joined together in a glorious union. We are one with Jesus in the same way that Jesus the Son is one with God the Father and God the Spirit.

Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

When we look at one another, we are not to see one another according to the flesh. Instead, we are to see and value one another according to the Spirit of God. Jesus dwells in you, and Jesus dwells in me. We will never have unity with one another until we look at one another in the same way God the Spirit looks upon God the Son who looks upon God the Father (and every combination thereof). When we see each other rightly, we will become people perfected in unity.

Be perfected in unity by being in union with Jesus.