Christ and His Church - Lesson 11
Christ: The Unifier of His Church
The Harmony of the Church
Background Information for the Teacher
- The student can cite two passages that teach the unity of the church.
- The student can explain the difference between the denominational concept of"church" and the biblical concept of "church."
- The student can state lessons we learn about unity from the "body" image of the church..
- Each student will have a Bible.
- The teacher will have access to a chalk board or marker board. No PowerPoint is supplied. The teacher should write on the board the various scriptures used as the class reads them. He/She will also draw a diagram on the board as described below.
- Have paper and pencils for the class so they can draw the diagrams as you put them on the board.
- Songbooks or copies of songs will be available for the class to sing "A Common Love" or "Blest Be the Tie."
Christ wanted all of His followers to be one in Him. All the saved are in His body. This biblical concept of church is different from the denominational concept of church.
Lesson Plan for the Teacher
- Call the roll and introduce visitors. Have an opening prayer.
- Since our last lesson was on "Jesus as our Example," can you mention an occasion this last week when thinking of Jesus as your example was helpful or would have been helpful?
- Today we are going to consider Christ as the "unifier of the church."
- Read John 17:20-21. Q: For whom does Jesus pray that they may all be one? A:For his apostles and those who believe through them. Q: Why is this important to Him? A: Because division will hinder people from becoming followers of His.
- Q: What early congregation is noted for its division? A: Corinth. Read 1Corinthians 1:10-13. Q: How strong is Paul's plea for unity? A: In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Q: How does he describe a unified church? A: Perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment. Q: What had become a point of division in the Corinthian church? A: Who had baptized each of them.
- Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9. Q: Why does Paul say the Corinthians are "worldly" rather than "spiritual?" A: They are fighting among themselves. This indicates they have not grown past the "baby" stage. They are more concerned about outward things than inward. They are concerned about "fleshly" things, being selfish, rather than putting spiritual things first. They have taken their eye off the main thing which is pleasing God. Q: What are some things over which churches sometimes divide today? A: Which person is chosen for some work in the church; whose idea will be chosen for some work in the church; the choice of or release of a preacher; how money will be spent to carry out the work of the church, differences over a doctrine. Q: How can we tell whether division is required or not? A: Would Christ want us to take a stand on an issue even though it might divide the church. In most cases when churches divide, it is more over personalities and relatively minor issues, but there are times when one must stand up for a Bible teaching. Let Christ be the unifier or let faithfulness toChrist be the reason if division takes place.
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-20. Q: What reasons does Paul give in this passage that we should be one and working together? A: We all got into the body the same way, through baptism. We all received the Holy Spirit to dwell in us when we were baptized (See Acts 2:38). We all need each other because no one member of a body can exist without working together with other members of the body. So for the body of Christ to function, all the members need to work together and appreciate each other.
- Read Ephesians 4:4. Q: What does Paul say here about the unity of the body? A: One body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God.
- Q: What are some ways we should work to promote unity in the church? A: Having a greater appreciation of the fact that we are members of the body and Christ is the head-we are one IN CHRIST. He is the unifier. Developing amore Christ-like spirit about what really matters. Better communication and fellowship. Keeping our eyes on reaching others with the gospel.
- It will also help us to be unified if we understand the nature of the church. Q: As the Bible speaks of the church or the body, who is in the church? A: The saved. Acts 2:47. The Lord added to those already saved the new ones being saved. This body of the saved is the church. That is why Paul could say in 1 Corinthians 12:12 that all those in the church at Corinth had been baptized in the same way-the only way to be included in the church at Corinth was to have gone through this same process of faith and obedience. Read Galatians 3:26-27. Q: What had the Galatians done to be in Christ? A: Believe and be baptized.
- (Teacher: to emphasize the point draw a circle on the board. Ask the students todo the drawings as you do them. Write the word "saved" above it and "Bible view of church" below it. Put lots of dots within the circle.) Q: How does the Bible say we get inside the circle? A: By faith, repentance, and baptism. (Teacher: Draw an arrow from outside the circle to inside it. On the outside part of the line, put F, R, B to represent what the Bible teaches about how to enter the circle.) Q: Does Christ want sub-divisions within this body? A: No. Of course we have different congregations in different places, but Christ wants unity in the body.
- (Teacher: Draw another circle with dots and "saved" above it. Below the circle write "denominational view of the church.") Q: In most denominations, how is one said to get into the circle of the saved? A: By faith only. (Teacher: Draw an arrow from outside the circle to inside it and on the outside portion write "F" to suggest salvation by faith only. Now draw some smaller circles inside the larger one enclosing some dots in each circle but leaving some dots outside of any of the smaller circles.) Q: What might the smaller circles represent? A:Denominations. Q: According to this view, are there saved people inside the big circle who are not in any smaller circle? A: Yes. This view says that one is saved when he/she believes and thus enters the big circle. He/She may then choose to enter one of the little circles or may choose to stay outside any of them. Q: What are the two main differences in these two views of the church? A: How you get in the circle of the saved and whether there are little circles inside the big circle. Q: What would the New Testament teach about having little circles to separate those who claim to believe in Jesus into different groups? A: The New Testament would oppose such a practice.
- Q: What verses would you cite to show that Christ wants His church to be one? A: John 17:21; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 3:1-9; 12:12-13; Acts 2:47; Ephesians 4:4.
- Q: What is something specific you could do this week to promote the unity of the body? A: Call someone who might feel alienated from the body for whatever reason. Thank someone who has done a good job on something in the church (Appreciation builds unity). Help someone in the church who needs it. Get someone on the fringe involved in the work of the church.
- Next Sunday, I'll ask you to draw the two circles about the New Testament view of the church.
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