Date written: July 7th, 2007
Scripture ref: John 17:20-23
TITLE: Let Brotherly Love Motivate Us To Seek Unity
PROPOSITION: We need to let brotherly love move us in our 1) Aspirations, 2) Axioms, 3) Autonomy, 4) Astuteness.
OBJECTIVE: That each would seek to have unity with his brother through love.
1. Read: John 17:20-23
2. About the Text:
1) On the eve of Jesus betrayal and crucifixion, we find him praying not only for himself, but also for his disciples.
2) John 17 records this prayer.
3) He wants them to be faithful and not allow the coming trials to move them away.
4) He wants them to be sanctified in the truth.
5) He wants them to be united as He and the Father are united.
6) Jesus' prayer for unity here deserves our respect and attention.
3. We need unity now more than ever.
1) It seems that we live in an increasingly fracturing brotherhood.
2) We fractured with the advent of the instrument in the early 1900s.
3) We fractured in the 1950s due to anti-ism.
4) We are fracturing today due to extremism on both the left and the right.
5) In such an environment, how can we let brotherly love motivate us to seek unity?
4. Ref. to S, T, P, O, and A.
DISCUSSION: We need to let brotherly love move us in our . . .
1. To love the brethren.
1) We are commanded to love the brethren.
2) John 15:17 "These things I command you, that ye may love one another."
3) Doing this is more than just a command. I want to love the brethren.
4) The Christians in Thessalonica had learned this. 1 Thessalonians 4:9 "But concerning love of the brethren ye have no need that one write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another;"
2. For unity.
1) We are commanded to have unity.
2) 1 Corinthians 1:10 "Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
3) Doing this is also more than a command. I want to have unity.
4) Ephesians 4:2-3 says that we are to walk worthily of our calling "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
3. I aspire to both love the brethren and to have unity with my brethren.
1) This is where I must start.
2) But I must not end here.
3) I must translate my aspirations into actions.
1. In order for my aspirations to become actions, I must have axioms - truth!
2. Truth is the foundation for . . .
1) Loving actions.
2) Unifying action.
3. Before Jesus prayed for unity, he prayed, "Sanctify them in thy truth; thy word is truth" (John 17:17).
4. We need to base our love for our brethren upon truth for love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6).
5. The Bible gives us axioms for love. Romans 13:8-10 teaches us that truth defines for us what loving actions are. Paul writes, "Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: love therefore is the fulfilment of the law."
6. The Bible gives us axioms for unity. Ephesians 4:4-6 "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
7. We need to let brotherly love move us in respect for God's axioms.
1) It is not loving to declare "There is no standard of right and wrong."
2) It is not promoting unity to declare, "We cannot have or know the truth."
1. While there are axioms that I must respect, I must also respect each individual's autonomy/freedom in matters of opinion.
2. It is not loving to take away someone's freedom in an effort to bind one's personal opinion.
3. It does not promote unity to take away someone's freedom in the same regard.
4. We must respect our brother's liberty when it comes to matters of opinion.
5. Galatians 5:1 "For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage."
6. Paul not only had reference to the old law, but also to all of the traditions of men invented by the Pharisees.
7. Jesus told the Jews that believed on them that it was by abiding in His word that they could know the truth and that the truth could set them free (John 8:31-32).
8. John 8:36 "If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
9. To balance truth with freedom is always a challenge.
10. We cannot have freedom without truth; anarchy is not freedom, it is lawlessness and sin (1 John 3:4).
11. We also cannot curtail freedom by fabricating an artificial line of truth.
12. How do we honor truth and respect an individual's freedom?
13. We've got to allow love to motivate us in regard to sound judgement/astuteness.
1. We need to respect sound discretion/discernment.
2. Proverbs 1:5 "That the wise man may hear, and increase in learning; And that the man of understanding may attain unto sound counsels:"
3. I believe this is what we have lost in recent years in the brotherhood.
4. We are so preoccupied with whether something is a "sin" or not that we have lost our ability to make sound judgments.
5. Proverbs 2:7 "He layeth up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to them that walk in integrity;"
6. While truth is certainly included in sound discretion, wise opinions ought to be respected and followed.
7. This means that some traditions are good!
8. A sound belief, if followed, will lead one to salvation, nevertheless, one may be saved without it.
9. However, simply because one may be saved without it doesn't imply that sound wisdom/discretion isn't important!
10. 1 Corinthians 8:9 "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to the weak."
11. The result? 1 Corinthians 8:12 "And thus, sinning against the brethren, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, ye sin against Christ."
12. When we exercise our liberty without giving due respect to sound discretion, we sin.
13. Nevertheless, we can declare something to be sound judgment without saying it is sinful if one doesn't practice it.
14. Brotherly love can and will motivate us to astuteness/sound judgment in such matters.
1. We need to let brotherly love move us in our . . .