Message One: The Church Ground of Oneness versus Division
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  • 2015-02-27,
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Scripture Reading: John 17:11, 15, 21, 23; Deut. 12:1-3, 5; 16:16;
Psa. 133; Acts 8:1; 13:1; 14:23; Rom. 16:1; 1 Cor. 1:2
John 17:11     And I am no longer in the world; yet they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, which You have given to Me, that they may be one even as We are.
John 17:15     I do not ask that You would take them out of the world, but that You would keep them out of the hands of the evil one.
John 17:21     That they all may be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You have sent Me.
John 17:23     I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one, that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.
Deut 12:1       These are the statutes and the ordinances that you shall be certain to do in the land which Jehovah, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth.
Deut 12:2       You shall completely destroy all the places where the nations whom you will dispossess have served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every flourishing tree.
Deut 12:3       And you shall tear down their altars and crush their pillars; and their Asherahs you shall burn with fire, and the idols of their gods you shall cut down; and you shall destroy their name from that place.
Deut 12:5       But to the place which Jehovah your God will choose out of all your tribes to put His name, to His habitation, shall you seek, and there shall you go.
Deut 16:16     Three times a year all your males shall appear before Jehovah your God in the place which He will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles. And they shall not appear before Jehovah empty-handed;
Psa 133:1      Behold, how good and how pleasant it is / For brothers to dwell in unity!
Psa 133:2      It is like the fine oil upon the head / That ran down upon the beard, / Upon Aaron's beard, / That ran down upon the hem of his garments;
Psa 133:3      Like the dew of Hermon / That came down upon the mountains of Zion. / For there Jehovah commanded the blessing: / Life forever.
Acts 8:1         And Saul approved of his killing. And there occurred in that day a great persecution against the church which was in Jerusalem; and all were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Acts 13:1       Now there were in Antioch, in the local church, prophets and teachers: Barnabas and Simeon, who was called Niger, and Lucius the Cyrenian, and Manaen, the foster brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Acts 14:23     And when they had appointed elders for them in every church and had prayed with fastings, they committed them to the Lord into whom they had believed.
Rom 16:1       I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a deaconess of the church which is in Cenchrea,
1 Cor 1:2        To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, the called saints, with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, who is theirs and ours:
 
 
I.     The oneness in the Bible is an all-inclusive oneness for the expression of God as the mystery of godliness to carry out the desire of God’s heart, and division is an all-inclusive division for the expression of Satan as the mystery of lawlessness to carry out the scheme of Satan’s plot—John 17:11, 21, 23; 1 Tim. 3:15-16a; 2 Thes. 2:3, 7-8; 1 John 3:4; cf. 2 Cor. 2:10-11:
John 17:11     And I am no longer in the world; yet they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, which You have given to Me, that they may be one even as We are.
John 17:21     That they all may be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You have sent Me.
John 17:23     I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one, that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.
1 Tim 3:15      But if I delay, I write that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and base of the truth.
1 Tim 3:16a    And confessedly, great is the mystery of godliness: …
2 Thes 2:3      Let no one deceive you in any way, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition,
2 Thes 2:7      For it is the mystery of lawlessness that is now operating, but only until the one now restraining goes out of the way.
2 Thes 2:8      And then the lawless one will be revealed (whom the Lord Jesus will slay by the breath of His mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of His coming),
1 John 3:4      Everyone who practices sin practices lawlessness also, and sin is lawlessness.
2 Cor 2:10      But whom you forgive anything, I also forgive; for also what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, it is for your sake in the person of Christ;
2 Cor 2:11      That we may not be taken advantage of by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.
A.     The oneness of the Triune God, which is the oneness of the Body of Christ, includes all that Christ is to us in and for God’s economy; the practice of this oneness, the one accord, is the master key to every blessing in the New Testament—Psa. 133; Eph. 4:1-6; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 1:9-10; Phil. 1:27; 2:2.
Psa 133:1      Behold, how good and how pleasant it is / For brothers to dwell in unity!
Psa 133:2      It is like the fine oil upon the head / That ran down upon the beard, / Upon Aaron's beard, / That ran down upon the hem of his garments;
Psa 133:3      Like the dew of Hermon / That came down upon the mountains of Zion. / For there Jehovah commanded the blessing: / Life forever.
Eph 4:1          I beseech you therefore, I, the prisoner in the Lord, to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called,
Eph 4:2          With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, bearing one another in love,
Eph 4:3          Being diligent to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace:
Eph 4:4          One Body and one Spirit, even as also you were called in one hope of your calling;
Eph 4:5          One Lord, one faith, one baptism;
Eph 4:6          One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Acts 1:14       These all continued steadfastly with one accord in prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
1 Cor 1:9        God is faithful, through whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Cor 1:10      Now I beseech you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be attuned in the same mind and in the same opinion.
Phil 1:27        Only, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, that whether coming and seeing you or being absent, I may hear of the things concerning you, that you stand firm in one spirit, with one soul striving together along with the faith of the gospel,
Phil 2:2          Make my joy full, that you think the same thing, having the same love, joined in soul, thinking the one thing,
B.     The division of Satan, which is the division of Babylon the Great, includes every negative thing and is like a great tree deeply rooted and settled in the earth, flourishing with its branches in which Satan’s evil spirits with the evil persons and things motivated by him are lodged—Matt. 13:31-32, 4, 19; Gen. 11:1-9; Rev. 17:1-6; 18:2; John 17:15.
Matt 13:31      Another parable He set before them, saying, The kingdom of the heavens is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field,
Matt 13:32      And which is smaller than all the seeds; but when it has grown, it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of heaven come and roost in its branches.
Matt 13:4       And as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the way, and the birds came and devoured them.
Matt 13:19      When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand, the evil one comes and snatches away that which has been sown in his heart. This is the one sown beside the way.
Gen 11:1        And the whole earth had one language and the same speech.
Gen 11:2        And as they journeyed east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
Gen 11:3        And they said to one another, Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and they had tar for mortar.
Gen 11:4        And they said, Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top is in the heavens; and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered over the surface of the whole earth.
Gen 11:5        And Jehovah came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men had built.
Gen 11:6        And Jehovah said, Behold, they are one people, and they all have one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and now nothing which they purpose to do will be kept from them.
Gen 11:7        Come, let Us go down and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
Gen 11:8        So Jehovah scattered them from there over the surface of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.
Gen 11:9        Therefore its name was called Babel, because there Jehovah confounded the language of all the earth, and from there Jehovah scattered them over the surface of all the earth.
Rev 17:1        And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, Come here; I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits upon the many waters,
Rev 17:2        With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and those who dwell on the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
Rev 17:3        And he carried me away in spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
Rev 17:4        And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and gilded with gold and precious stone and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the unclean things of her fornication.
Rev 17:5        And on her forehead there was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF THE HARLOTS AND THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Rev 17:6        And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. And I marveled with great marvel when I saw her.
Rev 18:2        And He cried with a strong voice, saying, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great! And she has become a dwelling place of demons and a hold of every unclean spirit and a hold of every unclean and hateful bird;
John 17:15     I do not ask that You would take them out of the world, but that You would keep them out of the hands of the evil one.
C.     The main symptom of Satan and his world is “the evil” of division (v. 15); the main attribute of the Triune God and His dwelling place is “the blessing” of oneness (Psa. 133:3; cf. Gen. 12:2; Gal. 3:14).
John 17:15     I do not ask that You would take them out of the world, but that You would keep them out of the hands of the evil one.
Psa 133:3      Like the dew of Hermon / That came down upon the mountains of Zion. / For there Jehovah commanded the blessing: / Life forever.
Gen 12:2        And I will make of you a great nation, / And I will bless you / And make your name great; / And you shall be a blessing.
Gal 3:14         In order that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
D.     Day by day we have to move out of ourselves with “the evil” of division and into the divine “Us,” the Triune God as the blessing of oneness, and we have to remain in Him for His corporate expression; if we continually touch the Word and allow the Spirit to touch us day by day, we shall be sanctified by moving out of ourselves, our old lodging place, and into the Triune God, our new lodging place—John 17:15, 17, 21; 15:5; Eph. 5:26.
John 17:15     I do not ask that You would take them out of the world, but that You would keep them out of the hands of the evil one.
John 17:17     Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
John 17:21     That they all may be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You have sent Me.
John 15:5       I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Eph 5:26        That He might sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word,
 
II.   The unique ground of Jerusalem, the place where the temple as God’s dwelling place was built on Mount Zion, typifies the unique ground of God’s choice, the ground of oneness—Deut. 12:5; 2 Chron. 6:5-6; Ezra 1:2-3:
Deut 12:5       But to the place which Jehovah your God will choose out of all your tribes to put His name, to His habitation, shall you seek, and there shall you go.
2 Chron 6:5    Since the day when I brought My people out from the land of Egypt, I have not chosen a city out of all the tribes of Israel to build a house for My name that it might be there; nor did I choose a man to be a ruler over My people Israel;
2 Chron 6:6    But I have chosen Jerusalem that My name might be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.
Ezra 1:2         Thus says Cyrus the king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth has Jehovah the God of heaven given to me; and He has charged me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
Ezra 1:3         Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him; and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and let him build the house of Jehovah the God of Israel-He is God-who is in Jerusalem.
A.     In the ancient times all the Israelites came together three times a year at Jerusalem; it was by this unique place of worship to God, Jerusalem, that the oneness of His people was kept for generations—Deut. 12:5; 16:16.
Deut 12:5       But to the place which Jehovah your God will choose out of all your tribes to put His name, to His habitation, shall you seek, and there shall you go.
Deut 16:16     Three times a year all your males shall appear before Jehovah your God in the place which He will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles. And they shall not appear before Jehovah empty-handed;
B.     In the New Testament the proper ground of oneness ordained by God is the unique ground of one church for one locality—Rev. 1:11:
Rev 1:11        Saying, What you see write in a scroll and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamos and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.
1.      The church is constituted of the universal God, but it exists on earth in many localities; in nature the church is universal in God, but in practice the church is local in a definite place, such as “the church of God which is in Corinth”—1 Cor. 1:2:
1 Cor 1:2        To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, the called saints, with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, who is theirs and ours:
a.      The church of God means that the church is not only possessed by God but has God as its nature and essence, which are divine, general, universal, and eternal—v. 2.
1 Cor 1:2        To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, the called saints, with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, who is theirs and ours:
b.      The church…which is in Corinth refers to a church in a city, remaining in a definite locality and taking it as its standing, ground, and jurisdiction for its administration in business affairs, which is physical, particular, local, and temporal in time—v. 2.
1 Cor 1:2        To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, the called saints, with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, who is theirs and ours:
2.      Without the universal aspect, the church is void of content; without the local aspect, it is impossible for the church to have any expression and practice; the record concerning the establishment of a church in its locality is consistent throughout the New Testament—Acts 8:1; 13:1; 14:23; Rom. 16:1; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 8:1; Gal. 1:2; Rev. 1:4, 11.
Acts 8:1         And Saul approved of his killing. And there occurred in that day a great persecution against the church which was in Jerusalem; and all were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Acts 13:1       Now there were in Antioch, in the local church, prophets and teachers: Barnabas and Simeon, who was called Niger, and Lucius the Cyrenian, and Manaen, the foster brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Acts 14:23     And when they had appointed elders for them in every church and had prayed with fastings, they committed them to the Lord into whom they had believed.
Rom 16:1       I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a deaconess of the church which is in Cenchrea,
1 Cor 1:2        To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, the called saints, with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, who is theirs and ours:
2 Cor 8:1        Furthermore we make known to you, brothers, the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia,
Gal 1:2           And all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia:
Rev 1:4          John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is coming, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,
Rev 1:11        Saying, What you see write in a scroll and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamos and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.
 
III.  The church life on the ground of oneness is today’s Jerusalem; within the church life there must be a group of overcomers, and these overcomers are today’s Zion—Psa. 48:2, 11-12:
Psa 48:2        Beautiful in elevation, / The joy of the whole earth, / Is Mount Zion, the sides of the north, / The city of the great King.
Psa 48:11      Let Mount Zion rejoice; / Let the daughters of Judah exult / Because of Your judgments.
Psa 48:12      Walk about Zion, and go around her; / Count her towers.
A.     As the highlight and beauty of the holy city Jerusalem, Zion typifies the overcomers as the high peak, the center, the uplifting, the strengthening, the enriching, the beauty, and the reality of the church—20:2; 53:6a; 87:2.
Psa 20:2        May He send you help from the sanctuary / And support you from Zion.
Psa 53:6a      Oh that the salvation of Israel might come forth from Zion! …
Psa 87:2        Jehovah loves the gates of Zion / More than all the dwellings of Jacob.
B.     The overcomers as Zion are the reality of the Body of Christ and consummate the building up of the Body in the local churches to bring in the consummated holy city, New Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies as God’s dwelling place, in eternity—Rev. 21:1-3, 16, 22.
Rev 21:1        And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more.
Rev 21:2        And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Rev 21:3        And I heard a loud voice out of the throne, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will tabernacle with them, and they will be His peoples, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.
Rev 21:16      And the city lies square, and its length is as great as the breadth. And he measured the city with the reed to a length of twelve thousand stadia; the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
Rev 21:22      And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
C.     The church life is the right place for you to be an overcomer, but this does not mean that as long as you are in the church life, you are an overcomer; it is one thing to be in the church life, but it is another thing to be an overcomer—2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 20-21.
Rev 2:7          He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.
Rev 2:11        He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall by no means be hurt of the second death.
Rev 2:17        He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give of the hidden manna, and to him I will give a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written, which no one knows except he who receives it.
Rev 2:26        And he who overcomes and he who keeps My works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations;
Rev 2:27        And he will shepherd them with an iron rod, as vessels of pottery are broken in pieces, as I also have received from My Father;
Rev 2:28        And to him I will give the morning star.
Rev 3:5          He who overcomes will be clothed thus, in white garments, and I shall by no means erase his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
Rev 3:12        He who overcomes, him I will make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall by no means go out anymore, and I will write upon him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which descends out of heaven from My God, and My new name.
Rev 3:20        Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.
Rev 3:21        He who overcomes, to him I will give to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.
 
IV.  In order to be today’s overcomers, we must maintain the ground of oneness, God’s unique choice, without elevating anything other than Christ; in the Lord’s recovery we elevate Christ and Christ alone—Col. 1:18b; Rev. 2:4; 2 Cor. 4:5; 10:5:
Col 1:18b       … He is the beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, that He Himself might have the first place in all things;
Rev 2:4          But I have one thing against you, that you have left your first love.
2 Cor 4:5        For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake.
2 Cor 10:5      As we overthrow reasonings and every high thing rising up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought unto the obedience of Christ.
A.     Before the children of Israel could have the full enjoyment of the riches of the good land, they had to utterly destroy the heathen places of worship, the idols, and the names of the idols “on the high mountains and on the hills and under every flourishing tree” (Deut. 12:2); the high mountains and hills signify the exaltation of something other than Christ, and the flourishing trees signify things that are beautiful and attractive—vv. 1-3, 5; 1 Kings 11:7-8; 12:26-31; Num. 33:52.
Deut 12:1       These are the statutes and the ordinances that you shall be certain to do in the land which Jehovah, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth.
Deut 12:2       You shall completely destroy all the places where the nations whom you will dispossess have served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every flourishing tree.
Deut 12:3       And you shall tear down their altars and crush their pillars; and their Asherahs you shall burn with fire, and the idols of their gods you shall cut down; and you shall destroy their name from that place.
Deut 12:5       But to the place which Jehovah your God will choose out of all your tribes to put His name, to His habitation, shall you seek, and there shall you go.
1 Kings 11:7   Then Solomon built a high place to Chemosh the detestable thing of Moab in the mountain that is before Jerusalem and to Molech the detestable thing of the children of Ammon.
1 Kings 11:8   And so he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.
1 Kings 12:26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now the kingdom will return to the house of David.
1 Kings 12:27 If this people go up to make sacrifices in the house of Jehovah at Jerusalem, the heart of this people will return to their lord, to Rehoboam the king of Judah; and they will slay me and return to Rehoboam the king of Judah.
1 Kings 12:28 And the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!
1 Kings 12:29 And he set one in Bethel, and he put the other one in Dan.
1 Kings 12:30 And this thing became a sin; and the people went to worship the one as far as Dan.
1 Kings 12:31 And he made a house of high places and appointed priests from among the people who were not from the sons of Levi.
Num 33:52     You shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and you shall destroy all their figured stones and destroy all their molten images and demolish all their high places;
B.     The intrinsic reason for the desolation and degradation of God’s people is that Christ is not exalted by them; they do not give Him the preeminence, the first place, in everything—Psa. 80:1, 3, 7, 15-19; 74:1.
Psa 80:1        O Shepherd of Israel, give ear, / You who lead Joseph like a flock; / You who are enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth.
Psa 80:3        O God, restore us; / And cause Your face to shine, and we will be saved.
Psa 80:7        O God of hosts, restore us; / And cause Your face to shine, and we will be saved.
Psa 80:15      Even the stock which Your right hand has planted / And the son whom You have strengthened for Yourself.
Psa 80:16      It is burned with fire; it is cut down; / They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.
Psa 80:17      Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, / Upon the son of man whom You have strengthened for Yourself;
Psa 80:18      Then we will not turn back from You. / Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
Psa 80:19      O Jehovah God of hosts, restore us; / Cause Your face to shine, and we will be saved.
Psa 74:1        Why, O God, have You cast us off forever? / Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture?
C.     The way to be restored from desolation is to exalt Christ; the enjoyment of Christ with God on the ground of oneness can be maintained and preserved only when Christ is properly appreciated and exalted by God’s people.
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