Purpose #1 — Encouragement of Unity

Acts 20.17-18 says, “And from Miletus [Paul] sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,”

As Paul went to Asia Minor, he saw pastors who were in the thick of things so to speak. Paul had a vested interest in the church at Ephesus because he had planted it. In fact, Paul spent three years in Ephesus, far longer than he spent in any other ministry location. Paul wanted to see the church at Ephesus thrive. So, Paul called the pastors of the church together to encourage their unity.

Let Paul’s motive be ours as well. While we shepherd individual congregations, we are united in the cause of Christ. We preach the same Christ from the same Scriptures with the same eternal results. We worship, serve and represent one Lord, one faith, one baptism. These words from Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church (4.5) could be summarized in one word: unity.

As we gather together for fellowship, we gather out of unity. We all deal with the same issues: heart-breaking marital problems, enslaving substance abuses, devastating sexual sins, incessant questioning of pastoral authority just to name a few. The technology of our day has only compounded the matters for the worse, because the human heart is still the same as it was when Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden. Dealing with these issues on a daily basis can be exhausting to the mind and body, not to mention the spirit.

Praise the Lord that the Gospel has remained unchanged! The just shall live by faith in Christ alone! Each of us experienced this grace in our lives, and it transformed us from broken, dirty, deformed pitchers to broken, dirty, deformed pitchers through whom Christ pours His grace to a desperately needy world and church. We are united in this message and its radical implications for our lives and the lives of those to whom we minister. We will be united eternally when we finally see our Saviour’s face.

Let us set a practical example for our churches. We desire for our churches to be united and consistently growing in the knowledge and love of Christ (Eph. 4.13). Let us be united with each other for the same reason.

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