‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.’ John 17:20–21
Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 4:4–16
If you would promote the unity of Christ’s church, look after his lost sheep, seek out wandering souls. If you ask what is to be your word, the answer is in the text—it is to be concerning Christ. They are to believe in him. Every soul that believes in Christ is built into the great gospel unity in its measure, and you will never see the church as a whole while there is one soul left unsaved for whom the Saviour shed his precious blood. Go out and teach his Word! Tell out the doctrines of grace as he has given you ability. Hold up Christ before the eyes of men, and you will be the means in God’s hand of bringing them to believe in him, and so the church shall be built up and made one. Here is work for the beginning of the year; here is work till the end of the year. Do not sit down and scheme and plot and plan how this denomination may melt into the other; you leave that alone. Your business is to go and ‘tell to sinners round what a dear Saviour you have found’, for that is God’s way of using you to complete the unity of his Church. Unless these be saved, the Church is not perfect. That is a wonderful text, ‘That they without us should not be made perfect.’ That is to say, saints in heaven cannot be perfect unless we get there. What! the blessed saints in heaven not perfect except the rest of believers come there? So the Scripture tells us, for they would be a part of the body and not a whole body; they cannot be perfect as a flock unless the rest of the sheep come there.
For meditation: God’s instrument for furthering and completing true unity is spiritual—the ongoing addition of souls to his kingdom through the proclamation of Christ crucified. Man’s instrument for promoting organisational unity is political and carnal. Unity, just like the new birth, is ‘not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:13).
Sermon no. 668
7 January (1866)