Sabbath School Lesson for February 25-March 3, 2017

The Holy Spirit is needed on this earth in so many ways. Individual believers are certainly blessed spiritually, enabling us to bless others, both inside and outside the church community. Our example of clean, moral living goes hand in hand with our actions of serving those around us, making us reflectors of Christ’s life and what He stands for.

But what does this do for the church itself? How does the Holy Spirit use these measures to unify God’s church? Is the unity Jesus prayed for actually attainable in these last days? This week we will explore these and other questions about the value of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church.

Memory Verse: “Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Ephesians 4:3-5 NASB

We must keep in mind that the church does not exist because of what we do, because of any organizational success we may have achieved. The church exists because of what God has already done and continues to do through the Holy Spirit.

Since the theological foundation of the church is the Holy Word of God, which was spoken to us through the Spirit, we owe our existence to the Holy Spirit, right from the start.

Although we will notice many unifying factors involved in the church’s unity, the main ingredients continue to be our humility towards each other and our submission to the Bible truths we hold dear.

Sunday: The Holy Spirit Unites Us With Christ

First and foremost in the unifying work of the Holy Spirit is His ability to unite us with Christ. Christ is the head of the church (the analogy of the church “body”), and also the chief cornerstone of the church (the analogy of the “temple building”).

Our Christian experience individually and in the church therefore depends on our maintaining a close connection with Christ. He is said to abide in us, while we abide in Him. Jesus is the vine through which we, the branches, get our nourishment, and our life.

This has a profound influence on our unity with each other. For the closer we become to Christ, the closer we come to fellow believers. And the Holy Spirit is primarily responsible for this closeness. He dwells in us, in a spiritual sense. But the result is a visible, practical one that others clearly notice in our humble attitudes and loving actions towards each other.

Discussion Questions: Read Ephesians 5:22-25, 33. What does it mean for Christ to be the head of the church? How is this relationship mirrored in a Christian marriage, and in what way does this make it another illustration of Christ’s relationship with the church?

Read Ephesians 2:20-22 and 1 Peter 2:6, 7. How does Jesus being the chief cornerstone guarantee that we, as church members, are so united that nothing can come between us?

Read Colossians 3:12-14. What bonds the church, making our unity complete and perfect?

Monday: The Holy Spirit Unites Us Through Baptism

Baptism is a beautifully symbolic gesture on the part of a new believer. It illustrates his or her dying to sin, burial of the old self, and the renewal this brings when we begin our life of commitment to the Lord. It significantly reflects the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Another important result though is the way it draws us into the congregation of believers we have chosen to join. It very visibly unites us with the body of Christ, as they witness and support our decision to dedicate our life to God.

Our ability to remain faithful, following our baptism, depends largely on the bond we develop with our new brothers and sisters in Christ. God has wisely chosen this vehicle to bring a new convert into fellowship with like-minded believers. We must never downplay or neglect the importance of the baptismal ceremony. It remains another way the Holy Spirit unites God’s people.

Discussion Questions: Read I Corinthians 12:12, 13. What does this verse tell us about the extent of unity God envisions for His people?

Read Romans 6:3-7. Notice verse 5 talks about unity. How do these symbols of Christ’s death and resurrection relate to our unity as believers?

Read Acts 2:38-41. How does baptism contribute to empowering and equipping us for ministry? And how does the church also benefit from these often-overlooked results of our baptism?

Tuesday: The Holy Spirit Unites the Church Through the Word of God

Just as important as our being united in Christ is the call to be united in His Word. His Word is truth (John 17:17)–and Jesus is truth (John 14:6). We can’t be faithful to Him without also being faithful to His Word. Jesus told us, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15 NKJV)–and all the words He has spoken to us through the Holy Spirit.

One sure way to promote disunity in the church is to doubt, criticize, or neglect the study of God’s Word. The Berean church were commended by Paul for searching the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). But note that they did it DAILY.

When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, do we mean it when we ask Him to give us our daily bread? We must eat of God’s Word every day of our lives, just as we eat of material food on a daily basis.

Discussion Questions: Read John 5:39, 46, 47 and 8:31, 32. What are some of the ways studying the Bible is beneficial for us and God’s church?

Read John 17:17-21. How does God’s Word sanctify us, or make us holy? And what does this do for the church?

Read Acts 17:11 and Matthew 6:11. What does it mean to have His bread every day and why is this important for church unity?

Wednesday: The Holy Spirit Unites the Church in Faith and Doctrine

Being united in our love for the Scriptures is one thing, but being united in how we perceive and obey the requirements found in the Bible is another. There must be this agreement in doctrine that allows us by faith to practice what we have learned.

Having a unified front when it comes to teaching how to live like Jesus allows the Holy Spirit to bless our ministries and see our congregations grow. There must be unity in faith and doctrine or there will be no unity in our mission. God delights to work in a church that is united in what it believes and practices.

Nationalities, race, and class have no bearing on our unity. It all boils down to our faith and dedication to God that demonstrates to the world our unity of purpose. All peoples are to blend together to represent their Master in a way that lights up the world and makes a difference in the final outcome of the universe.

Discussion Questions: Read Ephesians 4:5, 6. What are some of the things that unite us?

Read Romans 12:18. How important is maintaining peace? Is this advice mostly to those in our church body or does it have a wider application? How can we achieve this peace?

Read Philippians 2:3, 4. What mindset will we need to accomplish these goals, and where will we get it?

Thursday: The Holy Spirit Unites the Church in Mission and Service

As believers practice what they preach and benefit spiritually from their beliefs, they feel compelled to share their discoveries with others. This purpose and mission also works toward unifying the members of a church.

We’ve seen how the New Testament church, starting out small, was able to increase its numbers by their devoted preaching and witnessing. But there were other things that contributed to the growing ranks of believers in the first few centuries after Christ.

They devoutly took care of each others’ material needs as well. Not only were those outside their circle of friends served, but they were united by pooling their finances and seeing that all those in the church were cared for. Due to the generosity of wealthy followers of God, even the very poorest of them had their basic needs met.

This kind of philanthropy was witnessed but rarely in the world back then, or even now. Those in the class system, which even included slavery and other forms of indebtedness and poverty, must have been astonished by the way Christians were conducting their everyday businesses and livelihoods. All were equally provided for, making brothers and sisters in Christ feel truly a part of the family of God.

Discussion Questions: Read Acts 2:4-11 and Mark 16:17, 18. Why was this unique experience of all the disciples having the same gift of speaking in tongues witnessed at this time of the Pentecost?

Read Acts 2:42-47. In what other ways was the early church united?

Read Acts 4:32, 34, and 37. What are some ways church members can be brought closer together in unity today? How do fellowship meals and other social programs help bond members together? What other avenues do you think would serve this purpose?


The Holy Spirit unites the church…

  1. Sunday–by causing us to focus on Christ (with Him as the chief cornerstone, each stone fits so perfectly that nothing can come between them)
  2. Monday–by His presence at baptism (the ceremony helps bond us with our church family; the spiritual gifts bestowed on the new believer also help the church to grow)
  3. Tuesday–by encouraging Bible study (Jesus is the Living Word, but also the written Word; so, we must stay close to both)
  4. Wednesday–by helping us follow Jesus (keeping our eyes on Jesus must impact how we walk with Him)
  5. Thursday–by showing us how to serve others and each other (our service to those outside the church and taking care of each other in the church help unite us)

Parting Words

It is forcefully clear that God intends His followers to work together. It was His plan from creation that “it is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Thus Eve was created to work with Adam in the Garden. All through Bible history we find that God’s will is most notably upheld when there is a group of people who faithfully serve Him.

Jesus chose twelve disciples, but constantly we saw that even in His lifetime, this circle of friends was enlarged to include hundreds, and then thousands, following His resurrection.

We know that one man standing against the devil is more likely to fall into sin. Therefore, there will always be a need for church fellowship and communion. Besides that benefit, the mission to carry the gospel into the world will only be possible when a group of believers undertake the challenge together.

Just as vital as belonging to a church is the need to belong to the right church–one that practices most closely what is prescribed for us in the Bible. The Holy Spirit must be a part of this process. His help is continuously needed in creating a unified movement that will carry us through to the final judgment day of Christ.

Next Week: The Holy Spirit, the Word, and Prayer

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