Pastor Vernon Allen, of the Buff Bay Baptist Church in Jamaica, preached these notes at the GLOBE Vanguard Missions Conference on October 26, 2013 in South Carolina.
1. God is glorified in our Christian unity
Does having a racially united witness matter?
Is it just a warm sentimental aspiration?
Is it grounded in Scripture? Or is it just another mission strategy that the church has come up with.
Everything we do and affirm in the name of Christ, must be grounded in Scripture. Our highest motivation for doing anything must be because it brings glory to God.
There can be no doubt that the Lord desires that His people live and serve in oneness.
And this oneness among His people is so important that there are three mentioning of it in the Lord’s High Priestly prayer recorded for us in John chapter 17.
Vv20-23 :20 And I do not pray for these alone, but for those also who shall believe on Me through their word,
21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.
22 And I have given them the glory which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one,
23 I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me. (MKJV)
It is this part of the prayer that seems to identify the believer most with both Father and Son.
The oneness of the Son and the Father was manifested in the deep love that each sustained for the other and by the perfect obedience of the Son to the Father and the perfect response of the Father to the Son.
The oneness mentioned here in John chapter 17 is a oneness of nature because it is comparable to that of the Son and the Father.
We have been made partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4):
“ through which He has given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, so that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
. The oneness of the Church must spring from the common Life that is imparted to all believers by the new birth (1 Jn 5:12); and it is manifested in our common love for Christ and for one another.
So the great impression upon the world at large, that the mission of Christ is divine, is to be made by the unity of His disciples.
Of course, then, this must be something that shall be visible or perceptible to the world.
“The practical, living-out of our oneness in the Body of Christ is literally the most powerful apologetic to the world that God had sent Jesus into the world and demonstrated for all eternity the Father’s great love for mankind.”
2. God has committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation
2Co 5:18-20: And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 whereas God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and putting the word of reconciliation in us.
20 Then we are ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as God exhorting through us, we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (MKJV)
The word “to reconcile” means literally to exchange, to bring into a changed relationship
In the New Testament God takes the initiative and has changed his relationship towards man and has summon man to change his relationship towards Him.
Previous to this, man was at enmity with God. He was separated from God because of the wickedness in his heart. Man’s sin caused God to hide his face from man Isaiah 59:2
But in time, God sent Jesus into the world to die on the cross to wash away our sins, thus removing the enmity that existed. So when we believe, we who were once afar off have been brought nigh by the blood of Christ Eph 2:13
Having been reconciled to God, He has now committed unto us this ministry of reconciliation.
But how can we preach God’s reconciliation to sinners when they see a racially divided church?
But what a powerful demonstration of reconciliation we have when we stand together as Christians, black and white, who have had their racial differences settled in Christ and proclaim God’s message of reconciliation.
If this message of reconciliation is not visibly seen in our own witness, it is going to challenge the credibility of the message
People are drawn to something when they see that it works.
There is an advertisement back home on the TV: If Panadol works for me can you imagine what it will do for you?
3. Our motivation in Christ for having a racially united witness is for the sake of the Gospel.
1Co 9:19-23: For though I am free from all, yet I have made myself servant to all, so that I might gain the more.
20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might gain the Jews. To those who are under the Law, I became as under the Law, so that I might gain those who are under the Law.
21 To those who are outside Law, I became as outside Law so that I might gain those who are outside Law.
22 To the weak I became as the weak, so that I might gain the weak. I am made all things to all men, so that I might by all means save some.
23 And this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I might be partaker of it with you. (MKJV)
Paul is here speaking of a giving up of self so that the gospel would go forth.
But why for the gospel’s sake? The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes.
It is the only message that can save a lost world.
It must not be hindered in any way.
He was willing to remove every obstacle to the gospel.
Are we willing to remove the race obstacle?
In Jamaica many men see the gospel as a white man’s message.
When they see white and black standing together, looking pass their color and presenting Christ what a powerful message.
Let men reject the gospel because of the cross of Christ and not by any man made obstacle.
So then our motivation in Christ for racially united witness is
- For the glory of God
- In Christ we have a ministry of reconciliation
- For the sake of the Gospel