Related Verses: Acts 2; 15:28; 1 Cor. 12:12-14; Eph. 2:18-22; 4:3-6
Leading Question: How can we know if the Holy Spirit is at work in the church?
This week’s lesson covers a cluster of items which are important to the individual believer and to the community. The Spirit is said to be important to each item, though it is not possible to actually discern the action of the Spirit. In other words, there are no “bells and whistles.” The believer simply believes that the Spirit is guiding.
Union with Christ. Paul declares that it is through Christ that the Spirit unites us, yet it is the Spirit that is the agent:
Ephesians 2:18-22 (NIV) 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Baptism. Contributing to the unity of the body is the practice of baptism. Note how Paul ties baptism to the unity of the body:
1 Corinthians 12:12-14 (NIV): 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Scripture. Acts 17:11 indicates that the study of the Word of God was crucial for the believers whenever they heard the apostles preach: They “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (NIV). Again, the believer simply believes that the Spirit is present; there is no visible proof – except the resultant unity of the body of Christ.
Question: If the church appears to be united, is that evidence that it is being guided by the Spirit of God?
Faith and Doctrine. Again Paul declares that it is the Spirit who effectively unites the church in faith and doctrine. Ephesians 4:3-6 is a key passage:
Ephesians 4:3-6 (NIV): 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Mission and Service. Acts 2 indicates that the Spirit played a key role in equipping the early believers to reach out in mission and service. The gift of tongues (or ears!) played a key role.