Together

Last week, we celebrated not only the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also the fact that He is the resurrection and the life. Because He lives, He has freely deposited that same resurrection power that rose Him from the grave within each of us. Jesus said that it was actually better for His disciples that He leave them than to stay with them. What could possibly be better than having Jesus physically with you, though?

John 16:7
But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

This Advocate is none other than the Holy Spirit; God’s very presence sent to dwell within us and intended to baptize and fill our lives. This is better than having Jesus physically with us in person.

Although we often hear messages about the power and authority granted us through the Holy Spirit, the spiritual gifts that He gives us, the revelation and truth that He reveals about the Kingdom, there is a benefit that most of us do not value or even often consider. This morning, we’re going to begin a new message series where we’ll explore this act of the Holy Spirit further.

It is the Holy Spirit who binds us together. Together, it is the will of God and the prayer that Jesus prayed literally for you and I. Listen to what Jesus prayed while still in the flesh for you:

John 17:20-23
20b “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Jesus prayed for us who believe in Him through the message handed down to us. He prayed that we would be together; brought into complete unity as one. He prayed that we would be one so that the world would know that Jesus loves them and was sent for them. His prayer and desire for us? Together.

Ezekiel saw a prophetic vision of what I believe to be this same togetherness back in 585 BC that Jesus prayed for around 33 AD. He was shown bodies being brought from death to life as their bones were gathered together and united by sinews and tendons and then each of those bodies uniting together as one army.

Ezekiel 37:1-14
1 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

I believe that this prophecy was not only a prophecy for the nation of Israel, but that we are also a fulfillment of this prophetic word. We are ones who were spiritually dead; walking graves. However, the Spirit of God entered our spiritual graves and rose us to life. We are born again. God not only restored our life as He connected our dry, hopeless bones back together, but He also connected each one of us together as the army of God.

Christians come from as many different religious, cultural, ethnic, physical, and economical backgrounds as exist on the face of the earth, but there is more unity among us than diversity. Even within our own local church, we are all so different in the way that we see things and the things that we hold important and the way that we feel things ought to be done. However, there is One whom intended these differences. This is the same One whom unites our diversity to become a bonding strength and not a dividing force.

In our cultural atmosphere where any difference of opinion from others is viewed as hateful or divisive, the Holy Spirit’s ability to bring us together in perfect unity while still leaving us our unique identities and perspectives shines brightly in this ever-darkening world.

Paul writes to explain this powerful reality of togetherness that only the Holy Spirit can bring. If we are to work together as an unstoppable army for the Lord against our common enemy, it is a work of the Spirit that we must cooperate with! Paul reminds us that though this is a work of the Spirit, it is something that requires some effort on our part as well.

Ephesians 3:16-21; 4:1-16
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 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.

7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:

“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”

9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Together; grasping the length, width, height, and depth of the love of Christ. Together; unity by the Holy Spirit through the bond of peace. Together; having the power of God. Together; filled to the measure with all the fullness of God. United together, but different on our own. Together, we become the body of Christ as each one does their work.

It is the Holy Spirit that strengthens us and empowers us and gifts us and defines us, but also that brings us together to accomplish the Lord’s work. We are many and very diverse, but there is One who brings us all together.

There is One who intended our differences so that we might be better together. There is One who binds us together in perfect unity. This is the Holy Spirit whom Jesus also died and rose again that He might send Him to us. This is the Holy Spirit whom Jesus spoke of when He said that it was for His disciples good that He was leaving them so that He might send them something better; togetherness.

Those who put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation are more than just a person who is saved. They are a part of something bigger than themselves; the body of Christ. We are the body of Christ, the very body that Ezekiel saw and prophesied to centuries ago. We are the body whose hope was gone and who were cut off from the Lord by our sin. We are the body who was not much more than dry bones lying in a valley.

However, the Spirit of God saw something better! We are the body who received a living hope. We are the body who was breathed upon by the Holy Spirit. We are the body who was joined back together and given life. We are the body who cooperates together as one; a vast army.

As we begin our home groups here in just a few weeks, we’ll begin this journey on togetherness and find our part in the body of Christ. We’ll become more connected to become the family that God already says that we are. In the upcoming weeks, we’ll dive deeper into this work of the Spirit; together.