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United with God

Joe and Deanna Ojalehto | The Voice of Zion June/July 2022 - Home and Family Article --

Believers are unified by the Holy Spirit, the third person of God: Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier. When realized, this unity makes temporal differences seem insignificant. However, it cannot ignore spiritual differences. This is where it is so important for believers to have the freedom to lovingly discuss and rebuke when needed to preserve this unity.

It is important to note that this unity is not simply a social network of like-minded individuals who may, at times, negotiate a common understanding. The Holy Spirit unites us with God and His Word. John 14:26 says, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things.”

If a group of individuals would come to an agreement through discussion on a matter which is contrary to what God’s Word teaches, this understanding would not be of the Spirit; the Holy Spirit answers to the Word of God. We know that the enemy of souls does not like the unity which exists between believers and is always trying to deceive and create division and doubts. God’s Word reminds us in Ephesians 4:2,3 “With all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”

We want to encourage each other with patience and love, praying that God, through His Spirit, would reveal matters in His time. The Holy Spirit speaks to us individually and in the congregation, and we pray that we would hear when it speaks and be obedient. As God’s children, we gather around the Word of God often with that prayer in our hearts that God would feed us with His Word. We find that of our own, we are weak and poor, and need God’s grace often as we endeavor to believe. When we visit with fellow believers, we find how the Holy Spirit unites us and we feel the bond of faith. We also find that when the spirit is not the same, there is not the bond of faith, but difference. Then spiritual unity is missing.

We pray that we would remain attached to the true living vine, the Lord Jesus, where the blood of Christ flows freely from member to member. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine; no more can ye except ye abide in me” (John 15:4). When we travel in this way, the Holy Spirit speaks to us, we feel the peace of God, we see the beauty of His kingdom and feel the unity of the Spirit.

Unity in Our Midst

Stan and Lori Ylioja | The Voice of Zion June/July 2022 - Home and Family Article --

Throughout our years, we have experienced unity in God’s kingdom. Unity is the state of being united or joined as a whole and being in harmony with one another. Unity is having the same understanding and love between God’s children because we believe the same way. It is that deep inner conviction that comes from the Holy Spirit within us that answers amen when our spirit agrees with what we have heard regarding matters of faith.

The Holy Spirit, God in the third person, lives and dwells in the believers on earth and reveals His will to us through the congregation (John 14:26). This joins the believers in one understanding. This unity is not from the consensus of our temporal minds but is rather the clear revelation that is given by and through the Holy Spirit. When God’s children speak and share with one another in the congregation on how they understand matters and our spirit answers to it, then unity of faith and understanding is preserved. If our spirit does not answer it is important that we speak and share how we feel so that the Holy Spirit can guide us. In this way, God cares for us and preserves unity among us. We can be comforted that the Holy Spirit will direct us in all things. Let us remain as humble children of God so that we can be taken care of (1 Pet. 5:5) and be preserved in faith.

We experience the unity in God’s kingdom when attending services and other gatherings. In 2013, we had the opportunity to travel to Finland and meet believers. We greeted them with God’s Peace and in just a few moments, though we had never met before, we could feel that oneness of spirit and were able to talk like dear friends. This type of unity is not experienced on the outside of God’s kingdom since it comes from mutual living faith. We had the same experience at the summer services in Finland when sitting in the big tent with many believers around us who spoke a different language. We could feel the oneness and the unity of the Holy Spirit.

During pandemic restrictions we were not able to meet as a whole congregation. After the initial shutdown, we were able to gather in smaller groups as mandates allowed, with no refreshments afterwards. Although some were together, we felt lonely for the whole congregation and to be able to visit and enjoy the unity of all our brothers and sisters in faith. When the restrictions were lifted, it felt good to finally gather again and feel the oneness and unity of faith.

Especially in times of trial, we doubt and feel our unworthiness. When we experience the unity of spirit it gives us the warm assurance that we are part of the precious flock of God’s children and are traveling together to heaven. It unifies us to contribute willingly to the work and instills in us the desire to support the work an any way we can. When there is strife in the congregation it can diminish our desire to do or contribute to the work.

The kingdom of God is a unified kingdom of different gifts, but the same spirit (1 Cor. 12:4–6). God distributes gifts to His children as He sees best and then uses those gifts for the work in His kingdom. God has created each one of us as unique individuals with our own way of doing things. We can embrace this uniqueness and not let temporal differences break love and unity among us. Our focus is to preserve faith and a clean conscience which in turn preserves unity among us. May we remember to thank our heavenly Father for this gift of unity that we have and pray that it would continue in our midst.

Discussion Questions:

  1. The Spirit unifies, yet believers are all so different. Explain.

  2. How is unity preserved in a congregation?

  3. If we personally do not feel unity with the congregation, what might that indicate?

  4. How can we explain what unity is without using the word unity? How can we teach our children and one another about unity?

  5. Tell about a time when you have especially experienced the joy of unity between believers.

2022_0607_Pub_JunJulVZ_HF_United with God
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