The Unity in Faith

Matthew 25, Hebrews 6 & 8, Acts 4
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 8 Unity in Faith

(Matthew 25, Hebrews 6 & 8, Acts 4)


Copr. 2018, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.


  1. When I think about those who are currently my close friends in and outside the church, their views are very similar to mine. However close our agreement, in each case there is also at least one area of disagreement. An exception is my wife, and even with her I can think of a topic on which we might disagree, but, of course, I would have the wrong opinion. Sometimes we do not realize the extent of disagreement with friends because we only have superficial discussions. This past weekend, a friend of mine was greatly surprised by my views and I was surprised by his. The discussion made me feel bad and consider whether we should have stuck to superficial subjects. The old saying is that “iron sharpens iron.” Isn’t disagreement helpful in shaping your thought? Or, should we avoid discussing areas of disagreement? Let’s jump into our study and see if the Bible sheds any light on this issue!


  1. Ten Virgins


    1. Read Matthew 25:1-4. Tell me about the points of similarity in the ten? (They all have the same mission. They share an identity. They rely on the same equipment and the same source of energy.)


      1. What is different about them? (Half of them bring extra oil. Half of them are called “foolish” and half are called “wise.”)


    1. Read Matthew 25:5-8. Why are half the virgins called “foolish?” (Because they did not bring enough oil.)


      1. We are told that the ten were waiting and sleeping. What if they spent the time debating the appropriate amount of oil to carry? If they had not been unified in waiting and sleeping, but instead had been debating the proper oil reserves, might this problem have been avoided?


    1. Read Matthew 25:9. What if they had spent the time discussing the moral issue of sharing resources. Might that have avoided the problem?


    1. Read Matthew 25:10-13. Why doesn’t the doorkeeper know the foolish five?


      1. When the doorkeeper says that the required attitude is to “keep watch,” did that describe the wise five? (They all “became drowsy and fell asleep.” No one kept watch, they were all similarly awakened by the “midnight cry.”)


      1. If “keeping watch” is not literally being alert, what does it mean? (It has to mean being prepared with enough oil.)


    1. Since this is a parable, tell me what you think the oil represents? (I think most would say it is the Holy Spirit or possibly grace.)


    1. Read John 16:7-11. Who is this “Counselor?” (He is the Holy Spirit.)


      1. How important is it to have the Holy Spirit? How about having “extra” Holy Spirit? (Based on the parable of the virgins, if this is a description of the role of the Holy Spirit, having God’s Spirit is essential to salvation.)


      1. How important is having unity on the issue of the Holy Spirit? (It is an essential belief.)


      1. Once again, should the ten virgins have spent their time in a debate on the Holy Spirit and risked the unity of drowsiness and sleep?


        1. If you answer, “yes,” does that mean that unity is not always the highest goal? Or, does it mean that you sometimes need to go through a debate to get to unity?


  1. High Priest


    1. Read Hebrews 8:1-2 and compare Matthew 27:50-53. What temple curtain is referred to in Matthew 27:51? (Read Hebrews 6:19-20. These texts show us that at Jesus’ crucifixion the temple curtain separating the holy from the most holy compartments was torn in two. We know that Jesus entered the “inner sanctuary” (the most holy place) on our behalf as our High Priest.)


    1. Read Hebrews 8:5. What do we know about the temple on earth? (Moses was told to pattern the wilderness sanctuary after the design of the temple in heaven. This same design was used in the Jewish temple of Jesus’ day.)


    1. Read Hebrews 10:19-22. What does this say about the “curtain?” (It calls it Jesus’ “body.”)


    1. Look again at Hebrews 6:19-20 and Hebrews 8:1-2. What is the essential truth revealed in Hebrews? (The sacrifices in the Jewish temple were the way to remove sin. The early temple with its sacrifices symbolized what Jesus would be doing in the future on our behalf. Jesus has fulfilled that symbolism. The veil that separated the holy from the most holy place was eliminated at the cross. The physical veil in the earthly temple was torn, as Jesus’ body was torn. This is the gospel message, that Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf gives us access to the presence of God. Jesus is our High Priest who appears for us in the most holy place.)


    1. Not all Christians agree on the timing - when it was that Jesus began His ministry in heaven as our High Priest. Is this an essential point on which unity is important? If yes, why? If not, what is the essential point for unity?


      1. In the story of the Ten Virgins, was timing an important point? (If you understood the timing you would be better prepared. But, none of the ten got the timing right. Instead, the most important part was having extra oil - the presence of the Holy Spirit.)


  1. Sabbath


    1. Read Genesis 2:1-4. What does the Sabbath memorialize? (God’s work as our Creator.)


    1. Read Exodus 20:8-11. What does this reminder to keep the Sabbath memorialize? (God’s work as our Creator.)


    1. Read Matthew 27:58-64, Matthew 28:1-3, and Matthew 28:5-6. I had you read these verses because they make specific reference to the various days. What day was Jesus crucified, and what day did He rise from the grave to life? (He was crucified on Friday and rose to life on Sunday.)


      1. Why did Jesus rest in the grave on Saturday? (The Bible does not say this specifically, but the logic is that Jesus celebrated His victory over sin. He had not only created humans, but He has now rescued them from eternal death.)


    1. When you consider the meaning of the Sabbath, what it memorializes, is this a point of faith on which Christians should have unity?


      1. Is this like our earlier discussion about timing? Timing is a detail, the agreement of Christians should be on the substance? (This cannot be reduced to a debatable point, because the express command is about timing. “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.” Genesis 2:3.)


  1. Jesus


    1. Read Acts 4:5-7. Why would the Jewish leaders ask this question? Didn’t they know the answer already? Isn’t this the perfect question for Peter to explain the gospel?


    1. Read Acts 4:8-11. What does this say about Jesus? (That God raised Him from the dead.)


    1. Read Acts 4:13-14. What does this suggest about the reason why the Jewish leaders asked the question that they did? (They thought the disciples would be intimidated by them. Notice that Acts 4:8 says that Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” The Jewish leaders got more than they expected.)


    1. Let’s go back and read the verse I skipped: Acts 4:12. How important is it to understand and agree on this point?


      1. When we talk about points of faith on which we must have unity, where does this rank? (It is the most important point. If we do not agree on this, then we do not agree on the plan of salvation. We have left the most important point to last, because all of our faith should be built on this truth.)


    1. Friend, do you agree on all of the points we have discussed? If you don’t agree, decide whether you should have a serious discussion, or rely on a unity that comes from superficial relationships. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in determining what issues demand a serious discussion.


  1. Next week: “The Most Convincing Proof.”