Pentecost: True Spiritual Unity and Fellowship in The Holy Spirit

Pentecost drawing of Holy Spirit fire. Picture of the Holy Spirit coming on the Day of Pentecost. Holy Spirit is descending as a dove in fire. Tongues of fire are separating and resting on disciples from all around the world. From Acts 2. Feast of Pentecost. Feast of Weeks.

JOHN THE BAPTIST ARTWORKS SERIES 2

Click on the image to enlarge it.

$490 AUD ($490 USD), Watercolor Pencil and Colored Pencil on Matboard; Framed in matte gold aluminium frame and Gallery grade, UV filtering, Glare Reduction Perspex; Image size: 68 cm x 30.5 cm (27″ x 12″), Framed size: 82.5 cm x 46 cm (32.5″ x 18″); Prints and Cards Available

 

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:3-7)

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6)

“You [Jesus] are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 6:9-10)

This drawing was inspired by a dream the Lord gave me about what true spiritual unity and fellowship in the Holy Spirit looks like.

It is amazing how much we unknowingly follow the patterns of established human traditions instead of the Holy Spirit when it comes to the way we Christians do “church”. May the Lord open the eyes of our hearts and grant us discernment in these matters. May he graciously grant us the courage to forsake all human traditions that are detrimental to us so that we may find true spiritual unity, fellowship and joy with one another in his Holy Spirit.

In this drawing I have also incorporated elements of the Biblical events in Acts 2-5 which detail the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the spiritual unity in the early church that followed.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they [about 120 believers] were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:1-4).


However, before I explain what this drawing is about, I want to clearly explain what it is NOT about, as some might misinterpret the imagery.

This drawing is NOT saying:

1) “All roads lead to God/heaven”.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father [God] except through me” (John 14:6). God is perfectly holy and cannot be in the presence of sin (Ezra 9:15). Sadly, our sin separates us from God (Romans 3:23). But because of God’s great love for us, he made the way for us to be reconciled to him (John 3:16-17). He sent his Son, Jesus, to live the perfectly righteous life none of us could live. Jesus then took ALL of our sins upon himself and bore OUR punishment for them through his death on the cross (Romans 6:23, Mark 10:45, Romans 3:21-26). Through his resurrection from the dead (Luke 24, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8) Jesus eternally conquered sin, death, hell and the devil. To appropriate reconcilation with God and eternal life, we must confess and turn away from our sins (1 John 1:8-2:2) and trust in Jesus as our Savior, believing that he has ransomed us from our sins. (See Message.)

2) “It’s all the same God in different forms, manifestations and/or revelations of him/her/itself” (similar to Baha’ism)

God clearly says (in context, speaking about Jesus), “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved [the name of Jesus] ” (Acts 4:12). No other religious leader lived a perfectly moral life or bore the full punishment for the sins of the world. Only the historical Jesus, the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God, did this; therefore, he is the only one qualified and worthy before God to ransom us from our sins (Revelation 5).

All other religions (to generalize) are essentially works-based (you earn your way to heaven/higher spiritual places/favor with God by doing good works). Biblical Christianity is the only religion that is grace-based and faith-based. That is, Christianity is not based upon the good works WE do, but rather, upon the perfect good work JESUS has already done and freely imputes to all those who place their faith in him as Savior (Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:3-8, Romans 3:19-28, John 6:28-29).

Therefore, pure Biblical Christianity (as Jesus taught it) cannot be amalgamated with any other forms of religion (or turned into one conglomerate form of religion), for all other religions stand in sharp contradiction to the grace/faith-based way of salvation found in Jesus alone. (See Message.)

3) “Syncretism” (Incorporating elements of other religions (traditional/ethnic, etc.) into Biblical Christianity).

God clearly says that, once having accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we are to rid ourselves of all other involvement, worship, practices and paraphernalia of other pagan religions (Deuteronomy 6:13-15, 7:25-26, 12:2-4, 12:29-32, 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1). “…be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods [of the pagan peoples around the believers in God (YHWH)] saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.’ You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates” (Deuteronomy 12:30-31).

Each one of us must allow the Lord Jesus to search out our lifestyles and rid us of all pagan practices which conflict with the pure worship of him. Many Asians and Westerners worship idols of gold, they just look different…but they are both just as sinful in God’s eyes. We must be discerning and diligent to clear both the visible and invisible remnants of these former pagan ways from our lives: “Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction” (Deuteronomy 7:26).

Lastly, on a side note: Throughout history, a great deal of harm has been done in the name of “christian” missions as ethno-centric missionaries sought to impose their culture (in the past, European, and in more modern times, Western) and non-Christian philosophies (such as colonialism) in the name of Christ. Preserving indigenous culture and expression, so far as it can be preserved without conflicting pure, Biblical Christianity, within Christian worship is a secondary message of this drawing.

“God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them [the Gentiles, the non-Jews] by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8-9). An Australian aboriginal who worships the Lord in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24) on the didjeridu is just as pleasing and acceptable to God as an African praising the Lord on his djembe drum or an American exalting the Lord on his electric guitar. “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).


Now that I have explained what this drawing is NOT about, I am very excited to share its real meaning!

The dream this drawing is based upon was quite long and was given prophetically to warn me of very difficult times that lay ahead in my life (at the time it was given) and to encourage me and assure me that God would faithfully bring me through them into a glorious, joyful place of true worship and spiritual unity with other believers. God was also teaching me what true fellowship looks like and how to engage in it with other believers. It was only as I watched the dream begin to unfold in real life over the following months and years that I began to recognize that this dream was given prophetically for the reasons stated above. At the most difficult point, God’s promise to me in this dream was the only thing that got me through.

I am only going to detail the very end of the dream because that is the part that inspired this drawing:

To preface: In the beginning of the dream there was a major spiritual battle that came against the people of my church [In real life, the church I attended at that time]. It was against a “strong man” (Matthew 12:25-30), for I heard a voice say to me, “This is the strong man” when he appeared. The strong man was a powerful and militant demon whose agenda was to take captive the people of the church and cause them to commit spiritual adultery (Hosea).

An extremely ferocious spiritual battle ensued, and the angel of the Lord came down and protected us with a gigantic shield, without which we certainly would have died (Psalm 124)! When the battle intensified to an extremely severe level, the Lord himself came and fought on our behalf and defeated the strong man! It was the most intense battle and the most glorious victory!!!

After the battle, I was astounded when I saw that the people of my church, including myself, emerge unscathed from the attack despite the blanket of heavy fire we came under (although one person did have a small bullet graze, and a few others had minor injuries).

I was extremely elated that the Lord himself rescued us from such a deadly, perilous situation! I also rejoiced that the Lord had freed us from our powerful enemy who had taken us captive in fear. The magnitude of the battle and victory was like watching the Lord sweep Pharoah’s army into the sea (Exodus 13:17-15:21)!

For these reasons, all I wanted to do was to praise and glorify the Lord for the marvelous, mighty acts he had done on our behalf and for the great love he had shown us all!!! (like Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15). The Lord had set us free that we may worship him! (Exodus 7:16).

As I looked around in sheer exhiliration, I tried to gather the people of my church so that we could praise and exalt the Lord together. But as I went around to gather them they all seemed to think our miraculous deliverance was not that big of a deal. I was very confused. They had experienced the same oppression of the enemy, the same intensity of the battle and the same awesome victory I had, so why were their hearts not bursting to praise the Lord with me??? Most were somewhat happy, but their happiness was not nearly in proportion to the massiveness of the victory the Lord had just given us.

I became even more confused when, within only a few minutes after the victory, everyone began leaving me saying “Well, I gotta get going now” and “See ya later, Becky” and “I’ve got other stuff I gotta see to now”. One after another they walked away until finally, after only a minute or two, I was left completely alone.

I was really confused and distraught over their behavior. I could not figure out what was going on, why they all wanted to leave so quickly and why no one wanted to stay and worship the Lord with me. It hurt me that nobody wanted to thank and praise the Lord for what he had just done for us. I was in great turmoil and distress over their behavior. We were supposed to be a church, but where was the fellowship? Where was the worship? Where was the unity? Where was the Holy Spirit?

Confused and deeply troubled I had no idea what to do with myself…so after sitting there alone for a little while, I eventually decided to get up and leave that place.

Strangely, after taking only several steps I found myself in a pitch black room. Though I could not see anything, I could hear singing, and it wasn’t just any singing, it was the most glorious, passionate worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24)!

When I heard it, the worship completely captivated me, and I forgot the deep turmoil, distress and confusion I was in over the people at my church. I strained with my eyes to try and see these worshipers, but I could not because the room was completely pitch black. They did not seem to acknowledge my presence; they just kept on worshiping the Lord.

I could perceive in my spirit that each person was wholly focused on God alone and on nobody else. Each one was wholly focused in worship.

They kept on worshiping as I just stood there for a minute wondering about everything. Again, I had no idea what to do with myself. They still had not acknowledged my presence because they were too caught up in worship. Finally I figured, “Well everybody else is worshiping…I may as well join them.” I started singing, but I was still a bit unfocused because of the distressing situation out of which I had just come.

I could perceive that there were perhaps a dozen or so of these worshipers and that they were standing along the walls of this pitch black, medium sized room. The number of these worshipers was considerably fewer than the number of people who attended my church. However, unlike my church, every single one of them was passionately worshiping God.

As I began to sing and focus more and more on God in worship, the people began to draw closer to me, and their worship became louder and more passionate. Amazed by this, I took my focus off of God and strained again with my physical eyes to see who these people were, but I still couldn’t see anything. When I stopped worshiping and took my eyes off God, the worshipers did not draw any closer to me.

In my distraction, all the distress over the people of my church came back to me again. However, as the people in the room kept worshiping, I realized I was in the company of the exact kind of passionate worshipers I was seeking to find in the people at my church (but had not found).

Eventually, I thought to myself, “Well…….I guess I may as well start worshiping again.” As I put my focus back on God in worship, the people began drawing close to me again, and the worship became even louder and more passionate.

But again the turmoil over the people at my church began to wedge its way back into my mind and heart again. It eventually overcame my focus on God again, and I stopped worshiping. But after a little while, the passionate worship in my ears captivated me and drew me back into worship again.

This whole process happened a few more times until I realized just how much my inner turmoil was distracting me from worship. Finally I made the resolute decision to completely release all my confusion, turmoil, sadness and distress I felt over the people at my church not worshiping God……..and just worshiped God by myself.

Whenever I totally focused on God alone and worshiped alongside these other worshipers in spirit and in truth, there was an UNSPOKEN, and yet totally REAL and inherent spiritual bond and unity we all shared in the Holy Spirit.

In our spirits, we all knew and acknowledged that we were one; therefore, there was no need to stop worshiping to make any sort of formal ‘acknowledgement’ of that completely obvious fact. Neither was there a need to organize ourselves into a “church” for we ourselves were the Church! The more passionately we worshiped, the closer we drew to each other and the stronger our love and bond became.

The Holy Spirit himself seemed to be the very glue that held us together…we needed nothing more to establish true spiritual unity and fellowship…and nothing more to maintain it.

When, for the last time, I completely let go of all my distress over the lack of worship, unity and fellowship in the “visible church” I had been a part of, and when I overcame my fear of completely abandoning my allegiance to these kinds of establishments, I found myself utterly and completely integrated into a new “body”, a Church that was wholly invisible (to my physical eyes), wholly spiritual and, above all, completely REAL in the Holy Spirit. When I say “REAL” I mean that the unity and fellowship was true. It was not a facade of “unity” and “fellowship” as some visible churches have on the outside, nor was the unity based upon anything else than the Holy Spirit indwelling us and moving us in worship. (I believe God brought me into a place where I could no longer rely on my physical sight to find “fellowship” with people. He brought me to a pitch black room where I was forced to rely on my spiritual sight instead of my physical sight.)

When I began to passionately worship God, the other worshipers drew so close to me that they were right next to me. I could now recognize in my spirit that there were a couple people I knew from before (though not by recognizing their voices or seeing their faces, but rather by discerning their spirits). The rest of the worshipers were new to me; nevertheless, we were already family, tightly bound together in the Holy Spirit and Christian love.

After struggling so much in vain to find and establish this kind of passionate worship and unity within the visible church I had attended, it was the best feeling in the world to finally be back in true worship again with these people! The Holy Spirit filled me with exceeding joy in the presence of the Lord as I worshiped and worshiped and worshiped….In fact, I was so caught up in worship that I did not even realize that I had already been awake for a few minutes…


The Scripture says:

“For through him [Jesus Christ] we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:18-22)

The Church is not a man made structure, nor is it a place we go to or something we do. The Church is the people! It is made up of every single person who has been born again (John 3), purchased by God with the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-21, Revelation 5:9-10 , sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:3-14) and integrated into a new spiritual body of whom the living Jesus Christ is the Head (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 2:18-22, Ephesians 4:1-16, 1 Peter 2:4-10).

Though this is how the Scriptures define God’s “Church”, we humans have a tendency to forget this and begin to associate “the church” with the place where we meet or a thing we do every Sunday. The more we confuse and equate God’s true, invisible, spiritual Church with the visible buildings in various locations, the greater tendency we have to pledge our allegiance to that place and develop a false sense of unity and facade of Christian fellowship. The more we rely on our physcial eyesight instead of our spiritual eyesight to discern “the church”, the more we run into difficulties as we attempt to establish and maintain genuine unity and fellowship in the Holy Spirit at our Christian gatherings.

To illustrate the difference between the earthly method of establishing unity (which is quite common in Christendom today) vs. the spiritual method of establishing unity, imagine a triangle with God at the top point and two people seeking fellowship at either of the two points at its horizontal base. The two people at the base have two directions in which they can go. If they travel along the horizontal base they draw closer to each other, but they are essentially no closer to God. However, if each person chooses to travel up the vertice that connects them to God, not only is that the most direct route for both of them to God, but as each of them continues to travel upward, the distance between each person also gets closer. This is the principle illustrated in my dream.

The latter example is a “vertical” (spiritual) approach to fellowship whereas the former example is a “horizontal” (earthly) approach to fellowship. My Pentecost drawing depicts the vertical approach to fellowship. I believe the vertical approach is the proper way to spiritual fellowship whereas the horizontal appproach is an unsuccessful human tactic we often employ in our churches to try to establish fellowship.

In my dream I first tried the “horizontal” (earthly) approach. I wrongly assumed everyone who attended my visible church shared an equal desire to go up towards God with me in worship. After the amazing spiritual victory, I made a great error by not immediately going “vertical” myself by focusing on God alone and worshiping him (as was my heart’s desire and conviction). Instead, my focus and activity stayed “horizontal” as I first attempted to gather everyone in my church into a group so that we could all go “vertically” towards God together in worship.

However, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (Amos 3:3). The directions in which our hearts were going were soon revealed. (See 1 Corinthians 11:17-22). Not everyone within that visible church desired to walk together worshiping God with the same intensity and focus. Some gave an acknowledgement of the victory, a small thank you or a simple, joyous “Praise the Lord!” while others just left the scene without a word, as if nothing happened. Nobody wanted to link arms with me and arise in worship together. In the end they all quickly went after the other preoccupations of their hearts.

My own heart was also revealed to be more devoted to man (the physical, visible “church” I attended) than to God, as I did not worship God immediately but first sought to establish fellowship within my church. Ultimately, in my pursuit for fellowship and unity, I allowed man to completely derail my heart from going towards God. I didn’t end up worshiping God at all for the great victory he gave us!


As true believers we know what it is to be ignited with a passion for God and to desperately long for the entire church to be one, big, happy family united in that same passion. We read the book of Acts and our hearts long for the church to be what it once was…and for what it always should be:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their numbers daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)

It is a great tragedy that, for the most part, we do not see this same kind of passionate spiritual vibrancy, power and Christian love in Western Christendom today. In its place we sadly often see complacency (Amos 6:1-7) and lukewarmness (Revelation 3:14-22). “Because of the increase of wickedness the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13).

In my own experience (and I suspect many others’, but I can only speak for myself), I have tried for many years to stir up and maintain my own passion for God (one hand gripping God’s hand) and to also “keep the peace” and maintain “unity” with the visible church (one hand gripping man’s hand).

Understanding that both spiritual zeal (Romans 12:11) and unity in the church (Ephesians 4:3) are things God desires, I have tried very hard to walk with one foot vertically towards God and one foot horizontally towards man on that triangle. I have tried to establish fellowship and unity through my own human power and with my own human strength. Despite years of effort, I have only ever failed. This approach has never worked for me and has only ever resulted in me being torn between keeping my inward peace with God and keeping an outward facade of “peace” with man. In fact, the only things this approach has ever consistently achieved for me is losing my peace with God, losing my fire for God, stumbling me in my walk with God, acting with tension and deceit towards other members of the church, spiritual compromise, spiritual complacency and spiritual adultery.

“Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11)

The Scripture gives us a beautiful picture of the early church in Acts 4:32, “All the believers were one in heart and mind”. Sadly, if we are honest, we can no longer say this about many of our church gatherings today. Within any given church building Sunday morning, hearts and minds may be seeking after a number of different things: God, a spouse, recognition, money, leadership, influence, friends, a place to be accepted, etc. Sometimes the carnal hearts and minds within a church can become so hideous and divided that it resembles the many-headed beast which Babylon the Prostitue rides (Revelation 17) more than it resembles the pure, holy, spotless virgin Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27, 1 Corinthians 11:2-4 ), who is in submission to Christ, the one, true Head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23-24). (See also 1 Corinthians 11:17-19).

Within any given church gathering, as the Scriptures warn, there may be unbelievers (goats) (Matthew 25:31-46, John 6) and false prophets and teachers (wolves) present (Matthew 7:15-23, Acts 20:28-31, 2 Peter 2, Jude). Such people do not possess the Holy Spirit, and therefore establishing true spiritual unity and fellowship with them is actually impossible for believers (1 Corinthians 2:6-16, 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial [the devil]? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

Furthermore, when sin is not dealt with amongst believers in a church, division is inevitable:

“In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.” (1 Corinthians 11:17-19)

When things are spiritually out of order in a church, true unity and fellowship in the Holy Spirit cannot be established or maintained. And if the Holy Spirit is not bringing unity to a church, then we feel the pressure to maintain it ourselves…through something other than the Holy Spirit.

It is usually our fear of losing numbers in our churches that causes us to resort to alternative ways of establishing “unity” and “fellowship”. However, these are only facades that satisfy our physical eyes…….but they make our spirits uneasy, for deep down we cannot suppress the conviction of the Holy Spirit that we are being untruthful by replacing the unity only found in the Holy Spirit with an alternative.

Counterfeit unity and fellowship may be based upon any number of things: the personality of the senior pastor, the church or denomination, the style of worship, the “flavor” of the preaching, the demographics of the members, social events and even Biblical doctrine! (Not that we should be negligent in our doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16), but it is possible to believe all the right doctrine about the Savior and still not be born again by believing in the Savior (See John 5:37-40)). Unity in doctrine does not necessarily bring unity in the Holy Spirit.)

When one of these alternative adhesives to our “unity” is shaken or removed, the visible church splits and then it is revealed who (or what) was keeping us together aside from Jesus.

The Scripture says, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6, my emphasis).

According to this Scripture, the key to spiritual unity is following the living Person of Jesus Christ (as my dream and the triangle example illustrated–each of us must go “ vertical “.)

When we default to using alternative “adhesives” to keep our churches together we are actually disregarding God’s way of establishing true unity stated in this Romans 15:5-6 Scripture.

Furthermore, when we seek to gain and keep congregants by promoting other things more than the living Person of Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5), we are actually practicing and promoting forms of false “christian” religion (See Isaiah 1, Amos).

Those who willingly follow these counterfeit forms of Christianity (instead of following the Person of Jesus Christ) will inevitably become more and more conformed to the likeness of their counterfeit religion, church culture, denomination or senior pastor’s personality, etc., than they will be conformed to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29)–much like how the Pharisees were conformed to the pattern of their own Pharisaical religion (John 5:37-40, Philippians 3, Acts 22:2-5, Romans 10:1-4).

Furthermore, when we give in to establishing and maintaining “unity” through something other than the Holy Spirit, the inevitable result is hypocrisy and deceit in our relationships with one another.

This deceit is also carried into how we present ourselves and our churches to others. Then ultimately, hypocrisy and deceit, instead of Jesus, is what we convey to the unbelieving world. This is a grievous tragedy when we consider that the night before Jesus died he prayed for you and me:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 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. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me…I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:20-23, 26, my emphasis)

(*On an important additional note, I can testify to the truth of Jesus’ words in this passage. For nearly a decade I have worked as a full time missionary in the international port city of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, and have talked with hundreds upon hundreds of different people from scores of different nations on every continent. Based upon what these people say to me, one of the most common reasons why they reject Christianity is not because they believe in evolution but because of the hypocrisy of those who profess to be Christians. They perceive that there is little or no truth in Christianity because they observe that many of its professors do not live in a truthful way. Their response has caused me to completely re-think evangelism today in light of John 17. Thus, it has given me great fervency to see the House of God come into order and true unity be established first…because as long as our own house is out of order we can hardly make an impact in evangelism in the unbelieving world. We cannot circumvent what Scripture says–what Jesus has said here in John 17. Our hypocrisy has stolen our testimony (confer Romans 2:17-29). I am absolutely and completely convinced that we as a Church could be just as effective and powerful as the early church in Acts if we would only humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways (Read 2 Chronicles 7:14). I have also become thoroughly convinced that if we want to effectively evangelize and see people saved on a massive scale today then we, the Church, must first go back and repent and heed Jesus’ words in John 17. True revival always begins in the House of God.) (See “Revival Fire” (John the Baptist Artworks Series).


As the Lord has been giving me greater understanding of this dream and of the ways true unity and fellowship are established in his Church (and I believe there is still more understanding to come for me), there is one passage of Scripture that significantly and continually stands out to me:

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:3-7)

This Scripture spells it out perfectly clearly:

In order to walk in true fellowship with God and with one another we must not walk in the darkness of deceit and hypocrisy but in the light of God’s truthful ways. If we claim to have fellowship with God and with one another yet walk in the darkness we lie and do not live by the truth… and thus we forfeit the exact things we are seeking–fellowship with God and man!

(In other words, we cannot resort to using alternatives to the Holy Spirit as we seek to establish Christian fellowship and unity.)

Jesus told his disciples, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1).

Scripture also tells us, “Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast–as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 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.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)

For the sake of God’s glory and renown, and for the sake of having our own joy made complete, may God grant us the grace and courage to turn from all the ways in which we have been walking in darkness and hypocrisy so that we may find true unity and fellowship in the Holy Spirit!

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” (Psalm 133)

As each one of us focuses on God alone and on living a truthful, worshipful life in him, we will find this spiritual unity with one another. We don’t need to take our eyes off God to try and establish visible unity. Rather, as individuals we only need to walk with God in the light and then we will find fellowship with one another. Birds of a feather inevitably flock together…

I have noticed that during my own seasons of complacency, compromise and hypocrisy that, in addition to the Word of God, the most convicting and inspiring thing to help draw me back to God has been observing someone else living passionately for God. The Holy Spirit, shining through the worshipful lives of passionate Christians, exerts a very powerful influence. He is convincing, influential and attractive enough to invisibly tug on the hearts of backslidden believers.

Therefore, passionate Christians should not take their eyes off God, hide their light under a bowl (Matthew 5:13-16) and tone it down in order to maintain ‘unity’ and make complacent Christians feel comfortable in their midst. This would be disatrous and contrary to Scripture–to grieve (Ephesians 4:30) and quench (1 Thessalonians 5:19) the Holy Spirit!

In my dream each of the worshipers in the pitch black room was wholly focused on worshiping God. They did not take their focus off of him to try and persuade me to come and worship with them. Instead, they stayed vertically oriented, and the more I listened to their worship, the more I realized it was exactly what I was longing for.

I knew that they should not change and become like me, but I needed to change and become like them!

When I first entered their room I was not spiritually unified with them for I was not spiritually focused like they were, neither was I worshiping like they were. It would have been a tragic mistake had they abandoned their spiritual worship in order to make me feel “included” and “comfortable” in their group. Had they all become like me in order to be “unified” on my level, it only would have dragged a dozen worshipers out of worship, and then I most certainly would not have come into worship myself!

Their steadfast vertical focus is what influenced me to abandon my horizontal focus and to become vertically focused on God in worship. (Worshiping in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24) is perhaps the most unifying activity we have as Christians).

Today too many of us are tempted to tone down our zeal and to water down the messages in our churches so that the complacent, unfocused and unspiritual will feel welcome and comfortable in our company. We do not want to offend them with the cross (Galatians 1:10, 5:11) or with the truth of God’s Word (John 6:53-71) and risk losing them out our churches.

However, Jesus did the exact opposite! I find the example he set for us in John 6 an excellent lesson in how evangelism and discipleship must to be centered on the (offensive) cross and the full truth of God’s Word. The Good Shepherd protected and unified his sheep by speaking the pure and inherently divisive Word of God (Hebrews 4:12-13), words unpalatable for goats and wolves (John 6:60-68), so that his sheepfold would not be overstocked with them and undoubtedly ravaged by them.

True Christian unity and fellowship must be established and maintained in the Holy Spirit. There is no other alternative to him. May God give us a true spirit of unity as we follow Christ Jesus (Romans 15:5-6).


My drawing depicts 12 worshipers, numerically symbolic of the entire, invisible, true Church of God. Each of the worshipers is wholly focused on God and worshiping him alone. Each has their own direct vertical “line of fire”, their connection to God (the fire being symbolic of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3-4)). As each one travels up their individual line of fire to God, the distance between each of the worshipers grows closer.

I have carefully selected people from 12 different regions of the world. My aim was to symbolically represent the worldwide Church which is made up of “every tribe, language, people and nation” whom Christ has purchased with his own blood (Revelation 5:9-10). I also attempted to illustrate the worldwide Church throughout its entire history, starting with the Jews on Pentecost through to the modern day. My aim was also to demonstrate that though we may look different on the outside, God’s Church is One in spirit.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called–one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6)

“Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Mark 10:9)

From left to right the worshipers ethnicities are:

–Northern European

–Australian Aboriginal

–Hispanic

–Russian/Western Asian

–South American

–Middle Eastern (modeled after the original Christians who received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2)

–African

–Pacific Islander

–South Asian

–Native North American

–East Asian

–Mediterranean European

“He has set his foundation on the holy mountain; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are said of you, O city of God: Selah ‘I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me–Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush–and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.'” Indeed, of Zion it will be said, ‘This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.’ The LORD will write in the register of the peoples: ‘This one was born in Zion.’ Selah As they make music they will sing, ‘All my fountains are in you.'” (Psalm 87)