Last updated: March 13. 2014 12:34PM - 627 Views
By Robert C. Oliver Contributing Columnist

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Unity is something that most who proclaim any form of Christianity hold to be dear. Not only is unity of all believers something that is dear to man, but it is also something that is commanded of God. On the night that He was betrayed by Judas, Jesus prayed for unity of all believers. After praying for His apostles He said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20-21). Jesus prayed that all believers would be as united as was He and His Father. Notice also the reason that He states at the end of that passage; “that the world may believe that thou hast sent me”. Division, contradicting doctrines and such cause unbelief in many. People searching for salvation look around and see the many churches teaching various doctrines and having various practices, many of which directly contradict what is taught and practiced by many other of the churches and come to the conclusion that the whole thing is just the whims, opinions and teachings of mere men and seek no more for salvation. The apostle Paul, writing by the inspiration of God, told the Corinthians, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same things, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Corinthians 1:10).

The fact is, there can be no true unity while there is a disagreement concerning the teachings and practices commanded. The prophet Amos asked the question, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). There must be agreement in order to have unity. An old saying that clarifies the difference between union and unity is that one can tie two cats tails together and throw them over the clothesline; there is union but there is definitely no unity. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the church at Ephesus wrote that they should be “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Let us take a look at those things which Paul specifically pointed to as required elements of true unity. In the following three verses of that letter, Paul names seven things upon which there must be agreement.

There is one body (Ephesians 4:4). The body is of course the church. Paul wrote earlier that Christ had been made “head over all things to the church. Which is his body…” (Ephesians 1:22-23). There can be no true unity without recognizing that the Lord build only one church and that all that are saved are added to it and to it only (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:47).

There is one Spirit (Ephesians 4:4). There is really no need to take up space proving that there is only one Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is always spoken of in the singular in the Bible (John 14:26).

There is one hope of your calling (Ephesians 4:4). One is called by way of the gospel of Christ (II Thessalonians 2:14) and the only hope that one has is the salvation that he can receive in Christ Jesus (I Peter 1:3-4).

There is one Lord (Ephesians 4:5). Again, we need not use space in proving that there is only one Lord Jesus Christ (I Timothy 2:5).

There is one faith (Ephesians 4:5). This use of the word faith is the same as saying one doctrine, just as when Jude wrote that “…it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). The gospel of Christ is the word of God that applies to one who is a Christian (I Peter 1:25; Romans 1:16-17).

There is one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). Though there had been other baptism, at the time Paul wrote this letter, there was only one. It was the one that Jesus had given command for them to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). It was the baptism that was “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38) and the one by which one was able to get “into” Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27).

There is one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:6). Again, there is no need to waste space proving there is only one God the Father.

With three of these planks already understood and believed by most all that call themselves Christians, all that is left is the one body or church, the one hope of our calling which is the gospel’s promised salvation, the one faith which is the doctrine of Christ and the one baptism, which is baptism in water for the remission of sins. With the acceptance of these seven planks of the platform of unity specified by Paul, there can be true Christian unity.

(Editor’s note: Send any questions or comments to rcoliver@centurylink.net)

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