Unity within the body of Christ is something we read about in scripture. We see in the early Church where the believers were united in prayer and purpose; where they were all together and held all things in common (Acts 1:14, 2:1, 44-47). What is the basis for this unity? How can a diverse group of believers get along together, even to the point of giving of themselves and their possessions for one another?
The last post dealt with love among brothers and sisters in Christ. You can read it here. We see that love for one another is a vital part of unity and fellowship within the body of Christ. I would like to examine some other aspects of Christian unity in this post as well.
We read in 1 John,
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3 KJV)
First of all we must begin with God. We read here that the believer has fellowship with God, and with His Son Jesus Christ. This is where it starts. We must know Jesus Christ. It is not enough to know about Him, or to believe certain doctrines and facts concerning Him, but we must know Him in true fellowship. The word fellowship itself speaks of being a partaker of something, to participate in something, with someone else. first and foremost of all, we must be partakers of Christ, through the new birth.
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. (1 Cor 10:16-17 KJV)
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 3:11 KJV)
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Eph 4:4-6 KJV).
As we have read, there can be no true unity among believers except they are agreed on God. You cannot be in agreement with others who do not hold to God as portrayed in the Bible. There can be no other Jesus than whom is shown in scripture. As we read above, there is one Spirit… one Lord… One God and Father of all. To worship any other God, to serve any other Jesus, is to depart from the faith. As the apostle John states, Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, hath both the Father and the Son. (2 John 9)
The above passage of scripture also refers to one faith. Jude admonishes us to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 3) There is one faith, not several faiths. We have received the ministry gifts of the Spirit, Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body, until we all come in the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:11-13).
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. (Eph 4:14)
Where people abandon the biblical teachings of the apostles and prophets; when the words of Jesus are explained away, there can only be confusion and disorder, rather than the true unity of the faith. Paul warns us that if anyone comes preaching a different gospel, he is accursed. (Gal 1:8-9) He was concerned that there were those in Corinth who might be led astray from the truth.
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might bear well with him. (2 Cor 11:3-4 KJV)
There is much debate, and much confusion within the professing Church today. People divide over the nature and character of God, of Jesus, of the Holy Spirit. Confusion exists about salvation, eternal security, end times and the tribulation. The words of Jesus have become muddled and unclear. People are confused about divorce and remarriage, non resistance, and non conformity to the world. Yet the bible is crystal clear on these issues, as well as many others that seem to divide us today. Only as we get our eyes of off man, as we lay aside our preconceived doctrinal positions, and allow the word of God free course in our lives, will we be able to see the truth. We were never intended to be divided and split over so many issues, but were called to the unity of the Spirit.
Faith is true biblical faith only as it expresses itself in love toward God and our fellow man. Jesus tells us that those who love Him will obey Him. (John 14 :23-24) Likewise, if our faith does not compel us to brotherly love and compassion, it is dead faith. (James 2:14-17; 1 John 3:14-18) Once again, there is one faith as presented to us in the word of God. It is a faith that is to be lived out in our daily lives, expressing itself in love toward God, and our fellow man.
There can be no unity among believers without turning from sin. We read in 1 John 1:5-7,
This then is the message we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
What fellowship can there be between light and darkness? (2 Cor 6:14) As Christians, we find unity in the forsaking of sin, and walking in newness of life. This is shown in true baptism, as we read in Romans 6,
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4 KJV)
Unity among believers is brought about by the working of the Holy Spirit within the lives of those who yield to Him. He will always exalt Jesus Christ by leading us into the truth of God’s word, in love towards one another, and in obedience to Jesus Christ. We as Christians worship the same God, are made partakers of the same Christ, followers of the same Jesus, filled with the same Spirit, and walk in the same faith. To change any of these things, will only serve to destroy our unity.