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A-2 – The Creator and Cause of Church Unity

Comments Off on A-2 – The Creator and Cause of Church Unity 19 September 2014

What causes unity in a New Testament Church? In a day when there are all kinds of worship styles, models of church growth, contrary religious persuasions, political and theological differences that are pronounced, how can there be a semblance of unity in a congregation? I hear a lot of talk from church members about the disunity in their churches. That is not new. I have been in a family of pastors from my birth. My grandfather, father, and twin brother have all been pastors before me. I have served as a senior pastor for almost five decades. So, I know a good deal about church life. I have been fortunate to have had mostly blessed and peaceful times in the churches where I have served. I had a brief and challenging time in one church where there was sudden and damaging disunity. In any case, I have seen unity at it’s godly best, and I have seen disunity at its grossest and worst. I pray for church members and pastors and leaders to find what we should have known all along – there is a Creator and Cause of church unity.

We need to go back to the New Testament to discover the Creator and Cause of unity in the early church. It is clear that there were differences then, as there are now. The external organizations were diverse. There were diversities in order. Jews were dominant in some churches and Gentiles in others. Each had their own understanding of what the church should be and how it should operate. Some observed special days from Old Testament teaching. Others did not. There were different worship styles and liturgies then, as now. Yet, there was an unexplainable unity among them. If those differences did not destroy the unity in the New Testament Church, surely our differences should not destroy our unity today.

In Eph. 4, the Apostle Paul addressed this very topic. He said unity is to be protected – “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4: 3 NIV). We remain unified as long as we allow the Creator of Unity, God’s Holy Spirit, to control us. No one in the body can make, nor can we destroy that unity. But, we can disturb its evidence in the body of Christ. To what extent are you faithful in evidencing the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace? The Spirit is the Creator of unity. God is not the author of confusion, so don’t ever blame disunity on Him. Let’s look at the causes of this unity which Paul gave to us in the passage in Ephesians. They are seven in number:

The causes of Unity in the Spirit are…

1.  Being part of one body – “There is one body” (Eph. 4:4 NIV). The body of Christ, like a physical body, has many members and many functions, but all are parts of one body.  It is a spiritual body of which Christ is the Head. Any differences between Christians should be seen as ways to develop the truth more fully, not as means of separation. It is alright to disagree, but it is not alright to be disagreeable. Charity should always characterize the discussions.

2. Being powered by one Spirit – “And one Spirit”  (Eph 4:4 NIV). Paul, in 1 Cor. 12:13, tells us that we are “by one Spirit, baptized into one body.” By the same one Spirit, we have “access to the Father.” So, there should never be any conflicting administration among the gifts. If a body of believers has a separating behavior, it is not giving evidence of having the one Spirit. The Spirit who empowers and equips the body parts is the same Spirit whose fruit is made up of: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

3. Begotten to one living hope – “One hope when you were called” (Eph. 4:4 NIV). We have a reason for hoping to experience good in our future. Each Christian can have great hope of coming victory and glory in the presence of our living Lord. It is the Spirit of God who begets us to a living hope. We are drawn together by our common hope in Christ Jesus. God has invited all Christians to this hope. This is what the gift of eternal life embodies.

4. Bought and owned by one Lord – “One Lord” (Eph. 4:5 NIV). We are all baptized into this one Lord. Jesus owns us, for he paid the price for our salvation. We are “bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6: 20). What a price! Jesus died, rose, and lives as the Lord of the dead and the living. He is our Defender as One with all authority in heaven and earth. As we are all subject to His authority, unity is the natural result. No two Christians under the Lordship of Jesus Christ can react in disunity. Our faithfulness to one Lord enjoins us to stand together in a common hope, life, and love.

5. Bold through our one faith – “One faith” (Eph. 4:5 NIV). This does not speak of a creedal statement of faith. It is, rather, a subjective experience personal to each believer.  It is the means through which God effects eternal life. We receive Christ as Savior through faith. That means we have a personal relationship with Him. He comes to take up His residence in us. God in us! It is the same to each believer, and it is something without which no soul is saved. In exactly the same way, each person must respond to God by faith. Through the grace of God and faith in Him, we have a sustainable unity. It is faith that brings each Christian close to Christ and, in Him, close to one another. In John’s letter he speaks of the impossibility of our loving God and not loving His other children. “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:12 NIV). If we love like Jesus loves we should have no problem dwelling together in unity.

6. Baptized into one Lord – “One baptism” (Eph. 4:5 NIV). There is only one baptism, it is based on a New Testament expression of faith in Jesus. It displays outwardly the inward experience of grace and the receipt of the gift of eternal life. It is the first act of obedience a believer is called upon to respond with after he or she is saved.

7. Born into the family of one God – “One God and father of all” (Eph. 4:6 NIV). The Fatherhood of God vouches that we are all children of the same God. All unity is secured in our relationship with Him. God is the great Unifier of His people. His Spirit is the Creator and Cause of church unity! How is your church’s unity? People everywhere are looking for peace in a mostly troubled world. If they don’t find it in Christ’s Church and churches, where will they find it? Now, you know the Creator and Cause of unity!

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