Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 8, 1959
NUMBER 35, PAGE 1,11b

The Unity Of The Spirit

Jerry F. Bassett, Willits, California

Acceptable worship and service toward God demand the recognition of the absolute unity of His plan. God has one perfect plan of salvation. (Jas. 1:25.) It follows, then, that every man who is one with God through His plan will also be one, or at unity, with every other such servant. Christ said, ". . I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6.) Hence, those who come to God do so by traveling one path, the way of Christ; accepting one truth, the gospel of Christ; and dedicating their lives to the attainment of the goal, eternal life in Christ. The system of faith established by Christ's death upon the cross and his subsequent exaltation "far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named" has as its design that all who accept it "may be one." (John 17:20-21.)

Necessity Of Unity

Most men abhor what they choose to call "the narrowness" of the idea that service to God demands such absolute oneness, but a consideration of the following facts will show why unity is a necessity.

First, sectarianism, faction, and variance all of which gender chaos are diametrically opposed to God's very nature, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." (I Cor. 14:33.) The three to whom the Bible ascribes Godhood are one in purpose. "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." (I John 5:7 ASV.) If these three were not one in purpose, that is, to do the will of the Father "(John 5:30-31, I Cor. 2:10-11), they could not have worked together to create the world or establish the scheme of redemption. Moreover, man cannot enjoy the blessings of either the physical creation or the spiritual redemption unless he is willing to conform his will to the will of God and thereby be one with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. For instance, it is the will of God that men enjoy meat for the nourishment of the body. (I Tim. 4:3-5.) However, the Seventh Day Adventist does not conform his will to God's since he refuses meat, and so forfeits that blessing. In the spiritual realm it is God's will that men hear the Son. (Matt. 17:5.) But men who do not conform their will to God's, by rejecting Christ, forfeit the blessing of redemption since Christ is "the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." (Heb. 5:8-9.) God's nature is oneness and those who will not be one with Him are found inconsistent with His nature. They are, therefore, in sin.

Second, a consistent standard of judgment demands unity. Imagine the ridiculous picture of two men living in the same community one being obedient to the community law and the other disobedient but professing to believe in the government, and then that government declaring both men to be just. No judicial system could justify both of these men and at the same time be consistent. Such a judgment would make the system a respecter of persons. But God's judgment is consistent because it is according to truth. (Rom. 2:2.) He will judge the world in righteousness, (Acts 17:31.) His justice will not permit him to be a respecter of persons. (Acts 10:3435.) In short, the standard of God's judgment is the perfect system in which righteousness is revealed, the gospel of Christ. (John. 1:16-18.) Uniformity of judgment demands unity of those judged.

Third, the close relationship within which Christians are expected to work can be maintained only through a plan which provides unity of thought and teaching. Paul wrote to the Corinthians and said, "Now I beseech you, brethren by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind (unity of thought) and in the same judgment (unity of teaching)." (I Cor. 1:10.) The chaotic condition of the religious world today is witness to the fact that the creeds of men cannot form the basis of unity. God commands men to be unified on the divine standard He has given. "Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind (unity of thought) and one mouth (unity of teaching) glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 15:5-6.) When men become "likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus" they will rise above selfishness, pettiness, and strife and work together in the beauty of the relationship described by David when he wrote, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psa. 133:1.) But remember, only when men seek, attain, and stand upon the gospel of Christ will they be one, because such unity is produced only by the described disposition toward the stipulated system. (Phil. 1:27.)

Fourth, the tremendous task given to the church to preach the gospel to the world requires strength which is possible only through harmonious unified exertion of effort. Friction between members, misapplication of resource by indulging congregations in unauthorized activity, or disruption or perversion of functional organizations all destroy unity and therefore thwart, if not prevent, effective execution of the task at hand. Thus, before outlining the work of the church (Eph. 4:12), Paul emphasized the necessity of unity and, what is more important to this study, went on to set forth God's plan for unity. The apostle commanded "... walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 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. 4:1-6).

God's plan for unity consists of seven things of which there is one. One God, unity of worship. One Lord, unity of authority. One Spirit, unity of life. One faith, unity of message. One body, unity of relationship. One baptism, unity of practice. One hope, unity of goal which is heaven. The great work of saving the souls of men demands that the members of the church work in harmony, the attainment of which requires the recognition and full acceptance of each point in God's plan for unity and all that each point infers.

Before leaving this thought notice that unanimity of function among God's servants is not dependent upon their being joined together in or working through a universal organization. There is only one head of the church universal, Jesus Christ (Col. 1:18), and the New Testament reveals no organization through which the church is to function other than the local church, and each local church functioning completely autonomous of every other. The fact that congregations are to work independently does not detract one whit from unity. On the contrary, when a congregation accepts God's plan for unity it is then in harmony (cooperating) with every other congregation that accepts the same plan whether the churches involved are even aware of the presence of each other or not. Harmonious function is dependent upon walking by faith, but when brethren do not walk by faith in rejecting the New Testament as an all sufficient guide the result can only be disunity. This is precisely the situation in the brotherhood today. Some brethren are attempting to thrust their promotions upon the churches (orphan homes, sponsoring church set ups, youth rallies, etc.), and in the same breath admitting that there is no New Testament authority for such. This is a plain admission that in their promotions they are not walking by faith since "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17.) Further, it is a flat rejection of God's plan for unity. Such an attitude is an occasion for grief but it should not be too surprising. The fleshly and worldly have always rebelled against God's will. Even in the apostolic period Paul warned the brethren that "... some shall depart from the faith... -" (I Tim. 4:1.)

Conclusion Finally, notice Paul's statement to the Ephesians, "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:3.) The attainment and maintenance of unity is the responsibility of every Christian; we must work or endeavor to that end. It has been emphasized throughout this article that the only basis for unity is the word of God. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit is then another way of commanding men to strive to stand upon the word. This also implies that Christians will not be one with those who are not disposed to accept the word, for to be one with them would be to compromise God's entire plan for unity. Compromise with those who espouse error may bring oneness with rebellious man, but that same stroke destroys unity with God. Certainly we desire peace with men, but peace at the price of purity of doctrine is too expensive, for it is peace without godliness. James wrote, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable ..." (Jas. 3:17.) When men will have set their hearts and devoted their efforts to the accomplishment of oneness with God within the framework of the gospel of His son we will dwell and work together having achieved "the unity of the Spirit."