Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 29, 1964

The Unity Of The Spirit (Conclusion)

L. A. Mott, Jr,

The purpose of this article is to make an application of the principles laid down in three previous articles. Much of this application is written upon the assumption that the reader has the principles already established before his mind. If you find that the points already established are difficult to recall, please review the other articles. This one will mean much more to you if you will.

First. perhaps I should reiterate a point already made concerning the efforts of sectarians to establish some sort of unity. Paul, in Eph. 4:1-16, writes to Christians, telling them how to live in peace and unity — how to get along with each other. But this is a secondary matter. Paul's readers already had the seven bonds of union of vv. 4-6 existing between them. That is the starting point for Paul's teaching; it is the foundation upon which he makes the appeal for unity of the Spirit. Protestants and Catholics, with their efforts to compromise and effect some sort of unity, are putting the cart before the horse. What all of them should do first is to be baptized into the body of Christ. Then they will be one with all others who have done the same. Then they can be concerned about getting along with their brethren.

Second, let us consider God's plan for bringing about and maintaining unity in the body. Even though several brethren are in the Body of Christ there will be differences between them due to the differences in their knowledge and understanding. How can unity between them be maintained?

God has given to the church all the necessary revealings and instructors of the word (v. 11). The purpose of these gifts to the church is to fully equip the saints for the work of ministering, which work has the purpose of building up the body of Christ (v. 12), which, in turn, will result in "the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God" (v. 13).

It is perfectly clear that the design of God is for Christians who are incomplete in faith and knowledge to be built up by their brethren, the result being that these weak brethren will grow out of their errors and weaknesses and unity will be produced. Why does division ever occur? There is one reason: Brethren disregard God's plan; they fail to let it work and produce unity.

God's plan calls for study of the word until differences no longer exist. If unity can be had on any basis, it can be on this one, for this is the plan dictated by divine wisdom. But when brethren had rather divide the church than to study and discuss some more, not even God's plan for unity can work.

I am encouraged to hear of brethren in various places getting together for preaching and study on the points that divide them. If this attitude is allowed to continue, this writer has no doubt at all that unity will be the result in these places, for this is but an application of the divine plan for developing and preserving unity.

Third, consider what Paul says about attitude, While differences exist among brethren and before a oneness in faith and knowledge can be effected, the proper attitude is of the utmost importance. Unless lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, and forbearance are practiced, the desired goal, unity of faith and knowledge, will never be attained, for brethren will lose patience with each other and do things which will preclude the possibility of unity.

The fourteenth chapter of Romans has an application in this area. Brethren differed in Rome. Some were meat eaters; others thought this was wrong. Paul tells the former not to hold his weak brother in contempt because he has not yet learned the truth on this matter; he tells the latter to realize that his view is only an opinion and is not authorized by the word, and, therefore, not to judge his brother as a sinner when he eats meat.

When forbearance and love are practiced these brethren can get along with each other until such time as the weak brother can be educated out of his error. But if either brother disregards Paul's teaching, division cannot but be the result.

I understand that Paul is discussing matters of indifference in Rom. 14. I only appeal to this chapter as an illustration of the attitude he outlines in Eph. 4:2.

At times liberal brethren have forced conservative brethren to leave a congregation. But I wonder if perhaps conservative brethren have not at times assumed an attitude which made it impossible for the liberal brethren to remain and continue to study God's word on the issue. Both I am sure have at times been "too quick on the trigger" and have had too little regard for maintaining unity.

Brethren, Eph. 4:1-16 contains God's complete program for unity. It will work! In many areas perhaps it is not too late to put this program into effect. It is with this hopeful attitude that I have written these articles. Thanks to brother Tant for allowing me this much space.

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