“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” [Eph 4:13]
Every few years there is a call for UNITY. Nobody likes arguing nor complaining. We all seek for UNITY to avoid such fighting.
It would seem that many think, as long as there’s no arguing, then UNITY must therefore exist. While this may give the appearance of UNITY, it is not biblical UNITY.
What we have is peace, but not UNITY. “If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.” [Rom 12:18]
What must exist for us to have biblical UNITY?
Fraternity or Fellowship? Living at peace with others is key to developing UNITY, but there’s much more involved in developing Biblical UNITY.
To illustrate the problem, answer this question; If two math professors are kind to one another, yet one teaches 2+2=8,346, do they have Mathematical Unity? Certainly not. While they may be agreeable, they do not agree on the facts, therefore they are not in UNITY. They have Fraternity, but not UNITY.
This illustration brings us to the very FIRST condition needed in developing Biblical Unity. An UNDERSTANDING of the Will of the Lord is essential to establishing Biblical Unity.
“whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; [Eph 3:4]
“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, And their eyes they have closed; Lest, haply they should perceive with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And should turn again, And I should heal them.” [Acts 28:27]
“Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” [1Tim 1:7]
“Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” [Eph 5:17]
Without agreement on the doctrine of Christ, how can two walk together? [Amos 3:3]
Next, we can never achieve UNITY if we fail to be NICE in our words & deeds. “Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,” [1Cor 13:4]
Next, without personal INTEGRITY there can be no UNITY. Integrity is defined as; adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. We may speak about UNITY all we want, but without INTEGRITY no one will believe us. That’s hypocrisy. “If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” [1John 1:6]
Biblical Unity must also include TENACITY for the Truth without wavering. It should go without saying that UNITY is based on the TRUTH of God’s word. [John 17:17] “that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;” [Eph 4:14]
Lastly, since we’re not perfect and we’re all in a state of growing and maturing, we may not yet know what we ought to know. People coming together with varying levels of maturity can achieve UNITY if we all have a YEARNING to do the Will of the Lord. With this Yearning, we can still have UNITY because we all want to learn and do the will of the Lord. This is the best understanding of “Unity of the Faith” in Eph 4:13. It doesn’t mean that we all have the exact same understanding. What it means is that we all have access to the same information, God’s word and our desire, YEARNING, to know the Word.
“Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation;” [1Peter 2:1-2]
With these 5 elements we can develop Biblical Unity.
There’s a bittersweet scene in Ezra chapter 3 during the time when the exiles, returning from 70 years of captivity, were rebuilding the temple that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.
As they laid the foundation, all the younger folks, “…praised the Lord, because the foundation was laid.” But the older ones, the ones who had seen the first temple built by Solomon, “wept with a loud voice.” [Ezra 3:12; cf. Haggai 2:3]
Why such a disparity in the reaction between the two groups? It is the answer to this question about which I want to speak.
The reason for the weeping was that the older one’s could still remember how beautiful the first temple had been. They could remember the gold plating, the cedar paneling, the incredible beauty. The younger ones had no point of reference, therefore they rejoiced while the others wept.
POINT OF REFERENCE
The religious world is suffering from this same thing today. Many religious, churchgoing folks are looking for a church based upon their social programs, entertainment and food options. Why? It would be easy to just say that their stomachs have become their gods.
“Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” [Philippians 3:19]
You would be mostly right. But let me suggest that another part of the reason this is so is since people have been separated from the truth about a sound church for so long they don’t even recognize one when they see it. There are some who have never even heard the truth on certain matters. They’ve never seen a sound church.
You may think I’m referring to denominationalism, but no sir. I’m speaking about the Lord’s church. The Lord’s body is suffering from this failure in having a sound POINT OF REFERENCE.
It is certainly true that denominations have ruined the truth about worship and the work of the church, Paul called it a perversion, and therefore many people of the world only think of the church as a benevolence or social welfare institution. They don’t even consider the church as a teaching organization.
The Strange Church
There was a time when Christians were thought of as strange. Peter said, “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” [1Peter 4:4]. He also said that members of the Lord’s body were, “a peculiar people” [1Peter 2:9].
Many of our ‘denominational’ minded brethren have never heard the truth on subjects like, institutionalism or the errors of the social gospel. Instead they’re rejoicing that they have ‘youth pastors’ & ‘children’s church’ and many other such perversions of the Gospel.
I know this to be true because I’ve asked of their members, “Do you know why we’re separate from you?” To a person they say no! One person was super excited to tell me the news that they found a ‘youth minister.’ I asked, “what is that, aren’t the biblical youth ministers the older people of the congregation?” [Titus 2:4] Yes, they think it strange.
Think about this; it was the strangeness of Christ that drew people to Him and His church. Strange in that He taught the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. [John 17:17]
He didn’t give His life on a cross to bring about an earthly kingdom and earthly bliss [Mat 10:34]. No Sir! He died to bring reconciliation between mankind and God. [1John 2:2]. This is not to say that joy cannot be found, it’s just not the work (responsibility) of the Lord’s church. Peace & Joy are blessings for people who, having put on Christ in baptism, are in Christ [Ephesians 1:3].
The Lord’s church is a teaching organization [1Timothy 3:15]. We are to reach out to the spiritually lost of this world with the Gospel message and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then we are to teach these Christians “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” [Matthew 28:18-20]
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” [Romans 14:17]