We are and have been reading part two of the unity series found at the following link
The words of Ephesians 4:3 are inescapable. It says, “Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
We cannot live out Ephesians 4:3 apart from God’s grace that we have received freely. Nor can we live out Ephesians 4:3 until we cultivate and live out the truth of Ephesians 4:2, which says, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”
But we do not think the author knows how to apply scripture properly nor do we think he understands what unity actually means. We draw this conclusion from reading his article starting at the next paragraph
For example, humility leads to gentleness; gentleness leads to patience; patience leads to bearing one another in love, and all four of these together lead us to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace
We looked at the definition in the Webster’s dictionary and here is what we found:
1 a : the quality or state of not being multiple : oneness2 a : a condition of harmony : accordb : continuity without deviation or change (as in purpose or action)3 a : the quality or state of being made one : unificationb : a combination or ordering of parts in a literary or artistic production that constitutes a whole or promotes an undivided total effect; also : the resulting singleness of effect or symmetry and consistency of style and character4 : a totality of related parts : an entity that is a complex or systematic whole(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unity)
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.
For even as the body is one and yet has many members,
The Christian body is made up of many parts all working towards the same goal, serving the same God and exercising their gifts and working in a variety of ministries. They are not all evangelists. # 1 & 2 support Acts 2 verse 46 which says
46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple
The believers were of one mind, they were in harmony but they were not all doing the same task. They were also being made one as a body of believers who belonged to the same faith. But this is not what that article is saying.
. This phrase also gives us a sense that we are in a crisis and calls us to take initiative, and to do it now. We are to work endlessly toward unity and oneness, guarding over it when we have it. This is a call to action!
We are not in a crisis and the supposed call to action is actually an instruction providing the church with a positive objective so that the truth may be told to others. In other words, we are to do the hard work to make sure evil does not enter into the church and cause the problems it is causing today. The real problem with the article is that it does not identify how the church is to be unified, what steps it is to take and where everyone should be when unified.
When two groups of Christians believe different theological points, you cannot have unity. At least one of the 2 groups are going to be wrong. There is no guarantee that one of the two groups will have their theology correct.
Jerry Bridges writes in his book, “The Pursuit of Holiness”, “The clause ‘make every effort’ addresses itself to our wills, it is something we must decide to do.”
While the human will determines the needed action, we must understand there is no true unity apart from the Holy Spirit. Unity is supernatural. Unity only happens with God.
We agree with both those statements and we do need to take the appropriate action. But unfortunately, the author does not go into specifics in his article and does not address where we are to be unified. He does state
Christian unity is a state of oneness, living in harmony and in one accord. Unity is only possible by the gospel because Jesus died for all people
That is very broad and allows for churches to be unified over false teaching and living in harmony by living the same errors to their beliefs. The last line may be correct but it still allows for false teaching to be a part of the church’s existence. When it comes to unity, you cannot make general statements which allows for people to stray from the straight and narrow road that leads to salvation.
This means that those people who reject the first 10 chapters of the Bible are not living under the gospel of Jesus as in John 5 Jesus tells us that if we do not believe the words of Moses how can we believe his words. Those people cannot live in harmony with those believers who do accept the first 10 chapters of Genesis as real and factual.
Each group can live in harmony with themselves and like-minded people but another problem shows up, which we have today- which unified and harmonious group has the truth? Of course, the former group is the one in error because they do not believe God.
That author goes to asking questions and says
Are we making every effort to live in unity and oneness with other churches that believe the basics of the faith like we do? Or are we marked with a spiritual arrogance like we have a corner on all God’s truth?
His error is found in the bold words. While believing the basics of faith is important, we still cannot have unity if the groups differ on other issues. Each group is not of one mind nor are they believing the same things about the what the Bible says. You may not think this is important but Jesus did not say that the spirit of truth will lead people to the basics of the faith. He said it will lead us to the truth.
We are not challenging each group’s salvation, we are challenging the concept of unity that author is expressing. If you believe different things, then you are not of one mind and someone is not believing the right things. The early church got rid of those differences by continuing under the disciple’s teaching; the very same teaching we have today in the Bible.
Once you start challenging bible verses (unless it is honest challenging trying to find the truth), you are not of one mind and you are not unified. We will use those groups who state that women can be pastors and challenge God’s word on this issue. They are not pursuing unity but their own desires. They are not following the Holy Spirit to the truth but secular culture.
The author’s questions do not lead his readers to understand what unity is. It avoids the difficult task of declaring that someone might be wrong in their Christian beliefs. It also avoids stating that Christians are not unified unless they are following God’s word correctly. Being of one mind means that they are all on the same page, there are no theological differences, and they are getting rid of false teaching.
You can make every effort but it does not mean you are working towards being unified under the truth.
This Sunday in my church, I will issue a bold call to my church, and perhaps it needs to be made to your church also. I believe when we are making every effort multi-generationally and multi-ethnically, we will forward and ascend unity in every way.
This quote again avoids the task of identifying how Christians can be unified. Being unified does not mean proper instruction is not given, discipline for wrong acts is ignored; sin is not rebuked and so on. Being unified is more than just treating people with a good feeling. It means that people are put on the right path to holiness as Peter instructed. It means parents are to instruct their children in God’s commands and instructions, parents are to discipline their children, and much more.
It also means that God’s definition of sin is upheld and not changed because the secular world does not want to follow or accept that definition. Unity is more than just a good feeling between friends and family. Being of one mind, meant that sin was not tolerated, God’s word was not changed.
Here is where I have come to in my life and in my leadership. The more multi-generational and multi-ethnic we are as a church, the more we are giving our church a future and insuring our church will always be current.
This is not what the church is designed to do. It is not to be current but it is to be in line with God’s word. The church is to call people to the truth not focus on diversity or if there is enough young people in the congregation. If you read the book of Acts you will see where it say that God added to the church daily. God adds believers, not the church.
46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Read this passage again. It tells you that the people focused on the truth, they were united under the same belief, they were praising God and God added new converts. It is only God that brings people to salvation. Not church programs, not church targeting strategies, and so on. God is the future of the church not a multi-generational or multi-ethnical position. Those two things will take place if the people stop focusing on it and do what they are supposed to be doing.
The church is to be united under Jesus, following the spirit of truth to the truth and be of one mind.
When we are not multi-ethnic as a ministry, we are irrelevant to our culture, and this will soon result in us becoming a ministry of the past
This is not true and pursues a personal belief not God’s direction. There are far too many countries where the populations are not multi-ethnical. Are those churches in those areas a ministry of the past? No, because Jesus did not command us to be multi-ethnical. He said simply preach the gospel and make disciples. We will get members of different nations when we do that. We also do not have to feel guilty if members of one nation decide to have their own church. As long as they are of one mind with everyone else, following the one truth, following the Bible correctly, then there is no problem.
The quoted idea is more of a distraction than anything else.
The article would have been a lot better if the author defined unity, told the steps on how to be unified and used scripture correctly to produce unity. Instead he just threw a word out there and called people to something they may not understand or know how to achieve. To be unified you follow the Holy Spirit to the truth, you must follow both God’s and Jesus’commands correctly.
And you have to understand that the Gospels & Acts are not a separate teaching from the the rest of the Bible. The rest of the books are not the disciples independent, subjective views. Jesus prayed to his Father and said
for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. (John 17:8 NASB)
The words that the disciples wrote in the rest of the NT are both Jesus and God’s words. They are to be obeyed like the words of Christ found in the Gospels. If you want unity, then unite under the truth.
One last thing,identifying who has the wrong belief does not come from human subjective opinion. It is identified by the Spirit of God and handled biblically correct. Obtaining unity is not a witch hunt or an act to look spiritual.It is a genuine act that frees people from sin with love.