Striving to Be One in 2021
“One” is a great number. Oneness is unity. More than “one” allows for confusion between one thing and another. It is hard to get mixed up on “one.” If you have a ring full of keys and one of them unlocks a door, it may take awhile to find the right key. But if you hold only the right key, there is no room for error. Unity in oneness means there are no other options.
The apostle Paul made the following plea for unity: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and the there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). There are divisions today, because all do not speak the same thing. And so there is no way that they are perfectly joined together. To be of “the same mind” implies unity of belief or faith and purpose while being of the “same judgment” implies unity of action.
This is by no means the first and only time the New Testament commands saints to be of the same mind (2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 2:2). Paul encouraged brethren to be “like-minded one with another” so they could with “one mind and mouth glorify God” (Rom. 15:5,6). Paul said it would be his joy if “like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Phil. 2:3). “Let us walk by the same rule,[a] let us be of the same mind” (Phil. 3:16).
Some will argue that there is one body but it is divided up into many different denominations. When the first sign of denominationalism reared its divisive head Paul condemned it. “Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 1:12,13a). Paul rebukes this by way of three questions (1 Cor. 1:13). 1) “Is Christ divided?” NO! “That there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another” (1 Cor. 12:25). 2) “Was Paul crucified for you?” NO! Christ died to purchase them. “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). 3) “Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” No! “And Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized” (Ac. 18:8). But, if Christ was crucified for them and they were baptized in Christ’s name, then those who claimed, “I am of Christ” were correct, because these two necessary conditions have been fulfilled.
Several metaphors are used to personify unity. They all demonstrate the importance of the oneness of the New Testament church. In scripture, the church is referred to as being the one body of Christ. “The church, which is His body” (Eph. 1:22,23). “There is one body” (Eph. 4:4). Just as, Christ had only one fleshly body, so He has only one church. There is but one church as there is but “one God and Father of all” (Eph. 4:6). Once again, “but now are they many members; but one body” (1 Cor. 12:12; Rom. 12:4,5). Christ has but one organized body composed of many Christians (members).
Again Paul wrote, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God” (Eph. 4:4-6). What did he mean by “one body”? In the first chapter of the Ephesian letter Paul said, “and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body” (Eph. 1:22,23). Nothing could be plainer. Since there is just one body, and the body is the church, there must be one church.
How does one become a member of this one body of Christ? “Ye were called in one body” (Col. 3:15). “For in one spirit were we all immersed into one body,” (1 Cor. 12:13).
From the very beginning, God ruled out men having multiple wives when he made Eve for Adam. Although He could have, God did not make Eve, Betty, Sue, Gertrude, etc. for Adam. As God created only one woman Eve, for the one man Adam, so He brought forth only one church for Christ’s bride (Eph. 5:23-28). Christ has only one Bride or Church not many brides. Christ is not a polygamist. He does not have over 2000 brides or churches. His brides are not the Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Nazarene, Mormon, etc. churches.
Christ only has one Bride: the church of Christ.
If you were searching for your missing bride you would not fall for the argument: “one bride is just as good as another.” You would not accept just any woman as your lost wife. If she were missing you would want people to realize that you only have one and she has specific traits that will identify her as your one and only. If you want to be a part of the real Bride of Christ, search for the one that is like the church described in the New Testament.
God has but one household or family. Paul said, “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The house of God is the church and is composed of His sons and daughters. If God has two thousand different families, He is an unfaithful father. Some men have thanked God that there are so many different denominations. But, Jesus considered unity among His people to be of great importance. Jesus prayed, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me; and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Jn. 17:20,21. Christ wanted unity among His followers, like He and the Father are one. If all are one, then all men will believe that God the Father sent Jesus. An Indian chief once told a missionary what he thought of the religious division among denominations: “Go home, and agree among yourselves, and then come to me, and I will consider the matter.” Division is the most fruitful source of atheism.
David spoke of the pleasure of unity. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, For brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1). Today, there are nearly two thousand different denominations of Christianity. How enjoyable would it be for men to leave this many made mas of confusion which leads to doubt and disbelief and return to the one Church of Christ. What if men and women returned to the early church of the New Testament which from the very start were united as one. They “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts 2:42). They “day by day, continued steadfastly with one accord in the Temple” (Acts 2:46). “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart an would” (Acts 4:32). God has helped His saints out by giving them a list of “ones” in Ephesians 4:3-6. These are involved in maintaining unity with others and being able to walk with Him. First, how is the unity of the spirit is achieved and maintained? Paul commanded the church at Ephesus to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3)
Preparing for unity requires the effort necessary to maintain it. They are “endeavoring to keep.” They are giving diligence to preserve, keep and care for unity. The unity is that of the Spirit who created this unity through the apostles’ doctrine which the disciples are to continue in (Acts 2:42). It is the same as the teachings or doctrine of Christ. This unity must be kept “in the bond of peace” or the bond which is peace. Christ our peace, and is thus a bond of peace. The bonds which unite in peace. Peace is important but it is not unity.
Paul gives Christians of all ages the plan of unity. Notice this plan has several planks in its platform. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were 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. 4:4-6)
Why is unity so important? Where there is unity there is peace. One can identify the true church by recognizing that there is one body, the church. Which one? Jesus said, “my church”(Mt. 16:18) or the church belonging to Christ (Rom. 16:16).
– Daniel R. Vess