Maintaining The Unity Of The Spirit


Attempts to create Christian unity

The ‘Denominational World’ admits that ‘division’ exists among the many sects and parties that make up so-called Christendom. And they arrange ‘committees’ and ‘conferences’ at which they discuss how they might achieve ‘unity’ between them.

The Church of England and the Methodist Church spent years exploring plans that would enable them to unite. Other denominationalists have gone down the same road and arrived nowhere!

But, the fact is that the ‘body’ of Christ is united! 1 Corinthians 12:13.

When we were baptised, we were baptised ‘by the order of’ or ‘by the command of the One Spirit’. And everyone who has scripturally obeyed the Gospel has been placed by the Holy Spirit into the one body. This logically means that the One Body consists only of those who have been baptised into Christ.

‘You all are the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus, for as many as have been baptised into Christ.’ Galatians 3:26-27

Notice two facts here

1. The Statement that the children of God, are those who are in Christ Jesus. This passage is often misquoted and misunderstood. It is quoted as though it says, that we are the children of God ‘by having faith in’ Christ Jesus.

In other words, having faith in Christ makes us children of God. That is not what the passage is saying! It is not talking about salvation by faith.

This verse locates sonship with God. It tells us where, when and how we become sons of God and all are one in Christ. Where are we the children of God according to the principle of faith? The answer is, ‘in Christ Jesus’. When are we the children of God? The answer is when we are in Christ Jesus. How do we come into Christ? By being ‘baptised into Christ’.

2. So! Who are the children of God?

‘As many as are baptised into Christ’.

That phrase ‘as many as’ is important. ‘Hosos’, ‘how much or how many.’ We find it no fewer than 23 times, from Matthew to Revelation. It means, no more and no fewer. No more and no less. For example, Romans 8:14 ‘as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.’

Therefore, by the order of the Holy Spirit, we are all baptised into the One Body, and those who have been baptised into Christ and only those are the sons and daughters of God, created thus according to the principle of faith. And the same Spirit urges us to guard the unity of the One Body.

Take care to keep the unity which He Himself has already created. The different churches and religious organisations that men have created may decide to unite with each other, forget their fundamental differences and settle for a superficial union but that is not the unity of the Spirit.

How can the individual Christian help to keep this unity?

1. By being ‘filled with the Spirit.’ Ephesians 5:18.

Some religious people think that this has to do with some sort of ‘second blessing’, which they must seek to obtain subsequent to being saved. In other words, they have been taught that they must first be saved, and then pray for the ‘second blessing’, which they think means ‘the filling of the Spirit’.

But the filling of the Spirit is not a one-time event. The tense of the words should be understood as saying, ‘keep on being filled by or with the Spirit’.

Remember the first time the New Testament records the coming of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost. There was a tremendous sound, which filled the house and was heard outside of the house so that the people congregated on the house to find out what was happening.

The apostles emerged from the house and must have made their way to the temple probably to the ‘Court of the Gentiles’, which would be large enough to accommodate the size of the crowd which Acts 2 indicates came together.

The crowd heard the apostles, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming the wonderful deeds of God. And they could not understand what was happening. We are told that they were ‘amazed’. ‘Amazement’ is the loss of the ability to collect one’s thoughts. They didn’t understand what was happening.

They were ‘perplexed’. When their minds began to function they recognised that they could find no explanation for what was happening. They ‘criticised’. The only thing they could find to say was, ‘These men are full of new wine’. They are drunk!

And what was Peter’s response?

Not in the way you think are they drunk! It is only nine o’clock in the morning! Yes! They are drunk! But not with the spirit you are thinking about. This is what the prophet Joel spoke about. They are ‘filled with the Spirit of God.’ Acts 2:4.

Have we ever been accused of being drunk with our faith?

The world today sees very little in the church that amazes it, perplexes it or moves it to criticism. The world is not at all ‘critical’ of the church, because the church is not disturbing it!

If it thinks about the church at all, it sees it as something like a prehistoric, out-of-date, harmless old body. Gone are the days when a Spirit-filled church, so worried the world that people said of the Christians, ‘these men have turned the world upside down and now they have come here also. Acts 17:6

Again, the matter has not been helped by the way in which the Holy Spirit is described by those churches that are usually regarded as ‘orthodox’ or ‘traditional’ in their views, because they often refer to Him as ‘the Third Person in the Godhead’, implying that the Father is the First Person, the Son is the Second Person, whilst the Holy Spirit is number Three in the order.

We must understand that the Holy Spirit should never be regarded as ‘third’ in importance or rank, nor should He be thought of as being in any way inferior in nature to either the Father or the Son.

The only way in which He might reasonably be described as the ‘Third’ Person in the Godhead, is in relation to the time of His coming and the commencement of His personal ministry.

Maintain the unity of the Spirit

 ‘Do your best to maintain the unity of the Spirit by means of the bond of peace.’ Ephesians 4:3

When the Holy Spirit rules in a congregation, there is unity and peace. This unity must be maintained. ‘Maintain’, ‘tereo’ and ‘watch over, keep, guard’ the ‘unity’ of the one body, the church. Notice, we’re not called upon or required to create unity, we are to maintain unity.