Article 44

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What we Believe







"Unity of the Spirit"

"Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3).

There is much said about the need for unity and peace in our day. There are those who are calling upon all who profess to be Christians to put aside their disagreements and join together in a common and united cause. This endeavour is heralded as the greatest effort among Christians to unite all Christians together. No sound minded person who professes the name of the Lord Jesus Christ would disagree with the need to use diligent speed (to endeavour) in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The main problem that arises between the instruction of this scripture passage in the Ephesians letter and the intention of the endeavour I mentioned before is one of basic beginnings. In other words, it is the difference between keeping and trying to bring about unity in the bond of peace. We are admonished in this text to endeavour to keep the unity that already exists of the Spirit.

The scripture proceeds with instruction for believers in Christ concerning this unity in the bond of peace in light of the truth that unity is of the Spirit and that it is a present reality. Some would contend that this unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace was a reality in the beginning but we now have slipped away from it and are in need of its restoration. The problem with this opinion is that it denies the established and unshakable foundation upon which this unity in the bond of peace was and yet is based in its criteria and for its recipients.


(1) There is one body, and one Spirit.

While the words "there is" is not found in any of the Greek texts, the structure of the Greek and the truth contained in this verse clearly demands the certainty of the words "There is." It is not, nor could it ever be said, "There should be one body, and one Spirit" or even "There can be one body, and one Spirit" for of a truth there is one body as there is one Holy Spirit. No person of sound mind would suggest that this was true then but not now! Those to whom this instruction was written, and those to whom it applies today, are one body, their disagreements notwithstanding. However, how far can these disagreements go? This is answered in the next set of criteria.

(2) One Lord, one faith, one baptism.

Any suggestion that the recipients of this instruction can serve who or what they please, and that they can hold to or believe what they please is a lie rejecting the truth of scripture concerning their place in Christ’s body (I Cor. 12:12-13). There is, even yet today, one body of truth for the one baptized body of Christ as there is one Lord Jesus Christ to which these people hold.

1. If I am outside this one faith then no one of it has a responsibility to unite with me in the bond of peace (Gal. 1:6-9; II Jn. 9-12).

2. If I have professed to be of this faith and yet I stray in it there is to be longsuffering and forbearing of me in love, but the criteria does not permit others to accept any false ideas I have but rather seek my restoration to the truth. If I continually refuse then I condemn myself and I am to be rejected (Titus 3:10-11).

3. Unity of the Spirit CANNOT exist where the truth of Christ is not held to and defended (Jn. 16:1-15) for the Spirit promotes only that which is true of our Lord Jesus Christ and He is the central theme of all the Spirit teaches.

These facts clearly dictate to us the proper understanding of the next set of criteria. If we begin with a false idea confusion and error will exist. When we keep in mind the true foundation we are less likely to build a false building. So then, the next set of criteria.

(3) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

While God is God indeed over all mankind without exception, God is not God and Father of all without exception (Jn. 8:42). While God is above or over all, in that He is the Supreme and Almighty, this second all includes far more than humankind with or without exception. God is over all creation (Ps. 115:3; Dan. 4:34-35; Acts 17:22-29). God is also through all. This teaches that nothing happens which is outside of God’s own sovereign purpose and over which He does not rule through His direct action, permission, or restraint (Eccl. 3:1-15; Acts 4:27-28). But let us now take notice that Paul clearly qualifies the last phrase of Ephesians 4:6. Paul writes that God is in you all. This speaks only of those to whom he wrote, and those today, who meet the character described in the instruction.


(1) This instruction is only for those called of God (vs. 1).

To be called of God means to be of that number whom God foreknew and predestinated before the world was (Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:3-6). The foreknown equal exactly those who will be ultimately glorified. However, it should also be noted that in the sovereign and unchangeable purpose of God the foreknown and predestinated (before the world was) are viewed as called, justified, and glorified already as a whole (even when they were foreknown) according to Romans eight. Nevertheless, the calling of God does take place for every one of these people in time. This call is a particular call and is irresistible for the foreknown are called and they are glorified.

1. This call goes forth from God in Christ and has nothing to do with human invitations given by men (Rom. 1:6; 8:30; 9:23-24; I Cor. 7:17; Gal. 1:6).

2. This call includes God’s calling us by the gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (II Thess. 2:14).

3. Those called are called unto a particular realm (I Cor. 1:9; Gal. 5:13; I Thess. 4:7; I Tim. 6:12; I Pet. 2:21).

This is a very particular group of people whose allegiance is to Christ and His gospel, of which they are to suffer no perversion of that message. Paul had something else to say of the recipients.

(2) "In one hope of your calling" (vs. 4).

Clearly, this is not a disjointed body of called persons who are at war with one another for they have a common hope. However, the peace spoken of here is not the mere absence of war, nor is it even the complete absence of all disagreement. The peace spoken of here is the bond (like a joint ligament) of peace. These called ones are so joined together because they are in a common cause, with a common hope, being one body, having one Lord and one faith and one God and Father who is in them all. Their peace is oneness. Not only are we to endeavour to keep the unity [our being joined together as one] of the Spirit, we are to do so in the bond of oneness, as our natural bodies are joined in its many different parts to actually and naturally be one body. It is not a matter of just coming together as a group for appearance sake to get more done as we see attempted today. God’s people are actually one organism joined together by the tissue of spiritual life as the natural body’s bones are joined together by living tissue. As we would seek to keep the unity of our natural bodies, not playing one part against the other, how much more so the spiritual body! When a body of people have one common hope then lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing in love, and endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace becomes a part of what they are, not just some command they are to perform. What is this one hope?

Some among the ecumenical movement would say it is greater influence in this world for the sake of bringing in more converts. This appeals to human emotion but has no scriptural basis. The danger therein is that to have influence in this world we must be of this world and like this world (I Jn. 4:4-6). Jesus Christ the Lord is Himself this one hope!

1. Our election of the Father was in Christ (Eph. 1:3-4).

2. Our predestination unto adoption as children was in Christ (Eph. 1:5).

3. Our acceptance by God the Father is in Christ (Eph. 1:6).

4. Our redemption and the forgiveness of sins are in Christ (Eph. 1:7).

Therefore, when we hear God’s gospel we trust Christ who is the theme of that message of good news (Rom. 1:1-4) and the one foundation of hope upon which we are built (I Cor. 3:10-11). Those built upon any other foundation are not a part of that oneness and there is no exhortation to keep any unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace with them since it does not already exist. Neither is there exhortation for us to seek to establish unity and peace with them. God’s people are a separate people. Merely naming the name of Christ does not validate one to be a part of Christ (Matt. 7:21-23) for when Christ Himself is not their foundation they are likened unto foolish men (Matt. 7:24-27). Certainly, there is no unity and peace between the wise and the foolish! All of God’s people have a place in God’s election, predestination, acceptance, redemption, forgiveness, and calling in Christ Jesus the Lord. Herein do we have unity in the Spirit in the bond of peace and herein are we to endeavour to keep that unity and peace. We have no exhortation to seek such with those who believe them not and reject the truth of God in Christ.

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