There is one body
The church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22,23). Jesus said He would build His church (Matthew 16:18). He did not say He would establish several thousand denominations.
Jesus prayed that His followers might be one.
"Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are" (John 17:11).
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me" (John 17:20-23).
To accomplish this oneness, the distinction between Jew and Gentile had to be erased.
Jesus said to the Jews: "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd" (John 10:16).
Writing to Jews and Gentiles, Paul said: "For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity" (Ephesians 2:14-16).
Even the high priest who had Christ crucified -- without understanding what he was saying -- was inspired by God to speak of the oneness of all believers in Christ. "And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, 'You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.' Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad" (John 11:49-52).
This oneness in Christ encompasses heaven and earth! God had purposed "to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth" (Ephesians 1:9,10 RSV).
Christ's prayer was answered. His followers are one. There is one body (Ephesians 4:4) consisting of all those who are in Christ.
"For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another" (Romans 12:3-5).
Our oneness is based on one baptism.
"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26-28).
"For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free -- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:12,13).
This oneness expresses itself in the Lord's supper. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread" (1 Corinthians 10:16,17). On the first day of the week, Christians in countless numbers assemble to partake of the one Bread, the bread of life.
The one body has one Lord and one faith. Paul admonished: "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 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" (Ephesians 4:1-6).
Our oneness is based on the oneness of the Father and the Son, as Christ said in His prayer.
"For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5).
"But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ" (Matthew 23:8-10). "The Lord our God, the Lord is one" (Mark 12:29).
"But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him" (1 Corinthians 6:17).
Our oneness is based on the one faith. We must "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). To be one, God's word must dwell in us richly: "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:15-17).
When we worship God, we not only unite our voices but also our hearts. "Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God" (Romans 15:5-7).
When, on the basis of God's word, we maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, we can be of one heart and soul.
"Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you" (2 Corinthians 13:11).
"Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God" (Philippians 1:27,28).
"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like- minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:1-4).
"But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body" (Colossians 3:14,15).
"Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing" (1 Peter 3:8,9).
There is one body. Jesus prayed that His followers might be one, and this prayer was answered. His followers are one. There is one body which consists of all those who are in Christ. Our oneness is based on one baptism. This oneness expresses itself in the Lord's supper. It is based on the oneness of the Father and the Son. When we worship God, not only our voices, but also our hearts are united. Confessing and practicing the one faith, we maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and we are one in heart and soul.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive