How can we maintain the unity of the Spirit?
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul describes unity in Christ: 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).
Christians are called to peace in the one body of Christ.
Paul beseeches us to walk worthy of our calling. We are called to
peace in the one body of Christ: Therefore, as the elect of God,
holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with
one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another;
even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 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 3:12-15).
Unity is not optional. We must endeavor to keep the unity of
the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). Our walk, our way
of life, must be worthy of this call to peace in Christ.
Unity is based on love.
Love is the bond of perfection, the the bond of peace, the glue
that binds the members of the body together in Christ. We love one
another as Jesus has loved us. A bucket full of chicken feathers may
appear united, but try throwing them in the air.
Love bears fruit: tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, bearing with
one another, and forgiving one another, as Christ forgives us. These are ingredients
in the recipe for unity.
Unity must be maintained.
We must keep the unity of the Spirit. Christian unity is not man’s
invention. It is not created by the formation of central authorities or by
the publication of human creeds. These are actually departures from unity in Christ.
Christian unity is a gift from God that must be preserved, kept, maintained.
We must be careful that we do not lose the unity of the
There is one Lord; there is one God and Father of all.
For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth
(as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is
one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him;
and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom
we live (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6).
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the
Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5,
There is one body.
Since there is one God, there is also only one true religion.
And the one true religion cannot be subdivided. There is one body, not
two or two-thousand, one and only one. A body is indivisible.
It does not say there should be one body. There is one body.
Paul asks: Is Christ divided? (1 Corinthians 1:13).
The body is the church of Christ. The Father has placed all things
under His authority and gave Him to be head over all things to
the church, which is His body (Ephesians 1:22, 23). Paul wrote to the
Colossians: I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in
my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake
of His body, which is the church (Colossians 1:24).
Thus the one body in which the unity of the Spirit must be
preserved is the church of Christ.
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 12:4, 5; see also
1 Corinthians 12:20).
For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all
partake of that one bread (1 Corinthians 10:17). This one body is the
church, which partakes of the one loaf in the Lord’s supper each first
day of the week (Acts 20:7).
The unity of the Spirit can exist only in the church of Christ
because only He can make all people one. He joins Jews and Gentiles
together as one body: 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. And He
came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those
who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit
to the Father (Ephesians 2:14-18).
There are many different churches in the world, established and maintained by men
who are not satisfied with the body of Christ. There is great division
among those who are outside the body of Christ. If you are a
member of some church or religious organization other than the church that Jesus
founded, you are not serving God in the one body of Christ. The
unity of the Spirit exists only in His body, the church of Christ.
There is one Spirit.
By one Spirit we are united into one body. 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 of
one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12, 13).
There is one baptism.
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body (1 Corinthians
12:13). Only by the one baptism can we be one in Christ: 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 3:27, 28). Baptism must be a burial (Romans 6:4). We must be
buried with Him in baptism (Colossians 2:12). We must be born of water
and the Spirit (John 3:5). For there are three that bear witness: the
Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one (1
John 5:7, 8).We must be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
There is one baptism.
In the world there are many kinds of baptism because people are not
satisfied with the one baptism into the body of Christ. Because of unbiblical
forms of baptism, people are excluded from unity in Christ. If you have
not been baptized with the one baptism of the New Testament, you are
not yet in the body of Christ, His church. The unity of the
Spirit exists only among those who by one Spirit have been baptized into
the one body, the church of Christ.
There is one faith.
The one faith is the original faith. Jude wrote: Beloved, while I was
very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it
necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith
which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
Our salvation depends on that original faith. Titus was to rebuke the Cretans,
that they might be sound in the faith (Titus 1:13). Paul warned the
Corinthians: Watch, stand fast in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13). Paul told the
Colossians that they must continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast (Colossians 1:23).
Shortly before his death, Paul could write: I have kept the faith (2
In Ephesians 4:11-16 Paul explains how Jesus has given His church leaders to
promote the ‘unity of the faith’.
First, apostles and prophets are mentioned. And He Himself gave some to be
apostles, some prophets (Ephesians 4:11). These are the apostles and prophets of the
first century, who together with Christ form the foundation of the church (Ephesians
2:20). This refers to the twelve original apostles. Of Zion we read: Now
the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the
names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:14).
To preserve the unity of the faith, we must follow the teachings of
the apostles and prophets of the New Testament.
Evangelists, elders and teachers have also been given to the church to preach
and teach the one faith.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and
some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work
of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all
come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the
Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature
of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).
The ‘unity of the faith’ is also the unity of the ‘knowledge of
Christ’. This knowledge comes through the holy Scriptures: All Scripture is given by
inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped
for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
This unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of
God protects us from the division that is sown by false teachers, that
we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about
with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning
craftiness of deceitful plotting (Ephesians 4:14).
There is one faith. To maintain the unity of the faith we must
know the Scriptures well enough that winds of false doctrine will not blow
us away like chicken feathers. An elder must hold fast the faithful word
as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine,
both to exhort and convict those who contradict (Titus 1:9). Reject a divisive
man after the first and second admonition knowing that such a person is
warped and sinning, being self-condemned (Titus 3:10, 11).
In the world there are many faiths because people want to believe something
different from the one faith that was delivered to the saints once and
for all (Jude 3). Outside the one faith, division prevails. Examine yourselves as
to whether you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
The unity of the Spirit exists only among those who have the one
faith of the one Lord, those who have been baptized by the one
Spirit into the one body, the church of Christ.
Let us strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond
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 4:3-6). Amen.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive