Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ephesians 4:4-6

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

We meet on different continents, speak different tongues, worship with different styles of music – but none of this truly separates us. The individual local church bodies that follow the “one Spirit” are united into the body of Christ. True ministers of the gospel will seek to unite us, not schism and split. Despite doctrinal differences we all look to our hope in the resurrection of Jesus.

We have one Lord and we profess one faith. We baptize in different ways, so the third one is tricky. At the time Paul wrote he would have referred to baptism at the time a person came into the faith. (My belief from studying scripture is in immersion at an age of understanding, but let’s not get into that.) Regardless of whether you "sprinkle" or "dunk", baptize infants or adults, receive confirmation at a prescribed age or when you feel a call, the point is that we are baptized into one Spirit. The essential thing is not the mode but that at some point you are consecrated to God through faith. It is not a one time deal, either. Christianity is a process by which we are continually conformed into the image of Christ. It is daily walking with God being led by His Spirit. You cannot simply experience some sort of water baptism and count yourself checked off God's naughty list.

We have one God, a distinction that tied the church to its Jewish past in opposition to the polytheism rampant in the Ephesian culture. As believers witness through word and deed to the world around us we must show unity and work together for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

You may say, “But Carol, when I look at the world today I see denominations and sects, arguing and infighting in many parts of Christianity.” And to some extent you would be right. But imagine if we lived out the characteristics in the previous verses: humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and diligence in preserving the unity of the Spirit. How could we not be drawn together?

Remember Jesus’ prayer: I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me (John 17:20-21)

Whenever the world evaluates itself it sees discord. The point is this. if in the midst of all of this disunity and all of this lack of peace and all of this lack of love there is a community of people who are totally in love with each other, who are totally one, who are absolutely united then somebody's going to have to recognize that that's not a human institution, see?

Because human institutions don't have that. And they're going to say, then these must be of a supernatural source... Where there is discord and friction and factions and fighting and disconnection and a lack of peace the world sees us as just another human institution, and they have every right to make that evaluation.

How do you get church unity? One Christian at a time, one at a time committed in his heart to walk worthy, to balance his life with his theology… You know what I believe? I believe if all Christians were right with the Holy Spirit we wouldn't have any discord, it would purify our doctrine to start with, secondly it would purify our relationships, only one body.
- John MacArthur

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