Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 12, 1956
NUMBER 35, PAGE 2-3b

The Unity Of The Spirit

Robert H. Farish, Lexington, Kentucky

The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul beseeches us "to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye are called . . . . giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:13.) It seems that few are heeding this entreaty of the Holy Spirit. Yet keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace is properly the concern and responsibility of every member of the church. No member is exempt. Indifference to this obligation is a bather to walking worthily of "the calling wherewith ye were called." The requirement of "giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit" is as necessary to walking worthily as is "lowliness," "meekness," "longsuffering" and "forbearance in love." The one who disregards any of these requirements does so to the jeopardy of his soul. Maintaining "the unity of the Spirit" is not the exclusive responsibility of any class or group within the church; it extends to everyone who has been called through the gospel." (2 Thess. 2:14.)

The conception of Gods many — lords many and churches many is of heathen origin for we learn that the heathen theology of Paul's day accepted and defended the doctrine of Gods many and lords many. "For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth; as there are gods many and lords many." (1 Cor. 8:5.) It is a concept which can only produce division. Harmonius coexistence of this heathen concept and the Bible doctrine of unity of the Spirit is an impossibility. Both cannot be held by a person at the same time. One must give way to the other. A person can no more properly allow in his thinking for churches many than he can for gods many. This should suffice to establish that the idea of churches many is not from heaven but from man. It is an idea without heaven's approval. Rather than being praiseworthy as broad and charitable it is to be censured as heathenish and the greatest contributor to division which Satan the author of confusion has invented. It is foreign and antagonistic to the attitude required of a Christian. Here a fierce clash between Christianity and heathenism is inevitable for the Christian's attitude can entertain no tolerance for a conception so gross in its nature and so productive of confusion. "God is not a God of confusion, but of peace." (1 Cor.. 14:33.)

The Unity Of The Spirit

The unity required by this passage is the "unity of the Spirit." The unity that will fill this bill must be based upon and measure up to the Spirit's requirements. No mechanical plan to agree on certain items which happen to be acceptable to all, is adequate. The only unity that will measure up to the requirements of this passage is that which is achieved by the sincere acceptance and full conformity to the Holy Spirit's revelation. Any deviation from heaven's revelation, though all mankind agree in it, still fails of being "the unity of the Spirit." Such can not rightfully claim any comfort from this passage. The idea of "peace at any price" has no sanction even in reason to say nothing of revelation.

The pattern or plan for fellowship which comes from God is outlined in 1 John 1:6, 7: "If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, anddo not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as she is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." This is not a complicated thing. No unity plans or meetings are required for keeping "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." When one walks in the light of God's truth he is in fellowship with God. To be in fellowship with God is to be in fellowship with everything and everyone who is so related to God. This principle is also revealed by express statement in 1 John 1:3 "that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye also may have fellowship with us: yea and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." The only thing necessary to have "the unity of the Spirit" is to walk in the light of the Spirit's revelation — to look for our directions to that which the apostles declare unto us in the which they have written. John here says that he declares these things that we may have fellowship with the apostles, which fellowship is with God and Christ.

Barriers To Unity

The prevailing religious division and conflict proclaim the fact that men are failing to heed the Spirit's entreaty and are unmindful of the Lord's wish as expressed in his prayer, "that they may all be one; even as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us." (John 17:21.) Wherein is the trouble? What are the barriers that stand in the way preventing "the unity of the Spirit"? Why is it that all the professed followers of Christ do not "all speak the same thing"? Why are not all "perfected together in the same mind sand in the same judgment"?

These things merit our most serious study. They are problems which have to do with our eternal destiny. How can we be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment? The barriers to unity of the Spirit are indicated in the introduction of the apostle's discussion of the unity of the Spirit. He requires "lowliness," "meekness," and "longsuffering." The opposite qualities of pride, haughtiness, arrogance and childish impatience are barriers to the unity of the Spirit. Vainglory is brazenly exhibited in pleas for certain things which will cause governments to take notice — big cathedrals that will compare favorably with the denominations about us — institutions to which we can point with "becoming pride"! etc. If such be not evidence of the pride which is condemned in the scriptures and which stands as a barrier to the "unity of the Spirit," then pray let some one catalogue such demonstrations of pride for us. We need to know!

That "the unity of the Spirit" can be had is evidenced by the fact that God requires it of us. That it can not be had by any who do not sincerely desire it and diligently seek to maintain it is also evident. Diligence in seeking unity is the opposite of ruthlessness in promoting one's own way. Selfish interests, the desire to be thought of as some great one, greediness for power, money, position, etc. will ever be barriers to "the unity of the Spirit" where such things exist.

Do you sincerely desire "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace"? Do the blessings of peace possess sufficient attraction to cause you to earnestly desire the unity of the Spirit? Then be diligent to keep it by "walk(ing) by faith" 2 Cor. 5:7 — "preach(ing) the word" 2 Tim. 4:2 — "contend(ing) for the faith" Jude 3.. If you are walking by faith you can point to the passage of scripture which authorizes your walk. If you are preaching the word you need no additional furnishing for the Spirit is perfect for its intended use. If you are contending for the faith you can find the item contended for in a command, approved example or necessary inference of the scriptures. You will feel no need to go seeking in "area of silence," nor will you feel the need to depend upon such vague imaginary authority as "principle eternal."