Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 9, 1956

The Unity Of The Spirit

Robert H. Farish, Lexington, Kentucky

The first of the seven units which the apostle lists is the one body. The apostle having expressed the exhortation for unity of the Spirit proceeds to list things that must be regarded as unique ("single, sole") in order for one to fulfill the requirement to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." The declaration that there is one body rules out the possibility of there being a plurality of bodies meeting God's approval. This also rules out the possibility of one's fulfilling the requirement of "keep(ing) the unity of the Spirit" while entertaining the concept of bodies many. Before one can keep the unity of the Spirit he must come to think in terms of one body; he cannot in his thinking tolerate the idea of bodies many. The idea of "one body" excludes all but the one body. The heathenish concept of "gods many" is no more unscriptural than is the denominational idea of bodies many. One is as repugnant to the "one God" as the other. The same Holy Spirit which affirms that there is "one God," affirms with equal emphasis that there is "one body." —

But what is the "one body"? Who can lay claim to being in this exclusive body? Paul sets forth the "one God" to the Athenians by pointing out first His unity, ("The God" in contrast to gods). This quality of unity (oneness) of the body is also set forth often in the scriptures, e.g., Matthew 16:18 "My church" not my churches; Colossians 1:8 "And he is the head of the body." If one can properly get the idea of bodies (plural) out of this language, by the same process he can properly get the idea of heads (plural). It follows that any church not claiming this exclusiveness is not the one church for God makes that claim for His church.

The scriptures teach us that the body is the church, " . . . . and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body." (Eph. 1:22.) "And he is the head of the body, the church." (Col. 1:18.) ". ... for his body's sake, which is the church." (Col. 1:24.) As the body is the church, and as there is one body, it follows that denominationalism stands under the condemnation of God. The denominational concept of churches many cannot be tolerated in the thinking of those who would "keep the unity of the Spirit." Efforts at defense and justification of the condition of churches many are opposed to God's will. We dare not entertain, even in our thinking, tolerance for the denominational concept. Recognition of the truth that there is one body requires opposition to denominationalism.

As the scriptures teach that there is one body and that the body is the church, we may rightfully expect the scriptures to identify the one church for us. With this conviction we go to the scriptures to find other marks of identity of the one church.

The Head

Many denominational bodies have earthly heads, e.g., pope of Rome. This is not true of the one church, it has Christ as its head. (Eph. 1:22; 5:23.) Its headquarters is in heaven. (Heb. 6:20; Eph. 1:19-22.) The one church has no head or headquarters on earth. The church is subject to Christ (Eph. 5:24), hence, those who subject themselves to rulings coming from any other head arenot members of the church of which Christ is head. Acknowledging Christ as head requires not only subjection to his will but rejection of and opposition to any thing in organization, work and worship in the church which is not sanctioned by the Head.

The Church Is

the kingdom. That the kingdom of Christ and the church of Christ is the same is evident from several considerations. (1) Saul laid waste the church, Acts 8:3. (2) He did this by bringing to trial "any that were of the Way," Acts 9:2. (3) In Ephesus Paul "reasoned and persuaded as to the things concerning the kingdom of God." The disobedient resisted this kingdom preaching by speaking evil of the "Way." Surely no one thinks that they resisted one thing by speaking evil of something different! The church equals the way — the way equals the kingdom, hence the church equals the kingdom. When one gets into the kingdom, he is in the church. To be in the kingdom one must be "born anew." To learn the process of the new birth, we consider 2 Corinthians 5:17 which tells us that if any man is in Christ he is a new creature. Here we learn that to be in Christ is to be a new creature. The product of the new birth (new creature) cannot exist in fact until he has been born anew, therefore, whatever is involved in getting into Christ constitutes the new birth. Galatians 3:27 tells us how we get into Christ. We are baptized into Christ. Furthermore the apostles with the keys of the kingdom told men to "repent and be baptized." (Acts 2:38.)

The Church Is

the Way. We have already shown that the church is the Way. The Way is made up of the `saints.' `Saints' (Acts 9:13) are 'all that call upon thy (the Lord's) name." (Acts 9:14.) The 'saints,' who are all that, "call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" make up the church. (1 Cor. 1:2.)

The Church Is

the House of God. The house of God is the church. (1 Tim. 3:15.) Are you a member of the church of Christ? If so, you are of the house of God. "In Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:13) "ye are no more strangers .... but ye are...and of the household of God." (Eph. 2:19 ) Those who "were baptized into Christ" (Rom. 6:3) are of the household of God.

These and many other passages teach how one can become a member of the "one body" which is the church. No other process of induction puts one into the "one church" for this is the Lord's way of adding to his church.

The one church is to be identified by the one to whom it looks for guidance — to whom it is subject. This is the fundamental consideration and an application of the rule to the faith and practice of the church will infallibly determine if that body is the church of Christ. In organization the church must be subject to the head; it is subject to the head in organization if it conforms to the New Testament pattern. The same is true of the nature of the work to be performed by the church, the worship of the church and the manner of fife of the members.

You are keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace when you learn the Spirit's revelation respecting the one body and conform to that teaching alone.