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

The Unity Of The Spirit

Robert H. Farish, Lexington, Kentucky

In this article we will notice passages that affirm the oneness of the Spirit and shall endeavor to show from the scriptures why it is so important to think of the Spirit as one. A careful study of the scriptures will reveal that attitudes, doctrines and practices of many deny that there is one Spirit. Yet these very people would contend that they believe Ephesians 4:4 — that there is "One Spirit."

After the apostle wrote in Ephesians 4 his exhortation that the unity of the Spirit he kept in the bond of peace, he listed seven things, emphasizing the singleness of each. This obviously teaches that the oneness of each of these must be accepted and maintained in order to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Any person who fails to think of the Spirit as one, cannot keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. How important that the oneness of the Spirit be recognized in our thinking and acknowledged in our conduct.

The oneness of the Spirit is affirmed and discussed by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:1-13. Study the passage carefully. The apostle in this reference discusses the diversities of gifts. These spiritual gifts were plural and different hence, the possibility of some reasoning that there were pluralities of Spirits. As Gentiles they had been lead by dumb idols (plural) but such is not true of those who are under the guidance of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit never revealed unto any one that Jesus is anathema, and on the other hand every one that acknowledges that Jesus is Lord comes to that faith by the Word (the revelation of the Spirit). The lesson here is that the one Spirit does not lead in opposite directions. He does not guide one man into one way and another in another way. A condition of division in religion is conclusive evidence that the 'one Spirit' is not leading the various factions. It is evident that when "not all are speaking the same thing" that some or all are being led by some spirit other than the 'one Spirit.' The condition of division that existed when there were Gentiles was the result of their being "led away unto dumb idols, howsoever they might be led." Heathen theology embraced a plurality of idols so to prevent those, who had lately come from idolatry, thinking that the varied spiritual gifts were bestowed by different Spirits, the apostle gives this full discussion. The design of this discussion by the apostle is to establish that there is one Spirit — that although the gifts varied, yet all were from the same Spirit. The gifts of healing, of working miracles, of prophecy, of discerning spirits, of divers kinds of tongues were all worked by "the one and the same Spirit." All of these gifts came from the same Spirit and were to contribute to the primary work of the Spirit which was revealing and confirming the Word. These gifts had the same source and the same design.

That the work of the Spirit was centered upon the revelation and confirmation of the gospel is evident from these passages. First we read John 14:26 "But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you." This is a promise made by Christ to his apostles. From this we learn that the Father would send the Holy Spirit to the apostles to teach them all things and bring to their remembrance all that Christ had said unto them. That the Holy Spirit's work was to consist of revealing the will of God to the apostles is clearly taught here. Now note another statement of this truth in John 16:13 "Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things so ever he shall hear these shall he speak; and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come." How could the matter be made clearer? That the Holy Spirit was to come to the apostles to guide them into all the truth cannot be questioned. But revealing the will of God to the apostles did not complete the Spirit's work with reference to the Word. He also confirmed or proved the divine origin of the message by the signs. The promise of this is found in John 15:26 "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me." Also study in this connection Hebrews 2:4 "God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his will." The Holy Spirit revealed and confirmed the Word.

The apostle Paul tells about the Holy Spirit's revealing the things of God to the apostles in 1 Corinthians 2:10 "But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." And then in the 12th and 13th verses he states, "But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth combining spiritual things with spiritual words."

As the Spirit guided the apostles into all the truth there must be unity in that which they spoke. There is no contradictory sentiments revealed by the Holy Spirit. There is one Spirit and the message which he revealed is harmonious.

The Holy Spirit guided Paul to say in Romans 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." The same Spirit guided the apostles in proclaiming the statement of the Lord in Mark 16:16, "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned." No one who respects the unity of the Spirit will be guilty of attempting to array the Spirit against himself. To attempt to make the Spirit deny in one place what he affirms in another is to manifest a lack of either knowledge or piety with reference to the oneness of the Spirit. Remember friends, there is one Spirit. In another lesson on the "one faith" — we will study further the unity of the gospel.