Paul's Platform For Unity
When a man is running for political office, he usually has a platform for his proposed goals (a platform is "a body of principles on which a person takes a stand " (RHCD). The inspired Paul enjoined unity thus: "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4: 3, see also I Cor. 1: 10). Religious unity is not only set forth as possible, but also required by God. In other words, unity is a command. After issuing the command for religious unity, Paul then shows why this unity is required (his platform, if you please):
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are 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" (Eph. 4: 4-6).
Dear reader, you will be impressed with the recurrence of the adjective of singularity, "one." One is opposed to two or many. Unity is congruous with oneness, not multiplicity. The first thing religious people have to do is stop thinking in terms of many and focus on the concept of "one."
"There is one body" (Eph. 4: 4). The body is the church, Paul explains (Eph. 1: 22, 23). Jesus did not overcome hades to build different churches (Matt. 16: 18). While there are many local churches, God's people meeting in different geographic locations, these churches are supposed to be the same in doctrine and practice. This is why Paul could "teach every where in every church" in the First Century (I Cor. 4: 17). Their standard to uniformly accept or reject was (is) the "doctrine of Christ" (2 Jn. 9-11).
"There is one Spirit." The Holy Spirit gave man the total truth through the apostles (Jn. 14: 26, 16: 13). It is He who is attributed with the unity (vs. 3). The Spirit demands that Christians defend and guard the truth (Jude 3; 2 Jn. 9-11).
"Called in one hope of your calling." There are not multitudinous hopes involved in the Christian's calling (2 Thes. 2: 14). The hope is heaven (Heb. 6: 18, 19). Man comes along, though, and inserts the hope of "one day being a god himself" or "living eternally on this earth." Hence, division is experienced instead of unity.
"One Lord" (vs. 5). Since there is only one Jesus and he is Lord, unity should follow. Jesus himself is consistent (Heb. 13: 8). As Lord (kurios), he demands man's obedience to his teaching (Lk. 6: 46, Jn. 12: 48).
"One faith." The "one faith" is the gospel system (Jude 3). This is what Luke meant when he wrote, "and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith" (Acts 6: 7). It is indeed sad that there are literally thousands of faiths today. In such an atmosphere of many, there cannot be unity. The New Testament constitutes the Christian's belief system, every thing else is condemned (Matt. 15: 1 ff). This is why if the Christian does not abide in the doctrine of Christ, he does not have God (2 Jn. 9). Man is forbidden to change in any way "the faith" (Gal. 1: 6-9, Rev. 22: 18, 19).
"One baptism." There are a number of baptisms mentioned in the New Testament, the baptism of John, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the baptism introduced in Acts 2, for instance. However, at the time of the penning of these words, there is only one baptism. The one baptism is the universal baptism in water for the remission of sins, as set forth in the Great Commission and exemplified throughout the New Testament (Mk. 16: 15, 16, Acts 2: 38). Peter clearly shows that the baptism associated with man's salvation is water baptism (I Pet. 3: 20, 21).
"One God" (vs. 6). Just as there are only one Spirit and Lord; there is only one God the Father. While the Godhead, state of being God, is made up of three, separate individualities, if you will, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, they are one in unison and purpose (Jn. 14: 8 ff.).
Beloved, division is not only against Paul's teaching, but it creates a situation of many: many different churches, Spirits, hopes, Lords, faiths, baptisms, and gods. In such a climate, true unity is utterly impossible. Paul shows, in the foregoing passage, that not only is unity possible and required, he reveals how unity can be enjoyed: by accepting and practicing the "ones ." (Notice there are seven ones. Seven is a number of perfection in the scriptures.)
In closing, Jesus prayed for his followers thus: "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one is us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (Jn. 17: 21). (To compliment this study, please read: "A Forgotten Verse, I Corinthians 11: 19".)