The Unity of the Spirit
"endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were 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" - Ephesians 4:3-6.
It is important to be in agreement with these 7 foundational truths. Beyond this, we are called to grace, patience and love towards our brothers in Christ for the sake of unity, spiritual growth, and spreading the gospel.
We are encouraged to be at peace with all men, even with those who have different beliefs. But the Bible also encourages us to boldly and confidently present a scriptural basis for truth and compare differences…to be peacemakers and not religious negotiators. We can be united in the Spirit if we stand on these foundational truths.
~~ Kingdom Harvest International uses this scripture as the foundation for unity in all the churches ~~
1. One Body
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12
Each of us is part of the collective unity called the body and each of us is connected with every other member of the body through faith in Christ alone.
All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved and become part of the body of Christ. Salvation is a free gift and cannot be earned and it is not of works. After we have received salvation, we are now called to live for Christ, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. This means that only those who obey and do God's will are in the body of Christ (Matthew 7:21-23). Jesus said for him to "deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me"(Luke 9:23). We are called to a daily life of dying to our flesh and to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God (Romans 12:1).
2. One Spirit
John 16:7-8 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.
The Holy Spirit has come to convict and not to condemn the world. There is now hope for the whole world. The Holy Spirit convicts people's hearts of God's truth concerning how sinful we are and the need for God's forgiveness. He points us to Jesus Christ, our Savior for salvation. The Holy Spirit convicts our hearts unto repentance and to turn to God for forgiveness and a new eternal life in Christ.
The Holy Spirit bears "witness" of Jesus Christ (John 15:26). He tells people's hearts about the truth of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit teaches us all things (I John 2:27) He reveals God's will and God's truth to a Christian. The Holy Spirit was given to dwell and live inside those who believe in Jesus. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). We now have the kingdom of God within us (Luke 17:21). The Holy Spirit enables us to bear the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Thus Christians are told to walk in the Spirit and be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). It is the Holy Spirit that empowers all Christians with spiritual gifts that promote spiritual growth in the church among Christians.
3. One Hope
Hope is a firm assurance regarding things that are unclear and unknown (Hebrews 11:1). Hope belongs to the righteous (Proverbs 23:18). Those who trust or put their hope in God will be helped (Psalm 28:7). Those who have this trustful hope in God, have a general confidence in God's protection and help (Jeremiah 29:11) and are free from fear and anxiety (Psalm 46:2-3).
Hope is rooted in the divine salvation in Christ (Galatians 5:5). Hope is brought into being through the presence of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:24-25). As Christians, we can now experience God's presence in our daily walk in the Spirit. It is the future hope of eternal life and the inheritance of the saints (Titus 3:5-7), the return of Christ (Titus 2:11-14) and transformation into the likeness of Christ (1 John 3:2-3).
The certainty of this blessed future is guaranteed through the indwelling of the Spirit (Romans 8:23-25), Christ in us (Colossians 1:27), and the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:26). Hope is produced by endurance through suffering (Romans 5:2-5) and is the inspiration behind endurance (1 Thessalonians 1:3; Hebrews 6:11). Those who hope in Christ will see Christ exalted in life and in death (Philippians 1:20). Trustworthy promises from God give us hope (Hebrews 6:18-19), and we may boast in this hope (Hebrews 3:6) and exhibit great boldness in our faith (2 Corinthians 3:12).
4. One Lord
Jesus Christ is our Lord. He is God the Son, the second person of the Trinity. On earth, Jesus was 100% God and 100% man. He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, performed miracles, died on the cross for mankind and thus, atoned for the sins of the world for all who accept His free gift through the shedding of His blood. He rose from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and will return again in power and glory. (John 1:1,14, 20:28; I Timothy 3:16; Isaiah 9:6; Philippians 2:5-6; I Timothy 2:5).
The title Lord, a translation of the Greek term kurios, is one of Paul’s favorite names for Jesus. Since the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament from which the apostle often quotes, renders the covenant name of God Yahweh as kurios, Paul’s frequent use of the same title for Christ is most interesting. It indicates that he had a high understanding of the doctrine of Christ that equates Him with the one true God and covenant Lord of Israel. Simply put, the apostle viewed Jesus as none other than God Himself. As there is only one Lord, salvation rests in Him alone (John 14:6), and people experience true unity one with another upon this ultimate foundation.
5. One Faith
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:1, Hebrews 11:6.
We are all sinners separated from God and deserving of eternal punishment for our sin. Jesus’ death on the cross paid for the sins of mankind, giving us access to heaven and an eternal relationship with God. This is grace, and it is most definitely undeserved favor. There is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor or gain access to heaven apart from His grace. He has now offered grace to the whole world through His Son, Jesus Christ and the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ. Perhaps no other event in the Bible, aside from Jesus’ appearance here on earth and subsequent death on the cross, is as significant to the Christian faith as that of the resurrection. Jesus died and then after three days came back to life and rose again to reappear to His followers in bodily form. This is what separates the Christian faith from all others. All other religions are based on works or a powerless deity or person. The leaders of all other religions die and remain dead. The Christian faith is based on Christ crucified and resurrected to life. “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
6. One Baptism
All believers have been placed into the Body of Christ through the baptism of Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:3-5). The one baptism mentioned in Ephesians 4:5 is the baptism with the Holy Spirit by which we are ingrafted into the body of Christ by faith when we first believe.
Acts 1:5 "John truly baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
God remits sin unto salvation on the basis of Jesus’ baptism on the cross and His resurrection (Luke 12:50, Matthew 20:22). The teaching of Scripture is that we are “baptized into Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:3) "by one Spirit into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13) “by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Acts 2:38 "be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins"
This baptism is:
- One that takes away sin: 1 Pet. 3:21; Acts 2:38; 22:16
- One of faith and not of works: Galatians 3:27, Mark. 16:15-16; Titus 3:5
- One that is for ALL people: Matt. 28:19
- One that brings the sinner into contact with the death (blood) of Christ: Rom. 6:3-4
- One by which we are buried with Christ: Col. 2:12; Rom. 6:4
- One that saves the lost through the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 3:21
- One by which we put on Christ: Gal. 3:27
- One that was with water but is now with the Holy Spirit: Mat. 3:11, Mar. 1:8, Luk. 3:16, Act. 1:5, Act. 19:2-3
- One that does not wash dirt away: 1 Peter 3:21
- One that continues until the return of Christ: Matt. 28:19-20
7. One God
God the Father is the Supreme Being, Creator, and Sustainer, deserving of human worship and obedience. In the First Commandment, God warns us not to put anyone or anything above him. God the Father is the first Person of the Trinity, which also includes His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. God has always existed. His very name, Yahweh, means "I AM," indicating that he always has been and always will be. The Bible does not reveal what he was doing before he created the universe, but it does say that God is in heaven, with Jesus once again at his right hand.
We find many names for God in the Bible. Jesus urged us to think of God as our loving father and went a step further by calling him Abba, an Aramaic word roughly translated as "Daddy," to show us how intimate our relationship with him is. God the Father is the perfect example for all earthly fathers. He is holy, just, and fair, but his most outstanding quality is love.
God the Father is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (everywhere). He is absolute holiness. No darkness exists within him. God is just yet merciful. He gave the whole world the gift of free will, by not forcing anyone to follow him. Anyone who rejects God's offer of forgiveness of sins is responsible for the consequences of their decision. God cares. He intervenes in the lives of people. He answers prayer and reveals himself through his Word, circumstances, and people.