Friday, November 20, 2015

One Body and One Spirit Called in One Hope (Ephesians 4:4)

“(4) There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4–6, NASB95)

In face of driving home the importance of how we are to be one with one another in the Spirit in the bond of peace, Paul immediately follows it with the oneness of our God. We do not serve a different God. There are not a multiplicity of Spirits, nor is the Spirit duplicitous in function. We are one body—the church. There may be a lot of church buildings and countless ways of operating within those buildings, but there is only one church which is the body of Christ. Even then there was not a separate body for Jewish believers and for Gentile ones. There was and is only one. This was a big issue for believers at that time as both groups were coming to Christ and not certain how to respond to each other. People from all kinds of backgrounds were being saved and being knit together into this one body, and Paul declared loud and clear that there is only one body.

We can learn a lot from that today as we deal with believers who not only have their own preferences for worship style and sermon length, but who also disagree on various peripheral doctrinal positions yet agree on the essentials of the gospel. There are some who disagree on whether or not the sign gifts are in continuance today, yet they fully agree that they are saved by faith in Christ alone and hold firmly with the rest in the majority of Scripture. There are some who vary in just how the end will end and what the order of things will be, yet again they agree that Jesus Christ is the Son of God sent by the Father through whom alone man can be saved. There are even some who disagree as to whether we should view the times of Scripture as covenantal or dispensational and when those various dispensations might begin or end. Yet they agree that Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures.

All of these are things in which we are called to diligently study the word of God and seek to grow in our knowledge and understanding of it so that we might both rightfully handle it ourselves and help others to do likewise. While we may vary in our understanding where God’s work may not be specifically clear we are never to allow these differences to minimize our view of the trustworthiness of any portion of Scripture. Rather, we are to respond by continuing to seek God’s proper understanding as we diligently study His word, realizing that we all have a lot of learning and growing to do. And in the face of this reality we are given continual cause to be even more humble, gentle, patient, and tolerant of one another giving room where there appears to be room in Scripture and striving for agreement where there does not.

There is one body and we are called to preserve the unity of that body. But we are not called to do so at the expense of God’s truth on one side or even to force conformity of His truth in our own strength on the other side. We are one body in Christ and there is one Spirit in us. What an incredible relationship this is that we share with one another. It doesn’t matter if we have ever met before or about our own cultural background, when we come together we share a oneness that is truly found in our being united in Christ. We can encourage each other, pray for each other, worship with each other, and serve side by side with each other. We can mourn with each other and we can hope with each other. We are truly all members of one body of which Jesus Christ is the head and the Spirit moves through each of us.

Christians truly have the same hope knowing that we were each called by God into the same salvation in Jesus Christ, indwelt by the same Spirit, and given the same assurance of eternal life. 

No comments: