endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3, NKJV)
Jesus prayed for the unity of those who believe on Him through the words of His apostles in John 17:20. In fact, He prayed “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (Jno. 17:21). The plans for unity men have devised are a far cry from this. Many Protestant denominations advocate some form of ecumenism (or in today’s vernacular, “acceptance” and “inclusion”), both doctrinal and moral. This is unity in diversity, which essentially means we will “agree on the core issues of the gospel and agree to disagree on everything else.” The Father and the Son do not agree to disagree (see John 17:21). Our question is: Who decides what are the core issues of the gospel? You? Me? A church? A council of churches? Someone else? Very problematic. The lowest common denominator prevails in these quasi-unity movements. The apostle Paul said Christians must endeavor to keep (watch, guard) the unity that proceeds from the Spirit of God, and to do so with the uniting principle or bond of peace (v. 3). The Holy Spirit has revealed the gospel of Christ that calls us all to partake of the promise in Christ (Eph. 3:4-6). We will find our answers to what Bible unity looks like in the Bible, not in the creeds of churches and the philosophies of men (Col. 2:8).
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as 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 above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4–6, NKJV)
Of this passage, David Whitehead, Senior Pastor, GraceNYC.org, wrote, “even though there may be variations of Christian belief, they are all tethered to one hope, Jesus Christ. This means that the church should be a place of unity with diversity” (theDailyBibleVerse.org). Faith, he says, is expressed in different ways, even as that faith comes from one source. Surely, he must know that one source of faith does not produce different expressions of faith, any more than one source of water yields both fresh and bitter water (James 3:11). Whitehead continues, “the day will come when that source will call us together” (Ibid.). The apostle Paul is not describing an aspirational anticipation of future events. He is describing the present reality. Far from this being an endorsement of ecumenical “unity with diversity,” it is a bold declaration of the platform of truth upon which we are “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Unity in Christ has one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all. Without this platform of truth in place, unity in Christ does not, and will not, exist – even when diversity is excused, and even celebrated.