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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Walk in Unity

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Ephesians 4:4-6
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.

Daily Scripture Reading - John 17

Puritan Catechism
Question #35 - What are the benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?

Answer - The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification (Rom. 5:1-2, 5), are assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17), increase of grace, perseverance in it to the end (Prov. 4:18; 1 Jn. 5:13; 1 Pet. 1:5).

Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, as amended by Charles Spurgeon.

Chapter 31 – Man's State After Death and the Resurrection

Devotional Thoughts
If we are learning to discern then we are actively and practically discerning the difference between good and evil and doing the good while shunning the evil. Part of discerning then is seen in how we live, our conduct, or as the Bible refers to it - our walk. We have learned from Ephesians 4 that we are to walk worthy of the calling with which we have been called. To do this, we must live in a manner that is suitable to our calling. This includes walking in lowliness and gentleness, longsuffering and love, to the point that we graciously will bear with one another in obedience to the Lord.

We also learn from Ephesians 4:1-6 that we are to walk in unity. In fact, as we walk in lowliness and gentleness, longsuffering and love, we also walk "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Let us look then at this kind of walk and see what makes it possible.

To endeavor is to take pains and make every effort to reach a goal. To endeavor is not to wimp out, find an excuse, accept failure as inevitable, or close our eyes and hope for the best. To endeavor is to fight and work hard at doing what we need to do. Here it is taking pains and making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. In order to know what we should be endeavoring for we need to understand what the unity of the Spirit is. More on that in a minute, but first, let us look at the word unity.

Unity of course is two or more people acting together in harmony. It is the pursuit of many people together toward one common goal. This is not every man for himself. It is indeed a harmony - working together in concert. It is cooperation. Many falsely believe that to engage with another person in any common pursuit is to be unified with them, but the truth is that unity is not just the pursuit of the same goal - it is using the same means and working as partners to get to that goal.

And this unity is a unity of the Spirit. So this is not a fleshly pursuit, or the pursuit of some common moral agenda. This is unity in the Holy Spirit. We have the Spirit indwelling us and the people we are working in harmony with also have the same Spirit. This is fellowship. This is taking place within the Body of Christ. It is not the church and the world on some pursuit for the greater good. No. It is the people of God cooperating in the pursuit of things that glorify and exalt God and edify His church.

So we are to be humbly, courteously, and sacrificially making every effort to keep, to maintain, to protect and enhance the harmony we have as members of one another within the Body of Christ. Sound like many churches you know?

Further, as we endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit this is a unity in the bond of peace. A bond is a fastener, something that holds things together. It is in fact a medical term that refers to sinews. And what is this bond, this thing that fastens us together? It is the bond of peace. Peace being literally harmony, calm, and the absence of alarm. Unity is peace! So we walk worthy by walking in unity, by endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Another way to look at it is to see that the bond that unites and holds us together in the Body of Christ is peace with God and with each other!

But there is more in our text to be discovered. In verses 4-6 we find the foundation for true unity in the Spirit. As I have already stated, this is not cooperation built around some social or moral issue, it is not about politics, or social work, or charity. For the true foundation of this kind of unity is found only one place. Let us listen to the text:

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.

Here we have the foundation of all true unity. True unity is founded upon a common truth. It is not just the pursuit of common goals, no, it is submission to and belief in a common absolute truth. And that truth?

There is one body - one church, one family of God, one bride of Christ. No matter the denomination or any other distinctive, there is truly but one church - one group of people who belong to Jesus Christ. We cannot confuse this with the local church, for the local church, while autonomous, is but a part of the greater whole that is comprised of all of God's elect from all time.

There is one Spirit - one Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, who calls us to life, convicts us of sin, draws us to Christ, and enables us to walk worthy of this calling.

There is one hope in this calling - the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Hope that will not be disappointed.

There is one Lord - one Jesus, one Mediator between God and men, one Savior, one Redeemer. There is only one Way to heaven.

There is one faith - one true belief. There is only sound doctrine and unsound doctrine. Whatever is not sound is unsound. Whatever is not of faith is sin.

There is one baptism - one immersion into Christ by the Spirit of God, symbolized by our water baptism. There is only one, for once we are in Christ we can never be taken from Him.

There is one God - this is in reality the most foundational truth, echoed throughout the Old and New Testament, that the Lord our God is One. And He is God. There is none other. We have no other gods before Him, we make no images of Him or of idols, we do not take His name in vain - for He is God!

The Father then is above all (you cannot be higher or more exalted), and through all (omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscious), and in you all (indwelling us through the Spirit).

If we try to find unity anywhere else, anywhere but in the Person and Word of God, then we will not find unity. We may find temporary cooperation, but true and lasting unity is found only within the Household of Faith in service to the One True God. This doctrinal foundation, this absolute truth, this singularity, this unity is the basis for why we live the way we live and walk the way we walk.

If we have by grace discerned the truth about who God is then we will walk in unity with those other believers around us. But let us not forget, this doctrinal truth is not enough. For upon this foundation we have already seen that we must walk in lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, and unconditional love, endeavoring to keep this unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. For to do otherwise is to promote pride, strife, and sin.

And one of the things that God hates more than any other is the one who causes discord to be sown among brothers! Let us then not disturb the unity of the church but instead strive with all our might to walk this walk, to walk worthy of our calling by walking together in unity.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

The Character of Christ's People by Charles Spurgeon
The Character of a Healthy Church by John MacArthur

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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