Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

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 NKJV)
 
Topic Sentence
The book of Ephesians is a book that calls for unity  It’s topic sentence makes it clear that while Jews are the chosen people of the Old Testament, New Testament saints are the chosen people of this age  Ephesians 1:4 says, “just as He chose us (who are saved) in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.  (Ephesians 1:4 NKJV).  Notice the verse does not say that we are chosen to be saved, but it says that those who are “in Him,” that is believers, were chosen to be His people in this dispensation before the foundation of the world. It does not say we are chosen “in Adam” (because of our first birth) or “in Abraham” (because we are Jews) but we are chosen “in Him.”  The church which is composed of Jews and Gentiles was in His plan long before we came on the scene. 
 
The Unity of the Spirit
We who are believers or saints are to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  But if the Spirit is producing one body, why are there so many denominations?  Why within denominations are there so many different approaches to “leading people to the Lord?”  If there is one Lord who wants us to have one body of truth that we believe (one faith), why do we have so many different approaches to baptism?  Why do so many Christians accept baptisms that supposedly make babies children of God when the Bible is clear that “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (John 1:12 NKJV).”  Why if there is one God, do we have so many who seem to have differing understandings of who that One God is? 
 
I would like to submit that these differences would no longer exist if we would spend more time in prayerful study of God’s word and less time studying the books that are being written by authors who are making their living writing books.  The preacher in Ecclesiastes understood this problem clear back in his day.  He said, “And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh (Ecclesiastes 12:12 NKJV).”  When I am talking to people about doctrinal issues today, most of them will ask me if I have read “so and so.”  Very few will ask me if I have read a passage in the Bible.  I have no problem with reading “so and so” if the author explains a passage in the Bible that we didn’t understand before.  But if that is the case, we should be able to refer to that passage in our discussion rather than to that author or that book.  The message should “stick” with us.  That would be the same standard that we should use for preaching ministry that helps us.  We should not be taken with what authors say.  We should be convinced for ourselves that we understand what the Bible says.  That is how we would keep the unity of the Spirit since the Spirit is not going to lead us all in different directions.  When we disagree with regard to what the Bible says, we can all be wrong (there may be truth that we are all missing), but we cannot all be right (there is only one truth).
 
Are we Hindering the Work of the Holy Spirit?
But perhaps another problem is that many of our authors have been writing from an academic, philosophical point of view without having been born of the Spirit themselves.  We know that the Spirit comes to indwell and seal a believer upon believing according to Ephesians 1:13. Since there is one spirit and one faith, there should be unity in doctrine.  However, the unsaved religious person will not have the ability to understand spiritual truth since it is spiritually discerned.  In addition, some are truly saved, but they have grieved the Spirit by things that have done and said, and they too bring confusion into Bible interpretation.
 
We cannot change others, but we can be careful to not add to the confusion of our day.  Let us make sure that we are depending on what Christ has done for us and not on what we are doing for Christ to take us to heaven.  Then let us make sure that we are not telling God how to do His work.  Let Him tell us (in other words don’t grieve or quench to Holy Spirit).  Then let us sit quietly and prayerfully in the presence of God with a good translation of the Bible and let the Holy Spirit be our teacher.  Let us let the Bible be our text book and let us use other books as reference works only as needed.
 
My Prayer
Lord, help me to be open to the teaching of the Holy Spirit.  When I am wrong lead me in the right direction.  When I am right, help me to stand firm.  When I preach the Gospel, help me to do it in the way that the New Testament apostles preached the Gospel.  Never let someone think they are saved because of a man-made convention, but make sure they know they are saved because of what you have said.  Amen.
 
Bruce Collins
 
Meditation for the week March 17, 2019
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