James W. Boyd
In recent years men have begun to realize the weakness of a divided religious world. As a result, there have been several efforts to reduce the confusion and chaos which now characterize denominationalism. But these efforts have largely ignored the Bible teaching on the subject and so they have had no appreciable effect on the division which plagues this country. Until men are willing, to be directed by God's way, religious division will continue.
God's plan for the unity of His people is relatively simple, but when carried out it is highly workable. The basis of the plan is given in Eph. 4:4-6: "There is one body, and one Spirit even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all." When those who claim to be Christians give "diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," while manifesting the characteristics of lowliness, meekness, longsuffering and forbearance in love (See Eph. 4:1-4), division will be impossible.
First, the Bible calls, for one body or church. The scriptures which state this fact are too numerous to list at this time. One or two will suffice. "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ, For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit." (1 Cor. 12:12, 13). "And he is the head of the body, the church;…" (Col. 1: 18). Denominationalism, with its many bodies, must be melted by the light of truth, and then molded into the one spiritual body of Christ.
Second, the Bible calls for one faith or belief. In Eph. 4:13, Paul spoke of the unity of faith. ln Jude we are instructed to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." (Verse 3). Paul admonished the Christians at Corinth to 41 speak the same thing" and to be "perfected together in the same mind and the same judgment." (I Cor. 1:10). A common faith is essential to any real unity, for how shall "two walk together, except they have agreed." (Amos 3:3). Creed books, church manuals and disciplines must be discarded and the word of God must become the sole guide in religious matters. If people today would burn their human creeds as the men at Ephesus burned their books of magical art (Acts 19:19), one great hindrance to spiritual unity would be removed. The Bible alone must be our creed.
Third, God's plan for unity calls for one practice among religious people. The subject of baptism will illustrate. Paul said that there is one baptism (Eph. 4:5). Yet, today we find at least three different baptisms being practiced. Unity will be possible if and when all will accept that which the Bible teaches on this subject. Baptism is a burial (Rom. 6:14). It requires a going into and a corning up out of water (Acts 8:38, 39). Only immersion can fulfill these conditions. Immersion was the only practice of the early church and it is the practice upon which all can agree. Our practice in every matter of faith can be one if we will accept that which the Bible presents.
Fourth, God's plan for unity calls for one name. It is the honorable name by which the disciples of the first century were called (Jas. 2:7). It is the name which is above every name (Phil. 2:9), and the only name wherein there is salvation (Acts 4:12). It is, of course, the name which is derived form Christ, Christian. "If a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name" (1 Pet. 4:16). The names of men must be forsaken and the name of Christ exalted. The religious world can never unite on the name of any one man, but they can unite on the name of Christ.
Are you willing to promote the unity of faith according to this Bible plan? Only then will it be effective and pleasing to God.