In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (NKJV). God has always had a plan for his church. First, that it would grow (Matthew 28:18-20). Second, that it would stay true to his word (John 14:15, et al). Third, that it would be returned to the Father without spot or blemish (Ephesians 5:26,27; 1 Corinthians 15:24).
Church growth will occur if we allow God’s plan to work. To stand in its way is to stand against God. His kingdom will not be stopped, but it can be destroyed locally by inattention to God’s will. We must never be stumbling blocks to growth. When Peter tried to stop the plan of God, Jesus said, “Get behind Me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). We must never be found to be “fighting against God” (Acts 5:39).
In Ephesians we find that we are to “walk worthy of the calling by which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1). This verse begins with “therefore.” In the two previous verses, Paul says that the church should be bringing glory to Christ (Ephesians 3:20,21).
We are to walk worthy of bringing glory to Christ. This single, solitary goal is to be the focus of the individual Christian, local congregation, and the universal church. Bringing glory to Christ encompasses all that we do as the people of God. We hold to Scripture, proclaim its riches, worship, pray, evangelize the lost, support the saved, and a myriad of other blessed activities that constitute bringing glory to Christ.
Paul tells the Ephesians that they are to be “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). We can establish some important lessons from this admonition.
First, unity cannot be created artificially because it is not man’s to create. Unity is within Christ. Before time began he established what would constitute Biblical unity (Psalm 119:89). Man either humbles himself to submit to this unity or is left outside the closed door. Only those who were in the ark were saved. And they were only in the ark because of their faithfulness to God’s will. All those outside of the ark were united against God and were destroyed (Genesis 6:17).
The religious world seeks unity in diversity. They wish to set differences aside and create a form of unity. This can certainly be done if the participants are willing to suffer the consequences. Imagine unity in Christ as a table in the center of a large room. A table can be constructed in the southeast corner and it look similar to the table in the center of the room. Yet, it won’t be the same table. Sinners can unite outside of Christ and the body of Christ won’t absorb them unless they seek to be in Christ by obedience to his will. Only in Christ is there eternal life.
Christ is the head of the body, the church (Ephesians 1:22,23). He is the ruler and supreme authority and he decides what will constitute unity in his body. To try to create some arbitrary unity based on a distortion of his plan is to be displeasing to God. And dispensing with chunks of Scripture in order to appear to be united through diversity is absurd.
Unity in “the Spirit” means we commune in him, not in some man-made institution. The sooner we realize this, the closer we will be to accomplishing what Christ has always desired for his disciples (John 17:20-22).
Unity Will Only Occur If We Play by God’s Rules