Biblical Unity for Dummies (2): A Trip to the Zoo

As the school bus slowly pulled into the zoo’s parking lot, all doubt evaporated whether or not the students were excited. Their educational task for the day: to biologically classify the animals according to large family groupings.

Although we are aware of the classic distinctions of mammal, reptile, amphibian, and so forth, imagine a young student cataloging the animals by color. The absurd results could include an albino lion being lumped with the swans while the rest of the lions pigeonholed with light colored mice. Absurd? Of course! But what makes it so?

Since the color of an animal is at best only a secondary aspect of an animal and not its primary characteristic, color is not helpful for determining biological identification. In order for us to be able to identify anything, we need to comprehend something about its fundamental nature. For us to understand whom God has brought into unity through Christ, we will need to be able to identify the fundamental characteristic of what causes a person to be brought within unity.

With magnanimous intent, some people appear to have latched on to secondary characteristics or upon a misunderstanding of biblical phraseology as being the key for identifying those whom God has brought into unity. For example, while those within the body of Christ are to be loving, will claim to know God and will call Jesus Lord, none of these is the basis for being incorporated into Christ./1 Similarly, while God does join together those who respond to the gospel by relying upon Jesus, some seem to be tripped up by a popular misunderstanding of faith and what it means to call upon the name of the Lord. Accordingly, they seem to be honestly mistaken in assuming the one body is comprised of everyone who believes./2

Scripture leads us to the understanding that those whom God has unified by placing them within the one body and hence they have become born again as his children are those who have relied upon Jesus for salvation through immersion./3 Humility before God’s word and the desire to hear God’s message, not merely reinforcing our own set of beliefs and values, will lead a person to this conclusion.

As we have seen in the previous article, God knows those who are his. Humanity can neither legitimately expand nor reduce the bounds of that unity which God has created through Christ. Our task involves recognizing and accepting those with whom we have been united by God. This entails possessing the tools for identifying those within unity. The body of Christ is made up of those individuals whom God has placed within it.
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1)  Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 1:6; 2:4; If being included within the saved body were to be based upon our quality of being a loving person, then salvation would be by works, which it is not.

2) God does add those who trust in Jesus to the one body. However, God also tells us how to rely upon Jesus Galatians 3:26,27. Unfortunately, when people rely upon human inventions like saying “the sinner’s prayer” for trusting in Christ, this involves deviating from how the gospel calls us to rely upon Jesus.

3) Acts 2:41,47; Galatians 3:26,27; Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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