Three Ingredients for Unity

By Royce Frederick

In Ephesians 4:1-16, we find three ingredients necessary for unity. Each of them occurs several times in these verses.

WORK — We should be endeavoring [earnestly trying] to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3). Unity does not happen by accident. Without working for unity, people in any group tend to drift apart.

If no energy is going into a part of the natural world, that part will decay. It will go from order to disorder. The same is true in the Lord’s church. Great effort is required to maintain unity. Therefore, the gifts in Eph. 4:11 were “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry [service], for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ” (4:12). Those gifts were not merely for beauty, like jewelry. They had a higher purpose. They were tools to use in labor, in unselfish service, in building up the church.

Today, our blessings from God are not for our selfish pleasure. Every Christian has abilities and responsibilities. We must all do our part: “...according to the effective working by which every part does its share...” (4:16).

STUDY — Every gift in Eph. 4:11 involved knowing and teaching the will of Christ. He made some Christians “apostles...prophets...evangelists...pastors [shepherds] and teachers.” Anyone who teaches, preaches, or shepherds (as one of the elders in the local church) must study God’s will.

To truly follow Christ, we must study and obey His will. Ephesians 4:4-6 reminds us that there is:

“one body” — We should all become members of the same “body,” His church (Eph. 1:22-23). Jesus promised to build one church (Matt. 16:18; see Eph. 2:16), not many churches with different names and different teachings. A sinner who obeys Christ becomes only a Christian, a member of the church of Christ (see Acts 11:26; I Pet. 4:16; Rom. 16:16).

“one Spirit” — The same Spirit lives within everyone who obeys the gospel (I Cor. 6:19-20; Gal. 3:26-27; 4:6).

“one hope” — Instead of selfish, worldly goals, we must all set our hope on the same goal of eternal life in heaven — for ourselves and for everyone around us (Jn. 5:28-29; Col. 3:1-4).

“one Lord” — We must not follow men, but obey Christ as our only “Head” and Lord (4:15; Matt. 7:21).

“one faith” — We must not follow different “faiths” or “beliefs” (see I Cor. 1:10-13; Gal. 1:8-10). To unite, should we vote on each doctrine and let the “majority” rule? No. The majority would lead us to destruction (Matt. 7:13-14). Jesus delivered “the faith” (the set of beliefs for salvation) once for all (Jn. 16:12-13; Jude 3). We need to grow stronger in “...the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God...” (4:13) so that we will not be “...carried about with every wind of doctrine...” (4:14), but speak “the truth” (4:15).

“one baptism” — To be saved, a sinner must believe in Christ, repent of his sins, confess his faith in Christ, and be baptized into Christ. The “one baptism” is immersion (burial) in water (Acts 8:38-39; Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Mk. 16:16).

“one God and Father” — We must turn our hearts away from everything else to serve the one, true, living God (I Thess. 1:9; Col. 3:5; Rom. 6:16).

LOVE — Jesus allowed evil men to torture and kill His physical body so He could save us in His spiritual body, the church. He prayed for the church, then paid for it — with His life (Jn. 17:20-21; Eph. 2:16; 5:25; Acts 20:28). By His gospel, He calls us to become children of God and inherit eternal life. “I...beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love (4:1-2). We should love the Lord’s church as Jesus does (I Jn. 3:16), always “speaking the truth in love (4:15). We must help the church grow, not divide. Loving the church and doing our part “...causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (4:16).