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Seeking the Unity of the Church (2)

"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-3).

We began a discussion of this passage of God's Word in the last issue. At that time we stressed the urgency of this admonition of the Word of God. It is an urgency that ought to make an impression upon each one of us, so that we are driven by the command of the Lord Himself, who is the Head of His church, to obey.

We also noted that the unity of which the apostle speaks is a unity of the church as it comes to manifestation in the world in congregations and denominations. That places upon each one who claims to be a member of the church of Christ a responsibility to heed this word of Christ within the congregation and/or denomination of which he or she is a member.

The unity of the church is not something that we create ourselves. It is a unity that is created by Christ, the Head of the church, through His Spirit. Hence, this unity is called in the text "the unity of the Spirit;" i.e., the unity which the Spirit has given to the church.

This truth that unity is a gift of Christ Himself is further emphasized in the text by the words "walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called." Christ creates, through His Spirit, this unity by His efficacious call. The efficacious call comes through the gospel, and is worked in the hearts of the elect by the Holy Spirit. The power of the gospel call is in the work of the Spirit, who calls sovereignly and irresistibly out of the darkness of sin and death into fellowship with Christ. We, Paul says, have been called into that fellowship of the saints with Christ. We must now walk worthy of that calling.

That unity of the church that the Spirit graciously works within the hearts of the elect is the unity of Christ Himself. Concretely, that means, as Paul goes on to say in the verses that follow, that Christ as the Head of the church, is also the mind and the will of the body, for the mind and will are in the head.

The mind of Christ is revealed in the Scriptures. It is called "the unity of the faith" (5, 13) and "of the knowledge of the Son of God" (13). Because this unity is that of the truth as it is in Christ, it is important that we "be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (14). It is a unity of one confession of the truth.

The principle error of modern ecumenism is that it seeks a unity other than a unity in the truth. In its vain and wicked pursuit of mere outward unity (as the Roman church possesses) it strives for the lowest common denominator of doctrine so that many diverse doctrines and various forms of unbelief may be united under one ecclesiastical roof. Such is not the unity of Christ.

This unity is also a unity of Christ's will. That is, Christ's will is the norm for all the life of God's people. They are one in that they walk together in obedience to Christ, as servants of Christ, bowing in humble service to His will and confessing His name in a world of sin and darkness.

But since this unity is the unity of the mind of Christ, it is also a unity of humility. Paul speaks of this in Philippians 2:3-4: "Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." And then that verse that comes battering at our hearts: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus (5). What mind was in Christ Jesus? It is described in what follows in the most powerful passage in all Scripture that describes our Lord's humiliation. Read it and weep.

That unity is given as a gift. It is a costly gift, purchased with the blood of the Son of God. It is a gift graciously given, for we have done nothing at all to deserve it. It is a gift that is a treasure of more worth and value than any earthly possession. It is a gift which, while we possess it already in this life, will be ours forever and ever, world without end, for it will endure into eternity. It is a gift which, when it is present in the church, makes life in the church happy and blessed; but when it is not present in the church, brings misery, grief, suffering and distress.

We are, says, the apostle to endeavor to keep that unity. Not to create it! To keep it! To keep what has been given us. It is a pearl of great price. It is a treasure worth more than diamonds. It is simply given to us as God's gift of grace.

Keep it! Do not squander it. Do not let it slip through your fingers. Do not be indifferent towards it. Do not let others snatch it from your grasp. Treasure it! Consider its worth and value! Esteem it highly! Protect it! Keep it!

As if to underscore this the apostle adds: "Endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit." We must say a word or two about that as well. But that shall wait until next time.

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Additional Info

  • Volume: 8
  • Issue: 18
Hanko, Herman

Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)

Ordained: October 1955

Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965

Emeritus: 2001

Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko

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  • City
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  • State or Province
    MI
  • Zip Code
    49428
  • Country
    United States
  • Telephone
    616-667-6033

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