Unity in the Church
Unity in the Church
The believers in the Lord Jesus should be united among each other, paying attention to the biblical teaching according to which “there is only one Body and one Spirit” (Eph. 4:4). In his priestly prayer, the Lord Jesus interceded with the Father so that His disciples would be like He and the Father are one (John 17:11). In John 10, verse 16, the Lord Jesus shows how there would come a time in which there would be only one flock and one shepherd.
For a long time the evangelical and pentecostal churches were satisfied with an “optimist” theology – although proved wrong by reality – that claimed that this unity of the Church was not visible but was a reality before God, and would be sufficient to fulfill the desire that the Lord had for unity. However, God’s Word teaches us that the unity in the Spirit is something that also depends upon the efforts of the believers: “…endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
In this regard, it is verified that the World Council of Churches, a body created in 1948 by Christian leaders in order to promote unity among the different Christian denominations, despite theoretically seeking to meet this biblical goal, did not reach this purpose due to two main reasons:
1. Lack of understanding that true unity is only possible if the believers who believe and practice God’s Word, not including those who deny it in their practice. For example, churches that practice idolatry, which is condemned in the Scriptures, or that place a tradition in stead of God’s Word.
2. Lack of understanding that the form of the unity that the Lord God desires is spiritual, as the Lord Jesus clearly stated in the prayer He made to the Father in chapter 17 of the book of John. God’s objective is not an ecclesiastic, institutional or official unity.
In the last years, however, the Holy Spirit has awakened the true believers, especially in the midst of those who believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit and who understand the value of the Holy Scriptures, for the need to seek the unity that the Holy Spirit is working in the current moment that precedes the rapture of the Church.
Currently, throughout the world there are churches and pastors that have been awakened by the Lord to seek true unity, promoted by the Holy Spirit. We cannot define for sure how the Holy Spirit will build this unity. We should, nevertheless, be open for the Lord to reveal His will to us regarding this issue, obeying what the Spirit has already revealed to us.
We already know, for instance, that we should seek to be closer to all Christian Churches and pastors that believe only in the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice and that are being moved by the Holy Spirit regarding the importance of unity. In this way, we can know these other brethren in faith, their experience and needs, being able, then, to pray for one another.
As we are praying for one another, the Holy Spirit will be pouring the love of God for these brethren in our hearts and we will start to not over-emphasize the small differences existing between us in matters of practices (customs, ceremonies, manners of praise, etc.).
As the Churches hear the Lord Jesus’ voice, fellowship will come about as a consequence (John 10:16) and in practice (not only in theory) they submit to the Lord’s Rule. It will be up to the Lord alone, when and if He wants, to start teaching us about these differences. We should trust in His miraculous operation in this very delicate area which is the Unity of the Church. Otherwise we will never prosper in the path of Unity.
In this initial phase it is, naturally, easier to promote communion among the pentecostal and (moderate) charismatic churches, for these congregations believe that the Lord God still speaks to His Church through the spiritual gifts and are, at least in theory, open to the councils of the Lord and to the Rule of the Lord Jesus over His church.