“…endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3 (Read v. 1-16)
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (v. 4-6).
There is only one body of Christ, one Church – the communion of saints – made up of all who trust in Christ Jesus as Savior. There is only one Savior, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all who dwells in the hearts of His children by the Spirit.
It is the Spirit of God, working mightily through the Word of God and the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, who brings us to faith in Christ Jesus and keeps us in that faith. He brings us into the family of God and unites us with Christ our Savior. Thus, when we have faith in Christ Jesus and are baptized in His name, we are united to Him and are one with all other true believers in Christ (cf. Gal. 3:26-27; Eph. 2:11ff.; 1 John 1:3ff.).
This oneness, this unity, is of the Spirit. We do not create the unity; the Spirit does, through the Word. Through the hearing of God’s Word, He brings us to faith in Christ Jesus and keeps us trusting in our Savior. The way, then, to keep and preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace is to continue in the faith created in us by the mighty working of the Holy Spirit. If we are one with Christ Jesus and members of His body, the Church, we will also be united to all other true believers of all time.
And, such unity does not occur through church mergers and cooperative efforts; it occurs where the Spirit brings people to faith in Christ and keeps them in that faith through the Word of God and the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
We endeavor to live in this Spirit-created unity by continuing in and holding fast to the pure teaching of God’s Word and partaking of the blessings offered and given to us through Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We are long-suffering, enduring one another’s sins and shortcomings with all patience, forgiving our fellow believers as Christ has forgiven us (cf. Eph. 4:32).
We consider and remember that Christ is our Redeemer and that He has brought each and every one of us to faith. Therefore, we encourage each other to continue in that unity by encouraging each other to continue in the Word and hold fast to Christ Jesus, our Head.
O gracious Father, we thank You for bringing us into Your family and Church – for giving us unity with all other believers through Spirit-wrought faith in Christ Jesus. Grant that we continue in that unity in Christ and move us to dwell within it in patience and in the bond of peace with our brethren. Amen.
[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible]