until we all attain to the unity of the faith

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” – Paul of Tarsus to the Epeshians (4:11-16)

Even though this passage is only part of Paul’s thought here, and even though I believe we (the church) have lost the true meaning of these ministries listed in the first couple verses, I only want to talk about the part after that list.

Now we all, no matter what our religious/denominational background, talk about unity in the church. Unfortunately, we’re still often united for all the wrong reasons, which is where denominations came from in the first place. We read about mutual ministry here, about the body building itself up in love when it’s working properly. We all are to grow up into Christ, who is the head. No matter what our doctrinal views are, we are to grow up into Christ, together. To disregard this is to reject Jesus’s heart cry when prayed “Father, let them be one, as you and I are one”. No matter what it takes for us to attain to unity in Christ and to share in the community life of God, we have to do it, even if it means leaving our ministries behind or leaving behind buildings people meet in, we have to allow the Spirit to move and Christ to live. Christ holds the whole body (the church) together, nothing else can hold us together.

There’s nothing wrong with having different views about things, but those views can NEVER be our grounds for unity or division.

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3 thoughts on “until we all attain to the unity of the faith

  1. Jim Stuteville says:

    Sometimes walls are built because of denominational barriers.
    Should truth be sacrificed for a compromising peace?
    There have been many writings warning against breaking denominational barriers
    One person told me I was promoting pluralism.
    Pluralism states that one’s religious views are not the exclusive source of truth and that truth exists in other religions.
    Pluralism also suggests that there may be other pathways to heaven than through Jesus Christ.
    We certainly can have a peaceful co-existence with other people of different religions but never pluralism where we deny our fundamental beliefs.
    Jesus prayer for unity was for those who would believe in Him.
    Is there a commonality of our core belief strong enough to break down denominational barriers?
    I have spent considerable time trying to understand the doctrine of different protestant denominations.

    Protestant Denominations
    Members in the U.S. According to Rose Publishing

    Baptist 30 million
    Methodist 12 million
    Pentecostal 10 million
    Lutheran 8 million
    Orthodox 3.5 million
    Church of Christ 3.5 Million
    Anglican 2.3 Million
    Congregational 2 Million
    Adventist 900,000
    Anabaptist 600,000

    By the way the catholic faith has about 62 million members
    Let’s look at some of theAreas of Disagreement—

    Calvinism vs. Arminianism
    Baptism methods—when and how it should be administered
    Participation in war
    Style of worship—-use of instruments—type of music or singing
    View of the Godhead
    Whether healing and spiritual gifts are for today.

    Are our areas of agreement fundamental and strong enough to unite in?

    Of the denominations mentioned here are the areas of agreement

    Scripture is the inspired word of God and infallible.
    God is one, creator and Lord of all existing eternally as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    Jesus is the son of God conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, died on the cross for our sins and rose from the grave and will come again to judge all.

    We receive salvation by acknowledging and accepting the sacrifice that Jesus made for us and receiving Him as our Savior.

    We are saved by grace through faith.

    Good works are the result of true faith but in no way the basis of our right standing before God.

    Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

    It’s beautiful how the fundamental beliefs have been preserved in each of these denominations.

    Can we all agree on Acts 4:12

    Acts 4:12
    Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.(KJV)

    There are some religious groups that don’t believe this.

    Fundamentally we have common ground
    Through the commonality of belief we can choose to be in agreement.

    If we deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ we have major issues

    If we say there are many pathways to heaven we have problems.

    If we say the blood of Jesus was not necessary just be baptized and live a good life and you will go to heaven we have a problem uniting.

    If we share a basic set of precepts and beliefs we can unite answering the prayer of Jesus Christ.

  2. quincyzikmund says:

    That’s really good, thank you also for the numbers. We definitely can only have true unity in Christ, I know that we may always disagree about certain doctrines, but if we leave those behind, and genuinely gather with believers who have different views than us, and seek Christ together, He’ll lead us into all truth. I love seeing how God is bringing His body closer together through authentic love.

  3. TomB says:

    Jesus is cmming back for a brid not a Harem…

    Here is how we as a community have decided to deal with diffrences:

    Core value #6 Theology -How not to speak of God?

    The word theos is Greek for “God,” and -ology which is from the Greek word logos meaning “word.” Most literally then the word theology means “words about God” (not to be confused with the words from God). It is the articulation of an individuals or a community’s beliefs about God.

    Theology will always fall short from a complete & accurate description of the God of all creation. Despite the fact that theology falls short, and sometimes misses the point, it is still necessary. It is our humble attempt to explain what we mean when we confess that “Jesus is Lord” and when we say that that subverts and redefines what the we count as “rational.”

    Just as a toddler tries to form sentences, and she can’t quite get her mouth around the words, so it is with us–trying to communicate who God is. But just as we take great delight in hearing our tiny children talk about things they can not yet understand, God takes pleasure in us, with our halted uttering and incomprehension, trying so hard to grasp the infinite.

    We believe that our theology has massive implications for how we live. Theology is a practice and a craft that is rooted in the other practices of the Church (e.g., mission, evangelism, worship, communal prayer, preaching, hospitality to the poor and the stranger, living life together, service to our neighbor, nonviolent encounter/witness to our enemies…). Our theology should help us to be the church, and it should push us to more faithfully be a community of disciples of the way of Jesus in our time and in this place.

    We recognize that people will always be in process and no one individuals theology will completely line up with our communal theology. We celebrate this diversity as a strength that brings a balance to our understanding of God.

    We will constantly look for new and different ways to speak the message that has been entrusted to us. We will pull words and phrases from our culture and turn their meaning on its head, just as Jesus and the early Church did.

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