The Unity of the Spirit - Part 8

Posted in: 2009
By Tom L. Ballinger
Dec 10, 2009 - 6:14:22 PM

December 10, 2009
5. ONE FAITH (Continued)
Our last study of “The Unity of the Spirit” ended as we were considering the significance of the ONE FAITH at the time of its revelation.
At the time the ONE FAITH was revealed to Paul, the Gentile believer was no longer being used to “provoke them [Israel] to jealousy” (Rom. 11:11). The Gentile was no longer “a wild olive tree” (Rom. 11:17) being grafted into the “good olive tree [Israel]” (Rom. 11:24). Paul could say that NOW Christ is “among the Gentiles” and is their “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Embodied in the ONE FAITH is the fact that every vestige   of Jewish privilege is done away with. There was no longer an advantage in being a Jew.  There was no longer profit in circumcision. The item which always separated the Jew from the Gentile was the Law. The Apostle Paul, a teacher of the Gentiles (2 Tim. 1:11), announces from Christ’s Embassy, a Roman prison, that the “law of commandments contained in ordinances” have been “abolished,” “broken down,” and “slain”             (Eph. 2:14-16).
When “The Acts of the Apostles” ended, the two groups, the Jewish and Gentile saints, were to trust and embrace the ONE FAITH. Paul is the exclusive progenitor of the ONE FAITH. The body of truth which makes up the “One Faith” is found in the Prison Epistles—“a form of sound words” (2 Tim.1:13).
The One Faith was not received by the majority of the saints coming out of the Acts Period. For the most part, the Jewish believers did not embrace the One Faith because the standing they enjoyed in the Church of God was not available in the new calling. After Acts 28, there was no longer “profit in circumcision,” or an advantage in being a Jew. This fact was a “hard saying” for the Jewish saint to receive. Many did not receive it. There are no privileged positions, ranks, or stations in the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head. None of the Jews, who had been lords in the Church of God, had any authority over Jews or Gentiles. The ONE FAITH for the ONE BODY did not make any allowances for offices of leadership. During the Acts Dispensation, Gentiles were not authorized to hold any office in the Provisional Kingdom of God. The “lords” of the Pre-Millennial Provisional Kingdom were Jews. No Gentiles were allowed.
We believe that  Paul’s inspired comments in Philippians 3:13 where he stated, “…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” was made to encourage the Jewish saints to move from the faith of the Pentecostal Dispensation to the One Faith of the Mystery. Perhaps, many members of the Church of God decided to stay put. They liked the structured arrangement of the Provisional Kingdom/Government. They continued operating the church which no longer had a standing before God. Many elders, bishops, rulers, all of whom were lords, retained their titles and attempted to minister to their flocks; although, the Hand of God was not upon them.
Could these Christians, who failed to be membered into the One Body, be the foundation upon which the First Century Christian Church sprang?  If so, the foundation of their church was not of the Lord. Therefore, its source was of this world.
Paul said of Demas; “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica” (2 Tim. 4:10). The “present world,” which Demas loved, is a euphemism for the “church-world” which the Lord Jesus set aside when the Book of Acts ended. It appears evident, from a cursory look at Church History, that the Church of God, and many of its devotees clung to its precepts and doctrines after it was Divinely adjourned.
Truth of the Mystery (Eph. 3:3) made manifest an absolute equality between believers which had never, previously, existed. The One Faith speaks of both Jew and Gentile being reconciled “unto God in One Body by the cross” (Eph. 2:16). Paul refers to it as “the common faith” in Titus 1:4.
“To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 1:4).
The word, “common,” means, “belonging equally to more than one.” The “common faith” highlights the fact that the One Faith of the Mystery belongs, equally, to the Jew and Gentile; whereas, there was not a “common faith” during the Pentecostal Dispensation.
After the Dispensational change at the conclusion of the Book of Acts, the Lord Jesus Christ raised up a new set of  apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph.4:11):
“For the perfecting of the saints [of the Church of God], for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12).
These anointed men were to be used until the Acts Period believers came “to an equal belief of the same truths of God, and possession of the grace of faith in like form and degree” (Webster’s 1828). The definition, just given, was Webster’s definition of the “Unity of the Faith.” The saints who lived through the dispensational change were to be directed into the ONE FAITH.  This new set of a select few (apostles, prophets, and etc.) were to minister toward the goal of bringing the saints into concord, or agreement with the new revelation—the Mystery and its ONE FAITH.
Notice Ephesians 4:13:
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”
Believers during the Acts Period had been enlightened to the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God and had tasted of the heavenly gift, and made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and, yes, even tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come. The “unity of faith” was to perfect them to the realization that these Acts’ blessings were withdrawn with the ushering-in of the new dispensation—The Mystery.
This new corpus of Truth was for both Jew and Gentile. Embodied in this was the fact there was no longer distinction between the two. The two had been reconciled unto God in One Body, the wall of separation had been abolished, and the handwriting of ordinances had been blotted out and nailed to Christ Jesus’ Cross. NOW, after Acts 28, there was nothing to separate the Jew from the Gentile.
With the removing of all that separated the Hebrews from the Gentiles, the Acts Period church—the Body of Christ—was to “come in the Unity of the FAITH [Present Truth].”
2 Timothy clearly sets forth the record that, in the main, the Body of Christ never achieved the Unity of THE FAITH.
At some point in time, these special anointed apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teaching- pastors were set aside because the oneness between the two was never accomplished. Believers, after Acts 28, never realized God’s goal for all saints to embrace the “common faith.”
And, without controversy, there is very little unity among Christians today. When a new truth is brought to light, whether in secular or scientific matters, the majority never receive it. So it was in First Century spiritual matters.
The ONE FAITH, as we know it today, is found in the epistles which comprise “the form of sound words” (I Tim. 1:13):
I Timothy
II Timothy
The “One Faith” is an integral part of “The Unity of the Spirit.” The believer is told to endeavor to keep it (or guard it from loss or distortion). In order for anyone to keep, or guard something, he must know what it is! If a person is unaware that he is in possession of a valuable commodity, he is oblivious for the need to “keep,” or guard it. Most of the Christian Doctrines, Creeds, or Statements of Faith make no mention of “The Unity of the Spirit.” It is as if it is an unknown piece of writing. It may be thought to be a part of New Testament doctrine that is relatively unimportant since it is ONLY mentioned in an obscure Pauline Epistle—The Epistle to the Ephesians.
If one is familiar with the denominational Creeds and Doctrines, he is well aware that “The Unity of the Spirit” finds no place of significance. Most ignore it. It is as if the Spirit of Truth never revealed it to Paul—the Apostle and Teacher of the Gentiles.
The Bible student should not be ignorant of God’s directive—KEEP or GUARD or PRESERVE the Unity that the Spirit of Truth established.
The doctrine of “The Unity of the Spirit” has a very high priority for all who profess to be members of the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head. This unity is not to be compromised! If any of us are willing to compromise, even one feature of the seven-fold Unity of the Spirit, so that we may have fellowship with main-stream Christians – SHAME ON US.
Members of the Church, which is His Body are to take precautions as the sentinels over “The Unity of the Spirit.” To mix a little leaven with the “bond of peace” weakens the “joints and bands.” If the guardians of this Truth allow a little error to catch them off-guard, the doctrine becomes insipid.
Haughty recklessness in our charge to endeavor to KEEP  “The Unity of the Spirit” may seem inclusive to those who don’t have “eyes to see,” but Scripture indicates it is a disregard to a solemn decree. We should not take His Gracious deposit lightly.
When the fundamental rule for Bible study is followed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth, “The Unity of the Spirit” looms up out of the pages of Scripture as if it were a Pike’s Peak.
Many sincere Christians and Churches distinguish between Moses and Paul, Law and Grace, Jew and Gentile, Peter and Paul, and Church and Kingdom. However, they fail to go far enough in their division of the Word.  They believe that the present “Church Age” began at Pentecost, or Paul’s conversion, or Paul’s first turning to the Gentiles. They dare not consider that the present calling of the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him began when God, temporarily, set Israel aside at Acts 28.
Some Christians adhere to eliminating “water baptism” in their doctrine but hold onto the “Lord’s Supper.” The problem is that they accept all of Paul’s Epistles as containing Truth for Today. If a man misses the mark by a little, he still MISSES THE MARK.  In playing Horseshoes, being close counts. But, being close in rightly dividing the Word of Truth doesn’t count. Close is not good enough.
The “One Faith” of “The Unity of the Spirit” is belief in the doctrine bound-up in the Epistles of the Mystery.