Oneness in Christ—Its Importance

WHEN the great plan of salvation is fully worked out, the Scriptures state that then a blessed oneness will pervade the whole universe. Lucifer (“shining one”), who became Satan (“opponent of God”), will have been destroyed (Rev. 20:10; Heb. 2:14), and any among the fallen angels who were misled by Satan and who fail to be recovered as a result of their future judgment (crisis, trial, or testing) will likewise have been destroyed. (I Cor. 6:3) Furthermore, in the testing period after the end of the thousand years of Messiah’s reign, those of the human family who in any way come short will also have been cut off. (Rev. 20:9) From that time onward, “everything that hath breath shall praise the Lord” (Ps. 150:6), and this ideal state and perfect oneness of heart, mind, word, and work toward which the divine plan has been moving will finally be reached. Paul expresses it as all things in heaven and in earth being gathered together in one in Christ.—Eph. 1:10

This gathering together of all things in Christ is stated in this way, because it is only through his great ransom sacrifice that mankind could be redeemed from the condemnation which passed upon all in Adam. Through Christ’s millennial kingdom mankind will have the gracious opportunity of being reunited with one another and with God.

Further, the Scriptures reveal that this work of reuniting all into one and under one Head is divided into two parts: the church, a firstfruit unto God of his creatures, being dealt with during the Gospel Age (James 1:18), followed by the remainder of mankind during the thousand years of Messiah’s kingdom.—Acts 15:14-17

Oneness—Its Importance Emphasized by the Master

Because of the supreme importance of this oneness, our dear Redeemer, before leaving his disciples, specially prayed for them in this regard, as well as for all those who would believe on him through their word: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gayest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou last sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”—John 17:20-23

It is surely then of the utmost importance that all who have been given the opportunity of coming into oneness with the Father through justification and the begetting of the Holy Spirit should realize that one of the Lord’s principal requirements of this class is that they endeavor to keep “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3) There can be no perfect operation of the Spirit of God or peace without unity. Realizing, then, the importance of reaching and maintaining this condition of oneness with God in Christ, we would say with the psalmist, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire [gain knowledge] in his temple.” (Ps. 27:4) The blessedness here described by the psalmist can be realized and enjoyed only by attaining and maintaining a condition of oneness with God, a full submission to his will and all his gracious arrangements for his people. And so when Paul says, “this one thing I do” (Phil. 3:13), it seems reasonable that he included the thought of having the mind centered upon all the conditions necessary to the attainment of the wonderful calling wherewith we have been called. “Let us therefore, as many as [would] be perfect, be thus minded; and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, even this shall God reveal unto you.” (Phil. 3:15, RV) To be “otherwise minded” indicates a failure to keep in full accord with the mind of the Lord! But even if we are “otherwise minded” because of fleshly weaknesses, the apostle here states that our Heavenly Father stands ready to make plain to his loyal and faithful children the way back to the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

We must strive to maintain a continuous unity of purpose during our probation in the school of Christ to prepare us for that blessed and eternal union and oneness beyond the veil. We must continue to abide in Christ, subject to all the rules and arrangements of this house. One who failed in this respect is brought to our attention in Matthew 22:13, and of him the Master said, “Cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” But to continue to have perfect heart desires for oneness with the Lord in the affairs of his church, and a share in his service, is surely one of the best ways of attaining this condition of perfect oneness with God and Christ and all the gracious arrangements of the heavenly inheritance, when we shall actually “behold the beauty [sweetness, pleasantness] of the Lord, and … inquire in his temple.”—Ps. 27:4

Divine Patience Exercised to Produce Oneness

The apostle’s exhortation in Romans 15:5,6 contains further valuable suggestions in order that we might be prepared for that blessed oneness with the Father and our Lord Jesus beyond the veil: “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” By nature each of us is of a more or less different mind from others of the called ones, having been brought out of different earthly environments, having had different earthly interests, and each with his or her particular fleshly weaknesses. Hence always to be of the same mind as our brethren, even when all are seeking to have the mind of Christ, can be difficult of attainment, especially at the beginning of our probation as members of the body of Christ. So Paul says, “Now the God of patience” grant that this state of grace may be realized, giving us the thought that the exercise of patience on the part of our Heavenly Father is needed that he might patiently deal with us and patiently help us to attain this condition of grace and especially that we might proclaim the Lord’s message in perfect unity with the fellow members of the body of Christ—that we might, as Paul says, “with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another [whether weak or strong members of the one body; comp. vs. 1], as Christ also received us to the glory of God.”—Rom. 15:6,7

It is also important to remember that “he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” (I Cor. 6:17, RV) In the earthly marriage arrangement the scripture says, “The twain shall become one flesh.” (Matt. 19:5, RV) So, too, when united to the Lord through the begetting of his Spirit as a member of his family, there must follow spiritual unity, a unity which by the Lord’s grace becomes more and more real and strong so that it may by his grace endure throughout the eternal years.

Unity in Heart as Well as in Head

In further exhortations to spiritual unity, the apostle urges his Philippian brethren to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.” (Phil. 1:27) In the case of some who have been blessed with a knowledge of present truth, the message appeals to them as being so reasonable, logical, and scripturally harmonious, while the creeds of the church systems appear so unreasonable, illogical, and contradictory to what is written, that their natural love of logic and good sense will sometimes become the most prominent factor in their arguments in support of what God has revealed. Of course, to be “all head and no heart” would be a serious defect; so the apostle wisely suggests that we should endeavor to balance matters. He says we should “stand fast in one spirit” in connection with our endeavors to help others to understand the faith of the Gospel so that the one spirit, the spirit of the Master, the spirit of love, may at all times prompt us and be the motive of all we do. Thus, to serve the interests of the truth with heart as well as head is again shown to be the Lord’s wise method—being not only the most successful method for now serving his cause, but also a sure preparation for that blessed and eternal unity beyond the veil. The apostle urges that this good work should continue to go forward, however many may be the adversaries of the truth and however much they may seek to put sufficient fear into our hearts to paralyze our efforts to honor his name; for “if God be for us, who can be against us?”—Rom. 8:31

Note how the Master intimates that he knew well beforehand all that would be involved when sending forth his servants with the message of salvation; that they would be going as sheep into the midst of wolves, as well as into the midst of conditions where men would say all manner of evil against them falsely for his sake. But the Master added, “When they deliver you up be not anxious how or what ye shall speak,—for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak.” (Matt. 10:16-20, Rotherham) And John assures us, “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (I John 4:4) Hence we may fully rest on the Master’s encouraging word, “Nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19) These are indeed comforting and encouraging words of life to those he would send forth in his service, contending for the faith of the Gospel! Your life is hid with Christ in God; therefore, however great the obstacles may be, let us not fear to go steadily forward in his name.

To the young ruler who came to Jesus indicating his desire to serve God and do his will, the Master replied, “One thing thou lackest.” In coming to God the young man had taken certain steps in the right direction, so that, as the account tells us, “Jesus beholding him loved him.” At the same time it was the Master’s duty to point out wherein he came short. (Mark 10:17-21) The holding on by this young man to his riches was hindering a closer relationship and still greater usefulness in the service of God and that of his fellows. May it not be also possible to say this of some who have consecrated themselves to the Lord in response to the heavenly call? In some instances may it not be that in one’s stewardship of material riches consecrated to the Lord, but still under one’s control, there has been a lack in one’s faithfulness as a steward? Let us all examine ourselves in this direction, for “the Lord loveth a cheerful giver”—one who loves to assist in the Gospel work in whatever way may be open to him, with no need for urging or for appeals for funds. Having all-sufficiency in all things, let us abound unto every good work.

Sectarianism—the Reverse of Scriptural Unity

In Galatians 3:28 the apostle again emphasizes this oneness which should exist in the church as a preparation for the eternal oneness with the Father and with Jesus our Lord and with one another beyond the veil: for in Christ, Paul says, “there is [there can be, RV] neither Jew nor Greek … bond nor free … male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” What a contrast is here shown between the divine order among God’s people and the state of things that exists in human society, religious or secular! A Jew, specially in earlier days, was very proud of his ancestry; but on coming into Christ such a one was no longer a Jew, but a new creature in Jesus Christ. Likewise, the Greek, on coming into Christ, no longer thought of himself as a member of the nation, the most advanced of all nations in learning and culture, but was now exalted to a very much higher position as a child of God and an heir of his kingdom. Similarly, if one had been a bondman or a slave, this would be nothing of which to be ashamed. And among the Gentiles, even down to our own day, some people of upper class birth or possessors of wealth like to associate with their own class and keep up social barriers against others. But the Lord’s people seek to forget the things that are behind; and instead of dwelling, for instance, upon past earthly honors—if they possess any—are surely made humble as they think how, in spite of their natural unworthiness, they have been called to share in the honors of the messianic kingdom.

Joy in Unity

Again, in Philippians 2:2 the Apostle Paul tells us that his joy would be full and complete if he knew that those to whom he was writing were of the same mind, “having the same love” for God and for one another, “being of one accord” in their service for the Lord and the brethren. In Ephesians 4:4 the apostle exhorts the brethren at Ephesus (and us as well) that in the true church there is only “one body,” the body of Christ—not many bodies distinguished by various sectarian names—and “one spirit,” the Holy Spirit that illuminates and informs the body in spiritual things and inspires each member with the “one hope” of ere long being with the Lord, being made like him, and seeing him as he is.

One Sacrificial Offering of Head and Members

Finally, as an additional help to our attaining that perfect oneness in Christ, we are reminded (Heb. 10:14) how the members of Christ are called to share in the sin-offering, being sanctified or set apart to share in the “one offering,” being privileged to participate in this as an additional means of assisting us to be “perfected forever” (permanently perfected, Diaglott). Here the reference is possibly to the Day of Atonement sin-offering, composed of a bullock and a goat, which provided an atonement or covering of Israel’s sins for a twelve-month period, when would follow another Day of Atonement sacrifice, and then another, “year by year continually.” This was appropriate until the great antitypical sin-offering, Christ Jesus, was provided. The members of the body of Christ, after being released from adamic condemnation through the ransom sacrifice, are privileged to share in his sacrificial death. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom. 12:1) Oneness of experience in carrying out this sacrifice thus becomes one more powerful factor in uniting all the Lord’s consecrated followers.—Heb. 13:11-13

By all these various means touched upon, God in his wisdom has been bringing his people together as one. “And you, being in time past alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and unreprovable before him: if so be that ye continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the Gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven: whereof I Paul was made a minister.” (Col. 1:21-23, RV) This full reconciliation of the church the Scriptures show to be a most important step toward the great consummation of the divine plan, when all things in heaven and in earth will be reunited in Christ, leading on to the eternal oneness of all God’s intelligent creatures in heaven and in earth: the glad time when “all speech flows to music—all hearts beat as one.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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