OBSERVING THE ONENESS OF THE FAITH
February 7, 2012
LETTER NO. 1 - ONE LORD
“One body there is, and one spirit, even as you were called in the one hope to which you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all persons, who is over all and through all and in all.”
– Ephesians 4:4-6
These words of Paul make it clear that there is only one “hope” for Christians. (See “The Royal Priesthood and the Holy Nation."The giver of the hope is Jehovah, the “one God and Father of all persons.” The leader of the hope is the One Lord, Jesus Christ. The basis for the hope is the One Faith. The pursuit of the hope is the One Baptism.
The One Lord himself said:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
– John 14:6
“But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called ‘leaders,’ for your Leader is one, the Christ.”
– Matthew 23:8-10
The apostles Paul and Peter confirmed the unique position of Jesus:
“Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.”
– Acts 4:12
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus.”
– 1 Timothy 2:5
Through these scriptures, we learn that there is only one intercessor, one leader, one Lord for Christians and that is Christ Jesus. That authority was not given to any other person, group or organization. However, others may assist and encourage us along our path, but these assistants are only fellow workers:
“What, then, is Apollos? Yes, what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, even as the Lord granted each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making it grow; so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes it grow. Now he that plants and he that waters are one, but each person will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You people are God’s field under cultivation, God’s building.”
– 1 Corinthians 3:5-9
For us, the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society is a minister and fellow worker through whom many of us became believers and we appreciate and respect its tireless efforts in our behalf. We want to be careful, however, that we hold the organization in its proper place, and not fall into the folly of believing that we cannot be saved without being in association with it. Otherwise, in our hearts, we have allowed the organization to usurp the authority of the Christ, thereby disowning the one and only True Lord.
Remember that an organization is not a living, breathing entity. It is made up of the collective will of individual persons. As part of the collective, we can safeguard the organization from calamity by working with it to accomplish a work, but giving our allegiance only to the One Lord.
In the congregations, we appreciate the ‘gifts in men’ that have been appointed to positions of oversight:
“And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers . . .”
– Ephesians 4:11
And for what purpose?
“ . . . with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain to the oneness of the faith in the accurate knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of stature that belongs to the fullness of the Christ . . .”
– Ephesians 4:12-13
And why was that important?
“ . . . in order that we should no longer be babes, tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of cunning in contriving error. But speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ.”
– Ephesians 4:14-15
In Paul’s day, some fellow workers were seeking, consciously or unconsciously, to usurp the One Lord by preaching another so-called good news and he was amazed at how easy it was to seduce some:
“I marvel that you are being so quickly removed from the One who called you with Christ’s undeserved kindness over to another sort of good news. But it is not another; only there are certain ones who are causing you trouble and wanting to pervert the good news about the Christ. However, even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond what we declared to you as good news, let him be accursed. As we have said above, I also now say again, Whoever it is that is declaring to you as good news something beyond what you accepted, let him be accursed.”
– Galatians 1:6-9
We do not know exactly what specific perversions Paul was referring to, but we can take the principle to heart and use it to safeguard our hope. For us, the good news preached in the Christian scriptures is the One Faith, in the One Lord, of the One Hope, by the One Baptism. (Ephesians 4:5). This One Hope is the only hope held out to Christians. It is as Paul said, “But it is not another,” meaning there is not another good news. We must be careful not to twist the good news and preach another so-called “good news” as that could subvert the faith of some and lead them away from the one Lord.
In order to be sure that we are not being misled by ‘another sort of good news,’ and that we are following the One Lord, we need accurate knowledge of the true good news.
“I continue mentioning you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the accurate knowledge of him; the eyes of your heart having been enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he called you, what the glorious riches are which he holds as an inheritance for the holy ones, and what the surpassing greatness of his power is toward us believers.”
– Ephesians 1:16-19
So let us open our hearts to our One Lord and open our ears to hear what the Spirit says to the congregation about our One Faith in Letter No. 2.