OBSERVING THE ONENESS OF THE FAITH
February 7, 2012
LETTER NO. 2 - THE ONE FAITH
“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
Before we explain the One Faith, we will first identify the various features highlighted in this scripture.
The One Body is the body of the Christ
The One Hope is to be part of the One Body (the heavenly hope)
The Call is the invitation to be a part of the One Body
The One Baptism is the course followed by those accepting the Call
The One Faith is the set of beliefs upon which the Hope is based.
The One Spirit is the means by which we are baptized in to the One Body
The One God and Father is the only true Father of mankind
We will discuss each of these aspects throughout this series. For now, please take a minute to ponder these definitions.
Faith can be a verb or a noun. In this context, it is used as a noun – the One Faith. It is a set of beliefs upon which the One Hope, the One Call, the One Baptism is based. It is the “good news of the kingdom” that Jesus spoke about and that is recorded for us in the Christian Greek Scriptures. So then let’s allow the scriptures to expound on these various aspects of oneness.
The One Body
The scriptures identify the One Body:
“Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist, and he is the head of the body, the congregation.”
– Colossians 1:17-18
"I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for you, and I, in my turn, am filling up what is lacking of the tribulations of the Christ in my flesh on behalf of his body, which is the congregation.”
– Colossians 1:24
“He also subjected all things under his feet, and made him head over all things to the congregation, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills up all things in all.”
– Ephesians 1:22-23
Yes, the body of Christ is the Christian congregation, also called “the congregation of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens.” (Hebrews 12:23) So then, if we are not a member of the body of Christ, we are not in the Christian congregation. It’s just that simple.
Believing or teaching that true Christians can belong to a group other than to the body of Christ constitutes causing a division.
“What I mean is this, that each one of you says: ‘I belong to Paul,’ ‘But I to Apollos,’ ‘But I to Cephas,’ ‘But I to Christ.’ The Christ exists divided.”
– 1 Corinthians 1:12-13
Believing or teaching that most Christians should not pursue membership in the body of Christ constitutes disowning the Christ. And any teachings that cause divisions or that disown the Christ are to be avoided.
Actually, being part of the body of Christ is what it means to be a Christian. It is more than being “Christ-like.” Literally, it means to be “of” or to “belong to” or to “be a member of” the Christ. (See any good dictionary regarding the definition of the suffix “-ian” or “an.” Compare also words with a similar suffix, such as Indian, American, etc.) Thus, all Christians are members of the One Body, the Christian congregation.
This is the sacred secret revealed: that the Christ is not only Jesus, but Jesus along with the members of his body. Jesus himself is the Lord and head of the body, and the complete body is the Christ.
“For just as the body is one but has many members, and all the members of that body, although being many, are one body, so also is the Christ.”
– 1 Corinthians 12:12
The special Call or invitation is mentioned frequently in the scriptures:
“God is faithful, by whom you were called into a sharing with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
– 1 Corinthians 1:9
“I am pursuing down toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 3:14
“Also, let the peace of the Christ control in your hearts, for you were, in fact, called into it in one body. And show yourselves thankful.”
– Colossians 3:15
“To this very destiny he called you through the good news we declare, for the purpose of acquiring the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– 2 Thessalonians 2:14
“Consequently, holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest whom we confess – Jesus.”
– Hebrews 3:1
From these scriptures, we learn that the Call is to be a part of the One Body of Christ, and to share Jesus’ glory. There is no “call” to be associated with Jesus in any other way than as a member of the body destined for the heavens – the One Hope in Letter No. 3.