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Volume 16 - Page 138 of 151 Index | Zoom | |
The Unity of the Spirit.
pp. 154 - 157
What it means to "keep" it,
and how much truth may we sacrifice in the endeavour?
The direct exposition of Ephesians as a whole has now been completed in these pages,
but there are many side issues both of a doctrinal and practical nature that demand
attention. There is much more to be said in connection with the subjective side of the
conflict of Eph. 6: which cannot be satisfactorily dealt with until Rom. 6: has been
considered also. The particular point that we feel called upon to deal with at the moment
is that which has reference to the keeping of the unity of the Spirit and the problem that
attaches by reason of differences of doctrine and practice on the part of other believers.
May we agree to differ?
If we have studied the addresses of those who urge the union of Church with Dissent,
or of one phase of sectarianism with another, one item is constant. The union
contemplated can only be brought about by agreeing to differ concerning some items of
doctrine or practice. From an outside position it is apparent that many of the causes of
division are man made, and could well be dropped to mutual advantage, but the unity
thus brought about would not be the unity of the Spirit.
We cannot remember one passage in the whole of Scripture that would warrant a child
of God relinquishing the veriest jot or tittle of truth for the sake of unity. All truth comes
from God, and we as stewards are not free to be liberal with our Master's possessions,
even though such liberality be called by fair names, and faithfulness be called by very
foul ones. If Paul had "agreed to differ" he would have saved himself many a sleepless
night and heart-ache. Because he perceived the sacredness of stewardship and the
blindness of truth, he had to write, "all in Asia be turned away from me".
What is the unity of the Spirit?
This unity cannot be brought about by agreement, neither are we enjoined to do
anything but endeavour to "keep" it. Its author is the Spirit. The expression is loosely
used by all sorts and conditions of Christians. Those who are keen on the re-union of
Christendom appeal to Eph. 4: as an argument why Baptists should not stress believer's
baptism, Churchmen should not sprinkle infants, Presbyterians and Episcopalians should
sink their differences on the question of holy orders. These things may be the causes of
differences and divisions, and their abandonment would bring about a species of unity,
but it would not be the unity of the Spirit. Eph. 4: has something most
uncompromisingly insistent to say about baptism, holy orders, etc., which cannot be