Walk In Unity
David P. Stevens
On September 7, 1809, the Christian Association of Washington, PA, adopted the Declaration and Address written by Thomas Campbell. This document is one of the most important documents in the history of the Restoration Movement. This year (2009) is the 200th anniversary of the writing of this treatise on Christian unity. Many do not know much about what it says, but the principles set forth in this work launched the largest religious movement in American history.
At the heart of the Declaration and Address was a call for unity based upon the Scriptures alone. Thomas Campbell decried the religious division present in his day, not only in the religious world but also in his own Presbyterian Church. He enlisted the help of his son, Alexander, to promote the principles set forth in the Declaration and Address. Together, father and son made history.
How is Christian unity attained? How is it maintained? The Scriptures answer both of these questions.
First, Jesus died for unity. Paul states, “That he might reconcile both unto God in one body, by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Eph. 2:16). In one body, indicates location. By the cross indicates means. By Jesus’ death and His shed blood, men can be redeemed. An obedient faith accesses the power in the blood of Christ to remove sin. On the day of Pentecost, as Jesus predicted (Luke 24:46, 47), remission of sins was preached in His name. Peter responded to the urgent question of the multitude who asked on that day, “Men and brethren what shall we do?” What shall we do about our sin? Peter had convicted them of the sin of crucifying the Son of God. He replied, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38). The redeemed become part of the one body: the church of Christ (Acts 2:47). Thus, men are reconciled to God (become one with God) through the power of the blood of Christ and the power of an obedient faith.
Second, all who are redeemed by the blood of Christ are reconciled to God and become part of the brotherhood of Christ. Spiritual union with Christ occurs as a result of redemption and regeneration. Each person united with Christ through redemption, regeneration, and reconciliation is consequently united with every other person who has obeyed the gospel. We become one with God and with each other (Gal. 3:26-29). This defines a beautiful circle of fellowship including God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and all of the saints of God.
The apostle Paul writes eloquently on the theme of unity in Eph. 4:1-6. He addresses the subject of unity from two different aspects. The first is dispositional (the right attitudes and temperament), and the second is doctrinal (the biblical foundation for unity). There are seven dispositional qualities mentioned by Paul: lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing, love, diligence, and peace. There are seven doctrinal aspects that must be maintained: one body (the church of Christ), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God. The climax of the concept of unity reaches its zenith in God Himself! Fellowship with God and with the saints is maintained by proper attitudes and doctrine. This is the unity that we must preserve. It is sacred. It is worthy of significant sacrifice. It demands our all to sustain, protect, and preserve. How careless we have been to keep this unity of the Spirit. How arrogant we act. How vicious we treat our own brethren. How impenitent we are at times when we violate with impunity the sacred trust to preserve it. May God first and foremost forgive us, and may God fortify us to resolve to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. –5626 Groveport Rd., Groveport, OH 43125. firstname.lastname@example.org
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