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Bible verses about Unity in Christ
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 2:24

This verse shows that two human personalities can become one flesh. Why, then, can God not be one with two distinct personalities who work independently yet in complete harmony? Paul adds in I Corinthians 6:17, "But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." If a human can be one with God and remain entirely distinct, why cannot another spirit being with a separate personality be one with Him?

John W. Ritenbaugh
God Is . . . What?


 

John 14:10-11

The word in could prove to be quite a puzzle because, if we understood it as "inside" rather than "in union with," we would have God and Christ crawling inside and out of each other. It would create a farcical, "Where is He now? The Son is in the Father. No, the Father is in the Son." Or, because Christians are included in verse 20, it would be, "No, He's in me." "No, He's in you." Or, "No, I'm in Him." We could get all confused. But God is logical.

Here, the sense is definitely "in union with." The Father and Son are two separate Beings who sit side by side in carrying out the responsibilities of providing for and maintaining the operation of His creation both physically and spiritually. When the Son was on earth, He was in union with the Father, and the Father was in union with Him.

It is almost as if they were—well, humanly, we would say "one flesh." When a man and a woman marry, are they two different beings? Yes, they are. Are they commanded by God to marry for the purpose of becoming one, in union with each other? Yes (Genesis 2:24).

Do they crawl in and out of each other? No, of course not. Nevertheless, a blending takes place: a blending of mind and personality. And what eventually happens? It is something that begins even before the two become married. No matter where one of them goes, because of their experiences together, he or she carries the presence of the other with him or her, and they can call up those memories in the blink of an eye. Is that not simple?

The same principle is involved in the union of the Father and the Son—and the union of God and the Christian.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 4)


 

John 17:4

He says He had glorified the Father. Since the Son has returned to the Father in heaven, and the church is formed and joined to the Son as one organism, the church now has the responsibility to glorify the Father. How? By becoming one with Him just as the Son was—by the power of God's Spirit given to us.

Christ glorified the Father by successfully completing the work the Father gave Him to do. He qualified to be our Savior, Redeemer, and High Priest, and along the way, He preached the gospel to others. Our responsibility is to yield to Him, allowing Him to form us into His image by growing, overcoming, producing fruit, and carrying out the works of the church as He assigns them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
All in All


 

John 17:11

Deuteronomy 6:4 states, "The LORD our Elohim is one LORD." In John 17:5, Jesus establishes that there was a time when He was alongside the Father, but now He says that He is with, alongside of, His disciples. He is not alongside of the Father, and in this context, He asks the Father, "that they [the apostles] may be one as we are." What kind of oneness is this, if it is not being "alongside of"? John 17:21 shows this unity is actually "inside of"!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Nature of God: Elohim


 

John 17:20

We are reading their word right now, that is, the word that the apostles wrote. Jesus' prayer, then, is that those of us who now believe through the writings of the apostles may be one with the Father and the Son, and that oneness may come through the reading of the word that they wrote.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Nature of God: Elohim


 

John 17:20-22

Salvation can easily and accurately be described as "being at one with God." As long as we are separated from God, we do not have salvation. When we are "at one" with God, it means that we are becoming like Him, that we are walking along the same path with Him and will be saved.

Jesus Christ's death bridges this impossible situation for us. We can then begin to contribute to being at one with God. What remains yet undone, despite the gap being bridged, is a change in character and in attitude that must be worked in us in order for us to become like God. It takes living God's way for us to become like God. This is why humility is necessary.

We can see from Jesus' prayer and from our own experience (and from the history of man) that mankind is not at one with God, yet that is God's aim. Satan motivated Adam and Eve, and subsequently all the rest of mankind, to separate themselves from God. As long as Satan can keep us separated from Him, salvation is impossible. Satan's thinking, which was passed on to Adam and Eve and then to us, is that we all have the right to set our own standards or codes of right and wrong. He has convinced mankind that they have the same prerogatives and that these Satan-inspired, man-made standards can produce abundant prosperity, good health, peace, and a sense of well-being in our lives.

But they do not, and that is the problem! Humbling oneself means giving up that devilish notion and submitting to what God says. He has given us free moral agency to choose whether to obey His standards and codes, not the freedom to set our own.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Division, Satan, Humility


 

John 17:21-23

Christ's request refers to a oneness in unity, as a unit, of agreement. This same principle is found in Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus"—to be one in mind, one in heart, one in spirit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Nature of God: Elohim


 

John 17:21

Christ is indicating a union: "That you might be unified, with the Father, in the same way that the Father and the Son are."

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 3)


 

1 Corinthians 1:9

This particular verse is written in such a way as to be translated either "with" or "in": Our fellowship is with Christ, or our fellowship is in Christ. It can go either way. The case is both subjective and objective in I Corinthians 1:9.

Fellowship means "sharing," "communion with," "companionship with," or "association with." We have been called into an association—a companionship, a fellowship, a communion—with Christ. All these words are synonyms. The only difference might be the degree of the intimacy that is expressed. In addition, fellowship indicates people having things in common—they do things together because they share common interests. What we have in common is our love for Christ.

We are drawn to the brethren because of the common tie—the common love for the same Person. Even when we meet people in the church for the very first time, we do not feel as though they are perfect strangers to us because of that commonality. We recognize the spirit or attitude that emanates from them. It is almost something that we can feel or see because our senses seem to be attuned to it. This is why world travelers with the church say that they can go into another congregation and know that it is of the same Spirit as the one that they traveled from.

There is a bond or union between us because we love the same Person. To the Christian, then, Christ's friend is our friend. We are members of the same body. We are children in the same Family. We are soldiers in the same army. We are pilgrims on the same road. These same analogies are used many places in the Bible.

John W. Ritenbaugh
How to Know We Love Christ


 

1 Corinthians 1:10-13

Dictionaries define an idol as "any object of ardent or excessive devotion or admiration." If we obey the dictates of a person, church, or some other group contrary to the direct commands of God, we are guilty of idolatry. The individual or group becomes the idol, replacing God.

Martin G. Collins
The Second Commandment


 

1 Corinthians 1:10-12

There is no doubt that the church is now badly divided—and it shows no evidence of reuniting—yet we are all commanded to speak the same things.

Paul goes on to use the words "mind" and "judgment." Mind is actually related to the power of observation—the way that we see things. He is saying we all need to see things in the same way. Judgment deals with the forming of an opinion.

The Corinthians obviously did not all see things the same way, and they therefore could not possibly come to the same opinion. So they did the natural thing and divided. They did not actually leave the congregation, but cliques formed within it, and the members were not at peace with one another.

Why did they not see things the same way? The context shows it depended upon whom each person decided he would use as his authority. Some used Paul, some Apollos, some Peter, and of course, some Christ. There is no evidence that those named as authorities were divided, but people made it seem so. No wonder they were divided! Today, sadly, many are doing the same thing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

1 Corinthians 1:10

This section reveals that speaking the same thing is a choice. We have to choose for the sake of unity. It is not an option for those who consider themselves to be converted; it is commanded. There is no option. We have to choose to follow Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

Ephesians 1:10

We say that we are "in Christ." We say that there is "one church." We say that there is "one Body," "one Family," "one Kingdom." What is said here in Ephesians 1 is where God is headed with all this. He will unite everybody who has ever been born and makes it into His Kingdom into one—one family, the God Family—one kingdom, the Kingdom of God. The church is simply the beginning of an awesome process—a tremendous project—that will eventually cover the 50 or 60 billion people who have ever lived on the face of this earth.

We who are now begotten children of God are at the prow of the ship, as it were, cutting the water as we forge ahead. It is our calling to have gotten in on the ground floor, the very beginning of the process. We have entered the process even before all of the great men and women we have read about in the histories of the nations. They will get their opportunity, but we are way ahead of them.

Why has God had to do this? The basic cause is what happened in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve sinned. Sin is disruptive; it divides, and it divided our first parents away from the one Family. As Paul says in Romans 5:12, "All have sinned." We have all sinned—maybe not exactly as Adam and Eve did, but everybody has sinned. We have followed our parents in becoming separated from God. Sin divides away from God, and man from man. The world has been shattered by sin. One could say, then, that the central object of salvation is to reunite all mankind into one Family.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 6): Ephesians 4 (C)


 

Ephesians 1:15-23

The subject of this paragraph begins with the Father and shifts to the Son. At the end, however, the church—its relationship to Christ and among the members—becomes the focus. The major theme of the book of Ephesians is unity. It tells us why we are able to have it and what we must do to maintain it.

Paul describes the church as "a body." This is essential to unity and to preaching the gospel, keeping us from not losing our focus. We have to have God's perspective of what we are. We are a body, meaning a living organism, or by analogy, the human body.

Any organism, like the human body, is unified. Each part cooperating for the good of the whole. Notice that Paul does not use a word like "team." The word "team" has some of the same associations as "body," but it is not as accurate. With "body," Paul not only gets across the concept of association within an organism to accomplish a common work, but it also the sense of a far closer relationship and more critical responsibility, in which each part responds to the will of the head.

We are so close to Jesus Christ that Paul describes us as "His fullness," that is, we fill Him out. We complete Him. Paul does this to relate both the closeness of our association with Christ and our responsibility to Him to do everything in our power to build the strength of both.

The church—we—are Jesus Christ's complement. This is the highest honor a human being can be given! There is nothing greater than to say that we are a part—we fill out, we complete—the body of Jesus Christ! It is as though Jesus Christ our Creator considers Himself incomplete until we become part of Him. He is a Bridegroom, incomplete without His Bride. As a vine, He is incomplete without the branches. As a Shepherd, He is incomplete without His sheep. And so also is He incomplete as a Head without a body, without members, through whom He works and is glorified as they cooperate and yield to Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 5)


 

Ephesians 2:19

Formerly, before God began to work in this way, there were two kinds of people on earth: the converted and unconverted. However, let us be a little bit more specific. In the context of Ephesians 2, the two kinds of people were Israelites and Gentiles. When we understand verses 16-20, He is saying now a third class of people is arising. There is the Gentile, the Israelite, and the Christian—the new man.

This is what God is creating, a family, a nation. He is creating something that is unique on the earth: a family that gets along with each other. Such a thing is unseen in the history of men. There are no wars (considering nations being families grown great) that are more vicious and terrible than inter-family wars, which we call "civil wars."

God is creating a family that gets along with each other, and this harmony begins with the acceptance of the blood of Jesus Christ. However, God expects that it will not end there. Because of the fellowship that we have with Him through Jesus Christ, as we begin to have more things in common, it will begin to expand out to others whom He is calling. It begins with the Spirit of God working with the person and eventually in him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 4)


 

Ephesians 2:20-22

This creating, building, or growing that Paul writes about here is the process by which we come to have more and more in common with each other so that there can be a continuing fellowship. The Holy Spirit, mentioned in verse 18 and again in verse 22, is the mechanism by which this is accomplished.

The eradication of the differences that we bring with us into the church and the building of the commonality are primarily the creative work of God. He is the Artisan at work, and we are being created in Christ Jesus into a fellowship that is so close that it is likened to a family. Families have things in common. It begins with a biological affinity, and the children of a mother and a father are genetically closer to each other than they are to their parents. What are we called in the church? Brothers and sisters.

Families have looks and practices in common, too, among other things. What they have in common makes them a family. So, in the church, God has to build a commonality to give us the family and therefore the fellowship that will enable us to continue with Him and with our brethren.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 4)


 

Ephesians 3:8-11

Paul says virtually the same thing here that he says in chapter one. He just changes the vocabulary. What have we been called or invited to? To be one with God—to be in His Family, His Church, and His Kingdom—all of these are a progression of the same basic thought. God is drawing everybody to Him, to be one with Him (a unity that was broken in Adam and Eve's sin of submitting to Satan rather than submitting to God).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 6): Ephesians 4 (C)


 

Ephesians 4:17-32

Most of us realize that the unity of the church of God courses through the book of Ephesians as a general theme. Paul illustrates the church as a complete body of which Jesus, though in heaven, is the Head, and the elect here on earth comprise the rest of it. Early on, Paul declares how God has planned the organization of His purpose from the very beginning, determining whom He would call, give His Spirit to, and perfect as His children.

In Ephesians 4, the apostle begins to clarify our Christian responsibilities regarding works. He appeals to us in verse 1 to make every effort to live a manner of life that measures up to the magnificence of our high calling. He then makes sure we understand that we must carry out our responsibilities in humility, kindness, and forbearance as we strive to maintain doctrinal accord in purity.

He explains that Christ has given each of us gifts to meet our responsibilities in maintaining the unity of God's church. Foremost among these gifts are teachers who will work to equip us for service in the church and eventually in the Kingdom. This same process will enable us to grow to completion, to mature, no longer wavering in our loyalties, certain in the direction of our lives, and not deceived by the craftiness of men.

With that foundation, the "therefore" in verse 17 draws our focus to the practical applications necessary to meet the standards of the preceding spiritual concepts. We must not conduct our lives as the unconverted do. They are blinded to these spiritual realities and so conduct life in ignorance, following the lusts of darkened minds.

Because we are being educated by God, the standards of conduct are established by His truths and are therefore exceedingly higher. We must make every effort to throw off the works of carnality and strive to acquire a renewed mind through diligent, continuous effort so that we can be created in the image of God in true righteousness and holiness (verse 24).

In verses 25-29, Paul moves even further from generalities to clear, specific works that we must do. We must speak truth so that we do not injure another through lies, as well as to maintain unity. Because deceit produces distrust, unity cannot be maintained if lying occurs. We must not allow our tempers to flare out of control, for they serve as an open door for Satan to create havoc.

We must be honest, earning our way so that we are prepared to give to others who are in need. We must be careful that what we speak is not only true but also edifying, imparting encouragement, empathy, sympathy, exhortation, and even gentle correction when needed.

In verse 30 is a brief and kind reminder that, in doing our works we must never forget that we owe everything to our indwelling Lord and Master. We must make every effort to be thankful, acknowledging Him as the Source of all gifts and strengths, enabling us to glorify Him through our works.

In the final two verses of the chapter, Paul delineates specific responsibilities concerning our attitudes toward fellow Christians within personal relationships.

This brief overview of just one chapter shows clearly how much works enter into a Christian's life as practical requirements that cannot be passed off as unnecessary. How else will a Christian glorify God? How else will he grow to reflect the image of God? How else will he fulfill God's command to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19) except by faithfully doing those works that lead to life?

Through the whole process of sanctification, the Christian will make constant use of two additional works: daily prayer and Bible study, which must be combined with his efforts to obey God. No one who is careless about performing these works can expect to make progress growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ during sanctification.

Why? Without them, he will have no relationship with either the Father or the Son, and thus will not be enabled to achieve the required works. They are the Source of the powers that make it possible for us to do the works God has ordained. If we do not follow through on these two works, we will surely hear ourselves called "wicked and lazy" and be cast into "outer darkness" where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:24-30).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is the Christian Required To Do Works? (Part Four)


 

Ephesians 5:19-21

Those who are filled with the spirit (verse 18) will exhort and instruct each other. Paul does not say that they will judge, criticize, and correct. They will sing songs of praise. They will be grateful always in all things to God for what He has allowed to come into their lives, both the bad and the good things. Those who are filled with the Spirit will be grateful because they understand what God does is for their good. They will mutually defer to each other as long as it is all in the fear of the Lord, that is, they will submit to what is in accord with what pleases God.

Almost the entirety of the remainder of this epistle is devoted to submitting yourselves to one another because it is essential to unity. Paul carries the subject into a smaller venue, the home and marriage relationships. He shows the relevance of submitting to marital unity, then in chapter 6, he moves into parent-and-child unity.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 7): Ephesians 4 (D)


 

Philippians 2:9

Jesus is not against greatness or having power, but He wants it to be given by God. God will give it to those who are in harmony with His law, His government, and His way of life. Unity with Him begins with the right attitude toward Him, toward others, and toward the self.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace


 

Colossians 3:10-11

Considering these two verses in context, Paul is saying that because the Colossians had undergone the radical transformation of receiving the new nature and being renewed, they should work hard at making practical the salvation Christ made possible. They should do this by ceasing to do the things that separate and starting to do the things that bond. From chapter two, he carries over an underlying assumption that some measure of doctrinal difference is probably exacerbating the unity problem.

John W. Ritenbaugh
All in All


 

James 3:16

This verse shows why the Day of Atonement is needed. It is a day that pictures at-one-ment, the state of being at one. It is needed because men are horribly divided from one another. Some are trying to pull the nations of the earth together as one, but their attempt will fail because it does not originate from God and is not being conducted in a godly manner. It is not being orchestrated by God or His Son, Jesus Christ, and is, instead, being done in a carnal way, which will produce the exact same fruits that all of the other past efforts at unification have produced—division, destruction, and death! In this, we are witnessing a major, worldwide attempt to bring the earth together under one, anti-God system, even as was attempted in Genesis 11.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Division, Satan, Humility


 

1 John 1:3

We have been called into a fellowship—both with Christ and with those who make up His church—to be with Him and in Him, indicating in the church, the Body of Christ.

Physically, we may not have a great deal in common. We may be different nationalities, we may even speak different languages, we may come from somewhat different cultures, but spiritually, we have the same Father and Christ. This unity in God in no way automatically removes the reality of our differences, but because of that commonality—because we agree on the most important things of life—we can walk together and overcome the differences because we love Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
How to Know We Love Christ


 

 




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