UNITY: The Unity of the Faith
Roy E. Cogdill
The expression heading this article can be found in Eph. 4:13. It refers to the complete revelation of God's will, the finished work of the Holy Spirit in the Word of God. This finished revelation is one message - not many. It is not only characterized by unity-no contradiction or conflict in all that it teaches-but it is a unit - a complete, perfect, harmonious, final revelation of 0re will of God and the duty of man.
The expression "The Faith" simply refers to the "Gospel" and the two are used synonymously and interchangeably. The Gospel is a system of salvation predicated upon faith. It is through this message of faith that salvation is offered and it is by faith in it, in the heart of the individual, that this salvation can be appropriated. Paul tells us, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:16-17). Here is affirmed that the gospel is the power of God to save because the righteousness of God is revealed in it "from (the) faith unto (in order to) faith." God has revealed His will in the Gospel (tire faith) in order that men may have faith in their hearts in His righteousness. This faith in God's righteousness can be obtained only from the Gospel (the faith). When, therefore, we believe anything in our hearts that is not found in the Gospel, it is faith in man's righteousness and not in the righteousness of God.
In Romans 10:17, Paul tells its again by the Spirit that faith comes "by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." What we cannot hear from the Word of God, we cannot believe in the true sense of the word. If the Word of God, then, is one message, a unit - characterized by unity - and the only faith that can dwell in the human heart acceptably before God must come from it, there is but "one faith" to dwell in the hearts of men (Eph. 4:5). When men do not believe the same thing, therefore, someone does not have faith in the righteousness of God.
In the light of all this and many other things plainly taught in the Word of God, it is amazing that people have such a loose concept of faith. "I believe" means many contradictory and conflicting things as it is used by people today. They believe contradictory things from human creeds and yet count it all to be faith in the Gospel or The Faith. The Baptist Church Manual teaches that baptism is by "sprinkling, pouring, or immersion, according to the convenience and preference of the candidate." Here is an outright contradiction. The Word of God does not teach both doctrines and we would have no regard for it, if it did. A man cannot believe both and be sincere. Someone is wrong and it should be evident that someone does not believe the Gospel.
The Baptist Church Manual teaches that men are born into the world, "wholly inclined toward evil and void of any inclination toward good." The Methodist Discipline in one article of its doctrine teaches that children are born "in Christ" though one time that same article read "born in sin." Both cannot be right. Both doctrines are not taught in the Gospel. Both cannot be believed and the Gospel be believed. Someone is wrong and does not have faith in the "righteousness of God."
The Baptist Church Manual teaches that when one is once saved by the blood of Christ it is impossible for him to so sin as to be finally lost in bell. The Methodist Discipline teaches that apostasy and final condemnation can come to one who has once been saved by the blood of Christ because of reverting to the course of sin. Both, again, cannot be right. One says, "can" and the other says "cannot." The Word of God does not teach both. Someone does not believe what the Word of God does teach, therefore.
So it is throughout the denominational world. Contradictory doctrines are taught in the creeds of men and good people accept them and think they "believe." But their "faith" is not always in harmony with "The Faith." In order for all men to believe in the Gospel; they must all believe the same thing. The Gospel teaches, or reveals, but one message and that message is the same to all. The idea that "one faith is as good as another," therefore, is absurd. If "one faith is as good as another" - just so one is sincere," then it would not make any difference what a man believed. If it does not matter what one believes, just so he is sincere, then it does not matter whether or not one believes the Bible and what it teaches, if he is sincere in the rejection of it. If it does not matter whether or not one believes the Bible and what it teaches, just so he is sincere, then it could not matter what the Bible teaches. It would be a matter of no consequence and all that one would need to be saved is to be sincere. We could throw our Bibles away and believe anything sincerely and be just as near salvation.
The idea that we can be united and believe different things is absurd. There can be no unity except upon the Word of God and faith in it and in it alone. The only reason for believing anything is because God said it. If we accept anything that Christ has not taught in His Gospel, we do not accept it because Christ said it but upon some other ground and, therefore, our faith is in something else or someone else and not in Christ. Christ is the Christian's creed. Whatever he believes, he believes because he believes in Christ. This means that he believes all that Christ teaches and only what Christ teaches and takes the "law of faith," "the Gospel," as his only rule of faith or practice.
When men like Billy Graham, preach for a composite of denominations or religious bodies in their "union meetings" they cannot preach according to the creed of any particular denomination or it would ruin the "union." If he preached according to the Baptist Church Manual, the Methodists and Presbyterians would become offended and quit. If he preached according to the Methodist Discipline, the Baptists and the Presbyterians would he offended and so on with all of the rest. He cannot even preach what the Bible teaches on certain points or some would be offended. If the Jews joined in such a religious union, the preacher would have to leave off preaching that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. All that one can preach in such a union meeting with religious bodies joining in that believe contradictory doctrines is that which is uncontroverted by any and that limits the message to only moral principles and lectures about them.
The test of whether or not we believe the Gospel preached by the Apostles of our Lord is not just sincerity or the spirit of compromise but a willingness to strike from our faith and practice anything for which we cannot give chapter and verse in the Word of God and a willingness without hesitancy to accept whatever we can read in the Bible in language plain enough to understand. We must let the Bible settle all issues, answer all questions, solve all problems, or else we do not really believe it at all.
When we all unite in the "One Faith" we will not only believe the same thing but we will all speak the same thing and be united in message. We will throw away our human ideas, opinions and creeds, and do away with all of our denominational organizations and human practices and stand simply upon the Word of God.
Are you willing, friend, to limit your faith and practice as a professed Christian to the Word of God and to it alone?
Truth Magazine XX: 30, pp. 470-471