December 18, 2017

UNITY: Union or Unity . . .Another Look

By Roy E. Cogdill

There is on every hand in the world today a great deal being said about "Unity." This is a subject worth talking about! Indeed it is worthy of our doing something about it! Just talking about it is not enough! We need, however, to be sure that what we say about it is in accordance with truth and that what we do about it is in harmony with the will of God. This is where the present "unity movements" are failing.

When men talk about unity and count themselves to be interested in unity and yet fail to achieve it, they must recognize that the failure is caused by something. Is unity impossible of attainment? Is it impractical and unrealistic to pray and work to achieve unity? If not, then why doesn't it become a reality? It is not because men are not talking about unity and trying to do something about unity that it has not become a reality. Pretty largely it has not been achieved because men want to attain it on their own terms rather than upon the basis and in harmony with the terms and conditions revealed in the Word of God.

When men talk about unity and hold their unity conferences they need to examine their own hearts and convictions to determine whether they are trying to effect real unity or are simply seeking federation or union. They are not the same. Spiritual unity cannot be put upon the same basis of political federation. In politics no matter how much difference there may be in ideology, since they are human philosophy and ideals, compromise can effect a federation or at least an understanding so that different systems of political philosophy can live together or at least side by side and peace and cooperation can be a reality. This, of course, is not often achieved because too many are unwilling to grant to others the right to their way of life. Hence, we have different systems of political philosophy in the world trying to exterminate and destroy anything that is contrary. This results in war and strife politically. Compromise is essential in human affairs.

But we need to remember that in matters spiritual and eternal the philosophy by which we are to be guided is not a human system. If it were, it would not matter whether we have unity or not. But we are impelled to seek unity in spiritual "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:20-21).

But Jesus was not praying for superficial union upon the basis of compromise. He was praying for "unity"-"That they may all be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us." He was praying for the same kind of unity to exist among "believers" that exists between Him and the Father. The unity between the Father and the Son is not superficially reached upon the basis of compromise or accommodation. Organic unity without spiritual unity is of no account. It pleases Satan abundantly, as does any compromise, but it falls far short of God's requirement of those who would serve Him.

God's Plan

Ephesians, chapter four, sets forth the unity of the Spirit or God's plan for unity. Anything short of it is futile and vain. The essential elements prescribed by divine will eliminates all of the human arrangements and compromises that can be worked out. These elements will make no allowance for sectarian or denominational union but demand complete unity.

There is one God. This means unity in worship. It allows no other God. We must be united in worshiping the one and only God of heaven and earth. This demands a recognition by all of the majesty of Jehovah, the God of the Bible. He is the Father of all, above all, through all and in all. He is the creator of "the world and all things therein" and is "Lord of heaven and earth" (Acts 17:24). "He hath made of one blood all nations of men." "In Him we live and move and have our being." We have been made in His image, endowed with His Spirit, and His offspring. From Him we receive life and breath and all things. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift.

If this is not the God in whom you believe and serve, then you cannot partake of the unity God prescribes and which is the obligation of all who would serve Him. Anything short of faith in the God Paul preached and the', Bible reveals is unbelief. Religious atheism is no better than pagan atheism or heathen atheism. If God is dead-the words are incongrous and contradictorym-then He never lived. If he does not exist now as the true and living God (1 Thess. 1:9), then he never existed as such and the Bible is a falsehood and unworthy of being believed about anything. On this point of divine truth as in every other there is no room for compromise. Unbelief of the testimony of God's Word on this, or any other point, cannot be tolerated for those who believe not the truth will be damned (2 Thess. 2:12). God is not dead--it is faith in God that is dead or dying in so many hearts.

In the beginning of the law given through Moses to Israel, God laid down the principle that is fixed and eternal, "I am the Lord your God, You shall have no -other gods before me" (Exodus 20:2-3). He further stipulated, "You shall not make yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God." There is no compromise to me made with idolators, not even Catholic idolators who bow down before their man made images to say their prayers and offer their worship. There cannot be any unity in the worship of the one true and living God between any Christian and any Catholic upon this point and there is no compromise between truth and error. The prohibition is just as effective now as it was ill the law then for it is prescribed by the very nature of God and based. upon eternal truth.

This God, revealed in the Bible, in whorn we must unite worshipping, is not only Father of us all, but is above all. His majesty is supreme. We are His creatures and will render an account unto Him (Romans 14:12). His will must be done on earth as it is in heaven. About this there cannof be any compromise. Our disposition ill everything must be "not my will but thine be done." This is all that will make unity possible and any other attitude will produce and sustain division. God can be served and worshipped upon no other premise, Complete reverence for God's will, because He is God, and because we are accountable to Him is the essence of Christianity and therefore fundamental in its importance in unity among Christians. Paul declared, "Wherefore we labour, that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him" (2 Cor. 5:9). God must be pleased and any sort of ecumenical arrangement or movement that does not respect His will and please Him is entirely in vain and not worth the effort it requires. There can be no compromise here. If we unite, it must be upori the recognition that there is but "one God" and He is the God of the Bible.

Truth Magazine XX: 27, pp. 422-423
July 8, 1976

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