by Mike Ratliff
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. (1 Peter 3:8-9 ESV)
Here lately I feel as if I have been walking a tightrope over Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon. One false step and that’s it. I had a friend comment on my last post on Unconditional Election that by posting it I had taken on a Jeremiah type role. What was he actually saying? Isn’t it that the subject of that post was so controversial that I was bound to take many hits by upsetting many people? It was something like that. I posted it last night around 9pm CDT and I had my first comment on it before I even had a chance to relax for a few minutes. This morning when I logged into Possessing the Treasure there were well over twice as many comments ready to be moderated than I usually get on a post. As I started working my through them I noticed three different types. Some were adamant that I was wrong or there was something wrong with my research. Some were just a adamant that it was a good post that stated the truth. Lastly there were some who agreed with much of the post, but just couldn’t make that last step of belief into being part of the second group. This started me thinking. What of unity? Aren’t we supposed to seek to unity of mind? What’s wrong? Why is there so much animosity towards this subject? Should we seek common ground so that we can all just get along?
I’m sure you know my answer to that last question. No, that’s called compromise. Yes, we are commanded to have unity among the brethren, but that unity must be based on our union with Christ. Jesus prayed that His church would have unity through Him in John 17, but how does the Bible describe it? Here are a few passages. The first two describe union with Him as Christ being in us.
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV)
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Colossians 1:24-29 ESV)
This passage describes our union with Christ as us being in Him.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20 ESV)
How is this union with Christ maintained? It is maintained by faith.
20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV)
It is maintained by us abiding in him and His word abiding in us.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:4-7 ESV)
It is maintained by feeding on him.
56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. (John 6:56 ESV)
It is maintained by obeying him.
24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. (1 John 3:24 ESV)
Let’s stop for now. What do we have so far. Those who will have unity of mind will also have union with Christ. That union with Christ is ONLY active and alive in those who are in Christ and Christ is in them. Also, these same people will maintain their union with Christ by faith. This faith is not simply believing and that’s it, but it causes those with it to live in the flesh but not be of the flesh. They have crucified their flesh and now live for their Saviour and God’s glory alone. They can keep this up consistently by abiding in Christ which makes them fruitful. They are strengthened by feeding on Christ and reveal there genuineness by obeying Christ in all things.
Those who are in union with Christ will have the mind of Christ.
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV)
They will also be of one spirit with Christ.
17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. (1 Corinthians 6:17 ESV)
They will also be in the fellowship of His sufferings.
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11 ESV)
11 The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-13 ESV)
They will also have union with Christ in His death.
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Romans 6:3-8 ESV)
They will have assurance in their Union with Christ.
20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. (John 14:20 ESV)
What do we know so far? Those in union with Christ will have unity of mind. They will have the mind of Christ. This is His values and discernment. It is describing Christlikeness in believers. They will be in one spirit with Christ. They will not be doing things against what Christ or His Apostles taught. They will discern as Christ discerned. They will love as Christ loved. They will rebuke as Christ rebuked. They will abhor hypocrisy. As a result of this, they will experience suffering from those who think that Christianity itself is evil or their form of Christianity does not match their religious traditions. Some of the worst offenders are those who think they are pleasing God by persecuting those who are actually obeying Him. Those obeying God in the face of this persecution can do so because they have died to self. They are alive to God and dead to this world. No matter how much heretics and apostates attack them, those in union with Christ will not doubt, but will be even more assured.
That’s enough for now. Do you see that unity of mind among Christians is born from our union with Christ? Those who are false disciples or false teachers or false prophets will not be in union with Christ and it will cause conflict between the two. We must never seek unity on the basis of peace alone. Instead the unity we must have is that based solely on our Union with Christ.
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