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Sanctification and Unity

Sanctification and Unity

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?


The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?


1Corinthians 10:16



Positional Sanctification


When the Lord Jesus shed His blood for us at Calvary, He bought us and separated us from this perishing world.[i]


Hebrews 13:12  Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.



Practical Sanctification


The Lord, having won our affections, would have us be alert to what we allow in our lives. We honor Him by living for Him.[ii]


1Peter 1:15  But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;




Positional Unity (Unity of the body)


At Pentecost, The Spirit united the followers of Christ into one body, and everyone that turns to Christ becomes members of that one body.[iii]


1Corinthians 12:12  For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.



Practical Unity (Unity of the Spirit)


Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit is knowing what the Spirit has to say, from the word of God, and walking in it.[iv]


Ephesians 4:3  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


Some Practical Expressions of Unity


1.       The Lords Supper


Taking the Lords Supper with others seeking to keep the unity of the Spirit is a practical expression of the unity of the body.[v]


Matthew 26:27  And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

1Corinthians 10:17  For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.



2.       Reception and Putting Away


Accepting the decision of another assembly, in receiving and putting away, is a display of practical unity.[vi]


2Corinthians 2:10  To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;


Romans 14:1  Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.


2John 1:10  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:


3Jonn 1:8  We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.


1Corinthians 5:13  But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.



3.       Considering the Consciences of all of our Brethren


If some are voicing a concern about a decision it does not hurt to wait on the Lord until all consciences are satisfied.[vii]


Philippians 2:2  Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind


Philippians 4:2  I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.


4.       Concern for Each Other


When there are needs, locally or afar, it is a practical expression of unity when there is help sent to those with the need.[viii]


Acts 11:29  Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea:


5.       Confidence in Each Other


It is a practical expression of unity to have confidence that our brethren in another location will seek and do the will of the Lord in a decision. If one moves to a new area, the local brethren in the new area are to oversee any issues involved. This shows confidence and unity.[ix]


1Corinthians 13:7  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.


2Co 2:3  And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.


2Corinthians 7:16  I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.


2Corinthians 8:22  And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.


Galatians 5:10  I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.


Philemon 1:21  Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.


6.       Opportunity to Question Actions of Others


Another expression of unity is allowing others to openly question actions or decisions, be it of an individual or an assembly. The good is seen in two ways. They come to understand what was the reasoning behind the decision and we might learn that our reasoning was faulty. We are not instructed to keep unity in evil, if a mistake was made the Lord may use our brethren to point it out to us. Only pride would refuse.[x]


Galatians 2:14  But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?


Galatians 4:20  I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.


7.       Letters of Commendation


Accepting visitors on the strength of a letter of commendation from another is a practical expression of the unity of the body.[xi]


Romans 16:1  I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:


Romans 16:2  That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.


The Destruction of Practical Unity (Independency and Sectarianism)


Independency and Sectarianism is opposite to and destructive of practical unity.[xii]


Matthew 12:30  He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.


Unity of the Faith.


Growing individually in the knowledge of the Son of God and building up of the body by ministry to be able to recognize, and not be affected by, false teaching.[xiii]


Ephesians 4:13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:


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[i] The world we are naturally of has rejected the Son of God, and the associations of the believer are with a glorified Christ, waiting till He comes to take him home. God has sanctified us to Himself by the blood of Christ. (JND)

But here is what God has done: He has separated us to Himself, as a man who hews stones out of a quarry. The stone is hewn out of the quarry and set apart, destined to be cut and fashioned, in order to be placed in the appointed building. And God detaches a soul from the quarry of this world to separate it for Himself. I say not but that there is much to do, for a rough stone cut out of the quarry requires often considerable labour before it is placed in the building for which it is destined… Howsoever, this soul is sanctified, set apart for God, from the moment it is taken out of the quarry of this world. (JND)


[ii] The object before us is a glorified Christ; He is our life: we are “created in Christ Jesus.” The believer has duties here, and is not taken out of the world; but his life is wholly connected with Christ at the right hand of God, and everything that diminishes our perception of Him there diminishes our practical sanctification here. (JND)

If a minister has gifts in the Establishment, I own it as through the Spirit, Christ begetting the members of His body, or nourishing it. But I cannot go along with what it is mixed up with, because it is not of the body, nor of the Spirit.   (JND)

If I engage a servant, I require him to be clean, if I am myself. God says, ” Be ye holy; for I am holy.” And as is with the servant I desire to introduce into my house, so it with us. God requires that we should be suited to the state of His house; He will have a practical sanctification in His servants. (JND)


[iii] The unity I speak of, is, therefore, a unity produced by the sending of the Holy Spirit here below, after Christ had been glorified; it only existed after the sending of the Holy Spirit, as the result of His mission. (JND)


[iv] The unity of, the body cannot be touched, for the Holy Ghost unites to Christ: all those who have been baptised by the Holy Ghost (that is, received Him) are members of the body. It is “the unity of the Spirit” we have to keep; that is, to walk in that power of the Spirit which keeps us in unity on the earth, and that needs endeavouring. (JND)


[v] In a word, we find His death is the centre of communion till His coming again, and in this rests the whole power of truth. Accordingly, the outward symbol and instrument of unity is the partaking of the Lord’s supper-for we being many are one ” bread, one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread.” And what does Paul declare to be the true intent and testimony of that rite? That whensoever” ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” Here then are found the character and life of the church, that into which it is called, that in which the truth of its existence subsists, and in which alone is true unity. (JND)

We have here one body manifested in the act of breaking one bread. It is that which has led people to call the Lord’s supper a sacrament. Originally” sacrament” designated the oath by which the Roman soldiers pledged faithfulness to their standard. So, in taking the Lord’s supper, Christians declare faithfulness to Christ (chap. 14). In each locality the union of the local church was the expression of unity of all the body. (JND)


[vi] Of course, “the churches ” of the province or country would in some way or another learn the fact and act on the decision, and so everywhere, unless unity were given up in every respect. (Wk)


[vii] The spiritual men, who addict themselves to this work and are occupied with its details, before the case is brought before the assembly so that the consciences of all may be exercised in the case, may doubtless thoroughly explore the details with much profit and godly care. But if it comes to deciding anything apart from the assembly of the saints, even in the most ordinary things, their action would cease to be the assembly’s action and it ought to be disowned. (JND)


[viii] Supposing a person says, I do not profess to have the gift of a pastor, and yet I must look after souls as well as I can? One has no objection to that, for it is brotherly love. If you get a person in brotherly love doing what he can, it is very well: we all ought to care one for another. A very young Christian cannot do as much as an older one, but in a certain sense everybody ought to care for his brother. (JND)


[ix] One has now to seek to get the spirit of brethren out of it all, and encourage mutual confidence. (JND)

The principle of meeting is the unity of the body, so that a person known as a Christian is free to come: only the person who introduces him should have the confidence of the assembly as to his competency to judge of the person he introduces. (JND)

When such local matters are thus treated by an assembly, acting in its sphere as an assembly, all the other assemblies of the saints are bound, as being in the unity of the body, to recognise what has been done by taking for granted (unless the contrary is shewn) that everything has been carried out uprightly and in the fear of God in the name of the Lord. Heaven will, I am sure, recognise and ratify that holy action, and the Lord

has said that it shall be so. (Matt. xviii. 18.) (JND)


[x] But whilst a local assembly exists actually in a personal responsibility of its own, and while its acts, if they are of God, bind the other assemblies, as in the unity of the one body, this fact does not do away with another which is of the highest importance, and which many seem to forget, namely, that the voices of brethren in other localities have liberty equally with those of the local brethren, to make themselves heard in their midst, when discussing the affairs of a meeting of the saints, although they are not locally members of that meeting. To deny this would, indeed, be a serious denial of the unity of the body of Christ. (JND)

Or is the doctrine of the unity of the body to be made a cover for evil? That is precisely the delusion of Satan in Popery, and the worst form of evil under the sun. If the matter, instead of being brought to the conscience of the body is maintained by the authority of a few, and the body of believers despised, it is the additional concomitant evil of the clergy, which is the element also of Popery. (JND)


[xi] They were gathered in every place into an assembly, so that they could put a wicked person out from among them. No one can read the New Testament without seeing that these were a well-known, distinct class of persons, known to each other, known as brethren; and he who belonged

to them in one place, belonged to them in all — took a letter of commendation as such if he went where he was unknown ; among whom, as contrasted with the world, brotherly love was to continue. To say we cannot know each other, even if some are hidden, is to deny all the christian affections to which we are bound, and to say that the whole condition of Christianity has entirely and fatally changed. There was a company of people, ” their own company,” who met as a united body in the whole world, believers in Christ, though false brethren might creep in. The internal power of their unity was the Holy Ghost; it was the unity of the Spirit—one Spirit and one body. The symbol and external centre of unity was the Lord’s Supper: we are all one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread. (1 Cor. x.) (JND)


[xii] Unity is the glory of the church; but unity to secure and promote our own interests is not the unity of the church, but confederacy and denial of the nature and hope of the church. (JND)

Yet the analogy of Jerusalem, to speak of no other, would not only warrant but require the conclusion, that, whatever the number of companies meeting in Rome, all the saints in it formed the assembly there. Of course it was ” the assembly” in this house, and “the assembly” in that ; but the saints as a whole constituted ” the assembly in Jerusalem,” Ephesus, Rome, &c., as the case might be. All stood on one divine ground; and it abides for us. Had there been “churches” in Jerusalem without common action, it would have been not ” the ” but ” an ” assembly here and another there, not unity but independency, the most opposed of all principles to that of God’s church. (WK)

To set up independent church-action for each local meeting, in a place where there are many, is to destroy the force of Scripture, which charges it on the assembly in the place, never on some but on all the saints gathered to Christ’s name. It is to deny the assembly in a city, which is scriptural, and to imply assemblies of a city which is unscriptural. It is independency, not unity, of man’s will and contrary to God’s word. (WK)

If each assembly acts independently of another and receives independently of it, then it has rejected that unity—they are independent churches. There is no practical unity of the body. (WK)

We do not separate from christians, known to us as such, and not guilty of any sin requiring discipline; but we do separate from sects, which is a very different thing. How could we be unsectarian if we did not? We should be careful not to allow toward others in our hearts any sectarian feelings under the fairest show ; for we know there were those who said, “I of Christ” (1 Cor. i. 12) in opposition to those who said, “I of Paul, and I of Apollos.” Some say sectarianism began at Corinth; but it is more correct to say it began in the heart (Gal. v. 20, Matt. xv. 19). Every godly-walking one of the children of God should attract us ; while the party to which he belongs may rightly repel. (WK)


[xiii] He carries on the perfecting of the saints to the end of verse 15, and in verse 16 He comes to ministry and building up of the body. “Till we all arrive at the unity of the faith” (that is, each individual, of course) ” and of the knowledge of the Son of God, at the full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ” (nothing short of that); “that we be no longer babes, tossed and carried about by every wind of that teaching which is in the sleight of men, in unprincipled cunning with a view to systematised error; but holding the truth in love, we may grow up to him in all things, who is the head, the Christ.” There we see individuals, and they grow up Christ. Then he goes on-” From whom the whole body [now we have the corporate thing] fitted together and connected by every joint of supply, according to the working in its measure of each one part, worketh for itself the increase of the body to itself-building up in love.” That is the second thing, or additional aim. First, the individual saints grow to the Head in everything, and, secondly, the building up the body. It is the body building itself up; but still it is service and ministry. (JND)