About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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The Unity Of Faith


Ephesians 4:11 through 13 reads:


"So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."


The words "until we all reach unity in the faith"  imply that full unity of faith has not yet been realized, but as I believe, will be realized when Jesus returns to put the finishing touches on His church-building project.  Remember, Jesus did say that He would build His church (Matthew 18:16).  Until His church is fully constructed, we strive for the unity of faith, but what does that mean?   


Some might suggest that unity of faith means doctrinal unity among Christians, as if that is ever possible.  I admit that there does seem to be a few New Testament passages where the words "the faith" might be understood in doctrinal terms, but I'm not convinced that was how Paul used the words "the faith" here.   


The Greek word "pistis" that is translated as faith in the New Testament means trust.  If you have faith in someone or something, you trust that someone or something.  In light of Biblical faith meaning trust and the ecclesiastical context of the above passage, I suggest the unity of faith Paul had in mind is a corporate trust the church has in Jesus.  As an individual believer trusts his life with Jesus, so each local expression of church corporately trusts its church life with Jesus.  


One foundational principle of church is that when a person trusts his life with Jesus he or she is expected to enter a trusting relationship with those to whom Jesus has called him or her alongside in church.  This unified trust among believers is the unity of faith.  Until the day Jesus returns to earth, the degree to which we develop and maintain personal trusting relationships in church is the degree to which we assist Jesus in His church-building project.

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