By E.L. Bevir
Of all the wonderful truths connected with the new creation, that of the one body is the most remarkable.
Much has lately been said as to this aspect of the church of God; and I wish merely to insist once more upon its immense importance, and especially as delivering every faithful heart from sectarian principles. There are two points which I should like to notice:
1) The moral character which should be found in those who endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit.
We are never told to keep the unity of the body, which is in far safer keeping than ours. I take the opportunity of giving a definition of the unity of the Spirit, made by J.N.D. at Croydon in 1881, "It is the realization of the present power of the Holy Ghost, for the truths of the one body".
2) The wide basis of communion which the truth of the one body implies when we are met at the Lord's table.
For the first, we must look at Ephesians 4; and for the second at 1 Corinthians 10.
In the beginning of the first passage, as the apostle is leading them up to the truth of the one body, he exhorts them to all lowliness and meekness with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love. Lowliness is the result of being in God's presence, for no one wishes to exalt himself there; and then follow "meekness and longsuffering" towards one's brethren.
If one be humble before God, there will be no want of true patience with others; and it is no small miracle to see men who naturally were violent and intolerant becoming magnanimous in the true Christian sense, and bearing with one another in love, as members of the one body.
Notice that in Ephesians 4: 2, it is makrothumia, and not hupomone. Many people are naturally phlegmatic, and have not wit enough to be impatient. But what a wonder when an ardent, intolerant man, like Saul of Tarsus, becomes a model of longsuffering. Were we more fully in God's presence, we should understand practically the unity of the Spirit; and our conduct would correspond to our vocation.
But now let us for a moment look at 1 Corinthians 10, where the Lord's table is referred to, and the communion of our Lord's death clearly established; the cup being the communion of the blood, and the bread being that of the body of Christ.
Verse 17 introduces the one body: "We, being many, are one loaf, one body; for we all partake of that one loaf". The saints are here actually gathered around the Lord's table, and their communion is that of death--for the body and blood of the Christ are mentioned separately; then comes in the blessed truth of the one body, which shuts out once and for all any sectarian thought. "We are one body." The immense importance of this in a day of utter ruin, cannot be too much insisted upon; for while we disclaim to be the body, to the exclusion of other true believers, we would seek to maintain in dependence upon the Lord all the blessed truths which characterize the whole church of God.
This surely is the true spirit of a remnant; and faith recognises the unity of the body, notwithstanding all that man has done. Elijah could see the twelve tribes by faith when all was in disorder in Israel (1 Kings 18: 31); and we can perceive the one body, safe in God's keeping, amidst the endless divisions of Christendom.
- E. L. B.