There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
The Oneness Of It All
In a world filled with religious diversity, changing faiths, freedom to worship according to choice, insolent attitudes toward God and rejection of the Bible, Paul’s letter to Ephesus is a fresh reminder of the unchanging nature of truth. Whether a person accepts the teaching of the word of God does not change the nature of the absolute truth of the oneness in the doctrine of the Divine. The challenges in the first century were not on the battlefield of teaching the doctrine of one church as much as the response to the pagan world of multiple gods to show there was only one Lord and one God and based upon that foundation there could only be on hope, one faith, and one doctrine. It was radical thinking for the citizens of the Roman world to hear someone proclaim the doctrine of oneness. When Paul was in Athens he noted the city was given over to idol worship and included one to the “unknown god” just in case someone was missed in the tally. Included in the worship of idols was an amoral principle of self-satisfaction leading to a person serving his god in the manner he desired which included all levels of immorality, debauchery, and carnal pleasures. This was not the message of the early followers of Jesus Christ who taught allegiance to one God who was Creator of all men demanding obedience to one faith. The singular nature of the Christian faith was a sweeping indictment against everything familiar to the Roman mind. Religion in the first century was a wide-open acceptance of almost anything the hearts of the people wanted with the choice to serve whatever type of god that would soothe the conscience of the worshipper. To suggest there was only one assembly of saints, one Spirit with one hope serving one Lord and one faith teaching one doctrine and established by one God and Father of all was almost a blasphemous voice in the midst of a forest of religious freedoms where individuals could attend the god of their choice. The apostle Paul would not be favored by many of his day who heard this message of clarity and oneness and if Paul were preaching today he would receive the same response.
Religion has changed its garments from the cloaks of idolatry in the first century to the veil of religious freedom in a world where a person is told to attend the church of their choice. Paul’s teaching of one church or one body is rejected as narrow-minded prejudice. Suggesting a man’s church could be a false body of faith in considered unkind and viewed with disdain if maligning the religious preference of another. Teaching one faith over other faiths in the world is unacceptable in the pulpits of religion. Baptism is neglected to the point of derision by those who deny its significance to salvation. Many claim to follow Jesus Christ but never embrace Him as the one Lord of their lives to follow His teachings on purity, faithfulness, devotion, and holiness. The doctrine of the oneness of the gospel of Christ is now taught as the multiplicity of personal views and interpretations based upon personal preference. Churches dot the landscape as (like in the city of Athens) the world is perceived as a very religious place with worshippers filling the buildings of individual taste and acceptance. The standard of one book with one message from one God is now replaced with the doctrines of men, acceptance of human standards and influx of hedonism guided worship where the carnal is worshipped above all things. Church worship has become a vivid experience of self-satisfaction that is as empty as water spilled to the ground. What Paul wrote to the Ephesian saints is the doctrine of two churches: the church of Jesus Christ with one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, and one faith with one baptism and one God and Father; and then there is the church of Satan that calls itself anything it desires, giving a false hope in a doctrine of eternal security from the Lord of self, creating a false faith rejecting clear teachings of salvation as if they serve the true God. As a result, many people worship in a body that is not from the mind of God but the wisdom of men.
The doctrine of oneness is no more popular today than when Paul penned the letter two thousand years ago. If a man stands in a pulpit and teaches there is one church he is viewed with distrust and prejudice. Teaching the doctrine of the one baptism necessitating the essential nature of obedience to the gospel of Christ is rejected as a failed theology. Most deny baptism has anything to do with salvation thereby filling the rolls of the lost to greater numbers. Faith is not accepted as singular and that all faiths must be accepted for what they are. This again falls in line with the doctrine of apostasy and the great lie of the deceiver himself. Many will claim they believe in Jesus Christ and fill their lives with fornication, adultery, drunkenness, lying, dishonesty, worldliness and carnal pleasures. Paul’s preaching is not welcomed in the diverse world of religion. Teaching a doctrine of oneness is narrow-minded to a fault and rejected by the majority of religions and faiths. The wiles of the devil teach men to reject the plain teaching of God. And yes – there is one God who gave His one Son to build His one church through the one Spirit so there could be one hope and one Lord and one faith established on one baptism. When the day of judgment arrives there will only be one decision that will matter in the heart of men. Did I believe in the oneness of the doctrine of God and did I obey the one truth? The answer will determine eternity.