by Burk Parsons
During the second half of the twentieth century, post-Christian societies throughout the world began to shout the mantra “unity is god!” In attempting to liberate themselves from the truths upon which they were established, they bound themselves to a law that requires perfect compliance. Consequently, it has become necessary for every post-Christian society to promulgate its cause in accordance with this one code: “In unity we trust, in tolerance we flourish, and in pluralism we are free. Unity is god, and there is no god but unity.” It is the destiny of human societies to self-destruct, and it is the manner of fallen men to make self-destruction seem worthwhile.
The perfect society, however, is united. It is established by truth. Truth, however, neither establishes itself nor validates itself. Rather, it is established by one whose word is truth, and it is validated by one whose word demands truth.
As Christians, we know the truth, and we understand that truth cannot be compromised for the sake of unity. Though the compromise of truth may seem to cultivate unity, such unity is imaginary and brings about even greater division in the end.
Throughout history, the church visible has experienced periods of unity and periods of division. The one, true Church of Christ, however, has never been divided. The unity of the Church invisible has not come as a result of compromise. Rather, our unity has been established by truth itself — truth that is unable to be compromised.
In the prologue to the gospel according to John, it is written: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Moreover, in responding to His doubting disciple Thomas, Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). God has manifested His truth in Himself; in Jesus Christ, truth is proclaimed and established. On account of Christ, we know the truth and are thus set free by the truth (John 8:32). We do not have to attempt to liberate ourselves by establishing our own standards of truth. Rather, we are established by Christ Himself, for He is the truth (John 17:17).
We, the people of God, exist as the perfect society of God because we are united in God. We are His people and He is our God; we are united in Him because of His truth — because of Christ (John 17:23).
Nevertheless, we are the people of God not for the mere reason that we are members of a local church; we are the people of God because we are in Christ. Moreover, we are in Christ not primarily because we believe that He died for sinners. Rather, we are in Him precisely because He died for us (Eph. 1:7). “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us … while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom. 5:8 ff.).
In Christ, we, the people of God, have been redeemed (Titus 2:14). As our High Priest (Heb. 8:1), Christ lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25), and as our source of eternal salvation He has offered Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for those who obey Him (Heb. 5:9). “Therefore,” Hebrews says, “he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance” (9:15).
In Christ, redemption has been accomplished on behalf of God’s people. As a man covenants with a woman in marriage, so Christ, the Groom, covenants with the church. He enters into covenant with His community of saints, and He demonstrates His love by sacrificing Himself for His people (Matt. 1:21). Indeed, we are His Bride for whom He has given His life, fulfilling the covenant of redemption (Eph. 5:25). As a result, redemption is particular to those for whom Christ has died (John 10:11;Acts 20:28; Heb. 2:9). Our Savior “gave himself for us, to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). We are Christ’s, and for this reason we cannot be divided (Luke 11:17), for Christ cannot be divided (1 Cor. 1:13).
Christ’s redemption did not make salvation merely possible; it made salvation actual. What is more, we are not potentially saved by Christ’s redemption; we are actually saved. His death secured us in Him and united us in Him forever, and in Him we live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). By His grace and for His glory, His redemption accomplished for us and applied to us all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
Consequently, we do not shout the humanistic mantra: “Unity is god!” Rather, we proclaim the truth of God in Christ: “In God we trust, in truth we flourish, and in Christ we are free. Christ is truth, and in Christ we are one.” Although it is the destiny of human societies to self-destruct, it is our destiny to reign forever as one in Christ.
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