GOD begins with Himself and ends with Himself. Before the eons God
sits in His solitary majesty. With the eons comes the revelation of His Christ. Then we
are called upon to consider His dealings with His creatures. As soon as the climax of the
eons has been reached, history will recoil upon itself. Each former phase will be
rehearsed on a vaster scale, until once more we find all beneath the rule of Christ, its
earliest Head. Then comes the consummation, and God becomes All once again. Then, however,
He becomes not All in Himself, but All in all His creatures.
The same course is followed in revealing the structure of the tabernacle in the
wilderness. First He describes His own throne. Then He reveals the various excellences of
Christ as displayed within the holy places, and later leads us without to the vessels of
the court, and the outer gate. In practice, the priests reversed this order. They began
outside the enclosure, and passed the altar and the laver before coming to the holy place.
Our meditations have been somewhat like this. Beginning with God in His inmost secret
affections, conceived before creation, we have traced our relationship to Christ, as His
members, and have considered the mutual relationships of His saints. We have come out from
God, through Christ, to our fellows. The rest of the epistle reverses this order. We will
now retrace our steps, and consider the present practical effect of these marvelous
unfoldings. First we will take up the conduct consequent upon our relationship to one
another; second, our responsibilities as members of the body of Christ; third, the warfare
which awaits those who enter our celestial allotment by faith in anticipation of that day.
We wish to impress our readers with the helpfulness of the literary structure of this
epistle. The exhortations which follow are not only based on the previous half in general,
but apply to particular portions. Our deportment has the same three aspects as the
doctrine. What we believe of God, and of Christ and of the saints, to the saints, and to
Christ, and to God must be lived. It is instructive to read the epistle parenthetically.
After considering our allotment among the celestials (Eph.1:3-19) we may skip to our
heavenly warfare (Eph.6:10-20). From the first section which deals with the body of Christ
(Eph.1:20-2:10), we may turn to the second (Eph.5:21-6:9). To understand the "new
man" (Eph.2: 11-22) see what is said about the new humanity (Eph. 4:17-5:20). These
remote contexts are corrective checks on our interpretation which may be easily
The first half closed with a summary and a petition. Before entering on the three main
themes of the epistle, we are given an exhortation and another summary, both dealing with
conduct. The first six verses of chapter four present a plea of the utmost importance to
all who wish to please God in this secret administration. Let us note that these are the
first words which God gives to regulate our conduct, after making known the riches of His
grace. At the same time they are a test. If we have really received the great revelation
which goes before, this should be the fruit. If, for instance, we find a brother
endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit, we may be assured that he is living in the
power of the previous unfoldings.
We must not fail to note Paul's new title--the prisoner in the Lord. In order to
present truth he is the prisoner of Christ Jesus (Eph.3:1). To enforce it,
he is the prisoner in the Lord (Eph.4:1). We have been considering Christ Jesus and
our place in Him. Now we are called upon to acknowledge him as our Master and consider
what conduct is pleasing to Him. Christ serves out blessing. The Lord seeks
obedience. The key to all good conduct may be condensed into a single phrase,
"Christ, my Lord."
All real obedience must be the unforced fruit of the former part of this epistle. It is
utterly useless to enter Ephesians by the back door. No one can carry out any of these
exhortations, as they should be obeyed, except through the power generated by the grace
glorious. Anyone who seeks to enforce the exhortations in Ephesians apart from the
enabling favor on which they are founded, degrades them to the level of the law. Indeed,
they are more damning than the law, for they demand far more than Moses ever did. Let us
not render a forced, unwilling obedience, but let each act be the outgrowth of God's most
Who can walk worthily of a calling which he does not apprehend? Let us not strive to be
what we are not. All God asks of us is to live up to what He has made us. The preparation
for such a walk, the power for such deportment, lies in a consciousness of our high social
standing among God's nobility. Among men we readily recognize a nobleman by the
superficial niceties of his conduct. We ought to be the true nobility, known by the deeper
and more enduring virtues which adorn the doctrine we profess.
The rarest and most precious gem found in the field of human conduct is true humility.
In these days it is derided and condemned. It is considered a weakness, if not a disease.
The greatest hindrance to "success" is an "inferiority complex," to
use the up-to-date philosopher's phrase. Even in the religious sphere, humility is at a
tremendous discount. Aggressive self-assertion seems necessary for preferment. How far
have we fallen from the great ideal! How little do we see of that genuine meekness which
springs from a profound realization of the truth! The sunlight of God's favor has not only
revealed our exaltation in Christ, but our degradation in ourselves. Though perfectly
righteous in Him, we have lost all self-righteousness. We may glory in God and His Christ,
but this involves the utter repudiation of all merit of our own.
Only one who has a low estimate of himself is in a position to bear long with the
failings and shortcomings of others. Patience is the rare and precious virtue which
follows humility and meekness. We are to bear with one another in love (Eph.4:2). All of
this is based upon the unfathomable affection which God lavishes upon us and on all who
are His. We cannot respond to His love without, at the same time, including those who are
embraced by it. We can manifest it best in practice, by a becoming conduct toward His
saints. When the apostle first gives us a glimpse of the transcendent path which we now
tread, he summed it all up in one word-love (1 Cor.12:31-14:1). He begins his eulogy by
saying "Love is patient" and he ends by affirming that it endures all (1
Cor.13:4,7). This is the greatest of the abiding trinity--faith, expectancy, love--and
love shall never lapse.
Now we have a foundation for peace. The warring factions of Christendom are seeking
peace by compromise. Real peace between God's saints is based on humility and meekness,
patience and forbearance, and a recognition of the spirit's unity. Apart from this there
can be no real reconciliation. The peace and unification which is proposed today is based
largely on indifference to the vital values of God's revelation. It is human in its method
and its object. We can really unite with all who are hallowed only by ignoring the sects
and parties and schisms to which they belong. Let us have fellowship with all,
irrespective of their church affiliations. Do they belong to the body of Christ? Then they
belong to us, and we to them.
THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT
The days in which we are living are days of dissension and discord and division. There
is a continual and persistent effort for unity, but it seldom bears any fruit but schism.
One of the saddest features is the fact that truth itself is made an excuse for further
division. Every "movement" rapidly degenerates into a sect. And so fertile are
the seeds of schism that it is only a short time until the division itself is divided into
dozens of fragments.
The only human method of arresting this disintegration is to set up some human
head, such as the patriarchs of the eastern churches, the pope of Rome, or the bishops and
councils of the western churches. There must be some human authority. Leaders find that
they cannot keep their followers together unless they assume jurisdiction over their faith
and decide for them just what they must believe.
A very practical and searching question arises at this point. We have learned some
great and precious truths, notably the reconciliation of the universe. Shall we allow this
truth to separate between us and our fellow believers? Shall we let it be the nucleus of a
sect? Shall we confine our fellowship to those who see as we do on this important point?
Shall it create a division, another breach in the unity which God intends shall
characterize His saints in this economy?
That this is its natural tendency no one will deny. And no one can help having more
intimate fellowship with those of like faith than with those who are otherwise minded. To
human wisdom a strong separate organnation would be the surest method of promoting a
successful propaganda. The answer to all these questions is found in the opening entreaty
of the Ephesian epistle (Eph.4:1-6). There we have a unity--the unity of the spirit. We
are not called upon to make this unity but to keep it.
This is most vital. All efforts toward Christian unity today are like the patching
together of broken fragments. They are all directed toward restoring the outward
semblance. The true unity is a spiritual one and still exists in spite of
all the apparent divisions. All that is needed is to recognize this unity and
ignore the other so-called unities and alliances and associations which are trying to
create a superficial communion, but which are really the greatest hindrances to the
display of the God made unity which embraces all His own.
The unity which we are to keep with diligence is based upon seven fundamental truths.
Its keyword is one. There is one body--and only one--one
spirit, one expectation, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one
God and Father. The apostle is not revealing to the Ephesians that there is a God,
or that there is a body. He is insisting that there is only one. The church
of today repudiates every one of these divine unities.
When we read of "the protestant bodies," or "the Methodist body,"
what is it but a denial that there is one body? But is it not still more sad to
hear of those who meet "on the ground of the one body" yet exclude all who do
not meet upon this ground? The body of Christ is no organization of our manufacture. It is
an organism whose members are placed in the body as it pleases Him. It has but one
Head, even Christ. It is our duty and privilege first of all to acknowledge His headship
and, in doing this, we must also recognize every member that He has. We are all members of
the same body. We are not divided. We are one.
The lack of unity among God's saints is a source of the utmost shame and confusion to
those who seek to please Him. To mourn over the many organizations which have marred the
manifestation of this unity to the world is the constant exercise of all who know the
truth. Not only are the castes of Israel revived, so that we have clergy and laity, but we
have a hundred sects for every one of theirs. There is only one body in Christ, but there
may be a thousand in the world. There is but one faith, but creeds are numberless. There
is only one Lord, but how diverse are the disciplines which have replaced Him!
Many attempts have been made "to get back to the ground of the one body,"
but each has resulted in another organization, another division. Every effort made to
unify God's people seems to be but another means of further schism. A new truth is
proclaimed. Some believe. Some do not. One faction leaves, and there is another
"body." Unbelief creeps in, and such a movement as "Modernism" invades
a congregation or a pulpit. Those who wish to be faithful revolt, and there is still
another body. The tragic truth is that it is indifference and compromise which are tending
to organize Christianity into one great dead body, and it is the sincere and faithful
spirits (who ought to preserve the unity of the spirit) who are continually causing
further disintegration. What are we to do? We cannot compromise nor do we dare divide.
The difficulty is that men are making their own unit while ignoring the unity of the
spirit. The moment we make it we are sure to break it. It does not need
making. It needs taking. Negatively, all that is necessary is to ignore all
other unities, however fair they seem, however godly the saints that they include, however
indispensable they appear. Positively, let us acknowledge all who are sealed by the
spirit, all who know God and are members of the body of Christ. Let us acknowledge only one
body, one spirit, one expectation, one Lord, one faith, one
baptism, and one God.
Unity is one of the controlling thoughts of Ephesians. It is not confined to this
exhortation. Each item of the secret consists in joining together those who have been far
apart. The first chapter gives the nations the same allotment as an election among
the Circumcision, because they have obtained the same spirit. In the second chapter
Jew and gentile are roused and seated together, and later on the two are made one
and He creates the two into one new humanity. Physical distinctions are all
repealed. The distressing divisions of the past are done away. One of the principal aims
of all our lives should be the preservation of the oneness which actually exists between
us and all the other saints of this era. Let us resist every effort to divide and sunder
what God has joined together.
In Israel, apart from the various sects, there were several "bodies" of
divine appointment. The anointing oil was confined to a privileged class of men, the
priesthood. They formed a distinct body, separated from the Levites, their brethren, and
the rest of Israel. The priests were, in a special manner, God's christs, or anointed
ones, in Israel. They had the oil, a sign of the spirit. All, in this economy, have the
anointing of the spirit itself, and all today have access into the very presence of the
Father. No one in the body of Christ is like a common Levite, or a mere Israelite of
another tribe. There were at least three distinct bodies in Israel, determined by their
distance from the deity. Outside of these there were distinct "bodies" even
among the nations. There were the proselytes, and others who believed, making two or three
"bodies" among the gentiles, though each had few privileges of any kind.
In contrast with these there is only one body today. It is a joint body in which
all the members are of equal rank. Not only are the Circumcision, priests, Levites, and
others, on the same level, but the proselytes and devout believers among the nations are
not distinguished from one another or from the three bodies in Israel. The most uncouth
and unlearned saint in far off Thessalonica ranked just the same as Barnabas, the Levite,
in the body of Christ. There is no temple curtain, barring out the priests, no holy place
into which the Levites cannot come, no court to which an Israelite has no access, no wall
to shut out the nations, no ceremonies to mark off the proselytes from inferior ranks of
gentile believers. All are one body, for all are in Christ, so near and dear to God
that distinctions are impossible.
Let us insist that the characteristic truth for today is not merely that we are the
body of Christ, but that this is a joint body, and there is only one. There
are differences between saints. There are degrees of knowledge or ignorance. There is
variety in service, and in the rewards to which it leads. But let us remember that we are
not in the body of the Lord, but in the body of Christ. Attainment and
service are not necessary to membership. The most ignorant saint is entitled to a place in
the joint body. No service whatever is needed to become a member. Faith alone is all that
is required. Only thus can there be but one body.
Christendom today has many organizations. Yet in all of these, and outside of them as
well, are those who are living members of that one great spiritual organism whose Head is
Christ. This is the true "catholic," or universal, church. It is the only one
worthy of our thought or serious consideration. Its membership is based solely on the
possession of God's spirit, not on any man- made bonds whatever. God alone can put men in
it, and no one can put men out of it. It is divine. It is the work of God's spirit. Let us
recognize His handiwork and acknowledge His achievement. Many a saint is awed by the
religious atmosphere of some great cathedral, but does not realize the solemn sanctity of
God's real dwelling place, the church of Christ. It alone is hallowed. Let us make much of
We have so long been accustomed to reading "spirit" with a capital
"S" and referring it to God's spirit exclusively that, to many, the small
"s" seems offensive and derogatory. But the word spirit is by no means confined
to God's holy spirit. It would be trite indeed to insist that God's spirit is only one. We
have a spirit. Each act of our lives is characterized by a spirit. Each administration has
its own peculiar spirit. The spirit of the Mosaic economy was legal. It has no place
today. When the disciples desired to draw down fire upon their enemies they were told that
they did not know what spirit pertained to them. The spirit of Elijah's ministry was quite
different from that of our Lord's, though both were actuated by the same holy spirit.
The "spirit" speaks of the temper of the mind, the key to which life's
activities are pitched. In every divine administration this is dependent on God's
assumption and the nature of the work which engages Him. Elijah's attitude toward his
enemies could not be duplicated by our Lord. Neither can we duplicate the spirit of our
Master's day. Gentiles were treated as outsiders, deserving, almost no consideration. The
same spirit was not shown them which obtained in the churches in Israel. Only when a Jew
was obstinate and would not bow to the decision of the congregation, then he also was to
be treated like a man of another nation. Today no such distinctions may be maintained.
Jews and gentiles are on one common ground, and this a spiritual one. We deal with one
another on the one high plateau of His exalted favor.
Those of the Circumcision who died in their faith never entered into this truth. Even
after this letter was sent forth, Peter wrote to the dispersion, telling them to behave
themselves ideally "among the nations" (1 Peter 2:12) where they found
themselves. This is not an isolated statement, but one of many which show the double
spirit which he and the surviving Circumcisionists showed to the end of their days.
Nowhere in his letters, or, indeed, in any epistles except Paul's latest, does the truth
of the one spirit receive acknowledgment.
Christendom has almost utterly missed the spirit which should distinguish it from all
previous administrations. It has lived in the atmosphere of Sinai or Jerusalem instead of
in the prison house of Paul at Rome. In the bondage of the law, or seeking to fit into the
earthly kingdom, it has imbibed and manifested a spirit foreign to the truth. It should
display such boundless grace and love, in accord with God's own attitude, that all men
everywhere would recognize its every act by its delicious Christ- like spirit. Instead, it
has become the opposite, and is described by God Himself as an unearthly monster, more
ferocious than the beasts of the earth.
The earliest written record that we have of Paul's peculiar ministry is stated thus:
"...you turned back to God from idols, to be slaving for the living and true God and
to be waiting for His Son out of the heavens, Whom He rouses from among the dead,
Jesus, Who is rescuing us out of the coming indignation" (1 Thess.1:9, 10). The wrath
impending on Israel and the earth, of which Peter spoke at Pentecost, which is detailed in
the Unveiling, will be endured to its close by the saints who survive for the kingdom. If
our place were in that kingdom and we hoped to enter it alive, our future outlook would be
one of terror and dread. At any moment the portals of Jehovah's day might open and we
would enter its terrible trials and suffer its terrific tribulations. Only those who
endure to the end will be delivered.
This is the key to Paul's epistles to the Thessalonians. This is what they dreaded, and
this is the predicament into which they supposed that they had fallen. It seemed very real
to them. Paul expresses the matter in a most realistic figure, in anticipation of their
mistake. He puts it all into the present, notwithstanding the word "waiting"
demands the future. Our Lord is presented as the One delivering them--not who will
deliver them. In line with this they are delivered out of the indignation--not from-
-as though they had already entered it. Paul uses the same figure of himself when he
speaks of being rescued out of the mouth of the lion (2 Tim.4:17). He was never in
it. But such dangers impress themselves vividly on the mind, and it is more fitting to
state the feeling rather than the fact.
A word of warning to close students of the Scriptures is called for here. It is well to
be exact and to insist on the literal meaning whenever possible. I have great sympathy
with those who point to the connective out of to prove that the Thessalonians will
be in the coming indignation, for, they say, "How can they come out of it if
they never were in it?" But there is a higher logic than this. It may be
stated thus: Every word, in the Scriptures, must be interpreted in accord with its
context and the entire production of which it is a part. Now it is the main burden of
the Thessalonian epistles to prove that they were not appointed to indignation, but
to the procuring of salvation (1 Thess.5:9,10). No single word in the epistle must be
forced to teach otherwise, especially when its figurative use lends life and force, and is
found elsewhere in the same sense. Let us feel that the Son of God is delivering us
out of the coming indignation which might, at any moment, close its maw upon our helpless
Israel's expectation in the kingdom finds no fulfillment until after the time of
tribulation. Hence Paul gave the Thessalonians and the Corinthians a prior expectancy.
This is what especially distinguished the Circumcision who followed Paul's teaching from
the rest. Peter's words still held with the latter. The heavens must receive Christ until
the restoration of all spoken by the prophets (Acts 3:21). They knew nothing of His
previous descent to the air. When Paul seeks to identify those of the Circumcision who had
received his revelations he falls back on this fact. They looked for Christ to come before
the affliction. They had a prior expectation. The celestial allotment of Ephesians
is for them (Eph.1:12). It is the mark which identifies Pauline believers among the
Circumcision, hence the Ephesian revelation is limited to them.
Unlike the kingdom expectations, our outlook is the same for all. All will have a
celestial allotment, all will be with Christ, all will go at the same time. There is only one
expectation! This is the fruit of grace transcendent. It ignores the distinctions of flesh
and makes favorites of all. In the kingdom almost all the promises and privileges are for
Israel. The nations have no expectation worthy of the name. If the gentiles of this era
were to be with them in the kingdom we would soon discover that there was more than one
expectation. Our outlook would not compare with that of a Jew, no matter what our
spiritual attainments might be.
This gracious truth is being assailed from all sides. It does not seem possible to
leave grace unadulterated. Some imagine that our expectation is only for the watchful,
when the apostle distinctly declares that it is also for the drowsy (1 Thess.5:10). Others
think He comes only for those who look for Him (Heb.9:28), and thus limit it to those who
believe in His advent. Hebrews speaks of His coming to Israel, not to us. A few make it a
matter of attainment or knowledge. For those who have gone to repose this expectation is
necessarily an eclectic, or out- resurrection, for it occurs before the saints of Israel
are roused, and leaves them in their tombs. The apostle's desire to con form his
experience to it has led to the idea that he hoped to be raised immediately at death, and
thus precede other saints into Christ's presence. All such departures deny this unity.
There is one, and only one, expectation common to all the saints of this most gracious
There is one Master, or Lord. How this strikes at the very root of the ecclesiasticism
of today! With the Ephesians the contrast would consist in the repeal of the decrees
issued from Jerusalem, which were the token of their subjection to the twelve. But now
decrees are issued, not only from Jerusalem, but from Rome and Petrograd, from London and
Berlin, and from a thousand councils and conferences and synods, and so voluminous as to
fill whole books with rules for the discipline of the saints. And at the very same time
the inspired exhortations of the prison epistles, which are the real rule of conduct for
today, are forgotten or ignored.
The kingdom will be administered by many masters. The whole nation of Israel will be a
royal nation with the rest of the world as their subjects. The twelve apostles will sit on
twelve thrones, ruling the twelve tribes of Israel. If this were such an administration,
we should have Paul and Timothy and all the rest of the apostles, or their successors,
ruling over us today. It is well that the Roman pontiff does not claim to be Paul's
successor, for Paul himself would refuse to take the place he occupies. Such delegated
authority is a necessity in the kingdom. Christ will rule through His representatives, and
men must be subject to them, as to under-lords.
But for us there is only one Lord. When men step in and dictate to us what we
are to believe, how we are to behave, and assign our tasks, they usurp His place,
and deny His headship, and underrate His capacity. Before the present status of the saints
had been made known, and the nations were still supposed to be subject to Jerusalem, a
convention could be called to make decrees, and James could settle matters by saying
"I decide." Not so now. God has not replaced the deposed Circumcision by
other lords, taken from among the gentiles. Those who have risen to reign over the saints
have usurped the place of Christ. He needs no earthly vicar, Catholic or Protestant. Nor
Jerusalem, nor Rome, nor Council, nor Synod, nor any Diotrephes has any right to stand
between us and our Lord!
There is dire need that the people of God realize the fact that they are not only
saints saved by Christ but slaves serving their Lord. There is much religious work today,
but how little of it is under His direction! How much will merit His approval? How little
effort is being made to discover His will! In most cases some man has made himself a
master, and the lordship of Christ is lost.
It seems almost ironical to say that there is one faith. Whence, then, are the
thousands of divine "faiths" which challenge us with the assurance that they are
all taken from the Bible? And many of them can point to proof texts for their
doctrines and thus found all, as they fondly believe, "on the Bible." Some go to
the law, in spite of the fact that the nations never were under the law. Some refer us to
the "gospels," forgetting that Jesus Christ was not sent but to the lost sheep
of the house of Israel. Some stake all on John's or Peter's ministries, not heeding their
own words that the gospel of the Circumcision was committed to them, but that of
the Uncircumcision to Paul.
There is only one true creed today. The many confessions and statements of belief are
all fragmentary and faulty. They divide rather than unify. Christendom contains a thousand
beliefs. Each is stoutly defended as the only one! They are all buttressed by "the
Bible." Have we not discovered the key to this confusion? Once the truth is correctly
apportioned, once the last great revelation--the secret economy--is given its due place,
then only one belief is possible. All prior revelation is glorified by its transcendent
truths. Practically all of the creeds ignore it. Their dogmas are derived from previous
administrations. They base their beliefs on passages which have no present application.
We must remember that, before the current administration, there was more than one body
of truth. What was true of the Jew was not by any means to be taken of the gentile. This
was especially the case in the transitional period between Pentecost and the present. This
is the background for the statement that there is but one faith now. It is not selective,
predicating of one class what is not true of another. When those of the Circumcision who
were with Paul received a celestial allotment, they had no monopoly of it. It was for the
gentiles also. When a new humanity was created, the superiority of the Circumcision
vanished. So long as the churches seek to establish themselves on the shifting scenes of
Acts there will be many conflicting faiths.
The so-called "Great Commission," at the close of Matthew, must have been
given but a short time before Pentecost. Yet there is no record that it was obeyed in a
single instance during the period covered by the book of Acts. This shows the great
confusion into which the truth as to baptism has fallen. While claiming the support of
primitive practice, the attempt is made to fulfill the Matthew commission, baptizing in
the name of the so-called "trinity," which the disciples never did! The
early disciples were right. That commission waits for the day when all earthly power is in
the hands of the great King. It is not the one baptism for this era.
Peter, on the day of Pentecost, conditions the reception of the spirit upon baptism in
water (Acts 2:38). Conversely, in Cornelius' case, he conditions baptism in water on the
reception of the spirit (Acts 10:47,48). The tendency was away from water to spirit,
especially in regard to the gentiles. Under Paul's ministry this is carried much further.
Of baptism in water he said: "Christ does not commission me to be baptizing but to be
preaching the evangel..." (1 Cor.1:17). Though so vehemently denying the practice of
baptizing in water, he insists, in the same epistle, that "in one spirit
we all are baptized into one body" (1 Cor.12:13).
Spirit baptism is essential to membership in the body of Christ. Water baptism is not.
During our Lord's life water baptism was the only one. During the Pentecostal era spirit
baptism was added, so there were two. Now there is a return to one. Either water or spirit
baptism is no longer in force. Can anyone hesitate which one to drop! Spirit baptism is
vital. Without it we have nothing. We are not cleansed. We are not united into one body.
Not so water baptism. Paul had practically dropped it long before. It was nothing but a
ceremonial, of no efficacy in itself, a type of spirit baptism. One was the shadow, the
other the reality. Spirit baptism is the one baptism for today.
Perhaps some of those who first received this epistle had known two baptisms. Some in
Corinth had been dipped in water. Since that time there has been a constant change from
the physical to the spiritual. This epistle finally sets aside all fleshly prerogatives.
Nothing depends on the physical and everything is based on the spiritual. The very unity
of which this is a part is made by spirit. How could such a oneness come from the
superficial contact of water with the flesh? In a catalogue of spiritual unities it should
be unnecessary to insist that the one baptism is that of God's spirit. All to whom this
was written had been baptized in spirit. It is the vital basis of unity.
The popular view of the baptism of the spirit is far astray. Like its type, water
baptism, it cleanses and unifies. It does not impart power. That is
done by the coming on of the spirit, a manifestation which must not be confused
with it. After the Pentecostal era, which paraded the powers of the coming eon, this coming
on of the spirit ceased. In its place we have the homing of the spirit. We are not
promised power, but weakness such as may be used as a foil for God's strength. The
manifestations popularly connected with spirit baptism are usually the work of deceiving
spirits, promising powers which have no place in this economy.
The "proofs" of trinitarianism all flow from false inferences founded on
passages which do not deal with the subject. The texts which actually and definitely
decide the question are either ignored or "explained," notwithstanding the
vehement emphasis put upon the word one and the denial of more than one. The
Scriptures plainly teach that there is one God, the Father, but orthodox Christianity
upholds a form of apologetic polytheism, in which Satan, as well as the so-called persons
of the godhead are invested with the attributes of deity.
Postulating a good and beneficent God, eternal torment is unreasonable and insane. By a
reversal of the logical process, it demands a monstrous deity, partial, cruel, vindictive.
The doctrine that good proceeds from God and evil from another source is the basis of
Zoroastrianism or Parseeism. It is the teaching of the Zend-Avesta. It was later embraced
by the Gnostic philosophy, against which Colossians warns us. It is impossible to teach
that evil originated in any being, independent of God, without destroying the basic truth
of the Bible, that there is only one God. Monotheism becomes a cloak to disguise
the doctrine of dualism. God is defied and Satan deified.
It is this false and pagan philosophy of the genesis of evil which bears fruit in the
further falsehood that evil has always existed and always will exist. No one not equally
powerful and divine could have introduced evil against the will of God, hence the god of
evil must be as great as, or greater than, the god of good. Hence this evil god is a
proper deity with divine attributes. He can have neither beginning nor end, and his work
is as eternal as himself.
But this is not all. If there is more than one god, and these two are not in accord,
then, as an inevitable consequence, there is no real God at all, with any of the
theological "attributes." A good god would not allow an evil god either place or
power if he could help it. He could not be "omnipotent." He could not endure the
presence of his rival, hence could not be "omnipresent." In short, two gods are
no God. There is One or none.
The Christian pantheon consists of four distinct deities. No being that successfully
contests the power of the divine Creator can be denied omnipotence. Such is Satan of
Christendom. He occupies practically the same place that Zeus, or Jupiter, did in Greek
mythology. Saturn was first supreme, and Zeus succeeded in overcoming him. The same fable
is foisted upon us by orthodox theology. God has been overpowered and cannot prevent the
evil in the world, or He would. Satan has the upper hand!
A few facts will show how unfounded is the explanation of the
"trinity"--three "persons" in one "godhead." These
expressions are not found in the Scriptures. Is it not significant that we must go outside
God's Word entirely to explain its most important truth? The holy spirit is not a distinct
"person" from God Himself. Both are given as the Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ. He was generated by the holy spirit. His Father was God. Surely we have only one
"person" here! Christ did not have two fathers! The only spirit is God's spirit,
and in no sense a separate personality.
Christ, as the Son of God, is divine as to His spirit and human as to His body. He is
the Image of God and the Word of God, by means of which we hear and see the invisible
deity. As such He is called God. But His entire work is to manifest Another. He has a
will, but prefers His Father's. He has all power, but it is given Him by His Father. He
carries out God's purpose, not His own. He rules as God's Executive. And when His work is
gloriously finished and He hands over a reconciled universe to God, He Himself becomes
subject. None of this is proper to absolute deity. He is the one Lord, not the one
God and Father, of this passage.
But the special thought which is called for by the context, has to do with the present
grace. Now, as never before, the one God is the one Father also. In preceding eras Israel
had almost a monopoly of His covenant care. For them He took a special title. Jehovah was
their special deity. He did not belong to the other nations. They were shut out of His
temple, and kept at a distance from His habitation. All of this is past. We know Him as
our God, in the most intimate and blessed of all His characters. He is our Father.
In this regard we come very close to God's ultimate. We anticipate the time when He
will become All in all His creatures. He, as the Father of all who believe, is over all
and through all and in all. Toward us He does not assume the role of a distant deity, to
be approached only through His appointed people, by means of a forbidding ceremonial. He
bids us draw very near to an affectionate Father, Who is involved in all that we do and
are. Again, He is this to all, not to a special class. May our hearts be enlightened to
appreciate this culminating grace! May its blessedness be ever fresh and may it be enjoyed
with an increasing sense of its preciousness!
Perhaps no better test of our interpretation of Ephesians, or of our understanding of
the truth for today can be found than this sevenfold spiritual unity. Happy, is he who can
say with a true heart that he acknowledges but one body, one spirit, one expectation, one
Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God! Who cannot look back to the time when he
recognized at least two of each? Christendom, with its trinity, its various baptisms, its
multitudinous faiths, its many lords, its hazy expectations, its conflicting spirits, and
its organized bodies, presents a spectacle to make angels weep and sadden every saint who
gets a glimpse of God's ideal. Man has multiplied every unity God has made.
The point in all that we have been considering lies in the word "one." No one
doubts that there is a body, a spirit, an expectation, a lord, a faith, a baptism,
a God. It would have conveyed the sense to say that there is one body, spirit,
expectation, Lord, faith, baptism, God and Father. But the Author of this epistle was
solicitous on this point. So He repeats the word "one" before each item to give
it extraordinary emphasis. We have printed it in italics in the version. In view of the
prevailing refusal to believe and keep this unity, we feel like printing it in italic
capitals, with all the force that type can convey. There is only ONE body, ONE
spirit, ONE expectation, ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE
God and Father!
Of course, there are many gods (1 Cor.8:5), two baptisms and many modes, many
faiths, mostly false, many lords, a multitude of mirages beside the one expectation, many
spirits, for we are warned against them, and bodies too numerous to mention. But for us
there is only ONE of each of these. To acknowledge this is to keep the spirit's
What closer links than these can there be to bind us to one aother? We are members of a
joint body. The spirit that animates it is undivided. We look forward to the same glorious
future. We obey the directions of a single Master. We believe the same truth. We are
cleansed by a baptism which fits for a common membership in God's great family, knowing
Him as our Father. Even in this earthly scene we know the unifying power of family ties,
the clannishness of priests cleansed at the laver, the ecclesiastical bond of a common
creed, the community of interests which flows from working under the same master, the ties
of mutual expectancy, the fellowship of spiritual affinities, and the marvelous unity of
the human frame. There is oneness of life, oneness of spirit, oneness of hope, oneness of
work, oneness of faith, oneness of worship, oneness of affection!
We are one in spirit! O that each would do his utmost to preserve this unity! Strife
has exploded its manifestation into a million fragments. We beseech you, gracious reader,
nay, God beseeches you to guard this precious ideal. The breach between Jew and
gentile no longer cleaves the saints in twain. But in its place we find a thousand
factions, all ignoring this great exhortation. But the unity still is there. We need not
make it. Let us keep it! When we stand before His dais, may it be our joy, and His, that
we have ever striven, by word and deed, to keep the unity of the spirit with the tie of