Building up believers and the New Testament church


Baptized Into One Body

Oneness is in the heart of God

Oneness is in the heart of God. His greatest desire is that we might be one with Him and with each other. When we come into the working of God, we find out we're not individuals any longer. Although we are saved as individuals, the moment we come through the door, we're in the family of God. Our lives are affected by others and we affect them. Now we have responsibility. Every member in the body of Christ has a responsibility to the life of God and the love of God.

A true corporate ministry will show evidence in our gathering by a "thermometer" we all can sense: a unified love of the brethren. True ministry brings us into a fuller expression of Christ, who is love. If ministry is moving in the life of God, the results will be manifest, as we give forth a testimony of love. The fruit of the Spirit will be evident.

The Spirit baptizes us into one body. We have all been made to drink of one Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13). But the expression of this will suffer if ministry is weak. This doesn't mean God will fail. God continues to try to speak to us, and the work will only fall apart if it is built by man. But if true ministry in life and the word of God is coming forth, God will strengthen our areas of weakness if we have hearts to hear the word. The word brings enlightenment so we can move out of our weaknesses into strength. Taking hold of the word of God brings real strength.

We will always be growing, but each of us should see something together of the end working of God's purpose. Without this, we are not unified! If we all have the life of God, that must work something. If we are all partakers of the same Spirit, we will move in the same direction. If we don't see together to some degree what God wants, something is wrong. We need to be convinced by the word of God that there is only one body, or the devil can "shoot us down." We cannot compromise. We don't choose who is in that body--God puts them into it. We may not understand it all right now, and we may not see how God will work all things to that end when we see so much division in the world, but we must still be convinced that there is only one body.

The vision that we see will dominate and master us, and bring us under the lordship of Christ. As we are mastered by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God who is here to build us into a habitation for God, we are unified. Paul says that now we "endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit." The unity of the Spirit is already here, but now we must enter into it. Ministry by those God has called will bring an expression of completeness--not just because we have the same life, but because we are now seeing alike, seeing together, seeing the same purpose of God.

I Corinthians 1:10 says, "I beseech ye brethren, by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you..." God has given grace to each one, and each minister sees something, but it is always within the overall revelation. This is the "same thing" that we all are seeing. We minister in the grace God has given us, but we may minister in different areas of the revelation. God may move strongly in the heart of a minister with something He wants to get across to the body. Another brother moves in God, not with the same thing, but to complement that ministry. We pull together in the Spirit of God. This is the full working of the body of Christ. If we're wrong, we're corrected. When we're right, we're pulling together. I believe this is what Paul is saying here: "...and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." Paul is speaking about the whole church, but the church can't come into this unless the ministers are there. We go on to grow in this, and a year from now, if the Lord tarries, we are in more oneness. We see God's purpose more clearly and we're laboring toward it.

The vision must increase

If we believe that God is working to bring oneness, we need to move together because we are one in the body. Although we are individuals, we are one. God can't work with a bunch of individuals. We were baptized by the Spirit into one body--so we are now connected. Now God wants us to function, and functioning takes the ability of God. We can't function on our own or in the natural, and we can't minister in the natural; we must minister in the Spirit of God. We need to move in the life of God together. God also wants us to come together with understanding. We may not know at the time we gather exactly what God has for us, but we already know there are certain things God wants to work and is working. Then we leave it open for God move in the hearts of those to whom He has given a ministry.

If we see together and agree in certain things, we can pull together in the Spirit. Each one of us is moving in the grace God has given us. Each one has a functioning place in the body of Christ, whether we are ministers or members. Wherever God has placed us, we are functioning and we are important in the body of Christ, no matter how "small" our place seems to be. We will realize why we are here. Together, we make up the whole. If one is not present, something is missing.

As ministry comes forth and brings the body of Christ into more oneness, it enables the body to see more clearly the vision of God held before them. The less there is of the vision in each of our hearts, the less we see, and the more we are divided. Division is unavoidable if there is no vision. But the brighter the vision of God beams, the fuller the ministry in that vision, the greater the oneness, and the greater the expression of God's love in each member. So the vision in a minister's life is one of the most important things. Knowledge of the vision of God must continue to increase. It can only increase as we look to the Lord and as we move together. A continued vision requires a continued ministry. If the ministry does not continue to pull together in some measure of oneness and with the same purpose in view, the vision will slowly die. Even if the vision burned brightly at the beginning, if we don't start to move and pull together in it, the vision will slowly fade away, and eventually there will be no vision.

If the vision of God is bright, it gives us the ability to begin to labor, to be channels for the flow of God's life to meet needs, and to begin to bring in His purpose. The closer we move to God's end purpose, the more oneness, the greater the vision. The vision begins to take form in the members. We become the vision, we become the purpose of God, and it is not just within four walls. Ministry reaches out. Ministry has an effect upon everything God wants to do in the world today. Those who go forth will do so because the vision is burning brightly, and because we have singleness of heart. Then God can speak, and reveal Himself in lives, and bring us to more oneness.

So each one of us has a function in the body of Christ, and the body of Christ is not just when we come together. We belong to that one body and we function seven days a week. We function in the world, and with our brothers and sisters. We esteem our brothers and sisters in the assembly, those who are in the faith. We are working in God's purpose, and we are not afraid to declare our purpose. The closer we get to this oneness, the greater our witness for the Lord Jesus Christ will be. The closer we get to spiritual seeing and moving, the greater the power of God will be upon our assembly, and the greater will be the power of utterance for the revelation. Where God's people are united in oneness, God is present, and He continues to bring understanding in His possessing overall purpose: that we may be brought to the place where Jesus Christ is all in all.

"For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all" (I Corinthians 15:27-28)