By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body (1 Cor. 12:13).

The unity of the Church is one of the most clearly revealed doctrines of the Bible. There is one fold, and one shepherd; one king, and one kingdom; one temple, an habitation of God through the Spirit; one vine, of which all believers are the branches; one body, of which all are members. The very expression “the Church,” so familiar to the ears of the readers of the Scriptures, implies that there can be but one Church which Christ loved and for which he died.

I. This one Church includes the saints in heaven as well as those on earth. Both classes belong to that kingdom of which Christ is the Lord, and to that body of which he is the head. There is but one Father of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.

Such has been the common faith of Christians. They are taught to say: “We believe in the Holy Catholic Church.” On this point there has never been any diversity of opinion.

II. A second point no less clear is that believers are one in virtue of their union with Christ. They are one body in Christ Jesus. He is the vine. They are the branches. Union with the same vine makes the branches one. He is the head. We are the members. Only those in vital union with the head are members of the body of Christ, which is his Church.

III. The next question is, what constitutes union with Christ? Who are in him, in the Scriptural sense of those words? This is a question which cannot be answered in a simple sentence, because that union is manifold, and includes three distinct, although intimately related elements.

1. We are said to be in him before the foundation of the world. There is a union in idea, in thought, of purpose, which antedates all that is real and actual. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: