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The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a Gospel of Unity

Posted by on Mar 16, 2012 in unity | 6 comments

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a Gospel of Unity

In my last few posts, I’ve considered the relationship between the gospel and “togetherness” and the relationship between the gospel and good works. It seems natural (at least to me) to continue looking at the fullness of the gospel.

In the this post, I’m looking at the relationship between the gospel and unity.

From the outset, I recognize that the gospel is a dividing force. But, the good news is a divider between those who are God’s children and those who are not God’s children. The good news of Jesus Christ does NOT separate brothers and sisters in Christ from one another. Instead, it does just the opposite: the gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of unity.

Instead of looking at just one passage, I’m going to point out several passage that connect the good news of Jesus Christ with our unity (that is, with our relational unity to others who are brothers and sisters in Christ).

For example, Jesus’ famous prayer in John 17 touches on this connection:

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-21 ESV)

Similarly, Paul places our relational unity in the same context of our one Lord, one faith, and even God’s unity:

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6 ESV)

And, of course, that statement follows Paul’s exhortation to “maintain the unity of the Spirit.” (Ephesians 4:3 ESV) (See also Paul’s statement in Ephesians 2:14-16.)

Likewise, when Peter wrote to believers scattered around the Roman empire (1 Peter 1:1), he reminded them of their unity in the gospel:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)

Peter’s descriptions above stand out grammatically. The subject “you” is plural; he talking to multiple people at the same time. But, the descriptors (i.e., “a chosen race,” a royal priesthood,” “a holy nation”, “a people”) are all singular, emphasizing their unity.

Unity is not just a good idea; it is a result of the gospel of Jesus Christ – just as “togetherness” and good works are a result of the good news. We cannot separate these into different categories; they go together. If we are not united with brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, then we are not maintaining the unity of the Spirit, and we are not living according to the gospel.

In fact, as we submit more and more to the lordship of Jesus Christ – yielding ourselves to him daily – we will also grow in unity with one another. A lack of unity is an indication that we are not submitting to Jesus Christ as Lord.

It may sound harsh, but it’s true.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 3-16-2012

    I am more convinced every day that unity is essential to the Gospel. I think that where churches and people are too quick to separate from others, there is little understanding of the Gospel.

  2. 3-16-2012

    I am so moved by your last two sentences. Fully surrendering to God, to loving as He does, and to laying down ourselves as Jesus did, this is call of God on the body.
    We are set apart, separate from the world, to shine the love of God so the lost will have a light in the darkness.
    There is an old song that says “they we know we are Christians by our love by our love. They will know we are Christians by our Love” when we love God completely, and love our neighbor as ourself, we fulfill the law of Christ. This is unity in action.

  3. 3-16-2012

    Jesus Christ is the foundation of unity, the gospel of Jesus is the good news. Yet another way to look at it is, the gospel of Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ. In Him we move and have our being. I agree with Jeremy. where there are divisions/distinctions there is a lack of understanding, this lack is of Christ, and His love.

  4. 3-17-2012

    Totally agree with this Alan. Too often brothers and sisters in Christ place their understanding of Christ (doctrines) ahead of their relationship with him. These just become platforms for divisions and denominations. Our living relationship with Jesus which is always open to fresh wisdom from the Holy Spirit must be the foundation for unity with other followers of Jesus. I think you have stated pretty well that disunity is a symptom of a larger issue that must be addressed.

  5. 3-18-2012

    It is so true that unity is not just a good option, or a worthy goal. It is essential to the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

    I know that it is completely hypothetical, but somehow I think that if I were not a believer in Christ at this point in my life, it would be highly unlikely for be to become one seeing the division that exists in the Body of Christ. How fortunate that when I did believe, I was presented the Gospel before understanding the condition of the Church.

  6. 3-19-2012


    “[U]nity is essential to the gospel…” Yes, that’s a very clear way to state it.


    I like the phrase “unity in action”… I may have to steal that one.


    Yes. Where there are divisions among the body of Christ, they are always caused by a focus on something or someone other than Jesus Christ.


    The hard part, as I’m beginning to understand, is to seek causes of division in my own life instead of pointing divisiveness in other people’s lives.


    “How fortunate that when I did believe, I was presented the Gospel before understanding the condition of the Church.” Christ called me to himself in spite of the division and condition that I knew existed… But, I definitely understand what you are saying. Our unity (according to Jesus in John 17) is a proclamation that God sent his son Jesus. Our divisiveness is a proclamation of the opposite…