As the Nicene Creed mentions, “We believe in one holy universal and apostolic church.” Today, we will focus on the one and holy church.
I Believe in the One, Holy Church
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.
Watch Week Eight Day Two
Jesus prayed for the church, “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). Jesus loves the church so deeply and His great desire is for the church to be unified—to be one.
The writers of the New Testament explained how division within the church is contrary to the gospel. In the early church, the Jews and Gentiles had little in common except for Christ. Paul attacked the division that arose, arguing, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). We are one in Christ.
Later, he said, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Spirit enables us to live in unity as the church. Unity doesn’t mean local churches should fall under one worldwide organization. It means we must have unity in purpose. We are not to separate over differences in preferences. The overwhelming emphasis in Scripture is always on oneness within the body of Christ.
Jesus prayed, “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:23). Our unity is a testimony to the world.
Unity goes hand in hand with holiness in the church. Paul instructs us: Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 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 4:1–5)
The oneness of the church grows as we pursue holiness together.
To grow in holiness, the church is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12–13). The church is called to help believers mature in their faith.
Jesus has also made the church holy. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul said, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, we have become the righteousness of God—holy.
If we believe in one, holy church, how does that change the way we interact with Christians from different traditions?
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