The night of Jesus betrayal was spent primarily with His disciples, according to the apostle John, (chapters 13-16). In chapter seventeen, John records Jesus prayer to the Father in view of the following day’s events. In verses twenty and twenty one, Jesus prays, Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. These Words of Jesus reveals unity He and the Father desired for His disciples. Yet, this appeal for unity was not for His disciples alone, but those who would believe on Him through their word. Where did their words originate? Jesus had just promised the disciples the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth (John 16:13). Therefore, the message they taught and wrote was truth revealed by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21). Today, we have that truth in written form (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Maintaining unity (Eph. 4:3) includes having fidelity to God’s Word. God has revealed His
Word by the Holy Spirit (See 1 Cor. 2:9-10). This Word must be our exclusive authority in our faith
(Romans 10:17), and conviction (Jude 3). Far too many (some among us) declare, “that’s just the way I see it”, or “I don’t see anything wrong with it”. Often, these statements are made by those unfamiliar with the teachings of God’s Word. Like the Sadducees, who attempted to trap Jesus in a complex situation, and heard Him say, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God (Matt. 22:29), some fail to rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Peter wrote, if any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11). Paul wrote, And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written (1 Cor. 4:6). True unity is grounded in God’s Word, not in the words of men.
Preserving unity calls for a “restoration” of God’s original purpose for the church. When the apostles taught men what to do to be saved, they taught what Jesus said (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38-41). They planted the church Jesus promised to build (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 3:11). Christians were identified by wearing the name of Christ, and belonging only to Him, not any man made organization (Romans 16:16). They taught the same saving message to a lost world (Mark 16:15; Romans 1:16; Gal. 1:8-9). They followed the same pattern of organization, elders over each congregation (Acts 14:23; Phil. 1:1), and deacons who served (1 Timothy 3:8-13). Each congregation was autonomous (self-governing, 1 Peter 5:2). Their worship was “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Their mission was the same as Christ’s, evangelizing the world (Matt. 28:19). They cared for the poor (James 1:27). Their unity was manifest in their love for the Lord and one another (Acts 4:32). When some (e.g. the church at Corinth) became divided, unity was called for by an inspired apostle (1 Cor. 1:10; Eph. 4:4-6).