The Church is One

This exhortation was given at Christ Church Downtown on Nov 7 AD 2021.

We confess with the Nicene Creed that the church of our Lord Jesus Christ is one.

As St Paul wrote, there is “one body and Spirit,” just as there is also one hope, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Eph. 4:4–6). And last week Dr. Merkle preached on Christ’s High Priestly prayer, in which He asks the Father that all who believe in Him would be one, just as He and the Father are (Jn. 17:20–21).

But what do we do then with the divisions we see today?

We have the big ones like Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox. And in our own Protestant house you’ll find dozens of major denominations with all sorts of differences, and in the Reformed room various groups who hold to the same Confessions and still find reasons to be separate.

Where exactly is the oneness in all of this?

First, we confess the church is one by faith, and not simply sight. Despite our very real differences, Christians are united by a fundamental and simple faith in Christ and His gospel. And we are not only united by our common faith, but by Christ Himself, who is the head of the church, his Body (Col. 1:18). Christ is the source of our unity, and it is a very real one grounded in Him.

Second, we should not see the multiplication of local congregations or denominations as an automatic denial of unity. From the start in Jerusalem the church began to meet in various locations under different leaders, and continued to spread to Judea, Samaria, and the regions beyond.

The multiplication of local churches, and many of them, is part of God’s plan. As J.I. Packer once put it, every local congregation is “called to fulfill the role of being a microcosm of the church as a whole.”

And so as you look around this morning, see the one church of Christ in this room. And when you drive home past other faithful churches in our town, and as you consider all of God’s people in our nation and throughout the world—see the church of Christ, one Body, united in Him.

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