Assembly Truth (10): Unanimity in a Local Assembly (3)

The Desirability of Unanimity (cont.)

Galatians: G. H. Lang has a good note. “A direct object of the epistle was to bring the saints to oneness of mind upon the question discussed, to exhort them all to walk by the Spirit: and thus avoid the ‘strife, factions, and divisions’ declared to be of the flesh” (5:20).

Ephesians: “With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:2-3, KJV). We do not make the unity of the Spirit but we are to endeavor to keep it. These two verses show that we should make some allowance for each other. Every child of God could wear a sign, “Please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet!”

There are other verses in Ephesians to help us with unanimity. “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another” (4:25, KJV). “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (4:31-32, KJV). “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us” (5:2, KJV). “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (5:21, KJV).

Philippians: There is a minor theme throughout the epistle; something is marring the harmony of the assembly at Philippi (indicated by the use of the word, “all” five times in the first eight verses and in 2: 17, 26, and 4:23). Paul puts his finger on the difficulty by singling out two sisters. “I beseech Euodias and I beseech Syntyche that they be of the same mind in the Lord.” “In the Lord” is the best ground for overcoming differences between believers.

The first and seventh beatitudes are a contrast to the first and seventh things that God hates in Proverbs 6. The first in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” is a contrast to “a proud look” in Proverbs 6:17. The seventh beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt 5:9, KJV) is a contrast to the seventh thing that God hates. “He that soweth discord among brethren.”

There is also assembly responsibility regarding unity. “Only let your conversation (“manner of life” RV) be as becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27, KJV). Paul’s imprisonment did not hinder the gospel (1:12), but believers lack of harmony could hinder it. It is no wonder that we read, “Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves”(Phil 2:3, KJV). The wonderful verses about the Lord Jesus in Philippians 2:5-11 are not given because the Philippians were wrong about the Person of our Lord Jesus, but they are given simply to help them live harmoniously together in assembly fellowship.

Colossians: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity (or “love”), which is the bond of  perfectness” (3: 12-14, KJV). Obeying these verses will help us come to the same mind.

1 Thessalonians: “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more”(1Thes 4:9-10, KJV). Even though he could commend them so highly, yet he could exhort them to increase more and more.

2 Thessalonians: “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity (or “love”) of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth” (1:3, KJV).This verse shows that the Thessalonians obeyed the exhortation: “Now the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all” (3:16, KJV), “That the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:12, KJV). Surely, it glorifies the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ (to which we are gathered) when the assembly seeks to do everything in unanimity.

1 and 2 Timothy and Titus: In the first and second epistles to Timothy are certain men (1Tim 6:3-5; 2Tim 2:23-25), and in Titus 3:9 are some persons who are condemned. We are exhorted to avoid them because they “gender strife.” It is not that strife is engendered every time a foolish question is discussed, but there is a tendency in their discussion which provokes dissension. So, it is not that strife is provoked every time a matter is decided by the majority, but it is sufficient that it tends to result in strife. The mere fact that settling things by a majority vote has a tendency to provoke strife should be enough to lead us to avoid it.

Philemon “But without thy mind would I do nothing” (v14, KJV). Every believer in every assembly which seeks to do everything in unanimity has this desire. I know of an assembly which had one overseer opposed to bringing in a piano. While he was visiting in the UK they brought in a piano and that was the beginning of evident deterioration of the assembly. They knew this brother would never agree to bringing instrumental music into the assembly meetings.