THE ONENESS OF THE FAITH
We Christians can never be one in doctrines. Whether or not we will be one in doctrines in the New Jerusalem, there is no possibility in this age for us all to be one in doctrine. If I were to raise a question about doctrine, even a husband and wife will have differences. A husband may agree with head covering, but his wife may not. After a meeting, they may go home to fight about it. We can never be one in doctrines, at least not in this age. However, we all need to be one in the faith, and we can be one.
We may illustrate the oneness of the faith with three brothers who are saved in the same summer through the preaching of the gospel. These three are joyful with the Lord’s salvation. Soon afterward one goes to study at a Southern Baptist university, one goes to a Presbyterian college, and the third studies at an evangelical Bible institute. After one year’s time they all return home. From the first day they arrive, they begin to fight. The first one picked up something from the Southern Baptists, the second picked up something different from the Presbyterians, and the third one picked up something else from the Bible institute. What they picked up was in addition to their faith. In that first summer, they all received the faith. They all believed that the Bible is God’s Word, that God is triune, that He is our Father, that Christ is the Son of God as well as the Son of Man becoming our Redeemer, and that Christ has a Body, the church. This was wonderful, but afterward they went to different schools, picked up different kinds of doctrines, and came home again not only with Christ and the faith, but with so many other things. Now they fight one against the other. This is because they all are children. All children like toys, and all the different doctrines are toys. Therefore, Paul said that we all have to grow; we all have to go on until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith (4:13).
In the ancient times there were Jewish believers and Greek believers, and they all received the same faith. However, many Jewish believers still kept their Judaistic concept, and many Greek believers kept certain kinds of Greek philosophy. If they would remain Christian children, they would fight with one another, but if they would grow and go on to be perfected, they would all arrive at the oneness of the faith which they had received at the beginning.
In the local churches we help people to grow. Firstly, we help people to call, “O Lord!” Then we help them to pray-read: “Amen! In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was God. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Jesus is Lord!” Then they throw out all the things they picked up. Nothing is left but Jesus. They can declare, “Jesus is my food. Jesus is my life. Jesus is my enjoyment. Jesus is everything.” If we all grow with the help of the local churches, all the things we have picked up eventually will go away, and we will arrive at the oneness of the faith. We will be “no longer little children tossed by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching” (v. 14).
CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH AND KEEPING THE FAITH
Jude 3 says to “earnestly contend for the faith.” It does not say to contend for the doctrines. When I was a young Christian, I was taught to contend for doctrines. I was baptized by sprinkling when I was a teenager. After I was saved, I was adjusted to be baptized by immersion. I was taught to contend for immersion, and I did it. I fought nearly every day for immersion. After a long time, however, I came to know that contending in this way is foolish. The Bible never tells us to contend for the doctrine but to contend for the faith.
First Timothy 6:12 says, “Fight the good fight of the faith.” At the end of his course Paul said, “I have fought the good fight;¼I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). Paul said that he kept the faith, not the doctrine. In the New Testament the word faith has two meanings. First it refers to our believing action or ability. It is the action or ability to believe in the Bible, in God, and in Christ. This is our faith, the subjective faith. Faith also has another meaning, referring to the things in which we believe. This is the objective faith. When we speak of the oneness of the faith, faith is objective, the things in which we believe, not the believing action, the believing ability. We have to fight for this faith. If anyone would say, as the modernists do, that Christ is only a man and not the Son of God, I would never shake hands with him. He is one of the antichrists (1 John 4:3; 2 John 10-11). I would never recognize such a one as my brother. By the Lord’s grace and mercy, however, I do not care whether someone is for baptism by sprinkling or by immersion. As long as he believes, as long as he has this faith, he is my brother.
(Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)