In spite of the scandelous display of division among Christians, the New Testament presents a picture of God's purpose of oneness as ultimately victorious.
A few facts to consider:
1.) The arrival at oneness is taught by Jesus as a process, a gradual perfecting. In His mighty prayer for the Christian church, He asked the Father:
" ... but concerning those also who believe into Me through their [the apostles] word, That they all may be one; even as You, Father are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us that the world may believe that You have sent Me.
And the glory which You have given Me I have gien to them, that they may be one, even as We are one;
I in them, and You in Me, that they may be PERFECTED into one ..." (See John 17:20-23)
This oneness is not of all merely professing to believe in Christ but all who actually DO believe into Christ. False Christians are not included in this PROCESS of being PERFECTED into one. So this is emphatically not Christ's prayer for Christiandom as a general and sloppy conglomeration of any and all wanting to "jump on the bandwagon" and merely profess the name Jesus Christ.
2.) So now that we see God's WILL is the oneness of all who are truly believers INTO an organic oneness with Jesus Christ, it is still a oneness to be worked out by way of PROCESS - "PERFECTED ... INTO ONE" ;
Christians can confindently proclaim that they are in the process of being perfected into oneness. It is being outworked. God is still building with them and working in them UNTO this perfected oneness.
There is no call for dispair that such oneness can never be.
3.) SOME may be seen by God as already well arriving in this oneness. They are neither proud or exclusive. They cannot adopt an attitude of "US FOUR AND NO MORE" like the Exclusive Brethren. But nevertheless, Scripture says that SOME are "inheriting the promises" including that of this unique oneness:
"That you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who throuigh faith and long-suffering are inheriting the promises" (Hebrews 5:12)
Even in Paul's day, he could write that there those who were "inheriting the promises" who served as models to be imitated. They were experiencing the promises of the New Testament. The others were to look to them and seek to imulate them.
Today, some Christian brothers and sisters are coming into the inheritance of oneness, one accord, and unity sought by God. God knows. If you are a Christian and boast about it exclusively, you probably don't have it. But some, in humility, even today amid such obvious division are "inheriting the promises".
4.) In conjuntion with this fact we should understand - ALL Christians will eventualy arrive at this unity. But ALL will not at the SAME TIME.
This is proved by Paul's word - " Until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, at a full grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13)
Notice - "UNTIL ...". This indicate TIME. This indicates an operation requiring TIME - UNTIL a certain outcome.
Some are ARRIVING. ALL will eventually ARRIVE. The process continues on the earth until WE ALL arrive. That is not ALL professing Christiandom. That is all whom God recognizes as truly being believers.
Here Christians may be fooled. But God is never fooled. He knows who is genuine His regenerated child and who is not. And though ALL must arrive at this oneness, ALL will not at the same time. But the process continues UNTIL ... ALL[/b] arrive.
5.) The arrival is in the knowledge of a Person - a Living Person Jesus. It is not the arrival necessarily in many minor doctrinal points. It is a arrival at the "full knowledge of the Son of God"
It is not a arrival, necessarily, in the universal agreement on the method of water baptism, or head covering, or a universal agreement on the number of spiritual gifts. It is not a universal agreement necessarily on the timing of the rapture or even if there is a rapture, whether pre-tribulation or post tribulation.
It is not an arrival, necessarily, on minor doctrinal issues. It is an arrival at the knowledge of the Son of God as a living and available Person whom we may live by and enjoy day by day and moment by moment.'
This is proved by the continuation of Paul's thought:
6.) That we may be no longer little children tossed by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching in the sleight of men, in craftiness with a view to a system of error,
But holding to truth in love, we may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ." (Eph. 4:14,15)[/b]
Rather then remain spiritual "children" the Christians are to spiritually "grow up".
Accumulating more and more knowledge of doctrine may NOT be growing up. This is not growing merely in doctrinal information. This is growing up into a Person - Christ. That means Christ growing in the Christians - unto a spiritual maturity in their living.
Children who are imature are easily tossed by waves. These different waves may be gentle or rough. They may be pleasant or violent. Either way these are waves which carry Christians away from HOLDING to the living Person Jesus Christ as a HEAD. - " ... children tossed by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching ..."
Teaching may be a wave or wind carrying a believer away from the living Jesus. not only bad incorrect teaching may distract the Christian. Even good doctrinal teaching may also be merely objective knowledge distracting the believer from HOLDING to the living presence of Christ.
We speak sometimes of being "dead right". That means one arguing doctrine may be "right" in letter but spiritually "dead". That is not imparting Christ the Person to people. We must be ministers of the living Spirit of Christ the available Person. We must help the Christians to hold fast to the living Person while also avoiding doctrinal error.
7.) The nature of the divine life in the Body of believers will cause the Body to build up itself into this oneness:
"Until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, at a fullgrown man, at the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ ... holding to truth in love, we may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ,
Out from whom all the Body, being joined together and being knit together through every jount of the rich supply and through the operation in the measure of each one part, CAUSES the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love." (See Ephesians 4:13-16)
Love, growth, holding to the living Person of Christ and all the members of the Christian church releasing thier portion of the riches of Christ will cause the Body to grow and arrive at this maturity and oneness.
It cannot be stopped. It can and has been delayed. It cannot be defeated. And it cannot fail. And some will arrive in this age. All will arrive inevitably. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the Christian church.'
The atheists will be worn out and worn down. The atheists and opposers of the Gospel will wear out. God's eternal plan will prevail and outlast them and be victorious over all the opposing forces of unbelief.
These are trustworthy words.