One Lord one faith one baptism. Eph. 4.5.
Forest Fold Baptist Chapel
S . Delves
“One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Eph. 4.5.
We have been speaking from these verses as to the nature of true, spiritual unity; that it is the unity of the Spirit; it is of a spiritual nature; and also that it is by the Holy Spirit that this unity is established, and souls are brought into it. Then we notice that this unity is expressed symbolically under the figure of a body. “There is one body.” That one body, the true spiritual united church of Jesus Christ is indwelt and animated by one Spirit, one Holy Spirit of God; and every member of that body, everyone in the unity of the spirit is effectually and personally called by the grace of God from darkness to light. And in that one calling there is a blessed hope of eternal life and glory.
2. Trinity and Unity
Here follows our text; “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Here are three of the seven wonders in this paragraph which express the
perfect nature of this spiritual union. There is a trinity in this subject, and the unity of the Spirit rests upon the unity of the trinity. There is one Spirit, one Holy Spirit of God, eternal, glorious, essentially divine. There is one Lord Jesus Christ; and there is one Father. There is God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy spirit, and all true unity rests upon the unity of the Trinity. These three are one; one in the divine nature, one in purpose, one in love, one in everything that pertains to the unity of the Spirit.
Now, the unity of the Spirit does not only rest upon the unity of the divine persons in the Trinity, but it rests upon their spiritual operation. For if it were not for the spiritual operations of the divine persons in the Trinity, there could be no spiritual unity among men. FOR instance, the unity of the” Spirit depends upon the operations of the Holy Spirit in men; His quickening power, His operations of grace whereby they are brought to repentance and to believe in Jesus Christ, and are united to Him as the Head of the body. One Spirit, whose teaching imparts the knowledge of the truth, and guides believers into it. It is the Holy Spirit’s operations in the hearts of men which produce this unity.
There is one Lord who has redeemed the whole body of the church by His most precious blood. If it were not for the redeeming blood of that one Lord, there could be no unity, although there would be a perfect unity in the Trinity, but just as the Holy Spirit must operate savingly in the hearts of men, so that one Lord redeemed them all in that unity by His precious blood.
There is one God and Father of all; there is one holy and eternal Father in the Trinity, but that one Father must impart His own spiritual life to the souls of men that they may be His true children, children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. He must be the God and Father of all.
I am now asking your prayerful attention to the first expression in he text: One Lord. There is no question as to who that one Lord is;
He is the Lord Jesus Christ, and He bears that title and designation especially with regard to His headship, and authority, and rule, and dignity in the church of God. With regard to the Trinity, He is the Son, the only begotten Son; begotten, though it is a mysterious term to use, of an eternal generation. In the Trinity, Jesus Christ is the Son of God; in the church, He is the Lord, He is the Head.
I intend to speak first of the Lord Jesus Christ as that one Lord, and then more fully to set before you how every one who is brought into the unity of the Spirit is brought to own, and honour, and glorify, and love, and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord to them.
3. One Exalted Lord
This title and expression means One who is Head, who is Ruler,
who is Governor. He is exalted above all heavens, and all principalities and powers. It refers first of all to His supreme exaltation. That is expressed in Acts 2.36 where Peter plainly proclaimed to the people that that same Jesus whom they had so recently crucified, had risen from the dead, had ascended into heaven, and had been made Lord; “that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” How did God make Him Lord? By exalting Him to His own right hand and by clothing Him with honour and majesty.
Jesus Christ is one Lord with regard to His exalted state in heaven, and He is exalted above all, and oh, how worthy He is to be Lord. If there is one place in heaven exalted above all others, it belongs to Jesus Christ by right. If there is one highest manifestation of glory, it is in Jesus Christ. If there is one centre in heaven, and there is, to which every heart turns with adoration and praise, and love, and honour, it is Jesus Christ. If there is one name on every holy lip of all that ransomed host it is Jesus Christ, for He is Lord.
If we could only enter into this believingly and feelingly, it would be good to us to think of Jesus Christ as being exalted in heaven; for there is but little we can understand of His exaltation. It is glory that we can never see in this life. The descriptions of it in the Scripture must necessarily be very much below His actual glory as it is in heaven, for what words could describe it? But is it not good to you who love Jesus, who love His name, who feel that it was for you He shed His precious blood, and suffered, died at Calvary, is it not good for you think of Him in heaven? Although you cannot fully understand or realize what His glory is, it is good to think of Him as being there, as being exalted; that “The head that once was crowned with thorns, is crowned with glory now.” In whatever way heaven worships Him, He is worthy to be worshipped; whatever His glory is, He is worthy to sustain it; whatever honour rests upon His blessed head, He is worthy of that honour. He is Lord.
4. One Ruling Lord
So there is one Lord, with regard to His supreme exaltation in heaven in our nature; but there is also one Lord with respect to His authority in the church; only one! His very title. Lord, bears the meaning of Ruler or Governor. Now there is only one Ruler in the church: the word and the appointment of the Lord Jesus Christ is the law in the church of God. Whatever He has said is to be believed; whatever He has appointed, is to be observed; whatever precepts He has enjoined, are to be obeyed, and nothing else. It was not very long before things began to be introduced into the professing church of God which had no authority from the Lord Jesus Christ; and this has caused no end of contention, division, strife, and disunity.
If every church adhered strictly and exclusively to what the Lord Jesus Christ has said and appointed and laid down, there would be far, far more union than there is now. For that voice from heaven which spoke at the time of His transfiguration, the voice of God the Father, still speaks: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” This constituted a new rule and authority for the church. Hitherto it had been, “Hear Moses and the prophets.” How it is, “Hear Him.” Not that the Lord Jesus Christ laid down anything contrary to Moses and the prophets, but here is established a new rule because Jesus Christ is to be Lord. There is one Lord, one Ruler, one Authority. Jesus Christ is that one Lord.
5. One Returning Lord
Again, there is one Lord with regard to His coming glory. When we read this: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:
and the dead in Christ shall rise first,” there is no question as to who that Lord is. There is only one glorious Person who will become visible again in the day of His appearing, and that will be Jesus Christ. That same Jesus whom the disciples saw ascending up into heaven will likewise come again out of heaven with power and glory. And it is that one Lord, and every eye shall see Him, even those who despised Him and crucified Him; and men shall wail because of Him. But many shall lift up their heads with joy in that day, for He who appears in such majesty will be their Lord, the Lord they have believed in, loved, served and followed. Oh my friends, if, by the grace of God, you and I are brought to believe in Jesus, to honour Him and cleave to Him; when He comes, He will be our Lord to receive us to Himself; we shall lift up our heads with joy, although sometimes the thought of that day seems overwhelming in its solemnity. There is one Lord in heaven’s high glory. There is one Lord in His authority in the church on earth. There is one Lord in His coming glory at the last day.
Before I come to the other part of this consideration, perhaps I may drop one or two observations, and one is this. There is one Lord exclusively; that is to say there is no other. But this title of Lord has been assumed by many people in the professing church. You know that it is ascribed to and assumed by the bishop of Rome. I can never understand how Christian ministers can permit themselves to be called, “my lord bishop”. I see nothing of that in the Scriptures. Do you? And I have thought with what indignation the Apostles Peter and Paul would have rejected such titles particularly as being discribed to themselves; with what indignation they would have rejected the very suggestion that they were lords! That title belongs to no one in the church at all except Jesus Christ, and to Him it does
belong in all that it means, in all its honour, and power, and supremacy and glory. One Lord exclusively.
“One Lord.” Pray, what do men mean when they speak about “Our Lady”? I read nothing of that in the Scriptures. Why, they speak about the mother of Jesus Christ, the virgin Mary, as though she were almost on a par with her Son; one Lord and one Lady. The Apostle would never have used such a term with regard to the virgin Mary. Besides, she was not a virgin after the birth of Jesus Christ. No, there is no such ascription to Mary in the Scriptures. It is very significant in view of the excessive adoration that is given to the virgin Mary, that there is very little mention of her in the New Testament and only once after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and then she is mentioned only as meeting in a humble capacity with the disciples, and with no precedence amongst them. When the Apostle John, in the book of Revelation, saw the glory of heaven, he saw that one Lord, and He had “on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (19.16); but John never hints that he ever saw the virgin Mary. Her blessed spirit was in heaven, there is no question about that: but there is no throne for Mary in heaven that John saw, no honour paid to her in the heavenly words that John heard. There is one Lord.
6. Our Lord Jesus Christ
Now, if Jesus Christ is the one Lord, what follows? It follows that all who are in the unity of the Spirit are brought to acknowledge Him as being their Lord. But what do I mean by this? I certainly do not mean that they acknowledge Him in word only. You will remember His word, “Not every one that says. Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Again He said, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” I mean something much deeper than to call Jesus, Lord, when I say that all who are in the unity of the Spirit ought to acknowledge Him to be their Lord. Now I mean these things:
First of all, believers are all brought with a heart-felt faith to believe in Him as the Lord. Every heart turns to Jesus Christ as Lord where the principle of living faith is imparted. The eye of faith in every heart, everywhere in the world, in every generation always looks to the one Lord. For if the Holy Spirit imparts the spirit of faith, and it is His work to do that to a believing heart, sooner or later He will direct that heart to look to the one Lord: as Isaac Watts puts it,
My soul looks back to see
The burdens thou didst bear,
When hanging on the accursed tree,
And hopes her guilt was there.
Faith in every child of God looks back to Calvary, and there is the one Lord, suffering and dying for the church, shedding His most precious blood. One Lord, there at Calvary. And, similarly, faith in the heart looks up to the one Lord in heaven, and the same faith looks forward to the one Lord coming again in His glory.
When I say that every one in the unity of the Spirit believes in the one Lord, I mean a heartfelt looking, longing and believing. We might all of us ask ourselves if we have this faith to look really to Jesus. It is so simple, and yet it is so spiritual. Yet to some of us, it seems so difficult to understand what it is simply, believingly, to look to Jesus Christ as the one Lord. There seems something about every spiritual exercise in the heart, that however simple it is in itself, it needs the Holy Spirit to give us to understand it and to exercise it. To believe; there is nothing more simple, and yet we need the Holy Spirit to teach us what it is to believe, and to help us to believe and to submit to Jesus Christ. Nothing is more simple, but no one ever does it unless the Holy Spirit brings his heart into that submissive frame. To love Jesus Christ; there is nothing so mysterious about that, but no one understands what it is to love Jesus Christ until the Holy Spirit inspires that spiritual affection in their souls.
Brethren, there is one Lord in the sense that not only every believing eye looks to Him, but every believing heart submits to Him; that must needs be, if He is the one Lord. All who are in His church and body submit to Him, and what a gracious submission this is. Submission to one Lord; and it is very wonderful that there should be that submission when you consider what hardness of heart, and what rebellion there is in human nature, especially where it is permitted to gather power, and control the spirit. The strength there is in the rebellion of the unbelieving and carnal heart against Jesus Christ is dreadful. But grace can break it down; it is the grace of God that subdues our spirit, and grace acts graciously. The law acts legally, but grace acts graciously, so that when our heart is really subdued to this one Lord, it is subdued in a very gracious, kind, and tender way and manner.
And what is it that grace produces? Grace. Submission to one Lord is not something forced and hard, but it is something gracious. If the grace of Jesus Christ acts upon our heart, it will bring us to submit our very souls to Him; we shall say this with feeling; “O Lord . . . other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name” (Isaiah 26.13). And there is nothing that brings the heart into a subjection to this one Lord more than a sense of His love. His love is so irresistible, yet it may be so gentle. You take a block of ice, and to reduce that to small fragments, you will have to hammer, and hammer, and hammer at
it, and every piece is as hard as the original mass, but if the sun shines warmly on it, how gently the ice melts into water. There is no violence, there is no knocking, there is no shattering; but irresistibly the ice yields itself to the melting influence of the warmth of the sun. Now my friends, that is as near as I can explain to you what it is for the love of Christ to act upon a person’s heart.
We may threaten people with the consequences of sin, and every word will be true enough; we might even cause them to have terrible fears about the future, and that might do something to break down their opposition of heart to Jesus Christ, but that would not be loving submission. But if you ever know the love of Jesus Christ you will feel that which acts upon your heart irresistibly, it wins you over, it softens all the hard rebellion in the mind, it makes you so willing, it produces love in that very submission, and you will understand this far, far better than any comment on the Scripture can explain it. “The love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5.14,15).
My friends, and you young people listening to me this morning, and all of you, I wish you nothing, nothing more, nothing better than that you should know the effect of the love of Jesus Christ upon your hearts, because if you know that, you will know everything, in spirit and principle, that constitutes real, spiritual, saving experience, and living faith. That would answer a hundred difficulties in your mind, I assure you it would; you may be hung up in your minds about this difficulty and that problem; and something else you cannot understand, and something else you cannot think is right, but if you knew the love of Jesus Christ that would all vanish. You will feel there is “One Lord” to you, and to that one Lord all the feelings and desires and affections of your heart would be brought willing submission, and you would say this,
Reign o’er us as King, accomplish thy will,
And powerfully bring us forth from all ill;
Till, falling before thee, we laud thy loved name,
Ascribing the glory to God and the Lamb.
Yes, there is one Lord, and every child of God, every real Christian is brought to own with living faith, and loving submission, and willing obedience that He, the Lord Jesus Christ, is Lord to him.