Unity: An Essential Mark of a Local Church

Josh Buice


Following the inauguration of President Donald Trump in 2016, people were seen protesting by bashing out glass windows, looting stores, and destroying property.  A headline appeared in the BBC network that read: “Two Americas in 24 Hours — The America of Friday followed by the America of Saturday.”

Division is common in our world. We see it in corporate America, the University system, and even in our present-day political strife—through ethnic division. It’s common to see people divided over ideas, philosophies, and politics. What is common in the world must not be common in the life of the local church. We must strive together to maintain unity and to avoid division.

One of the great goals of the devil is division. Paul says that we should beware of the schemes “μεθοδεία” of the devil.  This particular word is from which we derive the English word methods.  It means cunning and craftiness.  Satan’s schemes are real:

  • Satan blinds spiritual eyes so people can’t see the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4).
  • Satan hinders God’s children (2 Thess. 2).
  • Satan influences the whole world (1 John 5).
  • Satan is a real unique personal being – not a force.
  • Satan is called the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2).
  • Satan is called the spirit who works in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2).
  • Satan is referred to as the prince of the demons (Luke 11:15).
  • Satan is called “Satan” – meaning adversary – 52 times in the Bible.
  • Satan is called “the devil” – meaning slanderer or one who slanders.
  • Satan is called the “old serpent.”
  • Satan is called the “great dragon.”
  • Satan is depicted as a “roaring lion” – alluding to his power.
  • Satan is called the “Evil one” in John 17:15.
  • Satan is called the destroyer in Revelation 9.
  • Satan is the tempter in Matthew 4.
  • Satan is the accuser of the brethren in Revelation 12.

This is why Paul warned the church in Ephesus to “give no opportunity to the devil” (Eph. 4:27). When we consider the schemes of Satan, we must consider how he seeks to divide Christians in order to prevent the work of local churches in local communities and beyond through global missions.

All throughout the Bible, we find passages that point out how the church is called to be a “together” people. Over and over again, we find the idea of oneness as the Scriptures describe the “one another” aspect of the functionality of God’s people within the context of the local church.

Give your attention to the “one another” passages focused on unity:

  • Be at peace with one another (Mk 9:50)
  • Don’t grumble among one another (Jn 6:43)
  • Be of the same mind with one another (Ro 12:16, 15:5)
  • Accept one another (Ro 15:7)
  • Wait for one another before beginning the Lord’s Supper (1 Co 11:33)
  • Don’t bite, devour, and consume one another (Ga 5:15)
  • Don’t envy one another (Ga 5:26)
  • Gently, patiently tolerate one another (Ep 4:2)
  • Be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to one another (Ep 4:32)
  • Bear with and forgive one another (Co 3:13)
  • Seek good for one another, and don’t repay evil for evil (1 Th 5:15)
  • Don’t complain against one another (Jas 4:11, 5:9)
  • Confess sins to one another (Jas 5:16)

Consider the “one another” verses regarding humility:

  • Give preference to one another in honor (Ro 12:10)
  • Regard one another as more important than yourselves (Php 2:3)
  • Serve one another (Ga 5:13)
  • Wash one another’s feet (Jn 13:14)
  • Don’t be haughty: be of the same mind to one another (Ro 12:16)
  • Be subject to one another (Ep 5:21)
  • Clothe yourselves in humility toward one another (1 Pe 5:5)

Look to the Scriptures and see the “one another” passages centered on love:

  • Love one another (Jn 13:34, 15:12, 17; Ro 13:8; 1 Th 3:12, 4:9; 1 Pe 1:22; 1 Jn 3:11, 4:7, 11; 2 Jn 5)
  • Through love, serve one another (Ga 5:13)
  • Tolerate one another in love (Ep 4:2)
  • Greet one another with a kiss (Ro 16:16; 1 Co 16:20; 2 Co 13:12)
  • Be devoted to one another in brotherly love (Ro 12:10)

Consider how the “one another” intimacy functions within the church:

  • Do not judge one another, and don’t put a stumbling block in a brother’s way (Ro 14:13)
  • Bear one another’s burdens (Ga 6:2)
  • Speak truth to one another (Ep 4:25; Col 3:9)
  • Comfort one another concerning the resurrection (1 Th 4:18)
  • Encourage and build up one another (1 Th 5:11)
  • Stir up one another to love and good deeds (He 10:24)
  • Pray for one another (Jas 5:16)
  • Be hospitable to one another (1 Pe 4:9)

In Ephesians 4, we find Paul writing about spiritual unity as he explains how the church is brought together in one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all (Eph. 4:4-6). It was Charles Spurgeon who once said, “Satan always hates Christian fellowship; it is his policy to keep Christians apart. Anything which can divide saints from one another he delights in. He attaches far more importance to godly intercourse than we do. Since union is strength, he does his best to promote separation.”

When people in the local church divide over non-essential matters—children watch parents and grandparents move from one church to another over trivial issues that could be corrected with a bit of hard work and love. It creates a consumerism approach to church membership in the eyes of children who will either repeat such practices or eventually walk away from the church altogether due to a lack of respect for the local church.

Set your mind upon the essential unity that God has demanded among his people. Consider what that looks like and how such hard work and eager maintenance produces health within the local church that will leave an indelible mark upon families and an entire community for the glory of Christ.


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Author Church-Unity

Josh Buice

Pastor Pray's Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He is married to Kari and they have four children, Karis, John Mark, Kalli, and Judson. Additionally, he serves as Assistant Professor of Preaching at Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors, including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.