Chip Brogden: What is Spiritual Unity? 'One in Him' is the key

From: fellowshipofthemartyrs.com…

What is Spiritual Unity? – Chip Brogden

by Chip Brogden, www.SchoolOfChrist.org

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, – Jhn 17:21 – that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20,21 ESV).

What constitutes unity?  Is it a church service or a home group?  Is it any gathering of Christians together?  Is it a meeting of like-minded brothers and sisters?

The prayers of Jesus give us remarkable insight into how He sees things.  Remember that He is the Final Authority.  However we may think or feel or see or understand things is beside the point.  God’s goal is for Christ to have the preeminence in all things – not us! In this Kingdom only His opinion matters. This means that our viewpoint must give way to His.  Particularly in the matter of fellowship, Christians are very opinionated.  But what does Truth say?

He expresses His desire very clearly.  It is not merely a request for unity along the lines of forgetting our differences and just “getting along”. People will pick up on this phrase, “that they may all be one”, and try to create a unity that embraces everyone equally, no matter what they teach, what they believe, or how they live.  In this false unity, every path to God becomes a valid path of spiritual expression and should not be criticized.  Of course this contradicts what Jesus had just said about Himself being the only Way to the Father, but it certainly makes it easier for us to create unity for everyone.  Is that what Jesus wants – quick and easy unity through compromise and concession?

Perhaps His cry for “unity” just means unity among all those who call themselves Christians – regardless of whether or not they are actually following Christ.  Is this what Jesus prayed for? Could it be possible that most people consider themselves “Christians” simply because they believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible?  Do these beliefs in and of themselves mean they are actually following Christ?  Does it even mean they have a desire to follow Christ?  Perhaps they only have a desire to avoid hell and go to heaven. Let’s be honest. We should know by now that there is a difference between following the Christian religion and following Christ.  Not everyone who says they are a brother is really a brother! “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one” (I Cor. 5:11). So much for the fellowship meal!

What then is this unity?  Let us keep reading because there is more to this than mere unity.  “That they may all be one.”  Yes, but how?  What does it look like?  The answer: “That they may all be one just as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You.” Just as.  That means in the same manner that the Father is in Jesus, and Jesus is in the Father, so He desires that believers would also be one in Him and in His Father. One in Him is the key.

So let us ask: if this oneness among all believers is to be the same as the oneness that exists between Jesus and the Father, then what is the nature of this oneness?  What can we say about it?  You can read the Gospels (particularly the Gospel of John) and see that intimate oneness.  It is real.  It is living.  And it is continuous. It is a oneness, a fellowship, a unity, a communion that exists between the Father and the Son.

And yet this oneness is entirely invisible.  It is not a physical oneness, or an emotional oneness, or a social oneness, or a geographical oneness.  What is left? It is a spiritual oneness.  Jesus said His Father was with Him always.  Yet no one ever saw His Father.  This perplexed the Jews, the Pharisees, and even His own disciples.  No, you cannot see Him, Jesus said.  Then He went beyond all dimensions: “My Father lives in Me, and I live in Him.  The words I speak, the works I do, are not Mine; but it is the Father in Me Who speaks and does the works.”  What a word: IN!  Christ IN ME! Not merely with me, or by me, or next to me, or above me, but IN ME!

Have you ever wondered how it was possible that Jesus could say, “I am with you always” and then immediately leave them and ascend into Heaven?  Jesus did not tell His disciples to cling to His physical presence no matter what.  On the contrary, He said, “It is better if I go away!” (Jn 16:7). He wanted them to go to a deeper level with Him and experience a oneness that was not dependent upon seeing, hearing, and “being there” in a physical sense.  Once He had gone away they were forced to relate to Him in a spiritual way or no way at all.  So much the better!  Because what they discovered was a depth of oneness that far surpassed what they had experienced by following Him physically around Palestine for a little more than three years.  In the process of apprehending Him spiritually  they also discovered a spiritual bond with one another that was greater than any mere gathering in the flesh could ever produce.  That bond was, and continues to be, Christ Himself.

Have you discovered the spiritual oneness that exists between Christ and yourself?  If not, it will be impossible for you to understand the spiritual oneness that exists among His followers.  Before you try to figure out “fellowship” you must first experience this oneness with Christ, because that is what real oneness with others is based on. Now, that is my recommendation for everyone who is dissatisfied.  Stop looking to other people to satisfy needs that only Christ Himself can satisfy. [I disagree with Chip here. There was a good reason why God said about Adam “It is not good that the man should be alone.” We are designed to be one with each other. We need each other (1 Cor. 12). Fellowship is healthy when we’re in Him. And see this: It’s Okay To Be Lonely For Now: The Spiral Staircase Vision – editor]. It is not “more fellowship” that you need; you just need to know the One Who lives in you. Otherwise you will mistake meetings and gatherings for spiritual fellowship.

Did they gather together in the Scriptures?  Yes, but their gatherings were governed by the Holy Spirit and resulted in spiritual progression towards Christ-centered maturity.  Most of our gatherings are governed by something else and lead towards self-centered immaturity. Gatherings in the early Ekklesia were governed by the Holy Spirit because the people who gathered  were governed by the Holy Spirit, and that brought a spiritual meaning and purpose to everything they did.  They enjoyed a spiritual fellowship and communion with Christ and with one another because it was through Him and because of Him that they came together. Apart from Him we can do nothing – we can’t even gather together apart from Him. Of course we can gather physically, and people do meet together in the flesh under a guise of spirituality, but the point is that anything we do apart from Him amounts to nothing, no matter what we call it or what it looks like.

Jesus prayed for a spiritual unity in Him first and foremost.  From there anything is possible, even deep relationships and fellowship with others. But that can only happen when your spiritual life is founded upon a deep, abiding belief in three core principles.  There can be no compromise with these three basic truths: 1) that Jesus is Enough; 2) that Jesus is All I Need; and 3) that Jesus is All I Want. Pay particular attention to the third because it proves just how serious you are about the first two.

Anyone can nod their head in agreement or say Amen to these statements, but if you can become convinced of these three truths to the point that you actually live like they are true then you will make progress.  If not then you will remain dissatisfied and will always be looking for the next thing. People who believe Jesus is Enough do not run all over the world seeking the next move of God, nor do they feel compelled to hunt for like-minded people to socialize with. Unfortunately I cannot persuade anyone that Jesus is Enough. Perhaps they will learn it after one thousand meetings, perhaps after ten thousand meetings, or perhaps they will never learn it. No, the meetings will not lead you to that conclusion, but the emptiness you feel after the meetings just might.

I cannot persuade you, but I can say that I am persuaded.  I have learned. I pray that we are moving closer to the time when Jesus will receive the answer to His prayer: that we ALL may find true, lasting, living, spiritual fellowship, oneness, and unity together in Him, and in Him alone.  Amen.


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2 thoughts on “Chip Brogden: What is Spiritual Unity? 'One in Him' is the key

  1. Good exhortations. Unity in Jesus, even despite minor doctrinal differences, exceeds all other commands. For Scripture tells us: We love God by our love for others. 1 John 5:1-3.
    God bless.
    Brad

  2. Merrill Sloan

    I appreciate Chip Brogden’s thoughts. I believe that I am correct in that he uses material from Watchman Nee and Witness Lee however the fundamental thrust of what those brothers were given is the exposing of the degraded system which under-girds all so-called ministries purporting to carry out some work on behalf of Christ. Brothers Nee and Lee speak clearly that God hates the clergy-laity system through which satan has usurped God’s people for centuries. The clergy-laity system descends from Catholicism which system is typified in Revelation 17 by “the great harlot…clothed in purple and scarlet….sits upon many waters…on her forehead there was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother Of The Harlots And The Abominations Of The Earth.” Please note carefully that there is the Mother Harlot and there are other Harlots who have the Great Harlot as their Mother. Any system which retains any of the aspects of that system which God hates is another harlot and harlots cannot carry out any work for Christ or build up His body. So although Chip Brogden no doubt is sincere and loves the Lord, since he subscribes to the clergy-laity system he and his work are disqualified equally as those who appeared before the Lord on the day of judgment as told in Mt 7.22-23. Those ones were utterly sincere in saying what they had done for the Lord (I doubt that anyone would be able to lie to the Lord at that time) and the Lord did not deny that they had done these things, but they were disqualified because they themselves had done these things and not the Lord being the initiator, the enabler, and the terminator of these “works”. The Greek word for their actions is “anomia”, translated properly as lawlessness. On the one hand, if Chip Brogden relies on the revelations given to Brothers Nee and Lee (which he cannot deny) but on the other hand ascribes to the very thing which those faithful brothers clearly exposed as the work of the enemy, he and his works or teachings cannot be relied on and those who place reliance on such things run the grave risk, as does brother Brogden himself, of being disqualified as well as those in Mt.7.22-23. Sincerity of heart is no substitute for adherence to the law which in this case is clearly the “Law of the Spirit Of Life” Ro.8.2. There is a clear call from the Lord to “Come out of her (any aspect of Babylon), My people, that you do not participate in her sins and that you do not receive her plagues” Re.18.4. This is not the first time that this matter has been mentioned to Chip Brogden. Let him continue to ignore the sound words from the Lord at his own peril. I would encourage him and those sincere seekers of the Lord and His up-to-date move to acquire the works of Witness Lee, to whom the consummating vision of how the Lord will complete this age was given, and read thoroughly through the books, particularly those which deal with the church and its practice. A full list of these works, many of which are available on line for your perusal, can be found at http://wwww.lsm.org Please do not let yourself be disqualified by continuing in a degraded system or adhering to those who do.

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