We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love…
This song was an endearing anthem of the Jesus Movement. Thousands sang it with the hope its words project — that when our unity is restored someday, the world would know we are Christians by our love. The person who wrote that song evidently knew there wasn’t unity in the church, but still he proclaimed, “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,” which is a contradiction. How can you be one in the Spirit and one in the Lord as Jesus prayed we would be1 and at the same time not be in unity with one another? As Paul said, “Who hopes for what he already has?”2
So what does the term restored mean? Restored to what? When was there unity in the church that we could be restored to? And how would restoration happen? Restore means to go back to the original, functioning condition. The original, functioning condition of the church is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles:
Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:44-47)
Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. (Acts 4:32-35)
What is recorded in Acts 2 and 4 is the authentic original document that proves the authenticity of what the one Spirit of God produced in the believers after Pentecost. It is what Jesus prayed for just before He was crucified:
… that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:21-23)
Paul also makes it clear how God intended the Body of Christ to be:
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
But unity can’t be restored until God’s love is restored because unity is the fruit of love.3 It can’t be the other way around. Love is the foundation upon which unity is built.4 So, love must be restored first:
This is my commandment that you love one another. By this, the world will know that you are My disciples. (John 13:34-35)
To love Him with all your heart is the greatest commandment. This is what must be restored first. If a person does not obey Him, he does not love Him.5 If a person says “I know Him” and does not keep His commandments, he is a liar and the truth is not in him.6
God could not pour the new wine of the Holy Spirit into the old wineskin of Judaism. They loved their traditions more than His word. They weren’t willing to do His will. So, the kingdom was taken away from the Jews. Jesus promised that the kingdom would be given to a nation that would produce its fruit.7 That fruit is the life that love always produces. The first church, which was inaugurated on the Day of Pentecost, was that new nation, the new wineskin that He poured the Holy Spirit into through the apostles. God’s love was poured out in the hearts8 of all who believed because they were willing to go outside the camp of Judaism and bear the reproach in order to have His life.
When this song, We Are One in the Spirit, was sung in the Jesus Movement, they evidently knew they didn’t have the love and unity of the early church but that somehow they wanted to have unity and they wanted the world to see the love of Jesus in them. The reason there wasn’t unity in Christianity at the time of the Jesus Movement is because it had become dry, rigid, and brittle like an old wineskin. God couldn’t pour His new wine into that old wineskin. But nobody told them where they could find the new wineskin. No one told them they had to go outside the camp of Christianity to find it. And if anybody did tell them, there wasn’t the power and authority to actually call them out and give them the new wine.
Instead, the Jesus Movement was an attempt to patch up the old garment of Christianity with new cloth. They tried to patch up the old cloth, but it required restoration, not reformation — going back to the original, not trying to put a new patch on the old garment. You can’t doctor up an old wineskin. The only thing old wineskins can hold is old wine.
Without receiving the new wine of the Holy Spirit into a new wineskin, believers will not be able to love one another the way He loved — that is having the power to lay down their lives for one another.9 Love that gives itself up is what produces the unity Jesus prayed for in John 17:21-23. If this unity is not present, it’s because this particular love that signifies the presence of the Holy Spirit is not there. But who will admit to this?
Without real unity, the ranks of Christianity go forward with the master plan of ecumenism — uniting all of Christianity into a form of unity that agrees to overlook division and accepts disagreement among the members. Could the spirit that inspires ecumenism be the Holy Spirit? The ecumenical spirit says, in effect, that the Holy Spirit is not great enough to bring about the unity of John 17:23. Without the binding power of love, all that can be said is that there is a mystical unity, which ignores the reality of division.
There are two great examples of this kind of thinking and they come from two of the great leaders of evangelical Christianity — Billy Graham and Chuck Smith. Billy Graham bridged the gap between mainline churches and old fundamentalism at his crusade in Madison Square Garden in 1957. From that time on, Graham has made “practical ecumenism” a hallmark of his ministry.10 On page 31 of his booklet, Growing as a Christian, Graham says, “I have learned that although Christians do not always agree, they can disagree agreeably,” and “within the true church there is a mysterious unity that overrides all divisive factors” [emphasis added]. This is classic “doublethink.” (For more on this subject, see the article Tools of Control, page 58 of Part One.)
Pastor Chuck Smith is a great doctor who gives out regular prescriptions of medicine to his flocks — the opiate of the masses — like this prescription from his book Answers for Today: “The more spiritual a man is, the less denominational he is. We should realize that we’re all part of the Body of Christ and that there aren’t any real divisions [emphasis added] in the Body. We’re all one.”11 In other words, the more spiritual a man is the less he notices divisions. This statement is an indictment against Paul who said:
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:10,12,13)
According to Chuck Smith, the apostle Paul was not a spiritual man, but a mere natural man, because he called attention to the divisions, the disunity, the denominations of Christianity beginning to form.
The fruit of the Jesus Movement was just more divisions in an already hopelessly divided religion. Ever since the first church lost its first love, the result has been the religion of Christianity, whose history is full of division and bloodshed. Some version of it has always been the favored religion in Western society. It is in the mainstream. It is the status quo. It is not outside the camp where Jesus always is. The world hated Him.12 The Jews rejected Him and had the Romans execute Him outside the gates of Jerusalem. He was an outcast from His own people. He went outside the camp and stayed there.
God still wants that new nation that will produce the fruit of the kingdom and be the witness of love and unity that will bring about the end of the age. This new nation is the prophetic fulfillment of Isaiah 49:6 which is promised in this age:
It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.
It is the restoration of this nation in the last days that will have efficacy (the capacity to produce a desired effect) to fulfill the Great Commission.13 The desired effect is to be the universal witness of the kingdom, the demonstration that puts the evidence of God’s love and unity before all the nations so that the end of this age can come and Jesus can return to rule and reign on earth.14 When this foretaste of the undivided kingdom to come is seen on the earth, the words of that song can be changed to say:
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord;
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord;
And we know that our unity has finally been restored;
Because all men can see it by our love, by our love;
Yes, the whole world can see it by our love.