This book starts by establishing that all believers in Christ are already, in fact, one with each other in Christ so that we need only live consistently with the oneness that already exists, not create unity. The first section then explains why living consistently with our oneness is important. Part two explains that oneness is harmony, not uniformity. The third section deals with practical barriers to oneness and how to overcome them. The focus is how each of us may live our oneness and contribute to the Body's health and strength.
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Our Oneness in Christ
Our Oneness in Christ is a book about our individual roles in pursuing Christian unity.
Have you ever wondered why so many of God's promises only seem to work occasionally? Or why sickness, both physical and mental, seems to be more prevalent among Christians than it is in the world? Or why all of the efforts at unifying Church organizations have not resulted in more visible unity among believers on the street? A recently released book, Our Oneness in Christ by Ian Johnson and Lauston Stephens, provides at least one of the major answers to all of these questions: The Church has become too individualistic. God's promises are made to the Body of Christ, and only function properly in our individual lives when that Body is healthy—that is, when we are each individually living out our oneness. Conversely, when the whole Body is sick and weak from disunity, each of its members shares in its sickness and weakness. True Christian unity, manifested in our lives individually, is the key to the manifestation of many of God's promises.
This book starts by establishing that all believers in Christ are already, in fact, one with each other in Christ. This leaves us with the challenge, not of creating unity where it does not exist, but of living consistently with the oneness that already exists.
The first section then explains why living consistently with our oneness is important, including God's commands and expectations, the benefits of living in oneness and the hazards of living contrary to the truth. Part two explains what oneness is and is not, including the concepts that oneness is a harmony of diverse believers each doing their own part, not unison, unanimity or strict conformity to the same mold. Christian unity is not conformity in the externals of faith and practice. The third section deals with practical barriers to living in oneness—selfishness, misunderstandings, heresy, and incorrect understanding of the origin of the organizational divisions in the universal Church—and suggests how to overcome them. The focus of the book is how each of us individually may live out the oneness of the Body and contribute to its health and strength.
This book will start by showing a very simple, basic truth: We are already one with Christ and, therefore, one in Christ. All of us who have been saved through the knowledge of Christ are already one with Him: one with Him in His death, burial and resurrection; one with Him in the Spirit; and one with Him in His new life. Because we are each
individually united with Christ in this way, we are one with each other. Logically, it cannot be otherwise—we cannot each be one with Christ, yet not be one with each other. Moreover, we are united with Christ and with each other in a single Body of which He is the Head. Our oneness with Christ and with each other is a present reality from which we cannot escape.
To be sure, we are also involved, individually and corporately, in a growth process in which we are learning to live out the truth of our oneness with God and with each other. We must continually choose to conform to the truth for it to have its full, intended effect in our experience. But the fact that we can decide how the truth of our oneness will affect our present experience does not make its truth depend on us. As will be explained in later chapters, when we choose to deny or neglect our oneness, it does not cease to exist. Rather, our sinful choice to deny our present oneness has real, negative consequences.
So, in this sense, the choice is ours—we can either willingly conform to the truth and be blessed with growth or reject the truth and suffer the consequences. However, our choice for or
against the truth does not affect the reality that Christ died to make us one with Himself and with each other. His work is done, and our oneness is a present, completed truth that should influence all of our conduct...