Jesus prayed for the unity of all believers:
I do not pray for these [my disciples] alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, 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 17:20–23
Notice that immediately prior to these words, Christ prayed:
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. John 17:17–19
The context of Jesus’ prayer for the unity of those who would believe in Him is the sanctifying truth of God’s word – the very word that the Apostles subsequently delivered to the Church, and through which we now believe in Christ.
Through that word, we are being made ‘perfect in one’ – the word of God itself creates Christian unity. And through that uniting and perfecting word, we know that the Father sent His Son to die in our place, that the Father loves us for the sake of His Son and puts His righteousness to our account. Through God’s word, those who believe it have confidence that:
having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1–2
God’s word, then, is essential to our Christian faith. We hunger for sound doctrine, because sound doctrine is nothing other than that word, faithfully delivered.
The Christian life depends upon sound doctrine. But is it harmful to Christian unity to rebuke false doctrine and separate from those who wilfully assist in its propagation? Some seem to think so. Yet Christians are nowhere in Scripture called to unite around false doctrine or practice, but to reject error and instead speak the truth in love to one another. We are to ‘contend earnestly for the faith which as once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3).
Continue reading False Doctrine Destroys Christian Unity