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John Calvin – What Comes First… Humility or Unity?

14 Feb

“[4:1] I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, [2] with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” – Ephesians 4:1-2

Paul puts humility first because he is about to speak about unity, and humility is the first step toward achieving it. Humility in turn produces gentleness, and that makes us patient. By bearing with our fellow believers we keep that unity that otherwise would be broken a hundred times a day. Let us remember, therefore, that in cultivating brotherly kindness we must start with humility….

Anyone who has these gifts of moderation will overlook and put up with many faults among his fellow believers. We must also respect the order in which Paul lists these things. It is pointless to ask for patience if people’s spirits have not been tamed first, or to preach gentleness without humility. When Paul mentions love, he means what he says elsewhere, that the true nature of love lies in patience.

~John Calvin~







Reformation Commentary on Scripture – Galatians, Ephesians (Downers Grove, IL; IVP Academic; 2011) p. 329

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Herman Bavinck – The Unity Christians Have

9 Nov

Protestantism, on the other hand, associates the unity of the church first of all with the oneness of the head of the church (Eph. 1:10; 5:23), with the communion of all believers through one and the same Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17,19; 12:13; 2Cor. 12:18; Eph. 4:4), with Christ and with each other (John 10:16; 15:1; Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Eph. 1:22), and further, with the unity of faith, hope, and love, and of baptism, and so forth (Eph. 4:3-5). This unity, though primarily spiritual in character, nevertheless exists objectively and really, and it does not remain completely invisible. It manifests itself outwardly—-albeit in a very imperfect way—-and at least to some degree comes to light in that which all Christian churches have in common. No Christianity exists above or beneath religious differences, but there is indeed a Christianity present amid religious differences. Because we tend to be most aware of the differences and schisms in Christianity, we constantly run the danger of disregarding this–nevertheless truly existing–unity. That which unites all true Christians is always more than that which separates them.

~Herman Bavinck~


Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 4: Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic; 2003) p. 321.

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John Newton – The Image of God and Unity

10 May

I endeavour to observe my Lord’s command, to call no man master upon earth; yet I desire to own and honour the image of God wherever I find it. I dare not say I have no bigotry, for I know not myself, and remember to my shame that formerly, when I ignorantly professed myself free from it, I was indeed overrun with it; but this I can say, I allow it not; I strive and pray against it; and thus far by the grace of God I have attained, that I find my heart as much united to many who differ from me in some points, as to any who agree with me in all. I set no value upon any doctrinal truth, further than it has a tendency to promote practical holiness.

~John Newton~



The Letters of John Newton – To the Rev. Francis Okeley (Edinburgh, Scotland; The Banner of Truth Trust; 2007) p. 20.

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