There is really nothing so painful under the sun as to see brethren and sisters in the Lord live in disunity of mind and soul; it is the pain of the breaking of the harmony of the music of the love of Christ in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace. Conversely it is also true, that nothing gives such joy as to see that brethren dwell together in the unity of brotherhood. It is like the precious ointment wherewith Aaron and his sons were anointed; it is like the dew of Mount Hermon upon the top of Mount Zion.

From out of the depths of the Apostolic heart of Paul, that has only concern for the spiritual well-being of the Church, we hear the earnest precept of the Gos­pel: Only walk worthily of the Gospel in your citizen­ship walk of the heavenly kingdom on earth! Then shall the enemy be met in the gate; we shall then be without fear striving together for the faith of the Gospel. Then shall the bulwarks of Zion be strong and her palaces beautiful with the grace of God.

For the church is really beautiful by grace and by grace alone. It is given us out of grace to believe in Jesus Christ, preached to us in the Holy Gospel; it is equally by grace that we may suffer for the sake of Christ in the midst of this world. In this, believers share a common heritage in the Lord.

Should not such a church be one in every fiber of her being and heart? And does not the love of Christ constrain her to this walk in the unity of one common aim and purpose in life? Is not the love of Christ manifest in this, that He humbled Himself before God and was exalted by Him as a reward? You under­stand this Mystery of godliness that is great, you as­sert? Well, then, you will also have the necessary point of appeal given in the Scripture passage that we wish to consider with one another in this and the next essay.

What is this passage?

It reads as follows: “If there be therefore any con­solation in Christy if any comfort of love, if any fel­lowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, ful­fil ye my joy, that ye be like minded (that ye mind the same thing), having the same love, being of one ac­cord, (harmony of your soul) of one mind (minding the one thing). Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory; but in lowliness; let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

It seems to us, that it is of the utmost importance for the correct understanding of this Scripture pas­sage to bear in mind, that Paul is here speaking of likemindedness in the Lord. It should be remembered, that there is a caricature likemindedness also in the world of unbelief now, and that there shall be such likemindedness in the greatest possible measure pre­sently in the world of Antichrist. There too is a like­mindedness in purpose. It will be the unification of all the vain imaginations of men, who rise up against the Lord and His anointed Son. These the Lord will have in derision; He will laugh at them from His holy pavilion. Nevertheless among these evil men there is unity of purpose. Pilate and Herod become friends in one day when they have a common Foe, Jesus of Nazareth. Such is not the likemindedness in my text here. This is the likemindedness not of those who are “put under the feet of Jesus”. Psalm 110:1, I Cor. 15:25. On the contrary it is the unity of purpose of those, who, by the grace of God, learn to pray: Rule us so by thy Word and Spirit,, that we may submit ourselves more and more to thee . . . till the full per­fection of thy kingdom take place, wherein thou shalt be all and all. Ques. 122, Heid. Cat. It is, then, most emphatically a likemindedness in the Lord.

That such is the likemindedness and unity of pur­pose here spoken of is evident from three matters that we here let pass in review.

In the first place, it should be remembered that Paul is writing this letter to the saints that are in Christ Jesus at Philippi. He is writing to those who are by faith in the Lord.

In the second place, it should be noticed that this Christ Jesus is emphatically the Lord, who has re­ceived the Name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in all the universe. In this Lord and His dominion, by His Word and Spirit we are likeminded, and must become more and more so. Wherefore Paul writes in Philippians 4:2: “I beseech Euodias and I beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.”

Thirdly, we should emphatically notice, that all of the incentives unto the likemindedness here spoken of are in the Lord as the risen Savior, who was exceed­ingly highly exalted because He humbled Himself so deeply. Listen: if there then be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit if any bowels and mercy . . . This is all in Christ our risen Lord.

A likemindedness in the Lord then.

Upon a bit closer scrutiny of (the text we notice the following elements elucidating upon this likemindedness.

It is a likemindedness that is rooted in and con­stantly flows from our “having the same love”.

What is this love? Why is it the prerequisite of likemindedness in the exclusive Christian sense?

Love in the Holy Scriptures must never be con­fused with personal likes, natural adaptedness. It must not be confused with natural enthusiasm. For love in the Holy Scriptures is the bond of spiritual perfection. It is the perfection wrought by the Holy Spirit in our hearts so that we are perfect image bearers of God, perfectly keeping all of His Com­mandments. He who loves, keeps the commandments of God. For this very reason it is very easy to evalu­ate our deeds in the light of this law of love to deter­mine whether ours is a life of love. This is not a matter left to personal subjective-rationalistic judg­ment. It is entirely a matter that is measured by the standard of the Word of the Gospel as the Rule of faith. (Regula Fidei). Here we do not measure ourselves by ourselves; man is not his own law. Here we are measured by the law of love in our heart and conscience. It is the Rule given from above: a Royal law it is.

Notice first of all, that the Scriptures teach that God is love. Scripture does not lift the lid on all that happens in the inter-trinitarian life of God. Even in this love life God is incomprehensible. However, we confess that God is love. God is the rule of His own life; He measures up to this perfectly as Father, Son and Spirit.

God reveals His love, the inner and real nature of this love always in the Cross. Herein we always see love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son a propitiation for our sins. Having loved us He loved us unto the end. He loved us so that He sheds abroad His love in our hearts by His Word and Spirit, assuring us of all His lovingkindness so that we may cry, Abba, Father. For He hath quickened us when we were yet sinners. And why? Because of His great love wherewith He loved us.

And this love in our hearts is such in its very na­ture that we will love the brother, whom we see. It rejoices in his joy, sorrows in his sorrow, rejoices in the truth, beareth all things, hopeth all things and endureth all things, Such love never fails. It never puts to shame.

Now this is the love of which Paul speaks in our text.

There are two fine touches here that we should observe.

In the first place we should notice, that Paul does not employ a finite verb here. He says: having this love. It is the participle. The thought is that since we are having this love in our hearts this likeminded­ness must needs follow. It is like water that makes one wet, fire that burns, food that nourishes. So hav­ing this love, likemindedness must needs follow as good fruit from the gift of love.

Then too we should notice that Paul also says: having the same love. Each word is important here and must be weighed. The same love as who? It seems but natural to here think of the same love that all of God’s people have had shed abroad in their hearts throughout the ages. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is the same love wherever it is manifested. Time cannot affect it. It is also the same in every child of God, in “every be­liever in Christ Jesus. And this means that in the church at Philippi every believer has the same love, it is of the same kind and nature. Love must be mea­sured in all, in that it lays down its soul for the bro­ther. Love always rejoices in the truth, believeth all things, hopeth and endureth all things. No one can parade his own patent of love. There is no counter­feit. All have the same, real, genuine love, which the Holy Spirit sheds abroad in our hearts.

Only from this love does like-mindedness proceed.

Does this preclude likemindedness in doctrine? Nay, this is a likemindedness rooted in faith in the self-same doctrine. For it is not a walk worthy of the approval of men, but it is a walk that is worthy of the Gospel of Christ. And then this is all doctrine, in­struction, reproof, correction in righteousness as in­structed by pure words, in sound doctrine.

If love were a matter of subjective opinion then we could discard doctrine in likemindedness. Then we could play out love and pure doctrine as anti­poles. We then could speak of pure doctrine as an ob­stacle toward likemindedness. But now this is dif­ferent. For pure doctrine is the Royal law of the King. It is the Rule of faith that is energized by love.

When we all mind the “same thing” then certainly this means, that we place our necks under the yoke of our Lord and Christ. This yoke is always the same. Pure doctrine does not change. It is always the plumb line of Christian conduct. Always it tells us to love even as we are loved by God in Christ. In this love of God to us we are to love one another with pure hearts. Thus we are instructed in purity of doctrine.

It is thus a matter of unity in doctrine and life. In that order. Never can there be a unity in life (zooee) where there is no unity in Christian teach­ing in the fundamentals of the Christian religion in godliness. It is true that where strife is there some­times purity of doctrine is maintained. And it is sometimes maintained simply from the motive of strife. But this malady in God’s church should not tempt us to the greater catastrophe of relinquishing purity of doctrine in the cause (sic) of love. For likemindedness is in the Lord. And the Lord also is Lord of pure doctrine.

—to be continued

G.C. Lubbers