Paul’s Struggle for the Unity of the Saints

December 4, 1996

“For I want you to know how great a struggle [agony] I have on your behalf … that [your] hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love” (Colossians 2:1).

This was the mighty apostle Paul, the one who was specially apprehended by God with a saving revelation of Jesus Christ that was brighter than the mid-day sun, yet he had this agony. Paul was given more grace than any other New Testament leader or laborer, yet he had this agony. Paul was not inferior to the most eminent apostles, yet he had this agony. Paul made such bold statements as, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”, yet he had this struggle. Paul knew much about contentment, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content”, yet he had this struggle. Paul extolled a “peace that passes understanding”, yet he had this struggle. He exhorted others to “rejoice always”, yet he had this agony. Paul made such solid statements of a sovereign God as, “Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth”, yet he had this struggle. What was the struggle? It was not for himself but others — that the saints there at Colossae might be encouraged by being knit together in love.

Disunity is a very discouraging thing. But what strength comes from unity. Like the little wires, all knit together, make the strength of the cable, so it is for the church. Indeed, a true New Testament church is close, real close, just like a piece of knitting. Pastors feel that burden. All true Christians, by nature, feel that burden in some measure. And they are exhorted to “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” It is not an easy thing. Just like those individual strands of thread, if they are to be knit in, must be pushed this way and that, so it is for the knitting together of the saints. Love requires a lot of giving.

(1949 - 2012)