The title of this article has only two relatively small words in it, but there are major disagreements as to the meaning of those two words. Some believe the apostle Paul, the writer of the book of Ephesians, was speaking of an individual’s personal faith. Thus, there would be many faiths because every individual has his, or her, own faith. Others believe Paul was speaking of the gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s Word, as found in the New Testament. Which is it?
One’s personal faith is absolutely essential if that person wants to have heaven as his or her eternal reward. Jesus said, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). He would also state, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). Therefore, personal faith or belief is important. The Hebrews writer also states, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). So, an individual cannot be saved without having a personal faith in Jesus, in God, as well as in the word of God.
A person’s individual faith must be based upon the truth revealed in the New Testament. Jesus taught, “…If you continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). Many people like to quote verse 32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” but they forget or refuse to acknowledge where that truth is located. It is located in the words of our Lord. Plus, one cannot be a disciple of Christ and refuse to abide by the words or revelation of Christ. Our Lord made this perfectly clear when He said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). The word which was spoken by our Lord will be the standard by which all those on this side of the cross will be judged. Paul affirms the same thing in Romans 10:17 when he says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This “faith” is one’s own personal faith which is founded upon God’s word. But this is not the “one faith” to which the apostle Paul speaks.
Paul in Ephesians 4:5 is referring to the system of faith, the gospel of Jesus Christ of which we read in the New Testament. It is the same “faith” to which Jude, the half-brother of our Lord, spoke when he said, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write upon you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). “The faith” in this passage is not an individual’s personal faith but rather the system of faith which Jude says was “once delivered,” meaning it was once for all time delivered unto the saints. There never has been and never will be a need for another “faith,” an updated version of the faith, to be delivered to the saints.
Unfortunately, there are those who believe the “one faith” needs to be updated. As one person proclaimed, “After all, it’s not the first century any longer!” What he and many others don’t realize is there were those who lived at the same time as the apostle Paul who thought the “one faith” needed to be updated. Paul wrote to the Galatian brethren, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6-7). Paul is saying there were those who were promoting “another gospel,” an updated gospel, but he says it was actually a perversion of the gospel of Christ. He makes the point that their misguided reasoning stated that this new, updated, gospel was another of the same kind of good news when compared to that which originated with Jesus Christ. This new gospel, instead of being another of the same kind, was instead actually another of a different kind. It was a perversion of Christ’s gospel. We still have those who are promoting “another gospel of Jesus Christ” but it too is just a perversion of the “one faith.”
The “one faith,” the system of faith, is comprised of: facts which must be believed; commandments which must be obeyed; instructions which must be followed; promises which will be given by our heavenly Father; and warnings which must be heeded, if we intend to have Heaven as our everlasting home! None of these ingredients which make up the “one faith” can be ignored, rejected, or excluded by anyone who desires to hear our Lord say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…” (Matt. 25:21).
In his commentary on the books of Ephesians and Colossians, brother Robert R. Taylor, Jr. quotes brother Winfred Clark as saying, “The ONE God sent the ONE Lord who sent the ONE Spirit who gave us the ONE faith (the gospel) which teaches the ONE baptism which puts us into the ONE church (body – K.B.C.) wherein we enjoy the ONE hope” (Studies In Ephesians & Colossians, Taylor Publications, 2010, pg. 80).
While there are many individuals who have biblical faith, notice there is only ONE faith — system of faith, gospel of Jesus Christ — acceptable to God. ONE means one, not two or any number greater or lesser than one.
Keith is a graduate of the Florida School of Preaching in Lakeland, FL, and preaches for the Lord’s church in Mountain Grove, MO. He and his wife, Cheryl, have 3 sons and 12 grandchildren.