Summary: 28th in a series from Ephesians. The seven ties that bond us together as believers are based on the unity of God Himself.
In fact, these are the deepest ties possible because they find their roots in God Himself. A careful study of these seven common bonds reveals that they are far more than just some random listing of what we have in common, but that Paul actually groups them in a manner that reveals the work of all three parts of the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – in the lives of believers. These three distinct groupings are pretty obvious even in our English translations, but they are even more pronounced in the Greek.
I don’t think anyone here would argue with the premise that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit work in perfect harmony and unity to accomplish the purposes of God. In a February 2001 article in Christianity Today, John Ortberg described how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit relate to each other. He rightly pointed out how each Person of the Godhead defers to the others.
The primary function of the Holy Spirit is to point us to Jesus Christ. Dale Bruner, in his essay on the trinity, describes this as the “shyness” of the Holy Spirit. He never calls attention to Himself, but rather comes in the name of the Son, bears witness of the Son and gives glory to the Son.
And Jesus didn’t go around calling attention to Himself either. Instead, He submitted to the Spirit who led Him into the wilderness and He told his Father, “Not my will but yours be done.”
And even the Father, both at the baptism of Jesus and at the Transfiguration, commanded those there to listen to His Son, in whom He was pleased.
Ortberg summarizes the relationship of the trinity like this:
I was raised in some ways to think of God as a proud, almost arrogant being who could get away with his pride because he was God. The doctrine of the Trinity tells me it is not so. God exists as Father, Son, and Spirit in a community of greater humility, servanthood, mutual submission, and delight than you and I can imagine. Three and yet One. Oneness is God’s signature.
And it is the oneness of God that is the model or the basis for the oneness of God’s people. That’s why I think Paul very deliberately and clearly arranged these seven bonds in a way that they point to the work of each Person in the Godhead. So, although I’ll briefly touch on each of the seven individual bonds, my approach this morning is going to be to try to focus more on this overall principle:
THE ONENESS OF BELIEVERS IS BASED ON THE ONENESS OF GOD
Paul does something rather interesting here. He begins with the work of the Holy Spirit and then progresses to the work of the Son and finally to the work of the Father. That seems kind of backwards from the normal progression we would expect. For instance if you go back and read chapter 1, Paul begins with the work of the Father, then writes about the work of the Son and finishes by describing the work of the Spirit.
But if you remember our passage from last week, you’ll remember that Paul ends verse 3 by describing the unity of the [wait for answer] Spirit. So it makes sense that Paul would start there in verse 4 and then work his way to Jesus and the Father.