Summary: What all true Christians have in common.
A preacher was having revival services in a town where a mental institution was located. One of the deacons employed at the institution asked the preacher to speak to the inmates at the chapel service. He agreed and after he had been preaching for a couple of minutes, one inmate stood up and said, "This is the worst preaching I’ve ever heard." This disturbed the preacher but he continued. After another five minutes the same inmate stood up and repeated, "This is the worst preaching I’ve ever heard." Turning to the deacon who invited him, the preacher whispered, "Maybe I should stop. This man might get violent."
"Oh no, don’t stop," said the deacon. "That man has been here four years, and that’s the first sensible thing he’s said yet." (Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations & Quotes, 124)
NOTHING CAN BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER EXCEPT THE GOSPEL. God must change our natures if true unity is to exist between us. Naturally we are filled with prejudices.
There can be union without unity; tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothesline. That’s union without unity.
THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE VISIBLE, LOCAL CHURCH AND THE INVISIBLE, UNIVERSAL CHURCH.
The unity of Christians is described in at least five ways in this chapter:
1. Christians are MEMBERS OF ONE NEW RACE: "one new man" (v. 15).
2. Christians are PARTS OF ONE BODY: "one body" (v. 16).
3. Christians are CITIZENS OF ONE NATION: "fellowcitizens with the saints [God’s people]" (v. 19).
4. Christians are CHILDREN OF ONE FAMILY: "of the household of God" (v. 19).
5. Christians are STONES OF ONE TEMPLE: "[we] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (vv. 20-22).
"NOW THEREFORE . . ." I want us to take a look at the big picture of Christian unity. What makes believers one?
I. WE ALL HAVE THE SAME PAST.
Ephesians 2:3 says that we "WERE BY NATURE THE CHILDREN OF WRATH."
Jeffrey Dahmer was America’s most notorious serial killer. Not only were his killings gruesome, but he was so morally twisted that he cooked and ate his victims’ body parts. On the day of his arrest, police made the horrible discovery of a human heart and several skulls in the refrigerator of his home.
Through his subsequent trial Dahmer remained impassive, never once showing any sign of remorse or regard for the deep pain he caused his victims’ families. He seemed to be a monster without a conscience. He was found guilty on all charges and the judge sentenced him to 16 consecutive life sentences for a total of 1,070 years in prison. Dahmer was hated by his fellow prisoners. They regarded him as being the lowest kind of human scum. Eventually two of the prisoners brutally killed him inside a prison washroom. But in the meantime Jeffrey had turned to Jesus, claiming to have become a Christian. He was even baptized in a prison tub.
People were totally outraged by Jeffrey’s jailhouse conversion. Their attitude was typified in an article by a prominent journalist who expressed it in these words:
"Good riddance. Dahmer is dead. . . . Did you heard he got religion? He made peace with his maker. Lucky for him we have different makers. I think mine requires a little more than a prison conversion and a dunk in the pool to make up for butchering a dozen and a half innocent people. Why is it these dogs never get religion before they slaughter people? Why does it always come too late to do anybody any good? Here’s the theological dilemma: If Dahmer murdered, raped and cannibalized an innocent boy who had not been "saved," and then Dahmer got "saved" himself, whose side would God be on? Who does he welcome with open arms on Judgment Day? Are we supposed to believe that God embraces the murderer and sends the victim to hell? Not in any heaven I want to be part of." (Bob Lonsberry, lonsberry.com)
My point is not to argue whether Jeffrey Dahmer actually was saved or not. Only God knows the truth about that.
You might say to yourself, "A person like that doesn’t deserve to be saved." You’re exactly right. Nobody like that deserves to be saved . . . but neither do I and neither do you. The only kind of salvation that God offers is undeserved salvation, salvation by grace. Ephesians 2:8 says, "By grace are ye saved." The only way I can be saved is by grace. The only way you can be saved is by grace.