Summary: The differences based upon the Spirit's gift to the Church should create greater unity, not disunity.
Unity and Differences
Zero’s do make a difference. A quick postcard was sent out to church members of a church was considering a new pastor. A newsletter had gone out and no one had noticed the error. The postcard said, “Pastor Bill Murphy actually has the 100 percent support of his family in his ministry as pastor, not 10% as was stated in our newsletter.”
The letter to the Ephesians begins with over three chapters telling us why we have commonality with every believer. It is based upon what Christ has done for us, all of which we receive at salvation. Therefore, it promotes unity among Christians. There should be a level of unity among Christians of different Churches and denominations, if we have Christ as our common Savior. There must be a higher level of unity in a Church congregation as we covenant together to serve one Master.
By the way. If you joined the Church, no matter when it was, and you do not see it as a covenant with one another to serve the Master, you need to rethink some things. Christ is the reason for our unity, and that unity needs to be primary. Paul summed up that glorious truth in verses 4-6.
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Let me make the message of Paul and the Holy Spirit as clear as this weak messenger can. None of the following passages in Ephesians can stand alone as a book of the Bible or a separate doctrine. All that Paul has been saying earlier in this book, led by the Spirit of Love, are foundational to what is said in the rest of this great book.
Let me point out how far we may have fallen from these truths in our lives.
Illustration: Our son, Ryan, was born with a major birth defect, spina bifida, the most common crippling birth-defects in the United States. It affected his lower body, particularly his legs. His had other issues involving his lower abdomen.
When we determined that it was time to remove Ryan from the public school system for him to recover from ridicule and one bad teacher, we took him to a Christian school that I was very familiar with. The pastor of the Church was a friend of my family. However, I did not know the principle of the school.
We went for the evaluation interview, and the principle stated early that she believed that Ryan should be in a school with children “like him.”
I have always had this problem that is harmless as long as no one is offended. I am a smart aleck. This day, my goal did not include not offending this principle.
I began to ask questions, “Oh, so your school is for non-Christians? For children who do not come from a Christian home? Maybe for non-humans? Is it for space aliens?”
The principle clarified. “No, I mean we are not a school for the physically disabled.”
Every child in that school had a different type of body, different athletic abilities, gifts, strengths and weaknesses. Where do you draw the line? Why was Ryan’s physical disabilities on one side of the line and stuttering wasn’t?
Paul is saying that no outward difference overpowers the unity that Christ creates in our hearts with all saved people. Never draw the line where the world would draw a line.
After that priority for unity is established, then and only then can we discuss the purpose and need for differences in the congregation.
Eph 4:7 “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.”
I. The Personality of Differences. (7)
Grace was given to each person; undeserved, completely paid for by Christ’s immeasurable gift. Just as Christ’s gift of salvation-grace cannot be measured or deserved, so is the gift of His service-grace measured out, immeasurably and undeserved.
This is the purpose of Christ’s redemption….. look.
II. The Provenance of Differences.
Eph 4:8-10 “Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men." 9 (In saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)”
In expositional preaching, our intent is to expose the meaning intended by the Holy Spirit and the writer, as well as what this meant to the original listeners as they heard it read. This gets very complicated here, Paul quoting from Psalms 68, which is a song of praise for the Arc of the Covenant being returned to the Holy Hill of God, Mt. Zion. It reflects upon the Arc of the Covenant leading the people from the captivity of Egypt to Canaan. It recalls the battles in which the Arc was carried with the army and victory was insured. The Arc of the Covenant worked so well, it worked when they took it back to Temple Mountain, or Zion, even when it was not with the army in the war campaign.