Summary: What is the path to unity? What is the basis for unity in the church? Upon what does that unity depend? And how are we to maintain that unity?
Ephesians: Our Identity in Christ~Part 13
The Path of Unity
Unity of the Spirit
1. Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
2. with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,
3. being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;
5. one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6. one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
7. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
8. Therefore it says,
“WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH,
HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES,
AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”
9. (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?
10. He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)
11. And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
12. for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
13. until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
14. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
15. but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,
16. from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
We have already seen in the first three chapters of Ephesians that we are now citizens of a new kingdom and members of a new family. In these first three chapters, we have seen what Christ has done for us. We have seen our privileged position in Him. We have seen the biblical basis of who we are. The position and privileges of the believer's identity in Christ have been described and now the call comes to live according to who we are. The obligations and requirements of this new society come along with the privilege of being a part of it.
Ephesians 4:1-16, is packed with instruction worthy of many messages. In order to understand the call issued in the first three verses we must look at the whole context which illuminates that call. The call is a call to unity.
Let me read one of Aesop’s Greek fables; In the forest, there lived four oxen. They were very good friends and always went together to graze in the fields. However, every time they went, a hungry lion tried to attack them. The lion longed for their meat. But they withstood his attack by fighting him as a team. They attacked him with their horns and the lion fled to another forest. One day, the four oxen fought among themselves. They started going to the forest separately.
When the lion returned, he saw that the group was divided. He planned to take advantage of this situation. Finding the first ox grazing in the fields alone, he crept from behind and ate him up. The next day, he attacked the second ox and killed it too. This way he killed the third and the fourth ox too. Had the four oxen stayed together, they wouldn't have lost their lives. Moral Lesson: "United we stand, divided we will be killed. From where came the popular phrase, "United we stand, divided we fall". That could be a song, in fact I think it was a song. You may be familiar with a popular song "United We Stand" written by Tony Hiller and Peter Simmons and was first recorded in 1970 by The Brotherhood of Man. The concept is that unless people are united, it is easy to destroy them.
What is the path to unity? What is the basis for unity in the church? Upon what does that unity depend? And how are we to maintain that unity? These are important questions, and they are all answered in our text. Here we find what we need in order to walk down the path of unity. But a mere understanding of the concepts will not be enough. What we have before us is a pattern for living. As we fulfill our obligation to obey what we find here, then we will experience unity.