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Summary: The diversity of the gifts of the Spirit is proof that God desires unity, not uniformity. How does that look in a marriage, a family, or a congregation? What about cessationism? Are the gifts still operating in the church today?

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Dakota Community Church

September 30, 2012

Grace at Work - 6

Ephesians 4:1-13

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 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 has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:

“When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”

9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Part One: Unity - According to our passage unity depends upon four primary things:

1. How we treat one another

2. Understanding and respecting gifts and service - WE ARE HERE!

Distinguishing between true and false teaching/teachers

Growth and maturity

Examples of the difference between unity and uniformity.

In a marriage - God clearly planned for unity in marriage. Unity looks like two people joined in purpose, different in gifts and skills, each free to operate and grow in their areas of strength, leaning on the other where they are weak.

With unity there is a sharing of life, there is open and honest communication, there is serving and giving and preferring the other above self.

(One flesh, laying down life as Christ/respecting submitting)

With uniformity there is controlling, abusing, suffocating, and selfishness.

In a family - Unity involves loving, guiding, training according to bent, boundaries and ever expanding freedom, trusting and honoring and obeying.

Uniformity involves yelling and screaming, suppression of individual characteristics, focus on outward appearance, unquestioned obedience. (Eye brow piercing)

In a church - Unity involves serving one another, respecting one another, and encouraging one another in all the ways we are talking about here.

Uniformity involves singular vision, unquestioned obedience and submission, no complaining. Fill a seat, fill an envelope, and smile!

An important aspect of unity in the Body of Christ is understanding our God ordained diversity.

A.) God is the author of the gifts.

Ephesians 4:4-7

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 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 has been given as Christ apportioned it.

We all receive the same saving grace, but serving grace differs according to Christ’s will.

I want to take a few minutes to point out that not all Christians believe the gifts of the Spirit are active in the church today.

From: http://www.monergism.com

In Christian theology, cessationism is the view that the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as tongues, prophecy and healing, ceased being practiced early on in Church history. Cessationists usually believe the miraculous gifts were given only for the foundation of the Church, during the time between the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, c. AD 33 (see Acts 2) and the fulfillment of God's purposes in history, usually identified as either the completion of the last book of the New Testament or the death of the last Apostle.

Cessationists are divided into four main groups:

Concentric Cessationists believe that the miraculous gifts have indeed ceased in the mainstream church and evangelized areas, but appear in unreached areas as an aid to spreading the Gospel (Luther and Calvin, though they were somewhat inconsistent in this position).

Classical cessationists assert that the "sign gifts" such as prophecy, healing and speaking in tongues ceased with the apostles and the finishing of the canon of Scripture. They only served as launching pads for the spreading of the Gospel; as affirmations of God's revelation. However, these cessationists do believe that God still occasionally does miracles today, such as healings or divine guidance, so long as these "miracles" do not accredit new doctrine or add to the New Testament canon. Richard Gaffin, John F. MacArthur and Daniel B. Wallace are perhaps the best-known classical cessationists.

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