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Summary: Pentecost 10(B) - Believers are reminded and encouraged to keep the unity of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit produces unity by faith. God’s gifts promote unity in faithful living.

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“KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT” (Outline)

July 20, 2008 --

PENTECOST 10 --

Ephesians 4:1-7,11-16

INTRO: Today’s text reminds us of the fact that we are saints in the Lord united together by our Christian faith. This is our confession in the Apostle’s Creed: “I believe in the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints”. The invisible Christian church is the unity of all believers (communion of saints) in Christ. It makes no difference where these believers are gathered together to worship the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others"(ROMANS 12:4,5). Each of us has different body parts that function for the benefit of our bodies. God’s church is the same. There are many different members who serve to benefit the church, the body of Christ. We use Paul’s words in our text as our theme of encouragement:

“KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT”

I. God’s Spirit produces unity (faith).

II. God’s gifts promote unity (faithful living).

I. GOD’S SPIRIT PRODUCES UNITY

A. Verse 1. Paul reminds the believers he is in Rome, in prison. Paul still encourages faithfulness.

1. These believers were to lead lives worthy of God’s divine call. Verse 3. Be at peace.

2. The Gentiles and Jews were now worshipping together. It would take effort to be accepting.

B. Gentiles and Jews were very different. They were generally at odds with each other. But not now.

1. Verse 4. Both, Gentile and Jew, were called to faith purely by God’s divine, amazing grace.

2. They were called to worship together by the same God, the Lord God Almighty, verses 5,6.

C. These believers did not earn salvation. They did not deserve salvation. God gave faith, verse 7.

D. The most important gift that the Holy Spirit gives us is faith. Ask different people what are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. You will receive varying answers. Some like to concentrate on physical gifts of the Holy Spirit that can be seen and felt. These gifts could include: miracles, healings, and speaking in tongues. There are far more important gifts of the Spirit. These might be considered unseen. You know them. They are peace, joy, love, comfort, forgiveness, and many other Christian virtues. These are important. BUT faith is still the most important, sometimes overlooked, gift of the Holy Spirit. Without faith it is impossible to please God. "Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit"(1 CORIN. 12:3).

E. God’s Spirit gives faith in order to produce unity among believers. The faith that believers have as members of the Holy Christian church is vitally important and powerful. Faith dwells in the hearts of believers. This means that God dwells in the hearts of believers. "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me"(JOHN 17:22,23). Faith unites us as believers to live united lives for the benefit of the world. We are united by God’s word to live God’s word. God’s word reveals to others and us his great love for all sinners.

F. God’s most amazing grace is that he dwells in us sinners. It makes no difference that we are, what we are or our standing in society. God looks at us sees sinners who are forgiven and covered by the robe of Christ’s righteousness. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise"(GALATIANS 3:28,29). Imagine that – today you and I and all believers in Christ are now “Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise”. The promise once made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is now fulfilled in us. You and I and every Christ believers are the true Israel today. This saving faith is given to us as a gift of the Holy Spirit. You and are brought into God’s kingdom and inheritance.

God’s Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts that unites. God’s Spirit produces unity among the believers by faith. This is our motivation to make every effort to “KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT”.

II. GOD’S GIFTS PROMOTE UNITY

A. Paul earlier mentioned some gifts of faith the believers were given by the Holy Spirit, verse 2.

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