Summary: What is the most important thing we should do as a church to exhibit what it truly means to be a follower of Christ? What is church supposed to look like?

Date: June 14th, 2009

Title: Called To Be One

Text: Eph. 4:1-6



Main Idea:

Intro: What would you say is the most important thing that church is to be about?

One author wrote a book, “The Purpose Driven Church”, that uses the premise that there are five purposes of the church that we should work on.

The Natural Church Development stuff we use as a church says there are ten factors that we need to work on to be a healthy church.

Ask10 people and you’ll get 15 different answers.

What if I told you there was a man who wrote the very words of God who had something to say about this question of what is the most important thing a church should be about?

What is the most important thing we should do as a church to exhibit what it truly means to be a follower of Christ?

What is church supposed to look like?

I. The Number One Characteristic Of Living Our Life Worthy Of Our Calling is Unity Of The Spirit. (vss. 1-3)

A. Exhibiting a behavior of unity requires Believers know their true identity. (vs. 1)

1. Paul has been writing the last three chapters explaining who we are in Christ!

a) Alive in Him!

b) One in Him – Saved from the hostility between us and God and others.

c) We have been adopted into a rich inheritance which involves all the riches of His glorious power.

2. Paul starts here with telling us he is “a prisoner of the Lord.”

a) His words ring with authority because he’s living them out!

b) He was in jail because he surrendered to Jesus Christ.

c) He SOLD OUT his life to do what Jesus laid before him.

3. I want you to notice that if he had never fully yielded to Jesus, he could have probably avoided jail, persecution, and suffering.

a) That’s important to me because I don’t want to hear somebody tell me what to do or how to do it if they aren’t living it themselves!

ILL. I, like many of you, don’t like the dentist. It’s not high on my list of things I like to do. BUT when I do go to the dentist, I’m careful.

I’m not too comfortable with a dentist that tells me I have bad breath when his breath could wipe out an army… UH DOC, want a stick of gum… please? Take a hint, umm, I mean a mint.

I’m not too excited when a dentist is lecturing me on dental hygiene and he’s missing 3 teeth and the rest, well let’s say, are on their way out!

Why? Because I want to follow someone that does what they say… practices what they preach.

b) Double standards, compromises, contradictions, are all stumbling blocks and barriers to authenticity.

c) Paul has lived in Jesus to the point of imprisonment…

d) He’s the real deal!

e) He’s not just telling us, he’s living it out.

4. I urge you…

a) In the KJV it is, “I beseech you”, I beg you, I exhort you… walk worthy!

b) That word “urge” is the Greek word “parakaleo”

c) And it means to ‘call near to comfort and counsel’.

d) It’s the same word used to describe the Holy Spirit.

e) As He comes into our lives to counsel & guide us…

5. Paul is urging all Christians of all ages to live according to their calling.

a) He has taken great pains to trace out for us all the benefits of life in Christ.

b) Now, this being the case, he says, so act like it!

ILL. I remember one time when I was playing basketball in High School. It was half-time and we were losing a game to a team we should have been beating! Coach was upset with us and while we all hung our heads, he let us have it reminding us of our record, reminding us of our accomplishments as a team, reviewing our past performances and abilities. He said, “Are all these things I have said true? Are they who you are?” We all shook our heads in the affirmative as we started to pick our heads up recognizing who we really were! Then he said, “All these things are true, you guys are winners, now get out there and play like the winners you are!”

6. God’s Word is saying the same thing here!

a) We have all these blessings on blessings heaped upon us.

b) So live accordingly!

c) Get out there and live a life worthy of who you are!

d) God’s children, citizens of God’s kingdom, members and heirs in His family!

Trans: So does that mean we should do a little dance in the end zone. Maybe a little “in your face” taunting to the other side? No, look what it says in verse 2.

B. Our behavior begins with and reflects our Attitude! (vs. 2)

1. Be completely, not partially, not sometimes, not only when your feeling like it!

2. Be completely humble and gentle!

a) A live lived in the grace of God… leads to humility.

b) NOW: The word ‘humble’ literally means to be brought low…

c) It’s the opposite of asserting yourself.

d) There are some people that simply aren’t happy unless they are the center of attention, where their ideas are preeminent, where their voice is heard, where they are on center-stage.

e) BUT the way of the cross is humility and self-sacrifice.

3. NOW gentleness is a term used to describe power under control.

a) It’s used to measure your self in relation to God.

b) John 3.30 "He must increase, but I must decrease.

c) Jesus represented the best example of this in all Scripture. - Matthew 11.28-29 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

4. Be patient, bearing with one another in love…

a) Literally a ‘patient endurance’… longsuffering. Fruit of Spirit.

b) Uh-oh… we don’t like this one very much. Suffer? Long?

c) Are you kidding? You suffer Neil… I like my comfort!

d) Here in the US, we demand immediate gratification… suffer?

e) But the Bible says that obedience is better than sacrifice…

f) That God would rather have our obedience than our money, our sacrifice, or even our worship.

ILL. When you and I are walking in the Spirit, controlled by the Spirit, led by the Spirit… we will be long in suffering.

• When someone cuts us off on 15… we let it go.

• When an unkind word is shot our way… we turn the other cheek.

• When we are wronged, hurt, and wounded… we don’t retaliate.

• All the power… all the rights… all the ability… held under control.

5. Bearing with one another in love.

a) There it is… the church: you-me bearing with one another.

b) In love… in agape, in unconditional love for one another.

c) Oh how we have to guard our hearts here!

d) We are too easily pulled in the direction of being short with others, of not being able to bear the slightest indiscretion.

e) Someone is having a bad day or something with our day goes wrong and watch out!

ILL. You see the world is a tough place, a rough hangout.

BUT in the church it can be different… we need to be patient with one another in the very same way Jesus loves us and is patient toward us!

C. The church is to work hard toward the unity of the Spirit. (vs. 3)

1. He says we should be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

a) But there would be no need for that exhortation if there were not differences existing.

b) If there were not pressures to break up.

c) If there were not forces at work to divide the Christian body.

2. The expression make every effort here is a bit too weak.

a) The original word means, "to give diligence."

b) Make every effort merely implies willingness, but the original word means "willingness plus activity" -- doing something about it.

c) Perhaps the King James translation is more accurate: "earnestly endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," {cf, Eph 4:3 KJV}.

3. I know you will agree that it is unrealistic for Christians to pretend there are no differences among themselves.

a) Thank God there is no group in the world so gloriously diverse as the church.

b) As we read in Chapter 2, the church’s glory is that it is made up of different kinds of people.

4. Now, clearly seen from history, this is not the way the church has always been, but this is the way the church ought to be.

a) The church crosses all the boundaries that men erect and all natural distinctions and gathers all kinds of people, without exception, into one body.

5. But we do not ignore these boundaries easily and friction often arises because of them.

a) So it is a hard thing to work diligently to develop a spirit of unity in our church.

b) It is hard work and necessary work.

c) If suddenly, once we all became Christians we were in perfect unity, this verse would not have been needed.

d) Rather, we see that one of the clearest, most obvious characteristic of living a life worthy of our calling is helping one another handle church conflict Biblically.

6. Dissention and conflict have always been part of church life.

a) It was there in the 1st century, as you can see in several places in the Scriptures.

b) In the letter to the Philippians are named two ladies who could not get along with each other, Euodia and Syntyche, who had trouble working together.

c) There were distinctions of personality then, and they still exist here in the 20th century.

d) As I have often reminded you, the church is well described in the little jingle:

ILL. To dwell above with saints we love,

O that will be glory

But to dwell below with saints we know,

Well, that’s another story.

D. The church is to keep the unity of the Spirit. (vs. 3)

1. You notice the apostle does not say "eager to produce the unity of the Spirit," but, "eager to keep or maintain the unity."

a) We are never told to produce unity in the church.

b) There is a unity that is already there by virtue of the very existence of a church.

c) There is no need to create it, in fact we are unable to create this kind of unity.

2. By and large, those who are striving to produce unity in the church are ignoring this unity the New Testament mentions, and are trying to produce another.

a) Paul calls this, the unity of the Spirit, by which he means:

b) It is produced, created, by the Holy Spirit working in the human spirit.

c) The church has power because of this indwelling Spirit who is the Spirit of God himself.

d) That is what creates unity.

3. We see in the Bible that we are to be a people of humility, a people who are willing to compromise on our own interests, on our own perceived rights, on our own agendas and consider other’s even better than ourselves.

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

a) We are to be a people who are willing to compromise and water down our own personal pride so that we live with other’s best interest always in the forefront of our minds.

b) Can you imagine what this would look like?

I want to be around people like that, don’t you? People who seem to live life wanting to bless me? Here Neil, you go first. Let’s do it your way! I love that cell phone commercial where they make their point by body language that looks angry but words that don’t line up…

4. Better yet, what we are seeing in this text is that we are to be those people. Those who live life willing to put personal agendas aside just so as to bless others.

Trans: This unity is not unity at all costs as if unity was so important we must become willing to compromise our core values and beliefs as Christ followers. We can only have unity as we understand seven key foundations of our faith. Paul goes on in verse 4-6 to help us understand!

II. The Spiritual Truths That Are The Basis For Unity Of The Spirit. (vv. 4-6)

A. The Church is One Body.

1. First, we are one body.

a) We aren’t one organization.

b) Our bodies are comprised of thousands of cells, but there is one life.

2. A body is not produced by combining sections of anatomy together.

a) A body is produced because one original cell is growing, growing until it becomes an amazing creation, you and I.

b) Every cell shares that original life.

c) That is the secret of a body -- all the parts of it share life together.

d) In the same way, we are members of the body of Christ. We are the church.

3. Remember, the church is not just a building, instead the church is made up of the body of believers, you and me.

4. Every believer is placed into the Body of Christ when they profess faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

ILL. A man was out on walk when he saw another man about to throw himself from a bridge into the river. He ran over to save him. ¡§Why do you want to kill yourself?¨ the man asked. I’ve nothing to live for. Don¡’t you believe in God?¨ Yes I do.¨

What a coincidence-so do I! Are you a Jew or a Christian? A Christian.¨

“What a coincidence-so am I! Protestant or Catholic?¨ Protestant.¨

“What a coincidence-so am I! Anglican or Baptist?¨ Baptist.¨

“What a coincidence-so am I! Baptist Union Church or Independent Baptist?¨ Baptist Union.”

“What a coincidence-so am I! Premillenial or amillenial?¨ “Premillenial.¨

“What a coincidence-so am I! Pre-tribulation rapture or mid-tribulation rapture?¨ “Mid-tribulation rapture.¨

At that the first man pushed the suicidal man into the river shouting Die heretic, die!¨

This is a sad story, but it has so much truth in it that it hurts. We get caught up in so many secondary things. I know of one Christian tradition that had a falling out over whether to wear buttons on their clothes or whether little hooks and eyes were better. Those folks actually separated over the issue and members of the button group were shunned by members of the hook-an-eye group. Come on!! We’re to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit because there’s only one body. And that’s the body of Christ. And anyone who claims the shed blood of Christ for their salvation is part of that body.

B. The Church is One Spirit.

1. The same Spirit dwells within each believer, so there is an interconnectedness to us.

2. And it’s the Spirit which produces unity.

a) As the body of Christ, we are also a temple of the Holy Spirit.

b) So, it is the same Holy Spirit which led us to become believers in Jesus Christ and it is the Spirit of God that keeps the church alive today.

C. The Church has One Hope and Goal.

1. There is one hope of our calling.

a) We have hope in Christ because He destroyed death.

b) As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 15:55, "Where O death, is your victory? Where O death, is your sting?"

2. You see, we are the victors, death no longer has a hold on us because we have everlasting life with Jesus Christ in heaven in the great mansion God has built with our name on the door.

a) That is why Paul tells us not to grieve like those who have no hope, because when our loved one is a Christian we know where they are.

b) All Christians will be worshiping Jesus together, forever.

D. The Church has One Lord.

1. And there is one Lord. We serve only our Lord, Jesus Christ.

2. There are no other options on this.

a) If we think we can serve other gods, then we are not Christians.

b) There is no salvation without Lordship!

c) We can’t have Jesus as our savior and continue to live our lives for ourselves!

3. If we serve the same Lord, then we should be able to walk together in unity.

E. The Church has One Faith.

1. There is one faith.

2. That one faith rests squarely on Jesus Christ.

3. This is the truth which Christ has given to His church, revealed in His Word.

4. Once again, there are no other options.

a) Either your faith is in Jesus Christ or it is not.

b) There are no kinda - sortas available.

c) Jesus said, "if you’re not for me, then you’re against me."

5. We share one faith. We are all equal before the cross, nobody is better than their neighbor, Christ died equally for you and me.

F. The Church has One Baptism.

1. There is one baptism.

2. Paul is referring to the ordinance of baptism.

a) This is where the believer is baptized into the Body of Christ at conversion.

b) This is a signal to the world that we belong to one family.

3. As we saw last week and again this morning, it is the symbol of being dead to our old self, and becoming fully alive in Christ. . . in the church family, where Jesus Christ is the head.

G. The Church has One God and Father.

1. And finally, there is one God and Father.

2. This may be another way of simply saying that we are all in one family.

a) It is the family of God.

b) Those who have been born again can now refer to God as their Heavenly Father.

3. In the family of God there is community.

4. Our heavenly Father is perfect in wisdom and love, and He is over all (in authority over us), through all (ministering through us) and in all (residing in all of us).

5. He is the One who brings us together.

Conclusion: So, what does all this mean for Country & Town Baptist Church?

We have God’s Word telling us that if we are going to be the genuine article, the real deal, the church of Jesus Christ. One thing is more prominent, more important, more in need of being obviously demonstrated than anything else.

The unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.

More important than evangelism. Paul didn’t say, “Live a life worthy of your calling, go out there and get people saved!”

No he said, “get along with your fellow believers in the church.”

He didn’t say, “Live a life worthy of your calling, read your Bible every day!” No he said, “love your fellow believers in the church.”

He didn’t say, “Live a life worthy of your calling, Pray without ceasing. No he said, “love your fellow believers in the church.”

He didn’t say, “Live a life worthy of your calling, get in a small group” No he said, “love your fellow believers in the church.”

Now all these things are important and necessary for us to do. But we need to keep first things first, we must love.

This happens as we sincerely look into our hearts regarding our attitudes and actions toward others.

This happens as we strive to work through our differences while standing firm on the core values of our faith.