Summary: Disunity in the body of Christ is a sin against Christ Himself.
October 12, 2014
Text: Ephesians 4:1-16
Subject: Ephesians Part 8
Subject: Unity Within the Body
As we continue our series through Ephesians let me touch on the things Paul has taught us thus far. 1). What it means to be “In Christ”. The blessings and power and authority that comes with being born again. 2) The cross of Christ has brought together Jews and Gentiles. There is no longer a dividing wall but all are equal in Christ. 3) You are part of God’s family… 4) God’s mystery has been revealed and is being revealed to the church. 5) The power that is operating in you opens the door for God’s great power to come alive within the church…
Along with the benefits of being “In Christ” also comes great responsibility. And Paul addresses that in our passage today. There should be unity in the church. You know that there can be union without having unity. You can have a union within a church by your attendance and support. You can tie two cats together by their tails and have union, but I guarantee you when you throw them over a clothesline there is no unity.
There must be unity within the body.
1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This 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? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until 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.
14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
I believe this is God’s word…
I believe it is for me…
I accept it as mine…
I appropriate it to my life today…
Let’s look at what God’s word says about unity.
I. A Life Worthy of the Calling… In verse one Paul addresses one of the responsibilities you have as a believer… I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Now, obviously Paul would not have written this unless he had received some report that there was some dysfunction in the church. Now the calling that he is talking about is not a call to ministry, but simply the call to come to Christ. If Christ has called you (and He has) and you have accepted that call, now you are responsible to live up to the excellence of that very call. And he lays it out beginning in verse 2, 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV2011) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. If you are a Christian then these fruit (singular) are already in you. The only thing that prevents them from being manifest in your life is you. It is in the expression of the fruit of the Spirit that you begin to live the life worthy of your calling. The last part of verse 2 is really important… bearing with one another in love. The early church fathers understood this as having the right to seek revenge over a wrong done to you but choosing to never do so. It is the characteristic of a loving heart. I can only express to you what has happened in my life of ministry in this respect. People have come and gone. They have said things about me and about the church. They have tried to stir others up against me and the church and in some cases continue to do so. But… because of who I am “in Christ” and my position as pastor, I choose not to retaliate. Rather I try to keep peace bearing with one another in love. In reality there is no other option. In the flesh we always want to get even or to clear our reputation. It almost always ends badly. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Where does this unity originate? It is from the Spirit. You can’t create it. You can only be obedient to the Spirit in regard to it. It is the same unity that you experience, when in talking to a stranger you find out that they are a Christian. And now Paul describes that unity. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—How many different bodies are there in Christ? How many Spirits? How many hopes associated with the calling? 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; Is there One Lord? Deuteronomy 6:4 (NIV2011) 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. How many faiths? Only one that counts. It is by grace you have been saved through faith… faith in God and His word. One baptism – referring to water baptism – the expression of faith in Christ. 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.