Sermon: Walking in Unity (Ephesians 4:1-6)

Walking in Unity

 Ephes. 4:1-6 (ESV) 

    I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  [2] with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  [3] eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  [4] There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call- [5] one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  [6] one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 

Introduction

The first three chapters of Ephesians are behind us.  They were mostly doctrinal in nature.  They taught what things we are to believe.  If one is to behave correctly, one must believe correctly, otherwise one is engaged in a religion of works not obedience from the heart.  Paul is going to show us in the remainder of the book how it is we are to live out these great truths.  He moves from theology to practicality.  Proper theology (orthodoxy) should always lead to proper living (orthopraxy).  If it doesn’t then there is something wrong with the theology or our understanding of it. 

He wants all believers to understand, since they have been brought to life by the Spirit, Made partakers of the Kingdom, Adopted as sons and daughters and are eternally secure, now we must act like it.

The Apostle Paul begins with living out these truths in the church.  Living as a Christian is, for the most part, easiest at church.  We can really look the part while among other believers. It’s much more difficult to live like a believer in a world of unbelievers.  So, Paul begins small and moves along from there. 

By the way, it would be safe to say that where a church practices disunity on a regular basis something is vitally wrong.  Either they are immature believers who have never been taught proper doctrine and shown how to live accordingly or the church is made up of unbelievers.  When unbelievers become members, then they become teachers and leaders, trouble is ahead for that local church.

Here at Grace Community Church, we will guard against that.  That’s why we are going to have a new member’s class prior to anyone becoming a member.  I want to make sure, as far as we can tell, a person is a believer.

Part of the new member’s class will be briefly writing your testimony about how you became a Christian.  I’ll ask you about the Gospel. Etc.  At Grace Community Church we want a regenerate membership.  This is because church membership is important.

Paul begins the forth chapter speaking specifically about church unity.  If we are to have true church unity then we must understand our calling and live out our calling,

1. All Christians are Called (Ephesians 4:1)

    I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

From his prison cell, the Apostle pleads with men, women, boys and girls to live up to their calling.  He has in mind the calling of God to be His child.  As members of God’s Kingdom we must live a life that shows our allegiance to King Jesus. 

How was Paul living out his calling?  For now, his calling was to be in prison for the sake of the gospel.  His calling was to be a prisoner for Jesus.

Ephes. 6:19-20 (ESV) 

    and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,  [20] for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

He saw his calling as an ambassador for Christ as a prisoner because of the gospel.  He asked the Ephesian church to pray that the Lord would not release him, but give him the right words to say.

He wanted to encourage the church in that if he could live out his calling in prison, then we too must live out our calling wherever the Lord places us.  For Paul, every prison guard and everyone chained to him and every fellow prisoner heard all about Jesus.  The Lord sovereignly placed him in that cell to further the gospel. 

Philip. 1:12-14 (ESV) 

    I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,  [13] so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.  [14] And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Tradition tells that these imperial guards were given other assignments all over the Roman Empire.  As they went, many shared the good news with others that they heard from Paul while he was in prison.

While in prison, Paul walked in a manner worthy of his calling.

If he can do that while in prison, perhaps I can do it while at work or at school.  Perhaps I can walk in the manner while going to the bank.  Perhaps I can walk in that manner while going to the store.

Col. 1:9-10 (ESV) 

    And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,  [10] so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 

It’s most important that we live lives that honor Christ.

By now you may be wondering what exactly does that look like.  What are some things Jesus commands?

2. Living Out Your Calling? (Ephesians 4:2-3)

[2] with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  [3] eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

As we look at these two verses, I want you to think who do they remind you of?  Who is the most humble, gentle, and patient person you can think of?  Who is the One who showed the most patience in love? Jesus.

If unity is to be maintained in the church we have to pattern our attitude after our Lord.  Unity is not something we create; it is something that we preserve. 

When a church becomes self-focused it will not have unity and peace.  Strife exists every time.

Do you see how these qualities are essential to life in the Kingdom of God?  We have one Lord and He is in charge.  When we are converted we gain everything but we loose our will.  Now it’s the Lord’s will that counts.  He is in charge and His people are to submit to Him.  It’s so important we have a humble and gentle attitude. 

Col. 3:12-17 (ESV) 

    Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  [13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  [14] And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  [15] And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  [16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  [17] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

A good working example or definition of the type of spirit Paul is speaking of is found in Philippians.

Philip. 2:3-8 (ESV) 

    Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  [4] Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  [5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  [7] but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form,  [8] he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

Isaiah 66:2 (ESV) 

    All these things my hand has made,

        and so all these things came to be,

               declares the Lord.

    But this is the one to whom I will look:

        he who is humble and contrite in spirit

        and trembles at my word.

God will greatly bless a church filled with humble people.  Worship is tremendous when we see our Lord greater than we see ourselves. 

Let’s be eager to maintain this spirit of humble unity in the church.

3. What We Are Called To (Ephesians 4:4-6)

[4] There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call- [5] one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  [6] one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 

            A. We Are Called Out to Form the Church (Ephesians 4:4)

[4] There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-

The one body that’s referred to here is the church.  As we have been learning, the church is that body of believers made up of Jew and Gentile.  Jew and Gentile have been brought together to form one family and given a family name.

Ephes. 3:15 (ESV) 

    from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 

Though in one sense we are many and diverse, in another sense we are one body…the church.

Romans 12:5 (ESV) 

    so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 

God wants us to see that this new body called the church is not a man made institution but has been founded by God. When we speak about this one body we need to see the big picture.  We form a local church.  We are a local congregation.  Chillicothe is made up of many local churches.  We are also a part of the universal church.  This is the church that is made up of believers from all the centuries.  This is the church that will be gathered around the throne in the new heaven and new earth.  This is the church that when the trumpets sounds the dead in Christ will rise.  So, we must see that we here today are simply taking our place in the long line of believers throughout the centuries who have placed trust in Jesus Christ. There is one body.

There is also one Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is calling people out of the mass of humanity to come together to form the one body.  The Spirit’s task is to glorify the Son and He does this as he brings to life people for the glory Christ.  The gospel is preached and the Spirit applies it to the hearts of people.  The Gospel call goes forth; the Spirit makes it effectual and change results.  We are then brought hope, this one hope that is grounded in all of God’s promises.  God cannot lie so our hope is secure in Christ.

 Ephes. 1:18 (ESV) 

    having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 

The Holy Spirit gives us secured hope.  He has been left with us to keep us until Christ returns.  He is watching over the Bride of Christ until He comes to claim her.

            B. We Are Called Out to One Lord (Ephesians 4:5)

[5] one Lord, one faith, one baptism

When we become Christians through the regenerating work of the Spirit, we become slaves to Christ.  We were slaves to sin but now we are slaves to righteousness.

Romans 6:16-18 (ESV) 

    Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  [17] But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,  [18] and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 

We have one Lord.  He commands us.  He is the One whom we serve.  He calls the shots.  He is our boss.  If we truly accept Christ as Savior we must also accept Him as Lord.  We cannot separate Him and only take the Savior part.

We are called to share one faith in our Lord.  We are called to trust in Him alone.  What is meant by “one faith” is that all Christians everywhere and for all time must share the same trust or faith in Jesus Christ.  Our trust in Christ is the same as the Christ that lived during the time of the Apostles.  It never changes.  So we believe the gospel and place our trust in Christ just like the believer in the first century did.

We also are called to one baptism.  One true baptism exists.  The Bible states we are to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  This baptism is the same for everyone, one baptism to which many are called to partake.  We’re called to the Lord by faith and then we take the next step of obedience to our Lord in baptism. Through baptism we show as a testimony to others that we share in the grace given to all the saints.  Baptism is the means by which we declare that we are committing to live as faithful servants to our one Lord.

Galatians 3:27 (ESV) 

    For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 

We are unified into one church with one Lord.  Next, Paul tells us we share one Father. 

C. We Are Called Out to One Father (Ephesians 4:6)

[6] one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 

Through the Son we are redeemed but it is to the Father we are reconciled.  The Father has created us and through Christ recreated us.  We are His in a double sense. 

Ephes. 3:9 (ESV) 

    and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 

What is important in this verse is that God the Father is Father of all the redeemed whether they be Jewish or Gentile.  He is their Father. 

As we look back we see that the Holy Spirit is calling out and forming the Church.  Jesus Christ is the one Lord to which the church is called and now we are adopted and can call God Father.  The Trinity in His perfect unity is the model for the church’s unity.  The Trinity works perfectly together and should be our model as the church.

%d bloggers like this: