Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:3)
Gene Getz says …Ephesians 4:3 is one of the most profound and powerful statements in the entire New Testament .It represents a response to God’s love that deeply occupied the heart and mind of Jesus Himself as He realised his days on earth were coming to an end. Paul’s instruction mirrors Jesus prayer for his disciples -and for all who would believe in Him through their message: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17: 23) (Interacting with God p 23)
Chapters 1-3 Understand the Wealth Chapters 4 – 6 Undertake the Walk Position & Doctrine of each Saint Practice & Duty of every Faithful believer
Our Standing is – In Christ Our Strength is – Christ in us
Awareness of Our Resources Application of Our Responsibility
Our heavenly calling Our earthly conduct
Christ The Lord The Christian Life
To learn & know -Our Belief To live & be- Our Behaviour
Will be in Heaven Well done in Heaven
In the first 3 chapters of his letter to the Ephesians, apostle Paul stresses the fact that our standing is – in Christ. Paul urges his readers not only to faithfully appreciate our high calling but also to fully appropriate our heavenly resources. In a nutshell God, using the hand of Paul, says to the church in Ephesus then and us here today : UNDERSTAND YOUR ENORMOUS WEALTH IN CHRIST.
As Paul gets ready to turn the page, he refills his ink, reflects for a moment then resumes his Holy Spirit empowered writing in the second half of his letter from chapter four and onwards.
This down to earth and practical apostle then shifts the focus from Christ The Lord to The Christian Life i.e from the position and doctrine of each saint in Christ, to the practice and duty of every faithful believer. In other words, now that we heard, learned and known – our belief, we are now ready to heed, live and be -which is our behaviour.
As he changes gear, Paul wants the believers to move beyond the assurance, belief and comfort of knowing that because of our faith in Christ we will be in heaven, to the place and position of anticipation, blessing and confidence that one day we will be receiving a well done in heaven.
In describing the Christian life, Paul compares our earthly conduct in terms of a walk; a daily walk .It is not a hop, skip and a jump but a step-by-step walk. It is not from week to week; Sunday-to-Sunday rather it is a day-by-day walk.
He then highlights the fact that the top priority in our daily walk in relation to the Church is focused on and found in UNITY (Eph 4:3). UNITY. …(Eph 4:13)
The Apostle then gets straight to the main point without wasting any time and points out very clearly that it is the personal responsibility of every believer in Jesus Christ in relation to the body of Christ – is TO ENDEAVOUR TO KEEP THE UNITY …
I. THE EMPHASIS – Major Role
(Eph 4:3) the unity of the Spirit…(Eph 4:13) …. the unity of the faith, ….
A. ALL THE PROBLEMS THAT CAN ARISE
The Spirit Of God is making such an emphasis on unity because of the reality & rise of problems in the life of a church. Here are just few examples taken from different books in the New Testament:
(Acts 6:1) And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
Cycle of Growth brings with it >>>> New Challenges>>>>>> No. of Choices >>>> New Discovery e.g The office of a deacon
(1 Cor 1:10 -12) Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
(Rom 14:13) Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
Prejudice …. Judgemental ….Jumping to conclusion….
(Gal 5:15 ) But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
(2 Th 3:11 ) For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
(1 Tim 5:13) And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
(Phil 4:2) I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
B. – ALL THE POTENTIAL THAT CAN BE ACHIEVED
Here at least 5 potential of Good and Godly characteristics:
1. Pleasant – (Psa 133:1) Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
Behold is…. WOW …WHAT A SIGHT …Good is the same word used in creation Gen 1:4
(Illustration – my birthday gift from my family – Mr eternity in my office —WOW )
2. Precious- (Psa 133:2) It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
Aaron’s beard come down & covered his chest & heart ..He wore a breastplate that had 12 stones, .one for each of the tribe of Israel…When the oil came down it bathed & covered all of those of stones, & they became one in that anointing of oil
3. Powerful (Psa 133:3 ) As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
The Dew is a symbol of the power of God, which quickens, revive & invigorates the objects of nature when they have been burned by the heat of the sun
4. Plan of God (1 Cor 12:12-13) For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
5. Prayer of Christ -(John 17:20-21) Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
What is unity?
In order to understand what Unity is…. we need to first understand what Unity is not
It is certainly not Uniformity-Because it is conformity on the outside …Judged by that
Uniformity leads to Conformity to the image of the Church..But Unity leads to Conformity to the image of Christ.
And It is more than just Unison – control from the outside -by a human agency.
What is it then?
It is a genuine Union – Conformity to Christ & Control by The Holy Spirit
Illustration 1 – The Choir the main function/goal/purpose/reason -to sing the song – Not how it looks
Uniformity – Robes /appearance/ Uniform etc…The army has some/ so do bank tellers ,
Unison – singing the same note ….Not necessarily the right note ….depends on the stronger /dominant voice
Union – Whether it Bass, alto tenor or soprano…Whether Male or Female …Whether Old or Young ..Each Finds own part…..Focuses on one manuscript …..Follows one maestro….sing not just the same note but their right note , not just the same song but they sing all as one …,
Illustration 2 The Clock – the main function/goal/purpose/reason -is to to tell the time – Not how it looks or what make it is…
Uniformity -Some want to change the brand /make / and read the same name
Unison – Tell the same time according to each other-
Key words – adjust to others, appear on the outside,
controlled by a dominant figure or primarily one dominant watch says….” my time is the right & correct one and you all must adjust your time to mine…They have a “Sort of Unity and “ a “forced unity” because they appear to be telling the same time but in reality they don’t have real unity
Union- It is when ALL the watches regardless of size ,shape, style ….adjust to the authority of Time& Tell the same time
“I did,” said the wind! …. “I did,” said the paper! … “I did,” said the string! …. “I did,” said the boy!
But in reality they ALL flew the kite! If the wind had stop, if the paper had torn, if the sticks had broken, if the tail had caught in the tree, or the boy had fallen, then the kite would have come down!
EACH HAD APART TO PLAY!
God has placed you in a strategic role! You are important to your church ministry. Just use your gift to the Glory of God and leave the results to Him.(Source Unknown)
2.THE ENDEAVOUR – My Responsibility
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:3)
Our Unity is already in place.
(Eph 2:14) For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
It’s like the fresh air- it’s there, you don’t create it, you keep it clean and breath it in ;….
It’s like the running water – you don’t make it, you keep it clean and drink it..
It is Not the making of Unity but the maintaining of Unity, ……
It is Not the producing of Unity but the promoting of Unity,
It is Not the creating of Unity but the contributing to Unity…
It is Not the establishing of Unity but the making every effort towards Unity
Our Unity is in Christ
(Rom 12:5) So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
(1 Cor 10:16- 17) The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
(Gal 3:28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:3)
In other words God thru Apostle Paul was saying the Ephesians’ Church and is saying to us today
Endeavouring – Give diligence…Make every effort…Labour….Attempt seriously …Be zealous
to keep – i.e – to guard from loss or injury …to hold fast or secure
the unity – The oneness in heart and mind ..The agreement…The Unanimity..
of the Spirit – The divine Holy Spirit of God
in the bond – The joint Tie & The uniting principle
of peace – Set at one ,Whole, the One bringing 2 parts together in oneness
(Interacting with God p 36)
The early church endeavoured to keep the unity of the Spirit. The book of Acts records for us at least 7 ways in which THE YOUNG CHURCH exercised unity and reaped great rewards:
1.Unity of Purpose
(Acts 1:14 ) These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
2.Unity of Prayer
(Acts 2:1) And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
3.Unity of Place
(Acts 2:46 ) And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
4.Unity of Praise
(Acts 4:24 ) And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
5.Unity of Possesions
(Acts 4:32) And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
6.Unity of Power
(Acts 5:12 – 14) And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.
And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
7.Unity of Proclamation
(Acts 8:6) And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
3. THE ESSENTIALS – Many Reasons
Here are 4 essentials for the practise of Unity in the Christian life –
1. The Lowliness of Humility
(Eph 4:2) With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
A. The Words – Proper Explanation
Lowliness – Modest, Humble, Not arrogant
Meekness – Gentle, Mild, of a soothing temperament
Longsuffering – Patient, Slow in avenging wrong, Long tempered
Forbearing one another – Enduring, Suffering
In Love – Godly Affection, Seeking the very best for another unconditionally
B. The Way – Paul’s Example
§ AD 55 – (1 Cor 15:9) For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
§ AD 58 – (Rom 15:16)That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
§ AD 60 -(Eph 3:8) Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
§ AD 63-65 – (1 Tim 1:15) This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
C. The Willingness – Personal Exercise
Crucify the flesh and See Yourself as Unimportant;
Confess your own sins and Faults and Seek forgiveness for your own sins and Faults
Choose the position of The Servant and Serve others with gladness
Communicate sincerely and Speak the truth in Love
Consider the interest of others ahead of your own and Share your resources
2. The Oneness of Identity
(Eph 4:4 -6) There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Here we have 7 bases for Unity in Christ & 7 major areas where we share
Oneness of Identity
one body – Rom 12:4-5; 1Cor 12:14-25
one Lord – Rom 10:12-13; Phil 2:10-11
one faith – Rom 4:3, 23-24; Rom 5:1-2; Eph 2:8-9
one baptism – Matt 28:19; Rom 6:11
One God and Father –
3. The Giftedness in Diversity
(Eph 4:7 – 12) But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith,When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
2. Spiritual Leadership:
Apostle – One who is sent ..To establish the Foundation of the Church
Prophet – -To speak forth, or To speak out
Evangelist – a bringer of good tidings…To bear witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Pastor & Teacher – – A spiritual shepherd & teacher of God’s people
The Wrong Thinking
(Jer 17:9 ) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Mark 7:21 -22 ) For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
I. I’M TOO GOOD
(Rom 12:3 ) For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
II. I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH
(1 Tim 4:12) Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
(2 Tim 1:7) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
III. I’M NOT AS GOOD AS …
(2 Cor 10:12) For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
4. The Effectiveness of Maturity
(Eph 4:13 -16) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love
1.The Beginning is in the heart – Conception
(Psa 86:11 ) Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.
You may catch the concept, comprehend the content and make sense of the meaning as it travels in your ears and inside your head but the revolution doesn’t begin until it touches & transforms your heart.
2. The Being is in the home-Commitment
Eph 5:31 -For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
3. The Becoming is in The Church -Continuing
(Acts 1:14 ) These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren
With the love of Christ
Pastor – Inner West Baptist Church