Ephesians 4_ 1- 6      Unity in the Church

Rev. David Holwick  ZI

First Baptist Church

Ledgewood, New Jersey

October 20, 1991

Ephesians 4:1-6


UNITY IN THE CHURCH



  I. The practical outcome of our faith.

      A. Ephesians 4 begins with practical considerations.

          1) If you "are" a Christian in belief, "be" one in actions.

              a) "Be worthy of your calling."             4:1

          2) Paul is a prisoner in Rome, but the world doesn't determine

               the way he is going to live.


      B. Certain standards are expected of Christians.

          1) Certain results should follow in the church.


II. Three qualities that should describe a Christian.

      A. Humble or lowly.

          1) The Romans and Greeks despised humility.

              a) They saw in it the servile, crouching submissiveness of

                   a slave.

              b) Not until Jesus Christ was a true humility recognized.

                  1> Jesus humbled himself and thought as a servant.

          2) Literally, "humility of mind."       4:2

              a) It is the humble recognition of the worth and value of

                    other people.

              b) Humility brings people together, pride pulls them apart.

                  1> People we instinctively like and get along with are

                       those who give us the respect we think we deserve.

                  2> Those we immediately, instinctively dislike are those

                       who treat us like dirt.

              c) Therefore, personal vanity is a key factor in all

                   our relationships.

                  1> Maneuvering for the respect of others is what pride

                        is all about.

                  2> Giving people our respect by recognizing their

                        God-given worth is what humility is all about.

                  3> Humility results in harmony, which pleases Jesus.


      B. Gentle or meek.

          1) Similar to humble but not identical.

              a) Aristotle said gentleness is a quality of moderation,

                   between being too angry and never being angry at all.

              b) Meekness is not another word for "weakness."

                  1> On the contrary, it is the gentleness of the strong,

                       whose strength is under control.

                  2> Jesus described himself as being meek in Matt 11:29f:

                     "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am

                       gentle and humble in heart..."

          2) Meekness is seeking the common good and not being deflected

               by personal slights.

              a) You doesn't care if you is given credit.

              b) Opposite of touchy, retaliatory.

              c) Moses is an example of meekness.

                      (He says so himself in Numbers 12:3!)


      C. Patient or longsuffering.

          1) Long-tempered instead of short-tempered.

              a) Often used to describe God in NT.

                  1> He is patient toward unrepentant sinners.     Rom 2:4

                  2> His patience leads us to salvation, (Noah).  2 Pet 3:15

              b) Patience means deal quietly and courteously with people

                   who are awkward, difficult and offensive.

          2) Bear with others in love.

              a) Reinforces patience, often occurring in same verse (above).

                  1> Sometimes focus is how we deal with persecutors.

                                                                1 Cor 4:12

                  2> Here it is bearing with fellow Christians.

                      A> Paul didn't have a rosy-eyed view of the church.

                      B> He knew Christians have irritating, annoying

                             faults.

              b) To keep the peace, bear with them with patience and love.

                  1> We have faults of our own, too.


III. Result of these characteristics is unity.           4:3

      A. Christians are not very united.

          1) Young people and outsiders are confused by multitude of

                denominations.

          2) Baptists themselves are divided into southern and northern,

                white and black.

              a) Hundreds of Baptist churches have split due to fights.

                  1> Some communities have intersections with a Baptist

                       church on each corner, none of them talking to

                         each other.

                  2> Church growth experts have concluded this is a

                       reason for our numerical growth!

              b) At the other extreme, one Baptist denomination has only

                    2 churches.  (Two-in-the-Seed Predestinarian Baptist)


      B. Nevertheless, unity should be the goal of all Christians.

          1) We should be "one" because God is "one."

              a) In eternity there is only one church, the body of Christ.

              b) According to Jesus, united Christians can show the

                   world his love.            John 17:21-23

          2) Unity takes effort.

              a) Beyond "endeavoring" (KJV) to "make every effort."

              b) "Keep" implies unity exists in church but is threatened.

          3) Peace is the glue.

              a) Lack of peace with always cause dissensions and splits,

                   even among formerly satisfied members.

                  1> Every church has experienced this at one time,

                        including ours.

              b) Without unity, the Church's witness and impact on the

                   world is compromised.

                  1> Pauline Rice, on first Sunday in First Baptist Church,

                        West Lafayette, Ohio:

                     The pastor read a list of those he was expelling from

                        the church.

                     They were present, and stood up to shout him down.

                     Two men ended up in a fist fight on the church lawn.

                     She thought, "What kind of church am I getting into?"


IV. What kind of unity does Paul have in mind?

      A. Combined structures, as in World Council of Churches?

          1) Presbyterians have combined, and Lutherans.

          2) But unity is often accomplished by compromising on

                what they believe.

              a) Criteria for National Council of Churches:

                     believe Jesus is Lord (somehow).

              b) Even gay denominations could join.


      B. Unity in doctrine?

          1) But 4:13 says this kind of unity is not achieved until

               Christians are made perfect.


      C. Unity in goal - perfection in Christ.

          1) Probably Paul's thought here.

          2) Billy Graham crusade showed unity of evangelism across

               denominational lines.


  V. The basis of our unity, contained in seven points.


      A. One body.

          1) The Church is his body, we are the hands and feet.

          2) There is only one universal (meaning of "Catholic") Church.


      B. One Spirit.

          1) Only one Holy Spirit energizes all believers.


      C. One hope.

          1) Heaven is wide-open, without walls or barriers.

          2) "Whosoever" responds to Jesus is welcome.


      D. One Lord.

          1) Basic creed of Christians:  "Jesus is Lord."

                                                     Rom 10:9,  1 Cor 12:3

          2) "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other

               name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

                                                     Acts 4:12

      E. One faith.

          1) Either our willingness to open our lives to God;

          2) Or the basic content of Christian belief.


      F. One baptism.

          1) There is only one true baptism.

              a) Not uncommon to have multiple baptism, but due to

                   differences in interpretation.

              b) I myself was baptized twice.

              c) ("Anabaptist" - ancient label means baptize again.)

          2) Spirit-baptism of salvation, not water-baptism in view here.


      G. One God.

          1) Some believe in multiple gods - Hindus, Mormons, etc.

          2) Even monotheists have different views on who the one God is.

              a) Jesus taught that God is one, and he is the God of

                   Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, as well as our Father, Abba.

              b) He is in control of all things at all times.


VI. Application to our lives.

      A. Work in reverse - are you a unifier?

          1) Because of your influence are people brought back together,

                or driven apart?

              a) Think about your family.

              b) Think about your friendships.

              c) Think about this church.

          2) Does your life exhibit qualities that lead to unity?

              a) Humility, meekness and patience are scarce these days.

              b) But they are also qualities that can be learned.

              c) It is a matter of following the example of Jesus.


      B. Unity in Ledgewood Baptist Church.

          1) Pastoral Relations Committee - our church seems peaceful

                right now.

              a) People seem to be more united in purpose.

              b) Less bickering and sniping.

          2) We are fortunate that we have no one in this church who is

               pig-headed, selfish or hard to get along with.

             ... at least YOU are not that way.

          3) Would we be able to deal lovingly and patiently with such

               a person, should they join?



Copyright 2017 by Rev. David Holwick

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