Session 7- Unified
Text: Ephesians. 4:1-10
What is something that causes siblings to be at odds with one another?
- Answers can include- Competitive attitudes, selfish motives, different ways of thinking…
- My brother and I were at odds quite a bit growing up.
- I did things that bothered him, and he certainly knew how to get under my skin.
- One day we were on the playground playing basketball. I was in middle school, and Shad was in upper elementary school.
- I remember someone getting upset with him and then trying to fight him, and I had this weird feeling. I wanted to stick up for my brother. In fact, I felt it so strongly that I actually did stick up for him and tried to fight the other kid off of him.
- And I remember thinking, “You don’t hit my brother. I hit my brother, but you don’t hit him!”
- Ultimately we defended each other in moments like that because what he have in common is so much more important that what divided us at the time.
- We both had the identity of being “Jennings” and that prompted us to act in unity as we matured.
- This, in a sense, is what Paul begins to emphasize as the book of Ephesians progresses.
- He begins to tell us how we should live based on who we are.
- He does this in today’s text by telling us how we should demonstrate unity together based on the fact that we are in Christ!
We demonstrate our unity in Christ by walking together based on 3 realities.
Reality #1– We are unified by our calling. V.1-3
1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- This verse is the hinge on which the whole letter turns from doctrine to duty.
- Paul pleads with his audience to live up to the calling that they have received.
- He was asking them to live up to their privileged status.
- What was this privileged status? Everything he’s already stated from chapter 1 to chapter 3.
- As believers they are “in Christ”!
- They are holy, without blame, chosen, adopted, redeemed, and sealed. (1:3-14)
- They have hope, power and an inheritance! (1:15-23)
- They were dead but are now alive and ordained to good works! (2:1-10)
- They were without hope and foreigners to God’s covenants and promises, but have been brought near by the blood of Jesus Christ. (2:11-22)
- They have had the mystery of the church age (redemption for Jews and Gentiles brought together in the assembly) revealed to them, which was previously unknown. (3:1-13)
- They had been told that God wanted to strengthen them, dwell in them, show them His love, and fill them up with all that He is so that He could get the glory! (3:14-21)
- So how are they to live out this unity? Based on their mutual calling!
- They had been given so much that they don’t deserve. This should cause humility. This is Paul’s case.
- He asked them to live out their vocation with lowliness or humility. We think about others the way Jesus did, by putting others ahead of ourselves.
- He asked them to live out their calling with gentleness. We are reasonable with people, responding appropriately to them.
- He asked them to be longsuffering with others. We are patient with others because God, in Christ Jesus, was patient and longsuffering with us.
- He asked them to forebear with one another with love. The defining mark of a disciple of Jesus Christ is their love reflected from Jesus Christ to their brothers and sisters in Christ, especially when it is difficult.
- Lastly he asked them to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- Notice we don’t create some false unity, but we keep the unity we already have.
- We have the same Holy Spirit living inside of us.
We were saved the same way!
- We stay unified based on what we already mutally have.
- We have been called “into Christ”, so we should be unified!
- Our “in Christ” position should lead to “in Christ” living!
- We are humble, gentle, patient, loving, unified and peaceful because we are in Christ!
Reality #2– We are unified by our beliefs. V.4-6
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
- Paul spoke in verses 1-3 of behaviors that would promote unity in the local church. In these verses he describes the unity that comes when we all submit to God’s Word to have the same beliefs.
- Belief always produces behavior.
- Behavior always displays belief.
- He says we should have unity because we should all and do all believe the same thing:
- One body- Body of Christ
- One Spirit- the Holy Spirit
- One hope of your calling- We are all saved the same way with the same destiny.
- One baptism- Some believe this speaks to water baptism and others to Spirit baptism. Either way, there is only one baptism that is commanded of the believer- believer’s baptism (Matthew 28:18-20). Every person who believes is baptized by the Spirit at conversion. This is not commanded, but it is experienced.
- One God and Father of All- We serve a triune God, not three gods. He is the One true and living God and is unified three-in-one. This Father of all is above all, and through all, and yes, He even indwells us all who are in Christ!
- Paul appeals to the unity of our beliefs as what should be the basis of our unity in behavior.
- How does this work practically?
- Submission to the right authority should bring about unity.
- Not everyone will be uniform, but on the main things there should be unity.
- As we all submit to the Word of God in beliefs and behavior it should spur on unity!
Reality #3–We are unified by Christ’s victory. V.7-10
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
- Paul is quoting Psalm 68:18.
- This part of the psalm is praising God for his strengthening of the Children of Israel from the time of the Exodus even to the time of David.
- It describes God has a God who makes battle and comes back as a king.
- Kings would come back home with captive enemies, prisoners of war who had been set free, and the spoils of the victory.
- Kings would return ascending up to Jerusalem, a city set on a high place, and sit back down on the throne.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
- And here it compares that ascent to the throne to Christ’s ascent back to heaven.
- Through his death, burial, and resurrection Christ returned those who were once prisoners of Satan back to God.
- Once he ascended to heaven he gave spiritual gifts to all those who were in Him!
- This Jesus who went up is the same Jesus who came down.
- He came and taught us, trained us, redeemed us, freed us, and now he has ascended to heaven.
- Why? That he might “fill all things”.
- The word “fill” here is the word “
- What does “fill all things” mean?
- The word is transliterated plerao. The idea is to “fulfill” or to “fill full”. It means to bring about the culmination of all that he wants to be accomplished.
- He has ascended on to His throne so that everything will be accomplished and brought to and end!
- Christ won our freedom.
- Christ defeated our enemy.
- Christ includes us in the spoils of His victory!
- And now He lives and rules to bring to fruition all that needs to be completed.
- Remember what Paul prayed in 3:19- “…that we would be filled with all the fullness of God”? Because of Christ, the one that is sitting on the throne is the one who is enabling us to be filled up with all of the fullness of God, because He is the one fulfilling all of His Will in redemptive History to its final culmination!
- You and I have been made victors in Christ!
- We have been given Spiritual gifts to do Spiritual work.
- They are not toys to play with, but tools to work with, and weapons to fight with in this spiritual battle.
- We must view our lives and ministries as primarily spiritual work done by spiritual means.
- And as believers we must be unified as victors in the army of the Lord, with the same commander and the same mission!
- When I obey Christ, get filled up with Him, I am under the authority of the one seated on the throne of God!
- How does tying your behavior to your identity help you live out right actions?
- What keeps believers from being unified? How can we fight for unity based on what we learned today?
- How does believers exercising their gifts help contribute to unity?
- Share prayer requests.