>>SINGING: Speaking the truth (echos) in love
>> Robert: One of the very best passages concerning the unity of God’s people was written by the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, here in Ephesians4:1-6. I’m going to read that at the beginning of our lesson today as the basis of all the things that we’re going to say.
Paul wrote, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were 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.”
I want us to notice from this passage today a number of things that will help us to keep the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace. The first thing that Paul talks about here is a worthy walk.
Let’s read again Ephesians 4:1, here it says, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called…”
You know, Paul calls himself here a prisoner of the Lord, because he was obligated to God. He saw himself as one who was in debt to Jesus Christ, and he was going to do everything that he could to live for him. And his life sets such a wonderful example for us. You see, your walk is your conduct, or your behavior. It’s how you live your life. And it must be worthy of the calling with which you were called.
The Bible tells us that we’re called by the gospel, in Second Thessalonians 2:13-14. You see God wants all men to come to Him, and so He sent the gospel into all the world, and He calls us through that Good News about Jesus Christ to come to Jesus to be saved from our sins, to bring us out of darkness into light as Peter puts it in First Peter 2:10. And to bring us out of sin and into Jesus Christ, we’re to walk worthy of that calling.
You read about it in Philippian 1:27. Here the apostle Paul says, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…”
The gospel calls us together, and the gospel calls us to make every effort to be united as God’s people. That demands a worthy walk, a walk that’s worthy of the gospel. Colossians 1:10 “…that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…”
Yes, we’re going to please God if we walk worthy of the gospel. First Thessalonians 2:12, the Bible says, “…that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
A worthy walk will make you strong. It’ll keep you from falling into sin. It will encourage others who are seeking to live the Christian life, and you’ll be an example for the world that’s looking on. Perhaps the most oft’ heard excuse for others not coming to the Lord is hypocrisy in the church. We don’t want to give the world any reason to cast reproach on the cause of Christ. We don’t want to cause our brother or our sister to stumble and fall. And we don’t want to lose our own souls because we failed to live lives worthy of the gospel of Christ.
When it comes to being a Christian, are you walking the walk?
Now I want you to notice something else here from Ephesians 4, that is so essential to the unity of God’s people. Not only a worthy walk, our conduct, our behavior, how we live our life, but also equally important is a proper attitude.
Let’s read together Ephesians 4:2, here it says, “…with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
You see here, the apostle Paul talks about a proper attitude.
What are you thinking?
What’s in your heart?
Your attitude makes all the difference in the world. Even if you do everything right, without the proper attitude it’s all for nothing.
Isn’t that what the apostle Paul was teaching in First Corinthians 13 in that great love chapter that we’re so familiar with?
When he said that, “without love I am nothing, it profits me nothing”?
It doesn’t matter if I’m doing God’s work, if I’m doing the things that are right, if I don’t have love in my heart, Paul says I’m just a big fat spiritual zero! He knows that attitude is just as essential as doing the things that are right. And when we get our attitude right, it helps us get our behavior and our life right, doesn’t it?
A proper attitude, according to Ephesians 4, includes a number of things. First of all, it includes complete humility. Paul said here in verse two, “…with all lowliness…” When we speak of lowliness, we’re talking about a humble attitude. One of the best places to see this is in Philippians and so I want to turn over there and read some of these verses with you.
In Philippians 2:3. Here he says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”
Let me stop here for just a moment because I want you to see what he’s saying here. He talks about that selfish ambition that so often is what really is motivating us, rather than God, pleasing Him, bringing glory to Him, which ought to motivate all that we say and do. But that selfish ambition or conceit or arrogance is often behind what we’re doing. He calls here again for lowliness of mind. Telling us to esteem others better than ourselves. But we ought to look at others that way because you know we know everything about ourself. And we ought to see those faults and those weaknesses and those shortcomings and how often we have failed the Lord when we may not know that about others. Not only that, but we need to recognize that though we may be strong in some places, others will be strong in other places. Where we’re weak they may be strong, and where they’re strong we may be weak. Paul says as we evaluate and consider others, we need to see them better than ourselves. I don’t know that someone’s always better, but that’s the way I need to look at them. I need to give them that kind of, that kind of attitude towards them. I need to show them that, I realize that I’ve got problems too and I need their help as much as they may need mine.
Read on in verse four where he says, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
You see, I need to be interested in helping other folks get to heaven. I need to be just as interested in their needs and their desires and their concerns as I would be in my own.
Doesn’t that remind you of the golden rule, how that we ought to do unto others as we would have them do unto us?
That great biblical passage is not going to be carried out until we have this lowliness of mind, this humble attitude of heart. This was the attitude of Jesus Christ.
Read on here in verse five of Philippians two, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
What greater example of humility can we see than that of our Lord Jesus Christ?
He says we need to have that same mind, that same attitude. Now look here what Paul says about Jesus, we see His humility, how that He was in the form of God and in equality with God, and yet He emptied Himself. He wasn’t thinking about Himself, but He was thinking about us. He wasn’t considering Himself better than us, even though He was. But you see, He emptied Himself, He took our form. He became as one who was fashioned like a man. He came in the flesh, according to John 1:14. And in the flesh, He lived the perfect life, being obedient unto death, even the death on the cross.
Whatever God wanted Him to do, that’s what He came to do, and in doing that, He paid the price for our sins. In doing that, He bought for us salvation. He redeemed us by His own blood, as Peter says in First Peter one, eighteen and nineteen, and for that we ought to be ever thankful. But you see, in the example of Jesus, we learn how to live for each other, and die for each other if we must. But do what we can to help others to get towards heaven. There’s another passage I want to remind us of right here, and that’s Romans 12:3, where the apostle Paul says, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that’s 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.”
Let’s be honest about who we really are, let’s think seriously about it, and not think that we’re really better than we are. Don’t think more of yourself than you should. It always gets us into trouble. But humility, humility will keep you from trying to take over and insist on everything being done your way. It will cause you to serve others, instead of looking for others to serve you. It’ll help you not to compete with others, but to work together in peace and harmony, for the benefit of all. It’s this spirit of humility that Jesus puts in our heart and that we must bring to the church, to be united as God’s people.
Look at something else here concerning the attitude that we need to have as Christians. Here in Ephesians chapter four, in going back to our text, it says in verse two, “…and gentleness”. Gentleness.
The old version said “meekness”. Meekness is not weakness, but gentleness. In most every congregation there’s one whom I call a gentle giant. A big fella, strong fella. But he’s so gentle, and he wouldn’t purposefully hurt a flea. That’s the idea of the word meek or gentle in the Bible. It’s great strength that’s been harnessed, that has been brought under the control of God.
Do you remember Moses?
A mighty man. A man, you remember, became angry because the Egyptians were fighting against his people and one was mistreating one of the Isrealites and he struck out to kill that Egyptian?
He wasn’t yet ready to lead God’s people, and so God sent him into the wilderness for forty years. And after that time He appeared to him in a burning bush, and He called him then to lead God’s people out of Egypt, to go before Pharaoh. Remember at the Red Sea, to lift up his rod to open up those waters so that they could go through, then to he carry the people to the mount where he would receive the law. And then bring them through the wilderness to the promised land.
It wasn’t until Moses was able to take that strength and bring it under control of God to harness that strength, that he became the meekest man in the earth. Numbers chapter12:3 says, “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were on the face of the earth.”
We need to have that same kind of humility of heart, especially with those who would lead God’s people to look to Moses to lead God’s people.
In Matthew 11:29, we see the words of Jesus, and this description of Himself, He says, “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
Yes, Jesus was a gentle soul. Jesus was a humble one. And He wants us to come and learn from Him, to be that same kind of person. Romans 12:17, the Bible says to “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
I know that some are almost impossible to live with, but we must strive to keep unity, to be at peace with others. Paul went on to write there in Romans 12:19, saying, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Yes, even our enemies deserve our love. And you know there are those that, ah, in the church sometimes who may become our enemies. But we must show them God’s love, whether they deserve it or not. That’s what imparting grace is all about. Another passage is in Galatians 1:6, there Paul said, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
Often times, we’ll see our brother, or our sister, is in trouble. They’ve been tempted, they’ve fallen, they’ve been caught up in sin. But Paul says you need to be gentle towards them. You need to have patience. And you need to be forgiving and understanding. We need to do what we can to help that person out of that sin, and it’s impossible for us to do that forcefully. We must come to them in a way that they would respond. We must do everything that we can to help them out because that’s a difficult situation, and it’s very hard sometimes to get out of sin, and it’s very hurtful, and so we need to make it as easy as possible by showing them the mercy and compassion of Jesus Christ. Gentleness teaches us self-control. It teaches us not to strike out at others when we’re offended. It teaches us how to truly help others who are at odds with the Lord, and His church.
There is another thing here in Ephesians four; patience, or longsuffering. That’s what he says here in verse two, “…with longsuffering…”
First Peter, or rather First Timothy chapter one, is probably the best example of patience, or longsuffering, that you’ll read about in the scriptures. I want to turn over there with you for just a moment because here the apostle Paul talks about the patience and the longsuffering that God had for him. You remember Paul the apostle was first Saul of Tarsus, a great persecutor of the church. And notice what he says here in First Timothy 1:12, “And I thank Christ Jesus or Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.”
What a wonderful passage, and how encouraging that is to those of us who are sinners! We’ve all “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, the Bible says in Romans3:23. We’re in the same boat that the apostle Paul was. But he says, I was the chief of sinners, I persecuted God’s people. He was consenting to their death, and yet he obtained mercy from the Lord Jesus Christ. How longsuffering, how patient God was with this one. And so He will be with us. Paul says that this was a pattern to those who were going to believe on Him, for everlasting life. So we can be assured that just as God was ready to, and willing to deal with the apostle Paul, to bring him to repentance, and to salvation and forgive him of his sins, so He’ll do for us, because He wants our souls, as much as He did Paul’s.
1 Peter3:20 speaks of God’s longsuffering, as it was demonstrated long ago during the days of Noah’s flood. Here it says, “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”
Oh at that time, the world had become so wicked, according to Genesis six, that the thoughts of their hearts were only evil continually. And yet God still gave them opportunity to prepare and get ready, because He was going to cleanse this old world from its sin. And yet there was only a few who decided to get right with God. In 2Peter 3:9, the Bible says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Peter was talking about the fact that Jesus was coming again. We don’t know when, and it may seem like a long time, but God will keep His promise. The only reason He’s waiting is to give you and me opportunity to repent, to get right with God. He doesn’t want any of us to perish.
In 2 Peter3:15, the Bible says, “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation…”
Yes, you have opportunity, even today, because the Lord is longsuffering. Patience teaches you not to give up on others so quickly. It teaches you to keep on reaching out and teaching and encouraging and loving and working and hoping and praying. It teaches you to wait your turn, to listen, to be still, to wait on the Lord. It teaches you to make things right before it’s everlasting too late. That’s why we’re here on the television today. To try to reach souls that are looking for the Lord, to try to encourage those of us who have given themselves to Christ to stay faithful to Him. We hope that you’ll let us know here at The Truth In Love how we can help you towards heaven today.
>>SINGING: I love Thy kingdom, Lord, the house of Thine abode;
the church our blest Redeemer saved with His own precious blood.
I love Thy church,
O God! Her walls before Thee stand
dear as the apple of Thine eye, and graven on Thy hand.
For her my tears shall fall, for her my prayers ascend; ;
to her my cares and toils be giv’n till toils and cares shall end. ;
Beyond my highest joy I prize her heav’nly ways,
her sweet communion, solemn vows,
her hymns of love and praise.
Jesus, Thou Friend divine, our Savior and our King!
Thy hand from ev’ry snare and foe shall great deliv’rance bring.
Sure as Thy truth shall last,
to Zion shall be giv’n the brightest glories earth can brighter bliss of heav’n.
>>SINGING: How shall the young secure their hearts,
and guard their lives from sin?
yield, and Thy word the choicest rules imparts to keep the conscience clean;
to keep the conscience clean.
‘Tis, like the sun, a heav’nly light that guides us all the day,
and thro’ the dangers of the night,
a lamp to lead our way, a lamp to lead our way.
Thy word is everlasting truth;
how pure is every page!
That holy book shall guide our youth,
and well support our age,
and well support our age.
>>Robert: I want to thank you for watching our program today.
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>>SINGING: Unto the hills around do I lift up my longing eyes;
O whence for me shall my salvation come, from whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
from God the Lord who heav’n and earth hath made.
From every evil shall He keep thy soul,
from every sin; Jehovah shall preserve thy going out, thy coming in.
Above thee watching, He whom we adore shall keep thee henceforth,