SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth,
speaking the truth. Speaking the truth in love.
ROBERT >> The passage that forms the basis of our discussion this week comes from Ephesians 4:1-6. And I want to begin reading the first few verses with you today.
Ephesians chapter 4, beginning in verse 1. “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.”
Already we have noticed from this passage that the apostle Paul tells us if we’re going to keep the unity of God’s people, there must first be a worthy walk. This is how we stay united, when everybody is striving to please God walking according to the will of God. Looking at our conduct and our behavior, are we walking in a way that’s in accordance with the gospel of Jesus Christ, that’s worthy of that gospel?
But he also tells us just as important as our outward walk is our inward thought. What is our attitude, and do we have the proper attitude that makes for unity?
You’ll notice in Ephesians 4:2 that we’re to have a heart of lowliness and gentleness and longsuffering, bearing with one another in love. Already we talked about the lowliness or the humility that is so important to unity. We’ve also talked about the gentleness, strength under control, being able to help people, to help them towards heaven, to help them out of sin and with their problems, learning how to be patient and understanding and kind as we try to help others, being gentle.
And then there was this other one, longsuffering, or patience. We all need patience. We all need to have patience with others, and we all are in need of patience from others. And so we can see how important these three attitudes are. But I want to continue today looking at the fourth that’s mentioned here, enduring care, or as the scripture says, bearing with one another in love. I don’t know about you, but there’s always those who, you know, we just kind of have to put up with. Maybe for some reason they rub us wrong. And I know that I’ve rubbed others wrong and a lot of folks having to put up with me. But he says we need to be bearing with one another in love. We need to make every effort to really care for that person and help that person in spite of maybe his faults and his weaknesses and the places where he falls down with the Lord.
Look at Colossians 3:13. Here’s how Paul puts it there. “ Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another.”
If anyone has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. That perfect bond, that glue, that cement that holds us together is the love that’s taught us by Jesus Christ.
If Jesus Christ could pay the price for our sins, if Jesus Christ could forgive us of our sins, he being holy and righteous, that perfect one, then surely we can forgive one another, we can show that same kind of love and grace and mercy towards each other. Bearing with one another in love, that enduring care is absolutely essential to our unity. You see, enduring care teaches us to get along. It teaches us to work together without fighting and fussing and griping and complaining. It teaches us to overlook each other’s faults, our weaknesses and differences. It teaches us to be there for each other, and it teaches us to love one another no matter what.
So we’ve looked at the worthy walk that’s necessary for unity among God’s people, and we’ve looked at the proper attitudes as Paul laid them out for us here in Ephesians 4:2-3.
But I want us to continue, because there’s one other thing that’s so important to this uniting and keeping the unity, staying one in Jesus Christ. It is an effort on our part, a peaceful effort on our part for the unity that’s outlined for us in the scriptures.
Let me read again Ephesians 4:3 where he speaks of that effort when he says, endeavoring, in other words, to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. A peaceful effort for unity.
We’ve been brought together as one body in Christ. We’re to make every effort to stay united and at peace with one another. You can tie two cats together and throw them over a clothes line, but that’s not the kind of unity that we’re to strive for in the church. No, it’s one that resembles a worthy walk, it’s one that has those proper attitudes of love and grace towards one another. But our unity has a basis, a basis upon which must not be changed. It’s not enough for us to be in union. We must be united upon these great principles of God’s book.
Let’s look at them together as we read on here in verses 4 through 6 of Ephesians 4. “ 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.”
Did you notice there the seven ones, the basis for our unity in Jesus Christ?
Let’s take a brief look at them this morning. First of all, he says there is one body. Now the one body is the church of Christ that you read about in the Bible.
In Ephesians 1:22-23 the Bible tells us how that God made Christ head over all things to the church which is his body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all. Just as I have a head and one body, so Jesus Christ is the head of his church.
There is one body according to Ephesians 4:4. As Christians, we’re all a part of that one body of Christ over which he is the head. You see, the church of Christ that you read about in the Bible consists of all of those that are saved. God adds the saved to his church according to Acts 2:47. He adds them to his church because they have been purchased by his blood, they’ve been redeemed, they’ve been saved from their sins.
That’s why when Paul describes the church in Acts 20:28 he speaks of it as the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. The church is simply the saved, the redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
You remember when Jesus was on the earth and how he said in Matthew 16:18, “I will build My church?”
Jesus never intended to make many different kinds of churches, no; but he wanted to build his church and brings us all together in that church. I know that today there are many different kinds of churches. We see that in denominationalism. But picture this: One head, Jesus Christ, and many different bodies, many different kinds of bodies.
That’s not the picture of the New Testament church as we just noticed from Ephesians 1:22-23. In fact, in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 the apostle Paul calls for a different kind of a unity; not just a union, but a unity that’s based upon the word of God. Let’s go there and look together at this a little more closely.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 1 Paul was writing to a congregation that was extremely divided over numerous issues. And this is what he said beginning in verse 10. “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all speak the same thing, that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
You see how he called Jesus’ name to this commandment, because it was so very important. He called for them to speak the same thing. He said there should be no divisions among you. And that’s why we call folks out of denominationalism into the body of Christ, his church. You see, we do not want to cause division, we do not want to promote division, we do not want to be any part of division; but we want to call for the one body of Christ.
As you read on here in 1 Corinthians 10, you’ll notice verse 11.“Paul said, It has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, I am of Paul, or I am of Apollos, or I am of Cephas, or I am of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
You see, there were many divisions among them, and apparently they were rallied around various preachers. There were factions that called themselves after Paul, I am of Paul, the Paulite Christians; I am of Apollos, the Apollosite Christians; I am of Cephas, the Cephasite Christians; or I am of Christ. They weren’t taking it in name, but they were excluding their brothers from being a part of their group. Is Christ divided was his question. It’s a rhetorical one. And the answer of course is no. Was Paul crucified for you? Again, no. Were you baptized in the name of Paul? No.
The implication is simply this: That since we were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, since Jesus Christ was the one that was crucified for us, and Jesus Christ is one, we are to be one in him. Yes, the Bible says that our unity is based upon the fact that there is one body. We’re united in that body as the saved people of God.
But he also speaks here in Ephesians chapter 4 of one Spirit. This is the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit by whom we are born again. You might remember the words of Jesus in John 3:5 when he said, “Unless a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
You see, when we’re obedient to the gospel of Jesus Christ in the waters of baptism, we are born again of God’s Spirit. It was the Spirit that gave us God’s word by which we might be born again. And you see, it is through that word that the Spirit of God converts our soul. It convicts us of our sin, it moves us to obedience, and it produces in us new life.
1 Peter 1:22-23 tells us how you have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth by the Spirit, having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible through the word of God.
He describes it as the word of God that lives forever, that endures forever, 1 Peter 1:25.
Yes, we’re born again to become children of God by the power of the Holy Spirit in our obedience to the gospel. When we obey that gospel, we receive that Spirit, that indwelling power according to Acts 2:38.
We’re led by that Spirit, we walk after that Spirit, we mind the things of the Spirit, and we bear the fruit of the Spirit.
Read Romans chapter 8 and Galatians chapter 5 and see how important the Spirit of God is to our new life as Christians. It’s on the basis of that one Spirit that we find our unity in Jesus Christ.
Paul also speaks here in Ephesians 4 of one hope. The hope of eternal life in heaven with God someday.
Titus 1:2 reminds us of the hope that we have, the hope of eternal life which God promised, and how that he cannot lie. This is a sure and certain hope that God promises to the Christian.
In 1 Peter 1:3 and following, Peter speaks of it as a living hope, an inheritance undefiled, incorruptible, that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you. That’s our hope in Jesus Christ. That’s the hope that sustains us and around which we are united as we all strive towards heaven, hope we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast, Hebrews 6:19-20.
It involves the redemption of our body according to Romans 8:18-25.
Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 15 how one day, though our bodies were buried in the ground, they’re going to be raised with newness. He tells us how that it is sown in corruption, but it’s raised in incorruption, how this body is sown in dishonor, but it’s raised in glory, it’s sown in weakness, but raised in power, sown a natural or physical body, but raised a spiritual body.
Yes, he speaks of that day when Jesus comes again and this corruption will put on incorruption, this mortal will put on immortality, and death is swallowed up in victory, and he concludes saying, “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
You know, on that day we’ll see Jesus according to 1 John 3:2-3, and we will be like him.
What a glorious redemption we have. What a wonderful hope is ours because of Christ. I know that there are some that hope that they’re just going to die, and that’s the end, they’ll be dead all over like Rover. But that’s not the end. There will be a life after death.
I know there are those who think we’re just going to be reincarnated, we’ll come back to this earth to a better life. But the Bible says in Hebrews 9:27 that it’s appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment.
One day we’re going to die, and one day we’re going to meet God in judgment. There are some who are looking for a paradised earth, just a renewed earth, a physical, material place; but if you read 2 Peter 3:10 and following, you’ll see that the heavens and the earth are going to pass away.
All the elements of this world are going to be dissolved. Everything’s going to be burned up.
There’ll be a new heavens, a new earth. That is, new of a different kind. We’re talking about a new habitation, a new world for God’s people.
1 Corinthians 15:50 tells us that “flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Why? Because it’s that incorruptible, that undefiled, that heavenly place that does not fade away. That’s our hope in Jesus Christ.
There’s also one Lord according to Ephesians 4: Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died for our sins and rose again. Both Lord and Christ he was pronounced in Acts 2:36. That is, he is that long awaited Messiah of the Jewish people, the savior of all nations. In 1 Corinthians 8:6 we find that there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. Not Mohammed, not Reverend Moon, not Father Divine or any other so-called lord, but the Lord Jesus Christ, he is Lord of lords and King of kings. This implies obedience.
Jesus once asked, “Why call Me Lord, Lord and not do the things which I say?” That’s a good question. It’s hypocritical for us to say Jesus is Lord if we refuse to submit to his commandments.
But Jesus is also our savior. But Jesus is the savior of those who obey him, who recognize him as Lord.
Hebrews 5:8-9. Still Paul says there’s another thing that’s the basis of our faith, and that is one faith. The faith of the gospel of Jesus Christ that’s revealed and confirmed for us in the New Testament.
In Acts 6:7 we read about some priests who became obedient to the faith. When the word of God was going forth, when the disciples were being multiplied, some of the priests of the old Jewish religion were coming into the body of Christ, being obedient to the faith, the gospel of Christ.
You see, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God,” Romans 10:17.
I love how Paul expressed his faith and teaches us to express our faith in 2 Corinthians 4:13. He said,” And since we have the same spirit of faith according to what is written, I believed, and therefore I spoke, we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus and will present us with you.”
Jude says for us to “contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.”
God has through the power of his Holy Spirit, the apostles and prophets of the New Testament, revealed and confirmed for us one time for all time his faith, the faith of God, the faith that we will be united on in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Beware of those who might depart from the faith as Paul warned in 1 Timothy chapter 4, ‘not adhering to the commandments of Christ.”
It does matter, the terms of membership in a congregation, the organization of that church, what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage, about ethics and morality. What are all the books in the New Testament about, but to show us the gospel according to Jesus Christ?
It’s in that faith that we find ourselves united as God’s people.
One baptism is the sixth thing that Paul tells us. One baptism is an immersion in water for the remission of sins. Jesus told us to make disciples, baptizing them in Matthew 28:19.
And in Mark 16:16 he said, “He that believes and is baptized will be saved; he that disbelieves will be condemned.”
Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38
Yes, we need to respond to the gospel by identifying with the death and the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ in baptism. “We die with Christ, we’re buried with him, and we’re raised with him to walk in newness of life,” as Paul outlined for us in Romans 6:3-5.
Listen, baptism is not something we do simply to someone like an infant or a little child who has no understanding and who is innocent, not knowing right from wrong, Deuteronomy 1:39. Such are of the kingdom of heaven. But baptism is for those who having heard the gospel and understanding that respond in faith to it, giving themselves to the Lord in baptism.
As the Bible says in Colossians 2:12, “Buried with Him by baptism, and raised with Him through faith in the working of God who raised Him from the dead.”
Yes, the candidate for baptism must be a penitent believer who’s trusting God to raise him up with Christ a new creation. But finally this morning, Paul says there’s one God and Father. That’s the creator of us all.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” Genesis 1:1.
According to 1 Corinthians 8:4 “there is no other God but one.”
Unity is maintained among us only when we are all members of the same body, the church; indwelt by the same Spirit, the Holy Spirit; striving for the same place, heaven; serving the same master and Lord, Jesus Christ; following the same word, the New Testament of Jesus Christ; practicing the same baptism, immersion in water for the remission of our sins; and recognizing the same God and Father, our creator.
May God help us to have a worthy walk, a proper attitude, and an effort for unity for the edifying, the building up of the body of Christ. That’s what we seek to do and that’s who we seek to be as God’s people. We want you to be a part of that body if you’re not, to be obedient to Christ and the gospel, to become a Christian.
Please 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 blessed redeemer
saved with his own precious blood.
I love thy church, oh 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 given
till toils and cares shall end.
Beyond my highest joy
I prize her heavenly ways,
her sweet communion, solemn vows,
her hymns of love and praise.
Jesus, thou friend divine, our savior and our king, thy hand from every snare and foe shall great deliverance bring.
Sure as thy truth shall last,
to Zion shall be given the brightest glories earth can yield,
and brighter bliss of heaven.
SINGING>> I bring my sins to thee,
the sins I cannot count,
that all may cleansed be in thy once opened fount.
I bring them, savior, all to thee,
the burden is too great for me.
The burden is too great for me.
My life I bring to thee,
I would not be my own.
Oh savior, let me be thine ever, thine alone.
My heart, my life, my all I bring to thee,
my savior and my king,
to thee my savior and my king.
ROBERT >> I want to thank you for watching our program today, and we would really like to hear from you. If you have any questions, comments, or requests, if you would like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you would like to order today’s lesson or any other lesson on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, let me encourage you to write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas, 76053.
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SINGING>> Unto the hills around do I lift up my longing eyes.
Oh whence for me shall my salvation come?
From whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
from God the Lord whom heaven 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, yea for evermore.