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Church of Christ Sermons and Lessons from Ephesians

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Bobby Stafford The Unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:1-6)        

The Unity of the Spirit

Text: Ephesians 4:1-6

Theme: To understand the meaning of the “unity of the Spirit” and how it is maintained. Sin divides. – It separates/ causes fights and conflicts. Salvation reunites, reconciles.

Body:

I. Verse One A worthy walk is essential for unity.

Beseech means to plead, appeal, implore. He knows how important the following words are. Walk – We can’t have real unity unless all are going in the same direction. “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3) This refers to the entire behavior or conduct. We are “called” by the gospel. (II Thessalonians 2:14) Our “calling” is our vocation, our entire Christian life. It is not our avocation – not a side issue. Unity is greatly impaired because Christians do not put Christ and His church first. When we become worldly and put material things above all else, then we are not walking in the same direction that God is. This cannot be united. Unity is greatly hindered by those not living worthy of the name Christian.

II. Verse Two Appropriate Attitudes for Unity Lowliness is a humble opinion of one’s self, not haughty or proud. Few things are more destructive than pride and arrogance. “. . . I am gentle and lowly in heart,” Jesus said in Matthew 11:29. Gentleness is meekness and self-control, submitting to the will of God. (James 4:4-7a) You must not claim that your desires are as important as God’s. Lowliness and gentleness go hand in hand. Unity is not possible if these two attitudes are not present. (I Peter 5:5) Longsuffering is to be patient, to persevere. “Bearing” is being lovingly considerate of one another. [McCord] We are to consider our brothers’ and sisters’ feelings. (I Thessalonians 5:14) Often we don’t. How do others perceive us? We must refrain from overreacting, never retaliate. We must forget about past wrongs but still correct, admonish, discipline. All of this is done because of our love for the brethren. We must put up with one another. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. (I John 3:14) “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) This spirit on behalf of Christ’s followers will go a long way toward unity.

III. Verse Three How to Obtain and Maintain the Unity of the Spirit We must make every effort to obtain unity. The unity of the Spirit is the unity into which the Holy Spirit leads us. How does this happen? “The unity of the Spirit is when Christians stand as one in the teachings of the Spirit, to be united according to His instructions.” [David Lipscomb] When we follow the instruction of the Holy Spirit, we are following the Holy Spirit. (Nehemiah 9:20,30) So keeping unity of the Spirit is not “agreeing to disagree.” It’s not compromising. (Ephesians 5:11) It’s the unity that prevails when all Christians stand on the Word of God [a bond] and it alone. It is the only way real peace is possible.

IV. Verses Four – Six The Seven Ones [Areas] of Unity (Ephesians 1:22-23)

A. One Body Unity of organization, one church If all were united as the Bible teaches, there would only be one kind of church. “Build My church. . .” (Matthew 16:18) Do you truly believe the Bible? All the saved – those who are being led by the Spirit through the Word! There would not be several bodies, just one. The Bible knows nothing of “join the church of your choice.” Jesus prayed that all His disciples might be one. They can be if all follow the instruction of the Holy Spirit.

B. One Spirit Unity of revelation (II Peter 1:20-21) There is one Spirit, one revelation. Religious division results when one claims to be led by the Spirit and yet teach something different from the Word of God. (Galatians 1:8-9) In reality, they are following their own spirit, not God’s. We are baptized into one body. (I Corinthians 12:13)

C. One Hope Unity of desire and expectation Only those who have been washed of their sins and renewed, born again, can truly have the hope. (Titus 3:4-7) (Note: Titus 2:12, Tutus 1:18)

D. One Lord Unity of authority (Matthew 28:18, I Corinthians 8:6) For unity to prevail, all must place themselves under His authority and submit to Him as Lord of their lives. Only do what He authorizes!

E. One Faith Unity of doctrine, content of belief There is one and only one faith. (Jude 3) Unity results from believing and practicing the one faith. (I Corinthians 1:10)

F. One Baptism Unity of practice This puts us into the one body, the church. It is an immersion [burial] in water for the forgiveness of sins. This is the one baptism which the Holy Spirit commands through the Word. (Galatians 3:26-28)

G. One God and Father He is the One in back of the plan for man’s redemption. (I John 4:13-16) He is the only real, true God. (I Corinthians 8:4)

Extra Notes:

· If we have a tendency to be proud, arrogant, or boastful, we need to work on humility. [A know-it-all, smug, . . . attitude]

· Artemis of Ephesus was not Lord even though many regarded her as such.

· The non-Christian community is Ephesus would have viewed these statements of a common faith as “intolerant.” 

Invitation:

Paul’s plea for us to maintain unity of Spirit is an urgent one for us today. Will you be united with Christ in baptism? 

Bobby Stafford

June 8, 2014

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