Sunday, February 12, 2012
The Spirit of Unity
Ephesians 4:1 by Dr. Joseph W. Henderson

KingdomView, Vol. IV, Issue 4

FOR SAFETY REASONS, MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS ROPE THEMSELVES TOGETHER when climbing a mountain. That way, if one climber should slip and fall, he would not fall to his death. He would be held by the others until he could regain his footing.

The church ought to be like that. When one member slips and falls, the others should hold him up until he regains his footing. We are all roped together by the Holy Spirit.

In Ephesians 4:1-16, Paul is concerned about unity within the Body of Christ. A basic definition for unity is "

To work in harmony towards a shared mission." In the model prayer, Christ instructs us to pray for God’s "Kingdom to come" (Matthew 6:10), which is one of the corporate goals of the church on earth; some refer to this corporate goal as the Kingdom Agenda. Moreover, I believe God also assigns special callings to individual churches that feedback into the corporate goal.

For Celebrate New Life Tabernacle Church, our special calling is "

To Produce Spiritually Productive People for Effective Ministry through Christ-centered Teaching and Good Works" (Ephesians 4:11, 12). Our church body unifies around this special calling (or mission). Thus, today I want to explore how Paul directed the first century church around his message of unity by making three observations from his teaching concerning this subject in Ephesians 4:1-16.

First, Paul gives an EXHORTATION of unity (Ephesians 4:1-3). He cites three virtues that should undergird our goal of maintaining unity in the Body of Christ, which are humility, gentleness, and patience. He further declares that we are to show tolerance for one another in love. In essence, Christians lovingly tolerant each other, even when they have differences (1 Peter 4:8).

Second, Paul deals with the ELEMENTS of unity (Ephesians 4:4-6). Paul lists seven elements of unity that are centered on the three Persons of the Triune Godhead. These elements provide the basis for the spirit of unity that should exist in the body of believers. His list includes: 1) one body refers to the universal church, all believers; 2) one Spirit is the Holy Spirit that indwells the church; 3) one hope is the common hope regarding our future with God; 4) one Lord refers to Christ who is the head of the church; 5) one faith is the exercising of faith by all Christians in Christ their Lord; (6) one baptism most likely refers to water baptism; and 7) one God and Father refers to God the Father and His relationship to all believers. God is the Father of all who believe; they are His Children.

Finally, Paul deals with the PRESERVATION of unity (Ephesians 4:7-16). Now Paul turns to analyzing the means of preserving that unity of the body by means of the various gifts. Each believer has a unique spiritual gift that God individually portions out according to His sovereign will and design. These gifts were dispensed after Jesus’ return to heaven for the benefit of his Body, the church (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12-14; 1 Peter 4:10). The speaking gifts deposited in the church have been given to instruct and guide Christ’s Body in sound doctrine to safeguard against erroneous teachings, for erroneous teachings can disrupt the unity and harmony of the church.

In sum, let us always strive to maintain the unity of the faith in the bonds of peace, Selah!