Unity In The Body – Ephesians 4:1-6

Strive For Unity Within The Body Of Christ

1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Live Life

Paul reminds us here how to live the good life – we must live it in a manner worthy of the calling that we have received.  Our calling – generally – is to deliver the message of salvation to every people and nation:

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Our calling – specifically – is to be the part of the body that God desires us to be by using the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit has empowered us with to serve God:

1 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

As living sacrifices, we are to live our lives in complete submission and obedience to God, giving Him the honor and glory that He so rightly deserves.  When we live our lives in this way, we are living the “good” life – a life that is worthy of the calling that we have received.

Soft and Submitted

We are to be gentle and humble in our ways.  This is exactly the same way that Jesus described Himself:

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

When we are gentle towards others, and have learned restraint so that we do not allow our emotions and desires to control us, we are able to do what we have been called to do.  Because of our sin nature, we find ourselves at odds with what we know is right.  We must learn to become more like Jesus.  And Jesus, realizing that we could not grasp God, submitted Himself to the Holy Spirit as an example for us.

Lavish Love

Unity can only be achieved through love in the bonds of peace.  For true agape love – unconditional, volitional, and sacrificial love – comes through submission.  We are to submit to one another in Christ.  When we do this, the world will know that we are His disciples.  Love binds us together in unity; for if we are seeking the good and welfare of others first, selfishness, pride, and discord will diminish and die.

Unparalleled Unity

Paul goes on to tell us how to be unified by reminding us that there is only unity in oneness.  He gives us seven examples:

  1. One body
    • The great spiritual divide among all the denominations should not exist.  We are all part of the same body of Christ, separated only by geography.  When we do not have unity in the body, we are separating ourselves from one of the greatest strengths that we have – unity of oneness.  When there is corruption, we are to address it.  And if those who sinning refuse to repent, we are to follow the Matthew 18 principle of church discipline.
  2. One spirit
    • There is only one spirit.  Not all paths lead to God – that is Universalism.  Jesus has told us that He and He alone is the way, the truth, and the life – no one comes to the Father except through Him.  And as Jesus is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, we are to be one with them and with each other.
  3. One hope
    • Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.  The words of the hymns shed light on the great truths of the word of God.  We have one hope, and our hope (complete and justified trust) is placed only in Jesus.
  4. One Lord
    • Who is lord of you life?  Who calls the shots?  There is a bumper sticker that has been seen that says, “God is my co-pilot.”  If that is the case, then you are in the wrong seat on the plane.  Lord is a word that invokes the understanding of absolute and unconditional authority of someone over another.  Jesus should have that authority – He has earned it.  If we live our lives the way we want to, then we claim lordship over it, usurping His rightful authority over us.
  5. One faith
    • We have but one faith – faith in Jesus Christ, and His work on the cross, taking our sins and giving us His righteousness in exchange.  Faith in anything or anyone else is futile, for there is only one name under heaven given to mankind to be saved, and that name is The Lord Jesus Christ.
  6. One baptism
    • There is only one baptism.  We are baptized in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, and the name of the Holy Spirit, into eternal life in Christ.  Baptism into anything or anyone else is futile.  We are unified in that there is only one baptism.
  7. One God and Father
    • Finally, we are reminded by Paul that there is only one God and Father.  Jesus has warned us that God the Father is the only true Father.  Everyone else is under the control of Satan.  We are unified by having God as our One and Only Father.

In each of these, Paul reiterates that there is unity in being one together.  As there is only One of each of these, there cannot be division.  If there is division, then we must be in disagreement with at least one of these, for if we are in agreement on all of them, there cannot be anything BUT unity.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Am I in unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have made it possible for us to live in unity with one another.  Show me Your heart, that I may be in tune with it.  Help me to live in harmony and unity with those You have claimed as Your own.  Help me to submit to the Holy Spirit as well as one another that You would receive honor and glory from it.  Show me where my pride is interfering with Your will, and bring is under Your control, so that I may be humble and gentle in spirit.  Help me to learn restraint and give grace to others in areas that do not conflict with the core truths of the faith.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Rest in God – Matthew 11:28-30

God Gives Us Rest For Our Souls

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Back-Breaking Burdens

God never intended for our burdens to so overwhelm us as to be impossible.  In the beginning, the only rule was to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Only one fruit was forbidden.  Adam and Eve were given free rein to do pretty much whatever else they wanted to.  Yet even that became a burden to them.

Most of us are burdened down with life and the responsibilities that we shoulder.  Every day, our list of duties and expectations increase, until we reach that feverish point where, in exhaustion, we stop, and someone who is a little better rested takes our place.  God intended for us to experience fellowship with Him and have joy in our work.  Yet the fall of man brought difficulty into that:

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”

The leaders of the Jews were afraid of being sent into captivity, and decided to implement some additional “suggestions” that had the weight of law to ensure that the Sabbath was fully maintained.  There were over six hundred additional rules given to the people so that they would not work on the Sabbath, and therefore be conquered by their enemies and dispersed from their homeland.  One of these rules was that you cannot spit on the ground on the Sabbath, because you might accidentally roll it over the ground with your foot and make mud, and therefore be accused of working.

Christ came to lift these heavy burdens from us that do not need to be there, and to show us what truly is required of us in the sight of God.

Royal Rest

Jesus promised us rest from our burdens.  We no longer have to strive to earn God’s favor.  This is something that we cannot do on our own, for His standard is perfection.  Jesus came to fulfill the law so that through belief in Him, we might be freed of our attempts to please God through our well-intentioned but misguided efforts to earn God’s favor.  Christ gave us His righteousness, earned through living a perfect life, for our sinful nature, and thus gives us rest from our burdens.  You can relax and be free – Christ did all of the heavy lifting.  All we need to do now is be obedient to Him!

Bearable Burdens

Jesus is gentle and humble in heart.  He gives us burdens that are light and a yoke that is easy.  He gives us the life of submission to the Spirit of God and obedience to His word.  And because we cannot do this in our own power, we have been given a down-deposit on our inheritance, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

The very power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and performs miracle upon miracle every day for us, is living within us.  We have been given the strength and ability to do everything that God desires through submission to the Spirit of God.  Once we yield our stubborn hearts to God, our burdens will be light, and our yokes will be easy, for God Himself will do all the difficult work.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I allowing the Spirit of God to do all of the heavy lifting in my life through submission to His Spirit and obedience to His word?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have provided us with a way to be obedient to You.  Help me today to yield my spirit to Yours so that You would have control in my life.  You know everything that will happen before it happens, and You can provide the wisdom to guide me through it.  Help me to submit to You in obedience to Your word, that You would be honored and glorified before men.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?