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Sunday, September 20, 2015 pm                                    Ephesians Index

STUDIES IN EPHESIANS (21)
THE BASIS OF OUR UNITY (3)
Ephesians 4:4-6

 

Tonight we continue our study of Ephesians.  Currently we are dealing with Paul’s admonition for unity to these brethren.    In vs. 1-3 he describes the attitude that will promote godly unity.  In vs. 4-6 Paul describes 7 basis of unity.  We have discussed 4 of these and the significance of the number one (“one and only one” - unity.  What “one” means for one basis it means for the others – for example – there is “one Lord”, “one Father” and “one Spirit” – typically we understand what “one means” with these.  But what about the others?)

  We have discussed the “one body” – the church, and the three persons of the Godhead – Lord (Jesus), Spirit and Father.  Tonight we will examine the other 3 qualities here described. 

 I.                    There is One Hope of your calling (4:4)

a.        Hope means an earnest expectation of something yet to be received.  
 It is actually a factor in why we live to serve Him.  It is a factor in why we endure what we do, why we give up things and activities in this life, and why we are willing to suffer hardships if need be. 
Our hope is for salvation and an eternal home in heaven when this life is over.  Col. 1:5-6 speaks of the hope which is laid up in heaven for us. 
1 Peter 1:3 describes how God has begotten us again “to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Hebrews 6:18-19 – this hope is our anchor. 
In Acts 23:6 as Paul appears before the counsel (Sanhedrin) he defends himself saying, “concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged.”
Romans 5:1-5 notes how we rejoice in hope of the glory of God (2) and how tribulations can produce our hope.

b.       Just as you were called in one hope of your calling” – this hope is related to our calling.  The calling is a reference to the invitation to obey the gospel – 2 Thess. 2:14 speaks of how He called us by the gospel. 

c.        How does this promote unity?

                                                   i.       This is unity of desire!  We are together for the same purpose, we have hope of the same reward – to get to heaven where we will spend all of eternity together.   

                                                  ii.      It is a hope that we can SHARE together – as opposed to competing with one another (i.e. Let us think the opposite of the candidates hoping to be president and how they are devouring one another)

                                                iii.      Often times, unity of a cause can bring people together that in other circumstances they might not even know of each other.  There have been times when unity of cause has brought enemies together and changed their relationships with one another.   (In the Bible think of Paul – before and after).

                                                iv.      Our hope ought to bring us together to do the work we need to do as His church and in reaching lost souls.

                                                  v.      Consider how we must get along here if we are to get along in heaven.  1 John 4:20-21 in blunt language talks about how imperative it is that we love our brethren.    
Galatians 5:15 warns us to not “bite and devour one another” lest you be consumed.

                                                vi.      Earlier in Ephesians Paul prayed that they would understand this hope - Ephesians 1:18 as Paul prays for them he desires that, “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
In Ephesians 2:12-13 where Paul is addressing how in Christ both Jew and Gentile have been brought together (united) notes that Gentiles previously were strangers of the covenants of promises, “having not hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

d.       Do we have “ONE hope”?  How are we letting that help us be united?

 II.                  There is One Faith (4:5)

a.        Faith here means a system of belief.  The term “faith” can be either subjective or objective. 

                                                   i.      By subjective we mean one’s personal convictions – each of us need to have our own faith and “by faith” we serve God regardless of others around us (Hebrews 11:6,  1 John 5:4 – “our faith”) 

                                                  ii.      Objective faith means a standard or system of belief as mentioned above.  Romans 1:17 speaks of how the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.  That is we learn of His righteousness in His word (objective – i.e. “the faith”) and it produces in us OUR faith (subjective). 

b.       Faith in this text is the word of God.  Is that not what Paul has been emphasizing he revealed to these brethren?  Ephesians 3:3-6 speaks of Paul revealing the “mystery” so that they might understand that truth was available to all – Jew and Gentile alike.   Implied is their need to believe the same thing!  That is the ONE faith.

c.        Jude 3 speaks of contending for “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
Acts 6:7, as the word of God spread “the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” 
Galatians 1:6-12, 23 – Paul warned of going after another gospel!  As he recounts the nature of his preaching and his results we find he was now preaching “the faith which he once tried to destroy.

d.       How does this promote unity? 

                                                   i.      We need to be united in doctrine and beliefs.   1 Corinthians 1:10, Philippians 2:1-2 – we are to be like-minded and of one mind. 

                                                  ii.      Doctrinal agreement brings us together for the same cause.

                                                iii.      It also helps us to stand united AGAINST that which is false.  We stand with each other and defend one another when attacked by those outside or those teaching error. 

                                                iv.      Doctrinal division divides.  We can see the ugliness of division – whether it be personalities or doctrinal. 
While scripture discourages disputes over trivial matters (see 1 & 2 Timothy) – even they drive wedges between brethren, sometimes much more so when there is disagreement over major issues.

e.       Some say that the “one faith” is our personal, subjective faith. 

                                                   i.      But that is not a real basis for unity in truth.  While it might promote peace between us – the word of God always suffers in such situations.   What good is unity, if God’s word is rejected to achieve it?  Yet this is a very real dilemma today. 

                                                  ii.      Further, as you examine the seven basis of unity in our text – the others are objective – ONE in which there is agreement as to what it is.

 III.                There is One Baptism (4:5)

a.        The Bible mentions several different baptisms –

                                                   i.      Holy Spirit – not received by all.  WE find it in Acts 2 and 10 and those that received it were a very small number.  It was accompanied with speaking in tongues, etc. 

                                                  ii.      Fire – Luke 3:16 - possibly the wrath of God in judgment against those who reject Him.

                                                iii.      Suffering – Mark 10:38-39, Luke 12:50 – both texts refer to the suffering Jesus was enduring, including the impending cross ahead of Him. 

                                                iv.      Moses – 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 - directed toward Israel only in the wilderness.  It is a TYPE of the baptism that saves us.

                                                  v.      John the Baptist – A baptism of water (Matt. 3:11, Luke 3:3, John 3:22-23.  He was beheaded (Mark 6:14-29) and his baptism was brought to its completion with the work of Jesus. Incidentally, we learn this from Acts 19:1-6 which happened in EPHESUS! 
NOTE that text as we determine the ONE baptism – vs. 4

b.       The baptism here is water baptism for salvation. 

                                                   i.      Water baptism is an act that brings about our salvation - Acts 2:38, 8:35-39, Mark 16:16

                                                  ii.      It also brings us together and promotes unity – 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Galatians 3:26-27.

                                                iii.      Ephesians 4:20-24 Paul speaks of them putting off the old man and putting on the new man.  Consider this in light of Romans 6:3-6.

c.        How does this promote unity? 

                                                   i.      Unity in practice and unity in how we receive forgiveness of sins.

                                                  ii.      Remember that prior to Christ coming – at best there were different standards for Jews and Gentiles.  Now there was ONE standard and ALL needed to accept it.

                                                iii.      Furthermore, true baptism unites us with Christ Jesus Himself as we noted above.

                                                iv.      If we cannot agree on HOW we are saved, how will he have unity concerning ANYTHING else? 

 

And thus we see the basis for our unity.  This unity is crucial for the body (the church) to function properly.  May we strive to achieve this unity as the Lord’s body here.  The world needs to see this type of unity.  Will we do our part?