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May 15, 2022 Sermon

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UNITY IN THE BODY OF CHRIST

(Preserving Unity - May 15, 2022)



Series Big Idea: "The Church is meant to be a place where unity is encouraged and lived out in daily life"

Sermon Big Idea: "God has given the Church what it needs to be healthy, growing, and mature"


Key Scripture (Ephesians 4:1-3)

A three-year-old boy falls to the ground as he runs to greet his father who just pulled into the driveway. The boy is tired and hungry. On top of all that, his older sister has just taken his favorite toy away from him. He is crying harder than he should be. His dad picks him up and says, "It's ok son, you're a big boy. Act like it."


Chuck is an eighteen-year-old young man who has just been through the toughest twelve weeks of his life in Marine boot camp. Within the last week he was forced to crawl under rolls of barbed wire with bullets being fired just above his head. He freezes. Panic gripped him as he dug his hands into the ground beneath him. About that time, a friend crawls up beside him and says, "Get a hold of yourself, Chuck. You're a Marine. Act like one!"


(Ephesians 4:1-3) 

HCSB

Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us


The reality in all our lives is that our identity is linked to our actions. Who we are affects how we should act. This is what the Apostle Paul is trying to explain in the first couple of verses of Ephesians chapter 4. In the previous three chapters he explained that a person who has accepted Christ and His forgiveness is now a child of God. Beginning in this fourth chapter he says, now act like one. The remainder of the Book of Ephesians explains in specific detail how we are to act. Paul had given up his freedom to follow Christ. He is now urging believers to do the same so unity of the Spirit will be preserved. So, how can we preserve the unity of the Spirit?


1.     We must Understand the importance of the unity of the Spirit

Paul says in verse one that Christians should walk worthy of their calling. This is key in our understanding of unity of the Spirit. Paul had suffered for it. He said he was "the prisoner of the Lord." His identity is in Christ and no matter the circumstances around him Christ mattered more. He was willing to suffer for the truth that Jews and Gentiles alike were fellow members of the body of Christ. Christ died to secure the unity of the Church. Before He went to the cross, he prayed for all who knew Him to be one (John 17). Christ died to create the one new man which is His Church. And we are called to this unity. Paul says we are to walk worthy of the calling with which we have been called. This is the gospel that saved us (Romans 8:30).


Christ saved us! Our godly behavior should match this calling we have as Christ followers, especially to preserve the unity of the Spirit. Have you ever had your picture taken with one of those amusement park novelties where you put your head through an opening above a body that doesn't fit? Your head doesn't fit the body, does it? Christ is our head. We as His body don't want to make Him look silly. We should walk worthy of our calling as His body, especially to preserve the unity of the Spirit. But how?


2.     We must practice the Qualities that preserve unity

"Walking" implies that this is a process that is lifelong. Sure there will be times when we get set back. But that shouldn't be the pattern of our lives as Christians. Paul mentions several character qualities in verse 2 that we must possess to preserve the unity of the Spirit. The first is "humility." It literally means "lowliness of mind." Humility is recognizing that everything we are and have is due to God's grace in Christ. It means to be Christ-sufficient and not self-sufficient. But it does not mean dumping on yourself. A humble person realizes that God has given him abilities that he is to use for the glory of God and for His purposes. 


Paul says we also need "gentleness." This word caries the idea of having strength under control. It's a person who can control his temper and will not retaliate or seek revenge. Jesus used humility and gentleness to describe Himself (Matthew 11:29). Paul also said we need "patience." This is a person with a long fuse. Aren't you glad God is patient with us (Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9)?


Love is mentioned at the end of verse 2. Love doesn't just tolerate someone. Love seeks the highest good of the other person. If you and I see someone doing something that will lead to spiritual harm, love cares enough to try and help him. But we wait and pray for the right time. Love will motivate us to get involved if the other person will let us.


3.     We must exercise the Effort to preserve unity 

The word "diligence" means a deliberate effort on our part. Disunity can't continue to build and build and fester. It must be squelched quickly. Paul says in (Romans 14:19) "So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds us one another." This doesn't happen passively. And peace is the ingredient that holds all this together. Jesus said (Matthew 5:9) The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God. Jesus is our peace. When He is able to rule as Lord of our lives, we will experience true peace between us.

Conclusion:


Yes, unity of the Spirit among believers already exists because of the mighty work of the Spirit of God, but we must work hard to preserve it. That means in our homes as well as at church. We must practice the qualities that preserve the unity of the Spirit. Living in unity with one another will help us to live righteous and holy lives.


When I was 10 years old my dad took our family on a trip across the United States. One place we traveled was Sequoia National Forest in Northern California. What an awesome sight to see the mighty handiwork of God in those trees. But there is something you must know about this forest. Although some of these trees grow to heights of over 300 feet, their roots are barely below the surface of the ground. That seems impossible, doesn’t it? How can they stand when winds blow? These trees grow in groves. Their roots are intertwined underground. When strong winds come, they hold each other up. 


This is true of us as Christians. Our roots may be just below the surface and standing alone we would be blown over like a cheap umbrella. Our roots need to be intertwined. When tribulations come, it will have to take all of us, or it can't take any of us!


  

Pastor Beaver's thoughts and ideals are inspired by:


Holman Christian Standard Bible

English Standard Version Bible

King James Version Bible

Christian Standard Bible


Water, Mark, ed. Encyclopedia of Bible Facts. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2004. WORDsearch CROSS e-book. 


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Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Duane Garrett, and Walter C. Kaiser Jr.


NIV, First-Century Study Bible, eBook: Explore Scripture in Its Jewish and Early Christian Context

Zondervan, Kent Dobson, and Ed Dobson


Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.


Richards, Lawrence O. The Bible Reader’s Companion. Electronic ed. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991.


Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.


Blum, Edwin A., and Trevin Wax, eds. CSB Study Bible: Notes. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017.


Snodgrass, Klyne. Ephesians. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.


Vaughan, Curtis. Ephesians. Founders Study Guide Commentary. Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2002.


Cole, Steven J. Ephesians. Steven J. Cole Commentary Series. Dallas: Galaxie Software, 2017.


Hoehner, Harold W., Philip W. Comfort, and Peter H. Davids. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, Philemon. Vol. 16. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008.


Osborne, Grant R. Ephesians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2017.


Merida, Tony. Exalting Jesus in Ephesians. Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2014.


Barry, John D., Douglas Mangum, Derek R. Brown, Michael S. Heiser, Miles Custis, Elliot Ritzema, Matthew M. Whitehead, Michael R. Grigoni, and David Bomar. Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016.


Dockery, David S., ed. Holman Concise Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998.


Water, Mark. Key Word Commentary: Thoughts on Every Chapter of the Bible. AMG Publishers, 2003.


Brannan, Rick, and Israel Loken. The Lexham Textual Notes on the Bible. Lexham Bible Reference Series. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014.


MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Bible Handbook. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003.


MacArthur, John F., Jr. The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006.


Radmacher, Earl D., Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999.


Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.


Smith, Jerome H. The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge: The Most Complete Listing of Cross References Available Anywhere- Every Verse, Every Theme, Every Important Word. Nashville TN: Thomas Nelson, 1992.


Brooks, Keith. Summarized Bible: Complete Summary of the New Testament. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009.


Hughes, Robert B., and J. Carl Laney. Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary. The Tyndale Reference Library. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001.



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