Sunday, May 6, 2018
Summer Sermon Series: Connected – My Life in the Body of Christ
Connected in Unity
In order to live a life worthy of our spiritual calling, we need to understand what unites us and what we must base our faith on.
God’s ambition for His people is simple – allow God’s Spirit that unites us to have precedence in our lives. God wants us to live together in a partnership with Him and with one another.
Last week we talked about how we are to be Connected in Christ. He is our unifier. He expects His church to be united under Him. Now, unity is not uniformity. Unity is one together, uniformity is one alike. We are an orchestra of people united together around the score of God’s Word, tuning our lives to the same pitch of God’s love, to play in unison the commission of God’s will.
So, as we continue our study in Ephesians today, we’re going to look at the foundation or score of our unity – the Seven Connecting Pieces of Unity.
READ TEXT Ephesians 4:1-6
We find in this passage the basis for our unity as a church. We’re not bound by our programs or polity, but by our convictions and commission. If our unity is based on anything other than this Biblical truth, then our foundation is established on sinking sand.
To focus and unify our lives and mission, Paul reminds us that our unity must be established.
Seven core pieces of unity in the Church.
I. One BODY – the CHURCH
The first piece in our unity is the call to be one body in Christ – His beloved bride – the church.
The church Paul is referring to isn’t the local church like we’re in today, but the universal church consisting solely of people who have placed their faith in Christ.
Church (ekklesia) is used in two ways – plural and singular. The plural form refers to every local gathering of believers called to love one another and share God’s love with the world. The singular form, as in this text, refers to all true believers.
Thus, we’re not talking about whether someone is a Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, or Pentecostal, but if they’ve surrendered their lives to the love/grace of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross unto salvation.
Rm. 12:5 “So, in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
People often ask me, “Are you a Baptist?” I’ll say, “Yes, I am; but I’m a Christian who happens to attend a Baptist church.” They’ll ask, “Are you one of those narrow-minded Baptists who believes only Baptists are going to heaven?” I’ll say, “I’m more narrow-minded than that. I believe there are some Baptists who aren’t going to make it to heaven; but I’m also a lot more broad-minded too because I believe that anyone who is saved, blood-bought, in a personal relationship with Christ, will get into heaven.
I believe the Bible that the cross and not your denomination is what determines your eternal destination. Salvation isn’t found in a denomination, but in a Person, who died on a cross, shedding His blood for the forgiveness of our sins, and then rising on the 3rd day leaving an empty tomb.
This is an important truth to grasp because you can join a local church and you should, but when your name is only written down on the church roll, please, don’t assume that is going somehow go to heaven when you die.
There will be many religious people who think they’re going to heaven, but unless they’re born again, they’re mistaken.
When you stand before God and He says, “Why should I let you into heaven?” Don’t you dare say, “Because my name is on the roll at FBCR.” Heaven isn’t reserved for the frozen chosen who have their names listed on a church roll, but only for those who have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Rev. 21:27 “But nothing unclean will ever enter it (heaven), nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
II. One SPIRIT – the HOLY SPIRIT
Next, Paul says there is one Spirit – the Holy Spirit The truth is, there are many spirits in this world, but there is only one Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit has a specific role in our lives. God deposits His Holy Spirit into our lives to convince and convict us of sin, draws us to Jesus, and guide us in serving His kingdom.
All of us have a natural spirit. The Bible says we’re body, soul, and spirit. As long as we’re alive, these entities can’t be separated. Only in death does our spirit and soul separate from our body.
The Bible says our spirit is dead until the Holy Spirit. enters into our lives and quickens our human spirit by His Spirit interacting with our natural man.
Rm. 8:16 “God’s Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
This is one of the greatest proofs that we’re saved. When we’ve received Christ as Savior, His Holy Spirit enters into our lives. Now we don’t have to hope or wish we’re saved; we can know with certainty because we have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. It’s like God’s Holy Spirit reaches out and shakes hands with our human spirit and says, “You’re now a child of God.”
III. One HOPE – the RETURN of Christ
Third, Paul says that we should have unity because we have one hope centered on the promise of Jesus’ return.
Hope – when the Bible uses the word “hope,” it’s not talking about something in the future that may, or may not, happen; it is to a rock-hard certainty – something you can bank your entire future on.
James says the hope of Christ’s return is the only thing worth living for and that we must live each moment in the anticipation of His return.
James 5:7 “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.”
Coming (parousia) This is an important eschatological term that means more than just coming. It conveys the idea of God’s presence or arrival. It is a promise of Jesus’ bodily return. Jesus has promised that one day He will return for His people to redeem them and establish His kingdom.
The idea is that by living in the hope of Christ’s return, believers will lead godly lives that will not be ashamed upon His return.
It doesn’t matter if you’re pre, post, pre-wrath, pan, or pro trib (for it) He’s coming soon – at any moment – the question is, are we ready?
Which brings up an important question: What preparations must be made for Christ’s return? There are TWO. Some people think the only necessary preparation is to have received Christ as your personal Savior, but that would be only partially correct – while it is the most essential issue God also expects His people to live each day in anticipation of His return.
As Christians, we can’t live in the moment stashing stuff away that has no place in the economy of eternity – obtaining the world but forfeiting our soul. We have to live for His return longing for Him to say, “Well done!”
IV. One LORD – JESUS CHRIST
The 4th piece of unity is that we have one Lord – and His name is Jesus!
Acts 4:12 “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Write: Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord refers to His position as the ruler and master of our lives – the one who is large and in charge.
Jesus is His name; and
Christ is His title. He is the “Christ,” our Messiah and Anointed One.
For Paul to say, “There is only one Lord” is saying something that may not relate to us today, but it had great meaning in the 1st Century. Amazingly, the Romans were very tolerant of religion.
The Roman Empire established what historians call the Pax Romana, the Peace of Rome. When the Romans conquered another nation, they embraced their gods saying, “We have plenty of room for all your gods.” They even built a place to house these idols called the Pantheon – pan meaning “all” theos, meaning gods. Inside the Pantheon was a tribute to any and every god. They had statues and icons for Zeus, Mercury, Osiris, Isis, and Artemis… and more. The attitude was, “Welcome to the Pantheon. Bring your gods and we will worship them too – the more the merrier.
But when the Christians came along, and the Romans had a hard time accepting Jesus because He was not another god amongst many gods, He claimed to be the one and only God. Thus, when the Romans offered Jesus a shelf in the Pantheon and the Christians said no thanks, it ruffled a few feathers and the Romans decided to exterminate the problem. Ironically enough, the legal charge most often brought against Christians before they were executed was atheism, b/c they refused to accept the gods of Rome. But If Jesus is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all.
In saying there is “One Lord,” we’re defining our confession, convictions, and commission. One Lord speaks to our ministry as God’s people.
But what is the world saying about us? “Hey, Jesus is cool, but can you keep him in your Sunday box? Please don’t bring him to the work, school, or into the marketplace – we don’t want to have to deal with Him.
V. One FAITH –
The 5th piece of unity in the Body is that we have one faith – one way, truth, & life!
One faith refers to one settle body of truth as God’s single means of revelation to man. It was given to us by Christ and the prophets and was agreed upon by the early church as basic doctrine and practices.
Jude 3 “I urge you to contend for the faith that was once and for all entrusted to the saints.”
There is one definable body of beliefs we are to hold fast to – one faith – and it is found right here in the Bible – God’s holy Word.
Some of these foundational truths are obvious: Jesus is the Messiah, born of a virgin, sent by the Father to suffer and die on a cross for the forgiveness of sin – received by grace through faith apart from man’s effort and goodness. And the Bible is His holy Word authoritative for our lives.
VI. One BAPTISM – SPIRITUAL Conversion
The 6th pillar is that we have one Baptism – spiritual conversion.
There are (3) baptisms in the Bible – Water baptism to publicly identify our faith in Christ before other believers, Spiritual baptism where the H.S. enters into a believer’s life to seal us in salvation, and a baptism of fire where a believer experiences a baptism of suffering on behalf of the faith.
In Mt. 3:11, John the Baptist talks about (3) kinds of baptisms. He said, “I baptize you with water (water baptism) but after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I’m not fit to carry. When He comes, He will baptize you w/ the Holy Spirit. (spiritual baptism) and he’ll baptize you with fire.”
I believe He is talking about a baptism of suffering like in Mt. 20. He said to James and John “Are you able to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” Meaning I’m going to suffer, can you suffer?
1 Cor. 12:13 “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body.”
Paul is speaking here of our spiritual baptism into the body of Christ through salvation. It has nothing to do w/ water and everything to do w/ the activity of the H.S. But this isn’t a reference to a separate experience after conversion as some of our Pentecostal friends would have us believe.
VII. One GOD – the TRIUNE God
The 7th piece of unity is that we have one God and Father!
Our oneness is ultimately focused on our heavenly Father who is over all, in all, and working through all. If there were no other reason to unite, it should be to come together to celebrate the love and grace of God.
Think of it this way. We’re children in the same family. Loving and serving the same Father. We’re on the same team commissioned by our Father to work together for a common cause – the cause of Christ!
The key to unity is that our individual wills have to collectively dissolve into the heart of the Father.
It begins with a commitment to walk worthy in a manner of the calling – adopted heirs of the kingdom, holy because He is holy.
With all humility – be humble and not puffed up with pride
Gentleness, patience, and love – Characteristics of Christ displayed in our lives
Bond of peace – state of reconciliation and love
But the key ingredients we must center our lives around are one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and One God and Father.