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Sermon #50 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: An Exhortation
to Unity and Peace
Text: Ephesians 4:1-7
Subject: The Unity and Peace of the Church
Date: Tuesday Evening — October 25, 2016
Readings: Bobbie Estes and Merle Hart
An Exhortation to Unity and Peace — that is the title of my message. — Our text will be Ephesians 4:1-7. — An Exhortation to Unity and Peace (Ephesians 4:1-7).
The Psalmist David wrote, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). — He admonishes us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (God’s Church and Kingdom), saying, “they shall prosper that love thee” (Psalm 122:6). In David’s opinion, nothing was more needful, nothing more desirable for us, and nothing more to be sought and promoted by us than the unity and peace of God’s saints in this world.
The Apostle Paul was of the same opinion. While he was a prisoner at Rome, awaiting execution, he wrote this Epistle to the Church at Ephesus. After giving us instruction in the Gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ, he admonishes us to walk worthy of our high and holy calling as the children of God. — The matter of first importance he mentions is the unity and peace of God’s Church in this world. That is the subject of our text (Ephesians 4:1-7). Here is — An Exhortation to Unity and Peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-7) “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, (2) With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; (3) Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4) There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (5) One Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (7) But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”
Proposition: As William Hendriksen put it, Paul is saying, “The church is spiritually one; therefore, let it be spiritually one!”
Our great Savior prayed for the unity of his Church throughout the ages. — “That they may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” — What could be of more importance? What could be more beneficial? What could be more blessed?
How sweet, how heavenly is the sight,
When those that love the Lord,
In one another’s peace delight,
And so fulfil His Word.
When each can feel his brother’s sigh,
And with him bear a part,
When sorrow flows from eye to eye,
And joy from heart to heart.
When free from envy, scorn, and pride,
Our wishes all above,
Each can his brother’s failing hide,
And show a brother’s love.
When love, in one delightful stream,
Through every bosom flows,
And union sweet, and dear esteem,
In every action glows.
It is impossible for me to overstate the importance of this message. So let me begin by showing you something of its importance — Three Reasons.
1. The Glory of God — First, when Paul say “I therefore,” the word “therefore” refers specifically to what he has just said (Ephesians 3:20-21).
(Ephesians 3:20-21) “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, (21) Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
The basis of my appeal in making this exhortation to unity and peace is the glory of God our Savior. If we would glorify our Lord Jesus Christ, we must be united to him and in him, we must be one, we must walk together in the blessed “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
2. The Blessedness We Have — Second, I appeal to you upon the basis of the blessedness we have enjoyed as the Church of God in his place.
That blessedness should compel us to constantly endeavor, strive, and earnestly seek to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Words cannot begin to describe the goodness of God to this assembly. Men and women all over the world speak of that blessedness. Everyone who visits us speaks of God’s great goodness upon us. Every new member the Lord brings into our fellowship speaks of it.
Š Paul Harries, “This is what a church is supposed to be. This is what I call ‘a family.’”
Š Larry Brown, “I’ve never seen a church like this.”
Š Jim and Susan Grant, “We visited almost every Baptist Church this county; but we’ve never been in a church like this.”
Truly our God has blessed us beyond measure. For reasons known only to him, the Lord has been pleased to make us useful in his kingdom around the world, and has given us a voice that is heard in his Church, literally, around the world. — Us of all people! — You and me, of all people!
Š Our First Meeting in this Building
Š Our Missionaries
Š Churches Established — Rock Valley, Iowa — Princeton, New Jersey — San Diego, California — Nowra, Australia — Wasilla, Alaska — Ballymoney, North Ireland — Wichita Falls, Texas
Š Our Conferences
Š Our Books and Commentaries
Š Tracts and The Grace Bulletin
Š CDs and DVDs
Š Local Television
Š My Itinerary
How can a congregation, so small, with such limited resources as we have, accomplish so much? I cannot tell you how often I’ve been asked that question. My answer is always the same. — “God has blessed us beyond measure.” If we are able to do anything useful, it is because of God working in us. In ourselves we are nothing, we have nothing, and we can do nothing! — Truly, “We have this treasure (the Gospel of Christ) in earthen vessels!”
“And God has given us peace.” In the 35 years since you called me to be your pastor, God has given us peace. We’ve had folks come and go; and that always causes pain. But we have enjoyed uninterrupted harmony and peace as a church family through it all. — What a blessing! Peace has dwelt within these walls. We have been united in Christ, united in heart, united in purpose, and united in spirit, in seeking the glory of God, the furtherance of the Gospel, the salvation of God’s elect, and the blessedness of God’s saints.
3. Our Strength — Third, this message is important because this unity and peace have been our strength. Because we have been so blessed of God, because we have been so greatly blessed of God, we ought to do everything we can to keep, increase, and promote that unity and peace. The strength and usefulness of any congregation depends greatly upon her unity and peace. When we are one, we are strong and useful. When we are divided, we are weak and useless.
I want us to see, from the Word of God, how we are to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called” and how we must endeavor to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Let’s look together at this exhortation given by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:1-7, asking God the Holy Spirit to effectually apply it to our hearts, for Christ’s sake.
All who are born of God taught of God are called into a union of faith and love by the Holy Spirit, therefore we should labor to be one in heart, mind, and spirit.
Divisions: There are three things in these verses that I want to set before you. I hope that God will use them to speak to our hearts.
1. The Challenge (v. 1).
2. The Conduct (vv. 2-3).
3. The Constraint (vv. 4-7).
To begin with I want to present the challenge. Here is Paul’s exhortation (v. 1). In this opening verse Paul urges us to walk in a manner that is worthy of our high and holy calling as the sons of God. — “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called.”
Notice who it is that presents us with this challenge. — “I the prisoner of the Lord.” Paul was a prisoner at Rome; but he looked upon himself as the prisoner of the Lord.
Š He was not ashamed of his sufferings, because they were the result not of evil, but good.
Š Paul was aware that even the evil which he suffered at the hands of men came from the hand of his God.
Š And he was convinced that the Gospel of Christ and the souls of men were worth the suffering he endured for them (Acts 20:24; 2 Corinthians 4:1-18).
Faithful men, faithful servants of Christ, are faithful to the souls of men and faithful in preaching the Gospel, no matter how disagreeable they are to some, and no matter what the cost may be to themselves. — Gospel preachers must be instant in season and out of season.
Though Paul was in prison at Rome, he knew that he belonged to Christ. There are times when God’s servants become prisoners; but they are his prisoners, and he tenderly cares for them. Our Lord never thinks less of us because of the reproaches men heap upon us, or the evil they do to us. Let us faithfully adhere to Christ, for he will never forsake us.
Though Paul was a prisoner at Rome, his concern was not for his own well-being, but for the Church of Christ. He fulfilled his own exhortation. — “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
Paul has given us a good foundation for this challenge. — “I therefore, beseech you.” — “Therefore,” also, refers to all that Paul had taught up to this point. It is as if he were saying, “Since God has done so much for you in Christ, I call upon you to walk as he would have you to walk.”
Here’s the challenge. — “Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” We are called the sons of God; therefore we should walk like the Son of God. We are called Christians; therefore let us walk in the way of Christ. We are called the heirs of heaven; let us then walk not as other men walk. We are called believers; therefore let us walk not as unbelievers. This exhortation is frequently given to us in the Word of God.
Š “Walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).
Š “Walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12).
Š “As he hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15).
Our calling is to a life of faith and love. When the Gospel is preached, the servant of God calls men to this holy vocation. But here the Apostle speaks particularly of that internal and irresistible call of the Spirit that brings chosen, redeemed sinners into the kingdom of God.
Š It is a call out of darkness into light.
Š It is a call out of bondage into liberty.
Š We were called out of death into life.
Š We were called out of the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.
Š We were called out of the wicked men of this world into fellowship with the children of light.
Š This is a high, holy, and heavenly calling without repentance. — Once it is given, it is never rescinded.
Š To walk worthy of this calling is to walk with Christ, “the Prize of the high calling of God,” ever before our eyes. — “I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Š To walk worthy of our calling is to walk onward, persevering unto the end. — “Bow your back against the wind and press on.”
Are we called by the Holy Spirit? Then let us walk worthy of our calling. To walk worthy of it is to walk in light as children of light. It is to walk in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. It is to walk in faith, leaning upon the staff of his promise. It is to walk in the ways of Christ — love, patience, temperance, longsuffering, and gentle forbearance.
That’s the exhortation. That’s the challenge. — “Walk worthy of the calling wherewith ye are called.” How are we to behave ourselves, if we meet with this challenge? If we are called, as God’s children, into the fellowship of his Son, we want to walk as he would have us to walk. Therefore, secondly Paul shows us the conduct which is agreeable to this calling and promotes unity (vv. 2-3).
(Ephesians 4:2-3) “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; (3) Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
We do not walk worthy of our calling unless we are faithful friends to God’s saints. Nothing is pressed upon us more earnestly, or more frequently in the Scriptures than brotherly love. Love is the law of Christ’s kingdom. It is the lesson of his school. It is the garment of his people. In these two verses Paul gives us some things which are demonstrated in the life of one who is governed by the love of Christ. These are things that promote and secure unity and peace among God’s people. If we would walk worthy of our calling, we must walk “with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” — I pray that God will teach me to be meek and lowly in heart and conduct, and that he will grant that for each of you as well.
1. There are many precious promises to men and women of this character.
Š “The meek shall eat and be satisfied” (Psalm 22:26).
Š “The Lord lifteth up the meek” (Psalm 147:6).
Š “The Lord taketh pleasure in his people; he will beautify the meek with his salvation” (Psalm 149:4).
Š “The meek shall increase their joy in the Lord” (Isaiah 29:19).
Š “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
Š “Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).
Who are these meek ones? What is the meekness spoken of in Holy Scripture? Moses is an example of it. He was a truly meek man. And the meekness that possessed him made Moses comfortable, confident, and courageous, as he walked with God.
Š He knew who he was. — A Sinner. — A Sinner chosen, redeemed, called, and saved by the grace of God.
Š He knew whose he was — God’s!
Š He knew what God would have him do, and would not be turned aside from it.
2. Such meekness is essential to every man called and sent of God to preach the Gospel, essential to success in the ministry. — “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if peradventure God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25).
3. If you are to profit by the preaching of the Gospel, you must hear the Wordwith meekness.
No one profits by the preaching of the Gospel, no one profits by the faithful exposition of Holy Scripture, except those who meekly bow to the revelation of God. — “Wherefore lay aside all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 121).
4. Meekness is a Christ like spirit.
Paul urged his exhortation upon the Corinthians by “the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” Our Lord said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). How did our Lord show his meekness? — “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth (Isaiah 53:7). — “When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously (1 Peter 2:23). — That’s it! Meekness is, in its essence, the committing of myself to him that judgeth righteously.
5. Such meekness is a very precious thing in the sight of God. — “The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:4).
6. Meekness and lowliness of mind is rare and seldom seen, because it is contrary to human nature.
Š Meekness and lowliness of mind is that sweet disposition of grace that causes saved sinners to disown themselves and give up their lives to God.
Š Lowliness of mind is that humility which causes men to have low thoughts of themselves and high esteem for others.
Š Meekness is that excellent disposition of the soul which makes us unwilling to provoke others and prevents us from being easily provoked by others.
Š These things are opposed to pride, envy, jealousy, anger, wrath, and malice.
Š Peevishness is ours by nature. Meekness is given to us only by the grace of Christ.
If we would keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, we must be longsuffering with one another. — Longsuffering is patiently bearing the reproaches, injuries, and infirmities of others, for Christ’s sake (Galatians 6:1-3). The Lord our God has been longsuffering to us; and we ought to be longsuffering with one another.
(Galatians 6:1-3) “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (2) Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (3) For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”
Perhaps one of our greatest needs is loving forbearance. Love covers a multitude of sins; and if we love someone, we will try to hide their faults. The love of Christ experienced in the soul makes saved sinners forbearing with one another. — That person who is truly and most fully aware of the depravity of his own heart, his own propensity to every evil, and his own liability to fall into any sin, being loved of God and forgiven of all, is least likely to judge the faults of others, and most likely to forgive their offenses. — Without these things, there can be no unity and peace.
As I have said, these things are contrary to our nature; therefore, we must labor, we must earnestly endeavor, to keep the unity of the Spirit (v. 3). — Yes, this is a unity of heart, and affection, and purpose produced in God’s people by the gracious indwelling of God the Holy Spirit. Yet, it is a gift of grace we must endeavor to keep. Pride destroys it. “Only by pride cometh contention.” Loving humility preserves it. By the Holy Spirit we are united to one another in Christ, so that all of God’s people are one. We should earnestly endeavor to keep this spirit of oneness.
Š Let us abide with one another. We are resolved to let nothing divorce our hearts.
Š Let us pray for one another.
Š Let us care for one another.
Bond of Peace
Look at the last line of verse 3. — “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The bond of unity is peace. Peace is that cord which binds us together and gives us strength. If you take many small sticks, useless in themselves and useless by themselves, and bind them together with a strong rope, bound together those small, useless sticks become strong and useful.
Peace makes us one; but bickering, strife, quarreling, and discord divide us. Let us then be careful to seek peaceable things, and to stir one another up to peace, to keep “the bond of peace.”
Š Govern your thoughts for peace.
Š Govern your tongue for peace.
Š Govern your life for peace.
This is what it is to be filled the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18, 21).
(Ephesians 5:18-21) “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (19) Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (20) Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (21) Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”
This is what it is to follow Christ (Philippians 2:1-5).
(Philippians 2:1-5) “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, (2) Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (3) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (4) Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. (5) Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
This is what it is to live for God (Galatians 5:22-25).
(Galatians 5:22-25) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (24) And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (25) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
All of these things are good and noble. You will all agree with what I have said. But they will soon be forgotten unless you have an effectual motive that will cause you to strive after them. Therefore, the third thing Paul sets before us is — the constraint for unity and peace (vv. 4-6).
(Ephesians 4:3-6) “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4) There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (5) One Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
1. We should be one, because the Church of God is one body, one with Christ and one in Christ. My friends, there is but one spiritual body of Christ. It is his Church universal. It is composed of saints of all generations, both Old Testament and New Testament saints, saints of every nation, kindred, tongue, tribe, and age, saints in heaven, and saints on earth. All true believers are one body in Christ. Therefore…
Š We should not bite and devour one another.
Š We should not despise one another (1 Corinthians 12:15-20).
Š We should love, nourish, and cherish one another.
2. We all have been made partakers of one Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore we should be one.
Š He is our only life giver.
Š He has convinced us all of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
Š He helps us all to go to our Father in prayer.
Š He comforts us all.
Š He gives us all the things of Christ.
Š He is the Spirit of adoption to us all.
Š He is the seal of heaven for us all.
Š Let us be one, for he is grieved when we are divided.
3. We should be one, because we are all called in one hope. We all have the same hope of eternal life.
Š The love of God.
Š The mercy of God.
Š The righteousness of Christ.
Š The faithfulness of God.
Š Christ is our hope.
And we all hope for the same thing in heaven — Christ and all his glory. There are no degrees in the inheritance for which we hope. We shall all possess it fully. We are all loved with the same love, redeemed by the same blood, called by the same Spirit, accepted by the same righteousness, and saved by the same grace; and we shall all wear the same crown. We shall be made perfect in one.
4. We should all be one, because we all have one Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ, by right of creation is Lord of all. By right of redemption, he is Lord over his Church. Is he your King? He is mine too. Is he your Bridegroom? He is mine too. Is he your Master? He is mine too. Is he your Savior? He is mine too. Then, we must surely be one! Let us, then, live as one! He is the Head; and we are all his members.
5. I tell you that there is but one faith; and all who have come to God by faith in Christ are one.
Š That one faith is the faith of the Gospel. — “Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again, according to the Scriptures.”
Š This is a God given faith.
Š This faith unites us to Christ and all who are his.
Š Do we live by the same faith? Then let us be one.
6. The Church of God is one, because we are all baptized with one baptism.
We were all baptized by Christ into one Spirit of life, baptized, immersed into an entirely new life in God the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). And there is but one baptism by which we confess our faith in Christ and this new life in the Spirit that raised Christ up from the dead (Matthew 3:15-17).
Š Baptism confesses one death and one resurrection.
Š It is performed upon one people — Believers.
Š It is done in one way — Immersion in a watery grave.
Š It is done in one name — The Name of God, Jehovah, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Š Are we all baptized with the same baptism? Then shall we not be one?
7. Children of God, we are one, because there is one God.
There are not many gods, but one God. — “I am God, beside me there is none else.” Looking to him, we are all saved. Jehovah is the Father of us all. He is above all in his supreme excellency. He is through all — working through us all in his marvelous providence and grace. — “It is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” And, blessed be his name! God is in us all!
Š To save us.
Š To sanctify us.
Š To protect us.
Š To strengthen us.
Š To comfort us.
Š To unite us.
Š To preserve us.
Š To present us.
To Every One
Paul gives us one more motive by which he urges us, the Spirit of God gives us one more sweet constraint of grace by which he inspires us to unceasingly strive, labor, and earnestly endeavor “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” You have it in verse 7.
(Ephesians 4:7) “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”
To every one of us who are saved by God’s rich, free grace in Christ Jesus “is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ!”
Š All the Grace of God’s Salvation!
Š The Grace of Life and Faith in Christ!
Š Grace to Serve our God and Savior with His Body, the Church!
Some of you here cannot enter into the blessedness I’ve been talking about, because your sins keep you away from God’s family. You are one with Satan and the legions of hell. Oh, may God the Holy Ghost give you faith in Christ and make you one with Christ and one with us by his grace!
Children of God, we are one. Then let us be one for Christ’s sake (Ephesians 4:31 – 5:2).
(Ephesians 4:30-5:2) “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (1) Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; (2) And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
Lord, we all look up to Thee,
As one flock, one family;
May all strife between us cease,
As we love Thee, Prince of Peace.
Make us of one heart and mind,
Gentle, meek, forgiving, kind;
Lowly both in thought and word,
Like Thyself, beloved Lord.
Let us for each other care;
Each the other’s burden bear:
Each to each by love endear;
One in faith, and hope, and fear.
Free from all that hearts divide,
Let us thus in Thee abide;
All the depths of love express,
All the heights of holiness.
Blessed Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, hasten the day when we shall be made perfect in one, even as You are one. Amen!