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Sermon #2292                                                                     Miscellaneous Sermons

 

Title:                                                               In Christ

 

Text:                            Ephesians 1:1-14

Subject:                     Grace and Life in Christ

Date:                          Friday Evening – September 2, 2016

                                                37th Annual Sovereign Grace

Bible Conference

                                                Grace Baptist Church of Danville

                                                Danville, Kentucky — USA

Introduction:

 

This is our 37th Annual Sovereign Grace Bible Conference.

Š      Our theme is the Gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ. — Divine Sovereignty! — Total Depravity! — Unconditional Election! — Limited Atonement! — Irresistible Grace! — Preservation of the Saints! — Salvation by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, in Christ Alone! — “Salvation is of the Lord!

Š      Our creed, our confession of faith, our singular source of doctrine is the Word of God.

Š      Our message is “Jesus Christ and him crucified!” — You cannot preach the Gospel, if you do not preach Christ. — You cannot preach the Word of God, if you do not preach Christ. — And you cannot preach God’s sovereignty in creation, providence, and grace, if you do not preach Christ. — And I’ll tell you something else. You cannot preach “Jesus Christ and him crucified,” if you do not preach God’s glorious, absolute sovereignty in all things.

 

I cannot think of a more suitable place to begin our conference than the first chapter of the Book of Ephesians — Ephesians 1. The title of my message is — IN CHRIST. While you are turning to Ephesians 1, listen carefully to what I have to say by way of introduction.

 

Christ is the center of everything, the object of everything, and the end of everything. If you do not know him, you know nothing of creation, nothing of providence, nothing of grace, nothing of salvation, nothing of yourself, and nothing of this Book.

 

I want you to hold your Bibles open on your laps and listen carefully as I try, by the Spirit of God, to declare to you the message of this chapter. We will look at verses 1-14 line by line.

 

The Message

 

If we have not yet learned that Jesus Christ and him crucified is the foundation, essence, and fulness of all divine truth, if we have not yet learned that the message of the Bible and the hope of the Gospel is Christ and him crucified, then we have read the Word of God with no profit to our souls, our religion is a vain show, and we are yet without hope before God! — What knowledge we have of this Sacred Book will only add to our condemnation in the Day of Judgment!

 

Without Christ and him crucified our religion is as useless as a bucket without a bottom. Without Christ and him crucified we have no forgiveness of sin, — no comfort in trouble, — no strength in trial, — no atonement, peace, or reconciliation with God, — no hope in death, — no access to God, — and no door of entrance into heaven!

 

Do you understand this? — “Christ is all!” — Without Christ we are nothing, we have nothing, we can do nothing (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).

 

(1 Corinthians 1:30-31) “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

 

All that God has for guilty sinners is in Christ, only in Christ (Colossians 2:9-10; John 3:35-36).

 

(John 3:35-36) “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. (36) He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

 

(Colossians 2:9-10) “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” — The crucified Christ, our all-glorious God and Savior, is the Sovereign of the universe!

 

The love of God is in Christ. The mercy of God is in Christ. The grace of God is in Christ. Without Christ there is no mercy, love, and grace, but only wrath, judgment, and condemnation.

Š      When the flood came, there was no mercy and deliverance anywhere, but in the ark. — That ark was Christ!

Š      When the man-slayer fled from the avenger of blood, he found no safety until he entered the City of Refuge. — That City of Refuge was Christ![1]

Š      God said to Israel, “I will meet with thee (upon) the mercy-seat, between the two cherubim” (Exodus 25:22). — Christ is our Mercy-Seat. God meets sinners nowhere else but in Christ!

 

Among the untold millions of the redeemed in heaven, there shall not be found a single voice that shall not sing the praises of Christ, the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah. Yonder in Glory Land Christ alone is praised. There ransomed sinners sing, “Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood” (Revelation 5:9).

Š      To him alone every knee shall bow!

Š      To him every tongue shall confess!

Š      There they only sing of grace!

Š      There are no off key, sour notes of freewill/works religion!

 

I sincerely hope you understand what I am saying. — The message of this Book is Jesus Christ and him crucified! All things are “in Christ!

 

Proposition: Every blessing of life, and grace, and salvation, and heavenly glory is ours only in Christ.

 

In Christ

 

In this first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he uses the words “in Christ,” or their equivalent, fourteen times. He means for us to understand that all grace, all salvation, all blessedness is “in Christ. All that the triune God has done for us, all that he gives to sinners, and all that he requires of sinners is in Christ!

Š      All spiritual blessings are in Christ.

Š      All covenant mercies are in Christ.

Š      Election is in Christ.

Š      Predestination is in Christ.

Š      Adoption is in Christ.

Š      Redemption is in Christ.

Š      Forgiveness is in Christ.

Š      Acceptance with God is in Christ.

Š      Truth and knowledge are in Christ.

Š      The eternal inheritance of God’s saints is in Christ.

 

The Triune Jehovah has made us “accepted in the Beloved!” How I love those words: — “In the Beloved!

 

In the Beloved” accepted am I,

Risen, ascended, and seated on high.

Saved from all sin through His infinite grace,

With the redeemed ones accorded a place.

 

In the Beloved” — How safe my retreat!

In the Beloved” — Accounted complete!

Who can condemn me? In Him I am free!

Savior and Keeper forever is He!

 

In the Beloved” I went to the tree,

There in His person, by faith I now see

Infinite wrath rolling over His head,

Infinite grace, for He died in my stead!

 

In the Beloved” — God’s marvelous grace

Calls me to dwell in this wonderful place!

God sees my Savior, and then He sees me,

In the Beloved” accepted and free!

 

Now, let’s look at Ephesians 1. We will begin in verse 1.

 

(Ephesians 1:1) “Paul, (Not Rev. Paul, or Dr. Paul, or Fr. Paul!Just Paul!) an apostle (A Messenger Not The Messenger, A Messenger) of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints (sanctified) which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful (All who are born of God are saints; and all who are saints are faithful; and they are…) in Christ Jesus.”

 

Paul was in religion a long time before he was in Christ. He was “in the Jews’ religion” for many years. Then he was born again in Christ (Galatians 1:13-16). It does not matter whose religion you are in, one is as good or as bad as another, if you are not in Christ. — Read on…

 

(Ephesians 1:2) “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Oh, how I love that word, “Grace!” — Everything in Christ is by grace.

 

“Grace! How good! How great! How free!

Grace! How easy to be found!

All my guilt and misery

In the Savior’s blood are drowned!”

___________________

 

“Grace! ‘Tis a charming sound,

Harmonious to my ear!

Heaven with the echo shall resound,

And all the earth shall hear, —

 

Saved by grace alone!

This is all my plea,

Jesus died for all His own,

And Jesus died for me!

 

Grace first inscribed my name

In God’s eternal book;

‘Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb,

Who all my sorrows took.

 

Grace taught my soul to pray,

And made my eyes o’erflow.

God’s grace has kept me to this day,

And will not let me go!”

___________________

 

“Grace will complete what grace began,

To save from sorrow, death, and sin.

The work which grace here undertakes,

God’s mercy never will forsake!”

 

Now, let’s look at verse 3.

 

(Ephesians 1:3) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”

 

Blessed be the God!” — That is to say, “Praised be God!” — “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name!” Let us exalt the name of our great God! Give him all honor, glory and praise (Psalms 34:3; 89:7; 115:1).

 

(Psalm 34:3) “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.”

 

(Psalms 89:7) “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.”

 

(Psalms 115:1) “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.”

 

Paul calls for us to bless God, to give praise to God, because…

Š      He is “THE GOD,” and there is none other.

Š      He is “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Š      He “hath blessed us!

 

Don’t miss that little four letter word “hath. The work is already done. God’s mercy, love, and grace to us in Christ is not the result of Christ coming, but the cause of his coming into the world to save sinners. God’s grace is not the result of our believing, but the cause. God’s grace to us is not the result of our being in Christ, but the cause!

 

He “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. — These blessings of grace are heavenly blessings.

Š      They came down from heaven.

Š      They are of heavenly origin.

Š      They are of a heavenly nature.

Š      And they shall bring us at last into heaven.

And all these spiritual blessings are ours already in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Mediator.They are ours by virtue of our union with Christ our Surety and by virtue of Christ’s suretyship engagements as our Surety in the covenant of grace before the world began (2 Timothy 1:9-10).

 

(2 Timothy 1:9-10) “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

 

All these spiritual, heavenly blessings of grace are ours because Christ, as our Representative, has taken possession of them for us (Hebrews 6:20).

 

(Hebrews 6:20) “Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

 

Our blessed Savior has gone into heaven for us. He has taken possession of all the blessings of that eternal redemption he obtained by his own blood in our name. He said, “I go to prepare a place for you.Do you see what Paul is telling us here? Nothing we do has anything to do with these blessings! All that heaven can bestow upon us, and all that heaven can require of us is ours already in Christ Ours from eternity in him!

 

Divisions: Having said all that, Paul then begins to enumerate a few of these blessings. He mentions twelve spiritual blessings that belong to every believer in Christ. These twelve blessings of grace he lumps into three categories:

1.    The Blessings of the Father’s Purpose in Predestination (vv. 4-6).

2.    The Blessings of the Son’s Purchase and Performance (vv. 7-12).

3.    The Blessings of the Spirit’s Power and Grace (vv. 13-14).

 

All three Persons in the Holy Trinity are eternally engaged in the work of grace. All three of the divine Persons in the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) are engaged in the work of our salvation. All three of the divine Persons are to be praised, worshipped, and adored by us (1 John 5:7).

 

(1 John 5:7) “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

 

Father’s Purpose

 

Here are four blessings of grace bestowed upon us in the Father’s everlasting purpose of grace in predestination (vv. 4-6).

 

(Ephesians 1:4-6) “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”

 

Our great God, the God of Glory, the only true and living God is a God of purpose, absolute, unalterable purpose. In his everlasting, eternal purpose of grace our God determined to save a people for the glory of his own great name; and he sovereignly, constantly rules the entire universe to accomplish his purpose of grace (Romans 8:28-31).

 

(Romans 8:28-31) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”

 

In his sovereign purpose of grace, the Lord God graciously bestowed four distinct blessings of grace upon every sinner he determined to save before the worlds were made. These four blessings of grace belong to every sinner God is saving, has saved, and shall hereafter save. And they belong to us from eternity!

Š      Election

Š      Predestination

Š      Adoption

Š      Acceptance

 

1.    God the Father chose us in eternal, electing love in Christ.

 

Election is a Bible doctrine (John 15:16; Acts 13:48; 1 Thessalonians 2:13-14). And election is a blessed doctrine! Anyone who understands election, as it is taught in the Word of God, unless he hates God, rejoices in electing love.

Š      Notice that all the blessings of grace were given to chosen sinners “according as he hath chosen us in him.” — No wonder David sang, “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest and causest to approach unto thee!

Š      God chose us before the world began.

Š      God chose us in Christ.

Š      God chose us to make us holy and without blame before him.

Š      God chose us in love.

Š      And God’s choice of us was not a mistake. — He didn’t change his mind yesterday; and he won’t change his mind tomorrow!

 

2.    In love God the Father predestined us to be like Christ. — “In love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Romans 8:29-30).

 

(Romans 8:29-30) “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

 

There is no need to be afraid of predestination. This, too, is a Bible word. Predestination is not a cuss word. It’s a Bible word! Predestination is God determining and arranging the destiny of his elect before the world began. Predestination shuts the gates of heaven to no one. Predestination opens the gates of glory and guarantees that a great multitude of sinners who deserve eternal hell shall enter into eternal glory!

 

3.    God the Father adopted his chosen, predestined ones as the sons of God (1 John 3:1-3; Galatians 4:4-7).

 

(Galatians 4:4-7) “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (5) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (6) And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. (7) Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

 

Our adoption is twofold: eternal and experimental.

Š      In eternity God adopted us and made us heirs of eternal salvation in Christ.

Š      In regeneration he gives his adopted sons and daughters the nature of his own darling Son.

 

(1 John 3:1-3) “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (3) And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

 

This great work of grace God did for us “according to the good pleasure of his will” and “to the praise of the glory of his grace!

 

            Illustration: Johnny’s #60

 

4.    Now, be sure you get this. — The Lord God has, from eternity, made us accepted in the beloved!

 

He did not make us acceptable, but “accepted!” Our acceptance with God does not, in any way, to any degree, or at any time depend upon us! — “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved!

 

Son’s Purchase

 

Here are four blessings of grace earned for us and given to us by the Son’s purchase and substitutionary performance (vv. 7-12). — Eternal life must be earned by works. Christ did it! By his obedience to God as our Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ has earned certain things for his people which God, in justice, cannot withhold from them.

 

1.    The Lord Jesus Christ obtained eternal redemption for us by the purchase of his blood (v. 7; Hebrews 9:12).

 

(Ephesians 1:7) “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”

 

(Hebrews 9:12) “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

 

  • Redemption is in Christ.
  • Redemption is through his blood.
  • Redemption means the forgiveness of sins.
  • Redemption is according to the riches of his grace.
  • Redemption is ours (Revelation 13:8; 17:8)

 

            Illustration: Two Black Birds

 

2.    Our Savior’s work of redemption reveals and makes known to us the manifold wisdom and prudence of God (v. 8). — “A just God and a Savior!

 

(Ephesians 1:8) “Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.”

 

3.    By the incarnation, obedience, and death of the Lord Jesus Christ God has made known to us the mystery of his will (vv. 9-10).

 

(Ephesians 1:9-10) “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (10) That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.”

 

The grace of God is a mystery, hidden to the natural man, but revealed to us by the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4-6).

 

(2 Corinthians 4:4-6) “In whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (5) For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. (6) For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

 

Š      God’s will is the glory and exaltation of Christ (Colossians 1:18).

Š      God’s will is the salvation of his elect (Hebrews 10:5-10).

Š      God’s will is the unity[2] and perfection of his church (John 10:16; 17:5, 20, 22).

Š      God’s will is the final restitution of all things, the gathering together of all things, in Christ, the restitution of all things to the glory of the Triune God in Christ, our God-man Mediator.

 

4.    In Christ we have obtained an eternal inheritance in heaven (vv. 11-12). — An inheritance…

Š      Predestined in Eternity!

Š      Purchased at Calvary!

Š      Secured by Providence!

 

(Ephesians 1:11) “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”

 

All of this is done for us by our great God, the Triune Jehovah, “To the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ!

 

(1 Peter 1:1-5) “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, (2) Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (5) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

 

Heaven’s glorious inheritance is our inheritance! It is ours because of a relationship, not because of something we have done, but because of what Christ has done (Romans 8:17; John 17:5, 20). — It is ours by a Divine trust.

Š      The Triune God trusted Christ our Surety.

Š      The Lord Jesus Christ, our God-man Mediator, trusted God. — “By the faith of him” (Ephesians 3:12). — We are “justified by the faith of Christ!

Š      God the Holy Spirit causes chosen, redeemed sinners to trust Christ.

 

Spirit’s Power

 

Here are four blessings of grace bestowed upon every chosen, redeemed sinner by the Spirit’s irresistible power and omnipotent grace (vv. 13-14).

 

(Ephesians 1:13-14) “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

 

People today talk a lot about the Holy Spirit, his coming, his power, his gifts, etc. Let me tell you about the Holy Spirit. Let me tell you about his coming, his power, and his gifts. If you are a believer, if you are a child of God by faith in Christ, God the Holy Spirit has come to you in almighty, irresistible, omnipotent grace and power. This is what he has done for you.

 

1.    He graciously caused you to hear the Word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation.

 

He caused you to hear the Gospel, not a gospel, but the Gospel. God saves sinners through the preaching of the Gospel (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 4:12; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23-25).

 

2.    By the hearing of the Gospel, he gave you faith in Christ. — “In whom ye also trusted.

 

Faith is the gift of God, the operation of his Spirit in you (Colossians 2:12); but faith is also an act of the renewed will. — If you are a believer, you believed on the Son of God!

 

(Ephesians 1:15-20) “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, (16) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; (17) That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (18) The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (19) And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (20) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,”

 

(Ephesians 2:8-9) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

 

3.    Having granted us life and faith in Christ, God the Holy Spirit has sealed us in Christ and has sealed to us all the promises and blessings of covenant grace, by faith in Christ.

 

God the Holy Ghost is the seal of the covenant. His work of grace is that which was represented in the Old Testament rite of circumcision.

Š      He has sealed all grace in Christ to our hearts by faith. — Faith in Christ is our assurance of eternal salvation (Hebrews 11:1).

Š      He has sealed us in Christ.

Š      He has sealed us in grace.

 

            Illustration: I salt and seal.

 

4.    God the Holy Spirit dwelling in us is the pledge of resurrection glory. The redemption of the purchased possession.

 

Application

 

Salvation is the work of God, the Triune Jehovah, for us and in us, the work of eternal, distinguishing, omnipotent, free, and sovereign grace in Christ. As in the beginning, The Triune God said, “Let us make man in our Image and after our likeness,” the Gospel tells us that God makes man new, in his Image and after his Likeness!

 

(2 Corinthians 5:17-21) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

 

Trust Christ, and this great salvation is yours, salvation…

Š      Planned by God the Father,

Š      Purchased by God the Son, and

Š      Performed in us by God the Holy Spirit, “unto the praise of his glory!

 

Illustration: “Free for Nothin’

 

Š      Trust him!

Š      Confess him! — Baptism

Š      Give yourself to him in relentless consecration and devotion!

Š      And, then, go home to Christ!

 

(Psalms 115:1) “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.”

 

Illustration: I can hear a choir singing – “Amazing Grace!”

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[1] When the man-slayer fled for refuge, he found no safety until he was in the city. He might know everything there was to know about the city (Its size, — Its Gates, — Its Walls, — Its Beauty), but he was not safe until he was in the city. — Now hear me well. — You may know everything there is to know about Christ, — you may know about him, his Person, his work, his doctrine, — you may even fight for and defend these things, — but no blessing of grace is yours until you are found in Christ by faith!

[2] Uniformity is not unity. Unity is a matter of the heart. It is a unity of mind, of purpose, of desire, and of affection.