Gospel Unity | Ephesians 4:1-16
Topic: New Testament Passage: Ephesians 4:1–4:16
Christopher Rich – Sept 2, 2018
Gospel Unity |Ephesians 4:1-16
Introduction | Who are we?
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work,Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today before getting back into fall routines and rhythms and kicking off our new series in the Gospel of John, we’re going to talk about ROAD LIFE our vision and mission. For the purpose of greater unity and alignment I want to accomplish 2 things today:
- Remind us of our Identity together, in the Gospel (in Ephesians 4), as disciples of Jesus at Damascus Road Church, what that identity means, how it unifies us, and what it calls us too.
- Discuss how specifically we encourage and equip one another to live out our identity and mission more effectively.
PART I | Gospel Unity with Diversity | v1-7
Ephesians 4:1-7 | I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.
Identity is important because out of our identity flows our attitudes and actions. All Paul is doing here is from His identity in Christ. As a leader, he is reminding and exhorting a church of what their identity is, what they are called to do and how they have be equipped to do it. He is a “Prisoner for the Lord” He is saying, “I am hear serving the Lord by calling you to live the life a disciple of Jesus. Let me tell you what this looks like.” You, I, we who have our hope in a new life with and for Jesus and His people will not simply intuitively walk out this life in a way that is worthy of the life we’ve been called to. Sometimes this is because of ignorance, or immaturity, not fully understanding what this life looks like and other times it can because of intrinsic sin keeping us from being obedient to this new life. We need to be guided, corrected, directed, and even urged to walk not as we would in our old identity of ourselves but as we’ve been called to in our new identity “in Christ”. Specific to this text is a call to walk out individual lives as disciples in Jesus in unity with other disciples of Jesus, for a purpose. Walk in humility, gentleness, and patience cannot be done on your own. All of these things are needed when you are with other people in unity.
Gospel Unity is not easy and needs to be maintained. We can clearly see it is not easy because we are going to ‘bear with one another”. You don’t “bear with” those you natural enjoy. You don’t spend time with a good friend and say “well we were bearing with one another…in love” while you grin and bear it. But there is a necessary endurance that happens when you, me, we walk in patience, gentleness and humility for the purposes of maintaining unity. No one gets excited about “maintenance” because it’s the minimum the work you do to keep things from getting worse. Yet we are called to be eager to maintain unity to avoid the natural decay that erodes relationships over time. Like a house, unity in the church, with the people of God needs to be maintained, and it’s hard work that is to be pursued by people both turning from some dispositions and towards others. Pride, abrasiveness, and impatience is easy, it is the natural reaction of all of us when there are disagreements and disunity. Humility, gentleness, and patience are hard.
Gospel Unity is created by and held together by God. While it’s difficult, it is held together by the bond of peace. Peace is not the absence of conflict but the full relationship resting in God and with His people. There can only be a gospel unity where there has been work done to restore the relationship between God and His people. This unity is threatened, in fact more than threated it has been torn asunder by sin. Sin separates where God has called for unity. God’s call in our life is to unity in the church and to Christ Jesus (Eph 3:20-21) Sin has separated (disunified) people from God, themselves, and each other. When we have offended, sinned against, or harmed another there is a decided lack of unity. You can have open conflict but you can also just fail to unify. What sin has separated God unites together in the Gospel bonding people together with him, with each other, and bringing wholeness to their being.
Gospel Unity is comprehensive. What holds them, what holds us together is the bond of peace (relationship with God and His people.) This bond of peace is such a strong cord because of how many stands hold it together. In verses 4-6 there is a 7 fold “one” repeated like a loop reminding us what is true about the unity that God had creates. There is:
One Body- The church it’s not countless individuals all tied to God each with individual umbilical cords but independent from each other there is a bond that unifies them together making them members of the body.
One Spirit – The Holy Spirit, the 3rd member of the trinity. Not an impersonal force, or one of many diverse spiritual beings each of us following our own spirit animal. He is the Spirit that brings/holds us together.
One Hope – Gospel of Jesus calling you from death to life making you a new person with this body.
One Lord – Jesus is our savior King. God the Son. Someone is in charge. If everyone is in charge, then no one is in charge. Jesus is the head, ruler of this body.
One Faith – Jesus Saves, He is the way, truth, and life, no one comes to the Father but through Him.
One Baptism – All of these individuals have an Identity and allegiance change from sinners to family.
One God and Father – This body, this family has one Dad. God the Father. In case you aren’t sure how God is involved in this comprehensive unity He is in authority (over all) He is active (through all) and He is present (in all) all through the trinity. Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Trinity is unity and diversity and deference.
How are you working to maintain unity in the Spirit in the bond of peace? How are you working against unity?
Gospel Unity has individual diversity. Let me explain. Unity in the gospel is never uniformity. We have a great diversity, in who we are and in various designs and gifting that has been given us in Christ. Grace is the gift of God we did not earn. In order to experience gospel unity with the body there has to be individual repentance and salvation. So your attendance and participation near or around the body is inadequate to make you part of the body. Jesus gives us life with Him individual. This life, unified with other disciples will necessarily look different for each person and in each expression of the body. In His graciousness to us in the gifts given to us we see GREAT diversity. Both in measure and in type.
How has God uniquely designed and gifted you? What is the purpose of those gifts? Are you using them?
PART II | Gospel Truth | v8-10
Ephesians 4:8-10 | 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Gospel Unity is unity in the Gospel. This unity is based on a clear gospel truth. The death of Jesus in our place and the resurrection of Jesus so we can have new life. This is the first and greatest gift, before all others, that we all need. Sin not only separates us, but it holds us captive keeping us from who are designed to be and condemns to a sentence of eternal separation from God in Hell at our death. This is from Psalm 68:18. There is power here. We are captives that need to be set free. We are in a pit and need to be cared out. We are dead and we need to be made alive. We are sinners and we need to be saved. But how? The Gospel is Jesus in our place, living the life we couldn’t die the death we deserve and rising so we can have new life now and forever, so we are not saved by our work, we are:
Saved by Jesus’s Work. Saved=Need to be saved, not just encouraged not just pointed in the right direction. But saved from the wrath of God for our sin. But How? The world will tell you don’t need to be saved the only thing you need to be true to is true to yourself or be the best version of yourself. As long as you don’t harm anyone else you’re good. Religion will tell you yes you do need to be saved, but you need to save yourself. Work, do these things, don’t do these others, and you can overcome the sin in you and present yourself to God and say look at what I’ve done for you, or even promises to make you a God. The nature of all of it is your work. You. You’re the hero. In in the truth of the Gospel, we are unified in our understanding of our need to be saved, but also our inability to save ourselves. We need a savior. The gospel isnt’ God look at what I’ve done for you! Look at my sacrifices! Accept me! It is God giving us Jesus in our place. God saying “look what I’ve done for you! Look at Jesus sacrifice, you are accepted because of Jesus’ work, not your own. Jesus has won the battle/war and given us the reward for His victory. That reward is new life with Him and His people.
So why has Jesus come, why has Jesus lived, why has Jesus died? Why did he rise? Why did he ascend?
To lead out a host of captives. Not just taking them from where they were or what they were condemned to but leading them out of an old place of condemnation and hopelessness TO a new place of Jesus incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension is for the purpose of Jesus ruling over all things (filling all things). This includes your individual life and the collective church body. Jesus rule, in part, exists….. To give gifts to men and women. The greatest gift given is the gift Jesus rule and reign in our lives individual and corporately. We are going to look in more detail at who Jesus is, what he has done in coming, and what he’s calling people to during our Fall and beyond series in John. There are more unique gifts given.
PART III | Gifted for Gospel Unity | v11-14
Eph 4:11-14 | 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
People have been given to the church, the body, by Jesus, as gifts from Jesus, for the mission of Jesus. Leaders, speakers of truth, those on mission, pastors who care for sheep and teachers who shepherd the flock. In other parts of the NT it talks about offices in the church (Members, Deacons, Elders) but here he’s taking about people and giftings. Here we’re not talking about gifts or gifting only but actual people. Specific people are gifts to specific churches. For a purpose. To equip the saints for the work of ministry.
Gospel Unity is for Mission - What is Ministry? Lets’ have a good definition of Ministry. Ministry is too easily defined in a limited fashion to merely mean “church work” so we equip you to serve in Kids Road, to lead a band, lead a group or study. Yes it includes these things, but this is a whole inadequate view of ministry in the new testament. Ministry equals no less than the mission of Jesus in and to the world.
The question Paul is addressing here is, How does Jesus extend His rule over all things? The answer: By giving the church leaders, filled with His power, to equip His people to serve Him and manifest His rule everywhere. – Skye Jethani, Immeasurable
Christ Gives => (Types of people listed) gifted leaders, for a purpose. The purpose is Equip (who the saints members of the body) for (Ministry/mission). All of the giftings of individuals and are for the church for the purpose of building up the church. He gave them to this body. Because ministry is mission of God, it is any act of service that brings Glory to God and leads to increase Jesus rule and reign over all things.
Skye summarizes it this way “Christ Gives leaders to equip the church to manifest Christ’s reign in the world.” Leaders exist to call people to serve Jesus everywhere, everyday, in every aspect of life. All your work, all you time is an opportunity to increase Jesus influence and impact in the world. Leadership is given to the church for us (individually and collectively) to bring Christ’s reign into the world/place we’re called to. This means we don’t even exist to even care for you, yes there is shepherds and pastors but we aren’t food, or water, or shelter, but to consistently point people to the one who cares for us perfectly. All this equipping is back to unity, back to faith, driven by the knowledge of the Son of God. All is back to Jesus.
If we’re going to be a people who are gifts to the church for the purpose of building the church and growing in maturity for endurance, faithfulness and flourishing then we need to be changed from who we we’ve been, who we are now if we’re going to be come who we’ve been called to be. So we say we are:
Changed by Jesus’ Grace - Sin doesn’t just keep you from God and put you in a path of wrath but it also breaks you and keeps you from who God has created you to be. When we say we’re changed by Jesus’s Grace. We are acknowledging that we need to change. We need not only to be saved from sin but we need to be made new. It’s not “you don’t need to change God loves you just as you are” It’s also not “You need to change and God will love you when you do.” It’s you need to change and Jesus has taken both the penalty for you sin and has taken the impact of your sin on the cross AND has given you His righteousness. Given… That is a gift. That is grace (getting something you don’t deserve or haven’t earned) So when we’re called to humility, gentleness, and patience. All other fruits of the Spirit. These are not things we work for, but there are gifts that are received. When you get a gift you unpack take it out of the box and use it! Change is there. Change is tangible. Jesus’s gives us transformation. Yes He initiates, but we participate in this. We desire change, we experience change, we praise God for change, and pursue change. Why maturity? For maturity’s sake alone? No, for greater unity, for the building up of the church. Maturity is a goal. Maturity is what we’re called to as we grow from childhood to adulthood. So we can resist and endure the blowing wind of false doctrine and mature in unity as a body standing in contrast with while engaging with a culture that desires to have your allegiance and joy tied to something less than God.
Where is Jesus calling you to walk in greater maturity He’s given you and promised you?
Where is Jesus calling you to be changed from who you were to who He want’s you to be?
Living on Jesus’ Mission- Living means we’re alive. Eph 2 spiritually dead, but God makes us alive. We’re not saved by Jesus work, changed by Jesus grace, waiting for Jesus return. Waiting for eternal life after our death. We’ve been made alive NOW! We have life with Jesus now! So we are living on Jesus’ Mission now. If living, it’s life with and for Jesus and His people. If living, it’s for a purpose. What is the purpose? We have been saved and changed to live on the mission of unity in building up the church. Our mission is the building of the church? The great commission is make disciples, baptize, teach to observe Jesus commands. Empowered by Jesus. What is that if not calling people to be saved by Jesus work? Be baptized! (Explain) What is that if not changed by Jesus Grace. Living on Jesus’ Mission. If not Jesus’ then who’s mission are you on? What are you believing is your purpose in life? Where are you living on your own mission? What needs to change? How are you involved in Jesus’ Mission? Where and how does Damascus Road lead and call more people into deeper communion with God and His people for the purposes empowering them to grow in greater maturity working together properly? Simply, How do we EQUIP?
Gather on Sunday – This is our primary expression of unity in the body gathering together. ROAD Groups -
We want you engage in the church to be equipped to engage with the world. Not plugged in to pull out of the world. That means we need to have space in our schedules to intentionally connect with other believers to be equipped to bring more of our lives and world under the influence of and impacted by Jesus.
D-Groups are weekly gender specific discipleship and accountability groups. It perfectly aligns with our core values as they are serious about the study of Gospel Truth, being conducted in and forming a Gospel Community, that then challenges one another to pursue Gospel Living. This Fall they are studying James.
How are we discipling our kids? Kids Road (birth – 5th Grade), Jesus Story Book Bible, Gospel Project, New City Catechism for Kids. Fuel (Mid-High School) – New City Catechism – Sound doctrine for maturity.
How have we been gifted? New leaders: Al Muzzy and David Dahl have join our eldership team officially as candidates. They have been with us the past 6+ months diligently studying what it means to be an elder, working with us in difficult and delicate situations They are champions of our mission who love Jesus, their brides and this church. They are men who want to see Jesus rule and reign extend throughout the earth and deeply here in Snohomish County. They are gifts to the church. They will continue training this Fall and beyond in my leadership development cohort working toward official installation/ordination as elders in Dec/January. I encourage you to get to know these men and their wives. Other leaders are emerging.
PART IV | Gospel Unity to Function Properly for Growth | v15-16
Ephesians 4:15-16 | 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Rather than disunity. Rather than purposelessness, rather than staying in immaturity and ineffectiveness, FROM you new identity as someone who has been saved by Jesus work, is being changed by Jesus grace, and is living on Jesus mission you have been called to speak the truth in love, to help others work properly.
What is your next step? Where do you need to repent of sin or be healed from hurt you’ve experienced so you can function more properly for the flourishing of the body? Where do you need to be equipped to be more effective on the mission of Jesus in our life and to our community? How will you pursue being equipped? How have you been gifted to help equip others to be built up or serve others? In this next season what is your next step? Do you need to be baptized signifying your new identity? Repent and Trust Jesus for the first time?
We need to work together properly. Healthy Bodies grow in ways that are healthy. They build themselves empowered by the love of God. Our church has been given what it needs for Jesus mission. Jesus is the great gift giver. So lets’ continue to be a people who show we’re Saved by Jesus’ Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, Living on Jesus’ Mission by simply remembering, reminding each other and reach out to a world telling everyone to Trust Jesus.