Biblical Unity

I experienced an amazing sermon yesterday at Good News and I want to share the important truths with my readers. Our Senior pastor, Vasile Filat, arrived home on Saturday from a 2 week seminar in Romania. He continued his series of messages from St. Paul’s epistle to the church in Ephesus. The first 3 chapters of this epistle contain the theological section. Paul sets the foundation for Christian living by giving pure doctrine (teaching or education). He explains step by step why we need to live like Christ. In chapters 4-6, he changes gears to the practical part. In other words, how to live like Christ based on the knowledge that you have acquired from the previous 3 chapters. The message really spoke to me about my daily attitude and actions. I believe that this will help you as well.

1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling ; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4)

Paul presents the practical part in the first section of this paragraph and then the theology. He changes things up a bit. Our pastor presented them in the opposite, order, beginning with the theology (doctrine) and then moving to the practical.

Doctrine

1 Body

    • When we come to Christ and repent of our sins, we are born again into the body of Christ, the Church. There are not many different bodies. There is one universal body of Christ, one Church. The church is subdivided into local churches but all the members of each local church make up the universal body of Christ. There is no one church that monopolizes the body of Christ. Some teach that if you are not part of this denomination or that denomination then you cannot be part of the body of Christ. Also, as a body, we are unified. We no longer work against each other but we now work for each other, serving each other the way the parts of a body serve the entire body. There is no longer a men’s camp and a women’s camp. The women do not bad mouth the men and the men do not talk bad about the women. That is the way people who are not born again act. We are now part of the body of Christ and we work to serve each other and the body, not taking into account language, ethnicity, gender, nationality etc. There must be unity because we are one already. Like the saying goes, “those who live on a small island must learn to live in unity.”.

1 Spirit

  • All who are in the body have also received the same Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit manifests itself through the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23 (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control). People in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, demonstrate these characteristics as part of their character. All of us who have these characteristics are filled with the same Holy Spirit. We are unified with One Spirit in One Body.

1 Hope

  • We all receive the same hope when we unify into the Body through the Spirit, eternal life in Jesus Christ together with Jesus Christ.

1 Calling

  • All followers of Christ join in the same purpose, to live out the Good News of the Gospel and to share that Good News with others as we teach them to answer God’s holy calling of being Christ’s disciple.

1 Lord

  • The word “Lord” means “master, ruler”. Believers create unity because they all have the same marching orders from the same Lord or Master. He is the head. We take orders from Him and carry them out. All of those orders reveal themselves to us in God’s Word, the Bible. This is why all of us who are unified in the body through the Spirit are unified in the process of Bible study. We discover the marching orders as we dig down deep into the Word of God through personal and corporate Bible study. There is case after case in the book of Acts how the believers were together, unified in learning the Word of God.

1 Faith

  • There is only one genuine faith, even though there are thousands of different religions. Many people are divided, even in churches because of the differences in denominations. Most of the denominational differences depend upon styles of worship more than doctrine. We know that there is One Faith that was handed down to the Apostles. This One faith is found in the 27 books of the New Testament. Anything that strays from what is written about faith in the New Testament is heresy. When we dedicated ourselves to studying the marching orders left for us by our Master in those 27 books, we discover what the One, genuine faith is. We will be unified around that faith.

1 Baptism

  • In this case, there is only One valid baptism, the baptism that comes after true faith and repentance. Some baptize children and then claim that the children should not be baptized again if they repent and are born again because the Bible says that there should be only one baptism. That is correct, partially. When a baby is baptized, he has no concept of faith and repentance and cannot be born again. That form of baptism is not practiced in the New Testament. Infant baptism is something that appeared many years after the church was planted developed. It is a deviation of the original teachings of the Bible. All the people in the New Testament, who were baptized, were baptized after they believed, repented, and were born again. There is a case when some Gentiles did not know of being born again and the Holy Spirit. They had heard part of the Gospel but had not understood the Gospel in its entirety. They had been baptized but not after they had believed and been born again. They only knew of John’s baptism. Once they understood the Gospel, they repented, were born again, and received the Holy Spirit. After all of that, they were baptized because the first baptism was not valid. The One baptism refers to the one that a person experiences after believing, being born again and receiving the Holy Spirit.

1 God

  • He is revealed in the Scriptures. Many people claim to believe in God yet the god of their belief is not the God of the Bible. It is a god of their own creation. As we study the Scriptures, we conclude that there really is only One God. We are unified around this doctrine.

Practice

Walk in a manner worthy of the calling.

  • The question is, “how?” and the answers are given word by word. The words Paul chose are very specific words that paint beautiful pictures of understand for us. How can we live like Christ? What do I need to do specifically to bring about unity in the body of Christ? Let’s explore these rich, powerful words that Paul uses.
  • humility (humble in spirit, having a higher opinion of others than of yourself, seeking to serve others instead of manipulating them into serving you)
  • gentleness (to be gentle literally means to arrange yourself under, again, this carried the idea of serving and meeting the needs of others above your own)
  • patience (slow to anger, not having a short fuse, as people we often disappoint each other yet as a body, unified, we learn to suffer through difficult times and situations in order to maintain our relationships for our own good and the good of others)
  • tolerance (tolerating does not mean that accept the bad that people do, in this context, tolerance means that we realize that we are all at different spiritual levels. Just like in a family, the more mature members tolerate the mistakes of the immature because, many times, the immature just do not know any better. Given time and explanation, they generally mature quickly. Remember, someone once tolerated your immaturity for your benefit and now it is your turn to do the same.)
  • love (this is agape love, love that does not seek its own but seeks the good of others. It is a servant type of love. Many people believe that “love” means someone who meets all of your desires. Biblical love, God’s love means taking the initiative to serve, doing good to others and expecting nothing in return)
  • diligent to preserve the unity (unity is not something that happens magically because we just “love” each other more. Unity is something that we work to attain and work to maintain. It all depends on me, not the other person. I must have the right attitude, the attitude of a servant and then put that attitude into practice. )
  • peace (As a result of having the right attitude, I will have peace and I will promote peace in the environment in which I dwell, whether at home or at work.)

As you can see, the majority of these qualities deal with a person’s attitude which leads to actions. If your attitude is right then your actions will follow. If your attitude is as sour as a lemon then your actions will reflect. Or, if you are egotistical and self-centered then that will be revealed in your desire to be served instead of serving others for their own good.

Do you see yourself as a servant in the body of Christ? Or, do you go to church to be served? Are you looking out for yourself or the good of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? What kind of environment do you create with your attitude?

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