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Jan 9 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

January 4, 2015 – Ephesians 4:4-10

Look For Jesus

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-10

Intro: I don’t like breaking up this section–i.e., verses 1-16

It’s too easy to lose Paul’s train of thought
– this is where “verse by verse” teaching commonly slips up
• all verses may be inspired, but not all verses are created equal
◦  that is to say, some verses contain key themes while the verses around them play a supportive role
◦  also, some verses contain “data” (numbers, genealogies, etc.) that do not have the theological weight of others
• at any rate, the Bible was not written in chapters and verses, so the divisions are artificial
◦ as a rule, several verses together form one thought
◦ to lose sight of that main point, it is too easy to overemphasize something that is merely one piece of a bigger idea
– nevertheless, we want to enjoy all that Paul has packed into this passage
• and the only way to do that is to focus up close
• so what we’ll do is alternate our view by zooming out for the big picture and zooming in on the particulars

Paul’s concern (from last week) is that his readers would be “diligent to preserve the unity of Spirit in the bond of peace”
– in verses 4-10, he elaborates on this and answers two questions:
• where do we (believers, members of his church) find our unity?
• why isn’t our unity obvious?

Vv. 4-6, Where to we find our unity? The answer lies in a list of “ones”

One, in these verses, is a point where two or more lives are linked by single factor
– notice that verse 4 begins abruptly, “One body” (the Greek does not have “There is”)
• so he jumps from “unity” into the list, which begins, “One body”
◦ he has already made the connection between the church and the body of Christ (1:22-23)
◦ also, in 2:16 he demonstrated how Jesus had incorporated both Jews and Gentiles in one body
• toward the end of his ministry on earth, Jesus told his disciples:

I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd (Jn. 10:16)

◦ every follower of Jesus, in every place and in every period of history belongs to this one universal community of faith
– we have learned that sharing a common interest forms a bond between people

C. S. Lewis, “The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’”

• camping, stamp collecting, and many other interests are potential points for beginning a friendship
• even so, a bond is formed between us when we discover that we share membership in Jesus’ “body”

One Spirit – notice the move inward
– we can see the body (church, community), but not the Spirit
• the Spirit is the life of God within us — individually and collectively

We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (1 Jn. 3:24)

• the Spirit is our invisible connection to God (Ro. 8:9-11)
• the Spirit helps us with everything: prayer, understanding, detaching from sin, having energy to do God’s will, etc.
– when I discover the Spirit is in you too, I recognize you as family – as sister or brother
• the one Spirit that lives in both of us forms a bond between us

One hope
– in Titus 2:13 Paul talks about the “blessed hope,” which is the glorious appearing (second coming) of Jesus Christ
• but this is also a hope we have in this life and it carries us through everything we face
• it is the hope, that even now, God is preparing us preparing us for our future with him
◦ he is healing us, making us whole, transforming us

One Lord
– Paul is referring to Jesus (Ep. 1:2 & 3)
• a rough way of saying this is that we receive our orders from the same Commander
• we all conform our lives to one will
– “Lord” is not a term that is used very often in our culture
• what it tells us is that spiritual “conversion” includes change of allegiance
◦ no longer follow the herd (e.g., v. 17ff) or live by the old programming (as we’ll see in verses 17-20)
• I have always found Jesus’ question to be unnerving, Why do you call Me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say? (Lk. 6:46)
◦ living according to the one will of one Lord forms a bond between us– it sets us on the same path

One faith
– Paul did not mean “doctrinal statement”
• some believers check for these things
• we definitely share a core theology, but even that is interpreted differently by various groups
◦ looking at the differences between our interpretation of scripture and the interpretation of others is fascinating
◦ it helps to fill out our understanding of God — he is greater than all of the concepts we construct
– it is our trust in Jesus that we all share in common
• it’s the one thing God wants
◦ it’s the one thing that we can give him that he cannot give himself
• the only way to complete the journey in Christ is through trust
◦ your experiences of trust and mine are far more similar than our “beliefs”
◦ sharing this life of trust and finding God faithful forms a bond between us

One baptism
– this is recognized as the central rite of initiation
• Paul explores meaning of sacrament other places
• the concern here is that we all entered the life of God through the same door
◦ this also forms a bond between us

One God and Father
– again, we can look back  at chapter 1 verses 2 and 3 for Paul’s reference to God as Father and Jesus as Lord
• we are children who belong to the same Father
• but the Father belongs to the children too
◦ every “my Father” is joined in “our Father”
– notice, Paul shifts from “ones” to “all’s” — of all, over all, through all, and in all
• his point is the same, he just comes at it from a different angle
◦ from the center (one) to the circumference (all)
◦ from unity by participation to unity by inclusion
• with these prepositions God fills horizon of our lives
over all – God has not abandoned his universe
through all – he takes everything and uses it for his purpose
in all – if we cannot find God everywhere, eventually we won’t be able to find him anywhere
– a huge piece of Christian spirituality is looking for the face of Jesus everywhere
• in deserted places and in the lowliest people
• sharing one Father forms an inseparable bond between us

Vv. 7-10, Why is it that the unity of the church is not obvious (to us and others)?

Paul suddenly shifts to a different perspective, so that instead of seeing unity, he sees diversity
– instead of one body, we are now looking at “each one of us” — and our oneness seems to disappear
• we are not all the same nor does God treat us all the same
• so whatever unity we have, it is not based on sameness — nor on our similarities or agreement
– there is not one “Christian personality type” that we all have to mimic or squeeze ourselves into

At this point we want to look back at verses 4-6 and notice that this passage is “Trinitarian” (Spirit, Lord, Father)
– our unity isn’t obvious, but neither is the unity of the Trinity (or, the Trinitarian view of God)
• which is, of course, why it has given theologians so much difficulty through the centuries
• in talking about the unity of the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians, Paul makes use of this Trinitarian pattern

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Cor. 12:4-7)

– the Trinitarian model is useful here because it is at the heart of our Christian understanding of God
• and because it is the ultimate example of unity in diversity
• it helps us comprehend how the church can have unity without uniformity and diversity without division
◦ if ever there will be world peace, this is the only way it will be able to exist
◦ the pluralism and multiculturalism of our planet requires that we share a unity that allows for diversity
◦ it would be wonderful if the church led the way

The differences between Christians is gift, “to each one of us grace was given”
– the gift each one receives is unique and many types of gifts have been scattered among us
• when all of them are combined, their effect is to “build up” the body (church) and the individuals within it
– When Paul quoted Psalm 68, Paul had to search for translation that suited his purpose
• both the Hebrew text and its Greek translation read “He received gifts from men”
◦ the Aramaic translation, which was commonly used in Israel at this time, reads, “gave gifts to men”
• Jesus descended into depths of our human situation
◦ the frustration, loneliness, confusion, suffering, etc.
◦ he gives himself and he gives gifts to his church and through its members

Conc: The last word in our text echoes verse 6

“. . . so that He might fill all things”
– God works in and through all things, so that if we don’t see his work it is because we are not looking
• we are not asking, seeking, or knocking (Mt. 7:7-8)
• Jesus fills all things — in your day, in your environment, in your circumstances, in your life

How long can you go without taking a breath? thirty seconds? a minute? five minutes?
– Finding Jesus in every situation is the breath we need to take
• our resolve, our commitment, our good intentions will not last long if we do not take this breath
• look for the hand of Jesus this week, and may it please God to open the eyes of our hearts

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