God places us in each of our specific contexts for an eternal purpose (1 Corinthians 12:18, Matthew 28:19-20).
Ephesians 4 begins the practical section of the book in which Paul lays out the spiritual maturity necessary to produce godly character. Maturing Christians have the attitude that they have never arrived.
Unity in Christ's body is maintained by more than individual behavior and relationships. It is maintained by having a unified mission.
Spiritual togetherness is another way to say "unity." Believers will be spiritually one as we understand who God is and who we are in Christ. We should not want to live life alone.
Humans need to be together and to celebrate something bigger than themselves. We also need to be together as God's people. We prepare to be with each other, and we enjoy being with our Christian family. Our unity is based on our position in Christ and our disposition produced by the fruit of the Spirit.
Our theme for the year is not just a slogan; it is a practice of our faith. Our church's One Legacy goals for the year are things we have to do together, because that is how God designed the body of Christ to work.
God has ordained that the Christian life is to be lived not in isolation, but in conjunction with the community of saints. So how is it that Christians, particularly here in America, have become used to amputating limbs off of the body of Christ (which is the local church)? In 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, the Apostle Paul refers to the Corinthian believers as being eyes and ears and noses—body parts. This is the same kind of language that Paul uses in Romans 12:5 when he writes that we are members one of another.
The Bible teaches that Christians are to be mutually reliant upon each other. This doctrine is incredibly important and should be a major heading in our ecclesiology (doctrine of the church). However, it has been almost entirely lost in American evangelicalism. Possible reasons include the American way of life that emphasizes independence and the rejection of denominationalism. American Christianity has become a complex collection of isolated congregations and an even more divided and isolated collection of Christians.
When we are owned by Jesus Christ, we no longer desire to communicate sinfully. The church ought to be known as the most ethical family in the community. Last week we learned how this plays out in two areas - speaking truth and addressing anger. Biblical anger can become unbiblical over time. Things in the body of Christ can disappoint you, but they need to be addressed. We are all fellow saints.
This passage describes the spiritual “body language” of the church. The Holy Spirit through Paul’s pen gets laser-specific about what things the new nature does and should not do. These are instructions for how we behave within the local church. If they are not lived out, we grieve the Holy Spirit and hinder His ability to work among us.
"Who am I? What am I here for? Where am I going? What should I do?" These are the questions that shape our personality and character. The unbelieving mind is always answering these questions with selfish, sinful, and worldly thinking. This old self is what we are able to lay aside once we are saved. Christ completely transforms us so we can mirror His character and tell others how he changed our lives.
This week we begin looking at the four characteristics of our new lifestyle, in direct contrast to the characteristics of the unsaved we studied last week. When we have been saved, we think and live differently.
In the next section of Ephesians 4, Paul continues his focus on individual Christian responsibility. He does this by contrasting the lifestyle of a Christian with two unsaved lifestyles - the Gentiles and the Jews. As dispossessed citizens of Heaven, we will no longer live in our old lifestyle. The worthy walk of Christians in our culture will be radically obvious and distinct.
The 1999 U.S. women’s soccer team changed the face of women’s sports worldwide because they were well-trained and passionate about working toward their goal as a team. If we are functioning well as a church, we also will influence the world – for Christ.
In these verses, Paul’s focus changes to individual responsibility within the body. Each member is specifically gifted by God, and each part works together toward a glorious goal. God designed the team and empowers it to have divine influence.
Paul’s plea for unity in verse 3 is based on 7 doctrinal truths which form the Profound Source of our Worthy Walk. Doctrine is the foundation of righteous living, and spiritual oneness is the foundation of an effective church family. We must be in agreement on doctrine of Christ, then agree on the character and conduct our worthy walk. Understanding and pursuing spiritual maturity maintains our unity.
As the glorious church of a glorious Savior, we have a glorious opportunity to live His character in our culture. When unbelievers observe our interaction, they should be amazed at the love we display (John 13:35). Maturing saints will be able to maintain the unity produced by the Spirit in a way that pleases the Lord.
This passage is important to understand because it forms the foundation for the rest of the book. The focus comes in verse three: “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We will find that a truly unified church requires spiritual growth and maturity.
Theme: Genuine spiritual growth comes only as the Holy Spirit applies the Word of God to people’s hearts. This week concludes our detailed look at Grace Church of Mentor’s mission statement: “Grace Church of Mentor exists to glorify God by evangelizing the lost and equipping the saints with the goal of Christ-likeness.” Church should not be about appealing to the greatest number of people through style and programs. The Spirit must draw souls to His church. Our promotions must not focus on what we do more than who we are. Church must first and foremost be about understanding and applying the Word of God.
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