“Be Diligent to Preserve Unity on Doctrine”
Part 2: Ephesians 4:1-6
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.4-6
Ephesians chapter 4. The topic of the message this morning will concern unity. We are preaching a second message this morning on being diligent to preserve unity. Now, there is a true unity and a false unity, as we all know. And to introduce that, let me point out the Word of Faith movement. This is one of my favorite theological errors to hate.
Today, worldwide, the Word Faith movement is the likely the fastest growing religion. And one of the fathers of this movement is Kenneth Copeland.
Copeland believes that people’s words coupled with the force of faith can command reality, whether health or wealth. This is why they call it Word of Faith movement. Copeland and others believe that faith is the spiritual force, energy, or power that makes the laws of the spirit world function.
So in effect, these false teachers teach that humans command their own destinies by exercising certain spiritual laws. And if you were to rebuke Copeland and tell him that his teachings are similar to the occult, he wouldn’t be offended. He would readily acknowledges this, but he would probably say the occult is Satan borrowing God’s power.
There was a conference of Word of Faith pastors, hosted by Kenneth Copeland, earlier this year. They received a surprise announcement during the conference: Pope Francis has sent a video message.
In the video, Pope Francis describes the current state of Christianity as one of separated families. He asks, “Who is to blame for this separation?” and answers, “We all share the blame. We have all sinned.”
So now we have a call from the Pope to the charismatics and Word of Faith proponents to unite. And if both of these two groups desire to unite, you know that something is wrong with both.
And unite on what? It is well known to all of us that this is a false unity. I feel like I’m preaching this to the choir this morning, but it does show today the world’s desire for unity, the unity at any cost.
Because of the background that many of us have, we can easily focus this morning on what true unity is not.
But that of course is not the point of the passage the morning. The point is to show true what true unity is and what that looks like in a local body of believers.
Let’s read Ephesians 4:1-6 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.
Last week, we began this passage of Scripture. We noted that verse one is really an introduction to the rest of the book of Ephesians. Whereas chapters 1 to 3 contain the wealth that we have in Christ, chapters 4-6 contain the walk that we are to live in response to that wealth.
And the first item of application is unity in the church. He has this theme from verses 2 to 16. In verse two he writes down the character qualities that we need. We need those character qualities in order to preserve the unity described in verse three.
And then in verses 4 to 6 is what we unify on. So I’d like to preach this second message on “be diligent to preserve unity on doctrine.” Now we’ll focus on verses 3-6.
The Command to Preserve Unity (Eph. 4:3)
The grammar is clear in verse three that we are to think of this as a command. Ephesians 4:3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
The command carries over from verse 1, “I implore you to walk worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” So verse 3, the command would be “be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
What does it mean to be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?
ILL/EXP: Well, the word diligent has the idea of hurrying with energy. There are certain times in your life when you will have this. 4 weeks ago on Monday, I had one such occasion. Four weeks ago Monday, Pazli was born.
Now, things went very smoothly. Actually, we totally ruined the biblical illustration of the end times, that the end will come like “labor pains coming on suddenly.” Pazli was induced. But we had full expectation of labor happening suddenly.
But Rosie was born more naturally and there was an indication when we knew that we had to hurry with energy to the hospital. Nothing got in the way … although a trip to Home Depot almost did … you can ask my wife about that one … I was sensing the need to hurry with energy more than Ruth was, I think.
But anyway, we ended up realizing that time was short and had to hurry up and get the hospital!
That’s the idea with this word for “be diligent.” Nothing gets in the way this is an emergency … it is required… We’ve gotta do this; drop everything and go!
And so this ought to be our attitude in this assembly when we think of unity. We need to be quick to do this. We need to be diligent, we need to drop everything if unity is absent in our assembly and seek to establish unity.
If something has come into our midst that is disrupting the unity, we must be diligent and preserve it, even if it costs us something. There’s no room for petty differences. Not unity at all cost, but unity at all cost to me, not to Scripture.
And what are we diligent to preserve? It says here we must be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit. This is the unity that the Holy Spirit has created. And in the Ephesian church, He created it between formally hostile people groups. The Holy Spirit has created unity between believing Jew and Gentile.
Hatred, like an old useless wall, is broken down.
Let the future motivate us today
And at the end of the ages, when Christ gathers His chosen ones from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, Christ will rule them in perfect harmony. There will be perfect harmony in the end times.
Ephesians 1:9 reminds us that in the ages to come, he will “sum up” everything in Jesus Christ. And so we ought to let the end times motivate us today to be unified as we will most certainly be then.
We ought to value the church and to be careful and diligent to preserve unity in Christ’s church because the church is the masterpiece of his goodness and grace. Ephesians 2:7 teaches that Christ has raised us up from the dead and has even seated us with him at his right hand … “so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
In the future, God the Father will put on display the church of Christ as the masterpiece of his grace. How careful and diligent ought we be to preserve the unity of the Spirit? So the unity of the Spirit is the unity that the Holy Spirit has created in our church.
And if you think of that first century church, the unity that they had was a newfound peace. Jew and Gentile had no peace with each other previous to Christ. But in Christ, the wall of hatred has been torn down.
So we must “be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
This is the bond which is peace. Peace is the bond. This word is translated ligaments in Colossians 2:19. Just like ligament attaches bone to bone, so also peace… The peace that we have with God and the peace that we can have with each other because of the peace we have from God … This peace attaches us to one another.
In other words, how would you know if unity is preserved in any assembly? You’ll know it is preserved when there is an assembly like the Ephesian assembly and there is peace. In that first century church, the difference of opinion was great, to say the least. Nevertheless, unity was evident there.
How did anyone know that? Because there was a bond between the believers there who have differing opinions. And that bond was the bond of peace. They were at peace with one another, no doubt because they had peace with God.
So the Holy Spirit has created unity. He has brought together [*hands together*] in this first century church …he has brought together Jew and Gentile… He has united believing Jews and Gentiles into one body. They were formally at odds [*fists together*] with one another and hostile and hating towards one another, but now [*hands together*] he has unified them.
When the Holy Spirit formed that unity, he established peace between those people. And peace was a bond, like a ligament, that kept them one attached to one another. And in the Greek here, that word unity looks like the word “one.” They are one.
That doesn’t mean that they always agree on every little tiny issue. Just like you and your family don’t necessarily agree on every little issue. But you are determined to work it out and to go forward for a common cause. That is exactly what God has called us to do. Go forward with Christ’s causes and taking up His preferences as our mantra and laying aside our petty differences that are not scriptural.
And so our job is to be diligent to preserve the oneness that the Holy Spirit has created. And we know that we are doing that when we have peace with one another.
And in our assembly, I sense a very strong unity among us. We are committed to one another and this is so honorable. We must be diligent to preserve this unity.
Let us be diligent to preserve the peace which Christ himself has won for us at the cross and in his resurrection.
TRANS: But as we all know, unity is not just peace! Unity is not just the absence of conflict. Peace is the arena in which we are exercising our diligence to preserve unity. But peace itself is not the unity. Peace is where we are diligent to preserve unity.
We must preserve the unity but to do that, we must exalt and glory in the things that we unite on.
And this is where Paul goes next in verses 4-6. On what grounds do we unite with each other?
So verses 4-6, we have the foundation of unity. Verses 4-6, the foundation of unity.
The Foundation of Unity (Eph. 4:4-6)
Ephesians 4:4-6 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.
As we mentioned, the word unity in verse three looks a lot like the word for “one” in the original language. And the word “one” is seen seven times in verses 4 to 6.
We preserve unity on the foundation of verses 4-6.
And you’ll notice that each member of the Trinity is mentioned. The Holy Spirit verse four, the Lord, that is the Lord Jesus the son of God in verse five and in verse six, the Father is mentioned.
And Paul’s point in mentioning these things is not only to tell us what we unite on, but it is also an appeal to be united based on these seven unities. Each of these seven things is itself united in some sense.
So the fact that the Christians unite on these things Paul assumes in advance and instead, Paul is using these things more as an appeal to be unified in light of the thing itself.
For example, verse four says there is one body. This is the body of Christ, which is His people for all time. How many universal bodies of Christ are there? There is only 1! Paul is then saying to us, “Ought you too be one, be unified, in that 1 body?”
There is one Holy Spirit. How many Holy Spirit’s are there? One. Ought you, too, not be one seeing there is one Holy Spirit?
We must be unified because there is only one body and if you have trusted Christ you’re not getting out of it. So you must be unified. So Paul is exhorting us to be one ourselves because the Holy Spirit has created oneness on 7 things, which themselves are one. “One Lord” … you too be one, be unified.
V. 4, Spirit
So, in verse four, the person of the Trinity in focus is the Holy Spirit.
And he says there is one body.
This of course is the body of Christ. Those in the body of Christ are those who have trusted Jesus Christ. This would be Jew or Gentile.
There are not many bodies of Christ, one for Jews or one for Gentiles. No, there is one body of Christ. The body of Christ, though, has a representative, if you will. A local assembly is a representation of that one body of Christ.
“Ought you be unified, saying there is one body of Christ?”
There is also one Holy Spirit.
It is with this Holy Spirit that we have been baptized into that one body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13 For with one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
You remember that John the Baptist came baptizing with water, but then he says that after him was coming One who would baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit. He immerses you in the Holy Spirit and that places you into the body of Christ. This is Spirit Baptism.
The Lord Jesus places us into the one body of Christ. What does He use to do that? The Holy Spirit. I can understand being immersed in water, I have a hard time with picturing being immersed in the Holy Spirit. Plus, how that Spirit Baptism also places me into the body of Christ but this is the teaching of 1 Corinthians 12:13.
Seeing then that there is one Holy Spirit, ought we not be one?
At the end of verse four, one hope of your calling.
Verse 1 says we should “Walk worthy of your calling”…verse 3 says we must “be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit,” and a little motivation to do these things now end of verse 4… do these things “just as you were called in one hope of your calling.”
We should be one because we have a single hope that comes along with our calling as Christians. We all have the same Christian hope. Therefore, be preserve the unity we have here.
Our calling as we discovered last time is found in chapter 1:3-14. Where we have election, predestination, adoption as sons … And that Christian calling has a hope for the future. And this hope means an expectation. The Christian hope in Scripture is not in doubt. The future is certain. And Paul prayed in Ephesians 1 after giving us our calling that we would know what is the hope of our calling!
He prays that our confidence [*left hand*] would match the certainty [*right hand*] of God’s promises.
And the fulfillment of God’s promises rests solely on Him who never fails. The confidence or the hope that we can have regarding the future is already what we discussed and that is that everything will be summed up in Jesus Christ. And that one day the church will be put on display as the masterpiece or the trophy of God grace. So the point is that we all have the same destiny. We all have the same inheritance awaiting us.
And that goes for everyone who has trusted Christ alone and repented of their sins. And so if we are tempted not to unite in peace, we should let the certainty of our future Christian hope motivate us now to preserve the unity the Spirit created. Just think of what it will be like when our faith is turned to sight. What will that be like? That will be a unity created by the Holy Spirit that that this world has never seen. Let’s create the flavor of the unity of that day [*left*]… Today.
And verse five contains three more parts of the doctrinal foundation on which we unite. This verse concerns the Son of God…where it says …
V. 5, Son:
Ephesians 4:5 one Lord,
This is the Lord Jesus. The word Lord is the Greek word used for the Hebrew name of God in the Old Testament. Jesus is God, is the point. 1 Corinthians 8:6 … for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
Jesus is the Lord! Be diligent to preserve unity on the deity of Jesus Christ. We must be diligent to preserve unity on the fact that there is one universal church and both Jews and Gentiles are included.
Be diligent to preserve unity on the person and the deity of Holy Spirit. We must be diligent preserve unity on the reality of the future and the fulfillment of the Christian hope that we have set forth in Scripture for us. And now, one Lord Jesus Christ. Also…
One faith, in verse 5. One faith.
This could either be referring to the faith once delivered to the saints or our response to that faith. Is this the faith once delivered to the saints or is this our faith?
The faith once delivered to the saints I think is spoken of in verse 13, where the apostle looks for that day when we will all attain to “the unity of the faith.”
But here in verse 5 it seems that the focus is our response. And by far in the New Testament the word faith has reference to our response to God. So I would suggest that faith refers to our response.
So there is one faith. There is one saving response to the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Lord, he is God, not many. Jews don’t respond one way and Christians another way. And the gospel delivered to us is that he died on the cross to take the penalty that we deserve. And three days later he was raised from the dead and seen among many.
That is the faith. Our faith which is what is in view here, is trust in him. And this has been preached from the beginning. Mark 1:15 when Jesus began his ministry after John the Baptist, Jesus went around preaching the gospel and he said “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Repent and believe. The word believe means to trust. You’re committed to this. Trust and repent. There is one response for both Jew and Gentiles and that is to trust him.
But trust demands repentance. These are two sides to the same coin.
ILL: Just like with love and marriage, you can’t have one without the other. In marriage, I cling to one and forsake all others. I cling to one and forsake the rest.
And just like that, I trust Christ and I forsake it all. All my sin, yes, all my desires, all my ambitions and wishes … I trust in Christ and I repent …I lose my life for Christ’s sake.
And so we must be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit on the one faith. We must be diligent to maintain the one response for entrance into the kingdom of God. Teach it and preach it!
And one baptism end of verse five.
And the debate rages on with this over whether this is Spirit baptism or water baptism. Holy Spirit baptism we discussed already when the Lord Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. That happens only at salvation. 1 Co. 12:13 teaches that.
But the New Testament does not often distinguish between Holy Spirit baptism and water baptism. Then, when this word baptism occurs in the epistles, commentators and preachers and teachers debate whether any particular occurrence of the word baptism is speaking of water baptism or Holy Spirit baptism.
[*step back*] And the issue is solved when you step into the culture of the New Testament. When someone receives Christ in the first century, it was at great cost. Persecution was likely. And when someone counted the cost and received Christ, they were immersed in water, often on the same day. The day of Pentecost was like that. So you can’t separate the reality … Spirit Baptism … you can’t separate that from the picture, water baptism.
Water baptism is a picture of Holy Spirit baptism. Water baptism is a picture of Christ baptizing us with the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ.
So when someone receives Christ, they received Holy Spirit baptism. And so when one experienced Spirit Baptism, he also then received water baptism. Just like we are immersed with the Holy Spirit at salvation, so also we are immersed with water as a picture of what happens at salvation.
And so when the New Testament writers speak of baptism, they have the two in mind, as one. Water baptism picturing Holy Spirit baptism. This is one. Paul says end verse five we unite on one baptism.
And to even discuss the debate between sprinkling, pouring, or immersing [*step back*] is to debate outside of the New Testament. The New Testament knows nothing of sprinkling or pouring. If you were to be in the first century context and ask Peter or Paul about what they thought about sprinkling or pouring or immersing a believer, they would look at you and not know what you are talking about. They immersed and no reason to do anything else. They saw Jesus doing that, so they did that. The NT knows nothing else. And so therefore scriptural water baptism is immersion.
Just like man has distorted the teachings of these 6 other doctrines, so also man has distorted the Spirit’s teaching on baptism, both water and the Holy Spirit baptism. We must be diligent to preserve unity on the Scripture’s teaching concerning baptism, just like we must be diligent to preserve unity on the deity of Christ and our one response for eternal life.
I used to be tempted to be wishy washy on baptism and how important it is to unite on it. This passage is clear; we must be diligent to preserve unity on baptism as well.
V. 6, Father:
And finally, verse six the Father.
Ephesians 4:6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
God the Father is our Father. He is over all, that is, all believers. And he is through all and in all.
Given the context of the Christian church, the “all” here is best taken to refer to all believers. He rules over all, he is through all, and in all believers. He is sovereign over all believers and at the same time he dwells among us, through all and in all believers.
And He it is to whom we all pray. As Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father.” We have one Father in heaven. Ought we not be one seeing that we all believe these things, which themselves, are 7 examples of unity?
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.4-6
The Need of Unity and Practical Tips
What if we don’t? What if we are not diligent to preserve unity? Those who name the name of Christ walk away from the truth.
Do you remember what Jesus said concerning how the world would know that we are his
disciples? John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The world will know that we are Jesus’ disciples if we have love for one another. There is no room for unscriptural division. Paul chastised the Corinthians for being divisive in 1 Corinthians 1. The Corinthians were rallying behind individuals. They were not preserving Holy Spirit unity. And Paul asks them the question, “Has Christ been divided?”
Jesus prays for his disciples in John 17 two times that we would be one, even as he and the Father are one. We are one, for sure, in light of the universal church.
But certainly on a practical level, we are not seeing this in churches today. And we do not have near the difficulties that the first century church had. We don’t have the blessing of trying to unite Jews and Gentiles who hate each other.
This morning, we read Romans chapter 14. And you can turn over to Romans 14. And recall in that passage that there were differing opinions about how to regard certain days. Likely this is referring to Jewish festival days.
And Paul encourages us there that each one must be fully convinced in his own mind concerning whether he observes that for the Lord or whether he chooses not to observe that day for the Lord. And then Paul says this in Romans 14:7-8 7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
So an application for unity this morning is this: fellowship with other believers even though your opinions are different. You may have opinions about Jewish feast days…others may not hold your opinion. Fellowship with other believers even though your opinions are different.
We unify on what we have seen this morning, from Ephesians 4:4-6. You might have different opinions about various issues on Christian living for example. But be diligent to preserve the unity that the Holy Spirit has created on Ephesians 4:4-6.
So fellowship with other believers even though your opinions may differ.
But also, don’t force your nonscriptural opinions on others. Don’t force your nonscriptural opinions on others. You may hold a particular opinion that’s not exactly clearly stated in the Bible. Don’t demand unity on that!
First, fellowship with others who don’t have the same opinion as you do. Second, do not force your nonscriptural opinions on others. Third, don’t allow your liberty in Christ to cause another brother to stumble.
That can disrupt true unity of the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:13-15 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. 14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.
We must not cause a brother to stumble because I may take liberties concerning this Jewish feast day or the eating of this particular food item. If I cause another brother to stumble in his conscience and so sin against God, I fail to love him and in the end destroy him.
To show you how serious this is, this is all in the context of the judgment seat of Christ. Back up to Romans 14:10-12 10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE Lord, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” 12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
I would say that that is a call from God to be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace!
We may or may not want to be diligent to preserve unity based on one of these seven things. The Scripture is clear on every single one of them.
Whether we like it or not, let’s be diligent today and every day for the life of this church, generation after generation. Be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit on doctrine.
222, sang last week.