MAINTAINING THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH

Introduction to Part I: THE CALL FOR UNITY Paul instructs the church in verse 1 to keep in mind our origins and all that Christ has done for us. In the book of Ephesians, He uses the word "therefore" to remind us of everything He has taught us thus far. He has been writing about belief, doctrine, and precepts. He now concentrates on duty, practice, and conduct. It's worth taking a second look at the line at the end of verse 1 that says, "walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called."
A calling is referred to by the term "vocation; or a profession. "A person's life's work" is what it means. We did not receive a call to go on a weekend getaway when God told us to come to Christ by faith. It was a call to radically alter one's life for God's glory. Because we now know Jesus, we are called to live differently. We strive to live lives that are "worthy" of the blessings Christ has bestowed upon us. The meaning of the word "worthy" is "to balance the scales." We are expected to live lives that demonstrate our Lordship. We are to live lives in the world that honor Him. We are expected to lead such heavy lives that we, along with God, "balance the scales." Paul now moves on to explain how we can bring this into our lives after describing what God expects of us. These verses instruct us on the right path to take. Living out the essence of what Paul discusses throughout the book of Ephesians is one of the clearest ways that the church can demonstrate the reality of what it teaches. Verse 3 and verse 13 both contain mentions of it. It's the concept of "unity." The definition is "agreement." It merely indicates that we are to walk alongside one another in the Lord. Let me just take a moment to say that God's goal for His church is unity. The grace of God that reveals itself in our salvation is the subject of the book of Ephesians. The concept of unity is incorporated into that process. Think about the following facts. God's beauty joins the Trinity in carrying us to God. * The Father chose us to be saved, Ephesians 1:4. * On the cross, the Son bought us back with His own blood, Eph. Eph. 1:7 says that the Spirit "seals" us for all time. 1:13 By God's grace, Jews and Gentiles are joined together as one body, the church, in Ephesians. 2:11-15. In saving us, God's grace reconciles or unites us to Him, Eph. 2:16-22. Pay attention to these verses that discuss the issue of unity: "Let your conversation only be as it becomes Christ's gospel: that regardless of whether I come to see you or not, I may learn about your affairs so that you can persevere in unison and work toward the gospel faith together, Phil. 1:27. “Now, brethren, I beseech you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that you might all be perfectly united in thought and judgment,” 1 Cor. 1:10. "Speak the same language to one another. Condescend to men of low status rather than high things. "Do not be wise in your own presumptions," Rom. 12:16. “1 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” If there is therefore any consolation in Christ, comfort of love, fellowship of the Spirit, or bowels and mercies, then so be it. 3 There should be no fighting or self-indulgence; However, in a state of low self-esteem, let people value one another above themselves. 4 Don't just focus on one's own possessions; also consider the possessions of others, Phil. 2:1-4. “Finally, brothers, goodnight. Be perfect, content, unified, and live peacefully; and you will be accompanied by the God of love and peace. 2 Cor. 13:11. We ought to be interested in the church's unity if the Lord is so concerned about it. Our text instructs us to "keep" or "maintain" the unity of the church in verse 3. I want to examine these verses' teaching for some time. We are not always united, though. Sometimes we are not on the same page. We don't always work together for God's glory. Too frequently, our individual goals conflict with the good of the church. A call to unity is made in this text. I want to discuss some difficulties I observe in these verses. I want to speak about keeping the church together. The way God intended us to walk together as a redeemed family is demonstrated in these verses. Let's talk about keeping the church's unity. We will begin today by reading verse 3, which discusses the plea for church unity. I. Paul says, "encouraging to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," in his plea. We should pay attention to several words in that verse. The word "endeavoring" means "hasty, or zealous." It suggests that we permit nothing to impede our swift efforts to preserve the church's unity. It describes a holy zeal that calls for constant attention. The word "keep" means "to guard." It does not include the phrase "create." We are unable to achieve church unity. Unity cannot be faked. We can only preserve or guard our existing unity. It is known as "the unity of the Spirit" by Paul. This phrase serves as a reminder to us that the church's "unity, agreement, and common ground" is not the result of our efforts to achieve unity. The Spirit of God brings about this agreement, this common ground, within each of us. In "the bond of peace," we are to maintain this unity. “a band, or that which binds together” is the meaning of the word "bond." Peace refers to "tranquility, harmony, and harmony." Peace is the cord that holds the church together. We are able to "keep the unity of the Spirit" when we are at peace with one another. I. The Sentences of This Plea The church is the greatest witness of this plea when we are united in Jesus despite our differences. A church family whose members are at odds with one another is the greatest slander against the cause of Christ, according to the same rule. Take notice of what Jesus said: John 13:35 says, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love for one another." "Now that I am no longer in the world, but these are, I come to thee." John 17:11 says, "Holy Father, keep those whom thou hast given me through thine own name, that they may be one, as we are." "20 I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word;" 21 So that they might all be one; as you are in me and I in you, Father, so that they may also be one in us: so that everyone would think you sent me. 22 And I gave them the glory that you gave me; that they might be one and the same as us: 23 I in you, and they in me, so that they can become one; John 17:20–23 says, "so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them as thou hast loved me." We come from a wide range of backgrounds. Every conceivable way sets us apart from one another. The unity that is expected of us is challenged by differences in physical appearance, intellectual ability, financial situation, and spirituality. Despite our differences, there is nonetheless ground to cover. The Holy Spirit settled in our hearts when we came to Jesus. "We are all baptized into one body by one Spirit, whether we are Jews or Gentiles, bond or free; and have all been made to drink from the same Spirit,” 1 Corinthians 12:13. “But if the Spirit of God dwells in you, then you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit. "Now whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ is not of his," Rom. 8:9. Both you and I can overcome our differences and walk together in unity for God's glory when He is in us. We have lost our testimony to the world when we are at war with one another. We are demonstrating to them that we are not different from them when we leave in unity. In an effort to establish peace over time, nations around the world have drafted treaties, held conferences, and signed agreements. Since the beginning of recorded history, every treaty signed by humans has failed. Why? “ Isa. "The LORD says, "The wicked have no peace." 48:22. There is no basis for peace, so the world cannot find peace. We must set ourselves apart! Every true believer is indwelled with the Holy Spirit, who helps us to bear the "fruit of the Spirit," Gal. 5:22-23, which always results in the church's peace. We exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and demonstrate to the world that we are unique when we walk in the peace that the Spirit has bestowed upon us. Paul talks about gentleness, patience, loving tolerance, and humility in verse 2. Genuine love for one another underlies each of these spiritual traits. They are all the result of the Holy Spirit's presence in our hearts. Over the next few weeks, we will further develop those ideas. For the time being, we need to be aware that God wants His people to walk together, pulling in the same direction, for the glory of the same God. I. The Proposal's Words II. The Third Witness in this Plea The ability to walk together does not imply that we always share the same perspectives on the same issues. It is possible for us to occasionally disagree. That is beneficial and healthy. Instead of an intellectual or spiritual totalitarianism that dictates what each individual is allowed to think and believe, there needs to be a diversity of thought. Walking together does not mean that we will always hold the same doctrine-related beliefs on every issue. When we are saved, it does not mean that we lose our individuality. It does imply that we share a Savior and are guided by a common goal. It does imply that when the Lord gives us clear instructions, we put aside our individual opinions and work together to advance the Gospel and God's glory. It does imply that the church's unity is more important than my or your success. It does imply that the church's unity always takes precedence over my own goals. It does imply that the church's unity takes precedence over my feelings. Being different in this particular area is the best way to show the world that we are different from them in our walk. We can forget the Gospel when they see us at odds because we won't reach them with Jesus. However, our true humility, gentleness toward one another, patient endurance of one another, and loving tolerance for our differences will do more to reach the world than any outreach program ever devised by man when they see us walking in unity. We are real because we are united! They may reject our truth, but our unity will prevent them from doing so. In his book The Body, Chuck Colson writes about John Calvin: A similar observation was made by Calvin in a letter to a trusted colleague: "I saw that the Devil's chief device was disunity and division and preached that there should be friendly fellowship for all ministers of Christ." Christians ought to have such a strong dislike of schism that they can always avoid it as quickly as they can. That they ought to have such a reverence for the ministry of the word and the sacraments that wherever they perceive these things to be, they ought to consider the church to exist...nor should it be a hindrance that some points of doctrine are not quite as pure, as there are hardly any churches that have not retained some remnants of previous ignorance. Calvin was merely pointing out to us that our theology and way of life are all flawed at some point. We can collaborate from this common ground if we are correct about Jesus Christ and the Gospel. It is wrong for you and I to be at odds simply because we disagree on a doctrine-related issue. It is wrong for us to let our individual preferences and opinions divide us. It is wrong of me to defend my rights and views with such rigidity that I harm the living God's church. Truth should never be sacrificed for unity. I am not advocating absolute unity. I'm preaching that we should let the love of God, which the Holy Spirit has instilled in us, rule supreme in our lives and in our church (Ill. Rom. 5:5. The following was written by an Archbishop by the name of Marco Antonio de Dominis in the 17th century: In omnibus caritas, in dubius libertas, in necessariis unitas, "Unity in necessary things," roughly translates this Latin expression. liberty in the face of uncertainty charity in everything." That little adage says a lot! Even at the expense of unity, there are some truths that must be defended to the death. There are a few things that can be interpreted in different ways. We are supposed to let other people be free in those areas and not to criticize them for what they do or believe. Every action must be motivated by our love for the other person, whether we can stand together or have to separate because of our differences! Conc: Over the past few years, we as a church have experienced our fair share of division. The majority of that, with a few exceptions, has vanished. However, the repercussions of that upheaval are still evident. We have lost some of the people who used to be here. Financially, the church has suffered. Emotionally and spiritually, we have also suffered. I am still saved, though. Are you okay? The Holy Spirit dwells within each of us if we are saved. We will reach an absolute unity of purpose for the glory of God if we allow Him to fill us with His presence and power. We will witness the Lord's work in this place in ways we could never have imagined when He does. We must come together as a church to ask God to forgive us for our part in the past's division. If we are aware that we have offended a fellow believer, we must make amends. 23 Therefore, if you bring your offering to the altar and keep in mind that your brother has wronged you, 24 Remove your offering from the altar and proceed on your way; Be reconciled to your brother first, and then come and give your gift,” stated Matt. 5:23-24. We must forgive those who have offended us if we have been offended by others. “21 Then Peter came to him and asked, Lord, how frequently will my brother sin against me and I still forgive him?” until seven instances? 22 Jesus tells him, "I do not say to thee, until seven times: but only up to seventy-seven times seven,” Matt. 18:21-22. “1 Then he said to the disciples, It is impossible that there won't be offenses: But bad luck to him, who brought them there! 2 It would have been better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck than to offend one of these young children. 3 Pay attention to yourself: Reprimand your brother whenever he violates your rights; and if he repents, please forgive him. 4 And if he violates you seven times per day and then comes back to you seven times per day and says, "I repent," He will be forgiven by you. According to Luke 17:1–5, "And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith." According to Ephesians, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, and forgiving one another, even as God for the sake of Christ has forgiven you." 4:32. When Tonto and the Lone Ranger were riding through a canyon together, both sides of the canyon suddenly became crowded with battle-dressed Native American warriors on horses. The Lone Ranger asked Tonto, "What are we going to do?" before turning to face him. Whiteman's response was, "What you mean 'we,' Tonto?" Some members of the church think that way, but it shouldn't be that way. We are all in this together, and the Lord and each other are all we have. Love must exist. Peace must prevail. Unity is required! Would you be willing to visit and pray for us so that we can collaborate to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?"

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