Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem.
One who is at peace inside will promote peace outside. Brought into right relationship with God through His Son Jesus, we're able to love and invest in others, walking with them in a God-ward direction. Let's listen in to Rich's study on Ephesians 4, 1 through 6. So if you'd have your Bibles open to Ephesians chapter 4, this morning as we continue now, we are in the second half of Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus. Chapters 4 through 6 are full of commands, imperatives, what God says this is what ought to be true of you. But it doesn't begin there because chapters 1 to 3 come first, and those are God's disclosure to us of what is true of us because we are in Christ.
And chapters 4 through 6 ought to be the outflow of the truth of chapters 1 through 3, which is why he begins chapter 4 by saying, walk worthy of the calling to which you have been called. That is not him saying because God has done this for you, you owe it back to Him that you behave this way. That's not what he's saying. He is not saying that this is the standard, now you need to rise up and earn this.
That's not what he's saying either. What he's saying is, know who you are in Christ, the calling and the equipping that you have, and walk in that manner. Walk in the calling and the equipping that you have. And the first characteristic of that, which is in line with everything that he has talked about in the first three chapters, the reconciliation of God, one new people, because that is our calling to be one new, a radical new community of one new people to the glory of God.
That is our calling, we are called to that. So it only follows then when I have come to grips with the truth of who I am in Christ and what my identity is and the wealth of his riches, of his grace that he has lavished upon me as I am walking with God, it only follows then that I would walk in unity with those who belong to him as well. Walk in unity, to walk worthy of the calling with which we are called means, first of all, that we walk in unity. Unity and a synonym for unity is oneness, oneness. It assumes then that there are various parts, there is a diversity, but oneness, unity is a condition of harmony.
It doesn't mean we're all clones, but it does say that we have one mind and we have so much in common. We recognize all that we have in common, we have the same calling, we have the same equipping, everything that's true in chapters one to three is true of every one of us, every one of us that's in Christ. And so we walk in that unity as opposed the oneness, as opposed to being divided. We are not to be divided. To be divided means to be broken in pieces, but we are called to a condition of harmony.
So look what he says here. First of all, how do we walk in unity? We're first of all, we're called to be eager to maintain the unity, eager to. That means to do it quickly, but also do your best.
Do it quickly. The sense is this ought to be a first priority. Maintaining unity ought to be a first priority, but do your best. In other words, what he's saying, make a determined effort to walk in, to maintain the unity, right? So eager to make a determined effort to maintain the unity.
Now, something very interesting that we could easily miss if we're just running over it. To maintain the unity, notice he doesn't say create unity. He didn't say that, did he? He says maintain unity. In other words, if you're in Christ and I'm in Christ and we're in Christ, there is, listen to me, an inherent unity in the church. And what we are called to is to be eager to, to make a determined effort to maintain that unity, which means that we are to be focused upon all that we have in common in Christ. That's how unity happens. When we get distracted from that and we start majoring on peripheral things, that's what brings division. So we are to make a determined effort to maintain unity, not create it, not manufacture. The church is not called to manufacture unity. In other words, some people would say, whatever it takes, we just need to get along.
That's not true. It's not whatever it takes, because generally speaking today, when people say, whatever it takes, we just need to get along. What's the first thing that goes? Truth and conviction. Okay, now we need to make a very, very clear distinction between what is God's revealed truth and what are my opinions and preferences.
There needs to be a very clear distinction between those. But if we are going to marginalize God's truth to maintain unity, then we are in error and we are not walking worthy of the calling to which we've been called. But we are to guard and protect the unity that is inherent in the church.
Now, we sang about it this morning in a song and through church history, there's, there's no denying it. How many schisms have there been in church history? And you say, Rich, tell me about the unity.
There are as many as 3,000 Protestant denominations. Where's the unity in that? You see, most of those differences come in the form of worship format, church polity.
Some of them are doctrinal difference, but generally speaking, there is one unity, one common faith. And like I said before, if you're in Christ and I am in Christ, there is an inherent unity in that. And that's what we need to maintain. That's what the church needs to be eager to make a determined effort to focus on those things. So to maintain the unity says this, it's to cause to continue, cause that unity to continue.
How? By focusing on what we have in common in Christ and keep the main thing, the main thing, not the peripheral things. Because when we make the peripheral things our chief focus, that's where disunity, that's where the unity is going to be threatened.
Okay. So we need to maintain, eager to maintain the unity. And what kind of unity is it? Where does the unity come from? It is the unity of the Spirit, the unity of the Spirit. Remember I said, we don't manufacture this unity. We're not the ones that create it. It is the unity of the Spirit.
Why? Because I am indwelt with the Holy Spirit, you are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and it is one Spirit. It is the same. He is the same Spirit. And so He is working in you and He is working in me. Therefore, as we share with each other what God's Spirit is doing in us, that fellowship will be a unity and it is the outflow of the Spirit's common work in us.
Same Spirit. Make a determined effort to cause to continue the outflow of the Spirit's common work in us. Eager to maintain the unity of Spirit and then He says, in the bond of peace. The end of verse three. In the bond of peace. He is our peace. This bond, this is a common bond that we have. And that, you know, the whole thing of the whole idea of peace, harmony, wellness.
It's not, again, not something that we manufacture. Well, you think that, I think this, we just need to learn to get along. There's more to it than that. The whole point of peace is, when it says He is our peace, is that you have been brought to God the Father. I have been brought to God the Father. We are at the same place.
You see what I'm saying? We both stand before the cross. We both stand before the throne of God. We are both indwelt with the same Spirit. That is the bond of peace.
That's where we need to be majoring. He is our peace. He has made us both one, as the Apostle Paul says in earlier chapters.
He has removed that wall of hostility. There is one common source of peace. We've been brought to the same point, which is God Himself. And therefore, if I have peace with God, you have peace with God, then it follows that we are then ruled in our hearts and minds by the peace of God. And if I am at peace with God and I am ruled by the peace of God, then the natural outflow of that will be the peace, the bond of peace between the people of God. This is how we are to walk in unity, to be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Let me make a striking statement here.
I hope you'll remember this. This is very true. Because remember, as we've studied, chapters 1 to 3 come before chapters 1 to 4.
Chapters 1 to 3 are indicative. They are truths. This is what is true of you. This is what God has done. This is who you are in Christ.
And then chapters 4 to 6 are the natural outflow of you coming to grips with what's true in chapters 1 to 3. So if you are at peace with God and your heart and mind are ruled by the peace of God, one who is at peace inside will promote peace outside. One who is at peace within will be a promoter of peace without.
And you know the converse is also true. If one is not at peace within, then they will be an obstacle to peace without. They will not be making a determined effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Now, why would someone not be, why would a Christian not be at peace within? Let me give you two recommendations here.
This is not something I'm recommending you do. It's your understanding. Why would a Christian not be at peace within? Well, number one is ignorance.
Ignorance. Chapters 1 to 3. When you come to studying the book of Ephesians, you completely skip over chapters 1 to 3 and you go right to the commands of Scripture.
I've said it before and I'll say it again a thousand times. You can't do 4 to 6 if you haven't come to grips with 1 to 3. 4 to 6 is an outflow of 1 to 3. And where one can be not at peace within is where they're thinking, oh man, I just got to try hard, try my best just to do the things that are listed in chapters 4 to 6. Okay, I just need to be more about unity, more about unity in the church. What does chapters 1 to 3 give us as a foundation and a resource for that unity? And if I am ignorant of chapters 1 to 3, then I am simply going to be pulling myself up by my own bootstraps to try to maintain the unity and it's rigorous. You've been listening to Delight and Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. Visit our church website to see upcoming events or to listen to more messages at www.gbcwinston.com. To discover how to live by grace, tune in on weekdays at 10 a.m.
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