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Unity of the Spirit

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
March 1, 2023 12:00 am

Unity of the Spirit

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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March 1, 2023 12:00 am

Salvation comes from God and bridges the divide caused by sin.

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Wednesday, March 1. Does it seem like there is more division in the world than ever before? Today's podcast encourages the body of Christ to strive for unity of the Spirit. Sin divides, it separates, and it splinters. If you look in the very beginning of the Scriptures, what do you find? You find sin separating the first family from God. Then you find it separating that first family from the Garden of Eden. And all down through the centuries, from the very beginning of time, sin has been a separator, a divider, and a splinter. And that is exactly what salvation is all about, because it is God's purpose in life to reunite mankind with Himself and with each other.

In fact, when you talk about reconciliation, for example, when the Bible speaks of reconciliation, Paul said that God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to Himself. And so the title of this message is Unity of the Spirit. And I want you to turn, if you will, to Ephesians chapter 4. And the fourth chapter of Ephesians is our text for this message. And I want to just give you a little idea while you're turning there that the first three chapters of Ephesians are all doctrinal.

And here's what they deal with. The first three chapters deal with our position in Christ. And then what he does, beginning in this fourth chapter, he talks about living out what we are because of our relationship to God in Christ. He says, now, here's who you are, chapters 1 through 3.

On the basis of that, this is the way we're to live. And I want you to notice what he says, and we'll read these first six verses. He says, I therefore the prisoner, chapter 4 now, I therefore the prisoner of the Lord entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you've been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Then he says, 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. And notice he says, the unity of the Spirit, and notice in the Bible, that's a capital S. That's just not any old kind of Spirit, but the unity of the Spirit. He says, being diligent to preserve this Spirit. Now what is this Spirit?

Then he says, the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us, guiding us. When you and I are walking in submission to the Spirit, that does not mean that all of us would agree about everything. But it means in our spirit that we would walk together, that there would certainly be a great sense of an agreement, and there would be a great sense of cooperation because we would set aside any personal differences that we have. Does that mean that everybody will always agree about most things?

Not necessarily. The unity of the Spirit means that we would walk in submission to the Holy Spirit. It does not mean that we don't have personal differences, and some people like to dress one way and another way, and some people like to go this place and that place, and it does not mean that kind of agreement. The unity of the Spirit is this, that God is interested, very interested, keenly interested, and keenly aware that his people, that the body of Christ, the church, walk in oneness and submission to the Holy Spirit, thereby being able to walk together to accomplish his purpose in our life and in the life of the church. Now, with that in mind, we ask ourselves this question. Well, if all of this is true, and it certainly is what God wants, because you see, a church functions best and is happier and more fruitful when it is functioning as one. I want you to look at two or three verses here because I think these are so significant. And notice what Paul said now. Let's look in verse three.

Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, he says, then there is one body. What in the world does he mean by that? When the Bible talks about the body, except when it's referring to a physical human body, it is referring to the church. And here's what he's saying. In the local body, that is in the church, in the body of Christ, the body of Christ cannot function properly unless each part of it is doing its part. Here's what that means. There's no such thing as an unimportant member of a church.

Every single member is important. It does not mean that we'll always agree about everything, but it means in our spirit, we are marching together, walking together, the same sense of direction and the same purpose. That's what he talks about when he says one body, that's what we are, one body. Then if you'll notice how else he says.

Go back to that same list again now. He says that we are one body in Christ. Then if you'll notice, he says we are one spirit. Now what does he mean by one spirit? Simply this, that does not mean that there are not lots of spirits out there. There are lots of evil spirits, but there is only one Holy Spirit. And that Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity. When I think about some sect that I'm thinking of right now who does not believe in the Trinity and that does not believe in the Holy Spirit, how in the world are you going to live a godly life when you ignore, ostracize and absolute and total unbelief about the person of the Trinity who lives on the inside of you to enable you to live the Christian life because there's not a single person who has within him or within her the strength to live the Christian life apart from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who came to enable us to live the life that we're to live and to do the work that God has called us to.

It's an absolute impossibility. So he says there's one body. We're all part of it. We all have the same spirit, one spirit. Then what does he mean when he talks about one hope of our calling? Well, our calling is to salvation. Our calling is to life of obedience. Our calling is to life of holiness. But when he talks about it here, he talks about our calling, the hope of our calling. What is the hope of the church? The hope of our calling as believers is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and our rapture. Now, when we talk about the body of Christ, we say we're talking about all the believers all over the world. If Jesus Christ were to come right now, it wouldn't make any difference where anybody is.

If that person is the child of God, no matter what their language, what their color, what their race, what their background, we're going to all be caught up instantly. You see, there's not going to be any partiality in heaven with God. He's going to see us all as his children.

He's going to love us all as his children because we are part of the body. He says we have one calling. Then if you notice, he says one Lord. Now, if I should ask you, how many of you have one Lord? Probably everybody who is a believer in here would raise your hand.

But let me ask you this. Is the Lord Jesus Christ ruling and controlling your life? I do not mean that every single moment he is and that you never sin, I don't mean that.

But that your life is committed to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. You see, the disciples, you won't find them calling him Jesus. They called him Lord. They acknowledged his lordship.

They acknowledged his rightful place as sovereign, the one who had the right to control. There's only one Lord, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the same Lord who will sit at the judgment before which you and I stand not to give an account for our life to see whether we're saved or not, but he is the Lord before whom we shall stand and receive our rewards for all eternity. There is one body. There is one spirit.

There is one hope. And as he says here, there is one Lord, and that person is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Now, not only one Lord, but he says one faith. Well, what in the world does that mean? I mean, don't we all have our faith, your faith, my faith, her faith, his faith?

No. What he's referring to here, he is referring to if you'll turn to Jude. And in Jude, he identifies what I believe Paul is referring to here because in the New Testament days, they had, when the apostle Paul, by the time he came along and began to write these letters and began to teach, they had a system of faith. Now, listen to how he says it in Jude. He says, Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. Now, what is he talking about here?

Here's what he's talking about. He's talking about what you and I believe. That is, by the time the apostle Paul came along, what they believed about who Jesus Christ was, his death, his burial, his resurrection. Paul talked about justification, reconciliation, redemption. He talked about the atoning death of Jesus Christ.

He talked about the church, our relationship to the church, our relationship to each other, our belief system, our behavior. That is, by that time, there was a system of belief. There was a deposit of truth. And that was the truth that they lived by.

And here's what he was saying. He says, I am appealing to you that you contend, you defend, you stand firm for what you believe. There is only one faith. And if somebody says, well, what is the Christian life all about? The Christian life is all about Jesus Christ. It is about our faith in him and our faith in him governs everything else we do.

We have a belief system. And so he says you to contend for that, defend that, proclaim that, but do not give up and do not let someone steal from you the faith that you have. So when he talks about one faith, that is what he is referring to here, speaking of one Lord, one faith, one baptism and so forth. Then if you'll notice, he says, not only that, he says one baptism. Now, what does that mean?

Here's what it means. When you and I were saved, the Spirit of God placed us, as it were, in relationship with Jesus Christ so that we become identified with him. We are his followers. We believe in him. We are a part of him and he's a part of us.

He said, now I'm abiding in you and you're abiding in me. And so that is our spiritual baptism. And that is baptism. Now, what we do when we take people and we physically baptize, that is a visible expression of what has happened before. And that is we died to our old way of life. We were buried, baptized by the Spirit into Christ Jesus and now we walk in newness of life.

That is simply a physical expression. The Spirit of God placing us in Christ, that's what gets us saved. Getting into a baptismal pool and some pastor dunking you under the water and bringing you back up, that is a visible, literal, physical expression of your confession of faith in Christ that you have been baptized by the Spirit of God into Christ Jesus that you've become a part of his body. And so we're not talking about two baptisms. We're talking about an expression of what the real baptism is, which is the baptism of the Spirit of God that's placed us into Christ. You and I did not get saved by something we did.

We were saved by responding to what God has done at the cross and it was the Spirit of God who sealed us and placed us into Christ Jesus. So when you talk about one baptism, that is what he's referring to. Then, of course, he says, one God. Now, look how he says this. Look how he says it. He says, one God and Father.

Listen, if you were a member of any other religion in the world, you wouldn't be saying that. You'd be talking about your God, most of all, oftentimes fear and uncertainty, but you and I can say, my God and my Father. And notice what he says about him. He is one God, a Father of all who is over all, the sovereign ruler and controller of the universe. And he is through all, all that, listen, what he is doing in this life, he's doing it through his children.

And he says, and in all, he's living inside of every single one of us. Look at the tremendous emphasis that God is placing on oneness, unity of spirit. There is only one body, the body of Christ. There's only one hope, one spirit.

There's only one hope in this life and that is the hope that God has given us. One spirit. He says, all this oneness, what is this? This one God, one Lord. What is he trying to help us to see? That you and I are a personal, vital, individual, loved part of the body of Christ.

There's not a single person in here that's unimportant and nobody in here more important than the Father. Now watch this. Let's go back to a couple of verses you probably thought, well, I bet you forgot those. Look at this. Look in verse two, because what I want to talk about now, I want to talk about now the whole idea of what is required of me if I'm going to walk and if I am going to help preserve the unity of the Spirit. Now the unity of the Spirit is what God creates, but I do have a responsibility, though he wouldn't have said, be diligent to preserve it. So listen to this now.

Watch this. Every single Christian doesn't make any difference who you are and where you are. Every single believer has a personal obligation to contribute to, to help maintain the unity of the Spirit, the oneness of the Spirit in the body of Christ.

We all have a responsibility. Now here's what he does. What he does in this passage is he lists four, listen, he lists four characteristics. Look at that in verse two. With all humility and gentleness, patience and showing forbearance to one another in love.

Now let's think about this for a moment. Watch this. How can I live in the body of Christ in such a fashion as to promote oneness and unity of Spirit? Well, he says there are four characteristics you and I need.

Now watch these. First of all, he says humility. Now that's the one characteristic if you ever say I got it, you just lost it because you cannot have it and boast of it. Now what is humility? Well, this is the simplest way to describe humility, maybe so you can remember it. You know how to spell joy, J-O-Y.

So let's make an acrostic. Jesus first, J, others second, and yourself last, J-O-Y. You know what humility is? Humility is that's the way I look at my life. It is Jesus first in my life. It is others second and then myself is last. That is, I put him first as the priority of my life. Other people second, self last. Now a true believer is going to walk not trying to be somebody, not trying to be a big shot, not trying to get ahead. You see, people who lack a spirit of humility, they're interested in prominence, prestige, position, power, and prosperity.

And they'll knock you down to get it if necessary. A humble spirit says, Lord, here's my life and whatever you want to do with me, thank you for the sense of direction you've given me and I'll give my best and as diligent as I know how and whatever you want to do with my life, that's up to you. If you want to exalt me, fine. If you don't, that's fine. And you see, a person who has the right spirit is never going to lord it over somebody.

Listen carefully. Listen, if you do this, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Anytime you do that to somebody, make them feel less than they are.

If you think that that is good in any fashion, you've missed the point. God hates pride. He hates arrogance.

He hates that kind of thing. We are all saved by the same grace of God and then dwelt with the same spirit and the spirit that hates pride in one person hates pride in another person. So he says, you know, if the body is going to work together and the church is going to move forward, there's a spirit of humility. Then he says gentleness. Well, what in the world does gentleness mean? Well, in some translations, the word is meekness and most people think meekness means what? Weakness.

Where in the world do we get that? Because it sounds like? You know what meekness means? Here's what it means.

It means strength under control. What is a gentle person? A gentle person is not a weak person. A gentle person is one who is strong and who is firm and who is not easily irritated, is not thrown off course, that conveys difficulty and hardship and trial and scolding and criticism and false accusations and all the rest.

And you know what? Not be blown off course, not be shaken, but stand direct and stand firm and thank God. Then he says not only gentleness, but notice what's the next word? Patience. Well, what in the world is he talking about here?

We're talking about the body of Christ working together, moving together. What is he talking about when he talks about patience? He's simply saying a person who has the capacity not to rush in before God's timing, not to get ahead of God, to be able to stand the criticism, the hardship and whatever it may be and not retaliate, not take out vengeance, have the power to be vengeful if you wanted to, but you don't do it.

Why? Because your faith and trust is in the Lord. Then when he talks about long suffering here, what in the world does he mean when he talks about forbearance, which he's talking about here? Here's what it means. It means put up with somebody who is obnoxious.

That's exactly what it means. Put up with them. And all of us have seen people and met people who just somehow are just obnoxious.

Well, now a person who is forbearing is a person who puts up with it. I think about it, I used to have two little dachshunds. And there was a big dog had come over in my yard and my dachshunds, you know, they're just like hot dogs, and they were just about that high up again. This huge dog with his big mouth, big Great Dane, he could have swallowed either one, any one of them. My dachshunds that bark and just, I mean, just throw a fit.

He just walk along and look at them like that and just keep going and just pay them absolutely no mind. That is being forbearing. Don't eat them alive.

I mean, even though you could. And all of us know people like that. Well, how does the body of Christ, how do we function and how do we protect the unity of the Spirit? We make sure that our own spirits is such that we don't think ourselves better than anybody else. And that we're gentle in our responses to people and we're patient in whatever God's doing in the life of the fellowship and we're forbearing toward others who are hard to deal with and hard to get along with. Now, listen, this is where we encourage each other. This is where we become one. There are no lone ranges in the Christian life. I don't know about you, but I need you and you need me. We all need each other. And we join our hearts and our hands and our souls and our beings and our money and our time and our efforts and our gifts and our talents together and watch God do His wonderful work.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-01 05:53:06 / 2023-03-01 06:01:19 / 8

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