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The Gift of Being United

Pastor Gary Dunahoo
Open to the Gifts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  46:02
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Series: Open to the Gifts Sermon: The Gift of Being United Scripture: Ephesians 4:1-16 We’re in the book of Ephesians, the fourth chapter, and one of the advantages of looking at a large passage like this is the flow of the text. I see three parts in this passage. The first part talks about “the life of the Trinity,” the second part talks about “how you & I live in spiritual immaturity,” and the third part builds on the other two by commissioning us to “Do the hard work of developing and creating unity in the church.” Listen to the Word of God….. (slide) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” 9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:1-16 Here’s the flow. The flow of the text says, even though we have the life of the Trinity in us, we live in spiritual immaturity UNTIL we’re willing to do the hard work of developing and creating unity in the church. It’s a pretty remarkable passage of scripture. Let’s begin with the Life of the Trinity. (slide) Life with the Father, Son & Spirit What is a Christian? Paul actually told us in chapter 2 when He said, “God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive together with Christ and raised us up and seated us in the heavenly places.” Verse 15 says when you become a Christian, Christ is your Head and you’re part of His Body. You know, a head is not just stapled onto the rest of the body, unless you’re Frankenstein. The head and the body share the same life. They share the same circulation system, nervous system, the same life. Verses 4–6 actually tells us we share the same Spirit, we share the same Lord (that’s Jesus), and we share the same God and Father of all. Because the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are in us through the Spirit, that means we have the life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in us. What makes you a Christian is not being a nice person, a moral person or because you believe the Bible. What makes you a Christian is having the life of God in you. Never think of Christianity as just a way of life. It’s not just about being good or nice and kind or caring for the poor or being a person of integrity. These traits are the result or fruit of life in the Spirit, but that’s not the essence of it. Don’t insult the gospel by thinking of Christianity as just being nice to people. You’re not only nice, you’re new. You’re alive, and you have the life with the Father, Son & Spirit in you. There’s this great relationship that has come into your life, and you’re awakening to new realities! It’s a big deal. The text we read says, we live in spiritual immaturity. (slide) We live in spiritual immaturity Today I’m NOT going to talk about how Christians are given spiritual gifts to minister to one another but IU will reference V11, which tells us the leaders in a church are equippers. Pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets and apostles are equipping gifts who God uses to awaken dreams in us. God gifts them to reveal His heart, to heal us and teach us. Can God “gift” Kevin & Chris to be equippers of Hope Saints? Does God have the ability to impart who He is into them so they can function in ways to equip the rest of the church for works of service, which is ministry. In other words, every Christian has a gift of ministry, and the leaders of the church are people who equip the Christians to minister to each other. What is the purpose of all this ministry? All the ministry that’s going on in the church, all the ministry that’s going on at Hope, what’s the purpose of it? The apostle Paul says…. (slide) All the ministry that goes on at Hope is to prepare God’s people for works of service (verse 12) so the body of Christ may be built up until we become (verse 13) mature “… attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Everything that happens in the church is about developing spiritual maturity, but if that’s the case, then it means we’re all immature or we wouldn’t need the church or the churches role to grow all of us up! V14 says, “Then we will no longer be infants …” Paul is saying, “We need the ministry of the church. We need to be ministering to each other. We need prophets and apostles and evangelists and pastors and teachers to equip the saints so all the Christians are doing ministry. All this is going on SO we may no longer be children.” What does it mean to be a spiritual baby? Let me give you three marks of being a spiritual infant or spiritually immature. The first one you can see right on the top. (slide) Spiritual babies are not discerning--“Then we will no longer be infants …” Then he describes it. “… blown here and there by every wind of teaching …” Babies can’t discern. “It doesn’t matter. Just give it to me.” They have no discernment. Until you know your way around the Bible you’re considered to be a spiritually immature. (slide) Spiritual babies are incredibly self-centered—"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” V2. He’s concerned about their spiritual maturity, so he says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Spiritual babies are always thinking about themselves. You’re always getting your feelings hurt. You’re always feeling slighted. You’re always conscious of, “How are people looking at me or thinking about me or treating me? Am I being treated rightly or not? It’s not fair. I’m not being treated fairly.” Let me give you the third example. (slide) Spiritual babies are not steady—"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth” One of the other things I noticed about infants or babies is they have a short attention span. The only way you can get them to sort of pay attention for about 10 seconds is if the object is lights, sparks, music, action. For 10 seconds a child goes, “Ooh,” like that, and then suddenly, “Okay, give me something else.” They laugh and then they’re suddenly so upset and then they’re bored. They cannot keep their attention on things. Of course, they’re babies, and everybody is okay with that. Obviously, if you are a person of spiritual maturity you are always listening & learning from scripture, you are discerning and wise & not self-centered. If you’re mature, you’re steady. When you make a decision, you follow through. You know how to handle situations that don’t go the way you prefer. You know how to continue to be faithful and enduring and obedient even when things don’t go well. Are you more humble than you were last year? More self-controlled, more peace regardless of circumstances? If you are growing OUT OF immaturity, you are more humble, you are happier, more gentle, and your life is characterized by peace. What gets us there? What develops growth in us? What is the tool God uses to grow you & I up? I’m glad you asked….. (slide) Do the hard work of developing and creating unity within His Church Paul says there is no growing into spiritual maturity just by you working on yourself as an individual. It’s through involvement in a church community and through the increasing unity and closeness of relationships inside the Christian community. The immaturity in you & others will grow up when we focus on faith in Jesus and the knowledge of Him. First of all, look how he defines maturity in verse 13. (slide) “… until we all reach …” What? He runs these together. “… unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature …” v.13 How do you become mature? By growing in unity. That is as you become more and more united in your faith and in your experience with other people in the church, that’s what knowledge of the Son of God is, the more one you become, the more unified you are, the closer and deeper your relationships get, the more you grow in maturity. What that means, of course, is very simple. If you want to become like God, if you want to have this divine life grow and experience growing into maturity, it only happens when the life of the Father, Son, & Spirit are reflected in this life in the community. Verse 15 says, (slide) “… speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” V.15 That’s it. There’s the practice. You will not grow, I will not grow, unless we are plunged into a community of people who have this opportunity to be uniquely different and work on balancing truth and love in their conversations. Love without truth is deadly—some of us are so nice about what we say, people don’t hear what we said. Truth without love is also deadly—some of us say the truth so abrasive it doesn’t come off as loving. Do you see what the work is? Look at v15 one more time. (slide) “… speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” V.15 Do you know why we struggle to keep truth & love together? We all have a bent toward pride, selfishness & self-centeredness. God is giving each of us the goal of growing up and the WAY we will grow up, in ALL things is to do the hard work of merging truth AND love in our life and in the way we communicate. Hope Church, you are a community of faith, you are a community coming into the knowledge of the Son of God. Speak the truth in love, you are no longer infants, you are no longer immature. You are a recipient of the blessing of being united by faith in Him. (slide) The gospel is the ultimate message of truth and love. If you take it in and understand it, you realize He did this for you on the cross, this will humble you out of ever telling the truth abrasively, and it affirms you out of your need to always please people. Hope Church, speak the truth in love exactly the way Christ has revealed His love and truth to you
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