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Unity in diversity
 

Unity in diversity

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Message of Pastor James Echon on October 28, 2011 IFBMA Church Conference

Message of Pastor James Echon on October 28, 2011 IFBMA Church Conference

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    Unity in diversity Unity in diversity Presentation Transcript

    • [By Pastor James Echon] from his compiled lecture materials and messages preached.
    • INTRODUCTION  “By unity the smallest thrives and flourishes; by discord, even the greatest are destroyed.”  A. INFORMATION  Unity in diversity is a slogan celebrating cooperation between different groups of people from different societies that propagate a sense of oneness despite physical, religious or psychological barriers.
    •  In 1938, the leader of the Baha'i Faith said it was the "watchword" of their religion.[1]  "Unity in diversity" or some variation is also the official slogan of the European Union.  "Unity in Diversity" is one of the nine Enduring Principles of the Community of Christ, an international Christian church. [2]  2Community of Christ, known from 1872 to 2001 as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS); an American based international Christian church.
    •  B. REMARK:  [WE WILL USE THIS PHRASE IN THIS LECTURE WITH A THOUGHT IN MIND THAT WE ARE NOT HERE TO PROMOTE SUCH KIND OF UNITY…  BUT THE UNITY THAT THE SCRIPTURE TEACHES.]  “All true saints, the true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, are invisibly but vitally united to Christ, and that union entails unity.”
    •  C. BIBLE REFERENCES:  John 17:20-21  Psalm 133:1  Acts 4:32  Rom 12:16; 15:5-6
    •  1 Cor 1:10  1 Cor 12:12-13  1 Cor 13:11  Eph 4:1-3  Phil 2:2
    •  D. QUOTES:  “Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.” [Mahatma Gandhi]  “The soul gives unity to what it looks at with love.” [Thomas Carlyle]  “The multitude which is not brought to act as a unity, is confusion.” [Blaise Pascal]  “Unity without verity [truth] is no better than conspiracy.” [John Trapp]
    •  I. DEFINITION AND CONCEPT OF UNITY  A. Dictionary [Wikipedia; Webster]  1. Unity is the state of being undivided or unbroken.  2. Unity is a single undivided thing, seen as complete in itself.  3. Unity is a thing undivided itself, but separate from other thing.
    •  Synonym:  1. Coherence – the integration of diverse elements, relationships, or values  Usage:  1. In Literature [writing]  2. In Mass Media – a program in video or movie production.  3. In Computers – a program in making games  4. It is also used in Math and in Science
    •  B. Biblical Concepts about Unity  1. God [Trinity / tri-unity]  2. God’s creation [universe]  Matter [SLG]  Space [LWT]  Time [PPF]
    •  3. Two agreeing together  [Amos 3:3 cf. Ecc. 4:9-12]  4. Body concept  [Rom 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12-14]
    •  ILLUSTRATION - Productive, not destructive use of the hand.  In a Peanuts cartoon Lucy demanded that Linus change TV channels, threatening him with her fist if he didn't.  "What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?" asks Linus.
    •  "Individually they're nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold."  "Which channel do you want?" asks Linus.  Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, "Why can't you guys get organized like that?“ Charles Schultz.
    •  II. DEMONSTRATIONS AND ILLUSTRATIONS OF UNITY  Water [h2o] = 2 hydrogen + 1 oxygen  Broom stick and match stick  “Bayanihan” of Filipino Culture  10 lbs. man’s force
    •  III. DEMANDS AND REQUIREMENTS OF UNITY  A. Unity requires the upholding of the foundation of the New Testament church.  The CHURCH is of something planned in eternity past in the heart of the one God in three persons, a tri- unity.  In such plan, the church is called the body of Christ, a demonstration of and call to unity.
    •  1. The Body of Christ is composed of unity in diversity.  There is one body, but many members.  There is one vine, but many branches.  There is one army, but many soldiers.  There is one temple, but many living stones.  There is one family, but may children (sons).  There is one sheepfold, but many sheep.
    •  2. The Body of Christ, being alive, is required to uphold the same precious principles and activities the early church maintained.  We can be united and identified with the early church by upholding the same:
    •  SAVED BY FAITH (Acts 2:38-41a)  SEPARATED BY BAPTISM (Acts 2:41b)  SOUND IN DOCTRINE (Acts 2:42a)  STRONG IN FELLOWSHIP (Acts 2:42b)  SIMPLE IN WORSHIP (Acts 2:42c)  STEADFAST IN PRAYER (Acts 2:42d)  SANCTIFIED IN LIFE (Acts 2:48)  SOLD ON THE GOSPEL (Acts 2:44-45)  SINGING FROM THE HEART (Acts 2:46-47a)  SUCCESSFUL IN WITNESS (Acts 2:47b)
    •  B. Unity in the church require the upholding the New Testament church leadership.  Throughout the scriptures we are reminded that leadership is not an option but an essential principle in the lives of God’s people.  When God wanted to accomplish some great purpose, he inevitably called a leader to represent him and provide vision, courage, motivation, and unity.
    •  So the church must only elect and endorse as church officers and leaders persons –  > who profess the experience of regeneration and sanctification as their banner and public witness to the grace of God that calls us to a holy life;  > who are in harmony with the doctrines, polity, and practices of the New Testament Church; and  > who support the local church faithfully by their attendance, service and in the giving of their tithes and offerings.
    •  C. Unity requires the upholding faithful service.  1. Service founded on reliance upon God, in His wisdom and power; not on human potentials.  2. Service focused on Evangelism and Church Planting.  3. Service focused on Edification and church growth.
    •  REMARKS:  1. It is foolishness when the believers don't work for, work through, and support the institution Christ redeemed and built, the church.  This leads churches become weak instead of becoming strong and great.
    •  In the Bible there were few really great churches.  2. The church at Jerusalem was, for a while, a great church.  But by observation, the greatest church in the Bible was the church in Antioch.  a. In the first place, the church at Antioch was started by Christians who were persecuted because of the death of Stephen.  It says that there was a persecution of those because of the death of Stephen, and the persecution arose and the Christians left Jerusalem and migrated north and went as far as Phoenicia and on to Antioch.  They started a church on people who were persecuted because they witnessed for Christ.
    •  b. It was a church where the people were first called Christians.  The Christians never named themselves Christians.  They didn't get together and say, "Let's call ourselves something," and they voted to call themselves Christians. No.  The people of Antioch saw these people and said, "You folks are so much like this man called Christ." They called them Christians.
    •  c. It was a church that helped the needy.  When the church at Jerusalem had some problems, or folks needed help, food-wise and so forth, they took an offering at Antioch and sent help to the church at Jerusalem.  d. The church at Antioch was the church that sent out the first church missionaries.
    •  e. It was a church of great pastors.  Paul, Silas, Peter, Barnabas and others preached or pastored the church.  f. It was a great soul-winning church.
    •  3. There are other churches in the Bible that were good churches.  a. Philippi was not a great church, but it was a good church because it is a loving church.  b. Smyrna was a church that was not a great church, but a good church because it stood strong amidst persecution.  c. The church at Thessalonica was not a great church, but it was a good church because it was watchful for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    •  With careful considerations, there were only two or three, at the most, great churches in the Bible.  One, the church at Antioch, two the church at Jerusalem; and maybe, in the early days, the church at Ephesus, were the great churches in the Bible.
    •  4. Now, there are many weak churches. In fact, there are more weak churches in the Bible than there are great churches.  A great church can become a weak church like the church, for example –  a. Church at Ephesus  * Because they left their first love.  * They refused to do their first works.  * They went from the soul-winning business, lost their heartbeat and their their zeal.
    •  b. Church at Sardis  * It was a church that the Bible says, "Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead."  * They have activities going all the time, their fellowship hall was busy every night, but they bear no fruit. They were dead."  c. The church at Pergamos  * Because they dwelt where Satan's throne was.  * Now Satan is the god of this world; Sardis was a worldly church.
    •  d. The church at Thyatira  * Because they suffered a lady whose name was Jezebel to run the church.  e. The church at Laodicea  * The Bible says that they were neither hot nor cold and because they were neither hot nor cold, God said, "I will spew thee out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:16)  * The word "Laodicea" means to please the people; it was a people-pleasing church.
    •  f. The churches at Galatia  * They sewed back the veil in the temple. They preached legalism.  * They didn't preach that salvation was by grace through faith. They preached a work salvation and went back to legalism.
    •  g. The church at Colosse  * It is a weak church because they were guilty of angel worship.
    •  5. Practical observations in the ministry – “When we use people to build the church, rather than using the church to build people."  Churches must start working to make the right kind of people, then, even all the demons in hell can't keep you from having a great church.  When the church does this, it will reproduce the same kind of people who will plant a church that will build people, who will also plant a church that will build people, and on, and on and on. And so the cycle goes.
    •  6. Unity in the church is seen by its action!  A living church has activities. It does not just have a name that it is alive, but dead.  The unity of the Church, in profession, worship, and holy walking, was strikingly exemplified in the early age of Christianity.  Those who "gladly received the word were baptized and added to the church," consisting of the Apostles and other disciples; and "continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:41-42, 47).
    •  And, after their number was still farther augmented by the addition of many thousands, "The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul" (Acts 4:32).  7. Unity is being of one heart and one soul  This union was not only confined to those who lived together, but all of them in every place formed one sacred "brotherhood" (cf. 1 Pet. 2:17).
    •  a. This unity consists in having one Head and Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom the "one God and Father of all" has appointed over his house (Eph. 4:6).  To admit a temporal head of the Church, whether pope or king, to call any man master in religion, or to enlist ourselves under the banners of any human leader, is to sin against the first precept of Christian unity.
    •  ILLUSTRATION  Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.  So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.  A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God.
    •  b. This is the unity of the faith.  > "There is one body," because there is "one faith" (Eph. 4:4-5). A system of faith or of revealed truth, as well as of duties, has in every age formed an essential and important part of true religion.  > "There is one baptism" (Eph. 4:5), and fellowship in the same acts of worship. Baptism is a solemn badge of Christian profession
    •  c. This unity recognizes respect of external government and discipline.  Christ, the head of the Church, "gave pastors and teachers - helps, governments, for the work of the ministry, for the gathering together of the saints, for the edifying of the body, till they all come in the unity of the faith, and knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man" (cf. Eph. 4:11-13; 1 Cor. 12:28).
    •  d. This unity walks in the bind of mutual charity and peace.  This is the silken cord which ought to be thrown over all others, and which makes Christian union complete.  Hence, charity, or love, is called by an Apostle a perfect bond: "Above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness" (Col. 3:14).
    •  IV. ENEMY OF UNITY  ILLUSTRATION – “Know your enemy”  A couple of navy stories may help illustrate the sad result of internal strife and the positive result of unity.  Two battleships met in the night and began to attack each other. In the conflict, a number of crewmen were severely wounded, and both vessels were damaged.  As daylight broke, the sailors on the ships discovered to their amazement that both vessels flew the English flag.
    •  Many years earlier, just before the battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the British naval hero Lord Nelson learned that an admiral and a captain in his fleet were not on good terms.  Sending for the two men, he placed the hands of the admiral and the captain together. Then, looking them both in the face, he said, "Look--yonder is the enemy!" Unknown.
    •  1. The spirit of division  This produced the bitter and pernicious [evil or wicked] fruits in the church at Corinth, even in apostolic times.  "It hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren . . . that there are contentions among you. . . .  Every one of you saith, 'I am of Paul;' and 'I of Apollos;' and 'I of Cephas;' and 'I of Christ.' Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye first baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Cor. 1:11-12).
    •  "First of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it" (1 Cor. 11:18).  "I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would ... lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults" (2 Cor. 12:20).  Disorders and animosities of this kind may abate and gradually settle into a calm, without the restoration of true peace.
    •  Thus, in ancient times the Church was divided into Greeks and Latins.  In more modern times, Protestants have been divided into Lutherans and Calvinists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Independents, with a great variety of other denominations, which it would be painful and impossible to enumerate.
    •  2. Men of corrupt mind  This happens because of the instrumentality of men who are activited by different motives and principles, for which they are entirely responsible.  It is incumbent on all Christians to "endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3).  The violation of it can only be traced to a sinful cause.
    •  ILLUSTRATION  The story is told about a small, country church where the pastor called a special meeting of the congregation to approve the purchase of a brand new chandelier.  After some discussion pro and con, an old farmer stood up and said, "Buying a new chandelier may seem like a good idea to you, but I’m against it for three reasons.”
    •  “First of all, it’s too expensive and we can’t afford one.  Second, there isn’t anybody around here who knows how to play one.  And third, what we really need in this church is a new light fixture."
    •  3. Spirit of Dissention or rebellion  When dissensions arise in the Church of God, and it is divided into parties, whatever the occasion or matter of difference may be, there must be guilt somewhere.  The rules of truth, peace, and holy fellowship have been transgressed; and those who are justly chargeable with this cannot be blameless.  The Scripture has affixed a mark of disfavor on those who "cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which we have received" (cf. Rom. 16:17).
    •  The dissensions which prevail in the Church may be traced in general to the workings of human corruption.  "Whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?" (Jam. 4:1).
    •  ILLUSTRATION  An issue of National Geographic included a photograph of the fossil remains of two saber-tooth cats locked in combat.  To quote the article: "One had bitten deep into the leg bone of the other, a thrust that trapped both in a common fate. The cause of the death of the two cats is as clear as the causes of the extinction of their species are obvious.  When Christians fight each other, everybody loses. As Paul put it, "if you keep biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other" (Galations 5:15) Peter A. Alwinson.
    •  There can be nothing more repugnant [offensive] to the spirit of Christianity, or damaging to the peace of the church, than that of discords and rebellion.  They spring from the ignorance, error, unbelief, prejudice, pride, passion, selfishness, carnality, which are widespread [prevalent] in the minds of some of the members of the Church.  These dissentions consist of uncertain and unprofitable opinions, designed to unsettle the minds of the hearers, and prompting perverse disputings and endless questions;  Divisions in the Church may often be traced to a spirit of vanity, pride, and ambition.
    •  4. Spirit of error, and heresy  Discord is often found combined with a spirit of error, and has formed a very prominent feature in the character of heretics and the founders of sects.  Others are provoked to divide the Church by the base desire of gratifying their greed or covetousness, and procuring a livelihood from the disciples whom they draw after them.  Such are the "unruly and vain talkers and deceivers," described by Paul, "who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake" (Titus 1:10-11).  They are charged by Peter as those who "beguile unstable souls ... following the way of Balaam the Son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness" (2 Pet. 2:14-15).
    •  WARNING  1. Divisions in the Church sometimes become hardened or deep-rooted, and it is the work of extreme difficulty to heal them.  a. It is easy to divide, but not so easy to unite.  A child may break or take to pieces an instrument which it will confuse the most skillful to put together and repair.
    •  b. Leniency and tolerance easily creeps in  The force of these is sometimes greatly increased by leniency or tolerance, so that parties become more and more alienated from one another by mutual injuries and recrimination; for "the beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water" (Prov. 17:4).
    •  The toleration of one error, and the defense of one sinful practice, leads to the adoption and defense of another, and that of a third…  so that when an individual or a society has turned from the right way, every step they take carries them farther astray, and removes them to a greater distance from those who can help them back to the path of truth and duty.
    •  c. Passing of time does not mean healing  If time is expected to relieve the heat and fierceness of controversy, and to smooth down the harshness of personal animosity, it will only contribute to widen the breach in another way.  It will add to the original grounds of difference and separation. Parties at variance are inclined to move to a farther distance from each other.
    •  They will not only magnify the real point of dispute, but also to create or discover new ones, with the purpose of vindicating their separation, and enlarging the charges which they bring against their opponents.  The consequence is that when proposals of reconciliation are made, and a treaty of reunion is set, the original cause of the breach forms perhaps the smallest matter of difference between the parties.
    •  DIFFICULTY  It is always a work of difficulty to reconcile hostile parties, whatever the matter of strife may happen to be.  Men, even those who are not of the most contentious or obstinate tempers, have been known to persevere until they had ruined themselves and their families.  When discord and contention arise between those who are allied by blood, or who were united by the bonds of close friendship, their variance is of all others the most severe and deadly.
    •  "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city; and their contentions are like the bars of a castle" (Prov. 18:19).  If "love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave" (Song 8:6).  It cannot be denied that "The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" (James 1:20), has often been forgotten by the contending parties…  and the personal quarrels, the railing accusations, the uncharitable judgments, the willful misrepresentations contributed to bring great scandal on religion.
    •  Those who are deeply concerned about this enemy of unity and difficulty in the church must be willing to make the sacrifices to peace in the "matters of the Lord" (2 Chron. 19:11).  They must "buy the truth, but not sell it" (cf. Prov. 23:23).  The church has an entailed inheritance called “UNITY”, which the believers are bound to preserve and transmit…  "that the generation to come may know it, even the children that shall be born, who shall arise and declare it to their children" (cf. Ps. 78:6).
    •  QUESTION:  "Can we do this without admitting or confessing that we have so far erred, and acknowledging that others have been more righteous, or honest, or intelligent than we?"  "My brethren, these things ought not so to be" (Jam. 3:10).  So long as a spirit of this kind prevails, every attempt at healing divisions in the Church will fail, and become merely a covering of the disease, while the seeds of future discord and disunion are being planted and propagated.  We must guard ourselves against this great mistake where, "All seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ's!" (Phil 2:21).
    •  REMARKS:  It is not the name of any party, or of its founder or leader, but the name of Jesus Christ, that must "endure forever" (Ps. 135:13);  And every true lover of Him will be ready to say, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30), and will rejoice in seeing the saying a reality.
    •  1. Heed not the Ecumenical call:  "To remain divided is sinful! Did not our Lord pray, that they may be one, even as we are one"? (John 17:22).  A chorus of ecumenical voices keep harping the unity tune.  What they are saying is, "Christians of all doctrinal shades and beliefs must come together in one visible organization. Let us be one! Let us be united!"  Such teaching is false. Such call is reckless and dangerous.  Truth alone must determine our alignments. Truth comes before unity.
    •  Unity without truth is hazardous.  Our Lord's prayer in John 17 must be read in its full context. Look at verse 17: "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth."  Only those sanctified through the Word can be one in Christ.  To teach otherwise is to betray the Gospel. Charles H. Spurgeon, The Essence of Separation, quoted in The Berean Call, July, 1992, p. 4.
    •  There can be union without unity: tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothesline.  This is the unity of the Ecumenical movement, a unity we must not clamor for. Source Unknown.
    •  2. Learn from a true experience  During World War II, Hitler commanded all religious groups to unite so that he could control them. Among the Brethren assemblies, half complied and half refused.  Those who went along with the order had a much easier time. Those who did not, faced harsh persecution. In almost every family of those who resisted, someone died in a concentration camp.  When the war was over, feelings of bitterness ran deep between the groups and there was much tension.
    •  Finally they decided that the situation had to be healed. Leaders from each group met at a quiet retreat. For several days, each person spent time in prayer, examining his own heart in the light of Christ's commands. Then they came together.  Francis Schaeffer, who told of the incident, asked a friend who was there, "What did you do then?" "We were just one," he replied.  As they confessed their hostility and bitterness to God and yielded to His control, the Holy Spirit created a spirit of unity among them.
    •  Love filled their hearts and dissolved their hatred.  When love prevails among believers, especially in times of strong disagreement, it presents to the world an indisputable mark of a true follower of Jesus Christ.  Our Daily Bread, October 4, 1992.
    •  Years ago, Leslie Flynn penned a book called, Great Church Fights.  In it he chronicled the way people in different churches would go after each other – all in the name of Jesus Christ.  A young father heard a commotion out in his backyard, he looked outside and saw his daughter and several playmates in a heated quarrel.  When he intervened, his daughter called back, “Dad, we’re just playing church!”
    • Text – Eph. 4:1-16 [Adopted from the message of Robert L. (Bob)Deffinbaugh]*
    •  Introduction  The New Testament church is one that derives its doctrines from the New Testament.  It derives its principles and practices for church life from the New Testament.  It is one which exhibits the life of Jesus Christ to the world.  It is measured by “body life” – a life characterized by unity.
    •  ILLUSTRATION  “Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together.” Vesta Kelly.
    •  No passage deals with this fundamental to church life more clearly than that of Ephesians 4:1-16.  This passage can be logically divided into three parts, all of which relate to the central theme of Christian unity.
    •  I. FUNDAMENTAL CHRISTIAN UNITY IS TO BE PRESERVED (4:1-6)  A. This unity is not one which the Christian needs to create. (vs. 3).  1. It is based upon our sharing life in one body, the universal church, the body of Christ (vs. 5, cf. 2:15,16).  2. It exists because all Christians are sealed, possessed, and indwelt by the same Spirit and look forward to the same hope (vs. 5, cf. 1:18).
    •  3. It exists because we possess one Lord, that is, one Supreme Commander, one common faith (one system of fundamental truth) held by all Christians, and one baptism (i.e. spirit baptism, cf. 1 Cor. 12:13).
    •  B. Unity, although it can not be created by the Christians, must be preserved by them.  1. This is to be diligently pursued (vs. 3) by an attitude of humility (seeing ourselves as God does, unworthy recipients of His grace).  2. Our humble spirit should be demonstrated by a gentleness and graciousness in our dealings with others.
    •  3. This gentleness should be longsuffering, patiently enduring prolonged irritation.  4. The love which we have for one another should help us become considerate with the different characterisitcs of our fellow-Christians.  As Ironside put it, “lovingly considering all that is disagreeable in other people.”
    •  II. UNITY IN DIVERSITY (4:7-11)  A. Unity does not imply uniformity.  1. It does not mean that all Christians will think alike.  Each of us has a personality.  The word refers to the qualities and characteristics that make a person who he is, that makes him distinct from other people.
    •  “Personality” is the sum total of what identifies a person.  For the purpose of knowing how God has designed us and our personalities, we can start by considering the four aspects of our unique personality:  > How you we around other people [out-going or reserved]
    •  > How we make decisions [according to facts, or according to feelings].  > How we are in our relationships [dependent or independent]  > How we are in the use of our time [organized / pro-active or spontaneous / reactive]
    •  2. It does not mean that we perform identical ministries.  To every individual within the body of Christ is given a particular capacity for ministry.  This capacity (or capacities) is commonly called a ‘spiritual gift.’  a. Although the particular function involved may not appear to be particularly ‘spiritual,’ the outcome is spiritual benefit to the body of Christ.
    •  For example, there is seemingly little difference between preaching [exerts strength] and driving [reserves the strength] for the preacher;  Between giving [works to have something to give] and doing repair jobs [works to save money of the giver].
    •  b. Although our mains emphasis is not about the details of our spiritual gifts, we will simply summarize simple truths about spiritual gifts.  * Spiritual gifts are given to every Christian: “… to each one of us was given …” (vs. 7).  * Spiritual gifts are a gift of grace: “… grace was given …” (vs. 7).  * Spiritual gifts are a token of the victory of our Lord over Satan, wrought by His incarnation, work of atonement, resurrection and ascension (vss. 7-10).
    •  * Spiritual gifts are not given primarily for the benefit of the individual, but for the edification of the entire body (vss. 12-16).  * Spiritual gifts are not contradictory to Christian unity, they are complimentary to it (vs. 16).  “No member of the body of Christ is endowed with such Perfection as to be able, without the assistance of others, to supply his own necessities.”8
    •  III. DIVERSITY OF GIFTS LEADS TO UNITY (4:12- 16)  A. The diversity of spiritual gifts enhances, even necessitates unity.  1. While in verses 1-6 the basis for Christian endeavor was the existing unity, verses 12-16 demand Christians to live in unity.  a. We might call the unity of verses 1-6 positional and that of verses 12-16 practical.
    •  2. A decade ago the vast majority of churches would have virtually stopped at verse 11, thinking that the work of the ministry was the work of the clergy.  Thank God many churches have had the courage to study and apply the remaining verses of this section, “the equipping of the saints.”
    •  3. The Greek word rendered ‘equipping’ is a very interesting term.  a. It is used with the idea of equipping  > as of the fitting out of a ship  > as of the fitting out of an army  > as of developing certain parts of the body by exercise.
    •  b. It is also used of restoring or putting something in order  > as of mending nets and preparing them for another day’s fishing (Matthew 4:21)  > as of pacifying a city torn by faction  > as of restoring a limb that was dislocated (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10).
    •  4. The saints are equipped for ministry.  a. Note: Christians are no longer turning the world upside down, but the Scriptures upside down.  b. This passage tells us that the ministry is the saint’s work, not the preacher’s.  c. We say that the preacher is ‘in the ministry’ but Paul says everyone else is.
    •  4. The ministry to which every Christian is called is to build up the body, make it work in unity.  a. How this is accomplished is described in verse 16: The body is caused to grow when every individual member of that body carries out its assigned task to the best of its God-given ability.  This is where the other gifts fit in.
    •  5. If evangelists and pastor-teachers are equipping gifts, all the rest are serving gifts or ministry gifts.  6. The ultimate goal of all ministry in the church, where every believer minister or serves, is given in verse 13:  “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
    •  C. The ultimate manifestation of unity in the church is a united focus on conformity to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.  D. The daily manifestation of unity in the church is that of stability.  “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (vs. 14).
    •  1. The stability is being so well-grounded in doctrine that we can recognize and avoid those who teach out of impure motives and by questionable methods, and reject their teachings.
    •  E. The continuing manifestation of unity in the church is the vibrant response to the call of speaking the truth.  “… speaking the truth in Love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him …” (vs. 15).  1. The term rendered ‘speaking the truth’ can mean ‘holding to the truth’ or ‘walking in truth’.  2. We are surely to hold or adhere to what is truth in a loving way, just as we should speak the truth in love.
    •  CONCLUSION AND APPLICATIONS  If we are to take this passage in Ephesians chapter 4 seriously, there are a number of specific applications. Let me begin by making some to myself.  1. To bring unity in the church, the Pastor-teacher must pick up the task of equipping the believers for the ministry.
    •  There are two extremes for those who have this gift to avoid.  a. The one is trying to do all of the ‘ministry’ ourselves.  b. The second extreme is to sit in our offices all day long and refuse to do anything but study.  You cannot be a pastor in a locked study with the phone off the hook.  You cannot equip people for ministry without giving them the example to follow.
    •  2. The goal of our preaching and teaching should be maturity, growth and unity.  We must dread any effort of teaching and preaching that do not create greater unity among all the saints, but further divides us.
    •  3. The work of the ministry is in the hands of both minsters and the members.  What the members expect and demand from their pastors, they must also do it by themselves.
    •  4. We must commit to cure the deficiency Christian unity, not just within our own church the church, but also in the churches which have a like faith as ours.  With this commitment, we will be able to stop and break the unnecessary and harmful divisions among those who are of the household of faith.
    •  5. Find out your place in the local church and get involved.  Let me suggest some benefits of personal involvement in the work of the ministry as Paul defined ministry.  First, there is the benefit to the body of Jesus Christ.  Second, there is the satisfaction and fulfillment of doing what God designed and created you to do.
    •  Third, there is the growth which you will experience as a vital part of the body and from making use of the truth which you have learned (cf. Mark 4:24,25).  Fourth, there is the joy of being able to see God at work. When our Lord Jesus turned the water into wine in John chapter two, it was only those who were involved by filling the water pots who knew what our Lord had done (John 2:9).  Finally, there is fellowship and intimacy in working with other Christians which cannot be experienced in any other way.
    •  * [Robert L. (Bob)Deffinbaugh graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary with his Th.M. in 1971. Bob is a pastor/teacher and elder at Community Bible Chapel in Richardson, Texas, and has contributed many of his Bible study series for use by the Foundation.]