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The Gifts of Unity

Ephesians 4:7-8, 11



Christians can enjoy a wonderful unity together with one another.  Our bond is Christ.  Blest be the tie that binds!  And yet we are different from one another...and should be.


The Graces of Unity are things we should have in common.

v. 2 

Lowliness-not pride

Meekness-not weakness

Longsuffering-not defensive

Love-not too bad!


The Grounds of our Unity are a 'must' for us to have in common.

v. 4-6

One body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God.


But the Gifts of Unity are where we are to differ from one another.  There is strength in our diversity!  We are not to be cookie cutter Christians, all stamped out in the same shape, color, and flavor.  Our church is not supposed to be a melting pot, but a salad bowl, where every ingredient compliments the others...and each part of the body works together in tandem.


ill.--tandem bike


Will America survive the great culture change going on within her shores?  We are morally sliding down a steep slope.  Things we used to be ashamed about we are now proudly parading around! 


Even churches are changing spiritually, and not for the better.

ill.--7 letters to 7 churches in Revelation 2-3.  Each represents a period of church history, and yet there will be all 7 types in any given period.  We live in the 7th period [Laodicea], the lukewarm church.  They believe the right thing, but they are not on fire about what they believe.  This could describe some in our church...make sure you're not one of them.


The liberal church at Sardis was alive in name only, and yet they had a few within their walls who were genuine believers.  They were a 'has been' church that used to stand for the graces and grounds of unity, but no longer.  They no longer believe the right thing.


Now, which is worse?  To believe the wrong thing, or to believe right and not be excited about it?  Amazing indeed is Jesus' words, that He would rather us be cold [liberal, dead, doctrinally errant] than lukewarm!

ill.--Abraham took Isaac up a mountain to sacrifice him.  He said to his father, we have wood and fire, but where is the lamb?  Today I say, we have the wood [cross] and the Lamb [Jesus]...but WHERE'S THE FIRE?


There's one church that will not only survive this century of change, but it will thrive in it!  It's the Philadelphia kind of church.  They kept God's Word and didn't deny His name, and Jesus said I have set before you an open door and no man can shut it!  That's a church that is united by the graces and grounds of unity, full of people who possess the gifts of unity we study now.


Reasons we will not only survive, but thrive:

1.     We have a glorified Master.

2.     We have a gifted Membership.

3.     We have the gift of Ministers.

4.     We have a growing Measure.


1.     A glorified Master.

v. 7-10     There are varying interpretations to these verses.  But here's the commonly accepted conservative position:  Before the resurrection of Christ, OT saints who died in the Lord went to 'Paradise' in the heart of the earth [Abraham's bosom].  It's not heaven, but a holding place until Christ's redemption was complete.  Jesus told the thief on the cross who believed, "today you will be with me in paradise."


But in that same locale, yet separated aside, was Hades, interpreted hell, but also a holding place of torment where the lost await the Great White Throne judgment where they stand before God.  When tried and convicted before the Lord, they are thrown into Gehenna, the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:13-15
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

In Luke 16 we see the story of the rich man and Lazarus, which is not a parable, but a real occurrence.  There is a 'great gulf' between the 2, and both sides can see the other.


Back to vv. 9-10 in our text.  During the 3 days after Jesus' death, His Spirit descended to this place, delivering those in Paradise to be a part of His resurrection.

1 Peter 3:18-19
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

He addresses those in Hades!  What might He have preached?  Perhaps the victory over death He was about to show! 


This is our glorified Master.  His victory over sin, death, and hell is why the true church can thrive in this century of change!


Next, He gifted the members of the church.


2.     We have a gifted Membership.

vv. 7-8     Every believer has at least one spiritual gift.  What is yours? [I Cor. 12 / Rom. 12]  Don't confuse these with talent and natural ability, which come from our natural birth.  Spiritual gifts are given at the new birth. 

1 Corinthians 12:7
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

God has gifted you for the purpose of profiting the whole body. 

ill.-- a person may say he speaks in tongues only in private for his own personal edification...if so, is it really a gift given only to you and not for the benefit of others? 


With our differing gifts we have diversity.  Not only unity, but also harmony.  When I walk, every part of my body works in tandem.  And if just my big toes decided to take the day off I couldn't walk right!  So be careful about laying aside your gift!


Our gifts are not toys to play with, but tools to work with and weapons to fight with.  And our fight is against the forces of evil, not against each other!


3.     We have the gift of Ministers.

v. 11        "That Jerry just thinks he's God's gift."  No, I know I am!


Apostles and Prophets did the foundational work.  Their ministry was authenticated with miracles.  No one fills those offices today.  Today we build on that foundation. 

Read Eph. 2:19c-20


I Cor. 13:10 says when that which is perfect is come that which is in part is done away with.  Your Bible is complete, the foundation is laid, and now we build upon it! 


Evangelists have a special gift for reaping the harvest of lost souls.  Like Philip in Acts 8, who traveled and won souls...then left town.  And every minister should do the work of an evangelist.

2 Timothy 4:5
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Every Christian is under the Great Commission to do the work of an evangelist!


Pastors and teachers.  No longer 'some'.  It is the same office, but 2 different ministries of it.  I am supposed to not only lead the flock [pastor] but also feed the flock [teacher].  I lead and feed and you swallow and follow!  I am to lead you to lush, green pastures in the Word in such a way that you can feed on it. 


I was taught to make a conscious decision to focus my work in study of the Word and preparing sermons, and work as hard for Wed. nite as Sunday morning, and put something good out there for our people and others who are interested.  And praise God for the thousands outside our walls who are listening and gleaning.


Why feed the flock so well?  Is it so they can become spiritually fat?  Not at all!

v. 12        The saints are to do the work of the ministry.


When people visit our church, do you follow up on them?  "But that's your job preacher!"  No, I'm to equip you to do that with me!  [visit hospital / care for our buildings / disciple new converts / go out on visitation / counsel those with problems]


I do these things not because I'm a preacher, but because I am a saint, being equipped to do so like you!  I did these things before I entered full time ministry.


4.     We have a growing Measure.

vv. 13-16         sobering, because this is my progress report.

v. 13        Christlikeness [what is right]

v. 14        Stability [avoiding what is wrong]

v. 15-16   Cooperation

        This is walking in unity!

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