ONE FAITH, ONE LORD, ONE BODY
Ephesians 4:1-6, 11-16
As Christians we are all maturing. We are maturing in our earthly bodies, and in our Spiritual bodies, leading to maturity in the Body of Christ. We should all be maturing in the Body of Christ toward one common goal: 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. (Ephesians 4:11)
The characteristics we see in 4:2: Humility, Gentleness, Patience and Bearing with others are steppingstones to lead us to our goal. These traits move us toward the Hope to which we are called, leading us to the recognition that we are One Body, in One Spirit. In doing this we all come together to bring Glory to God. We also have unity in the Body through the Holy Spirit within us, leading us to our common goal. Everything Paul is talking about here is Unity. Unity in the Body through Unity in One Lord, with One Faith in One Baptism.
For all this striving toward a common goal we have been given ample Grace (4:7) by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gives us an abundance of Grace to cover our needs on this journey. And Jesus is very generous with His Grace. (4:7) Paul speaks of the Body of Christ in many other places, too many to cover today. But I do want to look at one specific place today. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12:4-13) he gives us a picture of what he expects the Body of Christ to look like. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:4-13 NIV)
As he urges us on to becoming One Body with One Spirit, Paul knows there is a lot of hard work ahead of us. As Paul was trying to lead us into this One Body and One Spirit, he knew that even he had not grasped it all completely. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (Philippians 3:12-16 NIV) Paul knew that even he could not walk a perfect Christian life, but as he does walk, he depends on the Holy Spirit for guidance.
In Ephesians 4:11-16 Paul lays out a process, or a progression we need to pay attention to. 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. (NIV) In 4:11-12 Paul gives us an Immediate Purpose to follow: Equipping the saints to work toward building up the Body of Christ.
As we are equipped to do this work in 4:13-15, Paul’s Intermediate Purpose, tells us that the equipping of the saints should lead to Unity, Maturity, Stability and the right Knowledge as we attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. This should lead us to speaking truth in love to those around us who need to hear the Gospel of Christ.
In the third step, the Ultimate Purpose, Paul shows us a culmination of growth of the Body of Christ through loving cooperation of its members.
These three steps should never be thought of as being independent of each other, but as a progression: Equipping, Serving and Building up the Body of Christ. As Pastor of the Church it is my responsibility to equip the saints – you. Good leaders lead from the front, and that is what I try to do. I try to lead the Body of Christ by being a servant, leading other servants.
The Ultimate Servant was, of course, Jesus. Look at the scene in John 21:10-13 where Jesus, in His resurrected body, is preparing breakfast for His Disciples. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. (NIV)
He then serves them; shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t they be serving Him? After all, it was not long ago that He hung from a rugged cross by nails. Jesus gives us the perfect picture of servant-hood, ours is only to follow His example. BUMC 2/16/20