THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 8-3-03
LESSON TITLE: THE SEVEN ONES OF UNITY: “THE ONE BODY”
Good morning! Let me welcome each of you to our program this morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us to hear the Living Word of God. We are excited that you have chosen to give this time of sacrifice to our God. Won’t you take advantage of every opportunity this morning to give your own reverence to God, as we together offer this time of worship to Him. May all things be done, to God, for God and unto His glory. Let’s begin our offering to God with a prayer!
If I were to ask you, “what do you put your trust in,” what would your answer be? I guess we could expect all types of responses, from things of this world, maybe even individuals in this life. Today, we want to begin our songs of praise, by singing a hymn which tells us what we should really trust in, as we live in this world. It tells us of someone who can be counted, who is trustworthy and who will never let us down. Won’t you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus.”
(SONG # 1)
In Ephesians 4:1-3, the inspired Paul said, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” If you notice here Paul is beseeching or strongly urging the brethren to “walk worthy of their calling.” In other words, in this text he was trying to help them to know some specific things which are necessary for the Child of God - in order that they may be considered as walking worthy of their calling.
Paul mentions characteristics like lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, and even love. Certainly these are all things of utmost importance to the faithful follower of God. But notice the next thing he says in verse 3, that is also a part of this “walking worthy,” before God. There again it says, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Have you ever thought of unity in conjunction with all of these other things that make us pleasing in God’s sight? Have you ever considered that if one is walking worthy of God, that they must be endeavoring or striving for unity. Well that is exactly what he is saying.
We are going to begin a new series of study today which will deal with this unity which Paul is talking about. In fact, in the same text he goes on to give us seven specific parts of unity which are required by one who is ever living before their God. In verses 4-6, these seven things are mentioned as the text says, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” So over the next several weeks we will be considering each of these points which help us to understand unity and to know what being unified in God is based on.
No doubt this is a very important topic that is dealt with throughout the Bible, so I am very excited about this new series of study which we will engage in together. Now let me mention the specific title of our series, it will be called “The Seven Ones Of Unity.” Today we will be considering, “The One Body.” So stay with us and after our next song together, brother Jerry Sullins, the director of the Bible Institute of Missouri will be leading us in the lesson thoughts of the day. But for now let’s join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, “Seeking the Lost.”
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Jerry Sullins
It’s a pleasure to be with you this morning and we certainly appreciate you allowing us to come into your home and bring this series of Bible lessons in the next few weeks concerning a very important Biblical subject and that’s the subject of unity. As Ray has already given in his introductory remarks, we are going to be doing seven lessons that are really given to us by the Holy Spirit as you read in Ephesians chapter 4.
I would like to first of all discuss unity itself because it is so important as far as the Lord’s body is concerned. We know as Jesus established His church or prophesied about His church, He said in Matthew 16, verse 18 to the apostle Peter, “And thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
Certainly Jesus built only one church. It is referred to as His body. That is given to us by the apostle Paul as the Holy Spirit instructed him to say in Ephesians 1, verses 22 and 23 where it simply says, “And having put all things under His feet, (that is God has put all things under the feet of His son, Jesus,) and hath made Him to be head over all things to His church which is His body, the fullness that filleth all in all.”
Yes, Jesus built His church. He died for His church. He shed His blood for His church. And we are His church if we have obeyed His Will and we then are added to His body which is referred to as His church.
I remember for many years, we have worked in Africa for 15 years, and I would go about those villages and preach the gospel of the kingdom and I would read Matthew 16:18 and ask those little children, “Now what did Jesus mean?” Then I would read the verse and sometimes it would be translated into many different languages and simply it was the verse where Jesus said to Peter, “And thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” And I would ask those little children, “Now how many children did Jesus build?” And with the simple education that they had and living way back in the bush, out of their simple understanding of scripture, they would say, “Jesus built one church.”
How sad it is today that we look all over the world and even here in the United States of America where there are over probably 1500 different organizations, denominational groups that refer to themselves as the church, when Jesus only built one church. And you can see various religious organizations called after different people’s names following after different people’s doctrines and the doctrines of councils following after the creeds of men and all refer to themselves as the church. Well God would not have this to be. Certainly I think as we study in this series of lessons, this is sometimes what we refer to as the sevenfold platform of unity, then we will certainly see what God intends for His church and that His church does have a name and it is found in the scripture. His church does have an organization. It is also found in the scripture that His church does have a mission and His church does have a plan of salvation and all of these things are mentioned in the scripture. In fact, not just mentioned but given to us by example by direct statement and by other means so that we can truly know whether or not we are the church of the Living God.
Let me propose this question to you and that is this. Do you believe that the church you’re a part of is the church of the Bible? Well, I challenge you this morning to go to the scripture and my friend, if you are worshipping God as the scripture gives example, and I’m talking about the New Testament, the church that was directed by the inspired apostles themselves. If you are worshipping as that church worshipped, if you call yourself after a name, the name that church was called, if you organize yourself the way that church was organized, if your mission is the same mission as that church, and on and on and on, if you can truly say that they church you are a part of is what you see in the New Testament as it was directed by the apostles, then you my friend can say that you are a part of the New Testament church, the church that Jesus died for.
Unity is so important and this morning I want to talk about a special aspect of unity probably that we basically know the eternal principles about the universal church. Maybe some of us don’t, but that will be pointed out in this series of lessons. But I want to talk about unity in the local church in the minutes that we have left because that is so important and when we think of this subject as far as unity in the local church, I’m reminded of what the psalmist said in Psalm 133, verse 1, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
The apostle Paul spoke of unity. Remember to the church in Corinth? In 1 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 10, where he beseeched them to “all speak the same things, that there be no division among them but that they be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
How sad it is that in the churches of Christ today, we see that this is not true because there are members who want to fight about everything. They want to fuss and they want to complain. There’s internal strife that hinders worship and the work of the church and the evangelism of the church. I want us to fully understand that this is a type of discord that the Lord hates and yet it is rampant in the church today.
Now what did Paul instruct the Christians to do? That was read to us in the introduction of this lesson. In Ephesians chapter 4, there the apostle Paul, and I again read for you, he said, “I therefore the prisoner of the Lord beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” So Paul was encouraging this congregation, the church at Ephesus, to endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. Then he pointed out to them how they could do that as Ray so perfectly pointed out to us as you can read in verses 4 through 6 of that very same chapter.
Now how can we maintain unity in the local church? Well, there’s two ways that we can do it and two things that we must look at. First of all, we need to look at the Christian spirit for it is in the Christian spirit and the exercise of Christian principles and one spirit that unity is maintained in the local churches. This is mentioned by the apostle Paul. Remember what we just read in verse 2? “With all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” So Paul points out some things here. He says, “In order for there to be unity in the church, people must humble themselves.”
Jesus gave us that blessed example as Paul pointed out to the brethren in Philippi in the book of Philippians chapter 2, verses 6-7 as Jesus humbled Himself on the cross and became obedient to the death of the cross. Then we ought to humble ourselves and we ought to submit ourselves to a lifetime of humility so that we can truly have unity in the Lord’s church. We ought to serve the Lord with all humility as is pointed out in Acts chapter 20, verse 19 when we realize who God is and who we are. This isn’t so difficult. For we are but mere flesh. Is there one among us who does not sin daily and maybe sometimes hourly and maybe several times per hour? Yes, we do sin and we fall short of the glory of God, everyone of us. We all need a Savior. We are all just flesh and blood. We all have a skeletal frame that is fading away by the hour. We’re passing from this life and we are all going to die, because as the Hebrew writer says in Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment.” These are things we cannot avoid, and realizing how frail we are, how dependent we are upon God, and how great and majestic He is and realizing all of His wonderful attributes that are far beyond man’s reach. Surely it should cause us to reflect on how we need to humble ourselves. When we really learn to humble ourselves then we can truly maintain better unity in the local church.
Well what about that spirit of meakness that the apostle Paul mentioned? Yes, we ought to be meek people. That’s people who are disciplined and in control. So many times in the local churches, people get out of control. They cannot control their spirit. They cannot control their anger. They cannot control their hatred. Basically, they cannot control themselves and therefore unity is destroyed. There must be a spirit of long-suffering, that is patience, because as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13, verse 4, “Love suffers long.” When someone love’s someone else, they’re long-suffering. It is one of those fruits of the spirit as is mentioned in Galatians 5:22. “And Paul admonished the brethren at the church at Colossae,” Colossians 3, verse 12, “to put on long-suffering.” And so surely we as Christians realize the great need that we have in the kingdom and in the local church to be people who are long-suffering. And all of this, this spirit of long-suffering and meekness and humility must be put together with forbearance and it all needs to be done in a spirit of love.
But there’s another part to maintain unity in the local church. Not just must our spirit be right. But what we do with our bodies is so important. In 1 Corinthians chapter 12, the apostle pointed out and for lack of time this morning, we cannot read this passage but please read it this afternoon. 1 Corinthians chapter 12, verses 12-27 for it points out in such a great way there how we as the church are just members of a body. Some of us act as hands. Some of us act as feet. Some of us act as legs. “We’re all children of God,” Galatians 3:26-27. We are one in Christ of Abraham’s seed. And realizing these great principles, it helps us to understand what we need to do in our bodies to function as children of God.
But some feel inferior to others. Don’t they? Because some say, “Well, I am too young.” Others say, “Well, he’s too old.” There’s always those distinctions. Some family backgrounds are different. Some’s education are different. Some of us are different as far as financial status are concerned and some have handicaps and others do not have any handicaps. Some feel superior and some feel inferior and because of the position they may maintain in the local church… Maybe one is a preacher. One is a songleader. The other is an elder. One is a deacon. One is a classroom teacher or class teacher. Well, because of these positions in the church, many times these positions override a person’s ability to think properly about how he still or she still needs to humble himself or herself so that truly the unity of the body can be preserved.
My friend, unity in the local church is of utmost importance because when people obey the gospel, when people want to look for where they can find Christ, they normally look at the local church. Those people who are serving in the local community and who claimed to be children. That’s why it is so important that our spirit is like Christ’s spirit. That what we do in this body is what God would want us to do in this body.
What does God want us to do? He wants us to do this in the local church. When one suffers, all suffer. How can we have this world’s goods and see our brother and sister in need and shut up our heart of compassion? “How can the love of God actually dwell in us if we do shut up our heart of compassion?” (1John 3:17-18) Emotionally, we need to be involved with other members of the church. Spiritually, if we see a brother overtaken in a fault, we who are spiritually are supposed to restore such a one in a spirit of meekness and in love and when one member is honored, we ought to honor that member as well. When one member suffers out of grief, we ought to grieve with that member. All of these contribute to the great need that we have to maintain unity in the local church. We need to exemplify the 1st century church in the church today. And if we do that my friends, if we read about the 1st century church and we incorporate those principles and ideas and concepts into the church of today, then we can readily see how we are supposed to act in the body and how we are supposed to feel, how we are supposed to treat one another and truly we will be able to know that unity is in the Lord’s church because we have it in the Lord’s church.
(SONG # 3 - “At Calvary!”)
Thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in giving this time to God. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!
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May we ever understand that an important part of unity is based on the one God. Do you truly know who your God is and all He requires in your life?