Walking Together

                                                 Ephesians 4:1-10

                                                 October 13, 2019

 

 

1 I Beseech you that ye walk worthy of vocation wherewith ye were called. The word

vocation means “call” - their call was to be God’s people (compare Romans 9:25);

this is not a mere speculative distinction, but one that must have practical form and that

must lead to suitable fruit. True grace in the  heart must show itself by true goodness

in the life. They were not to conceal their religion,  not to be ashamed of it, but to avow

it and glory in it, and their lives were not to be disgraced by unworthy conduct, but to

be brightened and elevated by their relation to Christ.  Our walk is to be a pattern for

others to follow, pointing to Christ, as we follow Him!  It is a great obligation and

a great blessing to walk that walk!  Christ has given us an ensample that we

should follow.  (I Peter 2:21)

 

Christianity includes duties as well as doctrines. It does not merely hold out a refuge

to the guilty, but takes all who accept Christ under its supreme and exclusive

direction. It evangelizes human life by impregnating its minutest transactions

with the spirit of the gospel. But we must be always careful, in preaching the

necessity of good works and in enforcing Christian duties, to ground them, as the

Scriptures ground them, in the doctrines of grace.  The true walk of the saint

tends powerfully to promote the unity of the church.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                The Christian Walk (v. 1)

 

“Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” We now come to

the practical part of the Epistle, and the first exhortation is a striking one.

Paul attached great importance to the element of walk or character. He

skillfully puts two things in connection with each other — vocation on the

one hand, and walk on the other. The preceding chapters had shown the

wonderful glory of the Christian vocation. The succeeding chapters are

directed to secure a correspondingly elevated Christian walk. Two main

topics present themselves.

 

1. Generally, the value of the Christian walk or character.

2. The kind of walk required “worthy of the vocation,” etc.

 

·         VALUE OF CHRISTIAN WALK OR CHARACTER. This may be

shown in three aspects. As a plea for Christianity, or evidence of the reality

of Christian faith; or as a persuasive towards it, and as a pattern for imitation.

 

ü      A plea. Skeptical tendencies of the present age are such that logic is not

      sufficient for them. The strongest popular evidence of Christianity is its

inherent truthfulness and its self-commending power. But next in power

is the consistent lives of earnest Christians. Men and women

consistently following Christ, breathing His spirit, and moving

heavenwards, show that His religion is not a sham or a deception,

but a great reality.

 

ü      A persuasive. Such lives appeal to the heart as well as the head. They

show religion to be, not only a reality, but a great obligation and a great

blessing which appeals to the conscience and force it to say, “That is

what we ought to be.” Men feel they ought to live like such, and

certainly they would fain (willing; with pleasure; gladly) die like them.

 

ü      A pattern. Do we need it? Have we not other and more perfect patterns

like the Sermon on the mount and the life of Christ? Yes, but human

nature yearns for something on its own level — something visible and

tangible, a steppingstone between heaven and earth. Hence Paul gave

thanks that the Thessalonians became followers of him and of the Lord,

and he told the Philippians that he and others were given them “for an

ensample.” Every Christian congregation should have a number of

model Christians fitted to be examples to the rest — the elders and

elderly people especially. Men may sneer at model Christians, but

they do not sneer at model soldiers or model servants, and certainly

every Christian worthy of the name should aim at being as near Christ

as possible.

 

·         THE KIND OF WALK. “Worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are

called.” We have all an idea of consistency; inconsistency should be the

            object of our abhorrence. The world has a keen eye for inconsistencies of

            Christians, and exposes them mercilessly. It takes comfort from them to

            continue in sin.  Sins detestable in the godly are thought nothing of in the

worldly. If what David did in  re Uriah had been done by Nebuchadnezzar, no

one would have said anything. A  consistent walk is, by God’s help, within

the reach of all.   It is an impressive sermon to the world, a continual sermon,

an unanswerable sermon.  Let all preach this sermon, though it be their only one.

The “walk worthy” is a walk of holiness, humility, forbearance, forgiveness,

patience, charity. In order to promote it, let us be much with Christ, and as far

as we can, with those who are like Christ. Let us study the biographies of

Christ-like men and aim at conformity to their example. Let us often pray

the prayer of the third chapter of this book, and other prayers of the like tenor.

Let us use earnestly our means of grace, praying that each sabbath, each

sermon, each sacrament, may serve to make us more worthy of the vocation

wherewith we are called.

 

 

2  With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another

in love.”  Here are some points of a worthy walk.  He begins his enumeration with

passive graces — eminently those of Christ.  Lowliness or humility may well be

gendered by our remembering what we were when God’s grace took hold of us

(ch. 2:1-3).

 

Believers are not to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think (Romans

12:3), nor exalt themselves above their degree (II Corinthians 10:13-15), but to esteem

others better than themselves (Philippians 2:3). Let believers, therefore, have a humble

apprehension of their knowledge, for “knowledge puffeth up” (I Corinthians 8:1);

and humble thoughts of their goodness, for we cannot understand all our errors, and

need to be cleansed from our secret faults (Psalm 19:12). Let them “put on

humbleness of mind,” as the brightest ornament of Christian character (Colossians 3:12).

 

Meekness is the natural expression of a lowly state of mind, opposed to boisterous

self-assertion and rude striving with others; it genders a subdued manner and a

peace-loving spirit that studies to give the soft answer that turneth away wrath.

(Proverbs 15:1) –

 

Christian victories are often gained by meekness and endurance — what Milton

called “the invincible might of meekness.” It is that disposition which does not arraign

God and does not avenge itself on man. As regards God, it implies a ready submission

to the authority of His Word (James 1:21), and a cheerful resignation to His

providence, as opposed to murmuring and fretfulness (Psalm 39:9; see whole psalm).

As regards man, the meek will have a calm temper under provocations; he will

beslow to wrath” (James 1:19); he will give “the soft answer that turneth away wrath”

(Proverbs 15:1); he will show that ornament of a meek and quiet spirit which adorns

more than rubies (I Peter 3:4).  When joined with strength, it makes one of the most

effective characters. It is especially to be esteemed in a religious life. Therefore the

apostle says, “Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of

wisdom” (James 3:13). It is with meekness and fear that we are to give a reason of our

hope (I Peter 3:15), and it is in a spirit of meekness we are to recover the erring

(Galatians 6:1). It is one of the nine graces of the Spirit (ibid. 5:23).  The meek

man has great power with men. See how it contributes to the comfort of life;

for it keeps him from the friction of temper that so often detracts from true repose;

it brings us nearer and nearer to Him who was preeminently “meek and lowly of

spirit (Matthew 11:29); and it has the promise of the earth for an inheritance

( ibid. ch. 5:5). Let us, therefore, seek meekness (Zephaniah 2:3).

 

“Longsuffering” is the disposition that leads us to suppress our anger (II Corinthians 6:6;

Galatians 5:22); and is opposed to that irritability often expressively called shortness of

temper, which is quick to show resentment. This spirit is of great moment in the Church,

where there may be frequent collisions of opinion, or interest, or feeling, and it waits with

patience till the passionate or obstinate see their way to more reasonable courses.

God commands it (Romans 12:17). He exemplifies it (Matthew 5:44; Romans 5:6-8),

and His Son has left us a most impressive exhibition of it (I Peter 2:21-23). We all fail in

our duty and need to have due consideration made to our failings. We are above all to

bear and. forbear in matters of religious fellowship (Romans 15:1). 

 

forbearing one another in love” - Christians are not to resent injuries or retaliate for

wrongs done to them, but are to bear with each other’s infirmities, to cover each other’s

weaknesses, to pity each other’s frailties, and to forgive the provocations they inflict upon

each other. This is to be done, not from a principle of merely worldly courtesy or from

contemptuous indifference, but from that love which suffereth long, and is kind.”

(I Corinthians 13: 4) - It is “charity which covereth a multitude of sins,” (James 5:20;

I Peter 4:8) - just as surely as “hatred stirreth up strife” (<201012>Proverbs 10:12).

 

Long-suffering and loving forbearance are phases of the same state  of mind — denoting

the absence of that irascibility and proneness to take offence which flares up at every

provocation or fancied neglect, and strives to maintain self-control on every occasion.

It is from such qualities in God that our redemption has come; it is miserable to accept

the redemption and not try to attain and exhibit its true spirit. Neglect of this verse has

produced untold evil in the Christian Church.  These graces have reference mainly to the

ordinary intercourse of social life; what follows has to do more with the public life

of` the Church.

 

Believers are not to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think (Romans

12:3), nor exalt themselves above their degree (II Corinthians 10:13-15), but to esteem

others better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).

 

 

 

                        Graces that Promote the Harmony of the Church (v. 2)

 

“All lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in

love.” These graces are specially needful in the Church; for their opposites,

pride, irascibility, and impatience do much to create heart-burning and

division.

 

·         LOWLINESS OF MIND.

 

ü      Its nature. It is that deep humility, as opposed to pride, arrogance, and

conceit, which is produced by a right sense of our weakness, ignorance,

and dependence, and by a due appreciation of the undeserved glory to

which we are called in Christ Jesus. Men are made humble and self-

distrustful less by the knowledge that they are weak, ignorant, and mortal,

than by the fact that, while striving for a higher end, they are always

coming short of it by their mistakes and their follies, and are in constant

need of a strength greater than their own. It is thus possible to unite a

high aim with a profound humility.

 

ü      Its importance. It is necessary because:

 

Ø      God requires it (Micah 6:8);

Ø      Christ exemplified it (Matthew 11:29);

Ø      God dwells with the humble (Isaiah 57:15);

Ø       it is the way:

o       to learn wisdom (Proverbs 11:2),

o       to attain grace and holiness (ibid. ch 3:5-6; James 4:6),

      and to preserve unity in the Church.

 

It has many promises made to it. God will:

 

Ø      respect the humble (Isaiah 66:2),

Ø      give them grace (I Peter 5:6),

Ø      exalt them (ibid.), and

Ø      reward them with all good things.

 

Its importance is specially manifest in Church relations. Believers are

not to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think

(Romans 12:3), nor exalt themselves above their degree (II Corinthians

10:13-15), but to esteem others better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).

Let believers, therefore, have a humble apprehension of their knowledge,

for “knowledge puffeth up” (I Corinthians 8:1); and humble thoughts

of their goodness, for we cannot understand all our errors, and need to

be cleansed from our secret faults (Psalm 19:12). Let them “put on

humbleness of mind,” as the brightest ornament of Christian character

(Colossians 3:12).

 

·         MEEKNESS. There is a natural connection between meekness and

humility, and therefore they are often joined together.

 

ü      Its nature. It is that disposition which does not arraign God and does not

avenge itself on man. As regards God, it implies a ready submission to

the authority of His Word (James 1:21), and a cheerful resignation to His

providence, as opposed to murmuring and fretfulness (Psalm 39:9). As

regards man, the meek will have a calm temper under provocations; he

will be slow to wrath” (James 1:19); he will give “the soft answer that

turneth away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1); he will show that ornament of a

meek and quiet spirit which adorns more than rubies (I Peter 3:4).

When joined with strength it. makes one of the most effective characters.

It is especially to be esteemed in a religious life. Therefore the apostle

says, Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness

of wisdom” (James 3:13). It is with meekness and fear that we are to give

a reason of our hope (I Peter 3:15), and it is in a spirit of meekness we

are to recover the erring (Galatians 6:1). It is one of the nine graces of

the Spirit (ibid. ch. 5:22-23).

 

ü      Its importance. See how largely it contributes to the usefulness of

Christian life. The meek man has great power with men. See how it

contributes to the comfort of life; for it keeps him from the friction of

temper that so often detracts from true repose; it brings us nearer and

nearer to Him who was pre-eminently “meek and lowly of spirit”

(Matthew 11:29); and it has the promise of the earth for an inheritance

(ibid. ch. 5:5). Let us, therefore, seek meekness (Zephaniah 2:3).

 

·         LONG-SUFFERING.

 

ü      Its nature. It is the disposition that leads us to suppress our anger (II

Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 5:22); and is opposed to that irritability often

expressively called shortness of temper, which is quick to show

resentment.  This spirit is of great moment in the Church, where there

may be frequent collisions of opinion, or interest, or feeling, and it

waits with patience till the passionate or obstinate see their way to

more reasonable courses.

 

ü      Its importance. God commands it (Romans 12:17). He exemplifies it

(Matthew 5:44; Romans 5:6-8), and His Son has left us a most

impressive exhibition of it (I Peter 2:21-23). We all fail in our duty

and need to have due consideration made to our failings. We are above

all to bear and forbear in matters of religious fellowship (Romans 15:1).

 

·         THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THIS LONG-SUFFERING IS TO BE

EXERCISED. Forbearing one another in love.” Christians are not to

resent injuries or retaliate for wrongs done to them, but are to bear with

each other’s infirmities, to cover each other’s weaknesses, to pity each

other’s frailties, and to forgive the provocations they inflict upon each

other. This is to be done, not from a principle of merely worldly courtesy

or from contemptuous indifference, but from that love which suffereth

long, and is kind.” (I Corinthians 13:4)  It is “charity which covereth a

multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8), just as surely as “hatred stirreth up strife”

(Proverbs 10:12). It would be impossible to secure the equanimity (self-

control in a difficult situation) of life if the principle of forbearance,

prompted and guided by love, were not generally exercised.   The counsel

of the apostle in this whole passage pointedly condemns the proud, arrogant,

censorious disposition, which tramples, not only on the rules of courtesy,

but of Christian affection. We owe to others what they require at our

hands. (Do unto others as ye would have them do to you!  (Luke 6:31)

There is much in us they have to allow for, and therefore it becomes

us to allow for much in them. Therefore our very manners ought to show

true Christian consideration, for the poet has rightly said —

 

“ And manners are not idle, but the fruit

Of loyal nature and of noble mind.”

 

 

                                               

3 This unity is to be maintained by the bond which consists of “peace;” by a peace-

loving and peace-seeking spirit, that spirit of which Christ said, “Blessed are the

peacemakers:  for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) 

The danger of breaking the unity of the Spirit is great;

 

ü      readiness to take offence,

ü      pride,

ü      regardlessness of the welfare of others,

ü      forgetfulness of the vast Christian work and warfare committed to us,

 

are temptations to this.

 

On the other hand, the habitual striving after the graces enumerated above, and trying

to exercise them habitually, tend to preserve the unity of the Spirit, and to a large extent,

too, to preserve external agreement in the government and worship and work of the

Church. The genitive, εἰρήνηςeiraenaes peace – is commonly held to be that of

apposition, the bond which consists of peace a peace-loving spirit, a spirit laying

more stress on the points in which Christians agree than those in which they differ.

Those who are combative, censorious, careless of peace, do not walk worthy

of their vocation.  We are:

 

ü      called by the God of peace,

ü      redeemed by Christ who is our Peace,

ü      sanctified by the Spirit whose fruit is peace, and

ü      edified by the gospel of peace,

 

that we may walk as sons of peace.

 

 

 

                                    Seven Particulars of Unity (vs. 4-6)

 

4 “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your

calling;  5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,  6 One God and Father of all,

who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”  There is one body.   (see ch. 2:16).

The Church is an organic whole, of which believers are the members, and Christ the

Head, supplying the vitalizing power:  The real body, being constituted by vital

union with Christ, is not synonymous with any single outward society.   One Spirit;

viz. the Holy Spirit, who alone applies the redemption of Christ, and works in the

members of the Church the graces of the new creation – All sins against unity are

sins against the indwelling Spirit.  Sectarian or diversive course have a tendency

to grieve the Spirit.  Indeed, it is a mark of a separating APOSTASY that it HAS

NOT THE SPIRIT!  (Jude 1:19)    As ye also were called in one hope of your

calling.” This is one of the results of the Spirit’s work; when the Spirit called you

He inspired you all with one hope, and this one hope was involved in the very

essence of your calling (compare Titus 2:13, Looking for the blessed hope, even

the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ”). To all

believers the Spirit imparted this one blessed hope. Hope is the expectation of future

good.  All believers have the same aspirations, the same anticipations of the coming

glory – we have “a lively hope”  because of the resurrection of Jesus from the grave.

 (I Peter 1:3)  One Lord.   Jesus Christ, unique and beyond comparison:

 

ü      as Teacher, all hang on His words;

ü       as Master, all own His supreme authority;

ü       to His example all refer as the standard;

ü      in His likeness all covet as the highest excellence!

 

(where Mary is worshipped, though nominally you have but one Lord, virtually

you have two) –  There is no part of our being, there is no event of our lives, that is

not subject to this authority which brooks NO RIVAL!  One faith.   not objective

in the sense of creed, but as denoting the one instrument  of receiving salvation

(ch. 2:8), the one belief in the one Savior by which we are justified,  adopted, and

in other ways blessed – The grace of faith has a thoroughly uniting tendency,

because it brings us near to the Savior, and the nearer we stand to Him we stand

the nearer to one another.  One baptism.  One initiatory rite admitting into the

visible Church — baptism in name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, symbolic of

the washing of regeneration, the one way of entering the Church invisible.

One God and Father of all. We rise now to the fountain of Godhead, the one

supreme Being with whom all have to do, the only Being who is or can be the

Father of us all; who can be to us what is implied in the name “Father, whose

love and grace can satisfy our hearts.  There is no part of our being, there is no

event of our lives, that is not subject to His authority which brooks no rival.  

Who is above all. The supreme and only Potentate, (I Timothy 6:15) exercising

undivided jurisdiction, “doing according to His will in the armies of heaven.”

(Daniel 4:35)  And through all. Pervading the whole universe, sustaining and ruling it,

not dwelling apart from His works, but pervading them; not, however, in any

pantheistical sense, but as A PERSONAL GOD, whose essence is separate

from His works.  And in you all.  A closer and more abiding influence; He dwells in

them, and walks in them, molding their inner being, and filling them with His own light

and love. Some commentators of mark have tried to find a reference to each of the

persons of the Godhead in the three prepositions over, through, and by, but this seems

a strained view. The three persons, however, appear clearly in the seven elements of

unity, but, as before (ch. 3:16- 19), in the reverse of the common order:

 

  • first, the Spirit;
  • second, the Son; and
  • third, the Father.

 

These seven elements constitute the true rarity of the Church.  It is out of the question

to identify the Church which is thus one, with any external organization like the

Roman Catholic Church. How many millions have been connected with it who

have notoriously been destitute of the one hope, the one Spirit, the one Father!

It is of the invisible Church the apostle speaks, and his exhortation is, seeing

that this blessed sevenfold unity is the unity wrought by the Holy Spirit, maintain

that unity; maintain the manifestation of it; give no occasion to any one to say

that there is no such unity - that the Holy Ghost is a Spirit of confusion and

not a Spirit of order and unity.

 

 

The unity of the Church finds its consummation at last in God, who originated the scheme

of grace and from whom all the other unities are derived. If God be our Father, then are we

members of one family, brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, and are therefore bound to live

together in unity. The counsel may well come to us, “See that ye fall not out by the way”

 (Genesis, 45:24).

 

 

                        The Sevenfold Unity (vs. 4-6)

 

The apostle proceeds to state the nature and grounds of the unity which is

to be so carefully guarded. It has its basis in the fact that the Church is one,

and does not consist of two rival societies.

 

·         “THERE IS ONE BODY.” The body with its many members and its

many functions is yet one. Similarly, “we being many, are one body in

Christ, and every one members one of another” (Romans 12:5); so that

believers, no matter how separated by race, color, language, station,

opinion, interest, circumstance, experience, are members of this one body.

The body cannot, therefore, be an external visible society, but a spiritual

body of which Christ is the Head. It may not be so easy to realize this unity

in the midst of the multiplication of sects and denominations, each with its

well-defined lines, of doctrine and order, and each more or less sharply

distinguished from its neighbor. Yet there is still but “ONE BODY” —there is

amidst accidental diversities a substantial unity, a unity that covers all truly

essential elements. The diversity arising from temperament, culture, habit,

has had its due effect in the development of truth; for some parts of the

Church have thus given prominence to some truth which other parts have

allowed to fall into the background. The beauty of the Church is manifest

in this very diversity, just as it requires all the hues of the rainbow to make

the clear, white ray of colorless sunshine. The duty, therefore, of believers

is to regard the differences that keep them apart, not as hindrances to

loving fellowship, but as helps to the fuller development of Divine truth

and the fuller manifestation of the mind of God to the Church.

 

·         “ONE SPIRIT.” As in the human body there is but one spirit, with a

single vivifying power, so IN THE CHURCH THERE IS BUT ONE SPIRIT

animating all its members, as the common principle of life. “By one Spirit were

we all baptized into one body,” and “were made to drink into one Spirit”

(I Corinthians 12:13). “We have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” There

is, therefore, no room for a conflicting administration. “There are

diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit” (ibid. v. 4); and therefore all

sins against unity are sins against the indwelling Spirit. Sectarian or

divisive courses have a tendency to grieve the Spirit. Indeed, it

is a mark of a separating apostasy that it has not the Spirit (Jude 1:19).

Let us remember that the one Spirit who animates the body of Christ

produces as His own choicest fruits — “love, joy, peace, long-suffering,

gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23).

These are graces with a distinctly unifying tendency.

 

·         “ONE HOPE OF YOUR CALLING.”

 

ü      Its nature. Here it is not the thing “hoped for,” as it is in Colossians 1:5

      and Titus 2:13, but the emotion of hope, the expectation of future

good. All believers have the same aspirations, the same anticipations of

coming glory, as the effect of the Spirit’s indwelling. The hope is

subjective.

 

ü      Its origin. The hope is “of your calling.” It springs out of the effectual

call of THE SPIRIT, who begets us to “a lively hope” (I Peter 1:3), being

HIMSELF THE EARNEST AND SEAL of the future inheritance. We

naturally hope for what we are invited to receive.

 

ü      Its effect. Just as two strangers meeting for the first time on the deck of

an emigrant ship, both bound for the same new land, and purposing to

pursue the same occupation, are united by a common interest of

expectation, so believers are drawn together into unity by a

consideration of their common hopes.

 

·         “ONE LORD.” As the Head of the Church, the supreme Object of

faith, and into whose Name all saints are baptized. There are two ideas

involved in this blessed lordship:

 

Ø      ownership and

Ø      authority.

 

ü      Ownership. Jesus Christ is not only Lord of all, but especially Lord of

His own people. We are not our own, for we have been redeemed and

bought with a price (I Corinthians 6:20), even with His precious blood.

For this end He both died and rose and revived, that He might be Lord

both of the dead and of the living (Romans 14:9).

 

ü      Authority. Therefore we are subject to Him:

 

Ø      our reason to His guidance,

Ø      our conscience to His precepts,

Ø      our hearts to His constraining love.

 

There is no part of our being, there is no event of our lives, that is

not subject to THIS AUTHORITY which brooks no rival. It is this

subjection of all believers to one Lord that marks the inner unity of

the Church; for loyalty to a common Lord makes them stand together

in:

 

Ø      a common hope,

Ø      a common life, and

Ø      a common love.

 

·         “ONE FAITH.” Not one creed, though all believers do really hold all

that is essential to salvation, but one faith in its subjective aspect, through

which the one Lord is apprehended. It is one in all believers, for they are all

JUSTIFIED IN EXACTLY THE SAME MANNER and it is in all a faith

that:

 

ü      purifieth the heart” (I John 3:3),

ü       worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6) and

ü      overcometh the world.”  (I John 5:4)

 

It is not, therefore, an external unity that this faith builds up, but a union of a

spiritual character, wrought by the grace of God. This principle or grace of

faith has a thoroughly uniting tendency, because it brings us near to the

Savior, and the nearer we stand to Him we stand the nearer to one another.

 

·         ONE BAPTISM.” There is but one baptism, once administered, as

the expression of our faith in Christ; one initiation into the one body by one

Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13); one dedication to the one Lord. All

believers are baptized unto the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. “As

many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither

Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor

female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27-28).

Christendom owns but one baptism. It has been remarked as strange that

the Lord’s Supper — “the one bread” (I Corinthians 10:17) — should

not have a place among the unities, as it is essentially the symbol of union

among believers. But it differs from baptism in two important respects:

 

ü      baptism is individual, the Lord’s Supper is social;

ü      it is by baptism, spiritually regarded, we are carried into the unity of the

one body (I Corinthians 12:13); it is by the Lord’s Supper we

recognize continuously a unity already accomplished. Thus baptism is

included among the seven unities, because it embodies the initial

elements that enter into the unity.

 

·         “ONE GOD AND FATHER OF ALL, who is above all, and through

all, and in all.” The unity of the Church finds its consummation at last in

Him, who originated the scheme of grace and from whom all the other

unities are derived. If God be our Father, then are we members of one

family, brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, and are therefore bound to live

together in unity. The counsel may well come to us, “See that ye fall not

out by the way” (Genesis, 45:24). All the unities are secured by the relation

of God the Father to the Church. He is “over all” its members, and

therefore there can be no rival sovereignty. The Church is the habitation

of God through the Spirit.” (ch. 2:22)  HE IS “through all,” in respect of

pervading and supporting energy;  HE IS “in all”  as the Source and Spring

of constant light and grace and goodness. Thus there are seven unities, like so

many distinct obligations, to incline believers to the unity of the Spirit, which

can only be preserved in the bond of peace. Believers ought, indeed, to be of

one heart and one soul.

 

 

                                                The Variety of Gifts in Connection with Unity

and

      the Use to be Made of Them (vs. 7-16)

 

The marks of Christ’s care for His church are innumerable, they recede back through

all eternity and forward for evermore.  (ch. 3:18-19)

 

The subject of gifts divides into two:

 

  • The Gift Giving – vs. 7-11
  • The End or Purpose for which the Gifts are Given – vs. 12-16

 

7  But to each one of us is grace given according to the measure of the gift of

Christ.”  Christ leaves no one out!  To every one of us is given grace!  In the Church

all do not get alike; grace is not given in equal measures as the manna in the wilderness;

Christ, as the great Bestower, measures out His gifts, and each receives according to

His measure. Compare parable of talents. “Grace” does not refer merely to supernatural

gifts, but also to the ordinary spiritual gifts of men. These are varied, because what each

 gets he gets for the good of the rest; the Church is a  fellowship or brotherhood, where

each has an interest in all and all in each, and is bound to act accordingly.

 

  • THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH IS CONSISTENT WITH GREAT

            DIVERSITY OF GIFTS. As in the human body there are many members

            with different functions, so the Church is “not one member, but many.”

            Diversity of gift, so far from being inconsistent with unity, is really essential

            to it. “If all were one member, where were the body?” (I Corinthians 12:

            14, 20) All the great purposes of life would be frustrated if every part of the

            organism did not find its due place.

 

  • EACH MEMBER OF THE CHURCH HAS HIS SEPARATE GIFT.

            This does not say that any one member has all gifts. Each has received his

            measure. There are those who would make the Church all “tongue,” as if

            all were called to the gospel ministry. The gifts differ both in nature and in

            measure. One has the gift of speech, another the gift of sagacity, another

            the gift of enterprise, another the gift of sympathy, another the gift of

            wealth and influence. All ought to be contributory to the unity of the

            Church.

 

  • THE ORIGIN AS WELL AS MEASURE OF THE GIFTS IS TO BE

            TRACED TO CHRIST. The position of each member in the body is not

            determined by itself, but by God. The eye does not make itself the eye, nor

            the hand the hand. So the position of believers in the Church is determined,

            not by themselves, but by Christ. The grace “is given according to the

            measure of the gift of Christ.” Christ is the Source of all spiritual gifts, and

            He determines their adjustment as well as their amount. He does not give

            according to our merit, or our capacity, or our desires, but according to His

            sovereign pleasure. There is, therefore,

 

ü      no room for self-inflation if we have received the largest gifts;

ü      there is no room for envy or jealousy because others have received

                        more gifts than ourselves;

ü      but rather an argument in the fact that one has a grace which another

                        wants, for our helping each other in the Lord. Thus the true unity of the

                        Church is promoted.

 

8  Wherefore He saith, When He ascended on high He led captivity captive,

and gave gifts unto men.”  Gifts were given to Christ after His triumph to be given

by Him to His Church. We must not force the analogy too far: the point is simply

this — as a conqueror at a triumph gets gifts to distribute, so Christ, on His resurrection

and ascension, got the Holy Spirit to bestow on His Church (compare ch.1:22

 

The same Lord who went about every day doing good upon earth, is now doing

good every day in the fullness of spiritual blessings which He is dispensing from

the throne of His ascension-glory.

 

Even the unworthy may be recipients of these gifts. “Yea, for the rebellious also”

(Psalm 68:18). They were for men, as the apostle asserts; for rebels, as the psalmist

asserts. It is not usual for conquerors to divide their spoils among rebels, yet our

conquering Lord gives gifts even to those who put Him to death. The ministry is

still the Lord’s gift to A WICKED WORLD, for He is still the Source of the inward

life of the Church and of its authority.

 

9  ("Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the

lower parts of the earth?"  Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also

descended first” The ascent implied a previous descent; that is, the ascent of the

Son of God  of one who was Himself in heaven, who was in the bosom of the

Father (compare John 3:13), implied that He had come down from heaven, a striking

proof of His interest in and love for the children of men. And the descent was

not merely to the ordinary condition of humanity, but to a more than ordinarily

degraded condition, not merely to the surface of the earth, but into the lower

parts of the earth? This has sometimes been interpreted of Hades.  If the

expression denotes more than Christ’s humble condition, it probably means the

grave. This was the climax of Christ’s humiliation; to be removed out of men’s

sight, as too offensive for them to look on - to be hidden away in the depths of

the earth, in the grave, was indeed supremely humbling.  (Here is the One who

carried out the designs of the Creator, hidden in a hole in the earth!  CY - 2019)

The object is to show that, in bestowing gifts on men, Christ did not merely bring

into play His inherent bountifulness as the Son of God, but acted as Mediator,

by right of special purchase, through His work of humiliation on earth; and

thus to lead us to think  the more highly both of the Giver and of His gifts. 

 

10  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens,

that He might fill all things.)" He that descended is the same also that ascended

up far above all heavens.  When Christ came to earth and took upon Himself our

form, it was no holiday visit to earth!  He was taken from prison and from

judgment  (Isaiah 53:8)  Yet even there He triumphed over all His enemies, and

now He is exalted “far above all heavens.” This last expression is very remarkable,

especially in the view of what modem astronomy teaches on the extent of the heavens.

(See Fantastic Trip on You Tube.  CY - 2019) It is a marvelous testimony to the

glory of the risen Lord. Still higher is the testimony to His glory in the purpose

for which He has gone on high —“that He might fill all things.”  There was a

proportion between the descent and the ascent.  His descent was deep — into

the lower parts of earth; but His ascent was more glorious than His descent had

been humbling. The Hebrew idea of various heavens is brought in; the ascent

was not merely to the third heaven, but far above all heavens.  That He

might fill all things.  A very sublime view of the purpose for which Christ reigns

on high. The specific idea with which the apostle started — to give gifts to men —

is swallowed up for the moment by a view far grander and more comprehensive,

to fill all things.” Jesus has gone on high to pour His glory and excellence over

every creature in the universe who is the subject of grace, to be THE LIGHT OF

THE WORLD THE ONE SOURCE OF ALL GOOD!  As in the solar system it

is from one sun that all the supplies of light and heat come, all the colors that

beautify earth, sea, and sky, all the influences that ripen the grain and

mature the fruit, all the chemical power that transforms and new-creates;

so the ascended Jesus is the Sun of the universe; all healing, all life, all

blessing are FROM HIM!   It is quite in the manner of the apostle, when He

introduces the mention of Christ, to be carried, in the contemplation of His

person, far above the immediate occasion, and extol HHE INFINITE

PERFECTION AND GLORY that distinguish Him.

 

 

           

                                    The Source of all the Gifts (vs. 8-10)

 

It is Christ Himself in virtue of His exaltation. He is exalted to give the Holy Ghost

with all His gifts and graces. It is a very touching as well as inspiring thought

that the humanity of our ascended Lord has not been so transmuted as to

change His relation to us. We cannot doubt the identity of His person. The

same Lord (Acts 1:11) who went about every day doing good upon earth,

is now doing good every day in the fullness of spiritual blessings which

He is dispensing from the throne of His ascension-glory.

 

·         THE GIFTS OF THE ASCENSION. These stand in abiding

connection with the peace, the sanctification, the hope, of believers. But

the special reference is to the blessing of the Christian ministry. Ministers

may be nothing in themselves, but as the gifts of Christ they ought to be

highly esteemed. If we love Christ, we ought to set store by His servants,

who shepherd the flock in the absence of the great Shepherd.

 

·         THE UNWORTHY RECIPIENTS OF THESE GIFTS. “Yea, for the

rebellious also” (Psalm 68:18). They were for men, as the apostle

asserts; for rebels, as the psalmist asserts. It is not usual for conquerors to

divide their spoils among rebels, yet our conquering Lord gives gifts even

to those who put Him to death. The ministry is still the Lord’s gift to a

wicked world, for He is still the Source of the inward life of the Church

            and of its authority.