This message is the fourth in a five part series entitled "What I Wish I Had Known Forty Years Ago." This series was preached at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma, January 7-10, 2007, by guest speaker Paul Burleson. The outline below is given for your enjoyment.
I Know Whose Truth it Is
Sunday morning I said I knew forty years ago what brought unity - "If you agreed with my truth!"
I lived according to the principle "My way or the highway.” I might have called you a brother, but if you disagreed, I moved away from you.
First, a couple of background thoughts before we examine what it means to "Endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit." (Ephesians 4:3).
1. Forty years ago I had a scriptural problem.
I didn't realize that there were two moods in Greek language predominately used in Paul's writings, and to properly understand Ephesians 4:3 I had to understand the proper moods of the grammar Paul used.
There is the indicative mood – It is language that points to what God has done/accomplished.
There is the imperative mood – It is language that points to what we are to do because of what has done.
Let me illustrate:
Romans chapters 1-11 are in the indicative. God has chosen us. God has justified us. God has redeemed us. God has saved us. And so on.
Romans chapter 12 and the following chapters are written in the imperative mood. In Light of what God has done for us, let us therefore . . . likewise,
Ephesians chapter 1-3 is in the indicative.
Ephesians hapter 4 is in the imperative
In Ephesians 4:1-6 we’re to do what is commanded here because of what God has done for us, as recorded in the first 3 chapters of Ephesians. When it comes to what God has done for us regarding unity, He clearly reveals to us that He has made us . . .
"Fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and has built us upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building (us) fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye are also builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:21-22)
So, in Ephesians 4:3 we have an imperative, or a command, given to us by God in light of what He has done for us (the indicative).
What is the command for us? (Imperative) “keep the unity.”
We are united by the Spirit – and we are to keep the unity. Unity is not produced by the actions of men --- it is the work of the Spirit.
We are to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit.
2. Forty years ago I had a relational problem.
All of us are so different -- in even the local church. We are different . . .
In the foods we like.
In the cars we drive.
In the sermons we deliver (some long, some short, etc . . .).
In our view of the end times.
In our understanding of the gifts.
Forty years ago people had to accept 'my truth' for their to be 'unity.' If they disagreed I would move away from them. I was not 'endeavoring' to keep the unity that the Spirit had created.
However, as I began to understand the Scriptural teaching of unity, I began to see that my opinion was just that --- an opinion
Conclusion: There is nothing wrong with Chrsitian groups or bodies of people, or a denominations, or a local churches . . .
But love is never stepping away from a Christian people or a Christian person, but always toward those people or toward that person.
Are you endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit?