The Unity of the Spirit

Unity in Christ does not mean perfect agreement or the absence of differences; it means community in the midst of differences.

Sermon Notes:

  1. The marvel of God’s grace and eternal purpose toward us surpasses our limited human understanding—we cannot grasp the whole extent of the riches of God’s grace.
  2. In Chapter 4 Paul’s letter moves toward more practical theology, infused with praise and worship.
  3. The Christian faith entails a life of worship, the overflow of which is a life characterized by holiness. Paul wants us to match our faith to our life.
  4. We are to strive to live a life worthy of our calling in Christ. This calling does not mean matching the incredible deeds of the apostles; in 1 Cor. 13 Paul says that walking in love, forbearance, humility of mind and heart is more important than visible exploits.
  5. Humility is a distinctively Christian virtue; it begins with humbling ourselves before the might of God.  It is contrasted with high-mindedness and pride. It means we are teachable.
  6. Gentleness is not weakness; it means to exercise restraint. It is controlled strength.
  7. To exercise forbearance with one another in love is to put up with the failings of others, knowing you have many of your own.
  8. Paul was a man of faith, courage, conviction, boldness and physical strength to endure all that he faced as an apostle.  Yet he displayed these virtues which keep the Christian church in a state of unity.
  9. As believers we are to exert our strength to maintain the unity which binds us to Christ and to one another.
  10. This unity is worked out among us by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit.
  11. Christian unity in the bond of peace is familial, spiritual and eternal.
  12. Christian peace is like the ligaments in the body which help us to move together as a unit.
  13. If we belong to Christ we will put off the works of the flesh and put on virtues that lead to peace (Gal. 5:16-26; Prov. 6:16-19; 1 Cor. 3:1-11).
  14. Unity does not mean perfect agreement or the absence of differences; it means community in the midst of differences.
  15. Several aspects of Christian unity include: there is one visible church and one body of Christ; there is one hope in the reconciliation of all things to God in the kingdom reign of Christ; there is one Lord whom we all serve; there is one faith in the Lord Jesus which unites us.
  16. The Lord’s Table expresses the unity which is already there among us through our confession and baptism into the Lord Jesus.
  17. God is the Father not of everyone, but only of those who are in Christ, of those who know and love Him.
  18. To bear one another’s burdens means to serve and to help one another.

Application Questions:

  1. Given the greatness of God’s grace and the riches of God’s inheritance toward us, how are we to live?
  2. What does it mean to walk worthy of our calling in Christ?  What does it not necessarily mean?
  3. Define Christian humility. Give examples of false humility.
  4. What are some of the implications of the gospel as we live it out in the church community?
  5. How can we walk in Christian unity in the midst of real diversity?