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ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL
Intro: Many of you are familiar with the book by Alexander Dumas entitled “The Three Musketeers”. The heroes of that story had as their motto “All for one and one for all”. This meant that each member of that group of men would fight for the group or for any of the others. In other words, they were vowing to stand together in their common fight. As I thought about this passage of Scripture, I realize that this is what the Apostle Paul is trying to get the Ephesian church to adopt as their motto. I will take it a step farther than that; I believe that God wants Calvary Baptist Church in Lenoir, North Carolina to adopt as its motto the phrase “All for one and one for all!”
Simply stated, I believe that Lord expects us, as a church family, to walk together in absolute unity for His glory. These verses tell us that unity is not just a possibility, it is a divine requirement if we are to be everything God wants us to be as a church.
Notice Paul’s use of the word “therefore” in verse one. This word draws our attention back to the previous chapters, where Paul has been laying a foundation of biblical, Christian doctrine. As he begins his remarks in chapter 4, Paul is saying that there is no divorcing Christian doctrine from Christian duty! He is saying, “You know the truth, now walk in it!” The bottom line is this: Where there is genuine faith, there will be genuine works to back it up!, James 2:18.
This morning, I want to take this passage and talk to you on the thought: “All For One And One For All.” I want us to see that being one in the Lord is God’s will for His people, Phil 1:27; 1 Cor. 1:10, and I want to show you how it is possible. That is a tall order, but this passage gives us the necessary details. Notice the truths that are contained in this passage.
I. V. 4-7 THE SOURCE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY
(Ill. If we are to be united in the Lord, what is to be the basis for our unity? I mean, we all come here today from different backgrounds, different cultural foundations, different economic backgrounds, different lifestyles, etc. How can we possibly find any common ground? These verses tell us about to areas that every saved person in this room holds in common with every other saved person. These two areas provide us with the source of Christian unity.)
A. V. 4-6 We Share Common Ground - The night before Jesus was crucified, He prayed for His people. In John 17, one of the things He prayed for us that His people would be “one”, John 17:20-23. To ensure that we would have the foundation upon which build in unity, the Lord provided us with 7 great possessions that every Christian in this room shares in Him.
(Note: One body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father. Did you notice that everything is about Him? When our lives, our desires, our will, our interests, etc, stop being about Him and start to focus on us, we are headed for trouble!) As believers, we may come from different places, but we stand on common ground!
B. V. 7 We Share Common Grace - Verse 7 begins a new thought, in which Paul will speak of the spiritual gifts that are give to the ministers of the church to profit the church. Of course, it is good to note here that every believer possesses at least one spiritual gift, 1 Cor. 12:4-27. That gift that you have been given was given to you to use for the glory of God and to be a blessing to the church! As each believer uses the gifts he or she is given, the unity of the church is strengthened and the church is helped!
(Ill. It is sad when believers fail to exercise their spiritual gifts, or when they use them to tear down instead of build up!)
(Note: He may also be referring to the grace given to us by the Lord to be able to live with one another down here! “To live above with saints we love, Oh won’t that be glory! But, to live below with saints we know, now that’s another story!”)
(Note: The source of our unity lies in what we share in common and in the fact that we have each been especially equipped by the Lord to be a blessing and a help to the church!)
II. V. 2-3 THE SECRET OF CHRISTIAN UNITY
(Ill. Now that we know where our unity originates, how are we to go about the business of practicing, protecting and strengthening our unity? I am so glad you asked! These verses hold the simple answer!)
A. V. 2 We Must Exercise The Right Walk - (Note: The apostle does not tell us to “make” unity! Unity already exists in God’s church, our duty is to manifest it and maintain it! Notice how this is done.)
1. Lowliness - This word means, “Humility; an accurate understanding of your own moral smallness.” In essence, it means you realize your own insignificance while you see the worth of others, Phil. 2:4! It’s not “How great I am!” It’s “I am what I am by the grace of God!” it’s about us getting off our pedestal and realizing that were it not for the grace of God, we would still be a hell bound sinner living for the devil! Having a “lowly” spirit keeps me reminded of the fact that I am just one heartbeat away from failing God myself, therefore, I won’t look down my nose at others who may have fallen!
2. Meekness - This word means “gentleness; power under control.” It refers to having the power to react against others, but refusing to for the sake of Christ! Sometimes, it means keeping your mouth shut, instead of setting someone else straight. Sometimes it means reacting with honey when you want to react with vinegar! It means being sweet toward others!
(Note: When you are “meek and lowly” you are in good company, Matt. 11:29! By the way, meekness is part of the “fruit of the Spirit” Gal. 5:22-23!)
3. Longsuffering - This word means “patience, endurance”. It literally means “to be long tempered.” It refers to having a long fuse! Do you have a long fuse or a short fuse? What does it take to get you riled up? If we are going to promote unity in the church, then we must learn to be long tempered!
(Note: By the way, this is also part of the fruit of the Spirit!)
4. Forbearing in Love - The word “forbearing” means “to endure, or to put up with”. It means giving people space to be themselves. You see, the word “love” refers to God’s kind of love. It is a love that is unconditional and eternal. It doesn’t end based on what others do, but it remains constant and strong in spite of injury! Basically, this phrase calls on believers to give one another to right to be different, to hold different opinions, and generally, to be themselves!
(Ill. Philip Melanchthon said, “In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In everything, charity!”)
(Ill. Paul’s additional comments in Romans 12:9-21!)
B. V. 3 We Must Embrace The Right Work - Maintaining unity in the church requires more than just a change in the way we walk. Unity in the church requires hard work! The word “endeavoring” means “to exert oneself”. We are called upon in this verse to “keep”, “to guard; to keep as a prisoner”, the “unity of the Spirit”. In other words, we are to work hard to ensure that the unity the Spirit of God wants to produce within the church is unhindered and unbroken! How are we to do this? By maintaining the “bond of peace.” “Bond” refers to “that which binds something together”. We might call it “glue”! “Peace” simply refers to “harmony between individuals”. As we determine within our hearts that we will walk in love toward one another, we will be exerting ourselves to see that the Spirit’s purpose in our church is carried out!
(Note: This duty does not lie on the other person’s shoulders! It rests squarely upon every individual in this church! It is my responsibility to walk in love toward my brothers and it is my duty to work for unity in the church!)
(Ill. Most Americans can recall what they were doing on January 28, 1986. On that historic date, the space shuttle Challenger exploded just seventy-three seconds into flight. Seven families were robbed by death and an entire nation was racked with grief. All of this loss was ultimately blamed on one inexpensive O-ring. Records revealed that the space shuttle was comprised of one million components. In this sea of mechanical makeup, it took just one part to destroy the whole. One million parts did their job, but one failed and disaster occurred. Most people feel their role within the church is not only small and insignificant, but inconsequential as well. This erroneous doctrine of the church causes individuals to believe their behavior can’t hurt the church. But like that small and seemingly insignificant O-ring, one failed performance can produce catastrophic results.)
(Note: The flesh doesn’t like any of this stuff, but the Lord will surely bless it when we do it His way!)
III. V. 1 THE SATISFACTION OF CHRISTIAN UNITY
(Note: If we decide to walk in unity, one with another, what is the payoff? What’s in it for the church if we do the hard work of walking in unity?)
A. We Will Live A Balanced Life - The word “worthy” has the idea of “balance”. In other words, as you and I walk together, in lock step, as a team, for the glory of God, we are declaring to a watching world that what we have is real! You see, nothing proclaims the genuineness of our faith like our open, unconditional love for our brothers and sisters in Jesus, John 13:35!
(Note: Two drunks in a bar fought somewhere last night. Today they are sober again and their fight is forgotten and they are friends. All they have is the bond of the flesh! Here in the church, we allow our hurts to fester and we nurse our grudges. And we profess to have the “unity of the Spirit!” Isn’t it time to put it to rest? Isn’t it time we showed the world and all the young believers that this thing is real? Isn’t it time that everyone in the church made every effort to ensure that their walk matched their talk?)
B. We Will Live A Blessed Life - As we walk in unity, we will be what the Lord saved us to be: living proof that Jesus makes a difference in all those He touches! Your life, my life and the life of this church will trumpet to a lost world that we are different, we are saved, and we are in this thing together for the glory of God! Being united won’t make you rich, beautiful or famous, but it will bring honor to God and it will draw the Lord’s blessings in this direction.
(Note: If we choose to walk in disunity, don’t be surprised if the Lord doesn’t bless and we would like Him to!)
Conc: “All for one and one for all!” Is that the motto of your heart this morning? The May 1987 edition of National Geographic included a feature about the arctic wolf. Author L. David Mech described how a seven-member pack had targeted several musk-oxen calves who were guarded by eleven adults. As the wolves approached their quarry, the musk-oxen bunched in an impenetrable semicircle, their deadly rear hooves facing out, and the calves remained safe during a long standoff with the enemy.
But then a single ox broke rank, and the herd scattered into nervous little groups. A skirmish ensued, and the adults finally fled in panic, leaving the calves to the mercy of the predators. Not a single calf survived!
Paul warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 that after his departure wolves would come, not sparing the flock. Wolves continue to attack the church today, but they cannot penetrate and destroy when the church stands together in unity. However, when believers break ranks with one another, they provide the enemy with easy prey!
It may be that you are hear today and your feelings have been hurt by others in the church, and you haven’t been as loving and as forgiving toward that person as the Lord wants you to be. Why not get that settled today. It may be that other here have been on the offending end of the situation, why don’t you come before the Lord and ask Him for forgiveness. It may be that what you folks need to do this morning is have an old-fashioned neck-hugging, tear-jerking, snot-slinging time of just loving on one another! I guarantee you the devil won’t like it, but the Lord surely will!
Still others may have come into the house of the Lord lost today. I want to invite you to come to Jesus Christ today. He died for you on the cross and if you will come to him in faith, He will save your soul! Whoever you are and wherever you may stand before the Lord today, if you have a need in your heart, then you come!