Ever wonder what unity in the body of Christ is supposed to look like? This Sunday we looked at Ephesians 4:1–16, to see how Christ builds up his church in unity and maturity. In short, through a well-tuned heart (vv. 1–3) and well-ordered doctrine (vv. 4–6), Christ, a well-supplied head (vv. 7–10), equips his church to be a well-developed body (vv. 11–16).
For me, this series in Ephesians has been an instructive look at what the church is and can be. You can find all the sermons here and the sermon notes here. Discussion questions and additional resources below.
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
- Ephesians 4 turns the corner in Paul’s letter towards the believers response to the gospel. What do we learn from Paul’s slowness to give imperatives (commands) and his thoroughness in outlining the gospel? Why are we so prone to move (too quickly??) to application?
- Read Ephesians 4:1–3. What is the first thing Paul stresses in his discussion of walking worthy of the gospel? Why is it necessary to cultivate garments of grace before discussing matters of doctrine?
- Read Ephesians 4:4–6. What do we learn about doctrinal unity in the church? What kind of things does Paul stress? Where might a “Bible church” go wrong in stressing doctrine? What happens when we stress doctrine without grace (compare vv. 1–3 and vv. 4–6).
- Read Ephesians 4:7–-10. Why does Paul take time to describe where the gifts come from? What do we learn about Christ? What do we learn about how Paul reads the Old Testament?
- Read Ephesians 4:11–16. What is the relationship between teachers of the word and the rest of the church body? According to Paul who is supposed to do the ministry? In practice, how how does this passage help us grow as a church?
- In sum, what would you say to someone who is trying to walk alone as a Christian? What does this passage teach us about the Christian life, the church, and biblical maturity?
- What does this passage teach us about biblical unity? What are common ways we misunderstand / misapply teaching about unity? What’s one step you can take to grow in your relationship with your local church?
Here are two popular and one technical article on unity and maturity in the church.
- What Does Unity in the Church Look Like? Ten Truths from Ephesians 4
- Beware in Your Search for Perfect Peace: A Reflection on Jesus’ Prayer for Unity
- Speaking the Truth in Love (Ephesians 4:15): Life in the New Covenant Community by Peter Gentry
In 2015 our church considered many of the “One Anothers” and how they call us to a life of unity and maturity together. These sermons complement the message of Ephesians 4:1–16.
- Life Together: In Jesus Family
- Love One Another
- Watching Out For One Another in a “Watch Me” World
- Forbearing With One Another & Forgiving Each Other
- Serving One Another
- The Blessing of Assembling Together
- Pray, Pray, Pray….for One Another
- Accepting One Another
The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes the Church Attractive by Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop
Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis
Soli Deo Gloria, ds