Eph. 4:5-6, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
The Holy Spirit called us to one hope. Within that hope, we have one Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ. We have one faith, the gospel. And we have one baptism, we are baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:18-20).
Christians from all over the world are united in this fashion. Not only are our local assemblies united around this oneness Paul speaks of but every saint throughout history is united around Christ alone.
Unity on top of Unity
Paul is painstakingly making the point that as Christians in the church, the family of God, we are to be united. Our love for and devotion for and to one another is a witness to the watching world (Jn. 13:34-35). When the family of God is not united, when there is not harmony, we are responsible for diminishing our witness.
In taking his time to make this point Paul is making sure we are united around the items God would have us be united around.
- One body, the church.
- One Spirit, the Holy Spirit who creates unity in our midst.
- One hope, the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ.
- One Lord.
- One baptism.
- One God and Father over all.
For the church to be united around anything, or anyone else, is a shame. Anything that is outside the scope of what Scripture reveals is not a legitimate cause for unity within the body of Christ.
These can even be good things. As an example, pro-life issues. The church should care about abortion and fight for its eradication in our country. But, while it is crucial, if our unity as the body of Christ revolves around that, then we are sinning according to Scripture. We have turned a very good, and Biblical, truth and put it in a place of primacy it was never intended to have. While abortion is a good issue to rally around, what I’m saying is that our unity in Christ is central. That means while uniting around issues like abortion are good what is most necessary is that our unity is grounded and rooted first and foremost, and most supremely in Christ alone. Only as a result of that unity can we unite around social issues and others like it such as abortion.
Or, say you really love a certain preacher. It is wrong to base our unity in the body of Christ on our love for preacher fill in the blank.
God in His grace revealed to us what will be the most compelling witness to the world and it is our unity and love for one another. But it must be done His way if it is to be compelling. If we wish to honor and glorify God through our unity as the body of Christ, then we must do it His way. And this is what Paul reveals to us here in Ephesians 4:5-6.
One God and Father Over All
Unity requires humility. So, lest we forget where Paul started, he reminds us at the end of verse 6.
There is one God and Father. This again is an expression of our unity. We serve the same God, we have been saved by the same God, and one day we will dwell with the same God. There is only one God, and this God is our Father. He adopted us into His family through Christ alone and through His Spirit changed our hearts so we can follow Him and be united with His other children around the revealed Word of God.
He is not only our God and Father, but He is over all. Contextually this means the church. God is over the church. He is the leader of the church. The church is for Him, and through Him, and for Him so that He might be glorified in it (Rom. 11:33-36).
The church finds its charter and mission from God and in His grace, He revealed it in His word. When we understand that we will be humble and once again will be living in a manner worthy of our calling.
But not only is God over the church He is over all. He is the sovereign Lord and King of the universe. Everything that happens is under His control and sway. Nothing we face as the church is outside of our God and Father’s control. As we face suffering God is over it. When we read of our brothers and sisters around the world enduring persecution God is over it.
Because God is over all, we know that He has the ability and will work all things for His glory which is always for the good of His people. When God is glorified, He is working to transform us into the image of Christ. And as we are conformed more and more to the image of Christ, we glorify God more in our lives.
Our God is over all. Therefore, we can work to maintain the unity of the Spirit and walk in a manner worthy of our calling because He is in control. When we are obedient and living for His glory, He will take care of what is important to Him.
It is refreshing to know the part God requires of us. As a pastor, I am comforted knowing I do not have to create unity in my church. Instead, my God and Father who is over all has already done that in Christ. I have the pleasure of working with my fellow elders and church members to work to maintain the unity God created. And we can do this with confidence because God is over all.