We’re going to go to Ephesians chapter 4:1-8. It comes after Galatians. I have to say; go eat popcorn, or gentiles eat pork chops, because G is Galatians and E is Ephesians and P is Philippines and C is Colossians. Go eat popcorn, gentiles eat pork chips. And I went to Bible College. The things we learn. Ephesians Chapter 4. “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it says, ‘When he ascended on high, he led captive a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.'”
Actually, I didn’t know what the Sunday School lesson for today was and this is going to build on the Sunday School lesson. If you didn’t make it shame on you, but that’s okay because we’re going to pick up and it will make sense anyway. The emphasis of Ephesians 4:1-6 is the unity of the body of Christ and then he goes on to point out how to accomplish this, and the things he mentions is lowliness. We all know what that is I hope. It just means don’t be haughty. Don’t be stuck up. Don’t think you’re better than other people. You’re not that hot and every person is replaceable. Every person is replaceable. If God forbid the President of the United States falls over right now there is a man who will replace him, and if that man falls over 20 minutes later there is a man there to replace him. There is somebody always ready to replace you. I’ve had people that told me, while I ran a business, you couldn’t do this without me. If they’re fired, watch, the business goes right on because nobody is irreplaceable except Jesus Christ. He is the only human we could not replace.
God can always raise up somebody to take our place so let’s not think; hey, you can’t do it without me. I was humiliated one time. No, actually I wasn’t. I was told if I didn’t take over this particular church that they were going to close their doors. They only had 12 people. I said; listen, I’m going to Bible College but until I leave I will preach there at your church every Sunday morning, so I did. It was starting like March, April, somewhere in there, and I preached all the way up until the Sunday I had to go to Chicago. Went all the way through it and we grew by 2 people. Started off with 12 and hit 14 and the only reason they did that was because I was bringing somebody else with me. I think I probably had to promise them free lunches for the whole duration, but we grew two people. They kept saying; oh, what are we going to do, what are we going to do? You’re going to be gone. I said; God can replace me and it will be done easily. Be praying about this. I’m not irreplaceable. I left and they found a man within a few weeks and the church hit 87 before I got back to say; hey, how’s it going? They said; we’re doing better without you.
Nobody is irreplaceable. If I go and you guys are praying and trusting, the Lord will raise up somebody who will be better. That doesn’t mean you should shove me out the door, but if you want to that’s okay. So, the lowliness is nobody here is irreplaceable. We all like to think we’re really pretty important and we are to God in that sense that He loves us, He cares for us and He favors us, but when it comes to the unity of the church don’t get cocky. The other part is the word meekness. Meek means to have power but to keep it under control. If you’re meek, if you have meekness, it means just because you’re in a position in the church, you keep it under control. Don’t go throwing your weight around. I’m the Bishop, I’m the Archbishop or I’m the pastor. I have known pastors that actually have walked into their churches during their interview and said; okay, if you let me pastor I expect absolutely everybody’s resignation the first Sunday I take over and then I will pick out the people that I want to run this church. I’m thinking; no, no, no, no. God picks out the people who are to be in that church and he should be trusting them.
Keep it under control, but they want absolute authority so they can run things their way. The beauty of it is if the church fails it’s all their fault, but that’s not the way God works things. If you have a position or strong influence, don’t use it for your own benefit. Use it to keep the unity of the church going. The other word is diligence which just means make a continuous effort to make sure the church is united. One of the great things about Glenwood that has been happening is the friendliness factor of this church is increasing and people are talking to me about how friendly this church is. This is a friendly church. I love going to that church, it’s so friendly. Part of that is to be diligent to continue to choose to be friendly and make sure you greet everybody, the people who have been here forever, and the people who haven’t been here forever, but keep that going because we want to keep the unity of the church going. All this is not new, but then in verse 4 it says something like this; There is one body and one spirit just so as we are all called in one hope of your calling. The point is, there is one body and one spirit and that Holy Spirit indwells the church.
When the assembly is together the church of Glenwood is not this building though people say; oh, I went by your church. Well, if they went by the church that means they had to do it while we were having church services and they should have stopped and came in and joined with the church. The actual word church is ecclesia, ecclesiastic, Ecclesiastes which just means the assembly. We are the assembly of church people who meet here. We are the church, not the building. He is saying the Holy Spirit indwells the church. There is one body, and the church is that body, and the Holy Spirit indwells us. Here is what the important thing is. This is a statement that I’ve heard for years. The sum is greater than its parts. The sum is greater than its parts. I shouldn’t have to explain it but just in case, I’ll read it. “The total effectiveness of a group is greater than that of the individuals acting alone.” It’s like you can go out to the junk yard and you can buy pieces of a car. They are still pieces of a car but if you can assemble a car together than that car is greater than the sum total. The car actually runs and it does stuff, but a door by itself does nothing.
We are the assembly of Glenwood Church. We are greater than the sum of all of us individually. When we get together there is something special that goes on. Yes, the Holy Spirit does indwell each and every one of us. When we came to the place that we said; I’m in complete agreement with you Father, God, Jesus. I’m not perfect, never have been, never will be. I have failed in my life. That’s sin. I have done things that are not perfect and I can’t get rid of them, but I know that your blood can. The sacrifice that you made can cause me to have forgiveness. I am trusting in your sacrifice. When you trust in the sacrifice of Christ then the Holy Spirit indwells you, moves right in at that point. You have now been made holy enough, pure enough that the Holy Spirit Himself can move in and dwell within you.
Every Christian has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but when a church assembles together you have the Spirit-filled Christians. You have then the Holy Spirit, the one body, one Holy Spirit, and you have Jesus Christ because He says where two or more of you are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst. When we get together we’re not just individuals. We are greater than what we were because we have the Holy Spirit within us, we have the Holy Spirit coming here to this church because we are a body at this time, a body of believers, and so this body of believers is then having a special presence of the Holy Spirit because we are together and Jesus Christ is with us because He says where two or more are gathered, so we have this multiplication of the presence of God in our lives.
As we stand individually, yes, we have the Spirit, but as we stand as a group we have what can become an eternal wow factor. Wow, the church of Jesus Christ has assembled, and when we get together there is a special anointing, a special presence of God in this group. That’s why it’s important that we assemble together. Hebrews says forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some are, and more so as that day, the second coming, approaches. He is telling us don’t quit getting together just because you think the second coming is getting there. It’s important that we get together. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is here among us in a special way. You want a special blessing? You come to church where we are assembled and the Holy Spirit is there in a special way. We are more powerful when we get together. Today Chuck brought up the idea… oh by the way, Chuck, you made me feel bad. This is Sunday School class and I just want to deal. You made me feel bad.
He brought up rhythm band. I don’t know if you guys played in a rhythm band at Noble. He got to play the triangle. I always got sticks. Who wants sticks? I had sticks at home. “I played the triangle.” I never got to play the triangle and that hurt me. I forgive you Chuck. How many were stick players here? Oh yeah, please do the hands, and we don’t like you triangle players. Anyway, when we get together the presence of God is here in a special way, more manifested, more powerful. The reason I brought up Chuck is it says we talked about the gift of the Holy Spirit which we will get to that part too, but the gift of languages or tongues was spoken about this morning, and one of the things it says in reference to that if a person is speaking in a foreign language and you don’t understand it then how are you going to know when to say amen? If I’m standing up here speaking Bangladeshi or whatever they speak over there or Philippino something or other how are you going to know when to say amen?
There are two things here that need to be pointed out. One is you will not know when to say amen so I need to speak English to you, and two, Paul actually expected people to be saying amen during church services. The whole point of saying amen is not just to say amen. I went to churches where the people started to sing and they’re playing along and the singer goes mmmmm, ohohohoh, and somebody goes amen. What’s the point? Ohohohoh. The word amen, that is truth and let it happen. Let it happen. What is spoken let it happen in this congregation. What is spoken as truth when you say amen you’re saying I recognize that to be true and I want to see it happen to myself and to this congregation. That’s the whole point of saying amen, when something is spoken it’s true and you would like to see it happen in your life or in the life of the church. You’re saying yes, let it be. Make it so God. Make it so.
So, here we are. Our power is enhanced because we are together. We are to get together so that power is enhanced, and as we pray and somebody says God bless this church you say amen. You don’t have to say it out loud. Just say amen. God bless this church. Amen. God help us to grow in grace. Amen. We’re studying this concept because as a group together there is more power in our prayers and you throw your prayer. You don’t have to pray out loud, you throw your prayer in there with what is being prayed at the time saying; God not only what they’re saying, but here are things that are important to me that need to be said. If you have a fire and you throw wood on it, the fire gets bigger. So, if somebody is praying you can listen to what they are saying and say; add this God, and add that God. You’re just throwing more wood on the fire. You’re throwing more wood on the fire so that the blaze will be bigger, brighter and more things will happen.
That’s why when we get together and that’s why we need to get together is we should expect more things, more experiencing of the grace of God in our lives and as a church because we do meet together. If your life is kind of lacking start going to a church where the Spirit of God is and expect Him to start anointing you. Now, if we get down to verse 7, we’ve talked about the unity and how we are to strive to keep this unity going, and sometimes if we have to take a backseat to keep the unity going that’s more important. The only time we should disrupt a church is if somebody, someone is saying something that is anti-God, anti-Christ, that it is a heresy that is being said and we go no, that’s not right.
I went to a church one time and they had actual elders, I think it was five elders in the church, they sat up front. Anyone that got up to speak they would blah, blah blah, speak, speak, speak, and then when it was over with you would see those elders all lean together and they would say well, what do you think? It was like an Olympic thing. Yeah, I think he was right. The Bible says this. No, I think he was wrong. I have seen them after it was over with come back the next week and say what so-and-so said is heresy. Do not listen, and if you do not know what he said last week forget it. If you remember forget it, and if you don’t know don’t ask because it is heresy. It was wrong. I was like wow. That’s what the Bible says we’re supposed to do.
If somebody is actually saying something that is contrary to the revealed Word of God then that’s when we need to step up and say whoa, wait a minute. We need to stop this. Anything else like what color are you going to paint the walls, what kind of a carpet are you going to have, that is not worth splitting a church over. I didn’t get my way; therefore, I’m mad, I’m going to stomp out. The color of the hymnals is wrong. I don’t like that. I’m mad. I’m going to stomp out. Strive to keep that unity because as we are united we grow in the power, in the presence of God and He hears our prayers and strengthens us so we can overcome this world. Verse 7 says, “But to each one of us.” He goes from this unity idea back to the individuals. “But to each one of us.” It’s important.
Every individual in this church is important. You are coming here because God wanted you here. That’s why you’re here. You’re here so that you can join together and your life can grow in grace. You can experience the grace. You can have knowledge of the Bible but also a personal relationship, knowledge with God because you are in this place and you are worshipping together. We are working together and the church is growing and growing and growing. To each one. There is not a person left out. Do no think I am not worthy. God never gave me any kind of a special gift or calling. Every person is what it says. Each one of us is given a favor, is given a grace according to the measure of the gifts of Christ. Christ gives every person a gift, something that you can do, something that you can contribute no matter how small it is.
A lot of people say well, I don’t know what it is. Give it time. Keep coming back, keep coming back, and you will fall into a natural rhythm and you will say I can do that, and when you think you can do it step up and say to the elders I would like to try that. I would like to contribute in this way. Sometimes the elders will say yes, sometimes they will say I’ll think about that and get back within a year because whatever reason, but don’t get discouraged. Just keep seeking the Lord and asking Him to bring you to the point where you can contribute what you’re supposed to be doing in the church of Jesus Christ, because as Glenwood Church grows in the knowledge and in that grace and that favor and we experience it all the churches of this area and all across the world are actually lifted up because we are part of a greater body, a universal body called the church, and all of us are connected together because we belong to the body of Christ. The universal.
Every Christian past, present and future is going to be a part of that body. As we are lifted up and we grow, other people will grow because one, we do it every week. God bless our missionaries wherever they’re at, whatever they’re doing. Use them to expand Your kingdom. We pray that in some way. The church of Jesus Christ is lifted up. God says we are to pray for the leaders of our country so we can live in peace and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Everytime we pray for the leaders He is going okay. As He brings peace to the leadership of the country the Gospel will go out. You have a gift, it just might take you some time to get there. The reason for this gift is in verse 8. “Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high, he led captive a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.'”
To get that, understanding what’s going on there for one thing it says Jesus Christ descended from heaven. He came here when He passed away. He went to the lower parts of the earth. When He came back up He led captives. We are now prisoners, we’ve talked about this before, we are prisoners of hope. We know something sure and we are locked into that because we are Christians. We know we are saved because we’ve trusted in Him and He said I will get you there, so we are prisoners of hope and he says He has taken this host captive and then He gives gifts to men. Then he goes onto another subject but He is actually quoting from Psalm 68 which I read this morning. Psalm 68:18-19. “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive.” That’s that phrase. “Thou hast received gifts for men.” That’s the phrase in Hebrew.” “For the rebellious also,” that’s us gentiles because we were in rebellion against God so He received gifts and He takes us captive also, “that the Lord God might dwell among them.” That’s us. Blessed be the Lord, and this is the part that is added on that Paul skips over because he is going on with the unity, but because of this unity listen to what it says in 19. “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.”
Because we are a unit, because we meet as the church of Glenwood, because we are gathered that way He loads us with benefits. He loads us with blessings. You’re out on your own, you’re out there. You say well I can be a Christian and out on my own. Yes, you can, and you can survive and you can make it through and when the rapture comes you will be caught away just like everything else, but if you want a load of blessings brothers and sisters. I like doing that. If you want a load of blessings then you come to the church where Jesus Christ is uplifted and the presence of God is there, because when the unity is there and we are working together as a unit, as we are working together He loads us down with blessing, He loads us down with favor.
One thing I will point out, because this was preached we’ll probably all have real problems now because the devil does not want us to be united. So, whenever things start coming and you start getting miffed at other people in the church remember this. I am to endure, I am to be gentle, I am to be meek, I am to be diligent. To keep this going is what, going on that is just aggravating me so much? Is it a heresy or is it just something that honks me off, and if it is just something personal you need to say I let this go God because it’s more important that we maintain the unity than that we paint the inside of this church pink or whatever, lime or whatever happens to be the color of the day. It’s more important that we stay together, and as we do that God will start causing more and more blessings. As we function we will experience the blessings of God.
Today is also communion Sunday for us. It’s an open communion which means any person who has trusted in the Lord is more than welcome to partake of this. When Christ instituted this He was looking forward just a matter of hours to what was going to happen, and remember this. When He said it is finished, three words, it is finished, in the Greek it was actually one word, Teleo. I won’t try to say it because I’ll not get it right. Teleo. One Greek word and it meant it is finished, it is accomplished, and it will never be repeated. That is the meaning of that word. Something is completed. The assignment is done and that will never have to be repeated ever, ever again. When Jesus Christ instituted this He was looking forward to it is finished on the cross, my sacrifice is over with, and because My sacrifice is over with and it will never be repeated every person that trusts in Me will go to heaven, and every person that trusts in Me will have the presence of the Holy Spirit within their life.
And, the church of Jesus Christ when it assembles understands this, my spirit will be there in a special way, I will be there in a special way, and the church will be more powerful because of the sacrifice. When He said it is finished, the assignment is done, the doors are tipped open, the blessing of the Holy Spirit comes to us as individuals, and then the blessing of the Holy Spirit comes to us as a church, and He says where two or more are gathered in His name there He is among them. He also made the statement where two or more agree on anything on earth He hears and He will answer their prayers, give them an answer to their prayers. We are fortified because of this. So, when you take this Lord’s Supper today give it the recognition that it is due and say this is important because it is finished, it is accomplished, and the things that were talked about this morning in the service are a fact. As I assemble and I will grow in grace, and as I assemble and we pray together God will hear and answer my prayers in a special and unique way because I have chosen to be part of this unit. Would the elders please come forward?