The Eighth in a Series of Sermons on Ephesians
I grew up in churches in which the pastor would often declare “we have no creed but Christ” without noticing that his own assertion was a creed. In the first six verses of Ephesians 4, we find an apostolic creed–“one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all”–a creed possibly used in Christian worship, and certainly used to identify those doctrines held in common by Christians in the apostolic churches, such as the church in Ephesus. It is not an accident that this creed appears in that section of Ephesians in which is Paul stressing the importance of Christian unity. Christians may have a common experience of the risen Christ’s presence in our midst through word and sacrament, but it is our common confession of faith which serves as our collective testimony to the truth of God’s work in our midst. When we confess our faith together as one body with the words, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Father of all,” we are confessing that God has made us one before the eyes of the watching world.
We return to our series on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, and we pick up where we left off with the opening verses of Ephesians 4. It has been a number of weeks since we worked our way through the first half of this epistle, so I would like to spend the first part of our time doing a brief recap of the opening chapters, before turning to Paul’s discussion of Christian unity in Ephesians 4:1-6.
Not only would a brief recap of the first three chapters of Ephesians be helpful to get us all up to speed after our hiatus, it is also vital, because as we move into the second half of Ephesians and turn to the so-called “application” section of this letter (chapters 4-6) we need to keep in mind what is being applied in these verses–the doctrine set forth by Paul in the first three chapters.
Paul’s call for unity in Ephesians 4 makes little sense without considering how it is that Jesus redeemed us from our sin, and how (prior to God saving us) we were dead in sin and enslaved to the sinful desires with which we were born. Jews and Gentiles had been divided before the coming of Christ, but now in Christ, whatever racial and cultural differences existed between them are no longer to divide God’s people. Christ tore down the barrier wall by reconciling both groups to God through the cross. The two peoples (Jew and Gentile) have been made one.
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