Ephesians 4:1-3   "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Eight times the words, "unity or one," appears in verses one through six of this chapter.  This sets the tone for the entire chapter.  The theme of the chapter is the unity of the church.

"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord…" Again, Paul refers to himself as the prisoner of the Lord.  This calls our attention to the fact that we too should think of ourselves as the Lord's prisoners.  We are not our own and our service does not belong to ourselves.  We are to serve at the Lord's direction and according to his rules and direction.  We are his prisoners. 

"Beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called."  The word, "vocation," literally means calling.  We are to walk worthy of the calling wherewith we are called.  The members of the church at Ephesus received two callings.  All of God's children are called to spiritual life in the New Birth.  This calling is by the Spirit of God and not by man.  Further, for God's children in the church there is the gospel call to repentance and service.  The gospel minister under the leadership of the Spirit of God makes this call.  A child of God called to the service of God should walk worthy of the vocation wherewith he is called.  To "walk worthy" refers to the type of life that we live.  Our lives should be lived in harmony with that high calling we have received. 

To walk in disobedience to the commandments of God would not be befitting the benefits that we have received of God's grace.  Further, to attempt to worship God in a way that is not according to the word of God, would not properly honor the God that has redeemed us.  Our manner of living should be consistent with the eternal life that God has bestowed upon us and be in harmony with the teaching of God's word.  When we do this then we are walking worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called.

"With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love…"  Paul begins to give us the characteristics we need if we are to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called.  "Lowliness" literally means humility of mind.  "Meekness" means humility of action.  Humility of action without humility of mind is just "role acting" and is truly hypocrisy.  True humility begins with how we view ourselves.  If we view ourselves as being somebody or we view ourselves as being more worthy than others, then we are full of pride and not of humility.  Further, if we have a view of ourselves that we are going to reign or having a position over others, then this view springs from pride of mind and not of humility. 

There was a time when the disciples disputed among themselves who would be chief and the Lord reproved them: Matt. 18:1 "At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."  The disciples attitudes at that time were prideful and they needed to be converted to lowliness and meekness.

Now, let us consider how Paul viewed himself.  Paul was first called "Saul."  The name, "Saul," means a mighty one.  At the time that Paul was called Saul, he viewed himself as a mighty one who was going to stamp out the Christian religion.  When the Lord struck Saul down on the road to Damascus, Paul's life was changed.  Further, there came a change in the attitude of Saul and how he viewed himself.  Notice the following three examples of how Paul now viewed himself:

    1.  Eph. 3:8 "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;"

    2.  1 Cor. 15:9 "For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."

    3.  1 Tim. 1:15 "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."

Paul viewed himself as being less than the least of all saints; the least of the apostles; and the chief of sinners.  Someone may say, how can I view myself as the chief of sinners when I see the grossly sinful actions of others?  It is true that when I see some gross sin committed by another that I may think "I have never done anything like that" and begin to think myself better than that individual.  However, when we make such judgments we are making the judgment based on one or a very few sins.  When I look at my life and realize that even a foolish thought is sinful, I see a very great multitude of sins that I have committed, much more than I have ever seen in the life of any others.  The logical conclusion based on the evidence I have before me is that I am the chief of sinners.  I know of no other individual who I can say that I have seen sin as many sins as I know that I have sinned. 

When I view myself as the chief of sinners saved by the grace of God, this leads me to humility of mind, which in turn leads me to humility of action.  When I forget about my sinful condition and begin to get exalted, then I am full of pride and do not have the proper attitude to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith I have been called.  The Lord is the greatest example of humility of mind and action: Phil 2:5 "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

"With longsuffering, forbearing one another in love…"  Sometimes the actions, habits, or ways of others can lead to the disunity of the church.  While we are not to allow gross sins such as set forth in 1 Corinthians chapter 5 to leaven the church, yet there are many other things that sometimes crop up in the lives of God's people that we should be longsuffering and forbearing towards.  Sometimes when pointed out in love and humility by a meek individual, individuals can be led to repent of their annoying habits, actions, and ways.  The harmony and peace of the church is often dependent on the longsuffering and forbearance of the saints in love.

"Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  A church without peace cannot grow and prosper in the service and worship of the Lord.  When a division exists in the church, there will be hard feelings and hurt feelings among the membership.  To endeavor means to make a diligent strong effort.  Unity is not automatic.  The unity of the church is something that every member of the church must make a diligent strong effort towards.  However, we do not want unity at any cost, but rather we want unity based on the truth.  Amos 3:3 reads, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"  Obviously, we cannot walk together unless we are agreed.  For the kind of peace and unity that we need in the church, each member should be willing to work diligently towards achieving that unity through a diligent study of the scriptures and making a proper application of its teaching to our lives.  Further, we need the leadership of the Spirit to accomplish this.  Thus, we need both truth and Spirit if we are to accomplish this unity and peace that each local church needs.           

Ephesians 4:4-6  "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

There has been an ongoing debate over the above passage as to whether the "ones" apply to eternal things concerning the entire redeemed family of God or to timely things in the local church.  While an application can be made based on the text alone that most of the "ones" can have application to the entire redeemed family of God, yet the context and the scriptures as a whole suggest that the application is to the local church.  Further, the "one faith" is consistent with the local church and not with the entire redeemed family of God.  We will show the unity of the "ones" in the local church.

"There is one body…"  The term "body" is used frequently to signify the local church in the scriptures:

    1.  Rom 12:4 "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."

    2.  1 Cor 12:12:

"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body… 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23  And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another…27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."

    3.  Eph. 1:22 "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."

    4.  Eph 3:6 "That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:"

    5.  Eph 4:12 "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:"

    6.  Eph 4:16 "From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."

    7.  Eph 5:23 "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body…30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones."

    8.  Col 1:18 "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."

    9.  Col 2:19 "And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God."

    10. Col 3:15 "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."

The natural human body shows forth the marvelous design of our Creator.  It consists of over 3 trillion cells and yet all of those cells in a healthy body work together in unity for the good of the body.  The local church also consists of several members and when the body is functioning properly there is a wonderful harmony in the church that promotes spiritual growth, peace, and unity of action.

"And one Spirit…"  The Holy Spirit is that one spirit in the local church that makes for peace and unity in the bond of love.  There are many false and wicked spirits in the world that can cause disorder and confusion in the local church.  We are told to "try the spirits."  The Holy Spirit is also that Holy Comforter that the Lord promised the disciples that he would send.  He guides us into all truth.  We gives us all of our spiritual gifts.  He leads us in the activities of the local church.  He works in us to bring about a unity of action, and of love, and fellowship in the local church.  He works in us to bring about spiritual growth in the church.  Any other spirit will only cause disorder and confusion and ultimate destruction in the local church.

"Even as ye are called in one hope of your calling…"  It is the leadership and gifts of the Holy Spirit in the gospel ministry that brings about the gospel call to repentance and service.  The one hope of this gospel calling is that we might be the disciples of the Lord worshipping him in Spirit and in truth and serving him with our lives.  Hope is based on the promise of God and this promise is set forth for us in Acts 2:38: "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."  This promise of the Holy Ghost, to those who responded to the gospel call, is that they might be added to the local church as the Lord's manifest disciples. 

"One Lord…"  The word, "Lord," indicates a master/servant relationship.  In the Lord's church there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ.  We, the members of the local church are all fellow servants.  We are not to lord it over one another.  The ministry is not to lord is over God's heritage.  Sometimes elders and even deacons try to run the church and make all the decisions for the church.  This should not be done, for we have only one Lord and he has given us all the instructions we need to guide us in our duties and in the matters and government of the church.  Further, through the one Spirit, he directs us in our activities of worship and of service.  We need no other Lord, but simple need to obey the One Lord that we have.

"One faith…"  The one faith is referring to "the faith that was once delivered to the saints."  This faith is that system of doctrine, practice, and government that the One Lord has given to the New Testament Church and recorded for us in the New Testament.  About twenty times in the New Testament we read the phrase, "the faith."  The faith is not speaking of our individual faith, but rather "the faith that was once delivered to the saints."  We are not to deviate from the faith in worship or in service.  Adding to the faith or leaving off part of the faith, separates us from the true worship and service of God. 

"One baptism…"  There are at least eight different types of baptism taught in the scriptures.  Yet the "one baptism" in our text is water baptism.  We all enter into the New Testament Church here on earth through this one baptism, or water baptism.  Water baptism shows forth the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and is our public confession of wanting to be identified with the covenant work of our Savior.  Water baptism is not sprinkling or pouring, but rather complete immersion of water.  Water baptism is administered by the ordained gospel ministry of the true New Testament Church and by none other. 

"…One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."  There truly is only one God, even though there are three persons or offices in the Godhead.  1 John 5:7, "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."  We only worship one God and he is the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.  While there things about the Godhead that none of us fully understand, we know that they are not three Gods, but one God. 

This one God is also Father of all.  He is the creator of man and the Spiritual Father of all the elect.  Even though all the elect are not members of the Lord's visible church on earth, yet all that are members have the same Father.  While in nature most of us will have different natural fathers, yet we all have the same spiritual Father. 

This Father is above all and as the Creator of all things has all authority over us.  We should recognize and honor this authority and be obedient to this authority of our Father.

This Father is also through us all.  The word, through, here comes from a Greek word meaning among.  In the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, God is among us and makes his presence felt among us.

This Father is also in us all.  This truly is amazing, that the Creator of the universe who created and dwells over us as the Almighty also has condescended to dwell in our very hearts and minds.  It truly testifies of the amazing love and grace that God has towards his people. 

Ephesians 4:7-10  "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)"

"But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ."  We know that grace is the unmerited favor of God and that God's election of us to be his children was by grace.  We also know that our salvation from sin was by grace and our spiritual birth was by grace.  Also, our resurrection from the dead will also be by the grace of God.  Yet, the grace in verse seven speaks to us of God's gift to us of spiritual gifts.  According to the scriptures, all of God's children are given spiritual gifts:

    1.  Rom. 12:4 "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness."

    2.  1 Cor. 12:7 "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."

It is by the grace of God that we have been given these spiritual gifts.  These gifts are mentioned in this chapter dealing with the unity and peace of the church and the growth of the members of the church.  These gifts are for promoting the unity and peace and growth of the church as well as for glorifying God.  We should never think that we are worthy of having these spiritual gifts.  Also, we should never be lifted up in pride because we have some spiritual gift that others about us may not have.  It is all by the grace of God and we are unworthy creatures.

"Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men."  This is a quote from Psalms 68:18-20 "Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.  Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.  He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death."  When Jesus ascended up on high he not only had redeemed us from our sin and had conquered death, hell, and the grave, but he also "led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men."  The captivity he led captive where the captive prisoners of the covenant of redemption.  The elect are bound up in the covenant of redemption and thus are the bond prisoners of that covenant.  They were delivered from their enemies of sin, death, hell, the devil, and the grave.  Further, they are led as the love captives of the covenant of redemption by the Spirit of God.  First, they are led by the effectual working of the Spirit of God into being born of the Spirit of God.  Second, they are led to fear and love God.  Third, they will be led in the morning of the resurrection into heaven's glory world. 

In addition, there is a leadership here in time by the Spirit of God into the gospel kingdom of God on earth.  In order that we may worship and serve God in an acceptable way that is pleasing to God, He has given to us spiritual gifts. 

"(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)"  This verse teaches us that the same Jesus who descended into the lower parts of the earth (womb of the virgin) in order to save his people from their sins and who ascended up far above all heavens to fulfill all things which pertain to our eternal salvation from sin, is the same Jesus who now reigns over us in the kingdom of heaven and who as our Lord and King gives us spiritual gifts for the benefit of the church and for his glory.