Paul desires to help us as Christians in our daily walk with the Lord.
It would be helpful in understanding what he writes if we will remember that we, as Christians, live in two worlds.
We live both in the flesh and the spirit.
In the flesh you may be John Brown, son of Bob and Mary Brown.
In the spirit you are a child Christ, a member of the body of Christ.
In the flesh the Christian is a human being.
John Brown is an individual, selfish and sinful.
In the spirit the believer has been born again, and now is a child of God living in Christ,
indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Both John Brown and the born again believer are real and exist at the same time.
Even though he is a child of God, and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ,
and has been born again, the "old man" is in his flesh and is still around him.
The Christian finds himself to be the battleground of two forces.
Satan, tempting the natural man to do as he pleases.
Christ, who leads by His Spirit to do as He wills.
Remember, the natural man can be religious.
He can be a member of the church, and he can even occupy the pulpit.
He is a human being, and as such he is a person that Satan can tempt to be selfish,
and to be proud, and to be vain.
At the same time, Christ leads the spiritual soul by His Spirit and by His grace.
The Christian, who is known to world as John Brown, feeds the "new man" in himself
by reading the Scriptures, and by hearing the truth of the Gospel as it is preached.
Paul speaks of that relationship: "There is one body, one Spirit,
even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all."
(Ephesians 4: 4-6)
Let's put them together like this:
"One body animated by one Spirit, sharing one hope,
acknowledging one Lord, confessing one faith, sealed by one baptism, and recognizing one Father of all.
And that unity is for all time."
Let's look at this great statement more closely.
There is one body.
All believers are members of the body of Christ.
"We, being many, are one body in Christ, and everyone members one of another." (Romans 12: 5)
So many members of the body of Christ that we are unable to count them,
but yet there is only one body.
They are known as the body of Christ, and the Bible speaks of them as "the church."
The members of this body have been called out of every kindred, tongue, people and nation.
The members differ in nationality, color, language, education, training, ability, temperament, and outlook.
Yet, we are all of one body.
"For we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones."
Being organically united with Christ, the Head, each member is then made one
with every other member of the Body.
The oneness is so complete that we are literally a part of the life of each other.
This is an inspiring fact.
There is but one body.
"That they may all be one, even as thou, Father, art in me,
and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believer that thou hast sent me."
We must note that it does not say "One Church."
Were that so, it is conceivable that some denomination or sect, of which there might be
few or thousands would make the claim that they are the "One Church."
"There is one body," which Paul in Ephesians teaches is eternal in calling,
heavenly in conception, divine in creation, and supernatural in constitution.
This body is not an earth-born or man-made institution, but this body is a product of the Holy Spirit.
This one body clearly refers to the church, which is comprised of all God's people
as Ephesians 1: 23 declares the church "to be His body, the fullness of Him
that filleth all in all."
What is said of the church in this broad sense is in the main true of it also
in its local manifestations (the churches), but the local church is not primary here.
The church through which "the manifold wisdom of God" is to be made known
to "the principalities and powers in heavenly places" is seen as one living organism.
Many interpreters speak of this body as the church.
Other interpreters object to the use of the term, "church," with reference to this body because of the fact
that predominantly in the New Testament the term, "church," has reference to a local congregation.
It is true that predominantly in the new Testament, the term "church," refers to a local congregation,
but it is doubtful that one can be true to the spirit of Paul's message concerning unity in this passage
without thinking of this one body of the redeemed in terms of "church."
For as we just quoted in Ephesians 1: 22-23, Paul has already said that the exalted Christ
has been made "above all things in the church, which is His body."
Apparently, Paul is enlarging the idea of the church to include all the redeemed who make up
the one body of which Christ is the Head.
But it should be remembered that this idea of all the redeemed as one spiritual body
with Christ as the Head is never presented in the New Testament as an organized body.
"This one body is animated by one Spirit even as ye are called in one hope of your calling."
It is the peculiar work of the Spirit to "call" us into this unity.
And He does so by convicting us, by quickening us, and by enabling us to believe.
He enters into us.
He baptizes us into the body of Christ as we are told in 1 Corinthians 12: 13.
He then enlightens our understanding and leads us on.
We need and enjoy His fellowship.
Paul is particularly concerned to emphasize this "calling" of Christians,
and the results of this"call" worked by the Holy Spirit, and the effectual character of this work.
He does so in many places.
In 1 Corinthians 2, for example, he tells us that "The natural man receiveth not
the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them,
because they are spiritually discerned."
(1 Corinthians 2: 14)
How does anyone believe?
Paul says, "God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit." (Verse 10),
and again, "We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God,
that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God."
(1 Corinthians 2: 12)
It is the Spirit who does this work, and it is an effectual work.
He does the same thing in the each one of us, though there may be
minor and unimportant differences in detail.
And the result is that He produces an identity of belief and of outlook, and especially of hope.
In other words, all Christians are looking in the same direction animated by the same Spirit.
None but the Holy Spirit is the activating power in the body;
hence, a sin against the body is a sin against the Holy Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost to form that body,
the disciples "were all with one accord in one place." (Acts 2: 1)
Such was the unity of the Spirit.
There is no doctrine of Scriptures more plainly revealed than that the Spirit of God dwells in all believers,
and that His presence is the ultimate ground of their unity as the body of Christ.
All sins against unity, are therefore, sins against the Holy Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit lives in every believer and unites every believer into one body:
"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."
(1 Corinthians 12: 13)
Hodge states, "As the human body is one because it is pervaded by one soul;
so the body of Christ is one because it is pervaded by one and the same Spirit,
who dwells in every Christian believer."
So the "one Spirit" gives life to this one body.
He is the One who gives to it life and activity.
He is the One who takes the twin chains of peace and love and uses them
to bind together all the redeemed into one body.
Now there are many spirits, and the Bible warns us not to believe every spirit
because every spirit is not of God.
There is one Holy Spirit -- only one!
He comes from God and He is God.
1 John 4:1: "Beware of other spirits.
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God."
1 John 4: 6: "Watch out for the spirit of error."
There is always a condition of derangement if there is more than one spirit in one body.
Jesus told of a man who had become possessed by a legion of demons who was deranged.
His personality was in the state of insurrection.
But that is not the church.
The church is one body animated by one Spirit.
Observe that this is not some ideal to be attained.
These are spiritual realities.
We cannot make them anymore real than they are, but by recognizing them we will be enabled
to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
The one work of the one Spirit is that it always leads to "one hope of your calling."
We are "pilgrims and strangers" in this world.
We are new men and women with a new life, a new outlook, and we are all looking towards the same eternal home.
We have "one hope of our calling," the "blessed hope" of the coming of our Lord,
the final judgment of sin and evil, and our reigning with Him in everlasting glory.
This "hope" is the hope of salvation.
Its nature is not that of a vague dream or some fantasy.
It is a confident assurance.
Its content includes the redemption of the body and spirit, a present life of service, and a life that never ends.
There is no other hope like this!
The believer's call is high, holy, and heavenly.
The hope of such a calling is our final glorification when we shall be like our Lord and forever with Him.
There is no hope like this in all the world, and in this one hope all Christians share.
The hope of the saint is to be with and to be like his Lord.
While he praises God for the progressive sanctification which goes on day by day on earth,
every earnest Christian longs for that day when the partial will give way to the perfect
and redemption will be consummated in glorification.
It does not yet appear what we shall be like.
But we know that when we see the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be like Him. (1 John 3: 2)
We may have many desires and aspirations that differ;
but we all have this one hope and this one aspiration in common.
"One the object of our journey,
One the faith which never tires,
One the earnest looking forward,
One the hope our God inspires.
One the gladness of rejoicing,
On the far eternal shore,
Where the one Almighty Father
Reigns in love forevermore."
"Even as ye are called in one hope of your calling."
What is the hope of the believer?
It is to be raised from the dead by the Lord Jesus Christ.
And I have a hope -- I have that hope!
(John 14: 1-3)
I have the hope of seeing Jesus face to face.
I have the hope that there is another life after this life.
And I have the hope that when I am
"absent from the body" ; will be "present with the Lord."
"Hope is singing, still is singing,
Softly in an undertone,
Singing as if God had taught it,
'It is better farther on.'
Night and day it sings the same song,
Sings it when I sit alone;
Sings it so the heart may hear it,
'It is better farther along.'
On the grave it sits and sings it,
Sings it when the heart would groan,
Sings it when the shadows darken,
'It is better farther along.' "
"So let's think of God and heaven,
Let's look up and laugh and smile,
And forget our disappointments --
We'll be leaving in a while.
For that home to be with Jesus,
For that home so bright and fair,
For that land that's filled with gladness,
And will find no sorrows there."
That is our hope!
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@AOL.com