Looking Ahead

June 7, 2008 Ephesians 4:16

 

What is a healthy church?

What does God expect from all believers?

What makes church a dynamic witness in the world?

The answers to all to the above questions can be found in the NT. As you look, you will see a major reoccurring theme. This theme is what believers are to do for oneanother.

Doing your Part

What do the “one anothers” of scripture have to do with me?

Paul teaches a process in Ephesians for the “body of Christ” to reflect the love of Christ.

  • This process will not be realized unless each member of the body does it's part.
  • God reveals His plan in Ephesians 4:16.

Ephesians 4:16He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Total body function is essential if a local church is to become all that God intends it to be.

  • In the verse above, each person has a special part and as that part functions it helps the other parts of the body grow; my growth depends on you! Your growth depends on me, at least in part. That means both you and I have to participate or the body suffers.
  • When the “one anothers” of the Bible are implemented as a way of life in the local church, the church begins to grow & thrive.
    • Body function or personal participation begins and grows at an astonishing rate, spiritual growth runs rampant.
    • When the church functions according to the Biblical admonition to practice “one-anothering” the dynamic of the church changes in a most marvelous way.

The Flesh versus the Spirit

There is an interesting use of alleon in Galatians to contrast
                    “the acts of the sinfulnature”           with          “the fruitof the Spirit”.

We see that in Galatians 5:17

Galatians 5:17for the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition toone another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

The two words translated one another in this passage come from the same Greek word “allelon”.

Here Paul uses “one another” to show a marked difference between people who

  • follow the “sinful nature” in their relationships with “one another” and
  • Those who “live by the Spirit” and “keep in step with the Spirit” (see Galatians 5:25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.).

Key thought:

Throughout this entire passage, Paul was speaking “relationally” and not just speaking to personal attitude and actions.

This is why he used plural pronouns (for example 5:18 “you”) to describe the way the “acts of the sinful nature” are manifested among non-christians and conversely, the way the “fruit of the spirit” is reflected in the lives of Christians as they relate to one another.

This introduces us to a very fascinating dichotomy regarding the way the “one anothers” are outlined in the New Testament.

  • They can actually be grouped under "the acts of the sinful nature" and “the fruit of the-spirit."
  • When they are, we can see immediately what Paul had in mind when he stated that these two manifestations conflict with one another (5:17).

Galatians 5:17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

So let’s look at the “one anothers” by groups.

The Acts of the Sinful Nature

Galatians 5:19-21Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  • Following is a list of negative "one another" statements that appear in several New Testament letters.
  • Generally, these statements, appear as they are translated in the New International Version of the New Testament.
  • At times paraphrased in this list to demonstrate consistency and clarity, but without changing the specific meaning in the original text.
  • These statements are as follows:
    • lusting for one another (Rom. 1:27)
    • judging one another (Rom. 14:13)
    • depriving one another (l Cor. 7:5)
    • biting one another (Gal' 5:15a)
    • devouring one another (Gal. 5:15b)
    • destroying one another (Gal. 5:15c)
    • provoking one another (Gal. 5.26a)
    • envying one another (Gal.5:26b)
    • lying to one another (Col' 3:9)
    • hating one another (Titus 3:3)
    • slandering one another (James 4:11)
    • grumbling against one another (James 5:9)

The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

  • The following statements are positive "one another" exhortations.
    • Again, they are at times paraphrased to demonstrate consistency and clarity, but in each instance reflect what the New Testament authors meant.
    • Notice how these exhortations reflect the fruit of the Spirit
      • members of one another (Rom. 12:5)
      • being devoted to another (Rom. I2:I0 a)
      • honoring one another (Rom. 12:10 b)
      • being of the same mind toward one another (Rom. 12:16; 15:5)
      • loving one another (Rom. 13:8; 1 Thes 3:12; 4:9, 2Thes 1:3; Heb. 10:24; I Peter 1:22; I John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12; 2 John 5)
      • edifying one another (Rom. I4:I9)
      • accepting one another (Rom. 15:7)
      • instructing one another (Rom. I5:I4)
      • greeting one another (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20;2 Cor. 3:I2; IThes. 5:26; I Peter 5:14)
      • waiting for one another (1 Cor. tI:33)
      • caring for one another (1 Cor. 12:25)
      • serving one another (Gal. 5:13)
      • carrying one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2)
      • bearing with one another (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:13)
      • being kind to one another (Eph.4:32)
      • submitting to one another (Eph. 5:2I; I Peter 5:5)
      • esteeming one another (Phil. 2:3)
      • encouraging one another (1 Thes. 4:18; 5:11, 14)
      • confessing sins to one another (James 5:l6a)
      • praying for one another (James 5:I6b)
      • offering hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
      • fellowshipping with one another (1 John 1:7)

One thing is very clear from these two lists of biblical statements.

  • A church that is manifesting "the fruit of the Spirit is practicing the, “one another" injunctions that build up the body of Christ and lead to one-mindedness and unity.
  • A church that is reflecting the "acts of the sinful nature" is carnal and is practicing the "one anothers" that keep the church worldly and in a state of disunity.

An Example

Drawing on a New Testament example, this kind of church can be called a “Corinthian church" (1 Cor. 3:1-4).

  • To quote Paul, the believers in Corinth were acting more like non-christians than Christians.
  • This is what Paul meant when he asked the question-"Are you not acting like mere men?" (1 Cor 3:3)

How can your church-and mine-become a mature body of believers, reflecting "the fruit of the Spirit"?

  • The answer is clear in scripture. All believers must "live by the spirit" and "keep in step with the spirit" (Gal.5:25).
  • To do this, we must practice the "one another" exhortations that buildup the body of Christ (Eph. 4:16) rather than destroying and dismantling it (Gal 5:15)

Ephesians 4:16from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Galatians 5:15But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

We must obey God's Word.

  • in no instance are these exhortations qualified,
  • if you feel like it
  • if it's convenient
  • if it fits your personality, etc.
    • These exhortations form a profile for doing the will of God.
      • All Christians are to be involved.
      • We must be committed to "looking for opportunities to carry out these positive "one another” injunctions in our personal lives.
      •  At the same time, we must avoid practicing the negative "one anothers." This is the essence of love!

Empowered by the Holy Spirit

It is true that all believers have a responsibility to practice the positive, “one anothers” out lined in Scripture. If we love Jesus Christ, and one another then we will obey the Word of God.

John 15:10“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

However this is far more than a human process that is based on an act of the human will. It is a divine process where believers draw on the supernatural power of God.

First of all, Jesus prayed for all of us-which certainly includes our ability to love one another as He loved us.

John 13:34“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Jesus followed this “one another” command with that prayer in John 17 which includes the following request:

John 17:20-21“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

Paul also made this supernatural process clear in his prayer for the Ephesian Christians-a prayer that is just as relevant for your church and mine. Note again that this prayer is for the total body not just for individual members of the body. Again, Paul used plural pronouns to make this point:

Ephesians 3:16-19that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

The goal of Paul's prayer was that these believers might "be filled to the measure of . . . the fullness of God" (3:19).

  • This is a succinct statement that summarizes the "fruit of the Spirit"-reflections of God's character-which is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Gal. 5:22).

Paul culminated this prayer with a grand doxology –powerful verses that we have inscribed on huge banners that are displayed in the front of our own church. These verses remind all of us at least once a week that we can practice the positive "one anothers" with God's divine help:

Ephesians 3:20-21Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Against the backdrop of Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3 and his emphasis on the functioning body in chapter 4, we can now understand more fully, what he meant in chapter 5 when he encouraged these believers to be "filled with the Spirit." Note once again that this is a corporate concept, directed at the entire church in Ephesus:

Ephesians 5:18-20And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;

My personal prayer for you is that this study will impact your life and the life of your church as it has impacted me personally and the people l’ve had the privilege of ministering to over the years' If you take God’s Word seriously and rely on the Holy Spirit to empower you, I'm confident it will!

Group Involvement

  1. Foundational One Anothers ( the ones we will cover)
  • Members of One Another
  • Devoted to One Another
  • Honor One Another
  • Be of the Same Mind with One Another
  • Accept One Another
  • Admonish One Another
  • Greeting One Another
  • Serving One Another
  • Carrying One Another’s Burdens
  • Bear with One Another
  • Submit to One Another
  • Encouraging One Another
  1. Spend some time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten each participant to understand these exhortations and to empower each one to practice them-beginning in this group process.
  1. Conclude the session by reflecting on Paul's wonderful doxology in Ephesians 3:20-2I.

Ephesians 3:20-21Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.