The Unity Worthy of Our Calling – 4
1. “There is...one Lord.” This is the claim that will either put you in a gospel meeting or in an indignation meeting!
a. It worked out that way when Paul was at Ephesus, as Luke vividly describes for us in Acts 19.
b. On the one hand, in the hall of Tyrannus every day from 11 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon, Paul reasons with people about the kingdom. This continues for two years, so that all in Asia hear the word of the Lord (Acts 19:9-10).
c. On the other hand, an enraged and confused crowd rushes together into the city’s 25,000 seat theater, dragging with them two of Paul’s companions. For two solid hours they all cry out with one voice, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:28-34).
d. What’s at issue in these two very different meetings? Who is Lord!
2. Yet, when divisiveness is threatening, “there is one Lord” is the argument the New Testament uses for unity!
a. When the Corinthians are choosing up sides in personality cliques, Paul appeals to them “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” that there be no divisions (1 Cor. 1:10).
b. When what does and doesn’t constitute association with an idol is becoming an issue, he reminds them that for us there is “one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor. 8:6).
c. When members of the body are turning spiritual gifts into ways of getting attention and occasions for jealousy, he points out that “there are varieties of service, but the same Lord” (1 Cor. 12:5).
3. This is the pivotal fact in Ephesians 4:4-6, the truth upon which so much else turns. We will pursue the thought by examining the three phrases that are used in Ephesians to convey the significance of the lordship of Christ: “the Lord,” “one Lord,” and “our Lord.”
1. The Lord (Ephesians 1:2, 15; 2:21; 4:1)
a. The readers of the letter were accustomed to hearing the term for “lord” used in meaningful connections in everyday life.
i. Sometimes it referred to the head of the family (cf. 1 Pet. 3:6). It could be used as a polite way of expressing courtesy, or as a means of showing respect.
ii. Sometimes the term was used of the owner and master of the house (cf. Mk. 12:9; Eph. 6:5). It carried with it overtones of the legal and proper right of say-so that comes from undisputed ownership.
iii. Sometimes the word spoke of the majesty and sovereignty of a ruler (cf. Acts 25:26). It has been said that there was no Greek word so clothed with authority as “lord.” Thayer says it literally means “one who has the power of deciding.”
b. Two special circumstances at Ephesus, though, would have made the mention of “the Lord” strike home with special force.
i. There was a synagogue there where Jewish citizens gathered for the reading of the law and prophets and the writings. That’s where Paul first went to speak boldly about the Lord (Acts 19:8).
(1) But the Greek translation of the Old Testament uses “Lord” more that 6,000 times to stand for the memorial name of God, and the New Testament uses it the same way at least 150 times.
(2) It is the word used to used to express the eternal power and divine nature of the living God who has dominion over his creation.
(3) When Jews heard Jesus called “the Lord,” they would not have missed the point: the continuing power and honor of their God was being ascribed to him!
ii. But there was also at Ephesus the magnificent “temple of the great goddess Artemis” (Acts 19:27).
(1) One of the Seven Wonders of the World, it was the largest marble temple in existence, four times larger than the Parthenon.
(2) It was 120 years in the building, and it was 425 feet long, 220 feet wide, with 127 white marble columns, 62 feet high and less than 4 feet apart. It must have been the pride and joy of the city!
(3) Housed there was the sacred stone that was supposed to have fallen from Jupiter, the one regarded as a figure of the great Artemis herself.
(a) But those who were devoted to that Ephesian goddess depended on her power to intercede between them and the forces of cruel fate that plagued them.
(b) To those who called on Artemis, she was Lord, Savior, a heavenly goddess, Queen of the Cosmos.
c. No wonder the claim that Jesus is “the Lord” caused such a stir at Ephesus!
i. “The name of the Lord Jesus” is mentioned three times in connection with Paul’s work there (Acts 19:5, 13, 17).
ii. Twice “the word of the Lord” is referred to as the message which was heard and which continued to increase and prevail (Acts 19:10, 20).
iii. And, interestingly, the gospel is twice called “the Way”– and that’s what caused such a disturbance (Acts 19:9, 23).
2. One Lord (Ephesians 4:5)
a. It is not only that Jesus Christ is “the Lord.” An even greater challenge to our hearts is that “there is...one Lord” (Eph. 4:4-5).
i. No one else has been raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power.
ii. There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5).
iii. People are servants of whomever they obey (Rom. 6:16), and nobody can serve two masters (Matt. 6:24), but the Bible says there is only one real Lord.
b. People always have some choices to make when they realize the implications of this claim. According to Acts 19, they certainly did at Ephesus!
i. Some in the synagogue who saw the point became stubborn and continued in unbelief and spoke evil of the Way (Acts 19:9).
ii. Some who engaged in spiritism found out the hard way that “the name of the Lord Jesus” is not just another magic formula among many rivals (Acts 19:13-17).
iii. Some practitioners of magic arts confessed their mistaken ways and burned their expensive books – books worth 50,000 days’ wages (Acts 19:18-19).
iv. Some who saw that their business and their wealth and even their culture was threatened if gods made with hands are not gods flew into the rage we described earlier (Acts 19:23-29).
v. Some disciples of the Lord who believed they should follow only him paid the price at the risk of their lives (Acts 19:29).
3. Our Lord (Eph. 1:3; 3:11; 6:24)
a. Our text is calling us to live like the Lord who is one is our Lord. In 1 Corinthians 1:13, Paul spells out this means where our unity is concerned.
i. “Is Christ divided?”
ii. “Was Paul crucified for you?”
iii. “Were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
b. From our text onward, the letter to the Ephesians teaches us to live every part of our lives in relation to our Lord.
i. “For the Lord” (4:1)
ii. “In the Lord” (4:17; 5:8; 6:1, 10)
iii. “To the Lord” (5:10, 19)
iv. “Of the Lord” (5:17, 20)
v. “As to the Lord” (5:22; 6:5-7)
vi. “From the Lord” (6:8)
vii. “With the Lord” (1 Thes. 4:17)
1. The unity worthy of our calling is maintained by loyalty to one Lord.
2. Ephesians 6:23-24