The Unity Worthy of Our Calling – 7
“ONE GOD AND FATHER OF ALL”
1. Here is the bottom line: diligence with regard to the unity of the Spirit is a big deal because there is “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
a. This is the truth from which every other aspect of unity flows.
b. It’s why neither merely pursuing our own private path nor forming a man-made union with those who share our tastes will do.
c. Everett Ferguson writes, “God the Father comes last in the Ephesians list, for the last and deepest ground of unity is the one God, creator and redeemer.” (The Church of Christ: An Ecclesiology for Today, 401).
2. The first and highest reaching thing we can do for the sake of real unity, then, is to know and love and respect the God of heaven as our Father.
a. That is sure to take a lifetime of attention and growth.
b. It will do a lot more to make us one than a focus on any issue, and it will keep any of these other ones in the perspective that belongs to them.
c. The thing is, though, it won’t happen naturally. We’ll have to do it on purpose.
1. One God
a. Two lines of thought are related to this truth in the Bible, both very meaningful and both having everything to do with the unity of the Spirit. (R. Lanier, The Timeless Trinity, 45)
i. The first is that there is only one infinite, eternal, self-existent Being whose essence is Deity. It’s a point made in just about every possible way.
(1) Jesus said, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Mk. 12:29) and called him “the only God” (Jn. 5:44).
(2) Paul wrote, “There is no God but one,” and “there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist” (1 Cor. 8:4, 6).
(3) James says, “You believe that God is one; you do well,” (2:19), and “there is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy” (4:12).
ii. The other related line of thought is that this one Divine Essence is undivided and indivisible.
(1) What I mean is that there is a consistency about who God is (he is faithful and true) and that it is his nature to be steadfast (he is eternal and immutable).
(2) He is not divided against himself, and he cannot be. Remember, we’ve just read that “God is one.”
(3) This is the point Paul was reasoning from when he said in another setting that “God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”
b. Here’s what we have to notice: where these two lines of thought come together is in the necessity of unity among those who draw near to him.
i. Rom. 3:29-30 argues that “since God is one” he must be “the God of Jews” and “of Gentiles also,” and that he must justify both by the same means.
ii. Our Lord Jesus Christ tied the oneness and unity of God together with the oneness and unity he so desires among his people in his greatest prayer.
(1) Jn. 17:3
(2) Jn. 17:11
(3) Jn.17:21-23, 26
iii. Unity like this is very much in keeping with the model provided by the Ephesians list of “ones,” but it is the direct opposite of the commonly used metaphor of our climbing one mountain from several different directions and in many different ways. There is one God, and that means oneness of hope and faith and baptism and body.
2. And Father of All
a. Ephesians, the Epistle of the Church, especially presents God as the Father of all.
i. He is God – all the time, everywhere, for everybody.
ii. He is “the God who created all things” (3:9), and who is the source of “every spiritual blessing” (1:3), and who “chose” a people “for adoption through Jesus Christ” (1:4-5), intending all the while “to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth in him” (1:10).
iii. In this letter God is specifically the one “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named” (3:15) – the one whose “fatherhood” sets the pattern for family life (Martin, 44); the one from whom every relationship in heaven and on earth that can be designated as a “family” gets its name (Lockhart, 172).
b. The number of passages in Ephesians that refer to God as “Father” suggest that the “unity” the letter teaches is about relating to him in a worthy manner.
i. He is “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3) – the one in whose love and fellowship and care Jesus rested. God is as kind, as loving, and as merciful as Jesus was. (Barclay, 151).
ii. God is the Father to whom “we both have access” (2:18; 3:12). He is approachable to us. We can draw near to him with boldness and confidence through Christ.
iii. But he is still “the Father of glory” (1:17), not a soft and sentimental God whose presence means nothing. Our access to him is costly to him, and it doesn’t give us the right to make little of him. He is such a one as before whom a right-thinking person will bow his knees (3:14).
iv. He is “God the Father” to whom thanks are always due (5:20). Any and all blessings we ever enjoy have their origin in the riches of his grace. Barclay says, “It is our shame that because God’s gifts come to us so regularly and so unfailingly we tend to forget that they are gifts.” (152-153)
v. And our text says that he is the “Father of all.” At the very least that means that we owe love and respect to each other. But at most – and this is in Christ – we are brothers and sisters in his family!
3. Who is over all and through all and in all
a. The children of God come to understand everything in relation to our Father.
i. “Over all” speaks of God’s sovereignty, or his supremacy over anything or anybody there is. (Suggested by Lockhart)
ii. “Through all” suggests his providential involvement in people’s lives – he was involved in his world before we got here and he still will be after we are gone.
iii. “In all” indicates that he is present with his people in all time and in every circumstance. We have, not an Artemis to perhaps sway fate, but a wise and loving Father!
b. The community or oneness of his people is created as we relate to one Father through one Lord by one Spirit. You can see what is bound to happen as we do what Ephesians calls us to do toward him.
i. “Access...to the Father” (2:18) means that we will be drawing near to him.
(1) And what’s the result? 2:19 answers, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
(2) In sharing a “fatherhood” we have to become a “brotherhood.”
(3) The first and most obvious expression of it is our meeting together.
ii. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (5:1) means that we will be developing a common way of life.
(1) In other words, we will develop a character defined by the fatherhood of the family.
(2) It is the “walk” that demonstrates that the “access” is genuine.
(3) The model for it is Christ, who “loved us and gave himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (5:2).
iii. “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father” (5:20) means that gratitude will be the moving force among us.
(1) There is a humility about saying “thanks;” it means “I’ve received something I didn’t deserve.”
(2) People who are thanking a person are wanting to please him. In the context that follows the verse here, the idea is that we will be thanking God by doing things in all our relationship as if for him.
(3) Knowing you have been treated graciously and wanting to please the one who treated you that way can’t help but draw you together with all the others who are in that same boat!
1. What if we are continually responding to one God and Father this way? Will not the prayer of Jesus that the love with which the Father love him may be in his people begin to be answered more and more? And isn’t allowing that to happen important to all of us who care anything about his great heart? It has to be!
2. That’s why we have done this series. We’ve come to the conclusion of it now. Think back over it in this order.
a. There is one God and Father of all. According to his own purpose and grace, he has acted to unite all things in heaven and on earth in one Lord. The mystery of his will has now been revealed by one Spirit.
b. One hope is now help up before us through the gospel he has made known. One faith is the basis of it. One baptism is the is means of responding to it.
c. And that brings us back to the practical truth our passage started with: there is one body.
3. What are we to do in the light of this truth?
a. What if we begin by at least intending to be one body in the Lord?
b. What is we seek to respond to the gospel the way people did when it was first preached, and to let the Lord add us to his people as he did then, and then to continue in the faith, living hopefully as children of God, obedient to what the Spirit has made known?
c. Perhaps the “love with faith” connection between “brothers” and “God the Father” in Ephesians 6:23 can be known again! May it begin with us!