This is a continuation of Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
I'm down to the last "one" and we've reached the One. "There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:4-6) Interestingly, this One is actually mentioned three times. God is called by three names, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19) Each name identifies a person in the Godhead. In this passage, "one Lord" identifies the Son as Jesus is most commonly referred to as our Lord, i.e., "the Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 1:2) Also, "one Spirit" clearly refers to the Holy Spirit. Paul completes the passage on ones with the master of the Godhead, with "one God and Father."
One God and Father. This really brings up the concept of trinitarian doctrine. This doctrine was not directly enumerated by the Bible, but was established by believers in two of the early church councils (Nicene in AD 325 and Athanasian in AD 500). Essentially, we know that God is one. It is a clear teaching of all the Bible that we do not worship multiple gods, but only one God. (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5; Mark 12:29; 1 Corinthians 8:4; James 2:19)
Yet, with the coming of Christ, we find that God is revealed through multiple persons. Jesus said to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19) Perhaps the clearest demonstration of the tri-unity of God occurred at Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist in Matthew 3:16-17: "And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, `This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.`" Jesus was baptized, visited by the Holy Spirit, and then the Father spoke to Him. From many scriptures we know that each is God, but that they are each the same God revealed in three different ways. I believe trying to explain this much further delves into the realm of speculation. It is my opinion that this is simply a truth that can't be explored too deeply by the Christian. I don't really fully understand it, but why should I expect to understand an infinite God in only the few years I've lived on this earth? However, it does seem clear that this is what God is getting across through out the Bible.
The Father is the master of the Godhead. However the Godhead works, the Father is the one described as knowing the dates and times of the final eschaton (end-times) (Mark 13:32), of having chosen who would be called to salvation (John 6:37), He is revealed by the Son (Luke 10:22), and is the One Christ serves. (Matthew 26:39)
Christians exist to serve God and worship him. We worship God through a number of actual acts, but the Bible is consistently interested in correct motives. That is, worship can only truly happen when it wells up within a Christian from inside himself—ultimately, the source of true worship is from God Himself working within us.
And now we come to the four "all"s. I don't want to start discussing the principle of unity through the Father until we explore all of the final parts of this statement. Each of these four phrases refer to one principle relationship God has with his children. It is my belief that just as this whole set of verses, 4 through 6, is concerned with unity within the Church that each "all" refers to the "all the members of the Church." I think that each might have a wider application, but I do not think that this is Paul's purpose. He's making a specific remark about the relationship God has with his own chosen people.
One God an Father of all. This relationship has to do with creation. Paul is stating that God is our Father, our Creator. I believe this holds in a couple important senses: (1) He created us as part of general creation and is therefore the Father of all (Genesis 1:26-31; Job 10:11-12; Psalm 139:13), and (2) he "recreated" us in our new birth through faith in Christ. I believe the second sense is the important sense for this passage. All people can claim that God is their Creator, but only Christians can claim that God is the father of their second birth.
I think this second sense is best illustrated in Jesus' discussion with the Pharisee Nicodemus,
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."
Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?"
Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I say, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." – John 3:1-8
This is, of course, where evangelicals get the turn "born again." Though, I'd say the term is tossed around a bit too lightly. The reality is that God chooses those He will save and reaches out to them through the proclaimation of how Christ died to save his people from sin. This rebirth culminates in a specific event that most Christians retell as their "testimony of faith." My wife was "saved" when her mother came to faith out of a deep depression and saw her older brother come to faith as well. My salvation was wrought at a Bible camp when I discovered that my fellow high schoolers weren't performing a ritual by rote, but discovered that Christianity is about life, not rules.
All Christians are united in the second birth. Some Christians now the precise day of the event and possibly even the time down to the second. I can pinpoint my experience to a week during the second week of June between my Sophomore and Junior years of high school. Some Christians can't say for certain when the experience is because they can't remember life being any different, they've always just loved God. However it works in each life, all true Christians have experienced this rebirth. This separates us from unbelievers for whom God is not the Father of the new birth, but the Righteous Judge they must one day face to be sent from His presence to hell.
One God and Father who is over all. This is the relationship God has over us as Master and Sovereign of our lives. In a general sense, God has an ultimate plan for all of history unfolding, "And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place." (Acts 17:26) We know that this plan is specifically for the good of those who believe in God and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
This sense ties in closely with the sermon that Dan Stipp gave today. That sermon was taken from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." The specific sense this passage is trying to get to is that immorality is not for believers. Committing sexual sin such as viewing pornography, having sex with prostitutes, or engaging in any other form of sex outside of marriage is simply wrong.
In a more general sense, this repeats a common theme throughout the New Testament, that we have been freed from the bondage of sin to become truly free, which also means that we know have God as our master. "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28) "You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men." (1 Corinthians 7:23) "If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." (1 Peter 1:18-19) "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves." (2 Peter 2:1) "And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." (Revelation 5:9) We are owned by God.
This is a unifying principle because the slaves of one household wouldn't work against each other even if they all had different tasks set before them. We must seek to honor our Master and to do as He wills. Because God speaks to us indirectly through his word, we sometimes are confused as to what He wants and frequently insert our own desires into what He wants, but when we find that two believers are at odds with one another, they should find agreement. They should work out the difference however they can because God seeks for unity.
One God and Father through all. I understand this sense to mean that God is working out his plan through his people. Really, this is a continuation of the last principle. As our Master, he delivers instructions that we are to carry out certain tasks for his glory.
Frequently, the slave system of Bible times is compared to the corporate system of today. That is, slavery of Christ's day was frequently less a way of being stuck in bondage and a way of learning trades, getting out of debt, or bettering oneself. To be sure, this ideal didn't really hold as often as it should have, but that was part of the justification for it in that day. My point is that if we think of being a slave as being akin to being a part of a corporation, or most organizaitons, you typically subjugate your goals to the goals of the company. Corporations in America are legal entities with most of the same rights that any person has, but that the "person" here is merely a logical entity created for the sake of grouping the employees work together as a whole. If an employee has an idea and implements that idea for the company, the company takes credit for it. For example, my dad works for Glaxo SmithKline, a large pharmaceutical company. One of their products is AquaFresh. Some team of chemists put together the concoction that is AquaFresh, but do we see any of their names on the label? No. We see the "gsk" logo for the company.
This is a good analogy for the ideal Christian life. If we're really to live our lives to God, all of our actions to be credited to God. We work to glorify Him. This is especially appropriate because He works through us to do these good works in us. We find unity in the fact that we all are working to glorify Him in our lives and through His work within us.
One God and Father in all. Paul finishes by touching off the statement that not only is God our "ReCreator" and Master and that He works within us, but that He lives and takes up resident within us. One strong assurance for the believer is that there is a nagging desire from within to know God and do what He wants. While this desire is generally discolored by the fact that we usually want to use God to fulfill us and do what we want, true belief is exemplified by the fact that we want to know and glorify God simply for the sake of doing so. That is where true assurance comes from.
"What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God said, 'I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.'" (1 Corinthians 6:16) "Whoever keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us." (1 John 3:24) "No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of teh world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God." (1 John 4:12-15)
Each time I've found that the in-dwelling of God's Spirit is discussed it seems to be paired with a discussion of obedience to God's will. I mentioned above that the major reason I initially experienced Christ is because I discovered that Christianity isn't about the rules. That's very true. It's about God and a relationship with Him. However, a consequence of belief is a desire to do the right things and avoid the wrong things. It also means that even if I do screw up, it doesn't count. I admit to a continually strong temptation to view pornography and to think about sexually immoral things. Yet, my desire to know God works within me to help me say, "No, God has a better plan than simply satisfying my personal cravings." I am not perfect and I do indulge myself in sin from time-to-time, but because of my relationship to the Father through Christ the law cannot condemn me to death and punishment anymore.
In this final bit, all Christians find unity once again because God's own Spirit rests upon us and spurs us toward unity. Unity is a part of glorifying God. "By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother." (1 John 3:10) Unity within the Church is a natural consequence of belief in God.
All in all, this has been a very interesting study for me out of Ephesians 4. I plan to continue this study on through the rest of the chapter. As a dear brother in Christ often says when he shares, "It's been hard, but it's been good." I don't know if I've really taken my own lessons to heart very well, but I'm going to keep hammering away at these things and publishing my studies in the hope that someone might benefit even if I tend to be too stubborn to change much. Cheers.