By Larry Liu
06 May 2012 Sunday
|Sermon: Unity in the Body of Christ||video||audio||doc|
|Worship song: Hosanna||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Lame Upon The Throne||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Majesty||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: You Are My Anchor||video||audio||lyric|
MC Cathy Zhang’s Greetings and Prayer:
Now, let’s be quiet, quiet our heart, and get ready, prepare our heart for the worship service today. Please join me in a beginning prayer.
Lord of love, Lord of creation, Lord of wisdom, on this fine early summer day, we come to you again, thank you and praise you. We thank you for being with us, for giving us the mind, and will to rely on you on everything. We thank you for keeping us and the ones we love in your hands. We thank you for all the good things you have brought to us, and thanks for the comfort when we are in the bad situations. We keep praying that for all Christians and churches all over the world, may we be united, and bear witnesses of love for you. We pray for all who are needy and suffering, may you remember them and may we be the tunnels to pass your love to them. We pray for the leaders in the world, may they use their power well and in your will. We pray for newcomers today, may your Spirit comfort them and guide them. We pray for the preacher, worship leaders and worship team today, may your wisdom and your Spirit fill them, so that all of us can receive your blessings through them. We pray for all the people who are here praying to you. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Worship Team’s Encouragement:
In 1 Peter, chapter 5, verses 7 to 10, it says,
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
7 你 們 要 將 一 切 的 憂 慮 卸 給 神 ， 因 為 他 顧 念 你 們 。
8 務 要 謹 守 ， 儆 醒 。 因 為 你 們 的 仇 敵 魔 鬼 ， 如 同 吼 叫 的 獅 子 ， 遍 地 遊 行 ， 尋 找 可 吞 吃 的 人 。
9 你 們 要 用 堅 固 的 信 心 抵 擋 他 ， 因 為 知 道 你 們 在 世 上 的 眾 弟 兄 也 是 經 歷 這 樣 的 苦 難 。
10 那 賜 諸 般 恩 典 的 神 曾 在 基 督 裡 召 你 們 ， 得 享 他 永 遠 的 榮 耀 ， 等 你 們 暫 受 苦 難 之 後 ， 必 要 親 自 成 全 你 們 ， 堅 固 你 們 ， 賜 力 量 給 你 們 。
11 願 權 能 歸 給 他 ， 直 到 永 永 遠 遠 。 阿 們 ！）
Worship song : Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest
|Verse 1||Hosanna, hosanna,hosanna in the highest
Hosanna, hosanna,hosanna in the highest
|Verse 2||Glory, glory, glory to the King of kings
Glory, glory, glory to the King of kings
|Chorus||Lord we lift up Your name
With a heart full of praise
Be exalted, oh Lord my God
Hosanna in the highest
|Verse 1 CN||和撒那，和撒那，和撒那归于至高神 he sa na, he sa na, he sa na gui yu zhi gao shen
和撒那，和撒那，和撒那归于至高神 he sa na, he sa na, he sa na gui yu zhi gao shen
|Verse 2 CN||荣耀，荣耀，荣耀归万王之王 rong yao, rong yao, rong yao gui wan wang zhi wang
荣耀，荣耀，荣耀归万王之王 rong yao, rong yao, rong yao gui wan wang zhi wang
|Chorus CN||主，我高举你名，zhu wo gao ju ni ming
来同心赞美 lai tong xin zan mei
权柄、尊荣归主我神，quan bing, zun rong gui zhu wo shen,
和撒那归于至高神 he sa na gui yu zhi gao shen
Worship song: Lamb Upon the Throne坐在宝座上圣洁羔羊
|Verse 1||Lamb upon the Throne who is Holy !
We bow down and worship You!
Who is, who was, and who is to come,
The only True and Almighty God!
Lamb upon the Throne who is Worthy!
We bow down and worship You!
Blessing, honor, glory and power,
All unto You forever more !
|Chorus||The King of kings !
The Lord of lords !
You are worthy of all praises and honor !
The King of kings !
The Lord of lords!
We exalt Your Name on high forever more!
|Verse CN||坐 在 宝 座 上圣 洁 羔 羊 ，
Zuo zai bao zuo shang sheng jie gao yang
我 们 俯 伏 敬 拜 祢 !
Wo men fu fu jing bai ni
昔 在, 今 在， 以 后 永 在，
Xi zai jin zai yi hou yong zai
唯 有 祢 是 全 能 真 神!
wei you ni shi quan neng zhen shen
坐 在 宝 座 上圣 洁 羔 羊 ，
Zuo zai bao zuo shang sheng jie gao yang
我 们 俯 伏 敬 拜 祢 !
Wo men fu fu jing bai ni
颂 赞、尊 贵、荣 耀、权 势
Song zan zun gui rong yao quan shi
都 归 给 你 直 到 永 远!
Dou gui gei ni zhi dao yong yuan
|Chorus CN||万 王 之 王 ! 万 主 之 主 ！
Wan wang zhi wang wan zhu zhi zhu
唯 有 祢 配 得 敬 拜 和 尊 崇 ！
Wei you ni pei de jing bai he zun chong
Worship song: Majesty
|Verse 1||Majesty, worship His Majesty,
Unto Jesus, be all glory, honor and praise!
Majesty, kingdom authority, flows from His throne,
Unto His own, His anthem raise.
|Verse 2||So exalt, lift up on high the name of Jesus.
Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus the King.
Majesty, worship His Majesty,
Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings.
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:1-16
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?
10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Good morning, it is my privilege to share with you this morning. Many of you may already have heard that my wife Cinia and I just had our first child. Thank you. Our baby girl Joy came in to the world on February 25, 2012. Now she is 71 days old. (Please turn to another slide, next one.) She is really a wonderful and beautiful gift from God. Every time I look at her, I will say, "Wow, she is beautiful." I'm going to say that, she is the most beautiful girl in this world in my eyes apart from her mother. And we are just so blessed to have her in our family. Many people ask me how I feel to be a father. To be honest, very tired, and definitely keeping me busy in the house. But we were very excited to be parents, and there are so many things we learned in the last two months. I'm going share with you a little bit later.
Introduction to Ephesians Chapter 4: What God has done for us before?
Today we continue to study the book of Ephesians, if you have your Bible with you, please turn to the book of Ephesians, chapter 4, in verse 1, it says,
“As a prisoner for the Lord…"
As you may know, the book of Ephesians was written by Paul while he was in prison in
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received."
So brothers and sisters, what is the calling we have received? And to know that, we need to look at that before chapter 4, what did Paul say? Paul spent three chapters to describe what God has done for us. There are so many things God has done for us. Let's look at this slide. As a Christian and Christ’s follower, we are
Blessed in Christ (Ephesians 1:3);
Chosen in Christ (Ephesians 1:4);
Adopted by Christ (Ephesians 1:5);
Redeemed and forgiven in Christ (Ephesians 1:7);
Participants in God's good plan in Christ (Ephesians 1:11);
Sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13);
Made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5-6);
Brought near to God (Ephesians 2:13);
Members of God's household (Ephesians 2:19) and
Sharers in God's promise in Christ (Ephesians 3:6).
I can go on and on…. Brothers and sisters, you need to get this, as Christ’s follower, we are parts of God's family, the family of the King of Universe. In Christ we are blessed, do you know that? We are blessed and rich in Christ.
After we had a child, it definitely helps me understand more about the love of our Heavenly Father. Since we became parents, we have been willing to make all kinds of sacrifices. How? To sacrifice our sleep, getting up midnight, and to sacrifice our time and energy. We want to do that because of love. As parents we simply want to give the best to our child. I remember when Joy was four weeks old, she was ill. I saw her in pain and crying, I just felt that broke my heart, and I felt so bad. I was thinking if I could take her pain and illness on me, and then she could recover, I was willing to do that. I've never had that thought before. I think that is love.
You know what, we have a Father in Heaven. He loves us, and He sacrificed His One and Only Son Jesus, and Jesus died for our sins, pains, the penalty of judgment that our sins deserve. You are so precious in God's eyes, God loves you so much. I do not want you to miss this point before you leave this church today. Can you help me tell your neighbor, "God loves you, you are so precious in God's eyes!" Can you do that? Help me tell this to your neighbor.
Thank you. You are so precious in God's eyes. Your life is valuable to God.
Expound on Ephesians Chapter 4: What God’s calling is now?
Paul spent three chapters talking about what God has done for us. In the next three chapters, chapters 4-6, Paul explains our duty and responsibility in Christ. What does it look like when we live our life according to what God has done for us? Paul urged people to live a life worthy of the calling we have received. I have shared and talked about that God had already blessed us. We need to respond to His love. He brought us into God’s family; we are united with God; and in Christ we are brothers and sisters. We need to keep the unity God has already made. Here is a word: worthy, means equal with, this means we need to balance our Christian life between calling and responsibility, but not to become a Christian in name only. We need our calling and responsibility to protect and maintain our unity among all believers.
You may ask what "the unity among all believers is?" Well, before I talk about what unity is, maybe we can think about what unity is not, which means what is the opposite of unity? Well, you can think some words like conflict, division, disagreement and disharmony… all this kind of words. Brothers and sisters, I am going to ask you: do you have this kind of problems with other believers? You may have a problem with them, and you do not want to talk to them, you cannot forgive them, and you do not even want to see them.
Reading the news, we know that disunity is the biggest problem in church today. We read the news, and we hear about it that the church has a unity problem. They attack each other, they cannot accept each other. Church leaders from different churches, they have this problem to accept each other. And for some believers, they hardly get along with each other.
I believer unity is very important to God. Remember the last prayer of our Lord Jesus before He was arrested and crucified? The prayer for church is a prayer of unity. If you read the gospel of John Chapter 17, verses 20-21, Jesus prayed that,
“…for those who will believe in me through their message; that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
I think the unity is like the oneness of the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Christians can belong to different fellowships, but we all belong to our God and to each other. In the lost world, people cannot see God. But they can see Christians. What they see in Christians will make them think about our God. If they see Christians in love and unity, they will believe that God is Love. If they see Christians in division, dividing, fighting, they will reject the message of the gospel. Unity is about oneness in God’s love, and unity pleases God and brings glory to God.
Unity Requires Our Efforts to Maintain.
Paul urges us to make every effort to keep the unity of Spirit through the bond of peace. In today's Scripture, there are a lot of verses and I cannot cover them all. But there are a few points that I want you to remember. One point is that, unity requires our efforts to maintain. It tells us that unity requires efforts and does not come naturally. This is only possible through the Holy Spirit. The function of the Holy Spirit is to bring us together and bond us together so that we may have peace. We have talked about that God has blessed us in so many ways. It is our calling to keep unity among us Christians. Unity is about oneness in love. Unity brings glory and pleases God.
You may ask, how can I keep unity among all believers? Well, in Verse 2, Paul gave us some applications. Be completely humble, gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. To keep the unity, Paul mentioned 'be humble'. He put 'be humble' in the first place. Why is that? I believe selfishness is part of our human nature. It is so easy to consider ourselves much more than others. We can very clearly and quickly see other people’s problems, and are slow to see our own problems.
The Bible tells us that being humble means considering others’ interests at the equal level as ours and be quick to see the good things in other people and be slow to see the bad and be willing to listen first. God wants us to keep unity. God wants oneness in Christ. Humility, I believe, brings unity while pride brings division and causes disunity. And we all have different opinions and the differences need to be expressed in humility and love. We can participate either in keeping the unity or destroying the unity, building into the unity or tearing it down. A lack of humidity, gentleness, patience and love can certainly destroy the unity.
Brothers and sisters, which areas do you need to work on? I know there are always some areas that I could not handle well. I feel that I always have a competitive heart. I like to compete with people and compare with other people. I find many times that it is not that helpful. It is definitely not leading me into unity or oneness. So I always have to pray and ask God to help me, remind me and strengthen me.
After I became a father, one of the things that I enjoy most is playing with our little girl and talking to her. I always say to her, "Joy, I wish you could grow quicker so that you could talk to me now. I want to hear from you." I believe that is also our God' s desire. He wants you to grow in Him, to talk to Him, and share our hearts with Him. When you ask, God wants to help you.
We Are of the Same Family!
In verses 4 to 6, Paul listed seven things of the unity of all believers, that is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one Father. No matter who you are, where you are from and what you have done before, we have become Christians, Christ followers and we have the same Father; same Lord, same baptism, one hope, one faith; fundamentally we are the same. We have many things in common: in Christ, we are a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come. God gives us these things and I believe that there is no second class citizen in God's Kingdom and we have the same Lord, same Father, same baptism, same faith and same hope.
You may be the only one child in your family. But in Christ you have tons of siblings from all over the world and you can spend eternity with them. Isn't that great? We may be different, but God gives us things in common. You may hear people sharing their testimonies which are so miraculous. You may think why I do not have such a miraculous testimony that I could share with other people. But I want to tell you, we have the same salvation. Fundamentally we are all the same. God gives us the same salvation that we accept the same Lord. All around the world, we have the same father. We may have different gifts, but we have the same Lord, same Father, same hope, same faith and same baptism. Having emphasized the unity among believers, from verses 7 to 16, Paul moves on to explain how we use different gifts to build up the body of Christ. Another point I want to ask you to remember is to use different gifts to build up the body of Christ. In I Corinthians, chapter 12, it says this,
“12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.”
Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it. You know, Apostle Paul gave us a beautiful picture. Body of Christ, one unit is made up of many parts and they function together. Jesus is the Head of the Church and the head of the body. The Church is the body of Christ and the Church is made up of all believers in Christ. Each individual believer is a part of the body.
Use Different Gifts to Build Up the Church.
In our human body, we have eyes, arms, hands, feet and legs…. They all have different functions, don't they? They work together when they are healthy. With our human body, we can see, jump, run or even win gold medals. When the body moves, each part of the body needs to move together. In this church we have different ministries, we have host team ministry, worship team ministry and small group ministry. We may serve in different areas, and we may have different gifts, but we serve the same God. And I am going to say we are in the same team, team of Jesus. Instead of complaining or criticizing other people for not doing well, we should love each other, support each other and pray for one another.
Let me give you one example. We have a team to set up this sound system every Sunday. Sometimes you see the system did not work well, did not finish on time or get done on time. It is very easy to think, why didn't they do well? Instead of doing that, maybe we can help them or pray for them. Sometimes you hear a preacher and at the end of the sermon, you feel, “Boo, I do not like the sermon.” Have you ever pray for the preacher during the week? Maybe we should do that. Lift them up. Pray for them. Love one another and support each other. We are all in the same team and we are all members of the body of Christ.
Jesus is the Head of our church. We are part of his Church. Each part of the body has different use. Each one of us has different gifts, resources and experience. We need to use our different gifts to build up the body of Christ. Some of you may say I do not have any gift. Well, yes, you have. Each one of us is unique and we all have different gifts. Some of you may have a gift of teaching, shepherding, music or administration or designing or hospitality. I believe every one has a gift. One way to recognize our gift or talent is to notice the things we are good at or enjoy doing. Another way is to ask your close friends, or group members or family members to tell you your strength.
We need to use different gifts to build up the body of Christ. Have you ever played puzzle before? I brought one today. A puzzle has many broken pieces. They are in different shapes, colors and sizes. But when we put them together, they show up a beautiful picture. A puzzle is a bunch of broken pieces if you do not put them together. I want you to remember this, at the end of this day, you may have forgotten my sermon; or at the end of the week you may forget what I am trying to say. But I want you to remember that we need to keep unity among all the believers. Keep the unity, work together. We all have different gifts so we can build up the body of Christ.
I want you to take a moment to reflect on today's topic. Maybe you can close you eyes, and think about it. Search your heart and ask yourself a question, “How am I doing in living in unity with those around me? Is there any sense of pride that we need to lay before God? Is there any unforgiveness that is still in our hearts?” You want to ask God to help you. Maybe you have come to this church for a long time. You have not yet plugged in into this community. It is time to join in and use your gift to serve. Or we can help you and we work together. Some of you may have come to the church for the first time and you may want to ask yourself, “Why did not I accept the message of the gospel, accept Jesus as the savior of my life? What is my barrier?” You may want to take a moment to reflect on all those questions.
Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing us. Father, please make us one, make us united. Please fill our heart with your love, help us live up to your calling. We can build up each other and that people can see you in us. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Transcribed and revised by Bing GUAN, Emily NIAN and Franz HONG with the grace of our Lord Jesus and the movement of the Spirit.