Expository Preaching
J. Michael Shannon and Robert C. Shannon
(c)opyright J. Michael Shannon, 1982
THE GOSPEL ISSUES A CHALLANGE
"I Dare You"
Ephesians 4:1-16

Introduction:  The gospel calls for our best.  God is not afraid to challenge us.

Proposition:  The church and the individual must respond to God's challenge.

  I.  RETAIN UNITY, vs. 3-6

A.  One body
B.  One Spirit
C.  One hope
D.  One Lord
E.  One faith
F.  One baptism
G.  One God
 II. RECOGNIZE DIVERSITY, vs. 7-12
A.  Each gift is given by Christ.
B.  Each gift enriches the church.
III. REACH MATURITY, vs. 13-16
A.  We must no longer be spiritual infants.
B.  We must strive to grow.
C.  Our goal is to measure up to Christ.  We keep working on that through life.  Though we never quite achieve it
      here, we may achieve it hereafter in Heaven.
Conclusion:  Let us never be content, but keep on growing.  Let us also provide a climate in which others can grow.  Let us encourage them.

    Every tool in the carpenter's box has its purpose.  No one can do without the others.  It might be argued that the plane has no depth, the hammer is too loud, the sand paper is too rough, the knife is too sharp, the screwdriver is too pointed.  However, each is necessary; and each is fitted for the particular task that needs to be done.  One tool cannot despise another!  Of course, we are more than tools; but the lesson is obvious.  God did not mean for us all to do the same thing.  What each one does is very important and enables the other to do what he is equipped to do.
 

    It is important to remember that Jesus did not quit meeting with His disciples because Judas was a traitor and a thief, because Peter was fickle, or because Thomas had his doubts.  His disciples were at times rude, thoughtless, unkind, and selfish.  His disciples still sometimes manifest those attitudes.  But He does not forsake them; nor should weforsake them. Rather, we are to encourage the best and overlook and forgive the rest.  In this way, we can create a cIimate for growth, all the while being thankful that people have been patient with us as well.
 

    A worried father asked the doctor why his baby had not laughed.  The doctor explained that a baby does not ordinarily laugh until the age of four weeks.  "At that time," he said to the father, "the baby can see you clearly!"
 

    The Fuller brush is famous.  It all began with a shy, twenty-year-old man who had not done well in school.  He lost the first three jobs he had and could not find another.  In desperation, he began to make brushes.  Then he started selling them, door to door.  He did pretty well.  He found that there were things he could do well, and he did them.
 

    Two brothers in Scotland fell into an argument over the division of their father's estate.  They came before a very wise judge who settled it this way:  "Let one brother divide the estate into two parts, and let the other brother pick which part he wants!"  Money is only one of the things that divides brothers.  Even Christian brothers sometimes divide; but it is rarely over anything important.  Sometimes it is over power, or prestige, or popularity, or personality.  Christ has a solution even better than that of the Scoftish judge.  Paul expresses it when he says, "Let each esteem the other better than himself."
 

    The seven sides of unity in Ephesians 4 are not the units of unity.  The units of unity are individuals, but these are the facets of unity.  As a diamond has many faces, so the lovely jewel of Christianity has many dimensions.  Each dimension is important.  No dimension may be safely ignored.  Only when all seven faces are shining brightly does unity sparkle with radiant beauty.
 

    We used to speak of "growing pains."  Growing up is indeed a painful process, as any adolescent knows and as any parent of an adolescent knows!  Growing up spiritually is painful, too.  It takes time.  We are foolish to expect instant maturity on the part of Christians.  We are equally foolish if we are content with stunted growth and arrested development.  Somewhere in between those two extremes we must stand: encouraging growth and development, yet not expecting instant maturity.


The Gospel Demands Proclamation (Chapter 3)
Table of Contents
The Gospel Makes Demands (4:17-32)

Scanned and Proofread by Michael J. Riggs