1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Eph. 4:1-6
The emphasis is not how often the word “one” is repeated here, but rather on the fact that everything is “one”. Everything!
God is one, and therefore everything is one. If it is not one, it is nothing. That is the essence of Paul’s message in this scripture.
That is so humbling. All that we have and all that we know and all that we are becomes nothing if it is not submitted into that “oneness” of God.
God will never be anything but one. Anything to do with God will therefore need to be one. You and I need to be one. Everything needs to be one.
If God is one it follows, therefore, that Christ’s gifts to His church must operate as “one”. God is not concerned with what you can do. Nor is He interested in ‘your’ ministry. No, God is not about any of those things. As far as we are involved, God is concerned with how much we can humble ourselves and work in unity with others who are on the right foundation. God is about a Body – a Body with many members – and if you want to get involved with God, then you need to begin getting very, very small indeed.
We have many “mighty men of God” walking about, and they are outside Christ’s realm of operation.
In verses 9 and 10, Paul gives us the example of Christ.
“9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)”
Notice that Christ “descended first”. In other words, He descended before He would ascend. Words have a life of their own. Here we get the picture that Christ plunged Himself into the lowest parts of the earth. In essence, He became nothing!
We must experience nothingness before we inherit “all things”!
You seriously have to begin wondering where we are going if we are not going down. There is no going up except by first going down. Humility is the undergirding of any ministry. Christ’s own ministry was undergirded by humility. In gospel-speak, greatness is for the humble.
Since here we are talking of ministries, let us see what Paul tells the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 4:8: “Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us”.
What does that mean? It meant they wanted to go up without first going down. Within the Corinthian church there were all these gifts of the Spirit operating, but because the flesh was alive, the operation of these gifts only brought about confusion. These ministries did not build them up and their lives were in spiritual disarray. These people were very rich in spiritual gifts (and, I presume, financially also); but they were poor spiritually.
He told them pointblank: “You are spiritually poor, because you have no humility in you!” They were very proud people.
Having the gifts of the Spirit operating in you does not mean you are spiritual. This is what is creating confusion all over the church. If I were to raise someone from the dead today, people will build a church on the very spot that person resurrected upon, and I will become a celebrity!
We can have ministries stretching from here to infinity and back, but if they are not undergirded by humility, subjecting themselves one to another, working as “one”, in unity, they will never bring the church to Christ’s purpose, which is stated by Paul in Ephesians 4: 13: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”.
It is only when the ministry gifts operate as one that this goal for the church can be accomplished. That is how important humility is to the Body of Christ.
On the contrary, what happens if these gifts do not operate in unity is what we see happening all over the church today: we become “… children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (v. 14).
The result of this ‘self’ ministry within the church is that God’s children are “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine”. I can tell you that I have witnessed many strange doctrines in my life! I have read, heard, seen and even experientially passed through many of them. I remember many years ago a preacher came to the church I was in and he said he had been praying for people in his church who would not tithe, and they were dying one by one. I stood up and shouted “Hallelujah!” That’s a fact. What that preacher said sounded so spiritual!
Y’know, today you watch Christian TV and you think you are watching fiction. The things that are being taught and done in many of these ministries and churches are simply unbelievable.
I saw a church somewhere advertising itself as “Your church of choice”. They took a phrase right out of the world!
The fact is, not one of these things brings Christians to grow and mature. Therefore the goal of Christ – maturity and perfection that brings unity within the Body – will never be attained.
That is why it is very dangerous to run after a ‘ministry’ or a church without making sure that it is on that firm foundation of the five-fold ministry. Now, I know that sounds almost impossible because today, however hard one looks, it is difficult to find any one place where all these ministry gifts are operating together. But we cannot allow ourselves to be like Elijah who told God that he was the only Godly man remaining in Israel. God told him that no, He had 7,000 other men who had not bowed their knee to Baal. Seven thousand! And Elijah had no idea.
I am sure that just as in Elijah’s day, today also God has a remnant. God always has had a remnant, even in the worst of times. And so, today God has reserved for Himself a team or teams of the five-fold ministry. Yes, all five ministries, working together in perfect unity and perfecting the Body of Christ. We only need to look hard enough.
But we also need to have a humble spirit. The Bible says that “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (Jas. 4:6).
[Below: The Indian Ocean as seen from Wazo Hill]