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Unity in Spirit and truth

Ephesians 4:1-6

Pastor David Ernst

17th Sunday after Trinity
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Sep 26, 2021 

“One body, and one Spirit, as you are also called in the one hope of your calling. one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all. "

Notice, this passage is a form of the creed. One Spirit is the Holy Spirit; one Lord is Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and one God and Father of all is God the Father almighty. We conclude our prayers to the Father in this way, through Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, one God, for ever and ever. Amen".

"One body" is the church, the communion of saints. We confess in the Nicene Creed that we believe in one church, holy, apostolic and universal. Sometimes we use the word "catholic", like the ancient text, because catholic is a synonym for universal. Other times we use "Christian" instead of universal, because the true holy and apostolic church is the Christian church.

The Augsburg Confession (32.1-4) reads like this: Our churches also teach that the holy church will continue forever. Only those who believe are members of the body of Christ. This union endures beyond death and even beyond the end of the earth. This is a mystical union, because it is the body of Christ in this world.

"A baptism" is the initial sacrament, by which one enters this church. The substance of the third article, both in the Apostolic and Nicaea Creed, is greatly influenced by these verses. Pentecostals are wrong when they claim a second baptism in the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and should not be repeated.

All the baptized have this same hope in water baptism linked to the Word of God, that is, the promise of eternal life in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. All the faithful will gather around the Lord's throne on the final day.

However, we will only see this true church in its entirety on that day when the Lord will separate the sheep from the goats and the wheat from the tares. Jesus said that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church, but at this moment we do not see the church as a strong army, but weak and divided among many sects and factions.

But, our Augsburg Confession also says that there are certain visible marks of the true church in this world. The true church is visible wherever the gospel is taught in purity and the sacraments are administered according to the command of the Lord. The Holy Spirit is active in these means of grace.

The church is the creation of the triune God, especially the Holy Spirit. For this reason, the Small Catechism says: "The Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, has enlightened me with his gifts, and has sanctified and preserved me in the true faith."

Furthermore, the Spirit, through the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments, "gathers, enlightens and sanctifies all Christendom on earth, and keeps it united to Jesus Christ in the one true faith."

“I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk as he is worthy of the calling with which you are called; with all humility and meekness, with patience bearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. "

Humility is the disposition of mind that was despised by non-believers as unworthy of a man, the deep sense of one's own smallness in insignificance, which Christians must cultivate, as our Lord says in our gospel for today (Luke 14 : 1-11).

"When you are invited by someone to a wedding, do not sit in the first place, lest another more distinguished than you be invited by him, and the one who invited you and him, come and tell you: Give place to this man; and then you begin with shame to take the last place. But when you are invited, go, and sit in the last place; so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you: Friend, go up higher; then you will have glory before those who sit together at the table. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. "

And humility must be accompanied by gentleness, loving submission, patient dedication to others even under provocation, willingness to serve and share rather than demand. We must endure even the unpleasant quirks of our fellow Christians without a hint of impatience. As soon as these virtues are ignored, the result is disagreement, division, and sectarianism.

However, unity in sentiment, interest, and purpose accompanies unity in doctrine. This unity of truth is the work of the Spirit of God. The apostle, however, in no way defends or sanctions ecumenism which is the modern perversion of his words. The error of ecumenism is to say that unity in sentiment, interest, and purpose can exist without agreement in doctrine.

C.F.W. Walther, a great Lutheran preacher in the United States, made this observation: “What nonsense it is when they ridicule pure doctrine and tell us, enough with your pure doctrine! That can only lead to dead orthodoxy. Instead, focus on pure life. That would be like saying to a farmer, stop worrying about a good seed! Instead, think of good fruits. If you are concerned about good fruit, you are concerned about good seed. If he is concerned with good doctrine, at the same time he will be concerned with genuine Christianity and a sincere Christian life. ”

Since sincere faith is the work of the Holy Spirit in each of us, the true unity of the church is the work of the Holy Spirit in the means of grace: the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments.

The peace that passes all understanding be with you. Amen.

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