Bound In Peace
There’s room in God’s economy for infinite variety, but it always honors Jesus. It always is true to the Word and it always results in bringing people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing alright today? I trust so, bless your heart. This is your good friend, Bob Cook. Sometimes I make these broadcasts very early in the morning before it’s light. Today, I gotta confess, I slept in. I didn’t get up ’til it’s about 7:30. What do you think of that? [chuckle] “Ah, Cook is slipping,” they say. No, no. I’m still alive and kicking. And I fixed myself one of those sausage biscuit things that you get out of the freezer and put in the microwave. And that woke me up, for sure, chomping down on that highly-spiced sausage meat that somebody down in Texas makes, and a cup of coffee, and I was rarin’ to go.
Well, it’s nice to be back with you and to look into the Word of God. We share a very special something, don’t we? You and I. And when I meet people, they say, “I know you.” [chuckle] They never looked at me before. And now, when we meet here and there across the country, it is a reunion of old friends, because somehow or other, we belong, don’t we? In the bond of Christian love. I’m glad for that. I like it that way, don’t you?
We’re looking at Ephesians chapter 4. Paul says, “I beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called.” And so we’ve been talking about this matter of worthy walk, lowliness, that has to do with humility; meekness, that has to do with your consideration of other people, their gifts and abilities, as well as their needs. Long-suffering. That means large-spirited. I paraphrase it with a little Cook-ism, “large-hearted,” that’s room in your heart for people as they are. You don’t give up on them or blow up at them. Long suffering.
Forbearing one another in love. Word “forbear” is a combination word that means hold up, or be firm, or endure, or sustain, or to bear with. The combination of not just coping with people but dealing with them in love, dealing with them in love, endeavoring, forbearing one another in love. See, the real catalyst in getting along with other human beings is not method, but it’s love. You know the difference?
Now and again, you meet a professional counselor or social worker or psychologist, dedicated professionals, they are. Never put down these folk who are in the professions of guidance and counseling and social work. It’s a thankless job, oftentimes. They get more criticism than praise, to be sure. But you’ll find, you’ll find now and again, someone who is absolutely correct professionally. They ask the right questions, they have the right responses, they have the right modulation in their voice. And yet, you get the idea that this is a skill that they’ve learned and that it doesn’t have any connection with warmth in their heart. Did you ever have that experience? Someone dealing with you who is absolutely correct in method, but cold in the area of the heart?
See, getting along with other people, other Christians, for example, and as well as non-believers, is not so much a matter of method as of love. People will forgive almost any failing and shortcoming if they know you love them. Isn’t that true? So, he says “forbearing,” that means coping, sustaining, bearing, firmly maintaining the relationship, all of that and more, one another in love, Calvary love, agape, John 3:16 kind of love. So, in the next relationship you have that’s sticky, whether it be with somebody in the place where you’re living, some of you live in retirement facilities, and the authorities are not always sympathetic with your needs. That’s how it is when you’re living in organized groups. And you figure, “Oh, nobody cares about me.” Next time relationships are a little sticky in the family, and they don’t yield to lectures, as you know, they don’t yield argument. They only yield to genuine love.
When you find some situation that is sticky and abrasive and demanding, just back off a little and trust God to fill your heart with love. And then look at the relationship and see how much different it may become. Forbearing one another in love. Not method first. Now, method is good. Schooling is good, education is good, procedure is necessary, all of this. I’m not downing these other things; I’m simply saying that the first, the primary, the basic, the fundamental catalyst in getting along with other people is Calvary love. Alright?
Now he says endeavoring, this is verse 3 of Ephesians chapter 4, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” Now, you got a number of factors to think about here. There is a mention of the Holy Spirit of God. In that connection, he mentions the unity of the spirit. And then the atmosphere in which the Holy Spirit works is the bond of peace. And then the verb form that ties them all together is that verb “endeavoring.” Endeavoring. It’s an interesting word, it actually means to get a move on, hasten, or exert yourself. [chuckle] When my father wanted me to move, he didn’t say, “Hurry up, boy.” He would always use the expression, “Get a move on, boy.” [chuckle] I can hear that across 60 years and more. That’s what that word means. “Endeavoring.” Hurry up, get going, get the lead out! Go, go, go! Exert yourself. That’s what the word means, “endeavoring.”
Now, what are you supposed to do? Exert yourself in keeping the unity of the Holy Spirit. Now, we often confuse the unity of the spirit in terms of unity in uniformity. Better said, uniformity of ideas and choices. Interestingly enough, God uses people with whom I disagree. I learned that many years ago, and it’s a lesson that has stood me in good stead since. God doesn’t make us all out of one mold and uniformity, that is, exact likeness to everybody else, is an impossibility, granted the differences in human nature and personalities. So what does he talk about? The unity of the Spirit.
There’s room for the person who says, “I’m called to give out gospel tracts and leaflets. My approach is literature,” as well as for the person who says, “My approach is a personal work, one-on-one,” as well, again, as the person who says, “I believe in mass evangelism. Get all the people together and after you get them saved, then send them out to do the personal work and the giving out of literature.” It’s a pity that folk have wasted time in arguing with each other about which is best. The fact of the matter is it’s not either-or; it’s both-and. God uses all these different approaches, doesn’t He? Why, of course. Of course, He does. The unity of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s job is to exalt Jesus. And when you’re busy exalting the Lord Jesus, strangely enough, you find that you fit pretty well with other people whose methods may not be the same but whose objective is the same, that is, to exalt your blessed Lord.
Oh, how grateful I am for that, because of the fact that that works has provided me with entrÃ©e to a good many friendships where people differed with my approach and I with them, but we were one in Jesus because of the blessed indwelling Holy Spirit of God, whose job it is to honor the Lord Jesus. And His great ministry in this world is to convict and convert. “When He is come, He shall convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment,” Jesus said. The Holy Spirit of God working through you and through me does that blessed work of bringing people to the knowledge of Christ Jesus, our Lord.
And so, the unity of the Spirit is a oneness of heart, isn’t it? Not just a method. A oneness of heart that honors the Lord Jesus and that brings the lost to know Him, Holy Spirit of God, the unity of the Spirit. Not only that it, but when you get to know a believer, you’ll find that the fruit of the Spirit is visible in that life. What is the fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5:22-23. You know those verses, don’t you? You ought to memorize them if you don’t know them. The fruit of the Spirit is love. That’s agape, Calvary love, John 3:16 kind of love. Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. “Against such, there is no law,” says Paul.
And that the bond of the Spirit, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit, shows up also in the results of the Holy Spirit’s control of a believer’s life. And so, you feel safe with that person, or with those persons. You feel safe with those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit, even though you may not always understand them or agree with them. You feel safe with them because you know who’s controlling them. You follow that reasoning? Now, that’s what we’re talking about here, the unity of the Spirit; not uniformity, not cookie-cutter Christianity. Not everybody doing everything the same way. There’s room in God’s economy for infinite variety, but it always honors Jesus, it always is true to the Word, and it always results in bringing people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it always results in a transformation of human nature through what we call the “fruit of the Spirit.” That’s the unity of the Spirit.
Now, he says, “in the bond of peace,” Paul says, I think it’s in Romans, “if it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” To translate that literally would be “live the element of peace.” Live peace with everybody. Here, Paul talks about the bond of peace. It’s an interesting word. It means ligament, like the human body. The result of God’s controlling of my life is peace, and that fact is what binds me together with others. I’m at peace with Him, so I can be at peace with them.
Dear Father, today, may we work at the business of honoring the Lord Jesus as the Holy Spirit works through us. In His name, I pray, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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