Ephesians 1:3-5; Ephesians 2:1-10; Ephesians 2:19-22; Ephesians 3:4-6; Romans 12:1; Ephesians 3:1; Philippians 1:15; Philippians 1:12
Good morning and welcome to Dishman Baptist Church. Please take your Bibles and turn in them with me to Ephesians 4, Ephesians 4.
June 1, 1995 a skinny kid from Cicero, New York got on his first plane flight ever and landed in a new world. I spent the next two months in Navy boot camp where it seemed people would rather yell at you than talk to you and you were always in a hurry to get everywhere. I was told when to get up, when to go to sleep, how long my hair could be, what to wear, how to fold my clothes and even how to label them to the specific inch. It was pure indoctrination into the Navy way. We learned that to be early is to be on time and to be on time is to be late. We learned the importance of attention to detail. The purpose was to take 120 individuals and change their way of thinking enough so that they would fit in to the organization of the Navy. To take orders when given. To put the interests of the organization above their own - and even above their families which we were reminded weren’t issued to us in our sea bags.
For those who couldn’t quite get it there was Extra Military Instruction - to help remind them of the new way of thinking that would help them thrive in the Navy.
For the first three chapters of Ephesians Paul has been providing the Ephesian church a sort of Extra Christian Instruction. All of the things Paul taught them were things they knew - after all he had spent three years there
because I did not avoid declaring to you the whole plan of God.
and warning them with tears
Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for three years I never stopped warning each one of you with tears.
But it seems that in the intervening years, some had forgotten what he had taught them
Our adoption as sons of God
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In loveHe predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
Our condition as sinners, God’s awesome work on our behalf for salvation, the free gift of grace, but also the responsibility of humans to perform the works prepared beforehand
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus,in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;not as a result of works, that no one should boast.For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
That Christ is the cornerstone of the church and that we are being built on Him
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord;in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
The mystery of Christ made known - that salvation is not just for the Jews but also for the Gentiles
And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,
All of these deep doctrinal truths are necessary for understanding and for flourishing within the body of Christ, within this new entity that God has effected as a result of Christ’s death on the cross - unifying both Jews and Gentiles in the blood of His Son and creating the church. It seems that somewhere along the line divisions had entered the church or maybe in an effort to forestall this - because it had happened in so many other places where he’d ministered - Paul is making a preemptive strike to remind the Ephesian believers what the Gospel meant for them.
Sometimes we need the same reminders - to remember what this entity that we’re a part of is all about - so that we can then focus on the ramifications and implications for this in our lives. Starting this morning and for the next several months we’ll be building on the doctrinal teaching that Paul has already delivered to us in the first 3 chapters as we look at the practical applications of these truths in our lives. Let’s start this morning as we look at Ephesians 4:1-6.
Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
Therefore, I the prisoner in the Lord, urge you
In light of all of this - live this way
This is the advice given to dear friends - Paul is imploring but in a friendly way
Notice first his point of view - I the prisoner in the Lord. This is the second time in the book that Paul has referred to his captivity as a prisoner of the Lord. The first time in Ephesians 3:1
For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—
was to remind the Ephesians that even if he was currently residing in a Roman prison - or a rented house on house arrest - that ultimately God was sovereign over his imprisonment and that he was imprisoned on behalf of the Gospel. I think this reference is a bit different. Paul is about to entreat the Ephesians to act in a certain manner, to live in a way that is counterintuitive to all that our human nature aspires to. Here he is reminding the Ephesians of his status as a prisoner of the Lord not to remind them of His sovereignty over Paul’s imprisonment but rather to define for them how sold out they must be if they expect to be successful in this new way of life that he is about to call them to.
From the time that he met Christ on the Damascus road Paul was completely sold out to Christ. He repudiated everything in favor of knowing Christ - even telling the Philippian church that he counted all things loss “for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Paul saw all of life through the lens of the Gospel and how his choices in life, his actions and even his imprisonment would affect the name and the Gospel of Christ.
Commenting on this phrase Dr. MacArthur writes
Ephesians: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (The Call to the Worthy Walk)
Paul had the ability to see everything in the light of how it affected Christ. He saw everything vertically before he saw it horizontally. His motives were Christ’s, his standards were Christ’s, his objectives were Christ’s, his vision was Christ’s, his entire orientation was Christ’s. Everything he thought, planned, said, and did was in relation to his Lord. He was in the fullest sense a captive of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We would do well to see life the same way - all of life. We are very good at compartmentalizing our lives and thinking that there is church time and there is me time. Oftentimes the me time outweighs the church time. From birth we are practiced in the art of me and me time. We are practiced in the art of seeing life through the lens of how it impacts us - its why we get annoyed with other people, why we get frustrated when our team loses, dinner is cold or a promotion at work gets handed to someone else. Because it puts us out. What if one of our New Years Resolutions was to see the world through Gospel colored lenses. What if we looked at the world and our lives through the lens of how does this impact our relationship with Christ. Now I’m not saying don’t have hobbies or past times. Don’t have any other interests except for Christ - but the question is how do those interests help you in your relationship with Christ and your growth into His image?
Paul says I urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received. Urge here is a strong word. Even if it is offered in a friendly manner, Paul is not offering them an alternative to the way that they are now living - he is telling them this is the divine standard that you should be living up to. These are the standards of life a Christian epitomizes.
Parakalo - the same word used when he wrote to Philemon where he appealed to him rather than commanded him to accept his runaway slave back
It is also the turning point for the entire book - much like in Romans. Romans 1-11 Paul spends time making a doctrinal case and in Romans 12:1 he shifts to the practical implications of the salvation he has been describing.
I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
What is our Calling?
What is our Calling?
Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:27; 1 Corinthians 15:1-5; Ephesians 2:2, 10
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
This is reminiscient of what he wrote in both Philippians 1:27 and Colossians 1:10
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
The images of walking and running are frequent in Paul’s letters.
In Ephesians 2:1-10 he bookends the passage with references to how we walk
in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
The image of one walking implies movement. It implies progression. Paul’s audience would have this image in their minds - that the only way they got anywhere was by walking. Today we have the ability to walk 100s of miles and not actually get anywhere. I have a treadmill in the basement of my house where, if I so desired, I could walk 500 miles in the next year and see nothing and get no where. This is not how our Christian life is meant to be. We are not to be treadmill Christians always covering the same ground and never progressing in our Christianity.
We are also not meant to be signpost Christians. Charles Spurgeon describes them this way
Too many ministers are like the signposts on country roads; they hold out their hands and point the way, but never walk the road themselves. They, like the posts, still stand where they always did. God deliver us from being signposts on the road to heaven, and not going there ourselves!
We are not called to simply walk - we are to walk worthy. The word for worthy is Axios, the root of which means to balance the scales. The idea behind the word is that the weight on one side of a scale should be equal to that on the other side so they balance out. For instance the wages that a person earned would be equal to the amount of work they put in that day.
The calling we have all received is to the Gospel. The sovereign call of God that is brings people to Christ. It is the calling spoken of in Ephesians 2:4 where God moves of His own volition to make some alive in Christ - those of His own choosing or election.
This is the Gospel that Paul preached everywhere he went
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
This calling is a gift from God.
Given completely at God’s initiative and love
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
It is a gift
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
It cannot be earned
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
It is given solely by the benevolent volition of God. It is the great paradox of salvation - no man can be saved except that he receive Christ as his Savior, but no man can choose Christ unless he has already been chosen by God the Father and Christ the Son. This is the Gospel that Paul preached to the Ephesians and what he calls them (and by extension us) to walk worthy of
The call here is to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel.
Preaching on this passage Spurgeon summed it up this way
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. XL (Exposition by C. H. Spurgeon (Ephesians 4))
Do not dishonour the good cause; let not your lives bring disgrace upon Christ; if you are called Christians, be Christians.”
Now that we know what we’ve been called to, Paul is going to demonstrate for us four characteristics of what we should look like
Four Characteristics of the Called
Four Characteristics of the Called
Ephesians 4:2-3; Philippians 2:3; Ezekiel 28:12-17; Isaiah 14:13; Psalm 51:17; James 4:6; Matthew 5:3; Matthew 5:44; James 5:9-10
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Paul gives four characteristics of living out the Christian life.
Humility and Gentleness
Humility was not a well prized attribute when Paul was writing this
In fact John Wesley observed that the Romans and Greeks had no word for humility. The Greek word is a compound word that literally means to think or judge with lowliness - and is probably a word that Paul coined to fit the need.
The supreme goal of personal relationships during Paul’s day was the imposition of personal power over another individual
This applied to all relationships
Yet Paul implores the Ephesians to humility because it is the most foundational of Christian values. We have made an artform of pride - we are proud of our jobs, our cars, our children, our accomplishments. Sometimes we’re even proud of our own humility - I’m the most humble man I know. This exhortation from Paul is completely counter-cultural to the day in which we live.
Humility was an issue in the Philippian church as well
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself;
Empty conceit is another way to express the idea of vain glory
“Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God,“You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. “You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared. “You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire. “You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created, Until unrighteousness was found in you. “By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane From the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire. “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, That they may see you.
“But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’
It was out of pride and a desire for vain glory that Satan rebelled in Heaven and attempted to ascend to the throne.
Humility was so looked down upon that by the second century this was actually a point of ridicule for the church
The church father Origen would write:
Celsus, in the next place, as one who has heard the subject of humility greatly talked about; but who has not been at the pains to understand it,2 would wish to speak evil of that humility which is practised among us
Yet Scripture gives us a completely different view of humility.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
It is only those who are poor in spirit (humble) who are humble enough to acknowledge their need for Christ.
Then we are called to be gentle - “the quality of not being overly impressed with one’s self-importance.”
This is a call to be gentle when it isn’t easy to be gentle. Another word for this is the word meekness. Meekness is power under control. A meek person is normally quiet, soothing, and mild mannered rather than avenging, assertive, vindictive or defensive.
It asks us to be polite - even when that is difficult.
To pray for our enemies and those who persecute us
“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you
Gentleness is characterized by a measure of self-control that allows for the overlooking of nuisances, inconveniences or provocations. It is not a placid character as the gentle person is capable of anger for the right reasons - anything that maligns the name of God or mars His work but also has a remarkable ability to refrain from anger when it is our own name that is being maligned or criticized.
These two terms together recognize how we should approach our relationships both vertically and horizontally.
Next we are to approach people with patience
Refers to the idea of remaining persistent in one’s convictions even when circumstances make this difficult. A patient person will endure circumstances far beyond what seems possible. This is even more striking when those circumstances seem negative. Puritan George Swinnock said this of patience
300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans (Lengthening Patience Shortens Troubles)
To lengthen my patience is the best way to shorten my troubles; and to lessen my patience is the speediest way to lengthen my pain.GEORGE SWINNOCK
The apostle James wrote this
Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
The world we live in requires a lot of this. There are many things in the world that set us off on a rant or a rampage - whether it is verbally, with a keyboard on social media or the internal rampages that we may experience at a provocation or perceived slight. Yet we are called to endure every slight, every circumstance with patience looking to our Master who bore the insults and beatings delivered upon His person as a lamb silent before His shearers.
Showing tolerance for one another in love
This is true tolerance - not the kind of tolerance the world shows
I’ll tolerate you and your views as long as they are the same as my views and you agree with me in everything
This means to put up with something annoying
It also calls us to a higher standard of tolerance
This is not just grinning and bearing that annoying coworker or person at home or in church
It is loving them and forgiving them
bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
It is accepting their abrasive personality in the hopes of seeing maturity blossom within them. It is accepting their immaturity in the hopes of seeing deeper maturity blossom within them. It is even gently encouraging them towards greater maturity rather than dismissing them or avoiding them. This is all in an effort
preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace
The goal of all of this is to preserve the unity of the body of Christ
the bond of peace - speaks to the idea of the tendons that link the muscles to the bones
It is something that is sorely missing out of the church today
“The church of Christ is always quarreling, but did you ever hear that the devil and his confederates quarrel?
They are so united that if at any special moment the great prince of hell wishes to concentrate all the masses of his army at one particular point, it is done to the tick of the clock, and the temptation comes with its fullest force just when he sees it to be the most likely that he will prevail. If we had such unanimity as that in the church of God, if we all moved at the guidance of the finger of Christ, if all the church could move in one great mass to the attack of a certain evil, how much more easily might we prevail! But alas, the powers of hell far exceed us in unanimity.”
Now we must understand that Paul is not advocating a unity at all costs mentality - that is a modern convention that says that we should be willing to compromise on some things in favor of maintaining unity - but that is not true unity. That is some facade that masks the truth, creates false converts and leads others astray. We will study in a few weeks the verses that we are to speak the truth in love - there are some who would try and encourage us not to speak truth in favor of unity. It is Rodney King theology to say “can’t we all just get along”. That is not true unity. True unity is found in the Gospel
The Gospel brings joy through which we have humility and unity
Paul is now going to demonstrate for us how true unity is achieved.
What’s the point?
What’s the point?
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
Seven times Paul is going to use the word one to emphasize the unity that is required in the body of Christ. He is building on the doctrine of the church that He taught in chapter 2 saying that
For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In his flesh, he made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that he might create in himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace.
Christ made one man - one body - the church that is a part of the heavenly gathering of believers around Christ. Each congregation is a local manifestation of that body - not simply a part of it. Within our congregation God has given us everything we need to be a manifestation of Christ to one another and to our community. Think about the ramifications of that - that within this body of believers we are fully equipped to serve Christ in the manner He has determined for us to do so here in Spokane Valley.
The way we can do this is through the one Spirit - this is simply a reference to the Holy Spirit who seals us upon our regeneration and conversion and is the guarantee of our promise - the one hope of our calling in the Gospel.
There can only be one Lord - Paul has made this clear throughout the opening chapters of Ephesians and here he is reiterating this truth to drive home the unity that we share as believers. This is also a reference to the Shema that great Hebrew prayer in Deuteronomy 6.
“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Consequently there can be only one faith - the faith delivered once and for all to the saints as Jude writes. The faith that is the gift of God given through His Son and delivered to us by the Holy Spirit.
There is only one baptism - there are many different opinions as to what this baptism is. Which is ironic. I think it could refer to believers baptism or it could refer to the baptism of the Holy Spirit that happens at conversion. If it is water baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is implied as regeneration can’t happen without that event. If it is a reference to the baptism of the Spirit, the most natural and public display of this happening is for a believer to get water baptized. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all given one Spirit to drink.
So I think this is a both and proposition rather than an either or - I think baptism in the Spirit is probably what is in view with water baptism being a byproduct of that event.
Paul sums up his thoughts pointing to the One he seeks to bring glory to - that ultimately our unity is found in the one God - who is God of all, who is above all, who is through all and who is in all. God is sovereign over all things - this is not some pantheistic nod or the idea that all will universally be saved because God is in all. Rather this is a tribute to God’s sovereign power and position over the entire universe as both its Creator and its King.
We need a reboot in the modern church - and dare I say in some instances in this church - as sometimes these qualities are not as prevalent as they should and could be. We must start by being connected to the One Who has called us and then seek to live in a manner worthy of that calling. The closer we are to Him, the more we will see these qualities borne out in our lives.
The great preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones once posed this question “The great question is: What do I really need to know in order to live as I should in this world?”