Walk Worthy of Your Calling - Ephesians 4:1-6
Ephesians 4:1-6 Walk Worthy of Your Calling 2020-12-27 Walk worthy of your calling Passage: Ephesians 4:1-6 This morning we’re going to jump right into this passage, then back our way out. What I mean by that is we’re going to start by looking at the spiritual reality in vv.4-6, then take time to talk about the application, the practical unity in vv.1-3. So where we’re going this morning is toward practical application, but first we’re going to lay the theological foundation that we stand on as we build out this application. The Spiritual Reality (vv.4-6) 1. v.4 “There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call…” - Ephesians really is a “body book.” What I mean by that is that this is a book written to the church and for the church. It’s not a personal letter to an individual, like the books of Timothy or Philemon. This is a letter written to a congregation, a collection of Christians from a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities, occupations, socio-economic status’, and called to live together as the church. They are called to be a body. They were diverse, but joined together to form a unit that functions best when each part does what it was created to do, in harmony with the other parts. 1. How can it be that such a diverse group of people can be one? Because they have been called by the Triune God. Here in vv.4-6 we have the Spirit, the Son, and the Father, all together mentioned and at work in the body. All coequal and coexistent, coeternal, yet distinct and different in role. So we’re talking about unity, not uniformity. There are (7) sets of “one” in these verses. 2. One Spirit - The Spirit does the work of applying redemption, being sent by the Father and the Son. The Spirit seals us and guarantees our inheritance until we acquire possession of it (1:13-14). 3. One hope - There’s been a lot of talk about hope and promise lately, but not coming from Christmas celebrations. You’ve probably seen those words in headlines recently, speaking about the COVID vaccine. But have you also noticed that, as the vaccine has come out and talk of hope is in the air, there has also been discussion about new strains of COVID, making this hope an uncertain hope? Our hope, church, is a certain hope, sure, steadfast, immovable, and guaranteed by God. We should celebrate this common grace of a vaccine, but it’s not our salvation. We’ve all been called together to the same hope; we share this in common and should encourage one another to continue looking for this hope. Our redemption draws near. 2. v.5 “one Lord, one faith, one baptism…” - There is also one Lord, Jesus Christ. He is Master, our Conquering King, who came humbly the first advent, born in a manger, and rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. But his return will be on a white horse, wearing a robe that says, “King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Rev. 19:16). There is one faith, as we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead (Rom. 10:9). There is one baptism, as we identify with Jesus in his life, death, burial, and resurrection, and are baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 3. v.6 “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” - There is one Father God. The Holy Spirit has applied redemption, the Son accomplished redemption, and the Father initiated redemption. He is sovereign over all and has worked to carry out his purpose of redemption. Transition: So having this solid foundation, let’s build out some application. The Practical Unity (vv.1-3) 1. v.1 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…” - First, I want you to take note that Paul is emphasizing the call. Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. What is this call? Looking back at chapter 1, we see we have been chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless (v.4), predestined for adoption (v.5), we have been called to a hope that is a glorious inheritance in the saints (v.18). This is a call that is undeserved, unsolicited, and unmatchable. This is a call that comes from the throne of a powerful God and is all of grace. This is a call that came when you were dead in trespasses and sins, not seeking God or his call. This is a call that has you seated in heavenly places in Christ, washed by his blood, filled with his Spirit, joined with his saints, and beneficiaries of his glorious riches. This is a call that is worthy of your life: your effort, your goals and aspirations, your minds, your mouths, your feet and hands and eyes and ears. 1. Worthy - I know there’s a danger here, that we could understand this in a legalistic sense. But that’s not what Paul is saying. He’s not saying to try and earn the call, or pay back the debt you’re in for receiving the call. He’s saying that, as a recipient of this gracious and glorious call, being so overcome by the awesome reality of that call, that you allow the reality of the call to transform the way you walk, consistent with that call. The Apostle John says it this way in 1 John 2:6, “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 2. Colossians 1:9–10 “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;” 3. Philippians 1:27 “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,” 4. 1 Thessalonians 2:12 “we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” 1. We are called to “walk” in a manner worthy. As we’ve seen in these other passages we just looked at, “walk” is a common way that Paul refers to carrying out the Christian life. It could also be translated as “walk around.” Conduct yourselves in this way. 2. v.2 “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…” - Now Paul begins to define what worthy walking looks like. 1. Humility - Jesus is our greatest example of humility. We read in Philippians 2:6–8 “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Jesus humbled himself and served. 2. Gentleness - One of the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5, paired right alongside self-control. 3. Patience - Also a fruit of the Spirit. Patience really demands that we think the best of someone’s intentions, that they want to do right or make things right. Thinking negative intentions will cause us to react quickly and, often, sinfully. 4. Bearing with one another in love - Bearing a burden with one another in love, working together for a positive outcome. I’m reminded of setting roof trusses in place on our home with Natalie. These big trusses were awkward and dangerous, especially working on tops of second-story walls. We had to bear with one another in love, working together and moving these very methodically and carefully. Tensions were high because it was difficult and dangerous. 1. Humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with one another in love. Watchman Nee wrote a great little book titled Sit, Walk, Stand, which is a brief exposition of the book of Ephesians. He tells the story of a rice farmer in South China who had a rice field in the middle of a hill, and used a treadmill powered water wheel to pump irrigation water up to his field. HIs neighbor had two lower fields, and one night made a breach so that all the water ran down to irrigate his fields. Now, the farmer with the field in the middle of the hill was a Christian, so he repaired the breech and pumped water for his field again. Again, the neighbor drained off the water in to his own fields, repeating this 3 or 4 times. Finally, the Christian sought counsel from his brothers, letting them know he had not retaliated and tried to be patient, but was asking if this was right. After they prayed, one of the brothers spoke and said, “If we only try to do the right thing, surely we are very poor Christians. We have to do something more than what is right.” Following this the farmer began pumping water into his neighbors fields in the morning, and into his own field in the afternoon. His neighbor eventually became a Christian as a result of this humble service. 2. Who’s creating a breach in your wall and draining off your effort? Now mind you, Paul is speaking about relationships within the church. So let’s keep our application there. Don’t think about your unbelieving neighbor or coworker, but someone within the church. Maybe you have a child who keeps pushing, testing, trying you. Perhaps a spouse, or a sibling, who knows just the thing to say and when to say it for maximum irritation or frustration. A brother or sister who has wronged you in some way. 3. v.3 “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” - Zealous, diligent, make every effort. 1. Maintain - In the maintenance world we talk about different types of maintenance. First, there’s preventive maintenance. If you think about your car this is an oil change, or tire rotations. Regular maintenance items you perform to keep your vehicle running well. Second is predictive maintenance. This would be like changing out the timing belt in your car at a certain interval, because history has shown that these fail not long after this mileage. You predict what is going to happen, and you respond ahead of time in order to keep from having more major problems. Third is reactive maintenance. This would be items like replacing a dead transmission or when a wheel flies off on the interstate. But what would this mean in the life of the church, in relationship with each other? Preventive maintenance of the unity of the Spirit would be having regular contact with each other, having conversations and praying for one another. Allowing the oil of the Holy Spirit to regularly lubricate your conversations and interactions with each other, as iron sharpening iron. Predictive maintenance of the unity of the Spirit would be following up with that brother or sister after difficulty they’ve encountered, or knowing that there’s a certain date, or time of year, or situation that was very trying and seeing how you can serve them. Predictive maintenance requires a higher level of familiarity, even intimacy. Reactive maintenance of the unity of the Spirit would be what happens when things have already blown up and you’re working to do damage control and to get things operational once again. This, obviously, is the least desirable type of maintenance. Preventive and predictive is where we want to be normally operating. Conclusion: This is what we’ve been called to, and what we have the great privilege of participating in. The church, God’s vehicle of mission and witness to an onlooking world. Like any vehicle, it will need some work here and there, but it’s work worth doing, because we’ve been called to a worthy calling.