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January 17, 2021 5:00 am
Take your Bibles and turn to Ephesians chapter 4 Ephesians chapter 4 say we enter into the second half of the book of Ephesians where the first half is really really heavy in here's what Jesus has done in saving me and in creating his church. The second half now turns to how the Christian life practically is impacted by the gospel in this last half of the book were to talk about things like unity in the church talk about how being a Christian should lead to life change for those people who steal for people who use foul language or bicker and fight easily with other people lives should be changed relook practically at how the parents relationship is changed by the gospel with their kids and how the kids relationship is changed with their parents positive teachers how to fight off Satan. We know that in chapter 6, Paul tells us we don't fight against flesh and blood. We fighting as the satanic powers that currently rule this earth. So how do we fight Satan is or will learn about partly in the last half of this book.
The way that Paul structured this church for this this letter to the Ephesian church was very very intentional. He focused on the gospel in the first half of the book and then he goes into how the gospel plays out in everyday life.
In the second half of the book is a really important lesson for us to learn and that Paul has structured this thing in such a way to help us understand that if we tried to jump into the Christian life without understanding who we are in Christ, then it can easily lead to legalism. Legalism is the thought that I can simply adhere to a set of guidelines and if I do a good enough job not crossing some kind of imaginary line the gospel to be happy with me and I have a right relationship with God. But what Paul does is he uses the first three chapters of the book here to show the believer, who they are in Christ before he ever gets to the last half of the book were you explains how that gospel is supposed to play out in the Christian life just a religious chapter 1 again will read this. We don't go chapter 1, I would can read out for you. How Paul describes the believer who is now in Christ that believer is chosen. They are predestined they are adopted.
Blessed redeemed forgiven God's grace is lavish on that believer. We have obtained an inheritance, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
That means we are held onto by the Holy Spirit we are enlightened. We are called we are given power we know is not just any old powers resurrection powers the kind of power that raised Jesus from the dead, that is the kind of power this available to us to look at chapter 1.
That's just in chapter 1.
That's who you are in Christ as a believer are the good Shepherd to we see that now the believer was dead, but they are now alive they were following Satan.
Now, they are forgiven by God.
They are loved, saved by God's grace seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, who been given a great gift. We are called to walk in the calling that God has for us. We are brought near to God by the blood of Jesus.
That wall of hostility that was between us and God is now broken down, we have peace with God and man. We have access to God through the Holy Spirit were no longer strangers and aliens. We are fellow heirs with Jesus and we are members of the household of God's grace. That's just chapter 2 in us helping us understand who we are in Christ.
Right now, as believers, give chapter 3 we see that God has brought together and designed his church from every nation, tribe and tongue. He has given us boldness and access to him. We can approach him with confidence. He has blessed us with his power. He is rooted and grounded us in his love that has no bounds. He has made himself available so that his love can be clearly seen. He is able to do far more abundantly than anything that we can even imagine. That's what he is able to do our lesser student verse three chapters of the book help us understand who we are in Jesus and my Bible. I've got a little a little.beside every time I come across the words in Christ or in Jesus or the idea that here's who I am because of the salvation that God has given me.
You should do that sometime in early come up with I think for right around the about about 30 some maybe close to 40 times were you find exactly who you are in Christ. In this book. So the first three chapters of the book we find out who we are in Christ as a Christian elicit is that as I read through those things and realize who this is who I am. I also realize that there is no part of any of that. That is up to me to complete that it is all God every bit of it is God he is the one this done the work in Cavett. He's the one this done the work in this new believer. He is the one who has gifted us with this great grace this great salvation that we have the is a great and also and powerful and all-knowing God and he is already done great things in us. But now he wants to do great things through us as we get to chapter 4, we start to see that because God is so great because he has blessed us in because he has redeemed us. Now there are some ways that we can honor him with our lives. Once again we do this not to earn favor with God because favor with God has already been achieved through Jesus and our faith in Jesus alone for salvation are so with that list of an agenda for start reading in verses three verses one through six here today okay chapter 4 verses one through 60 invite you to stand up as we read God's word together. Verse one.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called with all humility and gentleness with patients bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all who is over all and through all and in all our the spray together. Father now as we approach her word would you please help us to understand what it means with and also how we are to apply it to our lives. Father, we we know that without you, we are lost and we are hopeless we know that with you.
We are heirs. Father, we are blessed we have an inheritance that goes beyond anything that we can ever ever imagine on this earth father, may we live in the freedom of that.
May we live in the great grace of that father. We love you in Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Maybe seated, Paul starts out, thereby saying these words, he says.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord. I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord know a couple months ago we actually dedicated a whole sermon to talk about the idea of Paul as a prisoner of the Lord and own encourage you if you were here for that. He didn't hear it or use would be refreshed and what that means, go back to just a month and 1/2 ago or so to where we went through that part in an listen to that again, pull it apart for it for yourself. David just for a way of reminder remind us that Paul is a literal prisoner of the Roman government. But he is also a figurative prisoner to Jesus. Jesus controls him. Jesus has so captivated his heart in his life that Paul is sold out. The following Jesus.
No matter what Paul's next words of these existing stores. I therefore prisoner for the Lord that he says urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called that anytime this word wall appears in the New Testament were talking about something that takes place in your daily life.
Okay, this is as you walk throughout life as you live your daily life. The way saying here is that we are to daily live in a manner worthy of our calling daily live in a manner worthy of our calling that word worthy is a comparative word what Paul's saying is that we should live in such a way that our lifestyle matches up with the great calling. This would placed on our lives that calling is the supernatural drawing in the salvation that God has completed in a believer so the Christian is to live his or her life according to the grace and mercy and love that God has shown them God's chosen to love us and redeem us and because of that love and the redemption that we find in him. We now have an opportunity to live a life that is sold out to him.
So Paul's calling for here for us to live a life that sold out to God. Next Paul give some characteristics of a life that's worthy of the calling the worthy of the calling the Christian more than the Christian is marked by several things. First of all he's marked by humility. Christian is marked by humility and humility is the absence of pride. We know the difference between true humility and false humility right we seen false humility before you know I am and how was I was in my photo. They were there.
They act like they are the most humble person in the world but you know there just put on the front. This is not what Paul started by stuff about true humility here.
True humility comes when a Christian realizes the greatness of God. Compared with the frailty of humans and they then submit themselves to God. In this, a guy whatever you want whenever you plan whatever you want from me, I'm yours. My pride is out of the way. What I will is out of the way.
That's humility. He also concludes were gentleness there gentleness not know gentleness is not weakness.
Gentleness is the ability to control your emotions instead of blowing up somebody made you blowup it in frustration. Or maybe it's anger or maybe your emotion just overtakes you so much that you just come out of the person that's not gentleness there's a man I met a couple years ago a pastor who lives over Tennessee and even when I met him in the 30 minute conversation I had with him that day. One of these. It came across this this this man is a man of gentleness.
I'm he's a pastor the pastors he's retired now he is he is not weak in any way shape or form. He is a hunter because all over the world hunting. He is a man's man. But even as I follow him on Twitter and as I as I see him interact with other people. I realize this man is a man of gentle. He wants to make sure he stewards well other people's emotions, and other people's actions is a manner, gentleness, gentleness is the act of considering other people's emotions and helping them process through those emotions. So somebody is dealing with anger in your gentleness you come up and and you you help them through that gentleness is helping somebody through their grief.
Gentleness is helping somebody and walking with somebody as they're going through a difficult time in life. Gentleness is not exploding. Get the word patients. There is really similar to this patient's sky carries with it the idea of persevering to the end. So no matter how difficult it gets you to persevere all the way to the end and this could refer to patients with a person it could refer to patients with with a circumstance that comes up. Paul encourages believers several times all through his letters to be people who are characterized by patients in Galatians chapter 5 he outlines the one of the fruits of the spirit. This patient's two times in the book of Colossians only is it in chapter 1 and in chapter 3, Paul encourages the believers to be people who are marked by their patients. In second Timothy, Paul tells Timothy that this is the older man speaking to the younger man. He says Lily lit and this is live your life as one of wood with patients. The patients patients is is a mark of a Christian and it's important because it shows that we are reliant on God to work out his plan in his timing so gone I would just go will be patient's to follow you and allow you to work in your timing is patient's right continuing on here you see that there's a worse bearing with one another in love. That means that we strive together we work together with love for other for other Christians.
The love that God has shown us, we show other Christians and we bear the burden of this life with them and love the last statement here this a mark of a Christian is this that they are eager to maintain the unity of the spirit there eager to maintain the unity of the spirit to find it really interesting here that Paul uses the word maintain instead of attain is a big difference. There is no that vigorously maintain an odd thing, the Christian is to be eager to maintain the unity of the spirit you. A lot of times we think that we have to work to make sure that unity is achieved you if I just have this conversation with this person, then we can have unity or if I just do this or if I just do that we can have unity. They know when it comes to matters of this world and they were talking about politics or they were talking about business than that's that's true.
You have to work to attain unity, but that is not the case in the Christian walk.
And here's why Paul is not talking here about attaining unity because unity is something that is given supernaturally by God at salvation. Paul is talking about maintaining the unity that's already been attained when you are saved you are united forever with God and you are forever united with fellow Christians. There's no more work that has to be done to attain unity is just there, however, that unity has got to be maintained when unity with God and with other believers is not strong is not because God is gone anywhere because God's changing anywhere in any way is because we have drifted away from our foundation of the gospel with simple was being built in the Old Testament.
One of things God told the people to do was to make sure they don't do any of the shaping of the stones at the construction place of the temple. The reason for that is that there was to be reverent silence where the temple is being built. The stones had to be shaped at a quarry and had to be shaped at the quarry in such a way that when they came together at the temple, they would already fit so we can look at it this way, the gospel is the quarry where we are shaped by a common experience of repentance and grace so that when we come together is this body of believers. We already fit because what we got in common.
In Jesus, because that is so much greater than anything else that may divide us. There's no greater hypocrisy in the church than for its members to not be unified and if there is not an eagerness to maintain the unity then you are not fulfilling one of the most basic marks of a Christian. Jesus said that the world would know that we are his disciples simply by the way that we love each other. You cannot walk worthy of the calling if you are not unified with other Christians in this.
This doesn't mean that you agree on every little detail or that you conform one person conform to the ways of another person. Thus, the or talking about here fact, Paul is about to outline here in our passage. What we are to be united around is very clear here about what were you to be united around and you could just think the word wine okay single word. One Christmas to pop up multiple times here.
Sorry verse four. There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all who is over all and through all and in all is a word that's used in religious circles to to describe a movement toward one organized church case the word ecumenism ecumenism ecumenism is the idea that unity can be achieved among all the worlds Christian churches so it it it doesn't really matter what you believe about God or the Bible or culture or sin. Ecumenism is the idea that you can still be unified with all of the Christian churches simply because you are religious in nature. Ecumenism seeks religious unity, no matter the belief in fact even teaches that you can believe that there are many ways to God and still be united with someone who believes or church that believes that there is only one way to God. W.A. Criswell was preaching about this movement sometime back in and he said this, he said the problem lies in the compromise required in the willingness on the part of the man who further that ecumenical movement to throw away just throw beliefs away in order to find some kind of lower denominator, upon which everyone could agree all of this means that for the most part. Ecumenism is a rejection and a denial of some of the tremendous truths and doctrines revealed in God's holy word. Now we see ecumenism all around us with people who attempt to say that any form of religious belief is acceptable for salvation. Ecumenism is not on the scum of the last several years. In fact, been taken place for thousands of years you go back and reread the books of first and second Maccabees were not in your Bible but you can easily find them online and you can easily find a translation that you can read all my is a really cool store. You should read those look up some time to Google but what you find there those books is a response to an attempted ecumenism is a pagan king by the name of intake yes epiphanies one of us were we get the word epiphanies from Tiffany when he went on the move of it, and that by the name of intake antique and skyrockets his knife into his epiphanies who attempted to create one religion all throughout the world and forced every body into that religious mold that he created the problem here was that it was a pagan religion.
There was a man by the name of Matson Fayez and his family who stood up against epiphanies. The first and second Maccabees is a story of that app uprising. You should go read about sometime but I bring up that story to show that ecumenism is not something that is new is been going on for thousands of years. Wecontinue to happen.
In fact in the last days, we are told that that our world will work towards one world religion day where everyone believes the same thing and worships the same God that we refer to as false ecumenism, though right. The idea that you can take one belief system. The system of how you get to God and couple it with another belief system of how you get to God and pull them together in unity that is false ecumenism. There is something called true ecumenism, though this will run fine. Right here in Ephesians is that the uniting of churches behind the truth are so the apostle Paul has been talking about walking in a manner worthy of the calling we received this Christians we are to walk with humility with gentleness. Patients bearing with one another in love, be eager to maintain the unity of the spirit is what he does. He now shifts to describing how we are unified and what it is that unifies us and he gives us seven characteristics of the true ecumenical church and they are first of all, our unity is built on one body, one body start about the body of Christ.
The church first British of 12, or 27 Paul tells Christians. This he says you are the body of Christ, and individually you are members of it. You are the body of Christ. Individually you are members of its later on here in the book of Ephesians in chapter 4.
Later on to study more about the body of Christ and how supposed to function. But not only is our unity built on one body, but it is built on one spirit. This is the Holy Spirit who indwells us to feels us who seals us at the time of salvation. We all have the whole of the same Holy Spirit is one spirit. There's one hope our great hope for this life is heaven are great hope is this relationship eternal with God. That's what we look forward to now. As we look forward to the afterlife. That's the great hope that we are striving for first Peter tells us that we are born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus. Titus after chapter 2 says that we are waiting for our blessed hope, the returning of the consumer. The appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. So we have one hope, as Christians, we also have one Lord, one Lord, and Jesus is that one Lord, we don't have many gods.
We don't will have many masters. We have one Lord, and he is preeminently sovereign Lord means master means ruler. Jesus is our master.
Jesus is our ruler, we bow to no one but him. We have one faith, the Bible is clear that it is only through faith in Jesus that we can have life in John chapter 14, Thomas tells Jesus.
In essence, he says we don't know where you're going and we don't know how to get to the father. So what is Jesus saying he says I am the way, I am the truth I am the life and no one comes to the father except through me. You can have faith in anything else in this world you can do that.
But faith in anything except Jesus is not going to give you a relationship with God. Believers are united through the common faith that they have in Jesus for salvation. We have one baptism is referring to water baptism. When a believer is baptized there is identifying themselves as a follower of Jesus. One of Jesus instructions was for his followers to be baptized resolve it last week and the great commission that we read. We are taught call to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, the son of the Holy Spirit. This baptism unites you as a fellow believer who has placed your faith in Jesus for salvation. He pulls us together and then one God and father of all, one God and father of all, we worship one God. He is not one God among many gods. He is the only God is our heavenly father. So these are the seven characteristics that Paul uses to describe the truly united ecumenical church. As I wrap up here there's there's one statement there's one challenge that I want to give us guide. Here it is. If our church is going to be unified. We must major on the majors and minors on the minors. If we are going to be unified. We must major on the majors and minor on the minors and what you mean by that the majors are the seven characteristics of the true ecumenical church that Paul outlines for us one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all, that's the majors.
As long as we focus on these and we are going to find ourselves unified. The danger in any church, is when the church members take their eyes off of these majors and they focus on the minors the minors are the issues that in the grand scheme of things they don't really matter all that much less keep the main thing the main thing. There's nothing in this world more important than the gospel. There's nothing more important than the good news that God loves mankind and that Jesus saves. So when you are tempted to allow arbitrary issues to dominate your thoughts and and to dominate your words are your actions the can I encourage you to turn your eyes back to the gospel and turn your eyes back to the one the one way to God and then watch the way Jesus unifies his church just review simple challenge for us today was major on the majors and minor on the minors spray together of father we thank you for these words, we want to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you called us the father. We understand this and require a student to fulfill these marks of a Christian to be marked by humility, gentleness, patients bearing with one another in love, may eager to maintain the unity of the spirit and father. We have something to rally around to unite around something that draws us together. It's not a set of false unity.
It is a true unity.
So may we major on the majors and minor on the minors and father would you bless and would you work would you draw people into a saving knowledge of your son Jesus through our church. We love you, father in Jesus name I pray, amen