In the Christian discipleship process, we don’t want to get the cart before the horse. Christian conduct comes after, or out of, our calling to be in Christ and the reality of Christ in us!
Ephesians 4, moves from the wealth and riches of a Christian to the walk and responsibilities of a Christian. “Walk” is the controlling verb of the rest of the book appearing 5x in chapters 4-6.
Ephesians 1-3 Riches Treasures Calling Doctrines Who
Ephesians 4-6 Responsibilities Tasks Conduct Duties What
Ephesians 4:1 (NASB), “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you also were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
- Walk worthily towards unity. (4:1-6)
• Col 1:10, “...walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him…” • The name Christian means, “little Christ. Christians should walk worthy of Christ. • “Worthy” has the idea of weight. Think of a scale. On one side is the weight of Christian calling. On the other side is the weight of Christian living. The scales should balance. • Just like a worker worthy of wages, the Christian should seek to live up to the weight of their calling. • V2 lists 5 virtues necessary for worthy Christian living: Humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, and unity. • Law of Entropy says closed systems move from order to disorder over time. Energy dissipates over time. Hot coffee gets cold. Ice in the glass melts. • If Christians are not diligent to walk in unity, disorder, chaos, and energy dissipates in the church. • Where does Christian unity come from? It comes from the Trinity. • V4 says there is one body, one Spirit, one hope ... these three refer to the unity provided by the work of the Holy Spirit. • V5 says there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism ... these three refer to the unity provided by the work of the Lord Jesus. • V6 gives the final reason for Christian unity...believers have one God and Father over all, through all, and in all. Unity in the church is a God-given reality. • James Boice, “The church is God’s church. It is composed of God’s people, it is the result of God’s work, and it exists for God’s glory.”
- Walk graciously towards gifting. (4:7-13)
Ephesians 4:7 (NASB), ”But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive the captives, And He gave gifts to people.” 9 (Now this expression, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)”
• The image here is from Ps. 68, a song of triumph about a conquering King returning in victory and the people are showering the King with gifts and praise. • Paul applies this Psalm to Jesus who descended to earth in the incarnation, who defeated the enemies of sin and death, who rose and ascended to heaven to his heavenly throne victoriously! But the twist is this, Christ the King gives gifts to the people in honor of His great victory over the world!
Ephesians 4:11 (NASB), ”And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
• Jesus gives every Christian at least one spiritual gift • Spiritual gifts are to be used for one purpose, to build up Christ’s body – the church. • Sadly, churches divide over spiritual gifts all the time. Division over gifts is a mark of spiritual immaturity. • Ephesians 4 is not talking about offices that some believers have, but gifts that every believer has.
• There are 5 lists of gifts in the NT with about 20 gifts listed (it’s not an exhaustive list). There may be 100’s of spiritual gifts. • Technically, apostles were those with Jesus for his 3-year ministry, and were eye-witnesses to the resurrection. There are no Apostles like that today. The only apostles we see today are missionaries we send out to those far from any Gospel witness. • Technically, Biblical prophets were those who were inspired with God’s message of Scripture, so in this sense there are no prophets like that today since no new Scripture is being written. • Those with the gift of prophecy today are like the men of Issachar… they understand the times, and they know what to do. The gift of prophecy functions today not to tell the future, but to “strengthen, encourage, and comfort.” (see 1 Cor. 14).
• Eph. 2:20, “The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.”
• We are honoring the founding apostles and prophets by evangelizing, pastoring, and teaching their inspired words – words we know to be the Word of God. • Jesus gave every believer a gift to build up His body on earth. • If you don’t know what your spiritual gift is, love the church! Love is the greatest gift you can gift to the church.
- Walk truthfully towards maturity. (4:14-16)
Ephesians 4:14 (NASB), ”As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of people, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, that is, Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
• Negatively – v14, we are not to be immature like children: tossed about, gullible, confused, deceived, unstable. • Immature Christians are easy victims – lured away from the simplicity of the Gospel. Immature Christians avoid Christian responsibility. • Positively – v15, we are to be mature Christians, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him. • Maturity means taking on Christian responsibility, not dodging it, embracing truth not error, walking in love not deceit, living in community not isolation. • Maturity means the whole church corporately needs to grow up and mature under the headship of Christ. • Are you a growing Christian? • Are we a church where people can grow?
CONCLUSION: Ephesians 4 leads us from our riches as a Christian to our responsibilities as Christians. 1st, we are responsible to walk a worthy Christian walk; 2nd, we are responsible to use our God-given gifts to build up the church, and; 3rd, we are responsible to be mature Christians involved in a fully mature Church.
Sermon discussion: a. Why is patience so important in keeping the bond of unity? b. What is the connection between Christian maturity and Christian responsibility? c. Why does it take the whole church to help Christians reach spiritual maturity?