December 31, 2023

Walking - The Key to a Healthy Body!

Pastor: Wade Trimmer Series: Ephesians Scripture: Ephesians 4:1–6

The missionary Ruth Paxon’s book on Ephesians is titled, “The Wealth, Walk and Warfare of the Believer.” Our studies in the first three chapters of Ephesians focused on the “wealth” or riches of God’s grace that has been secured for us in His great unfolding drama of redemption. The last three chapters deal with our “walk” in the Lord and our “warfare” against the Devil and his demons.

The key word in this last half of the book is walk (Eph 4:1, 17; Eph 5:2, 8,15), while the key idea in the first half is wealth. In these last three chapters, Paul admonishes us to walk in unity (Eph 4:1-16), purity (Eph. 4:17-5:17), harmony (Eph. 5:18-6:9), and victory (Eph 6:10-24).

I. A Healthy, Growing Body is Marked by Spiritual Unity - 4:1-6

We’ve learned from our studies in Ephesians that God’s eternal plan is “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Eph. 1:10), so that in and through his triumphant centerpiece - His Body, Building, and Bride – “the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 3:10). God wants his triumphant church to display in the spiritual realms the successful wisdom of his character and plans, revealed and accomplished in the astonishing death and resurrection of Christ. How? This happens as his earthly, local congregations continue gathering people from all nations under the rule of Christ to share in his holiness.

Eph 4:1-16 takes up the emphasis on the unity of the church from the previous chapters and shows how to express this in mutual ministry and maturity.

A. United by Resting Secure in the Merciful Call of God - Eph. 4:1

The thought of "divine calling" takes us back to chapter 1 of Ephesians. God has called us to Himself by His grace. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens (1:3). The first request of Paul’s prayer in Eph. 1:18 is that we may know what the hope of His calling is.

  1. It is a humble calling ‑ not all received it, and none received it who were worthy of it.
  2. It is a heavenly calling ‑ Hebs 3:1 ‑ comes from God and is accompanied by the power of God that quickens dead spirits and gives them ears to hear.
  3. It is a high calling ‑ Philp. 3:14
  4. It is a holy calling ‑ 2 Tim 1:9
  5. It is a hope‑filled calling ‑ Eph 4:4

B. United by Growing Mature in the Personal Knowledge of God  - 4:2-3

with all humility and gentleness (with all lowliness and meekness-KJV), with patience (longsuffering -KJV), bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 

Take note that it is the love of God for us and in us and through us that motivates us to mature responses to situations, sinners, and saints. This pericope of Scripture is bracketed by love - bearing with one another in love, (4:2b) “and makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (4:16b). 

Phillips paraphrase says, “Making allowances for each other because you love each other.” Prayerfully ponder the paraphrase again, asking God to let you clearly see it and completely apply it. That is normally the last thing in the world that occurs to us in interpersonal relationships. We react to others, instead of setting the pace in bearing with one another. 

Ephesians 4:2-3 indicates that we have four great allies to assist us in “bearing with one another.”  These four allies are like planets rotating around a central body.  The four allies are “lowliness/humility,” “meekness/gentleness,” “long-suffering/patience,” and “love.”  “Lowliness” (humility) is the word from which we get our English word “tapestry.”  We are to assume such a position of unassuming humility that we become as low as a rug on the floor, willing to be walked on to promote the welfare of the other person.

“Meekness” means “consolidated strength,” or “strength brought under control.” Do you see how this characteristic is so necessary if we are to practice the “one another” of biblical tolerance?  We use the strength which, if untamed, would condemn and crush our failing brother, rather than accepting and supporting him.

“Long-suffering” is simply the ability or the commitment to “suffer with that person” in his weakness or failure for a long, long time.  The word translated “forbear/bearing with” here means to “hold back.”  You hold back your inclination to judge and condemn him, making allowances as necessary.

“Love” is the word for total self-giving love, the word that only seeks the highest good of its object.  When you combine these five words together - lowliness, meekness, long-suffering, love and forbearance, you see the delicate action that in necessary in practicing the “one another” of literally “putting up with one another”, i.e. biblical toleration.

C. United by Making Sure of Our Confesssion of the Gospel of God - 4:4-6

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. 

Christians must maintain the unity of the Spirit because everything they hold of any significance they hold with other people. Seven items are preceded by the word "one," and in each case the oneness expresses both the uniqueness of the item and its foundational value for unity. All seven express the reality that there is only one gospel and that to believe that gospel is to enter into the unity it creates. Christianity is a shared faith. No separate or merely individual faith exists, nor is there a different salvation.

Not only does this section relate back to 2:14-18, but to 2:21-22 and 3:6 as well. There are not several bodies of Christ in different locales, but one body of Christ, and each local congregation is representative of that body. Behind the one body-one Spirit language is the theology of 2:16-18 and 1 Corinthians 12:13, in which Christians are joined into one body by the Spirit and given access together to God. In addition to having a common origin in the Spirit's work and a common existence in Christ's body, believers share a common hope, the common eschatological, or final destiny of the gospel.

Paul cites what was probably an early Christian creed. Paul points out seven "one" statements to emphasize the oneness we share in the gospel. It is important to note that Ephesians 4 does not teach unity at any cost. It is a unity in Christ. It’s not teaching uniformity obtained from external pressure but unity that is to be maintained by eternal purchase. The Spirit of God unites us to the Father through the Son and to the Body of Christ where we are to seek by His enablement to maintain what each believer contains!

  1. One bodyWe share a common existence in Christ's church. We are diverse in background and gifting, but we are united as one.
  2. One Spirit. We share a common origin in the Holy Spirit's work. The Spirit is the One who creates unity and empowers us to maintain it.
  3. One hopeWe share a common hope in Christ. Formerly, we were "without hope" (2:12) until we were called to Christ. Now we have hope, and we must live in a manner worthy of our calling.
  4. One LordBelievers confess and proclaim, "Jesus Christ as Lord" (2 Cor 4:5). When the early Christians said, "Jesus is Lord," they were saying, "Caesar is not lord." When Jewish Christians said this, they were97 boldly identifying Jesus with the God of the Hebrew Scriptures (cf. Deut 6:4). So this was not merely an empty creedal affirmation for early believers. This confession could cause you to lose your head.
  5. One faithThe creed reminds us that we embrace the essential truths together, for "faith" here seems to refer to the body of truth we believe.
  6. One baptismWe share a common experience of being spiritually baptized into Christ. We are united with Him. The act of baptism into water pictures this reality. This ordinance may be in view here.
  7. One God and FatherAs His adopted children, we share the same Father (cf. Eph 1:5). He is the God overall and the Father of all His children - regardless of their ethnicities. We are one big, spiritually reborn, legally adopted family.

Also notice the Trinity here in this creed. The triune God not only creates the unity we have as believers but also serves as the ultimate picture of unity. Jesus prayed for unity, reflecting on His relationship with the Father: "May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me" (John 17:21). A healthy church is characterized by such unity, and it is a marvelous testimony to the watching world.

Walking as a follower of Jesus requires a different step than the rest of the world.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

other sermons in this series

Feb 25

2024

Being Filled with the Spirit

Pastor: Wade Trimmer Scripture: Ephesians 5:18–21 Series: Ephesians

Feb 11

2024

Living In and Loving the Will of God!

Pastor: Wade Trimmer Scripture: Ephesians 5:15–17 Series: Ephesians

Feb 4

2024

Imitating Our Father

Pastor: Wade Trimmer Scripture: Ephesians 5:1–14 Series: Ephesians