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Left Side, Strong Side-Ephesians 4_1-16

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Left Side, Strong Side

Ephesians 4:1-16

Introduction

Opening: Show clip from “Remember the Titans” (chapters 9-11: 29:09-35:42)

·         What is the church?  The church is a body, the body of Jesus Christ.

·         It is like a team that when it fails it is often because it has division, strife, personal agendas and pride.

·         It is like a team that when it works together it is because the players ‘mesh’, ‘gel’ or ‘read each other’.

·         It is when they finally learn that it is not all about them but about the team.

·         One of the greatest tools of Satan is too create disunity in the church and it is no wonder that it is a hot topic through out the NT and unfortunately still is a problem today.

·         Ephesians 4:1-16 is Paul calling the church at Ephesus to grow and to stay strong, work together and be the winning combination God intended the church to be.


We have been Called. (4:1)

4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called,

1…to Faith in Christ. (Calling)

·         Calling is used by Paul as synonymous with reconciliation through Christ.

·         Using the word ‘calling’ indicates the sovereignty with which God saves people.

·         If it were not for God choosing his people there would be no hope of a relationship with God. Romans 8:30 states that his predestination was the means of us coming to Christ.

And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.

·         If you have placed your trust in God through Christ it is because you were called.

2…to Live for Christ. (Walk or Live)

·         The actual word is ‘walk’ in the Greek. The conduct of our lives is to be like Christ.

·         Paul in v. 2 will explain further what this means but for now let it suffice that we are to walk in the same path as Christ.

3…to Act like Christ. (Worthily)

·         The idea of living worthily is that of acting in such a way that confirms your position in Christ.

·         Paul is stating that the Call is that of Christ with all its sovereignty, majesty, and power

·         He is calling Christians to the life they are expected to conform to which is born out in their calling.

·         God took the initiative to save us, to reconcile us to himself and this presupposes that we will respond because of our high privilege and with high responsibility.

In the eleventh century, King Henry III of Bavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch. He made application to Prior Richard at a local monastery, asking to be accepted as a contemplative and spend the rest of his life in the monastery.  “Your Majesty,” said Prior Richard, “do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king.”  “I understand,” said Henry. “The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you.”  “Then I will tell you what to do,” said Prior Richard. “Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you.”  When King Henry died, a statement was written: “The King learned to rule by being obedient.”

·         We have been called to Faith but also called to live according to who we are.

·         We are God’s Children and he asks us to be obedient, living as his children.

·         God has said who we are and expects that we will be who he says we are.

We are given a task. (4:2-12)

4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 4:3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 4:8 Therefore it says, When he ascended on high he captured captives; he gave gifts to men.” 4:9 Now what is the meaning of “he ascended,” except that he also descended to the lower regions, namely, the earth? 4:10 He, the very one who descended, is also the one who ascended above all the heavens, in order to fill all things. 4:11 It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ,

1.  How is it done? (v. 2a)

·         The word humility literally means ‘lowliness of mind’ and is the opposite of pride or considering yourself overly important.

·         To call Christians to humility went against Greco-Roman society.  To have humility was considered a negative trait.  It was associated with slavery.

·         Paul is merely echoing the thoughts and character of Christ in Matt. 11:29:

Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

·         Even today to be humble or lowly of mind is thought of negatively.  A person of prominence has to take the bull by the horns, think positively and take command.  They expect that pride makes winners.

·         The word ‘gentleness’ or ‘meekness’ to the Greeks meant to give merciful justice to those that could not speak for themselves.

·         The context of Ephesians indicates that it involves courtesy and willingness to waive one’s rights that comes from seeking the common good without being concerned for personal reputation or gain.

·         Unity is the theme of this passage and Paul is exhorting his readers and us to work for the common good.

·         Having a ‘long temper’ rather than a short temper is the meaning of patience. 

·         Relationships are in view in this passage and so it makes sense that if unity is to be kept or created it will come when the body of Christ makes allowances for others’ shortcomings.

·         The virtues of humility, gentleness and patience are echoed in Col. 3:12:

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,

2.  What should be done? (v. 2b-12)

            Bearing with one another. (2b)

·         This command is closely linked to having patience because it is directly from practicing patience that putting up with others shortcomings is possible.

·         None of us is perfect, all of us have things that we need to improve upon.  We all have strange habits, little quirks, weird ideas that shape our outlook and perceptions that influence our interaction with others.

·         Conflict is normal and Paul is exhorting the Ephesians to not simple take a passive resignation but a positive attitude towards others.

·         Paul continues this thought in 4:32:

Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.

            Keeping unity. (3-6)

·         The entire context of this passage must be understood corporately not individually.

·         One of the greatest disasters in the growth of the Church is the devastating problem of disunity.

·         It comes from pride, harshness and a short temperedness.  It comes from people wanting to have things their own way instead of the Biblical way.  It comes from a struggle for dominance and power-it can destroy the church.

·         The essence of unity is love and peace (Col. 3:14-15) and is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

·         Through Christ and power of the Spirit, unity has been achieved, separation from God has been taken away and believers have a common interest.

·         The church is simply called to maintain what is already been given, to live up to who we have already been told we are.  It is the idea of, “You are Christians, start acting like Christians.”

·         He says there is one body (the church), one Holy Spirit (our power on this earth), one hope (our salvation to come), one Lord (Jesus is only to be worshiped), one faith (belief in Christ alone), one baptism (confession of who is Lord), one God and Father (complete sovereignty who is beyond everything but also intertwined and in everything)

·         The church is not a group of lone rangers.  It is a collection of very odd, eccentric, and normal individuals who have one thing in common above all else-a relationship with Christ.

·         All else is to be set aside to maintain the unity of the body of Jesus.

·         Unity is the product of giving up our ‘so called’ rights.

Using Gifts given by Christ. (7-12)

·         In v. 7 Paul begins by talking about diversity within the body of Christ, but it is all in the context of the unity of the church.

·         The grace given Christians is the good will and favor of God on those who follow Christ.  This grace is bestowed on us in the form of a gift.

·         V. 8 is a quote of Ps. 68:18, but it is more of a paraphrase than a direct quote, more than likely coming from a Christian hymn that was sung in the early church.

·         The context of Ps. 68:18 gives us a good understanding of how Paul is using the verse.  The Jewish understanding of this Psalm was in reference to Moses going up Sinai to receive the 10 commandments and other instruction.

·         Paul now uses the verse to refer to Christ.  The word ‘ascended’ refers to the resurrection. ‘Descended’ in v. 9 is a reference to two possible things; Christ’s incarnation or to the sending of the Holy Spirit.  More than likely it is a reference to his incarnation.

·         There is no reference to Christ descending to Hell after the crucifixion.

·         What Paul is trying to convey from this complicated verse is that through the work of Christ, gifts have been bestowed on believers.  Each of us has gifts from God.

·         Christ gave gifts associated with apostles (spreading the church to unreached regions), prophets (explaining what God would have us do and the results associated with them), pastors (leading and guiding a group of Christians) and teachers (reveal and explain clearly the Bible).

·         This may or may not be a complete list but regardless, Paul’s point is that through Jesus we have gifts given to people so that we will be equipped for ministry.

·         Ministry is not the sole work of the leaders or Elders or the Pastor of the church.  The function of these people is to help the church as a whole to work together as ministers.

·         This is all for the building up of the body.  There is unity because there is no separation between the Pastor or Elders and the congregation but all are working together to strengthen the church.

It is too bad that anything so obvious should need to be said at this late date, but from all appearances, we Christians have about forgotten the lesson so carefully taught by Paul: God's servants are not to be competitors, but co-workers.

A.W. Tozer

We are too look to the result. (4:13-16)

4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God – a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature. 4:14 So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. 4:15 But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. 4:16 From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love.

1.  Maturity in Christ. (13)

·         The work in the church is not done until every believer has attained the full stature of Christ.  This has the idea of being able to stand beside Jesus himself and pull ourselves to our full Spiritual position and stand on par with him.

·         This remarkable position is achieved when we find unity in the faith.  When the church begins to fulfill the unity which the Spirit has already given it will see maturity.

·         We are to come to full knowledge of Christ.  His thoughts, feelings, desires, beliefs, actions.  It is a knowledge that comes with understanding and practical application.

2.  Discerning right from wrong. (14)

·         A body of believers is compared to children in contrast to being a mature person.  A child is easily swayed with different ideas. The winds of different teaching can easily manipulate them.

·         There are those out there in different churches, Bible Colleges and Seminaries, on television and in print who want to convince you and me of things that are not in keeping with the knowledge of Christ.

·         It is through the gifts given to the church particularly of teachers, pastors and elders who are called to help the whole body to guard against the teachings that would lead astray.

3.  A Church that grows in unity through its gifts. (15-16)

·         Paul contrasts the idea of deceitful schemes in v. 14 by stating that the truth should operate and conduct the truth in love, not selfishness and arrogance.

·         Practicing the truth in love will produce a church that grows in Christ.  Special emphasis is place upon the position of Christ.  As the church functions and grows it is to be understood and maintained that Jesus is its source and focus.

·         Without Christ the church could not grow and each part could not work together seamlessly without his guidance. Jesus taking his place as the head is a personification of his role in creation as the author of the whole world.

·         Note that the emphasis is not upon numerical growth but spiritual growth.

·         Paul ends this passage by indicating that Jesus may be the one in charge but that each part (each person with their gifts) needs to contribute and do it together in unity.  The source of unity is held in the practice of love.

A man, after 25 years with one company, was still doing the same old job and drawing the same salary. Finally he went to his boss and told him he felt he had been neglected. “After all,” he said, “I’ve had a quarter of a century of experience.”  “My dear fellow,” sighed the boss, “you haven’t had a quarter of a century of experience, you’ve had one experience for a quarter of a century.”

·         We are as the body of Christ supposed to continue to grow.

·         The body of Christ is strengthened when every part (person) is exercising (growing in unity and knowledge) and it functioning (using their gifts for God’s glory).

Conclusion

·         It is important to note again that Paul is not talking to you or me…but he is talking to us.

·         He is saying that God has reconciled us, we have had a calling upon our lives, and because he has declared us righteous we need to work everyday at being who he has declared us to be.

·         To be as God has declared takes humility, gentleness and patience.

·         It requires us to bear with one another’s shortcomings.

·         It requires that we work on setting aside our personal agenda’s and work towards unity

·         It requires that we use our gifts to minister to one another not just let the few do all the work.

·         It requires that we take instruction and grow in our understanding of God.

·         Living as God has designed us to be produces maturity.

·         Living as God has designed us to be produces discernment so that we will not be tossed by false ideas.

·         Living as God has designed us to be produces growth by practicing love.

As a Christian God has declared who you are.  It is your choice whether you are to be as he has declared you to be.  You want this congregation to grow and become a vibrant influence in this community and contributor to the cause of Christ in the world…then consider carefully the words of Paul in Ephesians 4.

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