Gracefully Truthful

Faith,Kingdom,Paul,Purpose,Redemption,Scripture

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Ephesians 4:1-6

1 Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

4 There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope at your calling — 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

The Original Intent

1) What was Paul’s urgency? (verse 1)

Therefore
. The necessity of exploring the background (context) in which this word is used is the purpose of our current GT Journey Theme. We are learning how a deep dive into Scripture is incomplete without reading what comes “before ‘therefore’”.

As some would ask, “What is “therefore” there for?”.

Leading up to chapter 4, the apostle significantly emphasized the gospel’s offer of freedom and forgiveness extended to the Gentiles’ (non-Jews). Paul highlights that, in Christ, reconciliation to God offers relationship with both Him and His people, Israel. “For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So, then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.” (Ephesians 2:18-20, emphasis mine)

Ephesians 1-3 speaks thematically of all Christ has Done to bring unity and freedom to all those who trust in Jesus for salvation. As he begins chapter 3, Paul identifies himself as “the prisoner of Jesus Christ on behalf of the Gentiles.” This idea connects the purpose of much of Paul’s writing: The gospel gives everyone, Jew and Gentile, the grace to walk in a worthy manner of Christ. (Colossians 1:9-12, Ephesians 2:10-13)

“Walk worthy” is not a command demanding obedience in order to prove our worthiness of salvation. Instead, Paul is encouraging believers to live their lives in unity as evidence (confirmation) they belong to Christ.

Genuine believers will display the fruit of the Spirit alive within them. (Galatians 5:22-26) As they interact with others, the Spirit provides the inner strength to demonstrate their changed lives if they willingly submit to Him. This change testifies of Christ to those watching.

The urgency in Paul’s tone comes from his passion for the gospel message to be made known through the daily walk and talk of the believers.

The Everyday Application

1) What was Paul’s urgency? (verse 1)

I’m thankful we don’t merit what we receive from God. Paul teaches us to walk in a way such as the Lord deserves from us, not in a way that we earn or deserve from Him.

Paul’s call to walk “worthy of the Lord” was an exhortation for the believers to walk together in unity to demonstrate how worthy the Lord is. In the context of this letter, we understand Paul’s call was urgent because he knew their interactions with each other were part of the testimony of faith to a watching world. Their unity was a living example of the gospel, as reconciliation and union fit the glorious nature of God and the message of salvation we’re called to proclaim.

It is by the one Faith of believers and its fruit of love that the worth of God and the gospel is adorned. (Titus 2:10-14) Paul’s prayer for believer in Ephesians 3 reveals his heart for them, “I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through His Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

From this heart, one filled with boldness and confidence regarding God’s purposes (Ephesians 3:11-12), Paul urged them to be unified in their walk with Jesus. With this same heart, my sweet Sister, I urge you to do the same!

The Original Intent

2) What are the characteristics of those who walk together in the Spirit of Christ? (verses 2-3)

Genesis 1:26-27 tells us humans were created by God, not manufactured in a factory. In Scripture we learn He created us with different talents, personalities, and characteristics. (Psalm 139:13-16, Exodus 31:1-10)

As believers, we dig into God’s Word to learn how He wants to use our gifts for His glory. We should desire to be growing in our awareness of how we can be used by the Spirit of God for the good of the Church, as well as praying for His Spirit to shape our attitudes. The emphasis on the Spirit makes it clear that we won’t be able to maintain the right posture toward others apart from God’s Spirit working in us. (Galatians 5:22-26)

Unity in purpose is a natural result of believers being filled with God’s Spirit. To maintain godly unity, there must be an intentional effort by all. (verse 3) Paul doesn’t expect a perfect peace among believers, but there should be a healthy bond between us, one void of long-term resentment or bitterness.

Paul made it clear that walking by the Spirit was not only to be an individualistic obedience, but a mutual response of obedience. (Ephesians 2:21-22) Unity comes from the Greek word henótēs, and is especially referencing “the God-produced unity (oneness) between believers – i.e. the harmony from sharing likeness of nature with the Lord.” (biblehub.com/greek)

Together, they were to practice humility, gentleness, patience and love. The idea of cooperative humility must have been a key component of following Jesus, because Paul repeated this teaching often in his letters. (Romans 12:9-13, Philippians 2:1-6, Colossians 3:11-14)

The Everyday Application

2) What are the characteristics of those who walk together in the Spirit of Christ? (verses 2-3)

Paul gives us quite the challenge in these verses, doesn’t he? “… with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” I am so thankful we don’t need to attempt this on our own effort. In fact, it would be impossible without Jesus’ love and power working in and through us. (Romans 13:14, Colossians 3:9-17)

Friend, when we exchange our life for Christ’s we begin a journey with Him. As we learn what walking worthy looks like (Colossians 1:9-11), we understand He has walked out His obedience before us and now walks along with us. There is no greater picture of this than what the apostle wrote in Philippians 2:5-8, “Adopt the same attitude as Jesus.”

Growing in Christian maturity will be demonstrated in how we interact with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul wasn’t demanding perfection from them. He understood that conflicts could arise among believers. Paul himself experienced a relational tension with a gospel partner in which he had an opportunity to practice these characteristics. (Acts 15:36-39, 2 Timothy 4:11)

It’s inevitable that disagreements will arise between Christians. Our call is to pursue faithfulness in disagreement, with love always being our aim. The conflict with Paul and Barnabas is the only one of its kind in the New Testament, but we believe it was preserved and given for our instruction. It would be wise to conclude, though, that most disagreements ought to be reconciled without separation.

We do know we must not allow bitterness to take root toward and among our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Original Intent

3) What does it mean for believers to be one with God and one other? (verses 4-6)

Paul uses the word “one” seven times in just two verses! Whenever a word is repeated in just a few verses, it’s worth a deeper look. In chapter 3, Paul prays for the believers “to be strengthened with power in your inner being through His Spirit … that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, [and] that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love.” (Ephesians 3:13-19)

Paul’s prayer demonstrates his understanding of God’s work in the life of believers. He wants followers of Jesus, as a merged group of believers, to know the depth of God’s love in order to walk it out. His urgency (verse 1) is demonstrated in his desire for the reader to comprehend the greatness of God’s power in them as one body. (verse 5)

Remember, unity is a theme in this letter. (Ephesians 2:16-19) Paul expounds a bit more regarding oneness and unity in the Spirit in his letter to the Corinthian church. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14) Though it may be tempting to linger at “one baptism,” we shouldn’t let it prevent our understanding of the whole.

Whether Paul is referring to water baptism (literal baptism of believers as a testimony to their salvation) or Spirit baptism (symbolic baptism of believers into the Body of Christ through the Spirit), the emphasis is certainly on unity among the believers.

In Romans 10:10-13, Paul writes against making distinctions among God’s people. Since there is one God over one body of believers, then there is only ONE FAITH we have obtained through the grace poured on us all. (Ephesians 1:7-8)

The Everyday Application

3) What does it mean for believers to be one with God and one other? (verses 4-6)

Sister, don’t miss this: all Christ followers are of ONE faith! (verse 5) As we offer God our empty-handed and true-hearted response to His gift of salvation, humbly casting ourselves on His mercy through Jesus Christ, we also receive a family.

No other response promises so rich a result as this one. The Scriptures take on fresh meaning as together we read and apply them. There is one faith we share and present to the world. (Jude 1:3)

This is the Faith:
1) An acceptance of the truths of the gospel as found in the Bible;
2) a trust in the person of Christ Jesus to provide forgiveness of your sins;
3) a commitment to follow and obey Him as Lord. (Romans 10:9-13)
It is in this commitment we become one with God and each other.

Three components, one faith. Friend, have you come into this oneness with God and others through faith in the finished work of Jesus? There is no one left out of the salvation God offers. Even now, Sister, you can humble yourself by asking God to reveal Himself to you and give you the faith to trust Him for salvation.

I’m so thankful that 50+ years ago I did just that. Are you enjoying the gift of being in God’s family? If you haven’t found a place to belong, don’t lose hope. Pray and seek a place to grow with others in the family of God. For these many years, I’ve savored the gracious gift of being unified with all those in the family of God … even those spread across the world!

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