Year 3 Day 70
Read - Ephesians 4
Message - Scott Woodburn
The first three chapters of Ephesians are worth reading and re-reading. Indeed some might argue that you would do well to commit them to memory. They are filled with the glory of the Gospel telling us that even when we were dead in sin, God made us alive together with Christ. Jesus has broken down the dividing line of hostility between Jew and Gentile. The Gospel is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and regardless of your background this is how you must be saved. Once the inclusion of the Gentiles into the people of God was a mystery but now God has revealed this mystery and the good news is proclaimed to the ends of the earth. Wonderful! But what now?
Paul tells the Ephesians that in light of everything he has just told them, they are to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel (v1). We are not saved by works but true faith in Christ will be evident in our lives. What evidence will we see of our salvation? Marks of the Christian are humility, gentleness, patience and bearing with one another (v3). We don't seek personal glory, we live and speak with gentleness, we are patient under trial and we seek to love our brother even when he makes it very difficult.
Such Spirit worked characteristics should be evident in a follower of Christ and they are underpinned by an eagerness for unity (v3). In other words the Christian will not be seeking to gossip, slander or otherwise work for the disunity of a fellowship. There is only one church, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God (v4-6). We would do well to remember this when our ego gets out of control and we are tempted to believe that the world revolves around us. Additionally when our actions harm the local fellowship we should be quick to repent - Christ loves His church and will certainly oppose the one who seeks to harm His Bride.
Jesus is the One who descended to the earth and He is the One who ascended back into glory (v9-10). Yet He didn't leave us as orphans. Jesus sent the Spirit who dwells in the hearts of Christians and He gave gifts to the church. He gave us the unique and closed offices of the apostles and prophets (v11). These foundational ministries are over but their impact is felt every single time we open the Scriptures and heed the words of God's messengers. Christ has gifted us with evangelists - those who take the Gospel and declare "you must be born again" Jesus has given us the shepherds - those who draw near to the flock to help them and care for them. Finally, Jesus has given us teachers - those who open the Scriptures and help us to understand what is contained within.
These individuals work to equip the saints helping them to continue on their walk to glory. They do the work of ministry in the local church and they seek to build up the body of Christ (v12) with the end goal being the spiritual maturity of the local body (v13). Paul calls the Ephesians to growth in Christ (v15) and to be part of a body which works properly and grows in love (v16).
The Gospel is not a "get-out-of-hell-free-card" but it is a Gospel that transforms. In response to Christ's finished work we are to put aside our old ways. The sensuality, greed and impurity of our past life must go (v19) for this is not what we have learned from Christ (v20). As we put off the old self we are to put on the new self. The Spirit's great work is to transform us in every way and to shape us into the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (v24).
The Christian puts aside falsehood (v25), anger (v26) and gives no room for the devil. The follower of Christ does honest work and is happy to share his harvest with those in need (v28). The believer shuns talk that corrupts and instead seeks to build up and encourage with the words from his lips (v29). Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour and slander are replaced by kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness (31-32) and the child of God strives not to grieve the Holy Spirit (v30). We grieve the Spirit when we gossip instead of encourage. It grieves Him when we refuse fellowship instead of building up. It grieves God the Holy Spirit when our anger causes irreparable damage to the church.
Brothers and sisters, devour the first three chapters of Ephesians and allow the scale of the Gospel to penetrate deeply into your soul. It is rich, glorious and good - feast on it! Then, with a soul filled with Gospel good, respond to it by walking in a manner worthy of the Gospel. For Christ's sake. Amen.
Q68 What is required in the sixth commandment? The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others.