Live A Life Worthy Of The Calling – Ephesians 4:1-6 Sermon

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SERMON NOTES:

I want us to dive right back into the Book of Ephesians today. And we are passing half way… 

  • It is always good to be half way on any journey! It often marks a turning point…
  • And it is the same with the book of Ephesians. At half way, Paul changes direction and starts talking about the implications of the Gospel… 
  • Reminder where we are on the Bible Project diagram! (things we have looked at)
  • Paul has summarised the Gospel story and now turns to how it should reshape every part of our story! (repeat – gold)
  • So Ephesians is the Gospel story that reshapes our story. 
  • Maybe you could sum up the next part as “how then should we live?”

Ephesians 4:1-3 – read from the English Standard Version today…

  • Now normally I read from the New International Version (that is what we primarily use here at Manly Life). It’s new. It’s international. It’s a version…
  • But today I want to read from the ESV – as their translation from the original Greek text is a bit more literal. And in todays passage I think that is important.
  • Let me just say, all of the major modern translations are great – you should have confidence in them. What we read in English is basically what the Greek says… 
  • But there are some examples of where for the sake of readability, we should err on the side of a more free flowing translation… 
  • And other times where a more literal word for word translation better communicates the authors intent. 
  • But in general, have confidence… modern translators are amazing!

So Ephesians 4:1-3 

  • Paul has finished chapter three by praying for the Ephesians… he says Amen…

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  

Now I want to focus mainly on verse 1 and then in verses 2-3 the first glimpses of what our lives should look like in light of the Gospel. 

So chapters 1-3 we have learnt so much about the Gospel and our new status as the children of God. 

  • You are forgiven, you are adopted into God’s family. You are redeemed from slavery to sin. 
  • You are loved by God, strengthened with power. 
  • You are recipients of the boundless riches in Christ Jesus… 

So Paul pivots… Ephesians 4:1 therefore! 

  • So whenever we see the word therefore, whatever is about to be written needs to be read in light of what has come before. 
  • Right? He is saying because of this… I want to urge you and exhort you to walk in a new way.
  • So Paul is making the connection between faith and practice, between doctrine and duty.

Paul wants us to know that being a Christian is not merely a way of believing… but a way of living… 

  • Knowing the truth will lead to living the truth!
  • Your justification will lead to your sanctification… two stage process… 
  • We get saved and then we get transformed. 
  • And to be honest, what we will see, is that our transformation looks a lot like the ways and walk of Jesus!

Important in Ephesians: it is not “if you obey me, then you will be blessed”, it is, “you are so blessed, so now in response to my love and grace, here is how we live.”

  • Note what comes first… it is not conditional… God’s love and blessings are not dependent on getting your act together first…
  • It is not shape up… and the riches of Christ will be yours… it is the riches of Christ are yours, so now be shaped in new ways of living by that truth. 
  • Right?
  • And I think that is so important… we don’t become Christians and then find ourselves burdened by the expectations of a whole new set of laws. 

So here is what Paul charges the Ephesians with – walk… walk, worthy of the calling.

  • So if chapters 1-3 were the calling… now we are shifting to how to walk, how to live, worthy of the calling…
  • And it is going to be about how we walk… 
  • In other words the practical, day to day living that will begin to set us apart from those who don’t live in light of the Gospel.
  • Our walk will be empowered and transformed as we begin to live a life worthy of the calling we have received. 

Now the word worthy in the Greek is axios. And it simply refers to having the corresponding weight of another thing of like value. 

  • So Pauls is saying live befitting or corresponding to the calling you have received. 
  • So to walk or live worthily means to bring your life into balance or to match or to be appropriate to what we have received. 
  • Are you with me? 
  • Scales: So good news of the gospel – up here… bring your life into balance

And I think this is not just Paul, or an invention of the early church.

  • Jesus says in Matthew 3 “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”
  • Right… in turning to God and away from sin, we should produce new fruit in our lives…
  • To the woman caught in adultery Jesus says “neither do I condemn you, now go, leave your life of sin.”
  • Right – there is the incredible grace, but then the charge to live a new type of life. 
  • When Jesus seeks and saves the lost Zacchaeus the tax collector, we hear him talk about repaying those he has wronged fourfold and giving away half his wealth to the poor. 
  • So the goal of an encounter with the grace and love of Jesus, is the transformed life.

So as Paul begins to talk about how the gospel story reshapes our story… what does that look like?

  • From Verse 1 “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, (verse 2) with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”
  • Now church, hear the calling to which we are invited. 
  • It is the life of Christ!
  • And specifically he starts with the character of our saviour. 
  • Paul says bringing your life into some kind of corresponding shape to what our saviour’s looks like… humility, patience and bearing with one another in love!

Now of course the Christian life is going to have multi-faceted dimensions and callings and aspects…

  • But isn’t it interesting that Paul doesn’t start with a list of rules or laws or regulations…
  • You know… “now that you are a Christian – you better measure up. And here’s the code of conduct that you all must obey.”
  • No, instead he starts with virtues and relational postures…
  • To live worthily of our calling… is to be a unified community that does life together well. 
  • Walk humbly, gently, patiently, bearing with one another in love… in unity as one people. 
  • He doesn’t load you up with burdens… having just liberated you with the gospel, Paul doesn’t load you with a bunch of heavy, ill fitting requirements…
  • He exhorts us to walk in a new way… in the way of Christ.

See here is the reality – when we become Christians we all have old ways of living that need to be put off and a new self that we become. 

  • I mean he literally says that a few verses later. Verse 22 “put off the old self” verse 24 “put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
  • Remember the Ephesians were proud people, there was wealth in the city. They knew how to exercise power… or be on the receiving end of power…
  • Their models for how to walk and treat each other was coercive power…
  • They knew the might of the Romans army, the control of the temple worship to Artemis.
  • They, if they were anything like me, knew that their own heart are often selfish and puts itself before others.
  • But you… now saved by grace… therefore… you walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel….

Of course the gospel is Jesus Christ. It is the message of Jesus, but it is also the person of Jesus…

  • So Paul is saying, live like Jesus did… 
  • Where does your mind go when I say that?
  • Mine goes to Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
  • My mind goes to Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
  • My mind goes to the stories of Jesus stopping for the one’s and having mercy on them.

So we are encouraged to walk humbly and patiently and lovingly. 

  • Jesus changed the world by getting low…
  • We change the world by getting low… by taking on the character of Jesus.

One of my favourite Australian authors is Tim Winton. Do people know him? 

  • Twice nominated for the Booker Prize for his novels. Author of Breath and Cloud Street and Dirt Music.
  • Well he is a Christian and speaks about his faith. And I remember reading an article about how his family came to faith a few years ago.
  • And I was struck by how the Gospel story reshaped his story. 

Let me read from this article, because I think it captures brilliantly how we live a life worthy of the calling we have received. Particularly its about some bloke called Len. 

“In 1965, when the author Tim Winton was five, his father, John, a motorcycle cop, was riding through Perth, Australia, when a drunk driver ran a stop sign and collided with him. The impact sent John flying into a brick wall, crushing his chest, shoulder and hip. His ribs were shattered, and his lungs collapsed; when the paramedics got to him, they had to perform an emergency tracheotomy in the street. He’d also suffered massive concussion, and lay comatose for days in the resuscitation room at Royal Perth Hospital. 

When he returned home, he was a physical and emotional wreck. He’d gone from being the family’s sole breadwinner to being bedridden, unable to move or shower himself. It was up to his wife, Bev, to manage the house and cope with the kids: Tim and his three younger siblings, Andrew, Michael and Sharyn.

A week or so after John came home, a stranger showed up on the doorstep. His name was Len Thomas. The man said he’d heard about the accident, and that Bev was having a tough time, and that he wanted to help. “It was so weird,” Winton says, when we meet in Fremantle, Perth’s port city. 

“We had never met this guy before, and here he was, turning up, unannounced and uninvited, offering to give us a hand.”

Almost every day for the next few weeks, Thomas came to the house, where he carried Winton’s father from his bedroom to the bathroom and gently washed him. Tim didn’t know what to make of it: a stranger, in the bathroom, with his father? Now all he could do was sit outside the door, listening to the tap water running, and the two men talking in low, soft voices. As it soon became apparent, Thomas was an evangelical Christian: apart from washing John, he’d been laying hands on him, and anointing him with olive oil.

Thomas’ intercession, what Winton now calls “an act of grace”, changed the family forever. Soon after his father’s recovery, Winton’s parents became devout and lifelong Christians. Every Sunday morning, and in the evening too, the family went to church, where they would hear sermons on degradation and redemption. In Perth’s blithely secular suburbs, the Wintons’ conversion marked them as outsiders and oddbods. “At the same time, the church community was incredibly unifying and nurturing,” Winton tells me. “Your life had meaning and you belonged, and you had this amazing connection with people who weren’t blood relatives but who treated you like family.”

“Len showed me that there is another way of being a man, that you didn’t have to get a double century at the MCG or mow down a machine-gun post and get a Victoria Cross. You could be just decent and gentle and kind. For me, that was incredibly revelatory.”

Now I don’t know from this article much about this incredible man named Len except for two things… He was an evangelical Christian

  • And he was living a life worthy of the gospel through the way he walked… 
  • In response to the kindness he had received from God… the boundless riches of Christ. 
  • Len became a man who showed unexpected kindness. He got low… like Jesus and humble… like Jesus… and loved… like Jesus… and was patient like Jesus… 
  • That led to Tim Winton’s parents and then the whole family coming into the gospel story… whose lives have then been… reshaped by the Gospel.
  • And that is God’s plan to change the world. 

Here is what I have noticed in the world… it can be a sad and lonely and selfish place. Of course there is lots of amazing things…

  • But it is so easy for nations and communities and marriages and people to get in downward spirals of hurts and wrongs and revenge. 
  • It’s an eye for an eye… its dog eat dog. It is nursing grudges and bitterness…  it is addictions and cycles of bad behaviours. 
  • Jesus is the circuit breaker! Grace changes everything.

Chapters 1-3 of Ephesians has been about the circuit breaker – Jesus!

  • The unmerited favour of grace that we have received. Unconditional love and adoption into the family of God. 
  • Redemption out of slavery to sin. The kindness of God. 

And now in light of the gospel story, everything about our story begins to change. 

  • We can break out of the vicious downward spiral because of the circuit breaker of grace
  • And our story gets reshaped by the gospel too.
  • We begin to live a life and walk worthy of the Gospel. Like our savious we get called to come into balance. Into axios with our saviour. 
  • So Manly Life… together… united… 
  • Lets walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Amen.

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