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Saturday, February 23 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION

In last week’s study, we looked at the prayer Paul prayed for the saints at Ephesus and consequently us. In the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul spelt out in glorious detail all that God did for us, freely by His grace; and now in Chapter 4, he brings a call to us to live right, live in unity and to mature in Christ’s body.

  1. VERSE 1: LIVE A LIFE WORTHY OF YOUR CALLING

“So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behaviour—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation](AMP)

The AMP version of this scripture spells it out clearly. We are to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behaviour—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation. When we really understand how much God did for us, we will naturally want to serve and obey Him out of gratitude. Understanding who we are is the foundation of this worthy walk. We don't walk worthy so that God will love us, but because He does love us. It is motivated out of gratitude, not out of a desire to earn merit.

  1. VERSES 2-3: THE CHARACTER OF A WORTHY WALK.

“with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience (longsuffering), bearing with one another in [unselfish] love. 3 Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful].” (AMP) Emphasis mine

    • Humility and Gentleness

A worthy walk before God will be marked by lowliness and gentleness, not a pushy desire to defend our own rights and advance our own agenda. Before Christianity, the word lowliness always had a bad association to it. In the minds of many, it still does, but it is a glorious Christian virtue (Philippians 2:1-10). It means that we can be happy and content when we are not in control or steering things our way.

    • Patience, Bearing with One Another

We need this so that the inevitable wrongs that occur between people in God's family will not work against God's purpose of bringing all things together in Jesus - illustrated through His current work in the church. Longsuffering is the spirit that has the power to take revenge, but never does. It is characteristic of a forgiving, generous heart.

    • Making Every Effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace:

This humble, forgiving attitude towards each other naturally fulfils this gift of the unity of the Spirit. We must endeavour to keep this unity - we do not create it. God never commands us to create unity among believers. He has created it by His Spirit; our duty is to recognize it and keep it. This is a spiritual unity, not necessarily a structural or denominational unity. It is evident in the quick fellowship possible among Christians of different races, nationalities, languages, and economic classes.

  1. VERSES 4-6: THE DESCRIPTION OF THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH.

“There is one body [of believers] and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when called [to salvation]— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of us all who is [sovereign] over all and [working] through all and [living] in all.” (AMP)

    • The Seven Elements that Unite us

We have unity because of what we share in common. There are seven elements unite us; one body [of believers], one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all. Each of these common areas is greater than any potential differences we may have.

Paul urges us to look at the things which unite us, rather than the things that divide us. The early church didn't lack conflict, but they worked hard -- with the apostles' urging -- to preserve, guard, and maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, focusing on the things they did have in common.

4. VERSES 7:  UNIQUE GIFTINGS

“Yet grace [God’s undeserved favour] was given to each one of us [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and abundant] gift.”

    • Grace was given:

We all have grace given to us according to the measure of Jesus' rich and abundant gift. This is basis for God's distribution of spiritual gifts through His church: grace, the free, unmerited giving of God. No one deserves or has earned spiritual gifts. God works unity through spiritual gifts of leadership in the church.

5. VERSES 8-10 DISPENSING SPIRITUAL GIFTS TO THE CHURCH.

“Therefore, He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." (Now this, "He ascended"; what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)”

Paul begins his discussion of spiritual gifts in verse 8 by using the figure of a military victory procession where the conquering general leads the prisoners of war through the streets of the capital and distributes gifts to his subjects from the booty (See Colossians 2:15). He then quotes Psalm 68:18:

"When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men."

Now this, "He ascended"; what does it mean:

In this, Paul demonstrates how the words He ascended in Psalm 68:18 have reference to the resurrection of Jesus, speaking first of His rising from the lower parts of the earth, (1 Peter 3:19 and 4:6); and secondly of His ascension far above all the heavens.

CONCLUSION

The sheer extravagance of God’s marvellous grace; firstly, for our salvation and now for the generosity in dispensing gifts in the body of Christ should endear us to Him stirring our hearts to serve Him out of gratitude and not out of a desire to earn merit. We should in this service focus on the elements that unite us rather than any differences we may have. Because by this we show that we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:35) and ultimately please our Father in heaven.

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