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WORTHY LIFE Ephesians 4:1-16 Theme of the Month Mentorship: Growing, Maturing & serving

Ragland Royappan

Seminary Intern, English Congregation Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church, Vancouver, British Columbia

Sunday Sermon for 31 January 2010

Scripture Passages Ephesians 4:1-16

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make 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 when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.    1

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:        “When he ascended on high,        he took many captives        and gave gifts to his people.”     7

(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.    9

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.  14

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Introduction Tragedy appeared early in the human history. It was a quite and cool evening in the garden. The Lord God Almighty, their Creator was walking in the garden. Hearing his sound, the two did not know where to go. So they quietly hid beneath the trees. But the Lord God, called unto man with a loud voice, “Where are you?” He replied “I heard you in the Garden but I was afraid because I am naked.” Behold, the Man, used his freedom to reject the calling of God and the very purpose he created him for. But God was not ready to let go of humanity very easily. Many, many years later, once again, the call of God was revealed to ONE man. His name was Abraham. He lived happily with his family in  small town. But God said, “Go from your country, your people and your fathers household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” God’s call to Abraham was to be a blessing to many. Unlike the first time, this time around, Abraham obeyed God’s call and fulfilled the purpose he was called. The Scripture tells us, He obeyed and went (Genesis 12:4). As years went by, Abraham had a son, and his son had many children, and they multiplied in numbers and filled the earth. Centuries later the descendants of Abraham, whom God called out, the people whom God promised to be a blessing found themselves in a very precarious situation, as slaves in a foreign land. But God remembered His promise and miraculously rescued the nation Israel out of bondage and slavery. Once again, tragedy struck; the nation found itself among the heathen nations and worshiping idols and fully engulfed in sin of all kinds. They refused to listen to the voice and cry of the prophets calling for a renewal and commitment. They once again refused the calling of God “to be a light to the nations and a blessing to many.” Now, as the Old Covenant, which God the almighty commanded to Abraham, was in ruins, God once again decided to act. This time He decided to finish everything once and for all. The scripture tells he God Sent his only Son to the earth to die for our sins and bring salvation to the ends of the earth and Keep the promise God made to Abraham. Matthew 3:17 says on the say Jesus was baptized “and a voice from heaven said, this is my son whom I love; with him I am well pleased” and John in his gospel writes, “for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” This is the new hope and calling we are called into. My dear friends, through the blood of Christ and his resurrection we enter into a New Covenant, a new promise with Christ. This is the very reason when Apostle Paul, writes his letter to the Ephesians, he reminds his readers of the greater calling to which Christ has called us. This morning I want to focus our sermon on this New Calling that we have in Christ and the life we are called to live. I want all of us to open our bibles to Ephesians chapter 1:4, 5, 11, 13. In these verses Paul explicitly explains the God’s calling and purpose for us. Here I want you to look at the words he uses. In v. 4 he says, “He chose us”, in v.5 , “He predestined us and adopted us to be his sons", and vv. 11 and 13, “he included us in Christ.” My dear friends, not only this particular verses in Ephesians, but the whole story of the Bible from creation, to the story of Adam, and to the story of Abraham, through the story of redemption from bondage, and through the story of nation of Israel, and the through the salvation to nations through Christ, the WORTHYLIFE 2


whole story shows us ONE thing, that is, the act of calling is from the God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The first chapter of Ephesians emphasizes this whole idea. But this divine initiative in our lives does not exempt the believers from responding to this God’s call. If you look closely, the story which I narrated from the beginning of the creation, you will notice God always expected his people’s response. God always expected something in return from us. Paul puts this expectation in great words in chapter 4 in Ephesians when he writes, “Therefore..... I urge you to live life worthy of the calling you have received.” As I read this, two questions come to my mind. First is: What is the calling we have received? And the second, How to live life worthy of it? Apostle Paul has given answers to both the questions in this epistle and elsewhere. Answer to the first question is at the beginning the book from verses 4 to13 which I just shared with you. To remind us once again, we are called by God, chosen, adopted as sons, predestined for his glory and kingdom, and included in Christ and drawn to him according to his purpose and will of God when we heard the word of truth, i.e. the gospel. Now for the second question, Paul answers it in the second part of the letter which begins from chapter 4: 1. My dear friends, What does it mean to live life worthy of the calling? If our calling is to be his sons and daughter, if we are his adopted children, if we are included in Christ how are we to live? In vv.1-16 Paul provides us with three important ways we can live worthy of the gospel. There are many references in other Paul’s letters and other new testament writings on how we should live according to the will of God. But, In the very little time we have today I want to focus on the passage that was read to us and explain to you three ways we can live according to our calling.   Maintaining Unity (vv.1-6) The first point Apostle Paul emphasizes here is the idea of unity. He begins the passage by saying, “I urge you” to live a life worthy of his calling. As we continue to read the passage three things become apparent from vv.1-6. Paul provides three different points which I think are very important. First, he points out that we need to keep the unity in v3. Second, how can we attain this unity? In v.2, Paul answers, we need “to be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another. And third, what is the basis for this unity? For this question Paul answers with a deep theological point which points out that the unity Christ expects is found in the unity of the trinity. We serve a God who is one in three person, the father, Son and the Holy spirit. My friends, Paul’s teaching of unity is so dynamic and different from all the other teaching about unity we find in the bible. We as God’s chosen people; as sons and daughter of God; as God children; as the people of the new covenant in Christ, we are called to maintain the unity. Paul starts from top to bottom. He doesn’t just mention that we should live in unity, rather he shows how the God who called us is united in one. He shows us that the same God who called us in the first place, is an example for the unity we all need to pursue. God the father of all is the ultimate source of all spiritual unity. Paul also provides seven oneness which forms the basis for us becoming one. He writes there is: one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one WORTHYLIFE 3


baptism, one God over all, through all and in all. Honestly I do not have enough time to explain each of these seven points of oneness. But Paul, by showing this example is asking us to do one thing, i.e. to make every effort to keep the unity. My dear friends, I don’t know why, but God is talking to us about unity again and again. Last time I preached I talked about unity. This time while I was preparing for my sermon I tried everything to not preach on the topic unity. But God did not allow me to do that. I think God is asking something very important through this. God put a burden in my heart to speak of this unity and urge us to be united. Friends I do not mean that we do not have unity. We all are united in Christ as ONE body through one sprit. But if you look closely, Paul is making a very crucial statement which is important for us to understand. He says, “Make every effort to Keep the unity.” He does not say, make every effort to be united, he says, “To keep the unity." I believe Paul here is urging us to keep the unity that we  have found in Christ. There is far more to attain in this unity. This unity we have is not sufficient. We need to pursue for greater unity. My dear friends, are we willing to make every effort to go beyond and search for the unity God wants in us? In v. 3 Paul points out that we can keep this unity by being completely humble, and gentle, patient, bearing with one another. My dear friends these virtues are the basic component for getting us together. These are virtues which will help us continue in this unity. Coming together or being united for one event or a program or for a while is easy, but maintaining that unity and continuing in that purpose we are united  is totally another thing and it requires a lot of effort. We need guidance and we need help. To keep our unity we have Holy spirit who will bind us with love and peace. My dear friends, this unity is key to revival. We all long for a revival in our midst. We wish and hope to do amazing things for God through VCBC and our fellowships and our ministries and missions, but dear friends, unity is the key to all this success. It is the key to revival. Many years ago, there was huge revival in Indonesia. It was a country with the most number of Muslim population in the world. But in the recent past it saw a great revival breaking forth from all quarters. Mr. Rochugna Pudaite was the delegate representing Indonesia in one of the Asian congress on Evangelism in Singapore. In one of the gatherings, some of the delegates asked Mr. Rochugna, what is the reason for the great spiritual awakening which is sweeping through his country. He replied: “When the new government was formed, most missionaries left the country fearing they might be killed. And the government was against all Christian activities. However, some of the Christians began to mix together and found they believed the same things and started to do things together. This gave them a new sense of unity. They began to work together and to pray together, ignoring organizations boundaries imposed on them. And all the barriers began to go away, and the Holy Spirit began to work among them. And remarkably, their lives were seen by many non believers and many of them attracted to Christ and the gospel. And a big revival broke out.” My dear friend, do we long for a revival? Are we expecting God to do mighty things among us and through us? Let us come together and continue in this unity. Let the world see the unity in us

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and the unity we have in Christ. Let us continue to be humble, gentle with one another, be patient with one another and bearing with one another. We will see a revival soon in our midst.   Live according to the measure of Christ’s gift to us (vv. 7-13) The second point which I believe Paul is stressing here in this passage to explain the way we can live a worthy life is by using the gifts God has given us, i.e. to live according to the measure of Christ’s gift to us. As we asked earlier, what does it mean to live life worthy of his calling? We hear Paul answer once again, that Chits gave each one of us gifts so that we may build the body of Christ. So let us use the Gift that Christ gave us for his glory and the purpose it was given to us.   Once again Paul pin points two elements which are central to our calling and our life. He is showing the divine element and the human element. The divine element shows us that it is Christ who gives us these gifts. In v. 7 he writes, grace has been given to us as Christ appointed it.” By this Paul is stressing that it is Christ who gives gift. Our calling and gifts does not come from our human ability, or our intellectual ability, or our talents, or our education, or our human endeavor but rather through the grace of Christ and according to the will and purpose of God. The human element is that we need to use those gifts until we attain those goals. What are the goals then? In v.13 Paul says, “Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the song of God and become mature, attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” In many churches today people come, listen to a preacher, and do little else. That is the reason someone in the past made a famous statement that, “The body of Christ seems to have one big mouth and many little ears!” my dear friends this is absolutely true with many with many churches. But this is not what Paul viewed in the church. It is true that some in the church have special responsibility to teach and preach, but Paul stresses that every Christian is responsible to build up the church. We all received grace for ministry and must live worthy of our calling. We all are expected to strengthen the church, and build one another up in the knowledge of the son of God. Kyle Snodgrass writes that, “Only when each person in the church fulfills his or her calling, the church is truly strong.” My dear friends, we want to become strong. We need to be strengthen as a congregation, as body of Christ in knowledge, unity, and mission, our witness and our ministry. If we want to attain this, each person must use his or her gift God has given. Most often in churches we forget that everyone has a gift and it is by God’s grace each of these gifts are given to us and we raises questions like who has the greatest gift? My dear friends, the spirit of God has left none of us without a gift. If we belong to God, he has given us a piece of work that we alone can do and we have his gift to make it possible for us to do it. We should not ask whose gift is greater and whose is smaller. In the early church when Paul was ministering, there were apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. First Corinthians 12:28 adds other gifts to the list and it is given to each believer. The parallel reference from 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 shows that a gift is the same thing as working or a service; a gift is just the way the spirit works through a person for the good of the community. Now the question for us this morning is how are we using the Gifts? As I said earlier many churches today have just “one big mouth and

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many little ears!” But we are so blessed to have a congregation which is committed to serving and using their gifts in every way. I am sure Pastor Jeff and the leaders would agree with me if I say that we have more people serving this year than last year. We have more new people who are serving and using their gifts for the edification of the church. There are more who are using their talents. There are more who continue to use their gifts which we don’t even recognize that they re serving yet they play a very important role in the growth of the church. My dear friends the question for us this morning is are you living a life according to the measure of Gift God has given you? Are you using the talents and gifts he has given you? If not God is talking to you this morning, will you not serve my body? Will you not serve your fellow believers? God is asking you, I gave you this particular gift to you to build up the church are you willing to serve others with it?   Growing in Christ in whom we are connected The third and final way we can live worthily of the calling is by growing in Christ each day. My dear friends, Living a worthy life means not being stagnant. God has called us his children and made us a new creation. But like any living creature we are little when we are first born. But as time goes by we are supposed to grow each day in Christ. The growth Paul here talks about is growing from an infant to an adulthood. In v. 14 Paul writes, “Let us no longer be infants” Paul is here mentioning that as born again Christians we are called to Grow each day in Christ. When Paul mentioned that we have to live a worthy life for the calling we have been called. He believed that every believers has to grow into spiritual maturity. One unknown author wrote, “Salvation is the miracle of the moment; growth is the labor of the life time.” My dear friend this is true that God gave us salvation by his unconditional love. But we are also called to grow each day in Christ. There are two things which stand out from these concluding verses of this paragraph. First, Paul here shows us how we should grow as body of Christ. In v. 15 he asserts that instead we “speak the truth in love.” A firm hold of truth is one of the marks of a person who is an adult in Christ. He is not turned aside from the truth, in what he believes, in what he speaks, or in what he does. The Greek word that Paul uses here in v. 15 does not just simply mean ‘speaking the truth,' rather it has the notion of ‘living the truth.' How does this living is expressed? It is expressed in the love they show towards others. Most of us hold the truth, and know the scripture and teach scripture and have immense knowledge of the word of God but they do not have love in their hearts. Let us remember that the greatest commandment of all is to love one another (John 13:34). We can grow up in our Christian life only if we grow in love for one another. Are we growing in love for one another today? Let us examine ourselves. Now another question arises. Is love just enough for us to grow? A closer study shows that in v.16 Paul provides one more conditions for the growth. Let me explain very briefly before I conclude. The first condition is that the church or the individual must be connected to Christ. Verse 15-16 says, “It is He who is the head, Christ, from whom this growth flows.” All the efforts, dedication, talents, gifts, planning, and spending will be in vain and worthless without Christ. My dear friend, Christ is the centre and source of our growth. Paul

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here uses the analogy of the head and the body. If the head is not connected to the body, the body is useless and it would be dead. Likewise we need to be connected to Christ who is the head of the church. Now the question for us is are you connected to the head? Are you connected to Christ? Are you plugged into Christ. Conclusion As I conclude I am reminded of a statement of a story I read in a book. Once a man named John went to see his friends who were a proud and happy parents who welcomed their first baby girl few days ago. She was a beautiful baby, her face for literally shinning and the father giving the baby to John asked, isn’t she perfect? John replied, she certainly seem to be perfect. Immediately thoughts went through his mind. He said to himself, but suppose that, in two years, if the baby is still the same, what if the baby never grow up? Will she still be prefect? As in the case of the baby stagnation is the tragic evidence of some basic imperfection. My dear friends this is the same analogy Paul uses to express the idea of growth in our spiritual life. If you do not grow in your spiritual life, there is something wrong with your Christian life. There is something wrong. One day, Caleb, our paper boy came to me and asked, “Can you measure my height today? He was tall and good looking guy. We always talked about his height every time we met. So every time we talked about his height we measured him against the wall. My dear friends measurements can be indicators of our growth. And it is a good idea to measure our spiritual growth. For example: Do I spend time reading God’s Word and talking with Him each day? Do I look forward to fellowshipping with the Lord? What “fruit of the Spirit” is apparent in my life? Do I talk about Jesus with people who don’t know Him? How am I using my spiritual gift or gifts? Do I have a generous and giving spirit? How much better do I know God today than I did a year ago? Do I show love to others around me? Am I more patient with others more?   These are good indicators of our growth. Now my question for you this morning is, What is your measurement today?

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Worthy Life