- Sermon Notes
Living Worthy of the Calling
Can a person be changed? Or are you stuck with the personality you were born with; a personality pre-determined by the DNA you inherited? The answer is that a person absolutely can be changed; that’s the power of the gospel.
Paul wrote earlier in this book that we were by nature children of wrath like the rest of the world. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ. That’s the good news of the gospel.
He made us alive together with Christ means that we have been given the resurrected life. We are no longer children of wrath, destined for eternal death, we’ve been given life, eternal life; now we have a future that includes eternity.
But what about that personality we were born with? What bearing does eternal life have on the life that we live right now? The answer is that it has everything to do with it. When we received the gift of eternal life, we also received the gift of God’s life in us, the Holy Spirit. God’s heart is to transform us.
God doesn’t just want us to have eternal life, He wants us to have the blessing of having our character and our heart transformed from the messed up life we once lived. He wants us to live our lives worthy of the calling we received.
But we also need to recognize the value of that calling so we truly want to be transformed. Some people look at who they are and say, “Look, this is just who I am, okay?” This is supposed to excuse certain behaviors. Actually, that’s who they were, or are, but the question now is who they will become?
Some people are under the false assumption that who they are is somehow locked into their genetic code and they have no choice but to live out the disposition given to them. That’s true of alligators, crocodiles, and hyenas, but that’s not true of us. You were made in the image of God and God is able to transform your character and your heart.
When we come to Ephesians 4 there is a major shift. In the first three chapters Paul wrote about the “unfathomable riches in Christ.” Then, beginning in chapter 4, Paul writes that we should live our lives in light of the riches we have in Christ. In other words, our lives should reflect the value of those unfathomable riches we have inherited in Christ.
I. Walk in a Manner that is Worthy
- Verse 1 - “Therefore…” Paul wrote. I’ve heard many pastors say, “When you see the word ‘therefore’ you should ask what it’s there for.” I’m not hip enough to say that, but it’s a good point.
- Here’s what Paul is saying; when you consider the unfathomable riches you have in Christ, when you open the eyes of your heart to know the riches of your inheritance and the surpassing greatness of His power toward us, you should therefore live in response to the value of those riches in Christ.
- Notice that the transformation in how a person lives comes as a response to all they receive in Christ. This is counterintuitive to the way many people think about their relationship to God.
- Many people believe they have to get God to respond to them. They give because they want God to bless them; no, we give out of the first fruits of what God is given to us. They go to church and worship in the hope that God will be impressed; no, we worship and give God our heart because of the greatness of love He has already given to us.
- This has everything to do with how a person is transformed; how character is changed. In order for a person to change, they have to change the content of their character and their heart.
Illus – My first experience at wrestling was in eighth grade and one of my first matches became a lesson in character. My friend’s dad added something to the content of my character that has stayed with me all my life.
- Notice Paul’s prayer in Chapter 3 - if you are strengthened in the inner man by the Holy Spirit, if you are rooted and grounded in love, if you are
able to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge and filled up to all the
fullness of God – then the unfathomable riches of Christ are being added to the content of your character.
Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good… for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
- Verse 1 - Walk in a manner that is worthy of the calling with which you have been called.
- That word ‘calling’ is important, it means, ‘to be invited,’ or, ‘to call out to someone to bring them to you,’ or ‘invited for a purpose.’
- You’ve been given an invitation from the King. God sent His Son with an invitation, a calling, an opportunity to receive the unfathomable riches of
Matthew 9:13, “Go and learn what this means; ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ I did not come to call the righteous, I have come to call sinners.”
- But Paul is also asking us to recognize the worth, or the value, of the calling with which we have been called.
- First of all, it’s an invitation from the King, that itself is amazing; and it’s an invitation to something you can’t afford.
Isaiah 55:1-3 “You who have no money, come, buy and eat.”
- Secondly, it’s an invitation, a calling, to receive something of great value, the unfathomable riches in Christ. In other words, understanding the
value, the worth, of what God is doing is the key to making it a priority in your life.
Illus – My wife met with Joyce Mehl and one of the things she said was that she and Pastor Ron had never had a fight because both of them valued their relationship more than being right.
Matthew 6:21, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
- Many people struggle understanding the true value of things. They overvalue the things in the world and they undervalue the riches that are in Christ.
- Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, Paul wrote.
- In other words, live according to the unfathomable spiritual riches you have received in Christ.
Illus - People have a lifestyle consistent with their worth. Paul Allen is worth billions and lives according to it. For example, He owns the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team. I, on the other hand, am too cheap to even buy a ticket to the game.
- There is temporal, or earthly value and then there is spiritual or heavenly value and is a great difference.
Ephesians 1:3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:18, We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Colossians 3:2-3, Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
- If you value what God is doing in your life, if you are experiencing the love of Christ and being filled up to all the fullness of God, then, Paul writes, then live according to its value.
- What does that look like practically? Paul gets very specific in the following verses.
- Verse 7 - To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
- There are certain aspects of grace that God gives to all believers; forgiveness of sin, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the adoption as sons and daughters, being strengthened with power in the inner man.
- But there are other aspects of grace that are given to each one individually according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
- The reason God gives a different aspect of grace to each one of us is so the body of Christ may be built up until we all attain to the unity of the faith and to the measure of maturity that belongs to the fullness of Christ.
- This is part of walking in a manner that’s worthy of your calling. Notice that when you walk according to the value of the unfathomable riches of Christ, it has a direct bearing on your relationship to others.
- Verse 2 - Walk in a manner worthy of your calling; with all humility and gentleness, with patience…
A. Be the calm in the midst of the storm
- Verse 3 - being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- In other words, division, strife, bickering, and arguing is not of God. Patience, gentleness and kindness are fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Illus - One of the ways we see that in the church today is that pastors now pray for each other and churches come together to worship and serve the community in unity and agreement. The upcoming worship and prayer event as an example. And pastors regularly gather here to pray for each other.
- If you value what God is doing in your life, then you will also value what God wants to do in others.
Romans 14:19, Let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
Romans 12:17-17, Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
- I’m glad Paul wrote ‘if possible’ because, frankly, some people are simply impossible. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse either; it really means, if possible, be at peace with all men.
- He also wrote, “as far as it depends on you,” it means you shouldn’t wait for the other person, be sure you’ve done all you can do to bring peace.
- When you have peace in your own heart and are strengthened in the inner man, filled up to all the fullness of God and experiencing the love of Christ, you can be the one who is calm and speaking peace.
- Verse 13 - God gives gifts for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith… To the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
- God’s purpose is for the church to be built up, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of Christ.
- In other words, God gives a measurement for our faith. We need to set our lives, our faith, next to the stature of the fullness of Christ so that we can change what isn’t true, what isn’t mature.
Amos 7:8, Then the Lord said, “Behold I’m about to put a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel.”
- The problem with that analogy, however, is that it’s discouraging for many people. When they compare their lives to the maturity of Christ, it only reveals how much they don’t measure up.
- It’s like stepping on the scales in early January after all the holiday pies and cookies you had.
Illus – That reminds me of a woman who stepped on the scales and was looking at one of those height and weight charts. Her husband noticed the puzzled look on her face…
- It’s true that when we consider the fullness of the stature of Christ and then measure our faith, our faith is too small.
- But we really see the heart of God in these verses; not to remind you of your failure, that’s what the enemy does, he is the accuser of the brethren; no, God gives grace for the building up of the body of Christ.
- Speaking the truth… in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ
- God speaks the truth to us because it’s the truth that will set us free, but you can be sure that God always speaks the truth… in love.
Ephesians 4:1-16 NASB
1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.
8 Therefore it says,
"When He ascended on high,
He led captive a host of captives,
And He gave gifts to men."
9 (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.