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Sermon #49 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: Walking with God
Text: Ephesians 4:1-32
Subject: The Believer’s New Life in Christ
Date: Tuesday Evening — October 18, 2016
Readings: David Burge and Larry Brown
I want to talk to you about — Walking with God. That’s the title of my message — Walking with God. Our text will be the 4th chapter of Ephesians. — Walking with God (Ephesians 4:1-32). Just hold your Bibles open on your laps and follow along.
In chapters 1-3 Paul has set before us the doctrine of the Gospel, reminding us of all that the Lord our God, the Triune Jehovah (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) has done for us in Christ.
Š God’s Purpose of Grace (1:1-6)
Š Christ’s Accomplished Redemption (1:7-12)
Š Regeneration by God the Holy Ghost (1:13-23)
Š New Life in Christ — Blessed Reconciliation (2:1-22)
Š The Mystery of the Church (3:1-12)
Š The Unbounded Love of God (3:13-19)
Š The Glory of Christ (3:20-21)
Upon the basis of all the boundless, free grace of God heaped upon such sinners as we are in Christ Jesus, the Apostle calls upon us to walk with God, to live like sinners saved by grace, to live like believers.
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (v. 1). Understanding who we are, what we are by nature, what God has done for us by his grace, and what we are in Christ, saved sinners want to honor God in all things. Old John Trapp said…
“Every believer is God’s firstborn; and so higher than the kings of the earth (Psalm 89:27). He must therefore carry himself accordingly, and not stain his high blood.”
Walk with God. Live for Christ. Live for the glory of God in this world. That is our responsibility (Romans 12:1-2). Let me walk worthy of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus! Spirit of God, give us grace to devote ourselves to our God as God is devoted to us! Give us grace to walk with God!
The Character of the Walk
But, how? How can a man walk with God? How can I honor God in my life? Read verse 2. — “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.”
Š We walk with God by faith in Christ.
Š We please God by faith in Christ (Hebrews 11:1-6).
Š We find acceptance with God only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Proposition: Being saved by the grace of God, being redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, let us ever adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things (Titus 2:7-10).
As we live by faith, we honor God, we adorn the doctrine of God our Savior by serving, ministering to, and helping his people. The Spirit of God tells us plainly the character of a walk that is worthy of our calling. Here it is — “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.”
Š “With all Lowliness of Mind” — In the exercise of humility, having the best thoughts of others and the lowest thoughts of ourselves. — In not envying the gifts and graces of others but rejoicing in them. — Always take the lowest place. — Never seek honor, but always turn honor away from yourself to another.
Š “With Longsuffering” — Bearing patiently the faults and infirmities of others, not being easily provoked to anger, not being offended by slight or misunderstanding (Galatians 6:1-2).
Š “Forbearing One Another in Love” — Making whatever allowances are necessary because you love one another (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; 1 Peter 4:8). — “Love is the bond of perfectness” (Colossians 3:14).
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7) “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, (5) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; (6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; (7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
(1 Peter 4:8) “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”
How can anyone be expected to live like that? What can motivate such self-denying traits? How can men and women be expected to live like this? Read on ——
Something More Important
1st — Paul tells me, in verses 3-7, that there is something bigger and more important than me. This is a hard lesson to learn, but learn it we must, if we would live for Christ. — There is something bigger and more important than me. — That something is the Church of God.
(Ephesians 4:3-7) “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4) There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (5) One Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (7) But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.:
There is a wondrous, spiritual union between Christ and his people and between believers, a union produced by God the Holy Spirit. We are united in faith, love, and purpose as one body. My responsibility is to do all within my power to protect and preserve that unity, even to surrendering my rights and opinions (Psalm 133:1; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3).
(Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
(1 Corinthians 3:1-3) “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. (2) I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (3) For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”
1. “There is one body,” — the Church. The Church of God is one, undivided body. There are many congregations, many local churches, but the Church of God is one Church. Christ is the Head of the body, and we are members of that one body, the Church and Family of God, of which Christ is the Head and we are all brothers and sisters in him (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18).
2. “There is one Spirit,” — God the Holy Spirit, who enlightens, quickens, makes alive, and incorporates us all in the body of Christ, making us members one of another.
3. “There is one hope of your calling,” — that is, the glory hoped for, which is reserved for us in heaven. There are no degrees in this glory. It will be equally possessed by all. God’s saints are all loved with the same love, chosen in the same Head, redeemed by the same blood, born again by the same Spirit, saved by the same grace, and secured in the same covenant. And all shall be rewarded for the same obedience. — Christ’s obedience!
4. “There is one Lord,” — the Lord Jesus Christ, who is Lord by right of creation (Colossians 1:16-17), Lord by the Father’s decree (Acts 2:36), and Lord by the merit of his obedience unto death as our God-man Mediator (Romans 14:9; Philippians 2:9-11).
5. “There is one faith.” — There is but one true grace of faith. It may be little faith, much faith, or great faith; but its Author and Object are the same in all — the Lord Jesus Christ, his person and his work (John 3:36). — And there is but one doctrine of faith — The Gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ!
6. “There is one baptism.” — There is one Gospel ordinance of baptism, water baptism. It is administered in one way — by immersion. It is the immersion of believers in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19; Acts 8:36-39).
7. “There is one God.” — There is one eternal, infinite, omnipotent God of heaven and earth, who is the Father of all believers in Christ and who is sovereign over all, taking care of us all and dwelling in us all.
Paul is telling us (in verses 4-6) that, as believers, we have all these things in common — one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, who is our Father. Therefore, we must and will be one family joined together in love stronger than anything this world can know. — Let us cherish this blessed union and do nothing to disturb it!
In verse 7 he tells us that God’s grace was given to us individually — grace to know Christ, to walk with Christ, and to serve the glory of Christ. He gives grace and gifts as he will and to whom he will. There is no room for pride, envy, or contempt (Proverbs 6:16-19; 1 Corinthians 4:7).
(Proverbs 6:16-19) “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: (17) A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (18) An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, (19) A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
(1 Corinthians 4:7) “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
The Reason for Pastors
2nd — In verses 8-16 the Apostle shows us the reason the Lord Jesus gave his Church the established ministry of God called, God ordained, God gifted, God sent Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Pastors. — He gave pastors to his Church specifically to promote this blessed unity of souls in the bond of peace with Christ and one another. — We see this by the opening word of verse 8 — “Wherefore!” — For the sake of this unity, he gave…
(Ephesians 4:8-16) “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (9) (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? (10) He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) (11) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (15) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (16) From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
In verse 8, Paul quotes Psalm 68:18, describing our Lord’s ascension to heaven from the Mount of Olives in the sight of the Apostles (Acts 1:9-11). In his ascension, the Lord Jesus fulfilled the type of the High Priest entering into the holiest to make intercession for his people, to prepare a place for them and to send down the Holy Spirit with his grace and gifts to them.
“He led captivity captive.” — He led a train of vanquished foes. He conquered those who had conquered us: sin, Satan, and death. Christ conquered and triumphed over Satan and every spiritual enemy of our souls.
“And gave gifts to men” — the gift of the Spirit to his Church, and men gifted for the work of the ministry. And it is God (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) who (by the grace and power of his Spirit) makes those men useful for God’s glory and the good of the Church (Romans 12:5-8).
(Ephesians 4:9-10) “(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? (10) He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)”
Verses 9 and 10 simply tell us that Christ could not have ascended up to heaven if he did not first descend from heaven (John 3:13). He came down from heaven to do his Father’s will (Daniel 9:24; Matthew 1:21). He went back to heaven because he had done it (John 16:7-11).
The phrase, “the lower parts of the earth,” does not refer to hell (as papists and dispensationalists say), but rather refers to the whole of his humiliation, beginning with his mother’s womb. — “The Word was made flesh!”
“That he might fulfill all things” that were written, prophesied, and typified of him in the Old Testament Scriptures. All that he did, is doing, and will do is according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Luke 24:27).
“He gave some, Apostles” — The Lord Jesus Christ himself appointed and gave men gifts that qualified chosen men to be his Apostles. This was the first and chief office in the Church. They were called by Christ, had their doctrine directly from him, and had power to work miracles to confirm their doctrine (Hebrews 2:3-4). — This office is now ceased.
“And some, Prophets” — extraordinary preachers, exceptionally gifted men of God in the early church who had a particular gift to interpret Scripture (especially the prophecies of the Old Testament) and of foretelling things to come, such as Agabus (Acts 11:27-30; 21:10-13).
“And some, Evangelists” — preachers of the Gospel who were traveling missionaries, sent from place to place to establish local churches and to assist struggling churches and pastors.
“And some, Pastors and Teachers” — Pastors/Teachers are men appointed of God to preach the Gospel, teaching the Scriptures, Shepherds who guide the flock of the Scriptures, Rulers who rule the house of God by the Word of God, leading God’s people in the way of the faith.
The reason Christ gave his Church these men, the reason he gives pastors to his Church, is for “the perfecting of the saints,” for the spiritual growth and maturity of God’s children.
“For the work of the ministry,” — to preach the Gospel to the lost (2 Timothy 2:10), to oversee the Church (1 Peter 5:1-4), to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5), and to teach the things of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).
“For the edifying of the body of Christ.” — to strengthen, build up, and give comfort and assurance to the people of God.
The Lord Jesus gave his Church these men to pray, preach, and teach until all the elect come to saving faith and are perfectly united in Christ. Blessed be his name, our God will continue to supply his Church with faithful, gifted pastors throughout the ages of time, until all Christ’s redeemed ones are united to him in the perfection of life eternal in the heavenly glory, teaching believers to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (vv. 13-16).
(Ephesians 4:13-16) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (15) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (16) From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
God’s servants will be found in this world, faithfully preaching the Gospel, until all of the elect come to a spiritual knowledge of Christ, behold his glory, and trust in him.
Remember, Paul is urging us to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” And he tells us plainly that our unity in the Spirit and our peace as a Church family is directly and inseparably connected with this blessed gift of Christ to his Church (1 Thessalonians 5:11-13).
(1 Thessalonians 5:11-13) “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. (12) And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; (13) And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”
The Walk of Godliness
In verses 17-32 the Apostle shows us how we are to behave in this world. He here specifically tells us some things that are involved in true godliness, things that are inseparable from a life of faith in Christ, things by which we are to honor God our Savior. — This is the walk of godliness.
Child of God, ever be aware of the horrid lust of your own flesh, and guard against it, seeking the grace of God not to behave like those who do not know God.
(Ephesians 4:17-19) “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, (18) Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: (19) Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
God’s saving grace which we have experienced, and the Gospel of the grace of God which we hold dear, teach us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present, evil world.
(Ephesians 4:20-24) “But ye have not so learned Christ; (21) If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: (22) That ye (have) put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (23) And be (have been) renewed in the spirit of your mind; (24) And that ye (have) put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Since this is what we have experienced and this is what we profess, let us so live for the glory of God.
(Ephesians 4:25-29) “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. (26) Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (27) Neither give place to the devil. (28) Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (29) Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, —— but that which is good —— to the use of edifying, —— that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.
(Ephesians 4:30-32) “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. —— (31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: —— (32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
C. H. Spurgeon said…
“God for Christ's sake hath forgiven thee. Get hold of that grand truth, and hold it, though all the devils in hell roar at thee. Grasp it as with a hand of steel; grip it as for life: ‘God for Christ's sake hath forgiven me,’ — may each one of us be able to say that. We shall not feel the Divine sweetness and force of the text unless we can make a personal matter of it by the Holy Ghost.”
When I think of the amazing forgiveness of my sin by my God, I blush with shame at my hesitancy to forgive others, my lack of forgiveness, and my terrible, terrible cherishing of hardness toward those who wrong me. — O my God, teach me the blessedness of forgiveness — the forgiveness of others, for Christ’s sake!