18 February 2008

Verse by verse through Ephesians (4:1-4:6)

Ephesians 4:1-6

1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as 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 above all, and through all, and in you all.

Therefore. Since God strengthens the inner man, and Christ dwells in our hearts, and if we may indeed comprehend the love of Christ, “therefore,” let us walk worthy of the calling with which we were called. If these things are true of us, then let our lives reflect this change. And what does this new life look like? Our wants, our desires, and our will are going to be vastly different. We will not be seeking to fill our lives with the things this wicked world says we should. Not only will we be changed on the outside, but our outward man will change as well. As Jesus said, “Those things that proceed from the mouth come from the heart” (Matthew 15:18). And it is that which proceeds from the mouth that defiles a man.

If our heart is changed, then our walk should reflect it. and if it doesn’t, then we must either (a) question whether a change has truly taken place on the inside, or (b) ask God to point out those things that we need to ask Him to change, and repent of those things. We are commanded here to let our outward actions show the world the results of the change to—and strengthening of—the inner man.

…with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Lowliness. Humility. This was a term that was unheard of in either the Greek or the Roman cultures. The word “humility,” according to MacArthur, did not exist in either of their vocabularies. It may be possible that Paul had to invent the word. “The Greek word apparently was coined by Christians, perhaps even by Paul himself, to describe a quality for which no other word was available.” (The MacArthur Study Bible, notes on Eph. 4:2). Tapeinofrosunhs (Tapeinofrosunhs). It means, “Lowliness of heart, having a humble opinion of one’s self.” It comes from tapeinos (tapeinos), “of low degree,” and phren (phren), “diaphragm, parts of the heart; of the mind.” In the gospels, Jesus commands us to “tapeinow (tapeinow—humble) ourselves.” From this second word (phren) we get the name of the nerve that stimulates the diaphragm (the phrenic nerve), and also the term “schizophrenic,” which means “divided mind.”

Tapeinofrosunhs was not a quality which was celebrated by either the Greek or Roman cultures of Paul’s day. In the middle of these cultures which were known for their military prowess and humanistic teaching, they had no word to describe someone who persevered through trials and hardship by admitting their powerlessness over the situation. And they would never consider giving place to another. After all, the goal of both of these cultures was to better their life here on earth—not that this was encouraged as a way to help others, but rather for the State first, and the individual second. If somebody needed something, let them beg of the gods.

But we are to be of a humble mind. We are to have a mind that thinks more highly of others than we do of ourselves. A mind that puts others before ourselves. A mind that says, “If I have two of something and another person doesn’t have any, then I will give one of mine to that person.” Funny thing is, not only was this mindset foreign to the Greeks and Romans of Paul’s day, it is pretty foreign to most Americans today. We are told that if we have one of something, and somebody else has two, then we need to have three.

Gentleness. Better, “meekness.” The world today doesn’t have a clue about what the word “meek” means. They think it means that you are a doormat, and that you let people walk all over you without saying anything, and if someone tells you to jump, you jump. “Meekness,” however, does not mean “to be weak.” It means that while one has the ability to do something harmful to another, they restrain themselves from doing so. Webster’s defines it in various ways. “Mild of temper; soft; gentle; not easily provoked or irritated; yielding; given to forbearance under injuries; humble, in an evangelical sense; submissive to the divine will; not proud, self-sufficient…not peevish and apt to complain of divine dispensations.”

When Peter exhorts us to always be ready to defend the hope that is within us (1st Peter 3:15), we are to do it with meekness and fear. Paul tells us to follow after meekness (1st Timothy 6:11). "The meek...shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). The fruit of the Spirit is...meekness (Galatians 5:23). We are never told to be proud or boastful of the calling (or, invitation) with which God called us. Because we did not deserve it. After all, if we deserved it, that means we earned it. And if we earned it, that means salvation is of works. And we know that we are not saved by our works (Ephesians 2:8). It is only by His grace we are saved. And if it is by grace, it is not of works (Romans 11:6). Since it is not of works, it is by grace. And since it is by grace, we did not earn it. Since we did not earn it we did not deserve it. Since we did not deserve it, we have no room to boast (Ephesians 2:9). Therefore, when we consider this great faith by which we are saved, let us do so in all humility, and in all meekness.

…with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love… Longsuffering. Patience. A precious commodity indeed. So many times when we are sharing the truth with someone, we want that seed to take hold straightway. We don’t often realize that when we plant that seed, it may take years to bear fruit. Paul planted many seeds. Did they always sprout up immediately? No. Apollos watered many of those seeds. And even he did not see some of these come to fruition. And if he did, was it because of him that they did? Absolutely not. For it is God who gives the increase (1st Corinthians 3:6). Betty Chamberlain planted a seed in my little 9-year-old heart. 24 years later, in 2001, it finally bore fruit.

The Greek is macrothumoV (macrothumos). “Macros,” meaning “long lasting.” “Thumos,” meaning “passion, angry, heat, anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again.” This is quite different than orgizo (orgizo), which means “anger.” “Macrothumos” points to a more deeply burning desire and passion, one that is boiling and churning within us. We are told here to keep that fire within us, do not let it explode out of us, but use it to motivate us to continue faithfully in our calling to see that whether by life or by death that Christ is glorified in our bodies (Philippians 1:20). We are to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). We are to be patient with others, knowing that we ourselves are not perfect.

…endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit… Unity. It is the rallying cry of the Emergent Movement, the Purpose-Driven Movement, the Prosperity Movement, and every other “movement” that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2nd Corinthians 10:4-6).
  • Whenever anyone comes into an assembly, bringing with them some heresy they have learned, we are not to tell them they are wrong—for the sake of “unity.”
  • When a brother or sister is walking in sin, we are not to judge them and tell them they are sinning—for the sake of “unity.”
  • When someone so twists the Scriptures they are rendered unrecognizable, we are to understand that “That’s what it’s saying to them”—for the sake of “unity.”
What a twisted, distorted, and flat-out WRONG sense of the word “unity.” When one comes in with an “interpretation” that flies in the face of God, and brings Him down to our own level, and makes His word subservient to our whims and human desires—as Paul said, “Was Christ divided?” (1st Corinthians 1:13). The only “unity” we should be striving for in the church is the “unity of the Spirit.”

…in the bond of peace. Bond—that which binds together. If we are the body of Christ (and we are), then there is one uniting principle that makes us one. The peace of God, which passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Now, this is not the world’s idea of peace, where we all “just get along,” and we don’t concern ourselves with what others believe, and we just go with the flow, and let every heresy and blasphemy just wander blissfully into our assembly. We keep the unity of the Spirit—for the true church is united by one Spirit (capital “S”), while those who are deceived are united by one spirit (small “s”). That while we may differ on some issues which are not essential to our salvation, we are also united on the things which are needful for the salvation of souls.

Notice, the true church is united by the Holy Spirit. This means that when a foreign infection tries to enter the Body, we are to be united in fighting it off. In our own immune systems, heparins and histamines and prostaglandins all work together, each with their own purpose, to rid the body of infection. We are to be as united—person with person—in ridding infections from the body of Christ when certain elements try to sneak in as wolves to destroy the sheep. Acts 20:28-30Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.

So, when the wolves rise up from among us, should we simply let them ravage the flock of the Good Shepherd? How will He reward such cowardice when the Day declares it? Will He say, “I am so glad you kept the unity among your little group, even though they destroyed my flock and blasphemed My name.” Or will He beat those with many stripes for allowing such heresies to arise amidst His flock? I am confident that I can ask this rhetorically, for I think we all know the answer. When wolves arise among us, we should all band together, in unity and in peace, and drive them from the flock—boldly, and with all prejudice—lest the whole body be deceived.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. One. Paul uses this number seven times in these two verses:
  • There is one body—the church
  • There is one Spirit—the Holy Spirit
  • There is one hope—your calling
One Lord. One Kurios (Kurios). Many people are divided over the issue of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They wonder if we need to call Him “Lord” in order to be saved. I could say that is a most ridiculous and stupid and idiotic thing to even consider—but I won’t. Of course you must consider Jesus to be Lord of all in order to be saved—because that is who He is!! Are you going to say that Paul is a liar? Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord… (Philippians 2:11). If Jesus is not Lord, then what is He? If you don’t want to call Him “Lord” now, you will someday. But on that day, it will be too late for you.

So, just what is the impact of calling Christ “Lord”? Well, Kurios means “he to whom a person or thing belongs; the possessor and disposer of a thing; the owner; one who has control of the person, the master; a title of honour expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants greet their master.” He to whom you belong. 1st Corinthians 6:20For you were bought at a price. The owner. One who has control of the person. A title…with which servants greet their master. “Many will say to Me that Day, ‘Lord! Lord!’” (Matthew 7:22). They will finally give Him the respect He deserves by calling Him “Lord.” But it will not be sufficient for their salvation. Better to call Him “Lord” now and be saved, then live with a faulty hope that you will have a chance after you die, or after He returns (whichever comes first).

One faith. The word mia (mia) is the dative case of eis (eis). The dative case is read to include a preposition such as "to" or "for." So, what Paul's saying here is this: Christ is the only Lord to one faith. There is no faith that can claim Him as Lord other than the one that is united with Him. The Buddhists believe He is one of many "gods." Mormons believe He is one of many "Gods." But only the faith that worships Almighty God--in spirit, and in truth--can claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and their Savior. All others are false religions, false faiths, all following a false Christ in a flase gospel. In 1st Corinthians 8:5 he tells us there are lords many and gods many. And these are the ones the world worships. But for us there is one God, the Father…and one Lord, Jesus Christ. Time does not permit me here to go into the treatment that verse deserves, but it is not saying that Jesus Christ is not God. What he is saying is that we worship one God—singular. And in Him alone we share in the only true faith. Any other faith you may find in anyone else is not faith. It is death.

One baptism. Allow me to say this right here: anybody who says that you have to be “baptized by the Holy Spirit as evidenced by speaking in tongues” in order to be saved is a heretic! We are not saved by having some Holy Spasm and spewing a bunch of gibberish! Don’t believe it! There is one baptism, with which we are all baptized. Remember a few moments ago we saw that there is “one Spirit?” What does that Spirit do? For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1st Corinthians 12:13). And have they forgotten that the Holy Spirit dwells within every believer (1st Corinthians 6:19)? Therefore, what need do we have of some secondary “baptism of the Holy Spirit?” These people cannot show, from a clear reading of the Scriptures, that we need to be “baptized in the Holy Spirit” to be more than “nominal Christians.”

…one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Here is a statement the world despises: that God is sovereign over all of creation. He is above all things, all things are beneath Him, the whole world is subject to His rule. And we, the bride of His precious Son, are to see Him as the one God and Father to whom we devote our lives and all of our worship. For He is above all.

…and through all… Better, “and it is through Him that all things work.” Nothing happens without God knowing about it. He either causes it to happen, or He allows it to happen. There is no creature that is hidden from His sight (Hebrews 4:13; Matthew 10:29). And He is the dispenser of the good and perfect gifts (1st Corinthians 4:7; James 1:17). He is the one who is in complete control of the universe, even when we think that we are in control of our own lives.
…and in you all. Some translations say, “in us all.” I do not believe there is a serious student of God’s word who would take a bullet for either rendering. They only differ by a letter in the Greek (hmin [hmin, us] versus umin [umin, you]). God is in us all. And does this statement not bring to light the truth of the Orthodox Trinity? Consider:
  • God the Father is “in us all” (Ephesians 4:6)
  • The Holy Spirit dwells within us (1st Corinthians 6:19)
  • Jesus Christ in us is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).
Now, do we have three separate entities living within us? No. We have one God, who is the Father, and who is the Son, and who is the Holy Spirit, dwelling within us. The Father is in us, He is the Head of all, reconciling the world to Himself (2nd Corinthians 5:18). Christ is in us, reconciling us to the Father (Colossians 1:21). Our life is hid in God with Christ (Colossians 3:3). The Holy Spirit is in us, convicting us of sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). This Holy Spirit has sealed us to God until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30), and will complete the work of sanctification until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).

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