Exposition of Ephesians (04): Vocation, Unity, and Gifts

Date: 8/5/2018
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Type: Sunday Sermon
Organization: All Saints
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Our Vocation: Responding in Patient Love (4:1-2, GS. trans. 4:1-16) - Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, exhort you to lead a life worthy of the vocation to which you were called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, enduring difficulties with one another in love, —- Appealing once again to Paul’s status as a prisoner “of the Lord” on account of the Ephesians and all Gentiles (Acts 21:19ff), he urges/implores/exhorts/strengthens (parakaleo) them to live in light of this marvelous vocation which has been expounded in chs. 1-3: blessed, adopted, predestined, raised up, seated with him, saved, heirs of the promise, fellow partakers in Christ, etc. Paul begins with four fruits of this calling to a godly walk/life which must be evident in our lives: humility, gentleness/meekness, patience, and endurance with others.

A Beat Poem by GS:
Love sees another and keeps a brother; Love looks at someone else and not at self; Love changes diapers and changes the wipers; Love cooks dinner and its a winner; Love sweeps the floor and under the door; Love doesn’t brood and boil, it changes the oil. Love doesn’t leave the dishes dirty but puts the clothes in the whirly; Love glistens with details of a day and listens without delay; Love heads to the garage and mows the yard; Love comes to bed at the right time so that both sleep fine; Love checks in, especially if you’re teen; Love on the micro don’t get hung up, but forgets the lack of ketchup; Love on money don’t slumber but studies the numbers; Love keeps it moving along and says “I was wrong”; Love hears those who do not speak and touches the meek; Love, your room will clean if you are a teen; Love complements and does not resent; Love doesn’t have all the answers when a friend has cancer; Love just says I love you and God makes all things new; Love loves to live and so forgives. Loving others, love goes to town and so loving others, love lays it down.

Our Unity: Recognizing the Objectivity of our Oneness (4:3-6) - 3 laboring to guard the unity of the Spirit in the peace that binds you together. 4 There is one Body and one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your vocation from God: 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and within all.  —- The previous two chapters provide the salvific, covenantal, and cosmic dimensions of God’s plan in Jesus for the unity of the new humanity, the Church. Now Paul lists the objective basis for this unity in creedal, baptismal formula (McDonald, Sacra). They are as follows: the unity of the Spirit’s covenantal bond, one Body, one Spirit, one hope of calling, one Lord Jesus, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father. Each of these truths alone provide for a fundamental unity, but taken all together they provide an unassailable basis for unity in the Church.

Our Gifting: Realizing the Purpose of the Gifts (4:7-16) - 7 Yet to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN” (Psalm 68:18) — 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 none other than He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things — 11 And He gave gifts of the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers 12 for the training of the saints for the work of ministry, to the building up of the Body of Christ; 13 until we all arrive at the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, becoming a mature humanity, full-grown in manhood, which belongs to the fullness of the King. 14 In order that we are no longer to be children, tossed by the sea, blown about by every wind of doctrine, by the deception of men, by cunning erroneous schemes; 15 but telling the truth in love, we are to grow up into union with Him who is our Head, even the King, 16 from whom the whole Body, bound and held together by every joint with which it is strengthened, with each part working properly, creating (anew) the Body to grow so that it builds itself up in love. —- The final section of this passage provides for individual expression among the many words of unity. This faith is not uniformity, but unity of relationship and individual diversity of gifts and ministries. Not every person in the Body has the same gift of service/ministry (diaconia). Paul grounds this expression of gifting and office in the triumphant work of Jesus. The image is drawn from a victorious battle as expressed in Psalm 68. The warrior has gone forth to ascend the hill of victory bringing not only the spoils of war, but “captivity captive.”

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more