Journal Eph 4 (all references are from the ESV unless noted otherwise; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: (Paul speaking) I therefore…urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…
And he gave [Gifts of Men] to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God; to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, SO THAT we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine…
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him (who is the Head, into Christ)… Excerpted from Eph 4:1-16
Observation: Reading from the 1st chapter of Ephesians until now, Paul has objectives to give:
- Walk in a manner worthy of Christ and,
- Grow up in every way into Jesus…
Everything following in these verses in Chapter 4 is the “how” to the “do”…
Analysis: For those reading that are not taking the occasion to write out these verses for your own journal, you are missing a boatload of opportunity learning about the testimonies of God through the Scriptures.
Take, for instance, these stated objectives for Christians. What are they? When I root out the sentence imperatives from the implications, there is a clear call to pursue godliness. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, points this out in other letters:
- …so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him…(Col 1:10)
- Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted, and built up in him and established in the faith (just as you were taught), abounding in thanksgiving… (Col 2:6-7)
- If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above (where Christ is)…Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth…(Col 3:1-2)
- Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…(Phil 1:27)
- …present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God…(Ro 12:1)
Why is the Spirit’s emphasis on the believer conforming to Godliness in the Epistles? I think this may refer to the last chapter of Ephesians, “…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known…” (Eph 3:10)
The Scriptures equate maturity with godliness; it is the “pursuit of growing through knowing leading to doing” in that order. Even the writer of Hebrews indicated,
“Therefore, let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again (not having to repeatedly teach) a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” (Heb 6:1-2)
I am musing about high school. I had 6-7 classes per day, all different. Some I did well in, others just ok. There were none I could skip over—I had to learn and pass the grade in all of them to graduate.
It is a poor metaphor, but directionally accurate. If I wanted to excel in evangelism (for instance), I still needed to learn enough to be persuasive in discussions with others. I recall Paul being summoned by Felix and Drusilla (Acts 24:24-25),
After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla (who was Jewish), and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as (Paul) reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgement, Felix was alarmed…”
- Growing in the ability to speak about faith in Christ Jesus?
- Can I reason persuasively about Righteousness?
- How about self-control in the light of the Gospel?
- Am I able to accurately present the facts of the Coming Judgment in the light of the Gospel?
I must think about stuff like this…
Prayer: Father, thank you for speaking to me like this. Help me grow, embracing your passion and love for the church.
Ricky Two Shoes