Thursday, August 20, 2009

God Has Given Us a Calling to Contribute to His Eternal Purpose

Several years ago a senior citizen was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang. Answering, he heard his wife's voice urgently warning him, "Herman, I just heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way on Interstate 280. Please be careful!" "It's not just one car," said Herman. "It's hundreds of them!"

How important it is that we know we are going in the right direction! The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians instructs us on what the right direction is for us as believers and as a church body. The theme of Ephesians is the mystery of God’s eternal purpose was hidden in ages past, but is now revealed in and through the church.

Ephesians helps us answer questions surrounding our identity and purpose in Christ: What is our purpose as a church? What is our aim? What should we be doing as disciples of Christ? A mystery is a previously unrevealed truth related to God’s redemptive plan.

9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth--in Him (Eph 1:9-10, NKJV).

God has chosen to display His glory in and through the church (to the nations and the angels). In previous articles we learned that (1) God has given us participation in His eternal purpose which is to gather a body of worshippers who glorify God and enjoy Him forever, (2) God has given us the means for fulfilling His eternal purpose through our involvement in the local church. This week we will see that God has given us a calling to contribute to His eternal purpose.

Ephesians 4:7-16:

7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore He says:
"When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men."
9 (Now this, "He ascended"--what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ—16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (Eph 4:7-16, NKJV).

The key verse is 4:1. It makes an appeal based on all the blessings in chapters 1-3, and announces the emphasis of chapters 4-6. Notice the order: indicative → imperative. The moral commands flow out of redemptive realities. We are given the commands of chapters 4-6 only after learning of all the blessings we have in Christ in chapters 1-3. We obey God not to earn His favor, but to express it!

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called (Eph 4:1).

In v. 1 the word “walk” describes the course of one’s life (cf. 1 John 2:6, “walk even as Jesus walked.”). We are to walk in a manner consistent with our “calling.” What are we called to? To holiness, to sonship, to service. Another Bible translation puts it this way: “live the kind of life which proves that God has called you” (God’s Word).

The apostle Paul details the various ways we are to live out our calling in a worthy way in chapters 4-6.

1) In relation to the church (4:2-16).
2) In relation to society (4:17-5:21).
3) In relation to the family (5:22-6:9).
4) In relation to the invisible forces of evil (6:10-20).

In the coming weeks we will examine 4:7-16 to find out just how God wants us to contribute to His eternal purpose in a detailed study of this passage of God’s Word. For now, consider how amazing it is that our holy and almighty God would invite us and equip us to play a significant role in what He is doing in the world. You and I are part of something great. There is no such a thing as a pew potato Christian in His plan. Let’s commit ourselves to finding out more of God’s plan for us as a church and let’s apply what we learn. He has great things in store for us! Praise His name forever!

No comments: