The Challenge of Service

Ephesians - From Rags to Riches  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  51:48
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Allow me to run through a brief overview of the great truths we have already encountered in this book.
• God has given us all spiritual blessings through Jesus—Eph. 1:3.
• God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world—Eph. 1:4.
• God has determined that we will be like Jesus, and with Jesus, one day—Eph. 1:5, 11–12.
• God has made us accepted in Jesus—Eph. 1:6.
• God proved the blood of Christ that washed us from our sins—Eph. 1:7.
• God reached out to us when we were dead in our sins and headed to Hell—Eph. 2:1–4.
• God loved us—Eph. 2:4.• God gave us life—Eph. 2:5.
• God has secured our future—Eph. 2:6–7.
• God has secured our salvation—Eph. 2:8–9.
• God has given us a new life in Jesus—Eph. 2:10.
• God has brought Jews and Gentiles together in Jesus—Eph. 2:11–18.
• God has made a new race of people from those who believe the Gospel—Eph. 2:19–22.
• God desires to use us, bless us and teach about the divine mystery of His everlasting grace and love—Eph. 3:1–21.
We have seen great theological truths revealing the believer’s position in Christ—truths that show the believer soaring in the heavenlies!
But now, coming down to earth and dealing with where we are: How are we to live day by day? How does our position in Christ work itself out in our lives? How does Christ help us deal with the trials, problems, difficulties, and sufferings of day to day living? The believer’s walk is the subject of Ephesians from this point on.
Ephesians 4:1 (KJV 1900)
1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

Personal Challenge

The word “beseech” is filled with meaning. It means, “to call to one’s side, to summon; to exhort, to entreat, to comfort; to encourage and strengthen by consolation; to instruct, to teach.”
Paul is saying, “I come alongside you to strengthen you through instruction; to encourage you to walk in the right path; to comfort you, to lead you, to be your friend.”
The word “beseech” is from the same word that is translated “Comforter” in four times in John’s Gospel. John 14:16–18 says,
John 14:16–18 KJV 1900
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
Part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is that of being our “Comforter.” He comes alongside the saints of God like a trusted Friend to offer encouragement, guidance, consolation, instruction, teaching, comfort, exhortation, among others things. He performs this ministry in an effort to help us to grow in the Lord.
He does it to make us more like Jesus Christ.
He does it to challenge us to reach our fullest potential in the Lord.
If you are saved, you have experienced and benefited from this personal and powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit.
But, this isn’t the Spirit of God who offers comfort, consolation, encouragement and strength, it is Paul, one of the saints. This highlights an important truth.
While we have the Spirit of God Who fulfills the role of Comforter in our lives, we have an obligation to one another to come alongside one another to help one another reach our fullest potential in Christ.
A true friend is someone like Paul. A true friend is someone who refuses to allow you to live a substandard life. A true friend is someone who helps you become more like Jesus by coming alongside you “to exhort, to entreat, to comfort; to encourage and strengthen by consolation; to instruct, to teach.”So, the challenge Paul issues is a personal challenge. It is as if a trusted friend had walked up to them, placed his arm around their shoulders and said, “Listen, I want to tell you about everything God has given to you in Jesus Christ, and I want to help you live up to your true potential in Jesus. I am here to help. I am here to guide you. I am here to teach you. You can count on me. I am your friend.”What a comfort that we have such a friend in the Holy Spirit. What a blessing it is when you have that kind of friends in your life. What a testimony it is when you are that kind of friend to someone else!

Powerful Challenge

While this challenge is personal, it also powerful. Paul says, “I therefore the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you …” Paul reminds them that he is a prisoner in Rome. But, he wants them to know that he is not the prisoner of Rome. He wants them to know that He is “the prisoner of the Lord.” There is a vast difference!
Paul was not held captive by bars or iron. He was held captive by the bonds of love. He was the prisoner of Christ.
This is what Paul said in Eph. 3:1.
Ephesians 3:1 (KJV 1900)
1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
The word “prisoner” refers to “one held in bonds.”
Paul wants his readers to know that while he might be locked up in a Roman jail, he was really in the custody of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Paul became a Christian, he became the property of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was up to the Lord to use Paul as He saw fit. God did use Paul.
He wrote 14 books of the New Testament through his pen. Most of them written, by the way, while Paul was in prison for preaching the Gospel.
God used Paul to found churches in many of the major cities of the day.
God used Paul in great ways in spite of the fact that he spent much of his time in prison.
Rome may have held the key to Paul’s cell, but God controlled the length of Paul’s chains!
Paul does not identify himself as a prisoner to gain their sympathy. He is not trying to stir up some emotional response. He is saying, “Consider the source of this challenge! I am not asking you to do anything that I am not already doing. I am not asking you to believe something that I don’t already believe.” He is saying “Look at me! These are the doctrines I believe, and they have determined the very course of my life.”
He is not calling attention to chains of Caesar; he is calling attention to the chains of Christ!
Paul was imprisoned by Jesus on the road to Damascus, and he never sought to be free of the Lord’s incarceration. Because Paul was captive to the Lord Jesus Christ, he had no will of his own. He had no rights of his own. He had no plans of his own. He saw everything through the eyes of the Lord Jesus. Paul was held in such divine captivity that every thought, every plan, every deed, every word written or spoken, and every other thing Paul did was carried according to the will of the One Who held Paul captive.
Philippians 3:8–10 KJV 1900
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
He did all that he did to the glory of God, 1 Cor. 10:31.
1 Corinthians 10:31 KJV 1900
31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Paul is telling simply teaching us that he is living out the very life he is challenging us to live. The fact that Paul is living this kind of life, even while he is the prisoner of Rome, gives weight and power to this challenge.
This challenge also carries weight because of who makes it. This is no trifling hypocrite, who calls people to live one way while he lives another. No, this is the holy Apostle who calls people to live like Christ, a life that he is already living.
By the way, before we challenge others to live a certain way, we need to be sure that our life matches our exhortation.
Holy words carry heavenly weight, but the words of a hypocrite are nothing but empty words; as empty as a hermit’s address book.

Practical Challenge

Paul’s challenge is simple. He says, “… that we walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”
Listen, we have in the first three chapters the rights and the honors and the privileges of salvation and joining a church and now in the last three chapters he says—Here are the requirements.
“Therefore walk worthy”
The apostle Paul comes through ringing loud and clear,—Walk worthy of such a calling! This is who you are! Walk in accord with that! Live up to that standard!
The word “walk” means, “to walk around.” It refers to how a person “regulates” his or her life. Simply stated, it speaks of “our conduct, or how we live day to day.” By the way, that world “walk” is going to figure heavily throughout the remainder of this book.
Paul tells us that we are to “walk worthy.” The word “worthy” is an interesting word. It means, “to balance the scales.” The literal meaning is, “to bring up the other arm of the scales.” It has the idea of “adding something of equal value.”
The word “vocation” refers to “a calling, an invitation.” It speaks primarily of our “divine invitation to embrace God’s free offer of salvation through Christ.”
So, Paul says that we are “live our lives in such a way that we balance the scales by adding something of equal value with what we have been given in Jesus.”
The Lord expects us to act like members of His body. He expects us to aim at what He aims at. He expects us to set the goal where He set the goal, to have the objective that is His objective. He expects us to be like Him. 1 Peter 2:15,
1 Peter 2:15 KJV 1900
15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
In other words, we ought to silence the mouth of the critics by the way we live. It’s so sad that most Christians don’t walk worthy of their calling.
In the body of Christ God expects conformity. Not a conformity to rules and regulations out of fear. Not a conformity to rules and regulations out of legalistic pride but a conformity to righteousness out of deep love and affection for Jesus Christ.
Listen very carefully though.
We are living in a society that says I do not want doctrine. I just want principles and practicalities to live as a Christian.
This is not a random transition. He doesn’t say, “Well, that’s all for that first three chapters, now I think I’ve got something else I want to say.” It is a transition that is inseparably linked.
Doctrine, now watch this, always is the basis of duty.
Duty always flows out of doctrine.
There can be no living unless there are principles for it.
There can be no lifestyle unless there is a theology at the bottom of it.
There can be no practice if there are no precepts.
Doctrine and duty are linked as closely as the flower and the stem. As closely as the branch and the trunk. As closely as the trunk and the roots. Doctrine and duty.
“Therefore” is a transition. It connects the previous.
Based on all this DOCTRINE, here is your DUTY.
In fact, if you want an interesting study sometime just go through Paul’s epistles and study all the transitions where therefore appears.
Look at Romans 12:
Romans 12:1 (KJV 1900)
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Now I want you to notice something. He is beseeching people to present their bodies as a living sacrifice; this is duty he is asking for.
He wants duty out of them.
In fact in verse 3 he talks about the gifts they are to manifest. Down in verse 9 he talks about the love that they are to manifest.
And then further on that they are to not be lazy in verse 11 that they are to rejoice in verse 12.
That they are to give to the needy in verse 13.
They are to bless their persecutors in verse 14.
Rejoice with people who rejoice and weep with those who weep to show sympathy, etc. All of these are practical things.
Then, in 13 he talks about how you are to respond to the government. How you are to respond to God’s standards.
How you are to respond to the weaker brother, in chapter 14.
How you are to respond to the weaker brother in chapter 15.
How you are to carry out your ministry in chapter 15.
Chapter 16, how you are to relate to people in the ministry. It’s all practical. But notice, before he gets into this practical section he says—“Therefore.” Now listen to me, in chapter 12 you have the first practical instruction of the book of Romans, the first eleven chapters are theology. Before he never says anything about what you are to do he gives you eleven chapters of the doctrine.
Notice what he says … “I beseech you therefore, brethren, on the basis of the mercies of God.”
And what are the mercies of God? They are the great theological truths that he has recited in the first eleven chapters. On the basis of these great realities about God which mercifully have been extended to you, this is your duty. On the basis of the righteousness of God, the uselessness of law and works, the saving power of faith, peace with God, standing in grace, the promise of glory, the gift of love, the indwelling Spirit, adoption, reconciliation, union, slavery to Christ, deliverance from sin, freedom from judgment, sanctification, justification, glorification, security, unfailing promises on the basis of all of these great mercies of God dispensed to sinful man.
“Therefore, brethren, I beseech you, present your body.”
See? It’s always that way.
Duty is always a response to doctrine.
Behavior is always a response to precepts.
Life is always a response to theology.
And I want you to know this because I want you to know why we teach doctrine. People say, “Well, you know, you get into such heavy teaching, you’re teaching doctrine.” Well, listen, I have to do that. That’s what God has called me to do. To teach you the principles of life so that you can live life. The therefore is there for a reason. Look at Galatians 5 and I’ll give you another illustration.
Galatians 5:1 (KJV 1900)
1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Galatians … in the first four chapters of Galatians Paul is discussing the liberty of the believer, he is free from circumcision, he is free from the Mosaic Code as a way of salvation. He is free from the ceremonial law. It doesn’t mean that God’s righteous moral law has changed at all. But he’s not to look at laws as a way of salvation, he’s free from that. He’s free from circumcision. He’s free from having to keep the ceremonies. And he said all of this. He said we have freedom in Christ. That’s all first four chapters, heavy on that. In fact, he closes out chapter 4, “So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond woman, but of the free.” He gives that great allegory of Sarah and Hagar. And then he closes with this great statement—“We are free.” Great thing. Liberated for life.
Free. And then immediately his therefore comes in verse 1.
But nonetheless, conformity. I want to do what God wants me to do. I want to be what God wants me to be because of all that He has done for me. I want to walk worthy. I want to be a worthy son, a worthy child. The believer calls himself a child of God, a believer has joined God’s family, belongs to the heavenly Father and that says something about how he ought to live. If I’m my Father’s child then I’ll honor my Father. It’s a sad failure in our commitment; it is indeed, not to live up to such an identity.
Philippians 1:27 Paul put it this way,
Philippians 1:27 KJV 1900
27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
In other words, match your conduct with the gospel. The exalted reality of the gospel demands an exalted life style.And that is precisely the issue we come to in Ephesians 4.
And simply, pointedly, directly does Paul say, “walk worthy!” Live up to it! It’s high time that we circumscribe our living to our identity.
If you want to be a meaningful part of God’s church, if you want to be somebody that matters in His church, if you want to adorn the doctrine of God, if you want to advance the Kingdom, if you really believe in this then here are the standards by which you are to walk.
You see, first there has to be the teaching. You can’t expect the believer to function on what he doesn’t know. You can’t live a principle you don’t know. You can’t behave in a way you don’t understand, and you must search the word of God to know the principles.
Pastors and teachers weaken the Word of God when they come to people and exhort them about duty and they’ve never taught them doctrine, because they’ve sucked the motive out.
But notice, it is the mind that is the source of renewal. The renewal that comes to the church comes in the mind, the thinking process. That’s why in Ephesians 1:17 the apostle said
Ephesians 1:17–18 KJV 1900
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
In other words, God knows that the heart of the matter is to know His truth in your mind. We must know doctrine, beloved, before we can ever know duty.
People, you can’t live what you don’t know. Right? You can’t play the game if you don’t know the rules. You can’t live within the framework of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and walk worthy of it unless you know the standards. We must know the Word of God.
Romans 10:8–14 KJV 1900
8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
You can’t live what you don’t know!
You can’t know what you don’t study!
You can’t be what Christ needs you to be until you are who Christ needs you to be!
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