110 - “The Called”: God’s Household [B]
“The Called”: God’s Household
Ephesians Lesson #110
June 20, 2021
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Our Father, what a great privilege it is to come together to focus upon You, to sing of Your goodness, Your grace to us. That it is undeserved, unmerited, just barely touches the surface of its meaning. That we, who were obnoxious to You, in rebellion to You, running away from You, were loved in such a way that You sent Your son to die on the cross for us and to save us. That we are saved simply by accepting that free gift and not by any works on our part.
“But then beyond that, as we have learned in our study of Ephesians, You have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies, far beyond anything that we can ask or think. These blessings are ours for both now and for eternity. Father, as we contemplate them, and as we study them, we just stand in awe of the magnificence of Your grace, that we can hardly put into words.
“As we continue to look at what Paul has written and its implications for us, may we be responsive to what is taught, may it enlarge our understanding of Your grace and Your provision for us, and may we be challenged by the fact that it presents to us the responsibilities that are ours because we are new creatures in Christ and we are members of Your royal family..
“Father we pray that Your Word will be used for those who may have never trusted in Christ to help them understand the gospel. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Ephesians 4:1.
Let’s just review a few things that we have been examining as we gone through this second section of Ephesians. For those of you who may not have been with us in the last couple of years as I’ve been taking us through this epistle, the first part of the epistle talks about the wealth that we have in Christ.
The New King James translates it the “riches” that we have in Christ. This has to do with all of the blessings, the assets that are ours in Christ that are freely given to us the instant we trust in Christ as our Savior. And yet we don’t always know what they are. You only learn about them if you read your Bible, study the Bible, and if you’re studying under a pastor who explains what these are and how we are to utilize these assets in our spiritual life. That’s the first three chapters.
The second three chapters build on that, and they all focus on this metaphor that Paul uses many times that we are to “walk” with the Lord. There’s a lot of different ways in which this is expressed in Scripture: we’re to walk in truth, we’re to walk in the light, we are to walk by the Spirit; we are to abide in Christ.
It doesn’t use the word “walking,” but it’s the same thing, abiding in Christ. All of this pictures an intimacy between the believer and our Triune God—that we walk in fellowship. The Old Testament says, how can two walk together unless they are agreed? If they are not agreed, then they can’t walk together is the implication.
When we are sinning, when we’re in rebellion against God, when we’re just doing things the way we want to instead of the way God wants to, and we have all of our priorities out of whack, then we’re not walking with the Lord. So we have to recover, and that comes in when we think about the many passages that talk about confession.
Ephesians 4:1–6:9: in light of all this wealth that God has given us, how are we to walk, how are we to live? That is a picture of, how do we live the Christian way of life? What is the Christian way of life, and what is it that should distinguish the life of a Christian from those who are not Christians?
Now if you don’t live this life, it doesn’t mean you’re not a Christian. To become a Christian is not based on how you live, it’s not based on your ethics or lack of ethics or your values or your lack of values. Because every single Christian is just as much a sinner after they’re saved as before. The sin nature does not lose its potency, but it is no longer the tyrant that it was before.
Romans 6 is all about that we have now been made slaves of Christ. The readers of Romans are challenged not to be slaves of unrighteousness—slaves of their sin nature—but slaves of Christ. The focal point is that we are to learn to count ourselves dead to sin, and that’s going take the rest of our lives.
It doesn’t happen in one decision, it doesn’t happen in 100 decisions, it doesn’t happen in a million decisions because until the day we die we still will struggle with the lust of our sin nature.
Going through some of the paragraphs at the beginning of this section, we are to walk in unity, we are to put on the new man. Ultimately, this means that we are not to walk like the unbeliever; we’re not to live like the unbeliever. Our way of life, our way of thinking, our values, our ethics are to be different because we are spiritually alive and we are in Christ and we have been given a new identity, Ephesians 1–3.
That new identity means that we live differently. We are not to grieve the Holy Spirit, and in this section, from Ephesians 4:25–32, there’s a series of different things that should not characterize our lives, but sadly too often they do characterize our lives. Ephesians 5 begins with the mandate to walk in love.
All through this section, we see things and say, I just can’t do that. This is impossible!” Yeah, you’re right; it is impossible. The Christian way of life is impossible—unless you’re walking by the Spirit. The Christian way of life is impossible unless you’re studying the Word, and God the Holy Spirit is using the Word of God in your life.
Then we see in Galatians 5:16–25 it is the Holy Spirit through the Word of God who produces fruit in our lives, and these are transformed characteristics.
Ephesians 4:2 talks about what the standards are, “with all lowliness and gentleness …” These two words shouldn’t be translated that way first of all and those words don’t communicate to us what is really going on here.
Even when we do understand what is going on there and we run into words like “humility” and “meekness,” we often jump to the wrong conclusions, “God just wants us to be a doormat,”
Well, Jesus wasn’t a doormat. Moses wasn’t a doormat. David certainly wasn’t a doormat. They were all described as being humble and being meek and lowly—those are the words that come across. But we just get that all mixed up, so we have to study those words.
They are all part of the ultimate virtue, which is love. If there’s any group of people in the whole world who don’t have a clue what love is, it’s Americans. We have let the culture define love and not God define love. When we start talking about what it means to love one another, we have such a difficult time with that. People say, “Well, I’ll go look at the dictionary,” but the dictionary’s wrong. The dictionary says it’s emotion.
The Bible doesn’t ever classify it that way. In fact, at no time when the Bible was written or understood or translated in the English for at least the first 200 years, was the word “emotion” even in the English language. They understood that it was a mental attitude that was determined by our choice, by our character, not determined by how we felt.
Yet, everything today in our postmodern culture is all about feelings, and we have to justify our feelings and do whatever our feelings tell us to do. All of that will come. Today we’re continuing the opening section, Ephesians 4:1–16, what it means to walk in unity.
Paul begins, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.” I’ve said before that when it begins with “therefore,” it is drawing a conclusion.
The conclusion points us back to what’s been said, but it’s sort of backwards here:
Ephesians 4:1–3 gives us what we’re supposed to do in light of what has been said.
Ephesians 4:4–6 reminds us of what has been said.
Those verses say that we have this unity. There’s one body, one spirit, just as you were called and one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.
We learned in our study in Ephesians 2 is that now in Christ all Jew and Gentiles are one, united in Christ, and that’s our new identity. It’s not to be derived from our culture, whether our culture is African, Asian, white European, Slavic Eastern European, whatever the culture, it takes a backseat.
We have to absorb a new culture, because the new culture is what is demanded in the new household in which we find ourselves, which is the household of God.
“I, the prisoner of the Lord …”
He is repeating a phrase, but a little differently from Ephesians 3:1; he is emphasizing different things from the way he states this. In Ephesians 4:1 he is a prisoner of the Lord, and in Ephesians 3:1 he is a prisoner in Christ. Actually, the New King James mistranslates that phrase “prisoner” as a genitive like Ephesians 3:1.
But actually, in the Greek Paul says “I am a prisoner in Christ.”
That’s important because when you look at Scripture and there’s a variation and there’s a difference. Paul said it one way 25 verses earlier, and now he’s saying it in a different way. We have to ask, “Why?” Because the Holy Spirit doesn’t just arbitrarily change things just for stylistic difference.
There is an emphasis here; these two phrases emphasize two different aspects of Paul’s position in Christ. They also emphasize two different aspects of our position in Christ. There’s an application for us.
For Paul, when he speaks of the fact that he is now in Christ, that is related to his position in the body of Christ. And that means it’s related to his apostolic calling. The focus here in Ephesians 4:1 is the fact that we are to walk worthy of the calling with which we have been called.
When Paul trusted in Christ as Savior, he received the spiritual gift of apostleship and that was his calling. We studied that calling has the idea of a vocation or a mission. It’s not responding to an invitation. It has to do with a responsibility and a stature within an entity. Paul recognizes that he’s got this new identity in Christ and a new calling.
It’s related to his spiritual gift, which is related to his mission, which is to take the gospel to the Gentiles, primarily, and the message of the grace of God in not only salvation, but in this new entity the Church. That in the Church there is no longer Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free because we are all one in Christ.
That passage has been so abused and distorted by feminists and by people who are actually racists and everything else. What it is saying is that in the body of Christ, economic distinctions do not make a difference in our approach to God.
In the Old Testament in the temple, if you were a slave, you could only go so far in terms of your approach to the temple. You had to stay in the outer courtyard. If you are a woman you had to stay in the women’s courtyard. You couldn’t go as far as the men went.
Looking at these passages if you’re distinguished as a Gentile, you can’t go but a certain distance; you can’t go but a certain distance as a slave and as a woman. You have to be a Jewish male of the tribe of Levi to actually even get into the Holy of Holies.
God made these distinctions, but they’re for a reason. They’re not based on the fact that there’s one group that’s less adequate than another group, or one group that is superior to another group. He was teaching various different things. Now Paul is saying we are all one in Christ, and that those distinctions that were present in the Old Testament are not there today.
By saying that he is a prisoner in Christ, he recognizes what he will develop later on when he gets to Ephesians 4:11–12, that as an apostle his mission is also to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. In the Old Testament the ministry was primarily done by the Levitical priests, but in the Church Age it’s done by every single believer in Christ.
In the Middle Ages when the Church of the late early Church period started looking to Israel as their pattern for how to live the Christian life, they made a distinction between the priesthood, the clergy, and the laity. They called one group “priests,” who were the only ones who had the calling.
They missed the point that in the New Testament every believer is a priest; and therefore, every believer has a calling and every believer has this vocation. The role of the clergy, the role of the apostles and prophets in the first century, they were temporary gifts, not in effect after the first century, and for the rest of the Church Age, evangelists and pastor teachers are to train the saints to do the work of the ministry.
We wrongly say that pastors are ministers. The ministers are sitting out there in the pews. The pastor is the trainer, he is the equipper; he’s the coach to help the saints grow to maturity to serve others, each other, one another in the body of Christ.
The second phrase emphasizes a relationship. When Paul said, “I’m a prisoner of Christ Jesus,” in Ephesians 3:1–13 the emphasis is of his relationship to Christ, which is the same relationship that every believer has to Christ, and that he was a prisoner of Christ. Therefore, he was as he said in other passages, he’s a slave to Christ.
This comes across in terms of his mission, because he says, “Look, we have to understand that we have been bought with a price.” That price was the redemption price of Christ’s life on the cross; each one of us were bought with a price. We were in the slave market of sin; we were slaves to sin. We were slaves to unrighteousness, and Christ redeemed us.
He paid the sin penalty. He purchased us out of the slave market of sin. Not so we can run off and do whatever we want to, because when He purchased us, we became His slaves. Thus the command: “you’re bought at a price, do not become slaves of men. Do not become slaves of unrighteousness,” in Romans 6.
Because of that he makes this command at the beginning of Ephesians 4:1, “I beseech you,” which is just an old English word for, ‘I strongly urge you’ to do something.
When stating a command, a certain way, rather than just coming out and barking an order, he says, “I urge you strongly,” meaning this is a command. This isn’t an option to do something, which is that we are to walk worthy of the calling.
This is the same kind of language he had when he shifts from doctrine to application in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice.”
It’s not really an option. Most Christians think it’s an option. “I know that’s what I ought to do, but I want to live my life. I want to enjoy things.”
I had a pastor tell me the other day, “I remember when I was young, I used to pray. ‘Lord, don’t come back yet. There are so many things in life I want to do.’ But then as I begin to mature and as the world around me began to be more carnal, I began to realize I really don’t want to do anything here. It’s going to be a thousand times better than anything I can imagine when I get to heaven, so, ‘even so, Lord Jesus, come’. I’m ready.”
This is to be our way of life every single day. We are to walk worthy, and that is identified as being a “living sacrifice wholly acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service.” It’s not that he’s asking us to do something that is unreasonable. After all, you’re his slave, bought and paid for. So that is our mission.
Look at the concept at the end, “walk worthy of the calling.” The calling gives us the standard for how we are to walk, what we are to do. There are standards involved in the way in which a believer is to live. Those standards represent the standards of our calling, the standards of our vocation; the standards of those who are “in Christ.” It’s not something that’s really optional, although we treat it that way all the time. We are to walk worthy of the calling.
You need to hear this again and again and again because that’s how a) we learn things and b) we actually remember it when we need to remember it, not just 10 minutes later, that the calling doesn’t mean those who respond to the invitation to trust Christ. It has a more technical meaning.
Every time this occurs in the Greek New Testament, “calling,” which is KLESIS, has the article in front of it. In English we have a definite article and an indefinite article. We talk about “the” apple or we talk about “an” apple. The “a” and the “an” are indefinite and it could be any apple, but when we’re talking about “the” apple, then it’s a specific apple.
In Greek, there really isn’t an indefinite article, so we always just call it the article. The article has about nine or 10 different meanings. Something can even have an article in front of it and be indefinite in Greek. That will just turn your head inside and out. Don’t worry about it.
A lot of times when the article’s there, it’s emphasizing the quality of the noun or the importance of the noun. Sometimes, it’s also indicating the specificity of it. Here I think it has more to do with the quality of this calling.
But every time it is used in the Greek New Testament, it always has the article, even if it has a preposition in front of it or pronoun in front of it, like “What is your calling?” But in Greek it would literally read “you’re the calling” because it’s always got that article. It means it is something more than simply responding to an invitation.
We get a sense of this in 1 Corinthians 7:20 where it is used in the sense of a vocation, where Paul says, “Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.” He is talking about their job, their career.
If you were working as a blacksmith, you still work as a blacksmith; if you were working with leather, you still work with leather; if you were married, stay married; if you were single, stay single, not because it’s wrong, as he goes on to say in the passage about being married, but it’s less complicated if you’re serving the Lord. That’s Paul’s conclusion there.
Dave Lowery in the Bible Knowledge Commentary on 1 Corinthians says, “Likewise a Christian’s vocational situation is a matter of little consequence.” I put that in there because so often when we read this phrase in the Scripture, because of the influence of the fact that we’re thinking spiritually, we think of it as the response to being invited to respond to the gospel. I’m pointing out here it doesn’t mean that. It has to do with our vocation. This is important to understand.
Ephesians 4:4, “There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling,” developing and explaining what it means in Ephesians 4:3 “the unity of the Spirit …” It lists all of the different aspects of what we have in common as believers, our basis for unity.
In Ephesians 4:7, he starts on all the differences within the body. We have things that are the same for all of us, and then we will look at things that are different for each of us.
It is “one hope of your calling,” and the article is there in the Greek before “calling.” There’s one hope, and it’s related to this vocation that we have in Christ. A vocation is like a career, like a profession. It is what we are to be about. It relates to the mission that we have as believers in the body of Christ.
Let’s back up and go through two or three diagrams I developed to try to visualize what this means.
We come to Christ; we come to understand the gospel. Acts 16:31 states it as simply as anywhere else in the New Testament, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
The Philippian jailer had Paul and Silas in jail when an angel came, opened the door, and unlocked the chains. It was a death penalty for the Philippian jailer if they escaped, so Paul has his attention because Paul didn’t run away. He said, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul tells Him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved …” Acts 16:31.
At that instant we see what happens to us as believers. On the left side of this chart are the eternal realities that are ours. Every single one of us has the same eternal realities. On the right side, it’s our day-to-day experience, our temporal realities in time.
I use a white circle because as believers we’re now identified positionally as “sons of light.” That’s not a sexist term; it was sons who had all the privileges. Every believer is a “son of light.” We have all those privileges, so we are to walk in the light as He is in the light because that’s our identity. This defines our riches, our wealth in Christ, some of them.
That is called by some “positional truth,” by others it is called “identity truth.” You may not have ever heard that term, but I’ll use it now and then. It’s our identity in Christ.
We enter into Christ at the instant of salvation by an act that is performed by Christ using the Holy Spirit to identify us with His death, burial, and resurrection. I’ve gone through this in detail, but it always has to be clarified.
This is a passive verb construction in English like. In English if you were trying to indicate that the baptism was performed by someone, indicating who the one who performs it is, you would use the preposition “by.”
Prepositions are ambiguous, funky things when you go from one language to another. In Greek, if you’re designating the one who does the baptizing, you would have the preposition HUPO. It doesn’t have the preposition HUPO; it is not saying “the Spirit baptizes.”
It uses the preposition EN, which means you are baptized “by means of” the Spirit, and it has to have that. I know somebody here can probably tell me why because you’ve been around long enough.
Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist said, “I baptize you in water—using the Greek proposition EN, “by means of” water—but One will come after me who will baptize you—EN PNEUMATI—by means of the Spirit and with fire.”
Every time this is mentioned, the Spirit’s role is always indicated by the Greek preposition EN, which doesn’t mean He’s the One who does it. What did John the Baptist say? Who did John the Baptist say was going baptize you by the Spirit? Christ. “One will come after me, He will baptize you by the Spirit.”
When we get to 1 Corinthians 12:13, we can’t say, “Oh, gee! Now the Spirit’s doing it … now you’ve got two baptisms.” Are you Pentecostal? That’s what they did because they did not know Greek. But I know a lot of theologians who know Greek and didn’t catch this.
Christ uses the Holy Spirit to identify us with His death, burial, and resurrection, Romans 6:3–6. That’s our new position in Christ.
In temporal realities, at that instant of salvation we’re filled. Again, you have that same phrase, dative, “by means of the Spirit,” and we are to walk by the Spirit. But we sin, and we’re no longer walking in the light; we walk in darkness. We have to confess sin. I’m not talking about the right circle right now, but the positional truth here in Romans.
We are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. The technical phrase Paul uses many times in Romans and in his other writings is we’re “in Christ.” That’s your new identity.
Who am I? Well, some people are going to say, “I’m an engineer,” “I’m a football player,” “I’m a bricklayer,” “I do that all day long. That’s my job. That’s my identity.” Many times that influences what you do, how you live, what you eat.
But for the Christian, the identity is “I’m in Christ. I am Christ’s. I’m in the body of Christ.” Christ is the head of the body of Christ, and there are certain things I can do and certain things I can’t do because of my identity. That’s why some people call this “identity truth.”
We learned in Ephesians 2:15 that there are different ways in which the New Testament describes this: We are a new man. The Church is a new man; it is a new body.
It is a holy temple, Ephesians 2:21–22; God is building this holy temple. The foundation is the apostles and prophets, so we know it’s Church Age because it’s not prophets and apostles. It’s New Testament apostles and prophets, and Christ is the Capstone. That means this isn’t Old Testament saints at all. We’re a holy temple, this new temple.
We’re also called the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:12–13, Romans 12:5, and Ephesians 4:4, 12. This is probably the most predominant metaphor used to describe the Church.
We are the body of Christ—not West Houston Bible Church, not this local church or that local church—but that entity which is composed of everyone in history since the day of Pentecost in AD 33 who has believed that Christ died on the Cross for their sins.
They are entered into the body of Christ and Christ is the head, which means He’s the boss. He is the authority. He is the One, just like my head directs the actions of my body. He is the head, and He directs the actions of His body. This is the predominant image.
A second usage, because of application, it is not directly stated anywhere, but it is inferred from Ephesians 5:25–26, 2 Corinthians 11:2 and Revelation 19:7–10, the Church is the bride of Christ.
That’s pretty good because the bride of Christ is a high accolade for us. We are the bride of Christ. Christ isn’t a wife beater, He is not a bride beater. He wants the best for His bride. He is preparing His bride, purifying His bride to be prepared for that wedding day which comes when He returns to the Earth, described in Revelation 19:7–10.
Another way in which the body of Christ is described is that we are the royal priesthood. We are the family of God and I think this is important. This is what should structure our thinking as we look at all of these commands and prohibitions, all of these directives in Revelation 4–6.
God is telling us that we are the body of Christ, we’re the household of God, we’re God’s family, and there are certain ways in which the family of God is supposed to live. The last term, we are the new household of God, Ephesians 2:19–20, doesn’t include Old Testament saints. Why do I say that?
Because it goes on to say that the foundation of this new household that is being built is the apostles and prophets, and the head is Christ. That can’t apply to anyone who was saved prior to AD 33.
Unless of course they were still alive and they were part of that transitional group who were saved under the Old Testament dispensation, and then on that Day of Pentecost or shortly thereafter, they heard that Jesus was the Messiah, died for their sins, and they trusted in Him, then they become a member of the body of Christ.
Just think about how many Jews there were that had come to Israel maybe the year before for Passover or the year before that, and they had believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but He hadn’t died for their sins yet. They’re Old Testament believers.
Then they go back home to Rome or to Tarsus or wherever, and they don’t hear anything about the resurrection. They die three years after the Resurrection, they’re dying as Old Testament saints because they never heard the gospel.
Like the disciples, they made that transition. Many others made the transition in those first sermons in Acts 3–4. They were Old Testament believers; Acts 2 says they were devout men. They came to Jerusalem to observe the feasts as they were supposed to under the Mosaic Law, they heard that the Messiah had come and died for their sins, they trusted in Him, and they shifted from being an Old Testament saint to a Church Age believer.
That’s just one of those interesting, fun things to think about, and of course God knew all of that in eternity past.
We’ve been studying that there was this division in the Church, the only legitimate racial division in the Bible and it wasn’t based on superiority. In fact, God Himself says of the Jews that they’re just as stiff-necked, rebellious people, that He didn’t choose them because there was anything good in them.
There was a distinction, though that He made between Jews and Gentiles according to His plan but the cross eradicated that enmity.
He abolished the Law.
Jews and Gentiles are now united together because of the Cross.
The enmity that was between Gentiles and Jews as unbelievers and God was also taken care of by the Cross, so now Jews and Gentiles are one. That’s why in this paragraph we read there’s one body for Jew and Gentile. There’s one Spirit for Jew and Gentile—that’s the subtext.
There’s one Lord for Jew and Gentile, one faith for Jew and Gentile, one baptism for Jew and Gentile, one God and Father of all for Jew and Gentile. That’s the unity that’s being spoken of here.
When we trust in Christ as Savior, Jew and Gentile are then adopted into God’s family. The next thing that happens instantly at salvation is that we are adopted. That’s part of those privileges and the wealth that we have in Christ.
Romans 8:15, “For you did not receive—that is, at the time of your salvation—the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption—‘Spirit’ is capitalized; it is God the Holy Spirit Who brings this about—by whom—that is, the Spirit—we cry out, ‘Abba Father.’ ”
Abba is the Hebrew equivalent of Daddy. It is a term of endearment towards a father. Today is Father’s Day: fathers brace yourself!
We cry out to the Father, Abba. It emphasizes that intimate relationship that we have with God the Father because we are adopted into His family.
Galatians 4:5, Christ came “to redeem those who were under the law that—that is, for the purpose that—we might receive the adoption as sons—with all the privileges that sonship brings.”
Ephesians 1:5 says that we have been appointed—us “in Him”—“to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself—because we are in the body of Christ—according to the good pleasure of His will.”
Ephesians 2:19, we’re part of this new household, “Now, therefore y’all—you Gentiles—are no longer strangers and foreigners—because earlier in Ephesians 2:12 he said you were strangers and foreigners. You were cut off from the covenants, from the political entity, the Commonwealth of Israel, but now—you’re no longer strangers and foreigners, but you’re fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
If you stop there, then you might think, “Oh! This is all the believers from all time.” But Ephesians 2:20 says, “… having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets”—that’s New Testament apostles and New Testament prophets.
If he had said “prophets and apostles” in that order, then it would be Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles. But by putting it in the order “apostles and prophets,” it’s just talking about New Testament—“Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.”
He’s not the chief cornerstone for Israel. He is not the chief cornerstone for the saved Jews in the Old Testament—really, it should be “capstone.” He is the chief cornerstone or the capstone for the Church. He’s the head of the Church.
This brings us to certain things that are ours that we should accept as responsibilities as members of the body of Christ. It’s part of our calling. The old word used was “vocation,” the idea that we have been elevated to a particular position of privilege. With that goes certain standards of conduct, a certain code of conduct.
“Vocation” or “the calling” is a difficult word to deal with because of what happened in the early Middle Ages. It was limited to only the calling of the religious: the priests, the clergy, the monks, the nuns. They were the only ones who had a calling, nobody else did. Martin Luther was the first who really kicked off the Reformation and he recognized that every believer has a calling. It is their vocation, their calling in Christ. It is a profession.
Some you may have different ideas of what a profession is, and that’s because the English language and people have ruined it. When I was in college, I had a professor in the Education department that made a big issue out of this, because he said teachers are one of the few professions. At that time, that wasn’t that long ago, there were only 12 professions.
Now some list 200 professions, and you’ll see how the word is been ruined because if you look it up in the dictionary, a profession as anyone gets paid for a job. That makes them a professional. But that’s not true.
There were originally only three professions: theology, medicine, and law. Universities started out of the cathedral schools in the early Middle Ages that were based on the catechetical schools of the early churches in Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem. All universities have their roots in cathedral schools. Do you know why that’s important?
About 20 years ago, the State of Texas brought a lawsuit against Tyndale Theological Seminary, saying that they had no right to give bachelor’s degrees, masters degrees, or doctoral degrees because they didn’t have permission from the Department of Education and the State of Texas.
All this time, Tyndale is getting fined. They went to court, and the first court said Tyndale was wrong, “You’re wrong; the state’s right.” They went to the second level, third level in the appeals, and all the judges said Tyndale’s wrong; the state determines this.
It went to the Texas State Supreme Court, God bless them. Every one of them understood the law and they understood history, that actually, the state has no right to give baccalaureate degrees or magisterium degrees or doctoral degrees because that was all started by the Church and by Christians.
The terms “university” and “college” all related to the cathedral schools and churches. We believe in separation of church and state, so the state Supreme Court said Tyndale was right, and they can give degrees because we have a little principle here called the separation of church and state.
The state can’t dictate what the curriculum is in the training of ministers for the Church. That’s why it is important to understand all these things.
The Australian Council of Professions:
“A profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognized body of learning derived from research, education, and training at a high level, and who are prepared to apply this knowledge and exercise these skills in the interest of others.”
Not just anything can be a profession. There’s a lot there that applies to our identity in Christ. We are supposed to be a disciplined group of individuals, disciplined by the Word and by God. We possess a special knowledge, the Word of God that is revealed to us.
We have certain spiritual skills that are revealed in the Word of God, and that we have an unidentified body of learning the Word of God, which is based on research, education and training, and this is what every believer should go through. From the instant they trust Christ until the day they die, they are in school, and it’s called the local church. Those who aren’t, aren’t living in light of who they are.
“Profession” has a certain application, but because the word has been so destroyed in the culture, that if you are a ditch digger and you get paid for it, you are a professional ditch digger. So now anybody can be anything and be a profession.
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In Christ we are the called.
1. “Those who are ‘the called’ are a distinct group of individuals who have been given this certain position in Christ, which requires the adherence to a distinct way of life.”
We have ethical standards. You go to a doctor or dentist, you expect a certain ethical standard in that office, and they have to follow that. If they don’t, they can be brought up on charges. This is the idea.
It doesn’t make us a Christian. It’s just how we are to live in the family of God, which is what I thought I would have time to get to, but not today.
2. This way of life is based on four factors:
a) “In order to fulfill our calling, Christians need to acquire a specialized knowledge from the scripture and to develop from this knowledge, skills related to thinking and living.”
That’s incumbent on every person who is a believer. You won’t lose your salvation if you don’t, but you’re not going to enjoy the fullness of life that Christ promised if we do. That’s how we learn what Christ has given us.
b) “The acquisition of this knowledge and these skills is for the purpose of serving the Lord.” Not making more money, not advancing our own interests. It is so we can be better prepared to do what God wants us to do, so that we can serve the Lord throughout the rest of our life. The purpose of this is to develop our skills, so that we can truly glorify God as we serve Him.
c) It is inherent that a central part of this calling is to live a life that adheres to a particular code of conduct which governs the thoughts, decisions, and actions of the individual believer.”
This isn’t legalism because we all fail, we all are flawed, we all have sin natures. We don’t live up to this code. Even on our best days we’re not going to live up to it as well as we know we should, but that’s the standard. Just because we don’t meet the standard very frequently doesn’t mean there’s not a standard.
That’s the standard and that’s not legalism, because legalism would say if you don’t meet that standard, then you’re going to be kicked out of the family of God or other things are going to happen. But this is how we realize the fullness of life that Christ has promised us.
d) “Living according to these standards is the result of consistently walking by means of the Spirit, being led and filled by the Word of God by the Spirit, Who develops in us the character traits which distinguish those who are living in light of their calling.”
Galatians 5:16–23, the fruit of the Spirit is the result of walking by the Spirit, and the Spirit produces in us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness.” Gentleness … oh that’s the word that’s translated as lowliness here in the text.
These things that are expected of us, love: loving one another, being humble, being gentle; these are the fruit of the Spirit. We can’t manufacture them on our own. It only comes as a result of walking by the Spirit in the light of the Word of God.
This is our reality; all of these different metaphors describe this unique entity that we are in the Church.
That we are the household of God is our model.
The household of God is the family of God. What’s the culture of a family? Have you ever thought about the culture of your family? Every business has a culture.
When I was pastoring a church in Irving, Texas, some 30 years ago, one of the leaders in the church was a man who had his own business. He would be contracted by large corporations to come in and analyze the culture of the corporation: the culture of the office—the doctor’s office, or a car dealership—and to define what their strengths and weaknesses were and what they could do to improve the culture.
Business has a culture, country has a culture; your family has a culture. Who is in charge of determining the culture of the family? The father. It’s Father’s Day. Ephesians 6:4, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
See, if you’re running your family correctly, you have said on more than one occasion, as probably your parents said, “in this family we do it this way; in this family we don’t do that.” That doesn’t mean you’re kicked out of the family if you have done it wrong, but it means that you have violated the standards and the code of conduct for the family.
What we’re studying here in Ephesians 4–6 are the standards for the family of God. We need to stick with that metaphor that God really uses here, “this family.” That God is the Father, and He sets the code of conduct and the standards for the family, and that is the pattern that you men are to follow if you are a father.
You’re to follow the pattern that God the Father set in setting the standards and what the culture should be in His family. You should do the same in your family.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to focus on these things today, to understand our identity in Christ—all that You have given us, and the responsibilities that are ours because we are now in Your family. The code of conduct that is part of being in your family, recognizing that this is our calling. This is our vocation. In some ways, it’s like a profession. We have a standard, a code of conduct. We have ethics, we have ongoing education, all of these things, and we need to live up to that.
“Father also, since it is Father’s Day we’re thankful for the fathers here, we’re thankful especially for those here who are doing an outstanding job in rearing their children, training them, teaching them to love You, teaching them to focus on You and to make You a priority in their life, as they have brought up and are bringing up their children and maybe grandchildren in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
“We are thankful for them. That is the backbone of this nation, and when the family breaks down the nation falls apart. Father that is happening too much in this nation. We pray that You would just challenge fathers, challenge families to get back to the basics.
“Father, we pray that if anyone is listening today who’s never trusted Christ as Savior, who’s never realized that there are perhaps spiritually dead, that they have no hope, that there is an eternal condemnation waiting them, that the Scripture says the solution is simple. It’s just trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
“Christ paid the penalty for all the sins of every person on the planet, so sin isn’t the issue. We’ve all done horrible things, we’ve thought horrible things, but all the sins are paid for by Christ. The issue is will you accept Him and trust in Him or not? That makes all the difference for all eternity for each of us.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to focus on You and we worship You because You are worthy, because You’ve created us, and You have redeemed us. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”