This is my manuscript for my sermons from August 27, 2017 based upon Ephesians 4:1-16. Above is a recording of one of the messages.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This passage is one of the reasons why Ephesians is one of the most quoted of the epistles. Ephesians is a general-purpose letter; it is a step-by-step explanation of our faith. This is the turning point in the letter.
The first three chapters have talked about what Christ has done for us; how his life, death, and resurrection have given us the gift of grace from God, saving us from sin and death, promising us life beyond death, and eternity with a loving God.
Now, it comes to our part. That’s why everything turns on the word, therefore.
Therefore is a combiner word. It connects two, or more, different ideas, actions, or principles and says this is how they are related. Because of all of this that happened, THEREFORE, all of this happens. There was all of this stuff, and since it all happened, THERFORE, this is what comes out of it.
Here, it states and defines our relationship with God.
Because of God sent their Son to Earth. Because we rejected Jesus. Because he died on a cross. Because He was raised from the dead. Because his death and resurrection have given us grace and forgiveness. THEREFORE, here is how we should live in response.
We can’t just be told how we should live, we need to know why. We need to understand. It doesn’t work for us to be told rules and laws and commandments. We try, but we fail. We need to know that we aren’t trying to win or earn something. We will either become über focused, competitive and judgmental, or we will become self-loathing and defeatist. Instead, we need to know that we should live in response to what has been done for us and given to us. We don’t have to live this way, but we should. It appeals to our pride, our guilt, our sense of responsibility.
The writer of this letter, who is a prisoner in the Lord, because of what has been done for us, THEREFORE, begs us to live a life WORTHY of being called, WORTHY of being adopted and claimed as a child of God. We aren’t blessed because we are worthy. We are blessed, and THEREFORE are worthy. In response, we are responsible for how we live.
The first thing we are responsible for is understanding that we are not in this by ourselves. We are to bear with one another in love. We are to maintain the unity provided for us in and through the Holy Spirit. We are to live in peace. There is one body, us – the Body of Christ, and one Spirit that empowers and calls us to serve. We all serve, and have been saved, by one Lord. We have one faith, in him. We are united in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. There is one God. There is one Creator, through whom all blessings have come.
We are no longer separate by our identities. The descriptors of gender, race, ethnicity, age, preference, orientation, wealth, place of origin, education and whatever else you want to use to sort and separate have been reconciled by God. All are one in Christ.
Trying to divide and sow dissension are to reject the will of God, and the grace shown to us. It refuses God’s love, choosing hate instead. It refutes the kingdom that is to come. It repudiates God’s will be done.
(A quick aside on verses 8-10 – the ones with parenthesis and the one just before it. If you’ve ever wondered why we talk about Christ descending into hell before he was raised, here is one of the places that concept comes from. – Now, back to our regularly scheduled message.)
But while we are all together, while we are no longer separate, we are not all the same.
We have each been given different spiritual gifts to build up the Body of Christ. These spiritual gifts are different and separate from our natural abilities. They may connect and be related to things we are good at, but our spiritual gifts are specifically to help the Body of Christ do the work of God.
How do we know what our spiritual gift is? We only find it when we are working together in communion with other believers. These gifts are meant to be used to help others as we share God’s love. When we are on our own, they are useless.
They are meant to encourage, motivate and challenge others. They call for us to react in maturity, not acting as children. We are to speak truth in love, which means we need to say what people need to hear, not what they want to hear. If we are the Body of Christ, we need all members to be working and doing their best. If someone needs to be inspired or confronted, then it needs to be done, in love, wanting the best for, and from, each one of us.
While we have separate gifts, and separate responsibilities because of these gifts, we are still part of the Body of Christ, each working separately, but together, to fulfill God’s purpose.
I encourage you to think about what your spiritual gift is, and how you can use it in this community of Christ, or another, to build up the body of Christ, and for the glory of God.
We all have one of these gifts. Whether we choose to use it is up to us. It reflects what we do knowing what God has done for us. It is our therefore.
No matter what your gift is, we are to work together for the glory of God. We have been beloved in the eyes of God; THEREFORE we are to share God’s love. We have been blessed with God’s grace; THEREFORE we are to be a blessing to others. We have been forgiven; THEREFORE we are to give to those in need. We have saved by Christ on the cross; THEREFORE we are to serve others who need our help.
THEREFORE, live a life worthy of God’s grace. AMEN.
Pastor Brian's Page
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell has served at Our Savior's and Emmanuel since August 1, 2011, and began serving Nazareth on December 1, 2015.
Pastor Brian is originally from Saginaw, Michigan. He graduated from Alma College with a B.A. in Business Administration, and worked for the Saginaw Public Schools' Community Education Department for 17 years before answering the call to ministry. He graduated with a M. Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. ONE in Christ Lutheran Parish is his first call.
He is the only child of Robert and Charlotte Campbell, both who have entered the Church Eternal.
He is accompanied in ministry by his faithful bulldogge Ananias, who regularly writes for our newsletter. His articles are archived here.
He is a fan of sports teams from his native Michigan, especially the Tigers and the Lions. But we tolerate him despite that.
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