Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Unity




Carry on…in unity

From Principles to Practices

Read Ephesians 4:1-6

Pray that God would help you live in a manner worthy of your calling.



In chapter 4 Paul’s letter shifts from principles to practices. Paul has discussed the truth of our unity in Christ – the Jews and Gentiles have become one body – and now he discusses the practical ways believers can walk in this spiritual unity. He then reminds the church of the specific gifts they’ve been given to nurture and protect the unity they share in Christ.

The word apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, which means “speech of defense.”  In the context of faith, apologetics is less about arguing and more about articulating. To engage in apologetics is to be inquisitive, not argumentative.

Apologists pursue a deeper knowledge of God by asking questions and studying Scripture. They’re modern-day Bereans (see Acts 17:11), and they’re being obedient to Peter’s command, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV). With so much war and poverty and disease, the existence of hope seems to defy logic, so nonbelievers will oftentimes watch from a distance to see if this hope thing is for real. And when they’re ready, they’ll approach their believing friends to ask, How can you have hope in this world? Where does this hope come from? How did you find it? Can I know this same hope?

The reason for apologetics is to know and be able to articulate the reason for the hope we have in Christ. It doesn’t require a post-graduate degree, either. Peter was a trained fisherman, not an apologist. Yet he’s the one instruction every believer to be prepared to share their faith, but to do so with gentleness and respect. That’s my deepest heart’s desire. To live my faith in word and deed. With gentleness and respect. Always.

The second half of Ephesians begins with instructions as Paul exhorts the Ephesian believers to “live in a manner worthy” of their calling (4:1). He begins with the transition “therefore,” which means he is drawing on the ideas of the previous verses. The word therefore is significant because it tell us to carry on while keeping everything we’ve just read still in mind. He could be referring back to his prayer and the surpassing love of Christ (3:14-21), the inclusion of Gentiles among the people of God (2:11-22), or the changed state believers enjoy in Christ (2:1-10).

Paul was a supreme example of an apologist. He underscored everything he taught with a foundation of scriptural truth. The word worthy means “equal weight.” In other words, our conduct should match our calling. He goes on to list three virtues of Christ-like character: humility, gentleness, and patience, His peace binds us in unity.



Diving Deeper

Which of these do you think Paul had in mind? What does it mean to “live in manner worthy of the calling” (4:1)? How can each declaration encourage you to carry out this instruction?



What binds us in unity?



Paul goes on to list behaviors in 4:2 that believers should embrace. Make a list of these actions and attitudes. How do they compare to the behaviors valued by Western culture? Which of these characteristics do you particularly struggle with?


The behaviors Paul lists in 4:2 are designed to promote unity. Name specific ways these behaviors create unity. Note how often Paul repeats the word “one” to emphasize that we all share the same faith. How does this encourage you to display the characteristics from 4:2? How can you show more humility, gentleness, patience and love in your interactions with others?



Write it out – As you write Ephesians 4:1-6 today, ask God to grow a heart of gentleness in you, so that you will always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you the reason for the hope you have.



Prayer: Thank You, God, for giving me the inspired Word I can study to learn more about You. Help me to understand the truths communicated in Your Word, and help me to live out these truths in my everyday life. Amen.



May God give you the Spirit of wisdom & revelation so that you may know Him better. Have an awesome day in the Lord!! Ephesians 1:17



Be Blessed and Be a Blessing!







Denise J. Hughes, “Word Writes: Ephesians”


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