Ephesians 4 begins the practical section of the book in which Paul lays out the spiritual maturity necessary to produce godly character. Maturing Christians have the attitude that they have never arrived.
Unity in Christ's body is maintained by more than individual behavior and relationships. It is maintained by having a unified mission.
Paul includes two unusual elements at the end of his letter to the Roman Christians. He gives a final instruction about protecting the health of a good church and closes with a 3-verse doxology. (He normally ends his letters with a prayer of benediction.) Though danger was not present in the Roman church yet, spiritual danger is always imminent. He warned the church in Rome so they would be ready.
The next portion of Romans 8 compares temporary suffering to eternal glory. All Christians experience suffering in varying degrees: Some faithfully serve despite chronic illness; others grieve over a straying child, unsaved spouse or parent; some persevere after losing a faithful spouse; and many are waiting to see friends they love come to Christ.
We cannot be saved by grace and grown by the law. Trying to grow ourselves or others by the law is setting up any external standard of holiness by which to measure one's spiritual growth. Whether the standard is given by God or man, it can never produce spiritual growth.
Romans 6-7 are all about how a Christian becomes more Christ-like after he or she comes to know Jesus. Chapter 6 takes a positive approach, while chapter 7 takes a negative approach.
In ministry and in life, there are many necessary and noble things but fewer primary things. If your child is in the emergency room with a broken arm, you understand when a person with a heart attack is treated first. In the church, there are major ministries and lesser ministries. All need to be addressed. 1 Timothy 5 outlines in detail how the church is to care for widows faithfully and comprehensively in order to please God. The purpose of this ministry, in the context of the whole book, is to protect the church and further the Gospel.
Fire drills and tornado drills can seem redundant, but they are necessary for collective safety. Paul drills Timothy on defending the faith in 1 Timothy 4:1-5. His words tie back to the instruction in chapter 1 on addressing falsehood in the church. Pragmatism or legalism is addressed through rehearsing the Gospel and individual believers' testimonies. Falsehood does not encourage outreach because it has no message to share outside the church. It works inside and divides the flock. Genuine believers embrace the Gospel and seek to take it outside the walls of the church.
1 Timothy 1 is all about ministry balance. Paul emphasizes three things necessary for Timothy's ministry and every local church:
Every member must take responsibility for all three. A congregation that only teaches sound doctrine or only evangelizes will know success for a while, but a flock where each saint embraces the challenge of learning to defend the body of faith entrusted to them will know the eternal blessing of God.
This passage shows the spiritual change of three individuals – Jacob, Judah, and Joseph. Two of them had made significant mistakes in their younger years, yet God showed patience with them. By His grace, they progressed in their maturity and now show virtues of obedience. This can encourage us not to measure spiritual growth by hours, a day, or even a month of a person’s life. Instead, look at big-picture growth. Do you know God more than you did a year ago? Are you more Christ-like?
There are no more happy people on earth than those who know and do the will of God! God’s will is found as we study His Word. We are responsible to what we know of the Scriptures.
Theme: Our Eternal Foundation, Part 4 – Every Spiritual Blessing is In Christ Paul continues his prayer that we started looking at in verses 15-16. In these verses, his prayer turns from thanksgiving to request for the Ephesian believers, that they would continually understand more of all they were given in Jesus Christ the moment they were saved. This morning, we looked at 2 of the 3 things that Paul wanted the Ephesian believers to understand:
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