Walk Worthy Of Our Calling
By Rich Carmicheal
This issue of Herald of His Coming focuses on themes drawn from the Book of Ephesians. Central to those themes is the glory of the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. One of the glorious truths that the Apostle Paul shares is that Christ is raised from the dead and is seated at God’s “right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:20-21). God “put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church” (1:22).
And yet, something even greater awaits as the day is coming in the dispensation of the fullness of the times when God will “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him”! (1:10). As H.A. Ironside noted in anticipation of that day: “What a wonderful time it will be when everything unchristian will be put down, when the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ will be recognized not only by all in heaven but by all on earth.”
How good it is that we already know Christ and belong to Him, and that we will be among that company that will be part of the eternal glory of Christ! God has “made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (2:5-7). And not only will we be testimonies to His glory in the “ages to come,” we have the privilege even now of drawing the attention of heaven and earth to Him, as the intent is that “…now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (3:10-11).
This calling is so grand that it has been in God’s heart from before time began, in keeping with His eternal purpose. As Paul writes, God chose us in Christ “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (1:4). We were “predestined” to adoption by Jesus Christ to God (1:5), “according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (1:11). We were created in Christ “for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (2:10). Praise the Lord for His grace in bringing us into such a marvelous salvation in Christ and the privilege of living now and forever for Him!
We Owe All to Christ
We, of course, owe everything to Him. He is our Savior (5:23) and “in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (1:7). The dimension of His love is so great that it “passes knowledge” (3:18-19), and because of His great love for us, He gave “Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (5:2, 25).
Once we “were without Christ…having no hope and without God” (2:12), but now we who once were far off have been brought near by His blood (2:13). He Himself is our peace (2:14), and by His death on the Cross, He reconciles us to God (2:16). Through Him we [Jew and Gentile] have access by one Spirit to the Father (2:18; 3:12). Because of Him we are “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, …Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (2:19-20).
Just as He promised, He is building His church (Matt. 16:18), and we “are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22). He is our Head, and as members of His body He nourishes and cherishes us (5:23, 29). He also sanctifies and cleanses us “with the washing of water by the word, that He might present [us] to Himself a glorious church…” (5:26-27). He gives spiritual gifts to us, including gifts of leadership for the equipping of the saints and the edifying of the body (4:7ff). He teaches us the way to live (4:21ff) and is our source of truth and light (4:21; 5:14).
His riches are unsearchable (3:8) and He is the source and means of all of God’s precious work in our lives. We are chosen in Him (1:4), adopted through Him (1:5), made alive together with Him, and seated in heavenly places in Him (2:5-6). The glorious reality is that God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (1:3).
Christ Dwelling Within
Another truth about Christ that is absolutely vital to our spiritual life is that He dwells within us. Consider the substance of this prayer by the Apostle Paul: “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…” (3:14-17). Paul goes on to pray: “…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:17-19). Consider the possibilities for our lives and ministry if we are “strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,” if Christ dwells in our hearts, and if we are “filled with all the fullness of God”! How could we overestimate the significance of such truths!
Christ is our life! As the Apostle Paul says elsewhere, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
His Power Working in Us
And with the Lord’s presence in our lives also comes the Lord’s power “that works in us” (Eph. 3:20). That power is so great that it is beyond our comprehension, and so one of Paul’s prayers is that God “may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know…what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places…” (1:17-20). In other words, the incredible power God used in the resurrection and exaltation of Christ is at work in us! And the potential of such power is immeasurable! No wonder Paul breaks out into doxology: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen”! (3:20-21).
Marks of a Christ-honoring Life
With all of the above amazing truths in mind, the Apostle Paul urges us to “walk worthy of the calling” with which we are called (4:1). He then proceeds to describe the life that we are to live as those who belong to God through Christ – the life that He enables by His Spirit and His power, and the life that brings glory to Christ now and in that day when God will “gather together in one all things in Christ….” In great honor and love toward Christ, may we give ourselves fully to such a life – one marked by the following characteristics:
• We are to live our lives with “all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:2-3). We are to use the spiritual gifts Christ has given to each of us “…for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” (4:7-16). We are to speak the truth in love that we “may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ” (4:15).
• We are to put off our old self and former way of life, and be renewed in the spirit of our mind, and to “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (4:22-24). We are to put away lying, as well as “all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking” (4:31).
• We are to “be imitators of God as dear children” (5:1). Just like Him, we are to be full of kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness – “forgiving one another, just as in God in Christ forgave [us]” (4:32). With Christ and His love in our heart, we are rooted and grounded in love (3:17), and we are to walk in love, as Christ also has loved us (5:2). Love should be a defining mark of our lives (1:15; 3:17; 4:2, 15-16; 5:2, 25; 6:24).
• Sins such as sexual immorality, impurity and covetousness are not even to be named among us since we are God’s people, saints set apart for Him and His purposes. Remember that He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, “that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love” (1:4). Sadly, we are living in a time when some who claim to be part of the church are embracing what God clearly reveals in His Word to be immoral, unclean and covetous. But the Apostle Paul forewarns us to not give way to sin, no matter what popular opinion may be: “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them” (5:5-7).
• We once were darkness, but now we are light in the Lord. We are to walk as children of light and have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness (5:11). If there is darkness in you, let this word arouse you: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”! (5:14).
• We are to be very careful how we live, walking “not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (5:15). We are not to be unwise, but we are to understand what the will of the Lord is (5:17). We are not to be drunk with wine, but filled with the Spirit! (5:18). Notice how the life of God is to abound and overflow from within us toward the edification of others and toward praise and thanksgiving to Him as we are to be “filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in [our] heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:18-20).
• For those of us who are married, our marriages are ultimately to be about the glory of Christ, a reflection of His love for the church, and the church’s honor and respect for Him. If you are a husband, then as the head of your wife you are to love her just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (5:25). And, just as Christ does for the church, you are to nourish and cherish your wife (5:29). Others should see Christ in the way you love and care for your wife. If you are a wife, you are to submit to your husband as to the Lord. Others should see in your honor and respect for your husband a reflection of the honor and respect the church has for Christ as she is subject to Him (5:22-24, 33).
• The focus of our families, including the crucial role of parenting, is to be upon the Person and the ways of the Lord. Whereas many families today are busy with all kinds of pursuits and activities, the primary concern of Scripture is that children be brought up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (6:4). In light of God’s eternal purpose in Christ, what could be more important for our children than our doing all we can to help them know Christ as their Lord and Savior, and to help them grow in Him and His will for their lives?
• The Apostle Paul’s words to masters and servants in his day provide some important principles that can apply today to our roles as employees or employers. As employees, we should serve “in sincerity of heart, as to Christ” (6:5). We are to do “the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord…knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord…” (6:6-8). Employers are to do likewise, looking to the Lord and showing concern for the well-being of those working for them, and not acting harshly toward them (6:9).
Victorious in the Spiritual Battle
In light of the significance and consequence of God’s eternal plan to gather together all things in heaven and earth in Christ, it is not at all surprising that the devil and the powers of darkness are working to oppose it. As Paul reminds us, we wrestle not “…against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (6:12). This is obviously a very serious spiritual battle, and so Paul exhorts us to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” and to “put on the whole armor of God, that [we] may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (6:10-11). How good to know, as Paul shares elsewhere, that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…”! (2 Cor. 10:4-5). The power and protection of our God is more than sufficient for the battle!
“Therefore,” Paul implores, “take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God…” (Eph. 6:13-17). And we must be watchful and prayerful, on behalf of ourselves and other believers – “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” (6:18).
As we watch and pray, and as we wrestle in this spiritual warfare, praise the Lord that we know how the battle will ultimately end! Christ has already “disarmed principalities and powers” and “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in [the Cross]” (Col. 2:15), and the day is coming when the devil will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). We look forward to the Return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and to all that is to come – to the fullness of the times when God will “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him” (Eph. 1:10). As we eagerly anticipate that time, may we take our stand in Christ and live up to the glorious calling we have in Him!
“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen” (6:24).