December 10, 2007
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I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
But ye have not so learned Christ;
If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Neither give place to the devil.
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
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Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
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Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:
Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
(To the Ephesians written from Rome, by Tychicus.)
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Thought for the day:
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In Ephesians 1-3 we saw the importance that God places upon the assembly. In Ephesians 4:11-16 Paul spells out a philosophy of ministry that every pastor and church member should understand and put into practice. Sometimes those of us who are part of a church body can ask ourselves: what it my purpose for being here? Even pastors sometimes fail to understand why they have been called to their place of ministry. This portion of Scripture answers those questions.
In verse 11 Paul is speaking of the purpose of the office gifts. The office of the apostle has been done away with (Acts 1:22, Rev. 21:14), as has the office of the prophet (I Cor. 13:8-10). The offices of evangelist and pastor/teacher are still in existence, and have been established by God to accomplish the work spelled out in the remainder of this section. In verse 12 he gives the pastor his responsibility: to perfect the saints. The word "perfect" has several different connotations. It can mean to mend, or to bring to maturity, or to simply equip and prepare. All of these ideas speak to the pastor's job. He is to try to mend the saints when they are having spiritual difficulties. He is to try to help his church members mature in the grace and knowledge of Christ. He is to equip them through his teaching and ministry so that they have the necessary tools to carry out their areas of the church's responsibilities. It is important for both the pastor and the congregation to understand this. The pastor is not an activities director. His purpose is not to see to it that the church has a lot of fun. He is there to bring the saints to spiritual perfection. This means that he has to have a teaching ministry, and must try to encourage people to take advantage of it. It means that he must preach with the desire of bringing people to decisions. He must confront those who are going astray, and give counsel to those who are in need of it. The church needs to accept this from their pastor, and give him the time and room that he needs to accomplish it.
The church has responsibilities as well. The pastor is to perfect the saints so that they can do the work of the ministry and edify the body of Christ. Often church members think that the work and the ministry is to be done by the pastoral staff. This is completely incorrect. The pastor is preparing the people so that they can do the work. It is interesting to contrast this with Acts 6. There, the apostles led the church to pick out seven deacons that could handle ministry and work-related responsibilities. The reason given for this was that it didn't make sense for the church leaders to leave what they were called to do to in order to do the work that any Christian could do. The pastors were to give themselves to prayer and to the "ministry of the word". In Ephesians 4, the church members are to do the "work of the ministry". This is God's program, and every church leader and member needs to understand it and become an active part in it.
It is interesting to note the goal of the pastor and the church. It is to produce
"unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God,...a perfect man,...the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (13).
The objective is to produce church members that believe, know, and practice the same thing, that have spiritual maturity, and are living lives that are Christ-like. This is achieved when people "speak the truth in love" (15). Some people are afraid to speak the truth because they fear that they will be perceived as unloving. Others do speak the truth and are indeed unloving. Paul says that truth can never be compromised, but it must be spoken from a heart that loves God and loves those who are being ministered to. Every part of the body needs to be involved in this (16 - "every joint supplieth"), and when the church as a whole responds and works properly, the end result will be a congregation that loves one another, edifies one another, and experiences growth (16).
If you are a pastor, you are in the ministry to perfect your people. If you aren't in the pastorate, you are in your church to learn, so that you can do the work and edify others. We all need to line ourselves and our philosophy up with the Scriptures, and determine how well we are fulfilling God's program.
Pastor Mark J Montgomery