Tag Archives: Ephesians 4

Not as the Gentiles Do

Biblical Text: Ephesians 4:17-5:2 NLT

Full Sermon Draft

We’ve been reading and working our way through the Letter to the Ephesians this summer, and we have come to the core of the back half of a letter of Paul. If you’ve read these enough you know that the back half of Paul’s letters tend to be concrete application. What he was preaching in a rhetorical way in his intro and main points meets actual life. Earlier in the series we identified three main points.
1. The Father through Christ has blessed us with every spiritual gift.
2. We are being built together though the Spirit
3. We are being built with the purpose of showing the rich variety of the wisdom of God

Last week’s sermon looked at the concrete examples for those first two. This sermon starts Paul treatment of the examples of that third point. What does the rich variety of the wisdom of God look like? Paul’s treatment is deeply tied into the 10 commandments and Jesus’ sermon on the Mount. The sermon brings in Luther’s catechism treatment. All of this demonstrating the remarkable consistency of the order or the wisdom of God. The biggest thing that might shock moderns (as it shocked ancients) is that Paul assumes that we can change. When we were Gentiles (i.e. separated from God) it was potentially reasonable to despair of actual change. But we are not Gentile. We have put off that old life and are being renewed in the Spirit. That is Paul’s emphasis. We are being sanctified which is wild in the variety the God bring out of his free people. So, I’d invite you to listen, and to come back for the next couple of weeks. Paul challenges us who have known Christ to imitate him.

Picture of Perfection

Biblical Text: Ephesians 4:1-16 NLT
Full Sermon Draft

Picture of Perfection might not be the best title for this, although that is where is ends up. Maybe the path of maturity, or Growing to fullness. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians makes the switch that his letters often do in the second half. He has a main point to express which has been the last three weeks of chapters 1-3. The sermon does a quick recap of that before digging in. The back half of Paul’s letters turn to concrete practical matters. How does the theology that he’s just proclaimed become real in our lives both personal and congregational. In the case of Ephesians how does every spiritual gift that builds us together look?

It starts with love. It is helped by the concrete gifts of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. And when is all strives toward maturity, we get a picture of the perfection or the completion intended. A church not blown astray or led away by some pied piper because it is perfectly fit together in the bond of love. This sermon expands on this growth to maturity.

Walking in Hope


Text: Ephesians 4:17-5:2
Draft of Sermon

From Pentecost (50 days after Easter) until the first Sunday of Advent (4 Sundays before Christmas) the church is in what used to be call ordinary time. Others labeled it the time of the church. I offhandedly call it the green season. That is because the color that is on the altar for the entire season is green. By Advent you are ready for the blues or purples and then the whites and reds of the festival season. The thought that ties them all together is that now is the time of grace. The tree is green now.

One of the features of the lectionary (the assigned readings (and introits, prayers and psalms)) during the green season is a straight reading of some of the epistle lessons. This year one of those letters we read is Ephesians. This sermon is the fifth in the series (started July 15th). If I was to put a subtitle on the Letter to the Ephesians is would be Walking in Hope. Much of the earlier letter and sermons hung on the Hope portion. The lesson this week turns to walk the walking look like.

And Paul treats the walking in two ways: 1) what a false walk looks like (Paul would say, “walking how the gentiles do”) and 2) what walking in the Spirit looks like. Paul is very clear and this should be a great help to Christians today when so many are saying walk in many different directions. Anytime you are talking about what a Christian walk looks like it runs the risk of being turned into a law. But it is exactly the sickness of the time that calls for the explicitness. In any explication of how we should live there is an element of the law. If we are honest examining ourselves, we know when we don’t measure up. Even Christians need that to drive us toward and remind us of our hope – the gospel of Jesus Christ. The walk breaks us. And when the walk breaks us, when we die to the that walk on our own, is when Jesus is able to replace the heavy yoke and give us his light one.

Birthrights

Bible Text: Ephesians 4:1-16 (background Gen 25:25-34, Luke 15:11-32, baptisms)
Full Draft

The US has a famous list of birthrights: all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This sermon is not about those, but we as a people might talk about rights, but we rarely talk about either where they came from or how. The most precious ones are grants. And even more precious are the ones backed by the divine account. Governments may say that we have certain rights, but if the government gives it can also take away. Hence even Jefferson – extreme deist at best – rooting life, liberty and pursuit in a creator.

But turn from the political realm for a second. Salvation has come to us as a birthright. Baptism now saves you (1 Pet 3:21). The Christian has been born of water and the spirit (John 3:5). There is one body and One Spirit, one lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all (Eph 4:5-6). That is the good news. God so loved the world that he gave his only son. Salvation, forgiveness of sins, is our birthright in Christ. And nothing external, not even the devil himself, can take it from us. The sermon recounts two biblical stories: Jacob and Esau and the Prodigal Son. Two stories of Fathers and Sons. Two stories of despising the birthright. That is the only way we lose our inheritance – to despise it.

The American Founders were wise people. They understood this also. They lived in a society that was schooled by the church’s teaching. Even the deists and Harvard Unitarians quoted and studied scripture. Asked of Franklin: What kind of government have we? A republic, if you can keep it. Also Jefferson’s quotes about the tree of liberty and blood. Our tendency is to despise things that we have been granted. They knew it in the political realm. How much greater in the spiritual?

So Paul starts with an exhortation – “I a prisoner of the Lord urge you to walk in a manner worthy of your calling (Eph 4:1).” Don’t despise your birthright.