Our Calling Toward Christian Maturity

August 11, 2014

As Sioux Falls Seminary develops individuals for their unique calling in ministry, we begin by discussing the primary call for all of Christ’s followers.

Ephesians 4:1 reads, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”  Let’s look closely at that verse and what it means to our walk with Christ.

Ephesians 4:1 stands at the center of Paul’s circular letter to Asia.  It marks a turning-point.  The first half of the epistle outlines God’s redemptive plan to unite all things in Christ, already set in motion by Jesus’ death, resurrection, and heavenly enthronement.  Thus God makes known his surpassing love for us.  On this basis (4:1, “therefore”), we are to conduct ourselves with every excellence now, in keeping with the outcome toward which God’s renovating power is shaping us.

Chapters 1-3 declare what God has done; chapters 4-6 exhort us to bear out those facts in the way we live.  Paul grounds his moral imperatives in good news.  Our ultimate destiny as God’s people is to be “holy and blameless before him” (1:4); God has prepared “good works … that we should walk in them” (2:10).  To that end, God has unleashed in believers the very energy that raised Jesus from the dead (1:19-20).  To have sins forgiven is an incalculable gift (1:7).  Had God’s saving work stopped there, had he left us indefinitely carrying out the same trespasses and sins in which we once walked with the world (2:1-3), how would that news be good?

So not only did God satisfy the penalty for our sin, but he also destroyed sin’s power over us.  Both are true: in history Christ died “for us” (5:2, 25), and in baptism we rise “with him” (2:5-6).  The Spirit through whom God calls people by his word takes residence in their hearts as an inner strength (3:16-17) to renew their mind and inspire them to don the self of the new creation (4:23-24).  This is the “hope” to which God called us (1:18): that, instead of remaining disabled by sin, we shall attain complete humanity, growing up into “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (4:13), so that, in the ages to come, God might shower on us the immeasurable riches of his kindness (2:7).

Chapters 4-6 spell out what a walk worthy of this calling consists of.  Christians are to flourish in church unity, bearing one another’s’ peccadillos and building one another up (4:1-16).  Sensuality, falsehood, anger, stealing, foul speech, malice, sexual immorality, and drunkenness are to be replaced with self-control, truth, hard work, edification, kindness, chastity, and the filling of the Spirit (4:17-5:20).  Likewise in households we are to meet obligations to those above or below us (5:21-6:9).  To stand against the demonic, we must armor ourselves with the panoply of virtues and with God’s word, praying at all times (6:10-20).

Ministers (4:11-12) play a structural role as ligaments of Christ’s body (4:16). Themselves receiving grace from the Head, also convey nourishment to the rest of his body, so that we all progress toward maturity in Christ—to which God called us.

God has called all of us toward maturity in Christ.  Sioux Falls Seminary is committed to creating a system of theological education that takes seriously the holistic development of individuals, and we believe that starts with an understanding of what it means to be a disciple.  Ephesians 4:1 is a good reminder of the fact that we are called, first and foremost, to walk in a manner worth of our calling.

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