This sermon was preached on Sunday, March 15, 2021 at Kerr Presbyterian Church by Rev. KJ Norris as part of a Lenten Series on Ephesians.
The outline which follows was used by the preacher; it is not a transcript of the actual sermon, but one can be made upon request.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.
What words are the most essential to the Christian faith?
Love, faith, hope, grace.
Our Scripture begins this morning with “therefore.” In college I had a pastor who would say, when we are reading Scripture and we see a “therefore” we must ask ourselves: what is the “therefore” there for? And this weekend commentator… (Verher and Harvard, 2011, p 131).
Anytime you see a therefore in Scripture it is a turning point. Something is about to change. And there are a lot of “therefore”s in Scripture because the Christian journey and life always involves change. God changes us. We are God’s hands and feet empowered to go out and change the world according to God’s kingdom come.
So, the therefore is essential to our faith. Paul is about to switch gears here. He has taught us a lot up until this point. We can look back on the first three weeks of Lent and see what we have learned:
- Blessings of God—the grace that God lavished on us and our call to gratitude
- Learned about ourselves—that we were born dead, but that in Jesus Christ we have come alive! And that life includes an opening wide of the church doors—a unity between people which would not exist except for the work of Christ
- Model of prayer which reminded us that we are completely changed—made new in the power of the Holy Spirit—in our hearts, minds, and guts (our very being)
And as we go into the next three chapters, we want to hold on to all of that. Because of all of that THEREFORE.
Therefore, because of God’s blessing and Christ’s salvation, and the Holy Spirit’s empowerment, we are called to live differently.
And the next three chapters are all specific information about how we are to live our lives. Here Paul lays out what the Christian life looks like, day in and day out.
Today, in particular, we are given three admonishments—three ways that our lives should be lived now that we know the great love of God.
The first call is two a number. Did you hear it? Over and over again the number 1.
(Read vs 4)
Notice here that the three persons of the Trinity are named: Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus, and God the Father. Usually we hear them named in the reverse order, but today Paul starts with the Holy Spirit, probably because it is the Holy Spirit who speaks to our spirit, waking us up to knowledge of God, as we saw in chapter 1.
But regardless of the order, we are reminded that God within God’s ownself has diversity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not the same. We know that because Jesus prays to God the Father when he is on earth, and the Holy Spirit could only be sent once Jesus had ascended. Sometimes we see all three persons of the Trinity working together like in the creation story where the Spirit hovers over the water and God the Father creates through the Word speaking all things into existence. Or at Jesus’ Baptism where the Spirit comes down like a dove and the voice of God speaks truth as Jesus comes out of the water.
So, the persons of the Trinity are separate and here they are all named and their work is seen and at the same time Paul reminds us that there is 1 God. And this One unified God, One God in three persons calls us to oneness as well. One body, one hope, one faith, one baptism.
God is unity in diversity and THEREFORE, we are called to be the same. We are called to be one. To serve as one. To communicate as one. To live as one.
Then Paul goes on to give us two other “therefore”s in this section.
The second therefore is the fun one, I think. Paul assures us in verse 7 “Each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Each of us is gifted! Every single one of you is gifted in Jesus Christ. You are gifted.
Perhaps you grew up, as I did, in the time when schools were using a method called tracking to teach students. They would divide students into groups—the red group, the yellow group, the purple group. And everyone knew that the teacher was labeling you. Some were considered “gifted” and they even used that word for those who had been given and passed an IQ test with a certain number. They were the “gifted” ones and the rest were left behind.
Well, not so in God’s kingdom. In God’s kingdom, every single person is given a gift. You are blessed by the Lord and empowered in the Spirit, thanks be to God.
And the interesting thing about this gifts is: they are given to us so that we might give them away. Five specific gifts (or offices really) are given here. Yes, this is just a sample of the gifts—you can find others in 1 Corinthians and in Galatians. But let’s take a look at the 5 gifts.
- Apostles (limited number; may have been jealous)
- Prophets (look at what is happening and tell the truth)
- Evangelists (spread the good news to those who do not know God)
- Pastors (Preachers)
- Teachers (same and different—Jer)
How about you? Which of these resonates with you? (go back through)
Since God has done all of those things (chapter 1-3) and given us each a gift we are called to use that gift for the Lord. How are you using your gift of…
Paul goes on to give us the three reasons we are gifted in those five ways:
- Equip the saints for the work of ministry (Work of ministry—taking care of the poor)
- Build up the body of Christ (Encouraging one another; life-long journey)
- Until all of us come to the unity of the faith (Bringing in new believers)
Then Paul gives us a third “therefore” (Read vs 15-17).
Therefore we are to speak the truth in love—bearing with one another in love as the passage begins.
I’ve been thinking this week a lot about what it means to speak truth in love. To bear one another in love (actually a better translation), To listen to one another in love.
- Those who speak only fact without emotion
- Those who speak only emotion without logic
- Those who don’t speak at all
Our call is to speak-to bear-to listen to one another in love. Recognizing that we don’t all speak the same. Or listen the same. Our call is to unity.
And we aren’t going to get this perfectly. We are together are doing as Ephesians 4:16 says and growing in love. Love is not stagnant. It takes time to grow and develop—starting with being rooted in God’s love and then branching out from there.
So, this week on this 4th season of Lent my challenge to you is to consider: Therefore, what should we do? Therefore, with all that we know about the love of God: how can we live as one? How can we use our gifts? How can we speak-bear-listen to one another in love?
May we spend this week considering how God is building us into the people we are called to be.
Verhey, A., & Harvard, J. S. (2011). Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible (Ephesians). Westminster John Knox Press.