We share our opinions and insights at SBC Voices, but we believe that the Voice that matters most is the one that comes from God’s Word. We present these daily expositional devotions, beginning with a tour of Ephesians called, “Walk Worthy,” in hopes of encouraging our readers to remember to Voice above every voice.
Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1 CSB
We have all likely experienced something similar, meeting with the family of one recently deceased. “He lived a rough life, had no time for church, but when he was 8 he went forward at a revival meeting and got baptized. And, you know, once saved always saved, right? So we know Uncle Buford is in heaven.” It is natural for us to hold on to any hope we can when we lose a loved one, but such thinking evidences a failure to understand the message of Paul in Ephesians.
The amazing salvation that Jesus wrought for us by grace through faith without works requires from us a walk that reflects the transforming power of Christ in us.
It is common to divide Ephesians between the first three chapters of the book an the last three – the doctrinal and the practical. Chapters 1-3 tell us how God saved us and chapters 4-6 tell us how to walk in the light of that salvation. While that is an accurate basic outline of the book it misses the unified flow. Ephesians 4:1 ties it all together.
…live worthy of the calling you have received.
The “calling” Paul speaks of is the salvation he detailed in the first half of the book. After the introductory review of the blessings we have in Christ (1:1-14) and Paul’s prayer for insight for the Ephesian readers of his letter (1:15-19), Paul lays out the glories of the salvation of Christ (1:20-3:21). Chapter 2 explores two great aspects of our salvation – one we Baptists have grasped and loved and the other we have often not accepted so well. Ephesians 2:1-10 reveals the human condition – dead in sins, given over to living by the ways of the world, and by our very nature under the wrath of God. But God intervened to give us life according to the immeasurable riches of his grace. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone with no mixture of our works or merit.
Of course, we sometimes stop at Ephesians 2:9 and forget verse 10, that we were created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
We have done much better at preaching the first half of Ephesians 2 than we have the second half. We preach individual salvation of sinners by grace through faith with the best of them. But we sometimes overlook verses 11-22, that messy section about Jesus shedding his blood not only to save individuals but also to bring people from different races and backgrounds together in one Body. Jesus died to “make the two one” and to destroy human hostility racial hostility. Paul continues, in chapter 3, to explain his ministry to the Gentiles.
Considering the greatness of God’s salvation in redeeming sinners and uniting them in one Body leads Paul to break out in a doxology – much as he does at the end of Romans 11.
Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
But salvation by grace through faith is about more than “going to heaven when I die.” It leaves us obliged to live a certain way, to “walk worthy” of that salvation that Jesus worked in us at the cross. As the first three chapters explain the “calling we have received” the next three chapters explain what a worthy walk looks like.
We cannot earn God’s favor but as recipients of grace we are obligated to walk as Christ walked.
Where does the “worthy walk” begin? Unity! We must walk with humility, gentleness, and seek to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We do not have to build unity. We have unity in Christ is we do not tear it apart. We must simply maintain what Christ is creating – one eternal united church.
We must walk a new life in Christ, putting off the old ways of the flesh and putting on the new life of Christ. (4:17-32) We must imitate Christ and walk in moral and spiritual purity unstained by the filth and darkness of the world. (5:1-14) We must live carefully, redeeming the time, and walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. (5:15-21) A worthy walk affects all our relationships, including husband and wife (5:22-33), parents and children (6:1-4) and slaves and masters (6:5-9). We must also be strong and face down our enemy in the full armor of God.
When we share the gospel it is often about heaven and hell – what happens when you die. But Jesus saved us for much more than that. Ephesians is about how God’s great salvation affects how your life today. As we explore the amazing grace of God it is our hope that you will be inspired to do as Paul commanded and live a life worthy of the calling you have received.