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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:Peace Within The Church
Text:Ephesians 4:1-6 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Added:2022-06-22
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Ephesians 3:14-4:16

Text: Ephesians 4:1-6

 

PEACE WITHIN THE CHURCH

  1. The Foundation of Peace: Our Calling

  2. The Manner of Peace: Our Heart

  3. The Basis of Peace: Our Unity

 

  1. Psalm 65: 1, 2, 3

  2. Psalm 86: 1, 2

  3. Psalm 68: 1, 2, 7

  4. Hymn 50: 1-4

  5. Psalm 112: 3, 4

  6. Psalm 68: 10, 12

 

Words to Listen For: shout, lunchtime, rust, sidewalk, knockout

 

Questions For Understanding:

  1. What is the “acid test” of being a Christian?

  2. What is your calling?

  3. Why is walking such a good metaphor?

  4. What is the meaning of “worthy” ?

  5. What are the three aspects of our unity that make us a family?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved Congregation of Jesus Christ,

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have participated in the gold rush?  To go up to Alaska and find huge gold nuggets just sitting there in the river bed?

To see that shining precious metal right there…it must have been amazing!

But what about those gold rushers who THOUGHT they struck gold and found only iron pyrite - “fools gold” ?  What a disappointment that must have been to them!

Iron pyrite shines just as brightly as gold, the coloring is very similar…but it is totally worthless.

So…how can you tell if what you have is real gold, or fools gold?

Well, scientists have developed what is called an acid test.

You see, gold is a peculiar substance in that it does not dissolve in most acids.  And so, the test is simple.  If you are unsure if what you have found is gold, then put some hydrochloric or nitric acid on it.  If it dissolves, it was never gold.  If it stays, what you have is very likely to be the real deal!

And this got me to thinking…what is the “acid test” of a Christian?

One of you might say “Orthodoxy!  Orthodoxy is the acid test of the Christian!  There are certain things that a Christian must believe.  If someone does not believe these things, he may not be called a Christian.”

And this is true.  Every week, yet again, we profess our catholic and undoubted Christian faith with the words of the Apostles’ Creed.

If one does not believe that God created this world, if one does not believe that Jesus Christ came into this world to die for sins, if one does not believe in the Holy Spirit, or His sanctifying work, can such a person truly be called a Christian?

No.  They may not.

Orthodoxy is essential…but it is not enough.  As we can read in the book of James, demons know more truth about God than you do.  But such knowledge does not save them.

What then?

Another may say, “You’re right!  It’s not just about orthodoxy, it is about morality!  This is what is missing in Satan and his demons.  They aren’t morally pure!  The test is: are you moral?  Are you pure of heart?”

Again, morality is important!  If someone does not live a moral life, no matter what they confess, they are not believers.  And yet, there are many non-believers who live very moral lives.

A man is faithful to his wife for their whole marriage, he gives to charity. Even volunteers!  And yet he doesn’t believe.  Is he saved?  By no means!  Our good works, no matter how good in the eyes of the world, will dissolve in the acid.  They are not pure gold.

So what then IS the acid test of the Christian?  What could it possibly be?  What can withstand the acid and come out as pure gold?  The acid test of the Christian is that our entire life is dominated by God.  Our entire life is ruled by Him.  Our head is ruled by Him - we are orthodox in our belief.  Our hearts are ruled by Him - we are orthodox in our affections.  And our hands are ruled by Him - we are orthodox in our conduct.  You will not pass the acid test with one of the three.  Or even two of the three.  But you must have all three of these in order to be that genuine article.  In order to have a faith that is of pure gold.

In order to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, you must have these three aspects.

Right belief (your head)

Right affections (your heart), and

Right living (your hands)

And when we have these things, when we have been refined by the power of God so that we shine as pure gold, then we will have 

PEACE WITHIN THE CHURCH.  We will look at 

  1. The Foundation of Peace, which is Our Calling

  2. The Manner of Peace, which is found in Our Heart, and 

  3. The Basis of Peace, which is Our Unity

 

The Foundation of Peace: Our Calling

What exactly is our calling, beloved?  What is our calling?

I don’t expect you to shout it out, but I want you to think about it in your mind.  What is our calling?

If we don’t know this, then there is a big issue here.  The Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, gives this commandment to all believers - to the believers in Ephesus first, and now to us -  to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you were called.

If we don’t know the calling, how could we POSSIBLY walk in a manner worthy of it?

This is a big deal!  I don’t mean to exaggerate, and I don’t think I am exaggerating here when I say that the answer to this question informs your entire Christian walk of life!  We had better get this squared away right now!

Now, to be fair to all of you, there are two types of callings that Scripture speaks of.  There is the calling of identity and the calling of action.  The calling of identity and the calling of action.

     The calling of identity tells us WHO WE ARE

     The calling of action tells us WHAT WE ARE TO DO

So what is Paul saying here?  Which one is he referring to?

Well, for the answer, we have to look to the context.  First the immediate context - how does our passage start?

Verse 1 - I therefore

And we must stop.  The word THEREFORE.

With this word, the Apostle introduces a new section of the letter.  Up until now, he had been speaking, almost exclusively about THEOLOGY.  These various wonderful, beautiful doctrines of our salvation.  Paul had been speaking to the head.  He wants the Ephesian believers to be orthodox.

For the first three chapters of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul had been laying out, in his own marvellous way, the words tumbling out of him in run-on sentences and poetry, the great essential doctrines of the Christian faith - everything vital for us to know for our salvation.

In the last few weeks, we saw a few of these doctrines - the concepts of grace and peace, extended to the whole church.  The peace that we have with God because of the cross of Christ, tearing that curtain in the temple, from top to bottom.

The peace that we have with our brothers and sisters because of the cross of Christ, demolishing the death wall around the temple.

But, having done that, Paul moves into practical application.  Ephesians can be split, fairly neatly, into two parts.  Chapters 1-3 are about theology.  That glorious, wonderful theology of what God has done for us, and who we are in Christ.  Chapters 4-6 are about application.  Our Christian life.  You ARE THIS (chapters 1-3), therefore DO THIS (chapters 4-6).

And so, the calling to which we are called…Paul is referring backwards to WHO WE ARE.

So…who are we?

There is so much, it is so rich, I can only touch on it briefly with you this morning, so my challenge to you is to go through Ephesians 1 through 3, maybe at lunchtime, maybe over the next week, and make a list.  Make a list of who you are in Christ Jesus.  It is truly awesome.  It is awe-inspiring.

But just briefly, let’s follow Paul’s argument.

Ephesians 1:4 - He chose us

This is our calling.  GOD CHOSE US.

And Paul then answers all the important questions about this.

Who did God choose?

    It was us!  Jews and Gentiles both - He made us both one (Ephesians 2:14), He created in Himself one new man in the place of two (Ephesians      2:15)

How did this happen?

    In Jesus Christ! (Ephesians 1:4)

    With the sealing of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)

When did this happen?

    Before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4)

For what purpose?

    So that we would be brought near (2:13)

And be His sons (1:5)

            To the praise of His glory (1:6)

And perhaps the most important question: WHY?

    The simplest answer, the oldest answer, the answer most consistent with who our God is…LOVE (chapter 1:4)

So, let me recap.  What is our calling?

All of us, Jews and Gentiles both, were called BY God the Father, IN God the Son, WITH God the Holy Spirit, before time began, in order for us to be reconciled to Him as family members for the sake of His glory.  All this He did, out of love.

If there was ever a time to take pause and cry out in wonder over our God and what He has done, this is it.

Before the mountains were brought forth, before gravity, before water, before the sun, moon, or stars, YOU were in God’s mind and YOU were on His heart.  All three persons of the Trinity were involved in your salvation. God wanted YOU, His darling child to be brought in, out of the darkness, out of the cold, out of the suffering of a life of sin.

THIS is our calling.  And we must have it clear in our head.

And then Paul tells us to walk in a manner worthy of it.

Is there anything more impossible than this?  How would we even START?

Well, now that we have our HEAD filled up with the glorious knowledge of God and His calling, we move on to the manner of peace: our HEART.  Our second point.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.

WALK in this manner.  This is a favorite metaphor of New Testament writers, with the same word used for both “walk” and “live.”  Walk in this way.  Live this way.

There is something special about walking.  It brings up the active element of the Christian life.  Too often we think that we just have to “let go and let God.”  We think that the Christian life is something PASSIVE.  Something that happens to us.

And, as reformed Christians, we are even more at risk of thinking like this.  

We say things like, “We were DEAD in our sins, Jesus Christ did EVERYTHING!”  And that’s true…you WERE dead - Ephesians 2.  Jesus Christ DID do everything!  This we heard in our first point.  The amazing LENGTHS that God went to for you to be saved.  Every single step of your calling.

BUT NOW.

THEREFORE.

Let us not remain in the first half of Ephesians, but let it spur us on to the second half.  This is who you are…now do!  You have this knowledge in your head, now let it transform your heart!

And we don’t have to try to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps in order to be motivated to walk the walk, we simply have to look back at our calling!

A love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

I cannot resist such logic - you ARE so BE

I cannot resist such theology - this is WHO GOD IS!

I cannot resist such beauty - this is how much you are loved!

Do not just stand there and “let go and let God” and let life pass you by.  You must walk through life as a Christian.

You are called, you are empowered - you are like a classic Porsche, completely redone, ready to go…so don’t just sit on the driveway and rust away!  That is a WASTE!  That defeats the purpose of restoring the car!

So.  We must do something.  But what exactly should that be?  What is our calling of action, now that we know our calling of identity?

Well, the Apostle Paul lays it out rather neatly as we continue our text

Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.

What should our heart be doing to each other now that we know what has been done to us by God?

We have to walk in a manner worthy of our calling.

That word “worthy” … it originally refers to the weight of something.  Is the price WORTHY of the item you are purchasing?  Put the product on one side, and your payment on the other.  Do they match each other?

So our calling…our great and mighty calling, our calling as children of God, our calling as Christians…we are called to be like Christ.

So Jesus Christ is on one side of the scale.  And the question is posed to you - do you WEIGH the same as Jesus Christ?  And we know we are in trouble.

“Compare me with my neighbour!”  You might say.  “I’m better than him! 

Compare me with my brother - I’m the better son!

Compare me with my colleague, I’m smarter and kinder!

Just don’t…don’t compare me with Christ.  That’s where I can’t possibly hope to measure up.”

And yet, this is what God does.  He says “I don’t care if you are the best person in your workplace, or the best son there ever was…how do you compare to MY SON?  That’s right.  There is still growth needed.  You haven’t yet arrived.”

Do you weigh the same as Jesus Christ?  Are you acting, are you walking in a manner that is consistent with your Saviour? Is your heart starting to look a little bit like Jesus’s heart?

Are you walking in:

Humility

Humility, properly understood is “unconscious self-forgetfulness.”  Humility means to forget who you are, to forget what you think you deserve, and devote your energy, your affections, your intellect, purely in the service of another.

And to be truly humble, you can’t be thinking about it.  You can’t be thinking about how humble you are, it just has to flow naturally.

Humility is foundational to every other aspect of our Christian life.  We are to walk as Jesus did, and what better example of humility is there than our Lord, who gave up His heavenly glory to make wretches into treasures, sinners into saints, enemies into family?  Humility is what it took, and our Lord, the King of the Universe was willing to become a servant, washing the feet of His disciples.

We must ask ourselves, “Is there anything I wouldn’t stoop down to do for the sake of my brother or sister in the Lord?”  Would I be willing to give up my free time?  My peace of mind?

Is there a limit to what you would do for your brother or sister?

To help them, to love them, to bring them to a place of peace and joy, resting securely in their Saviour?  If there is a limit, then I encourage you to reassess your humility in how you walk.

Are you walking in:

Gentleness and Patience?

Walking with gentleness and patience - these flow directly out of humility.

If you are willing to put yourself second, if you are willing to forget about yourself and sacrifice for the spiritual wellbeing of your brother or sister, then make sure that you are actually helping the one you are sacrificing for!

Do not take a hard line with those who need to be comforted.  With those who need to be valued, with those who need to be shown love.  The worst thing you can do for those who struggle is to turn off your heart and simply be cool and professional.  The church is not a business, the church is not a company where policies are first and foremost.  No!  The church is a family and we must act as such.

Think of it this way.  Imagine a family where the rule is that you must take off your shoes in the entryway of the house.  All the children know this rule, and they follow it well.  But one day, one of the children is bullied on the way back from school.  She is called names, she is pushed and skins her knee on the sidewalk

This little girl runs home crying, opens the door, and through the haze of tears, sees her mother at the kitchen table.  In her distress, she doesn’t take off her shoes, but runs, headlong to her mother, needing a hug, needing comfort, needing love.

What should the mother do in this situation?

Should she look her daughter up and down, see the tears, the scraped knee, and the shoes and say, “Child, first, take off your shoes, and only then can we talk.”

No!  The heart of the mother goes out to her daughter, she scoops her up into her arms, she dries her tears, she bandages her knee, she listens patiently as the story comes out in sobs.  Not once does the mother think about the rules for shoes.

This is how we must be in the church of Jesus Christ.  Do not put shoes above your daughter.  You see the hurt, and everything else fades away.  This is the new priority number one.  See the hurt, and provide support and comfort.

And this is how we bear with one another in love!  I won’t get too much into that, as, not too long ago, we had an entire sermon dedicated to bearing one another’s burdens.

But essentially it comes down to this: please put up with me…because I will let you down.  Please put up with me and love me, even when I do things that aren’t right.  Please show me mercy and grace and love.

Please, bear the burdens of one another without casting judgement.  Your opinion on your brother’s burden cannot enter into it.

Remember beloved, the reason for our walk.  The reason for our heart.  It isn’t because our brothers and sisters in the faith are easy to love.  It isn’t because our brothers and sisters in the faith are always on the same page as we are about everything.  The motivation for our walk is our calling!

If you struggle with this call to action, then remember your call of identity.  I can’t preach a powerful enough sermon to make you humble, gentle, patient and loving.  I just can’t.  I’m not powerful enough.

It is our God who is the only one who can work these things in your heart. And He is glad to do so!  This is the reason that you were called.  You were called IN LOVE so that you WOULD LOVE.  It’s that simple.

And, when we start to do just that, the results will be amazing.  The head will be filled with pure doctrine, the heart with pure emotions, and then the hands can work to create the church our God has called us to be: a unified church.  Our final point.

As we see in our text, the Apostle Paul is ramping up to the only logical conclusion: UNITY.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, EAGER TO MAINTAIN THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT IN THE BOND OF PEACE.

     We were not called alone

     We do not walk alone

     We are not humble in a vacuum, we are not gentle only with ourselves

This is about the one-anothering that is so foundational to the church of Jesus Christ.

The only logical conclusion of all of this is that we are bound together.  In the good times and in the bad times, this is who we are.  We are the church, and we are ONE.

This unity is such a strong theme for Paul, look at how he emphasizes it.  Like a boxer, landing blow after blow after blow.

There is ONE BODY

    And ONE SPIRIT

        Just as you were called to the ONE HOPE that belongs to your

call

            ONE LORD

                ONE FAITH

                    ONE BAPTISM

                        ONE GOD AND FATHER OF ALL

7 blows to the disunity of the church

One BODY

One SPIRIT

One HOPE

One LORD

One FAITH

One BAPTISM

One GOD AND FATHER OF ALL

After a takedown like this, how can we even THINK of being disunified? How can we experience disunity with all of this that connects us?  It’s foolish!  It’s ridiculous!  It’s UNTHINKABLE!

These seven unifying aspects are aspects that our Lord SUFFERED AND DIED FOR.

These seven beautiful wonderful gifts, given to each of us individually, given to all of us together, to bind us together…they were accomplished through the cross.

This profound unity in our hearts and our minds should transform the way we act towards one another.

And yet, what do we do?  With all that connects us, we STILL focus on what tears us apart.

Maybe we are of one body…but you have a different interpretation of this scripture than I do.  Therefore I am justified in excluding you.

Maybe we are all filled with the same Holy Spirit…but you support a different political party than I do.  Therefore I won’t talk to you.

Maybe we have the same hope of heaven…knowing that we will stand side by side in glory forever…but today?  I refuse to sit in the same pew.

We maximize our differences and minimize our unity!  

This is not to say that we should IGNORE the things that separate us, or sweep under the rug the things that cause division, but rather, we should see them properly.  We must see them in reality.  We must see them in the light of the unity that we actually share.

I do not have the time to go through all 7 of Paul’s knockout blows here, so let me just focus on three with you briefly before we close.

We have one God and Father of all

We have a shared PATERNITY.  Each and every one of us have the same Father.  When we bend our knees and close our eyes at the end of the day and speak to our Heavenly Father, you and I are talking to the same being.  The same divine all-powerful, all-loving, all-wise God chose me and chose you to be his sons and daughters.

He is our Father - we have a shared PATERNITY.

We have one Lord

We have one Lord - Jesus Christ.  Our Saviour, when He suffered and bled on the cross for our sins, it was my sins and your sins that held Him there.  The blood that He sweat in the Garden was for my sake and for your sake  The blood that dripped from His head from the crown of thorns was for both of us.  The blood from His hands and feet, the flood from His side…it was for us that He bled, and we are covered over in the same blood.

But He isn’t only our Lord and Saviour.  Romans 8 declares that we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.  And so we can say that we have a shared FRATERNITY.  

We all have the same older brother.   My Saviour is your Saviour, and He is not ashamed to call us brothers - we have that shared FRATERNITY.

We have one baptism

This one may be a surprise, you may have thought I would have gone with the Triune tactic here.  Same Father, Same Son, Same Spirit.  But no.

We have one baptism.  We have one rebirth into the same family.  One can say, without it being too much of a stretch, that we have a shared MATERNITY.  Though GOD is not our mother, the CHURCH can rightly be seen as mother.  We are baptized into the family of God by the church.  We are nurtured, we are taught, we are loved by the church.  The very same covenant, with the same promises and obligations were spoken over you as were spoken over me.  We were baptized into the name of our Triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We all had the water that represents cleansing and rebirth sprinkled on our heads.

We have a shared MATERNITY.

And all of this to say, beloved, WE ARE A FAMILY.

Though some of what we do may seem too formal, some of what we do may seem too formulaic, we are not a business.  We are not a company, we are a family, and we are to love one another.  We are a family, and we are to be unified with one another.  We are a family, and we are to be at peace with each other.

And this peace is not a thin veneer, pretending there are no differences.  This peace is not a faked smile and a handshake. This peace isn’t fool’s gold - this peace is the real deal.  This peace is lasting.  This peace is based on our right understanding - knowing in our heads what it is that Christ has done for us.  This peace is felt in our right affections, worked in our hearts by the Spirit.

And this peace is demonstrated in our right actions - welcoming one another, loving one another, being unified and truly at peace.

And when this is done genuinely, with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul, and with all of our strength, then we will shine like true gold.

Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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