Lesson 12

Called to One Hope

(Ephesians 4)
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Introduction: We have spent many weeks this quarter studying our hope in Jesus' Second Coming. How should that hope impact our day to day living? Should it make us dreamy? Should we forget the here and now to concentrate on what will be? Should we dig in and get to work to make the Second Coming happen? Let's turn to the Bible and find out what it says about how we should live!

  1. Called to Consistency

    1. Read Ephesians 4:1-2. Is Paul saying we are prisoners? If you are a prisoner, what choices do you have on how to live?(Paul appears to be writing this letter to the Ephesians while he (not the Ephesians) is a prisoner in Rome. An earlier reference that supports the conclusion that Paul is in prison is Ephesians 3:1. Ephesians 6:20 also lends some support.)

      1. If Paul is in prison, why would he say "as a prisoner .... I urge you to live a life worthy of [your] calling?" Why does the view of a prisoner add any power to his point? (As a prisoner, Paul does not have the choices in life that the rest of us have. He is urging the Ephesians (and us) to fully engage in those things he cannot now do. When you cannot do something, you become more aware of it. That gives Paul's message special meaning.)

      2. What is the reason for ( Ephesians 4:1) living a "life worthy of the calling" we have from God? What is this calling anyway? (God saves us by His grace. We do not earn salvation. But, part of the gift of salvation is a "calling" to act like we are saved. Jesus discusses our call to a higher standard of living in Matthew 5:43-48.)

      3. What does verse 2 ( Ephesians 4:2) tell us our life should look like? What characteristics should we display? (Humility, gentleness and patience.)

        1. How does your scorecard rate on these three character traits?

        2. Is 0 out of 3 OK? How about 1 or 2 out of 3?

        3. Why are these characteristics mentioned as opposed to good old obedience? Wouldn't it be easier to just obey rather than trying to be humble, gentle and patient?

        4. When verse 2 tells us to be "bearing" with one another, does that assume that someone is annoying us?

          1. What do you think "bearing" means?

          2. What does it mean to bear with one another in love? Does that mean that you must be loving and nice to someone who annoys you?

        1. Is verse 2 only speaking of dealing with people in the church? How much "bear" activity do we have to tolerate? (This text shows me the sin in my heart. I have always worked to be patent and gentle with "helpers" - those that in some way are under my control. But if you are a "manager," an opponent (or worse) another car driver, well, I need to go back and read this text several times!)

  1. Called to Unity

    1. Read Ephesians 4:3. Wait a minute! Am I free from being patient and gentle with opponents and other car drivers? Who does this verse indicate is included within the group to which we need to be humble, patient and gentle? (This text is clearly speaking about our Christian brothers and sisters. The "unity of the Spirit" is within the body of believers. While we may well have an obligation to the world, these verses are speaking about our obligations in the church.)

    2. Read Ephesians 4:4-6. When Paul says (v.4) "one body" what do you understand him to mean? (This is referring to the church. Christ's body is His church. Ephesians 5:23)

      1. When Paul says "one Spirit" what does he mean? (The Holy Spirit)

      2. When Paul says "one hope" what do you understand him to mean? (This is the hope we have been studying: the hope of Jesus' Second coming. We hope to go with Jesus to live forever.)

      3. Why do all of these "ones" have anything to do with being humble, gentle and patient? (How can we have our hope set on a unity in heaven if we are not working together in a reasonable manner now? The opposite of these terms, arrogance, harshness and impatience, are qualities that tear a church apart.)

      4. When Paul writes of "one faith" what do you think he would say about all of the churches that presently exist?

        1. How can you reconcile the "one faith" ideal with the "remnant" idea?

        2. Is the "remnant" idea inconsistent with being (v.2) "completely humble," or is it just a statement of truth?

      5. Another thing that bothers me is (v.5) Paul's reference to both "one Lord" and "one God and Father." If we had only "one Lord" or "one God and Father" mentioned, I would be fine. But 1 (one Lord) + 1 (one Father) = 2. How can we reconcile this with our concept of the Trinity? (If we go back to verse 4 we also have "one Spirit." The concept of the Trinity is not easy, but these three "ones" add up to one. See Matthew 28:19)

  2. Called to Ministry

    1. Read Ephesians 4:11. We have just been speaking about how our hope in the Second Coming should create unity. Does this verse sound like unity to you?

    2. Let's read on. Read Ephesians 4:12-13. How does this diversity of gifts create unity? (All have different gifts given by God. Working together, these gifts build up the church.)

      1. What are God's people being prepared for, according to these verses? ("Works of service.")

        1. Is that what you understand the goal of the pastor, teacher, evangelist and prophet to be - to put other people to work? (The blessings of these various gifts are to be used to prepare others to do God's work.)

        2. What lesson do we learn about how we should live as we hope for the Second Coming? (We should be working while we wait.)

      2. When verse 13 tells us that we can reach "unity in the faith" does that mean my faith can save you? Is this part of my work for you? (Those of you reading the lesson quarterly carefully will note some bizarre contradictions. In commenting on verse 13 (Thursday), it says about faith, "You can never give it to someone else." Earlier (Monday) the lesson reprints a quote which ends with the statement: "God accepts our faith in your behalf.")

        1. Which is correct? What does Ephesians 4:13 teach us about the faith of one person being sufficient for another? (Paul would have no reason to write about "all reaching unity in the faith" if only a few needed to have faith.)

        2. The last part of verse 13 mentions faith and knowledge making us "mature." Is mature a goal?

          1. How do faith and knowledge create maturity? (The more you know, the more you understand the actions of others. Understanding the actions of others aids us in our goal ( Ephesians 4:2) of being gentle, patient and willing to "bear" with others.)

    3. Read Ephesians 4:14. This verse tells us that our "maturity" (mentioned in v.13) helps us handle false doctrines. How does maturity accomplish that? (Paul says that maturity in faith and knowledge, helps us to avoid constantly changing our religious beliefs. This verse paints a picture of a Christian racing around pursuing new ideas -- ideas created by crafty, scheming people. Maturity puts a stop to the racing about.)

    1. Friend, we have a work to do as we wait for the Second Coming. We need to discover the gift(s) given to us by God (v.11) and use those gift(s)to teach and prepare others to serve God. Will you join in the work?

  1. Next week: Ultimate Things

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