When a person joins an organization, what that person is doing is required to live in accordance with the standards of the group.
The person accepts its aims.
The person accepts there objectives and standards as their own.
Just as Canadians we abide by the rule of law of our country.
An employee is obligated to work according to the rules, standards and purposes of the company.
Members of certain interest groups or clubs obligate themselves to promote the goals of the club and abide by its standards.
When you play hockey or some other sport you play by the rules and the plan the coach has set out for the team.
This is the standard to which we need to operate otherwise it would be cautious.
The natural man and woman have the desire to be accepted and to belong and many of us will take the necessary steps and disciplines to fit into that certain group or setting. Many people will even go to the extreme to not be rejected by a group. A prime example of this is found in John 9:18-23 “The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" His parents answered, "We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself." (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) Therefore his parents said, "He is of age; ask him." Although these parents saw the glorious results of their son who was blind, who was healed by Jesus, they would not credit it to Jesus. They were more concerned about saving face then to glorify Jesus for healing their son. They did all this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders.
Why? The answer to explain these parents’ actions and the many during this time is found in John 12:42-43 “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” John 12:42-43. The last thing we were created for was to please man and to be accepted by man. When Christ grabbed you by the feet and pulled your dead corpse out of the deepest sea of sin and death you were brought into a relationship that not only transforms your life at the moment….. but forever.
Just as we have earthly obligations and some of them are good and some can be bad for various reasons.
God expects conformity within the church. This is a no brainier and it should be so obvious to us as if there was a pink elephant standing here on the platform behind me. Sadly though, when a person hears the word “conformity” some people immediately think their under some form of dictatorship and if they do not comply with the dictators rules and demands they might be put in prison or worse put to death for not conforming.
Now, I know that a little extreme and we would call this Nazi Germany; Marxism or the Liberal Government……this kind of conformity is bad and does not end well for people like you and me. But, there is a conformity that is good and it’s for our good and ultimately for God’s glory. Because this conformity leads to life and godliness and most of all blessings that have eternal implications. When you read the scriptures and you read the letters to the churches they’re not a bunch of forced legalistic set of external rules and regulations. It might seem that way on the surface if you read the scriptures in that manner as a set of rules and regulation. The downward spiral of this kind of thinking leads a person to a life of external, forced rules that are legalistic and only outward conformity. But remember what the LORD said to Samuel “….For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." 1 Sam 16:7. Be careful Samuel this outward appearance can and is deceiving to the people of God and sadly fall prey to kind of thinking in the church age.
Remember what Jesus said about the religious elites? “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous,” Matt 23:27-29
As we’ve touched already the outward man and woman is dying and there is no stopping that age process, but the inward man or women is being renewed and strengthen day by day. Julie and I were talking about this on our way down to the Pastors/wives retreat about when we get older and become externally weak and our minds are not as strong as they are right now. We want our disposition in old age to honor God with nothing but praise and thanksgiving to our Lord and for what He has done in and through our lives. We do not want to be as we were in the outward because it’s ugly and not of Christ.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. (A couple I visited in the hospital, and a couple I visited in the home.) See, our deepest longing and desire for the Christian life is to have a deep rooted inner conformity and desire to… holiness, love, and the will of our Heavenly Father.
We see this truth here in the text before us this morning!
Look what Paul says after his prayer! (v1) “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,”
The conformity that the bible speaks of is an active faith that is obedient to what has already been displayed in our lives through the gospel.
What is that you ask?
I’m glad you asked…it’s found in the points that Paul has already touched on this far beginning in chapter one to the end of chapter three. (Summarize the first three chapters). These are the amazing theological realities that we get to savor and ponder in our hearts through the amazing grace of our God who gives to us abundantly. Knowing this wonderful truth and the blessing that is before us,
Paul wants us to shift gears ….
From Biblical doctrine to responsibility.
From principles to exercise.
From the indicative to the imperative.
From the indicative to the imperative.
From exposition to exhortation.
From position to behavior
From high society and worldliness to high life and Christ glorified
And this life that Paul is calling us to may not be an easy one! Why do I say that? Paul reminds us again that he is “a prisoner of the Lord” This indicates to us that the worthy Christian walk can be costly and Paul is letting us know that it has cost him considerably because of his obedience to the Lord.
Are you ready for that? This is an important question to answer because what Paul tells us next is pivotal to a healthy church. Look what he says with urgency “I urge, entreat or beseech you to walk worthy of calling to which you have been called.” It’s almost as if Paul is on his knees still from his prayer pleading with God’s children to take this life that God has given us through the gospel seriously; and walk in such a way the world stops and scratches their head in amazement. Paul makes no apology for pleading with the people to do what he knew was right. That’s why we see this word urge, entreat or beseech because it emphasizes a strong desire to do something for what is about to be said. Which is? “The calling to which you have been called”
“Called” here is referring to God’s effectual call on a sinner’s life. It’s referring to God’s sovereign call of His monergistic work in salvation. Monergism is a theological term in which the prefix "mono" means "one" and the suffix "ergism" (ergon) means "to work" together they mean, "the work of one", salvation is of the Lord alone, not a cooperation of man and God. The Trinity works in harmony to bring about the salvation of His elect. The Father elects us in Christ, the Son redeems the same, and the Holy Spirit applies regeneration to the all those the Father has given the Son. This effectual call and work of God is the reason why God can resurrect dead dry bones and give them life.
We see this in the book of Ezekiel “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD." So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live." So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.” Eze 37:1-10
This calling is a high calling or as the scriptures say “a Heavenly calling” Heb 3:1 This calling is a “holy calling” 2 Tim 2:9. And this is why Paul says what he says here in this text, to remind us of God’s goodness. And also to remind us that the receptive Christian is determined to what? “press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:14
How do we do that? Paul says “walk worthy” of this calling which indicates to us the importance to our daily conduct of life as God’s children. The word “worthy” is axios which has the root idea of “weight.” This word is where we get our English word axiom which means “to be of equal weight”
John Piper said we are to “Act in a way that fits the great value and glorious nature of God and the gospel and your calling. And what fits with that great value? Faith. Above all things, faith and its fruit of love fits the worth of God and the gospel……Walking worthy of that favor means walking by faith, because faith is the one thing that agrees with our bankruptcy and God's infinite "worth." Looking to God's infinite worth for our help and satisfaction is "walking worthy of God." Its living to match one’s position in Christ. Knowing that about Christs and what the Godhead did for us makes us sensitive to walk in which we have been called. Why? This calling came at such a high cost and in return we express our love for Christ by our walk of obedience and love to the Triune God.
Not out of forcible stubborn obedience, but out of love and adoration for the Savior and the grace of God in our lives. Here Paul gives us some very import essentials for faithful Christian living, important essentials to a healthy church. Essentials worthy in the Lord’s calling on your life. We will continue next week as we look at these essentials to a healthy church
So stay tuned!