Friday, November 9, 2012

Getting Doctrine And Duty In The Right Order

Beginning with chapter four Paul begins his 'practical application' section of Ephesians. Chapters one through three taught us what to believe; Now Paul will teach us how that doctrine flows out into how we live. We cannot stay forever in the doctrine section, merely gaining knowledge; We must move from chapters 1-3 to 4-6; we must walk! Although our believing the doctrine can be pictured as more of a passive sitting, Christianity is not limited to believing doctrine. From the position of faith we are commanded to walk. Faith produces works, or it is dead (James 2:17).

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him. Colossians 2:6, ESV
Walking: Living the Life.I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…” (4:1).
How's your walk? We rejoice in the glorious teachings of God’s grace, but now we must walk in obedience! For example, Paul led us to rejoice in the doctrine of election, that God chose us. But 1:4 says that he chose us ‘that we should be holy and blameless before him.’ The doctrine flows out into life. Jesus said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46).

Get the order right!
Just as we cannot stay in the doctrine section without applying it to life, we also cannot begin with the ‘walk’ section. We have the proper framework in place for studying the commands once we see that the rules in Scripture follow believing the truth that is taught. The rules, then, are not arbitrary laws looming over us and weighing us down; obeying them is not how we obtain righteousness. “The exhortations of Scripture become empty moralism without this gospel foundation” (ESV Study Bible notes). God’s grace has saved us (the first three chapters of Ephesians), and from that position we walk in obedience, full of joy, gratefulness and love (the last three chapters)!

Paul, reminding us again of his imprisonment (3:1) – which has been caused by his walk – now urges (pleads, begs) believers to not be satisfied with a dead faith that just studies; but rather to see the high calling described in the doctrine and then WALK out the implications:  live a life that is worthy of the high calling we have in Christ! Since we have now comprehended what God has done for us in Christ, and his eternal purpose to display his glory through the church, we must cooperate with him by living lives that shine that glory to the universe! The grace of God Paul has described has been overwhelmingly glorious. It should naturally lead us to obedient, God-glorifying lives.

Do you have the order right when approaching the commands of Scripture?

Start with the proclaimed gospel and the instruction on what to believe (about God: who he is, what he has done). Believe the truth and then proceed to the walk!

No comments: