Developing My Identity in Christ Part 1

Developing My Identity in Christ Part 1

Text: Eph. 4:1-16

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  • We have been thinking together about our identity.
  • We cannot understand who we are by looking around us and trying to anchor ourselves in others, nor can we figure out who we are by looking inward at our ebbing, fluid emotions, passions, and desires.
  • We were designed by God, and if we want to understand who we are, we must seek to discover his will for our lives as individuals and with others who desire to honor him as our Creator and our Father.
    • We can best understand God’s purpose for us by knowing Jesus.
    • Our Identity in Christ Has Certain Qualities that Develop/are formed in us and expressed through our actions.

Paul’s Vision of a Life Worthy of Our Calling 4:1-16

Eph. 1-3: A Brief Summary of Paul’s Theology of our New Identity in Christ

  • Our New identity in Christ: By Grace, we have a new life in Christ. We are now the Father’s adopted children and heirs together with Christ. Our new family includes both Jews and Gentiles reconciled to God and one another, and as a new humanity in Christ, we are being built together to become a holy temple in the Lord.
  • Paul’s Prayer in 3: 14-21—God must constantly supply all we need.

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, urge/implore you to walk/to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (4:1,17; 5:2, 8, 15).

  • 4:1-6 is one sentence in Greek, so look for connected ideas!
  • Paul describes himself: the prisoner for the Lord (3:1, “the prisoner of”).
    • His life is immersed in the reality of the risen Christ, and it does not matter what role he has if he is following Jesus.
    • His new identity in Christ has transformed everything else.
  • A walk/ a life worthy of the calling you have received.
    • “Walk”: a biblical metaphor for the nature of our life with God.
    • An activity in a direction with a purpose and a destination.
    • The expected character of this calling we receive from God.
    • See Eph. 1:18 on the hope of our calling: our walk with Jesus has a purpose and a destination. (see Rom. 8:28)
  • Periods in my life when I was on a spiritual treadmill—not growing up or moving ahead with Jesus; routine walking in place.
    • How would you describe the posture of your walk with Jesus?
    • A joyful confidence because you travel with him daily?
    • The look of one lost & discouraged on a trail?

What our Development Looks Like as We Walk with Jesus

Keep The Unity of the Spirit: Our New Identity is Interdependent

  • Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit
    • The reality of what we have in Christ unifies us with God and with one another: we have been reconciled & we are interdependent!
  • Qualities of members that maintain unity:
    • Humble & gentle (Mt. 11:29, Jesus is gentle & humble).
    • The Spirit’s fruit includes love, peace, patience, & gentleness.
    • Patient: bearing with one another in agape love.
    • Diligent in pursuing peace in the Spirit.
      • Not insisting on my own way (my kingdom come).
      • Our working together & our accepting one another in love is essential: saying we love each other is not the same as learning to love & accept one another despite our differences.
  • Seven aspects of a profound theological reality unify our diversity.
    • One body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God the Father.
    • The world emphasizes “my way”; the Spirit emphasizes Jesus the way.
    • Demanding “my will be done” damages & divides the community.
    • Worship styles, minister preferences, personal taste, politics, etc.
  • Often Christians seem gifted in damaging this precious reality!

The Risen, Ascended, and Victorious Christ Graces His People (4:7-10)

  • At the center of this section we find Jesus: the source of our new life, our unity, and our gifts, and the one who supplies all we need to mature as his followers.
  • Our new life with and in Christ is by grace
    • The gift of the Spirit to God’s people.
  • We continue to rely on the risen Jesus to equip us for his purpose.
    • Each one in the body has gifts from Christ.

Growing Towards a Christ-Centered Maturity 4:11-16

  • Verses 11-16 form one sentence in Greek (keep the connections).
  • Gifted leaders are concerned about our maturity in Christ.
    • Gifted leaders equip & encourage all of us to be involved in service/ministry to others as we grow in the fullness of Christ.
    • The body of Christ is built up & unified through serving others.
    • Our knowledge of Jesus becomes more real as we rely on him and learn to serve with him.
    • How many of us resist input from spiritual leaders?
  • Then we will no longer be infants.
    • Not driven and confused by constantly changing waves and winds of a culture-driven understanding of identity.
    • An Essential Quality: Speaking the truth in love to one another.
  • Genuine maturity will look increasingly like Jesus.
    • We become an expression of Jesus in all we do.
    • When people encounter us, they experience something profound: they discover God’s love changing us and expressed through us.

Conclusion: How did we lose this beautiful vision of who we are?

  • Perhaps our own vision statements & goals became more important.
    • Did we decide that Paul’s vision was too challenging & impractical?
    • You cannot easily quantify Paul’s Vision:
    • How would leaders measure such growth? Not with the statistics of baptisms, attendance, programs, and giving.
      • Jesus discouraged the crowd of over 5,000!
      • Jesus preferred the widow’s pennies over the wealth of those who impressed others in the temple.
      • Paul is not counting baptisms in 1Cor. 1:13-17.
  • Jesus and Paul both emphasize the centrality of our life in the kingdom.
    • See Jesus’ prayer in John 17.
    • In Col 1:9-14 Paul prayed for our living a life worthy of Christ.

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