“We find ourselves at a seam or a hinge in the argument of the book of Ephesians,” said David Gunn, director of Regular Baptist Press, on Thursday morning. “Paul is going to transition from discussing things in their doctrinal dimensions, to discussing them in their practical dimensions.”
Building on the rich doctrinal content of Ephesians 1—3, chapter 4 brings things into stark, practical relief. “Your church should be united,” Gunn said, “and your church should be growing.”
The church’s unity is enjoined in Ephesians 4:1–3, and its basis is explained in 4:4–6: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
“So we’re enjoined to be united,” Gunn said. “And as is so often the case in Holy Scripture, there is one meaning to be discerned and drawn out of the text by means of careful exegesis, but in the proclamation of that meaning there may be multiple levels of application. May I just mention three of them this morning?”
- Level 1: The local church should be united. It shouldn’t be constantly bickering and fighting about things.
- Level 2: Our association of Regular Baptist churches should be united. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to become tribalistic and wall ourselves off from one another.
- Level 3: When it comes to gospel-preaching, Bible-believing churches outside our particular associational and theological perspective, we must not regard them and speak of them as our enemies. Rather, despite the theological and philosophical disagreements we may have, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Furthermore, Paul enjoined the Ephesians to be growing. This is not a reference to numerical growth, Gunn says, but to the qualitative growth that occurs through the process of discipleship. “It’s as though we’re all children—and indeed we all start out in a state of spiritual infancy—but over time, as we’re guided by the spiritual authorities God has placed over us and as we together carry out the work of the ministry for the building up of the Body of Christ, we are spiritually ‘growing up!’”
“So,” Gunn concluded, “united, we grow! May it be true of my church, and it may it be true of yours too, until ‘we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’” (Eph. 4:13).