Worthy of Your Calling
Ephesians 4:1–3 (AV)
1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
In this sermon, MLJ considers the command that we walk “worthy of the vocation”.
It is this concept of “calling” which concerns Dr. Lloyd-Jones. First, he briefly considers the matter of “worthy”: we are to walk worthy of our calling. Worthy has two basic meanings: one is balanced – it is of the same weight. To that he contends that our life to be “worthy” must be balanced between doctrine and practice. At this point, I have one of my few disagreements with MLJ. That understanding cannot really be gotten from the text, even though he is correct that one’s life should have balance.
The second use of the word “worthy” is something fitting, proper – or as he says, something “becoming”. We must walk in a matter which is “becoming” of our calling. That leads to the primary concern in the passage: walking worthy of our calling.
His primary concern with the word “calling” or “vocation”. The word “vocation” used in the King James Bible comes from the word for “calling”:
Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin vocatio(n-), from vocare ‘to call’.
Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, eds., Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. The Greek is plainly “called” – not trade or profession, which is the usual understanding of the word vocation.
First he notes that the concept of “calling” has two basic uses in the New Testament. There is a general call which made to all people:
Acts 17:30 (AV)
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
All people are called to repent. But there is another call which applies only to believers:
Romans 8:28–30 (AV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
It is this “calling” which is the measure of our walk:
That is precisely what the Apostle Paul is arguing here, that we have been called in order that we may show forth these things. Be worthy, he says, of the vocation, the gcalling by which you have been called. We do so by applying the doctrine and knowledge which we have. We have to live as those who realize that we have been called by God into his heavenly calling.
What then are the elements of doctrine which we must keep in mind in order that we have fitting life?
First, we have been blessed:
Ephesians 1:3 (AV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
There is no point in talking about our difficulties, or the problems of life in this complicated modern world of the twentieth century. What matters and counts is that we have been blessed with ‘all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus!
Second, there is a goal to our calling:
Ephesians 1:4 (AV)
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
God has called us not merely that we might not go to hell, and not only that we might know that our sins are forgiven; He has chosen us ‘to be holy’ and to be ‘blameless before him in love.’ We have no to argue or to question or query. That is the life to which He has called us.
Third, we have been chosen for this life: Ephesians 1:5 (AV) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
We have been called into the family of God; we are God’s children. And we are to live in a manner that will reflect credit and glory upon the family and upon our Father.” But this status is not only what I am at the moment, it also entails what I will become. I am destined to be a joint-heir with Christ. We are being fit for an eternal status. “We are to live as realizing that we going on to glory.
Fourth, since we have been blessed in the heavenly places and are so called, “We must live, I say, as realizing that we are seated in the heavenly places even at this very moment.”
Fifth, we must live in the knowledge that this calling is all based upon the free grace of God. This was made possible by the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So when sin comes and tempts you, or when you are doubtful as to whether you ca go on with the Christian life, or feel that is hard and makes excessive demands, remember the price that was paid for your deliverance, your ransom. Christ gave His life unto death that we might be rescued and that we might be holy.
Finally, notice that Paul writes as a “prisoner of the Lord”. MLJ takes this not to refer to a temporal Roman imprisonment but as Paul’s status before God:
I am living the life of a prisoner; I am actually in prison at the moment. And I am in prison because I do not decide what I do; I am the servant of Jesus Christ, I am His bondslave….We have no right to live as we choose and as we please. We were the prisoners of Satan; we are not the prisoners of Jesus Christ. We should have no desire save to please Him.