Faith and practice

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“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Ephesians 4:1

The first three chapters of Paul’s letter to the Christians at Ephesus are full of weighty doctrine, describing the unfolding of God’s glorious plan of salvation, and explaining what God has done for us in Christ. However, in the second half of the letter Paul shifts the focus to practical Christian living, and this is why Chapter 4 begins by urging us to “live a life worthy of your calling.” In other words, we are being encouraged to live a life that is consistent with the great calling, or salvation, that Paul has described in the first part of his letter.

Paul’s approach here is instructive, for many people today try to separate faith and practice. On the one hand, some who profess to be Christians have a profound knowledge of theology and truth, and perhaps even have a great understanding of the Scriptures, and yet this knowledge is not matched by practical godliness in their everyday living.

On the other hand, some avoid doctrine and truth, preferring to focus on being “practical Christians”. However, the fact that Paul lays a doctrinal foundation before giving practical instruction shows us that practical godly living is built on the foundation of truth and understanding. To live a life that is pleasing to God, one must first understand who God is and what He has done for us in Christ. The more we know and understand God and His will, the more thoroughly we are equipped to live in a way that is pleasing to him.

Therefore Paul’s approach warns us against separating faith and practice. The goal is for us to develop a sound understanding of spiritual truth, not as an end in itself, but for the purpose of practical, godly living.

Bryan Marx

Grahamstown Baptist Church

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