Summary: Paul writes in Ephesians 4 that we have one hope, and that hope is based upon our calling. When we understand our calling, we will understand our hope, and we’ll know how to live like Jesus.
Living With One Hope
Let’s start with our text this morning . . .
READ: EPHESIANS 4:1-4
Today we will focus on the exclusiveness of the Christian faith as we try to understand what it means for us to have one hope. But before we talk about hope, actually in order for us to understand hope, we need to properly understand one other word here . . . call or calling. I’ve purposely brought us back to verse 1 this morning to place the second half of verse 4, just as you were called in one hope of your calling into proper perspective. If you remember, weeks ago I spoke to you about how we work for unity in the church, and I told you that we are all called to it, not just leaders/pastors, but all of us, we have a calling. As Paul says, I implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.
I want to say to us this morning that unless we’re clear about our calling, and what a calling is, we will not be clear about our one hope, and what that is.
1. We have a calling.
There are two words used here in this passage to express or remind us of who we are. They are the words calling and call. The word calling is a Greek word pronounced klesis(klaysis), its translated almost entirely in the New Testament as calling, in one other place scholars have translated it as vocation. Which should tell us a little bit about what calling means. It includes a vocation, a career. A way of life.
The Greek word we have here, translated as call, is the word Kaleo. This is a word found quite a bit more frequently in the New Testament than the word klesis. Kaleo in its simplest understanding is the idea of an invitation. So, if I give you a call it means I am sending you an invitation.
So what Paul is trying to remind his readers and you and me this morning is that we are an invited people, and that we have been invited to a vocation, a career, a job, a way of life.
When Paul uses these terms here, what he is really talking about is discipleship. What is a disciple? A disciple is a biblical word used to describe someone who follows a religious leader/teacher. In its simplest form, the Greek word for disciple means, pupil or student.
Disciples were not uncommon at the time of Jesus, or before Jesus. There were disciples, but there were actually so few. In Jesus’ day and age, how did one become a disciple? Well, education was valued in the Jewish community. And children went to school, they were students. They would go to school up to the age of 13. School for them was called Beth Sefer and school happened at the synagogue. It’s where everyone learned to read and to write. The curriculum at beth sefer was the Torah the first five books of our Bible. It was at beth sefer that the children would read the torah, write the torah, and would eventually memorize the torah. After finishing beth sefer children would graduate from being children to being adults. Jewish boys would celebrate their bar mitzvah at the age of 13 which the dictionary tells me would mean that they had attained the age of religious duty and responsibility. This means that now they would be held accountable by God for their actions. Girls would celebrate their bat mitzvah one year earlier at the age of twelve (I guess this means girls have always been smarter and more responsible than the boys). And school would be done. Tatum & Kelsey . . . can you guys imagine being done school? When beth sefer was done, it was the beginning of a life of responsibility. You’d learn a trade, work with your family on the farm, or get prepared to learn how to take care of a husband or family.
School was done . . . but for a few there was a hope for further education. If you were passionate enough about your religious duty you would head over to the local synagogue during your down time (like when the work was done or the harvest was in) and you would attend what was known as beth midrash. Beth midrash was like going to sit in on debates and lectures by the Rabbi’s. They would stand around debating and discussing the words of the prophets and the more profound meaning of the Scriptures. The Midrash is actually the writings of Rabbi’s connecting the dots, if you will of the Torah.
If your knowledge was growing, and you had the intellectual knowledge, and the desire to do more than just your duty for God, and you could find the intestinal fortitude, the guts, you would approach your favorite Rabbi and ask him if you could be his student . . . talmeed. A talmeed refers to someone who wants to be what the Rabbi is, not just what he knows, but a person who wants to be a disciple wants to be like the Rabbi. If you were going to be a talmeed, it was really of your own initiative. Rabbis didn’t search for disciples, rather, desirous candidates for disciples came to Rabbis and asked to follow them. “May I follow you?” Rabbis wouldn’t just say yes . . . in actual fact, most were probably turned down. A Rabbi might give you enough of a chance that he may allow you to hang around for awhile and he may watch you. If you had the stuff, if you knew your Torah and more, if you had the passion, if you had the raw potential and skill, ability, you may just be accepted to become a talmeed.