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Are You an “Ephesians 4-6 Only” Christian?

March 4, 2009

Most of our churches are “Ephesians 4-6 Only” (“E4-6 O”) churches. If you’re anything like me, then you tend to lean towards being an “E4-6 O” Christian also.

By “E4-6 O” I mean the tendency to preach how one should act apart from what one should believe. More specifically, I mean those who give a number of religious rules or tips on right living apart from the Gospel.

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is beautiful in its symmetry – the first half establishes what the Christian should know and believe, with the second half establishing how the Christian should live in light of this belief. Right thinking of God and right action towards God. Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy. These cannot be separated from one another.

In most churches we hear sermons where Eph. 1-3 is directed towards unbelievers and Eph. 4-6 is directed towards believers. This practice communicates that the Gospel is helpful only in getting someone saved, but it should be tossed aside once we get into “practical matters.” Nevermind that it is the Gospel that both compels and enables us to live rightly before God.

A typical Eph. 5 sermon on marriage manifests itself like this: the first 35 minutes are a Jesus-less, Gospel-less discussion about practical marriage tips, with a 3 minute conclusion that awkwardly tacks on the Gospel just in case there’s someone in the room that doesn’t have “a personal relationship with Jesus.” Where was the Gospel before?! It’s there in the text, so why has it been cut out with less tact than a surgeon in a back-alley organ-stealing scheme? You have removed the heart of the text.

If you don’t get Eph. 1-3 – if you don’t get the Gospel – then Eph. 5:22-33 will make no sense. They cannot be separated from one another. Let us teach, live, and proclaim the whole counsel of God.

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