Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Protecting the Unity of the Spirit 4.10.2016
Dear friend,

As we continue our studies in Apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesian congregation, we are picking up in verse 17 of chapter 4. Last Sunday we heard of our call to walk worthy of the calling which we have been called into. First of all, we have been called by God to enter into His kingdom as an individual through repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Having been called into His kingdom, we are called to walk in unity in the Spirit, for we are of the same Spirit. Being called by and being indwelt by the same Spirit of God, we are one body and as individuals we are called to serve for the good of the body.

Each member is gifted according to the grace of Christ, various gifts are dispensed among the members by Christ, which are for the maturing of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the building up the body. This work is to continue within the body for the personal growth and maturity of each member off all ages all the way to the time when Jesus will return again.

We left off last week with this verse, which leads us into our sermon text for today. In verse 16 of chapter 4, Paul writes:

KJV Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

The Holy Spirit concluded the first section of this letter by pointing out that Jesus Christ, as the chief cornerstone of His Body, is the head of the body and it is from Him that the body is built together. In the buildings of that era, the cornerstone was placed first and the rest of the building was built in accordance with the initial cornerstone. What Paul is saying here is that all teaching and doctrine flow from the Word of God that we have before us, and from the Word of God who became flesh and lived here on the earth.

Two very important facts stand out here: We must remain connected to the Vine, Christ and as members of his body, we must remain joined together with each part doing its part to work for the collective good of the corporate body, the congregation and so on. It is through remaining in Him, in His Word that we grow in love amongst ourselves, and therefore become enabled to love all people. In other words, being in Christ, we are called to participate within the body that we are a part of.

What has been written here in the beginning part of chapter four is an overall outline of what the structure of the body of Jesus Christ is designed to be so that it might function properly. As we go through the last part of this chapter, we will hear some more general teachings, and in the last part Paul we will hear some specific instructions, from which will flow application into our lives. What the Apostle seems to be doing here is giving admonitions/warnings about those things which can and will cause the connections within the body to become ineffective and even broken.

Let us read the portion that is before us today, and we will go through only verses 17-24, and next week will finish the chapter with verses 25-32.

4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity (devoid of truth, perverseness, empty) of their mind,
18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

He is speaking to Gentiles who have been converted from darkness to light, instructing them to not walk in the darkness anymore, a darkness that is in the mind, having a darkened understanding, shut out from communion and fellowship with God through ignorance which is due the the blindness of their heart. He than gives a warning of the consequences of walking in darkness, saying that in that condition they have become hardened in their conscience and have given themselves over to unbridled lust, to moral depravity that hungers for more and more ways to fulfil its lusts.

20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

If we have come to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ as revealed from God, we are to put off the old life that is according to the flesh, which is corrupted, depraved and which will never change its nature.

As a Christian, we have been delivered from the guilt of sin, the power of sin, but not from the presence of sin. In other words, we no longer live under condemnation of God, for He has placed our sin upon Christ, we have come to an acknowledgement of our guilt and of our need for forgiveness. We have been assured through the preaching of the Word that His grace is greater than our sin, and believing that, we live with no guilt for our sin.

We have also been delivered from the power of sin. What does this mean? Upon receiving the gift of faith, God comes to live in us in His Spirit, by which we given new loves and new hatreds.. These are consistent with the loves and hatreds of God. We no longer live under the power of the law, but we live under the power of grace,

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

But we have not been delivered from the presence of sin.

Perhaps going to the 7th chapter of Romans will help us in this.

Romans 8:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

KJV Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

As already stated, we live in freedom from guilt and from the power of sin but not from the presence of sin. Here in this part is shown unto us in verse 22 of the delight and joy that is in our heart that has been renewed, called the new man.

But there is left in us the old man's influence, which wars against our new mindset and which is trying to bring us into bondage to the old mindset. This causes a lot of unhappiness in our minds, in our hearts, and in our lives. So at times we cry out like the writer did: 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

The answer: I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord, and we could go onto say that through Christ we have been delivered from the guilt and the power of sin. But not the presence of sin. For Paul goes onto write that with the mind (and that is the mind that has been renewed or the new mindset) we serve the law of God (we love the things of God); but with the flesh, the law of sin. Hence, the conflict goes on, the new mindset has dominion in our life, but the old mindset is always trying to come back to gain the control.

A number of years ago we had a visiting preacher here and he used an illustration to help us see how this works that really stuck with me. Perhaps some of you remember it, but if not here is how he brought it out. He said that our old mindset could be likened unto us having a back pack on our back all the time, in which the old mindset lives. Every so often the old mindset tries to open up the top of the backpack and try climb out of his lower position. Sometimes we are not even aware of his advances, other times we are, but when we recognize him and his old ways, we push him back down into his place.


Thought leads to actions, Actions lead to habits, Habits become your character, Character determines destiny (your eternal life)

4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.


There are three very important truths here, so let us look at each one separately.

4:22 That ye put (for good) off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

23 And be renewed (continual action done in us) in the spirit of your mind;

KJV Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Righteousness is God's unchanging aversion to right, and holiness is His unchanging aversion to sin.

God's mindset never changes, and we are called to put on this mindset of new clothes, to sink into them so to speak.


Our new mindset has been created by the Word, by faith we trust Him and His Word.

1. We need to resist the old mindset that only wants to live apart from God. (get back in the backpack)!

2. We need to continually be renewed in the knowledge that we are free from the guilt of sin and from the power of sin.

3. We need to remember that even though the presence of sin is still in us,we have been clothed with the righteousness of God through faith, and those are clothes what will never wear out.

Let us pray:
Lord, we thank you for your Word which is the Truth, the Way and the Life. Dear Father, you have blessed us through Christ your Son, by reuniting ourselves with you through Him, you have placed us in this wonderful fellowship of believers and you have given each of us gifts according to the measure of your grace.
Help us to comprehend more and more of your saving grace towards us, for we know that as you do that work in us, it will enable and empower us to put off the old mindset, to be renewed in the spirit of our mind and to continually live in the clothing that you have provided for us, the righteousness of Jesus Christ, clothing that will never wear out.

And that growth and maturity, dear Father, we understand will increase our love for you, for one another here in our congregation and for all people. For we know that as your love increases in us and amongst us, unity in the Spirit binds us together in purpose: Your purpose.

May we receive this benediction that the Apostle Paul prayed upon the Thessalonian congregation:

2 Thess 2:11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:
12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 10 Apr 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Growing Together 4.3.2016
Good Morning, dear friend!

This morning as I sat at my desk in the office, I was reflecting on the Christian fellowship that we are privileged to be a part of and as the message today speaks of growth in the Christian graces, I paused for awhile and thought of the ways that many in our congregation exhibit and demonstrate this reality. I thought of the many that are doing their part as an individual, but ones who has come to recognize that they have been given the gifts by Christ and that their gifts are to be used for the benefit of others.

Thank you to parents for teaching your children at home, for bringing them to Sunday School, to church.

Thank you to teachers and mentors who are praying for your children and teaching them about the love of Jesus.

Thank you to each of you, who in many ways give of your time, of your
money and of your abilities to serve those both in our congregation and out of our congregation. I would go so far to say that I know that all of you present here this morning give in ways that you yourself may not even realize the extent of it. May God bless each of you as you continue to demonstrate the heart of Jesus towards your neighbor.

Today we are resuming our studies in Paul's letter to the Ephesians. (4:1-16) We now move from the doctrinal part of the letter (1-3) to the practical application of his letter. In other words, Paul has explained that we have been brought into union with Christ through faith, and so we might approach the rest of this letter with this question: We are saved, we are assured of heaven, so what does that mean for me in my life here in the meantime? By what Paul under the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit writes, that seems like an apt question. Let us hear what he writes... I have put headings over the paragraphs, so let us go through it and I will provide some comments as we go along.

Now that Christ has redeemed us, we are to fulfull our calling.
KJV Ephesians 4:1 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.

There is only One Church of Jesus Christ
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Everyone of us have been gifted by Christ.
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Different Gifts are Given
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

For these Purposes
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

For how long?
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

Each of us work together to grow the body of Christ through connections with one another, not forgetting that Christ is the Head of the body.
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Now let us draw some conclusions to what we have heard....

Since we are Christians who have been called by God through the Gospel, we are to walk in a manner suitable to our calling. He points immediately to the reality that we are a part of a group, and now that we are part of a group, it is no longer about ourselves as an individual. We have been brought into joint fellowship by the Spirit of Christ and it is this same union that Paul exhorts us to continue in. He then points out that there is only one Church, the church of Jesus Christ, which we testify of in the Apostle's Creed..

"I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting."

He is not referring to the physical church, but the invisible church which is made up of all those who have come to know and experience the true God as is written in John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

He then goes on to write that within this church (and in individual representations of the True Church) gifts are given by Christ Himself who is the Head of the Church, they are given to individuals so that collectively the whole would be served. He lists some of the particular gifts and the purpose for which they are given., And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 4:11-12

He then speaks to the matter of Christian growth and cautions against remaining as an infant spiritually speaking. He is not talking about growth in numbers of people, but he is addressing the importance of growing in the Christian graces. What does this mean? It is said in a number of ways in the scriptures, but it all points to the same truth. Allow me to list a few references here.


KJV John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

Peter in his first letter speaks to the importance of humbly seeking the "milk of the Word", so that we may grow. He later adds to this thought by writing in the last verse of his second letter, that we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)
1 Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
KJV 1 Peter 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

The writer to the Hebrew congregation cautions against our being dull of hearing and thus are in need of being taught again the basics.
Hebrews 5:11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Paul writes of the difference between being childlike in our faith and being childish our understanding of the teachings of faith.
KJV 1 Corinthians 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

May we walk in a suitable manner in the place that we have been called by God. We are His child, we have been gifted with His gifts by grace, we have been placed into our families and church families for their benefit. May we take this calling seriously, may we seek to increase our knowledge of Christ through joint fellowship, learning opportunities, teaching opportunities, and so on so that we would not be those who would remain as children in knowledge and understanding of the things of God. May I close with a couple of quotes by Dietrich Bonhoeffer which will give us some of his thoughts on what we have discussed today from the Word of God.

Praying for one another
"A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner."

Be careful in our estimation of another's progress
"Christian community is like the Christian's sanctification. It is a gift of God which we cannot claim. Only God knows the real state of our fellowship, of our sanctification. What may appear weak and trifling to us may be great and glorious to God. Just as the Christian should not be constantly feeling his spiritual pulse, so, too, the Christian community has not been given to us by God for us to be constantly taking its temperature. The more thankfully we daily receive what is given to us, the more surely and steadily will fellowship increase and grow from day to day as God pleases." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

May the Word of God dwell richly in us and amongst us today and always!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala


Posted on 03 Apr 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Protecting the Unity of the Spirit 4.10.2016
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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