January 11, 2016
Ephesians 4:1-3 (International Standard Version)
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Orthopraxy is “Right belief combined with right practice, with the emphasis being on the latter….” As I said in the last blog, right practice must be based on right belief, because all of what you do will be based in some way on what you believe – your world view!
Paul addressed Orthopraxy in Ephesians 4:1 through 3 (International Standard Version):
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to live in a way that is
worthy of the calling to which you have been called, demonstrating
all expressions of humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one
another in love. Do your best to maintain the unity of the Spirit by
means of the bond of peace.
We looked at the first three of seven characteristics of Orthopraxy – humility, gentleness, and patience. Let’s go on to the last four:
• Accepting one another – Accepting one another does not mean we have to be best friends with all other believers with whom we come in contact. Paul and Barnabas – Paul’s companion on the first missionary journey – began planning a second journey to Asia Minor to “…visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” (Acts 15:36). But in Acts 15:37 through 41…
…Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But
Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had de-
parted from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.
Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another.
And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas
and departed…through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Yes, Paul and Barnabas had contention. But there is strong evidence that these two Christian brothers worked out their differences and still loved and accepted one another! (See I Corinthians 9:6; Colossians 4:10). And we must do the same even if we have disagreements with other brothers and sisters in Christ!
• Love – Jesus told us in John 13:34 and 35:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have
loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you
are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
Peter says in I Peter 4:8 (quoting Proverbs 10:12): “…above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ ” Love will cover all contentions and help us to be accepting one another! What a witness this will be to unbelievers!
By the way, you cannot know what real love is unless you know God through Jesus Christ – “…for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God…for God is love” (I John 4:7 and 8).
• Unity of the Spirit – Acceptance and love is from the Holy Spirit, and will produce unity of the Spirit in the churches! Paul talks about this in Ephesians 4:1 through 6 – the first part being our featured Scripture on Orthopraxy. Here are verses 4 through 6:
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of
your calling; one Lord, one faith one baptism; one God and Father of all,
who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Do you see that by the Spirit we are bonded together in unity? Now, our job is to recognize this truth and in our fellowship with one another to live out the unity of the Spirit!
• Peace – Jesus told His followers in John 16:33, “…that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” But the secret to such divine peace is plainly revealed 17 times in the New Testament – in the 13 opening greetings of all of Paul’s letters, and once each in I and II Peter, II John, and Revelation. The secret? – “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7). Grace comes first, then peace! And grace is the unmerited favor of God given to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross! Through Him our sins are washed away and we stand in the righteousness of God Himself!
So God’s grace, through which we have access to His love – and all the rest of the seven characteristics of Orthopraxy – must be lived out in our lives together with other Christians. But remember, you have to have your belief right to live right!