Monday, July 04, 2011


Ephesian Series

This is an old series of sermons I preached at the Newcastle Baptist Tabernacle.
I put them here as a sample of outlines I have found useful in sharing Christ and developing a church spiritually.
Ephesians 1:7 Meeting This Generation With The Relevant Gospel
At the close of the 20th century, the church faces the challenge of evangelizing a generation of people who harbor no guilt in wanting something for nothing -- and they want it now. The post-baby boomers, or "Generation X" as they are called, are looking for meaningful relationships denied to them, at least in part, as children of massive divorce. They're homesick for a home they've never had.
Three is a way of thinking that says… everything can be evaluated and measured and quantified. This is called Modernism. It leads to a way of thinking that says there are perimeters and there is knowledge and something is basically right or wrong. The evaluation of what is right and wrong is is in the hands of the expert in whatever field is being discussed.
There is a newer way of thinking that takes in the concepts of the New Age movement. It says truth is soooo out there soooo big so many faceted that no one could say something is right or wrong. Truth is what is true for you or I. Truth is something experienced rather than thought about with the mind. This has led to a way of thinking too. This way of thinking says ―Well all that‘s important is existing. This is called Postmodernism.
But the postmodern culture in which all truth is relative holds Christianity -- now a minority group -- in contempt. In that respect Our world is much more like the first century than it is the 1800s.
This post modern culture or way of thinking corresponds to the what has been called Generation X.
Isn‘t it amazing how we can have so many names for generations? I think the originator of the idea of labelling generations was the advertising director for a soft drink company who spoke of ―the Pepsi Generation.‖
Listen to how one study describes the differences between the current 20‘s generation, and the previous generation.
They have as many names as their Generation X "elders," generally defined as the 44.6 million Americans born between 1965 and 1976. And while they mirror Xers in some ways, Americans born in the last two decades are different in others:
-- Unlike many Xers neglected or abused during the chaotic '60s and '70s, Gen Y as a group is more wanted, cherished and protected -- sometimes overprotected -- by its parents. But they fear drugs, crime, being shot at their school bus stop.
-- Millennials know technology. Personal computers are their pencil and paper. Nearly 60 percent of households with children age 7 or under have PCs. Any year now, typical term papers will feature PC-based, full-motion video. Gen Ys talk to people all over the world on the Internet, bringing many cultures home.
-- Raised and schooled among varied races and cultures, Millennials are shedding old racial prejudices and stereotypes. They expect to see a nonwhite U.S. president elected in their lifetime.
-- Nine out of 10 college freshmen have specific goals for the next five years. Three out of four have done volunteer work in the last year. Two out of three say a career helping others is more important than making lots of money.
-- Millennials trust older people more than Xers and boomers did as teens. People they admire most: Mom and Dad, in that order. Least: Xers. Most admired virtues: honesty and integrity. They're "good scouts," says social historian Frank Gregorsky. "Teenagers aren't as angry as they used to be, and the generation right behind them shows much less hostility and nihilism."
-- One study describes Gen Y as "spontaneous, realistic, action-oriented, alternative, responsive, aggressive, humorous, spirited, passionate." Another calls today's youth "globally conscious, environmentally aware, spiritually sensitive, and hands-on."
(Sources: Wall Street Journal, Baptist Press, Louis Harris poll, LifeWay Christian Resources, Biola University.)
Where does that leave us? Is the gospel of Christ irrelevant? How do we handle the different ways folks think?
Ephesians 1:7 "What God Has To Offer"
This lost X generation is searching for 5 things:
1) Meaningful Relationships
2) Immediate Gratification
3) Something For Nothing
4) Guilt-Free Living
5) Prosperity
Athenagoras (175-180 A.D.), who defended the New Testament believers against charges of atheism, cannibalism and incest. Blount reminded participants that Athenagoras' audience misunderstood the believers -- as does today's contemporary culture. Athenagoras did not argue the truth of the faith nor should Christians today.
We live in a postmodern culture that does not care much about truth. Arguments are not going to do a lot of good. What will go far is the beauty of the faith as seen in the lives of the believers. Still, God's Word remains the answer for a postmodern world thirsting for prosperity and immediate gratification.
1. The Gospel Is Relevant Because Of Who God Is And What HE Has Done
2. The Gospel Is Relevant Because Of Who Man Is And What He wants And Needs
You see the fact is that God Is. God has worked for our Salvation.
1. The Gospel Is Relevant Because Of Who God Is And What HE Has Done
Eph. 1:1-14 God Is A Holy Trinity. It is comprised of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Here we are told of three important ways God has interacted with our society:
I. The Plan of The Sovereign (vv.3-6)
Here we have the eternal work of the Father in making us His children.
A. His appointing us to be children (v.4)
1. Election looks backward and tells us when and where we were chosen.
2. Predestination looks forward and tells us why we were chosen.
B. His adopting us as children (v.5)
Adoption is an act of God‘s free grace, whereby we are received into His family and have all the rights and privileges as sons.
C. His accepting us as children (v.6)
No man can be accepted of Holy God who is devoid of righteousness (Isa. 64:6). This acceptance comes us entirely as a work of God‘s grace.
II. The Purchase of the Son (vv.7-12)
Here we have an eternal work of Jesus the Son of God in our behalf. It is a work totally outside of us.
A. His redemption for us (v.7)
Redemption means to "buy back", or to "release by ransom."
1. Released from the curse of the law (Gal.3)
2. Redeemed from the death penalty due to our guilt
3. Redeemed from the slavery of inherited bondage through heredity and depravity. (Rom. 8:1,33,34 ; Gal. 3:13)
B. His remission for us (v.7) We are forgiven for Jesus‘ sake.
C. His revelation to us (v.9) (Matt.11:27)
D. His riches to us (v. 11)
III. The Performance of the Spirit (vv.13-14)
Here we have the internal work of the Spirit bringing about the Father‘s plan and the Son‘s purchase in our personal experiences.
A. The Spirit pursues us (v.13)
Trusting Christ presupposes:
1. The heralding of the Gospel
2. The hearing of the Gospel
3. The heeding of the Gospel
B. The Spirit’s presence in us (v.13)
He is the seal:
1. Seal speaks of identity
2. Seal speaks of authority
3. Seal speaks of reality
4. Seal speaks of security
C. The Spirit’s pledge to us (v.14)
"The earnest of the Spirit"
You've got something to offer people that's personal, that's present, that's provided in him. And you know the irony of the whole thing, the very things for which they are looking and searching -- we have the answer for. It's in the Word of God. But contrary to segments of the popular church-growth marketing philosophy, God's Word must not be compromised or watered down to make church attractive. You don't find that in Scripture. You don't find them marketing the church. You find them churching the market. You find them finding a place and going out, not to meet the wants of the people, but the needs of the people. The lost man doesn't know his need.
2. The Gospel Is Relevant Because Of Who Man Is And What He wants And Needs
This lost X generation is searching for 5 things: 1) Meaningful Relationships 2) Immediate Gratification 3) Something For Nothing 4) Guilt-Free Living 5) Prosperity
All of these things can be found in Ephesians 1:7.
First, for those who are searching for a Meaningful Relationship, the Lord offers something that is:
I. PERSONAL ("In Whom")
You see, the Christian life is not about religion, but it is about a relationship. A relationship that is personal, in Jesus Christ. In Him we have redemption through His blood. In Him we have salvation. As Acts 4:12 tells us, there is no "salvation in any other".
Secondly, for those who need Immediate Gratification, the Lord offers something that is:
II. PRESENT ("We Have")
We don't hope for it, we don't wish for it, we don't think about it, we don't wait on it, but it says, "we have" it! "...we have redemption through His blood...".
Thirdly, for those who are looking for something that is Free, the Lord has something to offer that is:
III. PROVIDED ("Through His Blood")
What Christ has to offer this lost generation cannot be purchased, because it is provided. It is paid for by Him. He has purchased us with His precious blood. It was a great price that He paid to set us free from sin. If there is one subject that is ignored in churches, today, it is the blood of Jesus Christ. But we need to be clear that it is "through His blood" that "we have redemption....the forgiveness of sins". Spurgeon once said, "The true test of whether a man is preaching the gospel or not is the emphasis he makes on the blood of Jesus Christ". William Cowper: "There is a fountain filled with blood - Drawn from Immanuel's veins, And sinners plunged beneath that flood - Lose all their guilty stains; The dying thief rejoiced to see - That fountain in his day, And there may I, though vile as he, Wash all my sins away; Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood - Shall never lose its pow'r, Till all the ransomed Church of God - Be saved to sin no more".
Fourthly, for those who desire Guilt-Free Living, Christ offers that which is:
IV. PROFITABLE ("The Forgiveness of Sins")
You see, what the Lord offers this lost world is freedom from guilt. As Romans 8:1 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus."
When you come to Jesus, and receive His free gift of eternal life, you have these words written across your life. It truly is a profitable life, when you know God's forgiveness in your life.
Last of all, Christ has something to offer that is:
V. PURPOSEFUL ("According to the Riches of His Grace")
Jesus Christ is the only One who can fill the void in people's lives. Power can't do it, Prestige can't do it, Prosperity can't do it, and People can't do it. Only Jesus can satisfy that longing in your soul. Nothing can compare to the riches of God's grace.
Someone has said that GRACE is God's Riches At Christ's Expense. He paid the price to give us eternal life. It is a purposeful life. It is according to the riches of His grace. (Eph 2:8-9)
People are searching for SOMETHING in this world, but what they really need is SOMEONE! When you get down to the last search in your life, you'll just see one word: JESUS! He's all you need today
Ephesians 1:15- Four Incredible Priorities And Privileges
How is your Christian life? Are you spiritually healthy? With all this jazz about the RAAF reserve chaplaincy I have had to concentrate on my weight problem and do some exercise. It has been beneficial. You can see…..not! But how are you faring spiritually? And how can you assess yourself as to how you are faring?
Paul‘s prayer, written here inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells you how you ought top be developing spiritually. The things mentioned were not just Paul's desire for his readers, but the desire of God for your life right now! This is where god intends for you to be developing.
TO "KNOW" GOD IS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE...Could there be any more important theme of study? To know God is far more important than human wisdom, glory, or might - Jer 9:23 Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the LORD.
Augustine said that our Hearts are not at rest until they find their rest in God. This is because God has created us and desires us to know Him, so he has put in our hearts a thirst to experience Him.
Intellectual understanding of Christ is not enough. Alfred North Whitehead once commented that "a merely well-informed man is the most useless bore on God's earth." We need more than intellectual understanding. We need to really see. We need to see because we need hope in a hopeless world. We need resources for our spiritual poverty. We need power to live. These things are all found in Christ. And we must see that with our hearts if we would truly see.
Jeremiah 31:31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; 32 "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 "No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
It is eternal life itself! - Jn 17: 3 "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Of course, we are speaking here of knowledge that comes through close and personal association, not casual awareness
1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
Phil 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
John Calvin said in 1536 ―The sum of sacred doctrine is contained in 2 parts, the Knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves.
Martin Luther said ―Religion is a matter of personal pronounces… when we call God, My God, and He calls us My Child.‖
A. There Is The Apprehension of God Through his Word. Revelation
We can describe God theologically. We can list His attributes, and describe His work in creation and redemption. But unless we experience God ourselves, we will never truly know Him. "Taste and see that the Lord is good," says Psalm 34:8. This is what we need. This is what Paul calls us to in this passage.
B. There IS The Application of Himself to us
Colonel Hariland Sanders was a religious man. Few realise that He tithed all his income from when he was a boy right through to the end of his life. As a religious man, everyone thought the world of Colonel Sanders. Kentucky Fried chicken had become a world wide franchise. But at the age of 78, the Lord spoke to Colonel Sanders, and he came to a real knowledge of God as his Saviour. He discovered that for all his head knowledge of God, he had never come to a real knowledge of God as his Saviour, and at the age of 78 he found the Lord Jesus Christ as His saviour. He could testify to the necessity of a real knowledge of Christ. He became a Christian at age 78, inspite of being a good upright church member for so many years.
There Is The Adoration Of God which is the Appropriate Response of Knowing God.
I guess the characteristic that sets apart the person who truly knows Good is a reverence for Him in all things. When you hear the name of the Lord blasphemed, does it make you cringe? Not because you are fearful of judgement, but because the Saviour you have grown to love is so dear to your heart? Do you delight to adore Him? The word ―Adore‖ has the concept of a deep, personal, love attachment and devotion to God. The more you know of Him the less you‘ll think of you and the more important it will be to you that he be honoured in each and every area of your life. We love Him because He first loved us. This adoration of God becomes prominent in our lifestyles; The Lord Jesus said,
John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."
Do you "know" God? Many people know "about" God, but it is God's will that we come to know "Him". Through the Word of God as we have it today, you can allow the "spirit of wisdom and revelation" to give you that "saving knowledge" of God Himself!
We now observe that Paul's concern for the Ephesians included their "eyes being opened"...] He prays that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. Did you know your heart had eyes? It does. Unless you learn to see with the eyes of your heart, you will never really see Jesus as you should. Until now, Paul has been describing who we are and what we possess in Christ. From verse 3 through 14, we have a 203 word sentence. It is as if Paul began to describe the richness found in Christ and could find nowhere to stop. He piles word upon word in an attempt to do justice to the richness of Christ's grace. And now we come to a place where he launches forth in a prayer that we might see what he's been describing. It is as if he somehow
knows that mere human language can never describe adequately the glory of Christ. He knows we really need to see these truths. And he knows that all that we need is found in Jesus Christ. Already he has told us that Christ is the sum of all things. And now he prays that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. To accomplish this, he prays that we might experience a revelation that will bring us to a deep and intimate knowledge of Him. He prays that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. He desires that the light of God's revelation may shine on your souls so that you may know all that God has done for you, in you, and through you.
Paul prays that we know what is the hope of His calling. It should be apparent that we do need hope in a hopeless world. A number of years ago, off the coast of Massachusetts, a ship rammed an S-4, submarine. The submarine sank before anyone could escape. The entire crew was trapped. Ships rushed to the scene of the disaster, but there was nothing any of them could do. They were forced to watch and wait. Divers were sent down to evaluate the tragic situation. One man put his helmeted ear against the vessel and listened for any sounds. What he heard was someone tapping in Morse code. Because he knew Morse code he could decipher the message. It was this: "Is - there - any - hope?" To those people trapped in that submarine that question had become an eternal question. But for all of us, it really is an eternal question. We need hope. At times life looks so completely dark and bleak that we virtually despair of hope.
Some people have no hope. Vincent Donovan was a missionary among the nomadic Masai people of East Africa. The Masai were victims of intense cruelty at the hands of Arab slave-traders and their European backers. The last stop on the mainland before they were carried abroad for slavery was given a name by this proud people. They called it Bagamoyo. Bagamoyo comes from two words: bwaga, which means "to throw or put down," and moyo, which means "heart." As these people were captured far inland, they were then driven to the coast toward Zanzibar. They sailed from Bagamoyo, where they "put down their hearts" - with no hope for freedom. Donovan also discovered that the Masai language has no future tense. [4] For people without hope, there's no need to think of the future. Why think of the future when there's no hope for change. The Masai are not the only people who have felt totally hopeless. But Christians need never feel that way. For us there is hope. For us there is a bright tomorrow. God in Christ has assured us of it.
Everyone needs hope. During WW2 a prisoner of war was led to believe that he‘d be released if he was a model prisoner. After 1 year of being a model prisoner, serving waiting, cringing at the right times, he lost hope. He realised that neither he nor anyone else was going to be released. Very quickly he died of natural causes. Really he died of a loss of hope. God is not an ogre. He is loving, therefore you and I can hope.
We do not need to despair of hope. We have a hope in Christ. It is the hope of His calling. What is His calling? It is who we are in Christ. The Bible teaches us that He has called us with a high-calling (Philippians 3:14), a holy calling (2 Timothy 1:9), and a heavenly calling (Hebrews 3:1). It is the calling described in Romans 8:28-30: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son." In other words, God has called us to be conformed to the image of Christ. This is who we are in Christ. This is who we are becoming in Christ. We are being changed to be like Christ, because He lives in us. It is a calling which is sure. In fact, Romans 11:29 says that this calling cannot be changed: "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." God began the work in us and God will carry it on to completion. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, "Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." In Philippians 1:6 we read, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." In
Christ we are secure. The future is full of hope for the believer, because we have been called by a God who will not let anything deter Him from bringing us fully mature into the image of Christ.
This "calling" occurred through the preaching of the gospel –Ephesians 1:4
2. God is "calling" us into His own kingdom and glory - 1 Th 2:12
B. PAUL'S DESIRE IS THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW THE "HOPE" OF THIS CALLING... The word "hope" means "desire with expectation". Paul has already revealed some of this hope in verses 4-5
1) To be holy and without blame
2) To be adopted as sons
In addition to their knowing the "hope of His calling", Paul prays...
God wants us to know of the riches of His inheritance. Some people only measure riches in terms of material possessions. I heard of a pastor who said, "My car is so rusty, I need a tetanus shot to drive it." But true riches are not material.
God has not only shown us who we are in Christ, He has also shown us what we possess in Christ. We possess "all spiritual blessings" in Christ (v. 3). We possess "an inheritance" in Christ (vv. 11-12). Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have all co-operated in this effort. The Father has chosen us and predestined us. The Son has redeemed us by His blood and forgiven us. The Spirit has sealed us and guaranteed us an inheritance. We are already rich indeed in Christ.
William Randolph Hearst desired to acquire a valuable piece of art. It seems he had read about this piece of art and determined he had to have it. He sent his agent to scour the world to find this art. After the agent had searched for months, he finally reported that he had found the treasure. It was in a warehouse owned by Mr. Hearst. It was already his! Had he taken the time to read a list of the treasures he owned, he would have found that he already possessed what he wanted. We must begin to experience the inheritance we already have in Christ.
But not only has God given us an inheritance, He has made us an inheritance. Our text talks about His inheritance in the saints. The verse is not about how many riches you have laid up in heaven. No it is about how rich God considers Himself to be because you are in His family. We usually think only of our inheritance in God, but Paul wants the Ephesians to understand that they are so precious to God that He considers them His own inheritance. Each person is of great value to God. We must be of great value-why else would He give His Son? We are His and He is Ours. His home, His glory, His reputation, His treasures-Do you know what you have in Christ? Do you know that the greatest thing you have is that He has you? You are so precious that you are guarded.
John 10: 27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.
God has given Christ to us, and us to Christ. We are His people. We are His treasure. We are precious to Him. He delights in us as we reach out our hands to minister in His name. A hospital visitor once saw a nurse tending to the sores of a leprosy patient, and said, "I'd never do that for a million dollars!" The nurse replied, "Neither would I. But I do it for Jesus for
nothing." Only the riches of the grace of God enables ministry like that. That is riches money can't buy.
I counted all my dollars while God counted crosses; I counted gains while he counted losses; I counted my worth by the things gained in store, But he sized me up by the scars that I bore. I coveted honors and sought for degrees; He wept as He counted the hours on my knees. I never knew till one day by a grave How vain are the things that we spend life to save. I did not know till a friend went above That richest is he who is rich in God's love.
His Power is assured through the resurrection of Christ.(v.20), which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms." For Paul, the supreme proof of God's power was the resurrection. It is the mighty power that raised Jesus to the heavenlies after His resurrection, raising Him above all demonic foes and every potential enemy of all time - this same power is for those who believe! Satan tempted Jesus by taking him to the pinnacle of the temple and offering Him his kingdom if he would bow in worship. But God lifted Jesus up, though he was piled high with the weight of the sins of the whole world to the pinnacle of glory-at his own right hand. This resurrection-demonstrated power is a measure of what God can and will do for us! Since God has the power to exalt Christ to His right hand, there is no problem in God's ability and willingness to bless us "in Christ" with all His spiritual blessings.
His Power is asserted in the position Christ has today.vv.21-22
Where this great power has placed Jesus "21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet." In Paul's day people strongly believed in demons and angels. And these words (rule, authority, power and dominion) described different orders and levels of angels. We may simply refer to them as the "powers"-the "powers" of the spiritual world. Especially the powers of darkness, mystery religions, magic, Satan.
His Preeminent Position. "above all rule and authority"
His Prominent Name. "every title-- and every name that is named". Acts 4:12
His Predominant Power. "all things under His feet" This is why Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and earth has been give to me". How is all this seen today? It is to be seen through the church.
His Power is available in the Church today. v" 23 and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." Our world stands today in complete disunity and division. There is disunity between Jew and Gentile. There is division between democrat and republican. There is disunity between male and female. There is disunity between man and God. Jesus Christ is the instrument of reconciliation. When the fullness of His life fills believers-there is a taste of heaven on earth.
If His power is available then...
"Do not pray for easy lives, Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, Pray for powers equal to your tasks." Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)
*How is His Power seen in our lives? One way is when we pray for others. As Paul prayed for the Ephesians, your prayers for the spiritual growth and enlightenment of others can be life
changing - and missed if they are not there. There's a holy, high vocation Needing workers everywhere,
'Tis the highest form of service, 'Tis the ministry of prayer.-Woodworth
The Apostle Paul prays that the eyes of our understanding may be enlightened. He prays that we can see and hear and comprehend, the eyes of our souls being filled with light. He writes in 2Corinthians 4:6, "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." God has illuminated our hearts. He has opened the eyes of our souls to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God through faith in Jesus Christ. The great assignment of the Holy Spirit is to enlighten our inward souls. It is only the Holy Spirit who understands the things of God, and He takes those things of God and reveals them to us.
A natural man cannot understand like that. Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 2; 14 that the natural man. the unconverted man, cannot receive the things of God, neither can he know them because they are foolishness to him. A man has to be enlightened before he can see and comprehend the things of God. But the Holy Spirit can speak the tilings of God to us for He knows God and He understands God — He is God. He opens to view the things of God and shows us their meaning and their purpose. He fits together all of the providences of the Lord. He knows the mind of God, He illuminates us, and He places life and history before us in such a way that we can see purpose and reason.
What a Tragedy that there are so many whose eyes are closed, whose ears are stopped, and who cannot see and cannot understand. The Lord said in Matthew 13, "Because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith. By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear" (vv. 13-16). This is a gift of the Spirit of God. For a man can see and vet never see. He can hear and yet never hear. He must be illuminated by the Holy Spirit of God, and when he is, he suddenly sees! He suddenly hears! He has found the glory of God that shines in the face of Jesus Christ.
Have you found the glory of God that shines in the face of Jesus Christ?
Have you begun the journey of growing in the knowledge of Him? Is your heart enlightened by the Spirit of God as you read His word? Will you pray to be a man or woman of God tonight?
Ephesians 2
1And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
8. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:1-10 Have You Heard The News?
1. The Bad News – Man Is Lost Ephesians 2:1-3
a. He was saying that anyone with out Christ Is Spiritually Dead
Dead Men Have No Appetite for the things of God, Awareness of their need,
nor Activity in their spiritual life.
b. He was saying that anyone with out Christ Is Spiritually Depraved
He is dominated by the World, Satan (v.2) and by the flesh (v.3)
c. He was saying that anyone with out Christ Is Spiritually Doomed
2. The Better News, God is Love. ―But God..‖
a. Love (v. 4). Here is the Motive For Salvation
b. Mercy (v. 4). Here is the Meaning Of Salvation
c. Grace (v. 5). Here is the Method Of Salvation.
d. Kindness (v. 7). Here Is the Management Of Salvation
3. The Best News Jesus Is Lord.
a. Because He was Raised from the Dead, You can have Spiritual Regeneration
b. Because He was Raised from the Dead, You can have Spiritual Resurrection
c. Because He was Raised from the Dead, You can have Spiritual Reign
Ephesians 2:8-10 Amazing Grace
1. Salvation is A Present Of Grace
a. Apprehend The Character Of Grace
b. Appreciate The Cost Of Grace.
c. Embrace The Consequences Of Grace.
2. Salvation Is A Possession Of Faith
a. Experience the Channel of Grace
b. Ensure The Conferment Of Grace
3.Salvation Is The Power For Goodness
a. I honour Him as the artist
b. I humble myself as the clay
c. I Home-in on the Priorities
Ephesians 2:1-10 Have You Heard The News?
Because of the internet this question is now a complicated question. Have you heard the local news, the international news, the stock exchange news., the political news, the financial news, the medical news? You really need to evaluate every piece of news that comes in. You really can‘t believe everything you read. A man preceded his wife down to Melbourne a few weeks ago. He went on business and arranged for wife to follow for a holiday. He emailed her the news of her safe arrival. Unfortunately he didn‘t get the email address quite right and accidently it got delivered to a lady who had just lost her husband. It read, ―Dearest wife, I have just got checked in and everything is prepared for your arrival tomorrow, your Loving Husband. P.S. Sure is hot down here.‖ The Gospel is Good News. The Word Gospel actually means Good News. We have a translation of the Bible called the Good News Bible. Euangellion. This word had to do with anything that was good news. The Gospel is Good news about bad news that makes good news good.
1. The Bad News – Man Is Lost Ephesians 2:1
The bad news is that man is lost. This may be politically incorrect but it is true. Robert Schuller on the Hour of Power says that there is nothing so counterproductive to Christianity than to make people aware of their sinful spiritual condition. Paul was not ashamed to be making people aware about the lostness of man. For 30 years my dad has complained about the mirror at home. It doesn‘t give a good reflection of the person looking into it. Now if you are thinking, ―Well Steve when you look into it you better remember you can‘t expect to make a silk purse out of a sow‘s ear.‖ Let me tell you right now, God will get you! No, the image is badly faded on that mirror. What‘s worse than having a five o‘clock shadow? Having half a five o‘clock shadow at 9 am. Paul doesn‘t gild the lily. He gives it to us straight.
A. He was saying that anyone with out Christ Is Spiritually Dead
Every person was born d.o.a. Farmer Smith was worried about his chickens. They were acting strangely. He decided to write to the Department of Agriculture and find out from one of these University trained agriculturalists what was wrong. ―He wrote, ―Something is wrong with my chickens. Some of them are lieing on the ground with their feet sticking up in the air.‖ After some months a reply was sent back from the agriculturalist with the department. ―Dear sir, concerning those chickens lieing with their feet in the air, we are writing to inform you that after much research into the problem, our agriculturalists have determined the root cause of the problem. Mr. Smith, your chickens are dead.‖ You and I were born spiritually dead. We are as the movie of men on death row depicts ―dead Men Walking‖ The Living Dead . There is a deadness in relationship towards God. How can you tell if you are spiritually dead?
Dead Men Have No Appetite for the things of God.
There is no appetite for the Word of God and prayer. There is no appetite to listen to God speaking to them or of having a real relationship with God. We are born just not on God‘s wavelength. We don‘t automatically hear from God. The reason for us not being on God‘s wavelength is because your antanea is down. Innately, although we are aware there is a God,
from our birth we are alienated from Him and cannot get close to Him by our own means. Our antanea is down and we do not pick up the signals.
Dead Men Have No Awareness of their need
Dead Men Have No Activity in their spiritual life.
b. He was saying that anyone with out Christ Is Spiritually Depraved
Paul is indicating that our minds are touched by sin. Not only are we unaware of God, but our thinking is away from God. Ephesians 4:17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
1. He is dominated by the World (v.2) This is to say that there is a way of viewing things in our world that is dominated by a worldly sense of thinking. Homosexuality…. Why is the world saying its ok? Well it fits with the idea that you have to please yourself. There are two ways to live in this world, according to the world‘s view of things or according to the Word.
i.e. Abortion. The world says its free choice, the Word says its murder.
i.e. Sex The world says its to be safe sex , the Word says its sacred.
i.e. Hell The world says it‘s a joke, the Word says its Judgement.
2.He is dominated by Satan (v.2) (Jn. 8:44; 2 Cor. 4:4; 2 Tim.2:26) The world teaches you to sin, the devil tempts you to sin. Look around and you can see his handiwork everywhere these days. If we don‘t take into account that the source of many problems in our society is a mind wiser than ours attempting to orchestrate antichristian values and beliefs into our culture, we are not correctly evaluating the problems of our society. The greatest need is not education, legislation or rehabilitation, the greatest need is salvation from the devil and his works.
3. He is dominated by the flesh (v.3) (Rom.8:5) You would still sin, even if there was no devil in the world. Its like the little boy who got in trouble for fighting with his older sister. ―Why did you do that?‖ I heard his pastor dad say. ―And don‘t you say the devil made me do it!‖ ―Well the devil told me to kick her , but pulling her hair was all my idea.‖ You are not just a sinner by choice or practice, you are a sinner by nature. We have in our nature the seeds of our own doom.
c. He was saying that anyone with out Christ Is Spiritually Doomed
The Wrath of God may not be a popular concept, but the bible clearly portrays it as a real problem. Since man is wicked by nature, and God is holy by nature, can there be any other result but the wrath of God for those so opposed to his rule and government?
A scorpion and a duck were talking. The scorpion wanted to hitch a lift across the lake on the duck‘s back. The duck objected to the idea. ―How can I know you won‘t sting me and your poison will kill me and I‘ll die?‖ The scorpion replied, ―don‘t be silly. It would be unreasonable for me to sting you. If I am on your back and you are flying me across the lake and I sting you, then I will most certainly die when you die, for I can‘t fly without you.‖ Persuaded by this reasoning the duck allowed the scorpion to cling to its back as it flew across the lake. Half way across the scorpion stung the duck. ―Now we‘ll both die‖ said the duck, ―Why did you sting me?‖ ―I can‘t help it, it is just my nature to sting.‖ We were children of wrath by nature, even if we tried hard not to sin, because we still do. The Bad News, Man Is Lost.
2. The Better News, God is Love. ―But God..‖
The two most beautiful words in the English language. Here is the mess you were in, ―But God!‖
Like the phone call late at night, ―Dad, I‘ve crashed the car….But I‘m OK!‖
Like the Doctor after an operation; ―It really was cancer, …but we got the whole lot.‖
Like my wife ―My husband has lost his mind, ……but it wasn‘t a huge loss.‖
But God! Here is where the beauty and wonder of the Christian gospel comes in. We were hopelessly lost in wickedness. But God has intervened to save us, and he has saved us by intervening sovereignly and righteously in each of these areas.
Those words, ―But God‖ reveal the character of God. He is Our Saviour God. He saves us from that BAD, BAD news because of what He is like. Why did God do all that Paul and these other passages tell us he has done? There is only one answer: grace. He has done this because it has pleased him to do it. I say "one answer." Yet, strictly speaking, Paul expresses the thought not with one but with four words.
1. Love (v. 4). God has done this, Paul says, "because of his great love for us..‖ Here is the Motive For Salvation Some say love is blind. God‘s love is not blind. He loved us when He saw us in our sins. Romans 5:8 But God commendeth His own love towards us in this, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.‖ Jn 3:16 ―For God so loved the world…‖ A world that rejected Him… a world that ignored Him, a world that had no time for God… yet He loved it and gave Himself for it.
He reached out to me and took hold of me inspite of my folly, my failures, my foibles and my faults.
He chose to love you and I. That is powerful stuff.
2. Mercy (v. 4). Here is the Meaning Of Salvation
Mercy is related to love; it flows from it. But mercy has the sense of favor being shown to those who deserve the precise opposite. If nothing but a proper code of rewards and retribution were followed, sinners would receive God's wrath. That some do not is because God is merciful. Instead of condemning them, as he had every right to do, he reached out and saved them through the death of Jesus Christ. He didn‘t give us what we do deserve.
3. Grace (v. 5). This is The Method Of Salvation.
This is the word that seems chiefly to have been on Paul's mind, for he repeats it in an almost identical sentence in verse 8. In Verse 5 it says, "It is by grace you have been saved."
Verses 8 and 9 say similarly, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast." Grace means that there is no cause in us why God should have acted as he did. A woman sought mercy for her sin. He was condemned to death for twice running from the field of combat and leaving his fellow soldiers to defenseless to die. She caught Napoleon as he rode by, and implored him to pardon her son. Napoleon replied, ― And for the second offense, Justice demands he die!‖ She replied, ―I didn‘t come for Justice I came for mercy.‖ ―he doesn‘t deserve mercy‖, was Napoleon‘s reply. ―I don‘t think you understand, He doesn‘t deserve mercy. If he deserved it then it isn‘t mercy!‖ Mercy is us not getting what we do deserve. We think God owes us something. Even after we become Christians we often find ourselves thinking in these terms. "Certainly God owes everyone at least a chance," we say. Or when God fails to do something we think he should do, we say, "It just isn't fair." So long as we think that way we do not understand grace. Grace is God's favor to the utterly undeserving.
4. Kindness (v. 7). This Is The Management Of Salvation. Have you noticed that after you become a Christian you still do sin? Kindness means much in our daily living as believers. In the course of our lives we often sin grievously and foolishly. But God does not strike us down when we do. He manages our continuation on this world with abundant lovingkindness.
3. The Best News Jesus Is Lord.
Notice how this works out. We were dead in sins, but God "made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions" (v. 5). We were dead to any godly influence. But God can awaken the dead, and that is what he has done for us. Like Lazarus, we have heard the Lord calling us to "come out" (John 11:43); his voice brought forth life in us, and we have responded, emerging wonderfully from our spiritual tomb.
The key word here is ―with‖ . The moment you believed on the Lord Jesus as your Saviour a miracle took place. You were united with the Lord Jesus. That is the word there rendered in English ―together‖ You were united to Christ for some real spiritual experiences. Now life is no longer as it was. Life is itself new. John R. W. Stott puts it like this: "These two monosyllables ['but God']
set against the desperate condition of fallen mankind the gracious initiative and sovereign action of God. We were the objects of his wrath, but God out of the great love with which he loved us had mercy upon us. We were dead, and dead men do not rise, but God made us alive with Christ. We were slaves, in a situation of dishonour and powerlessness, but God has raised us with Christ and set us at his own right hand, in a position of honour and power. Thus God has taken action to reverse our condition in sin."
A. Because He was Raised from the Dead, You can have Spiritual Regeneration
Now life is no longer as it was. Life is itself new. He hath quickened us together with Christ. This means that He has given us new life. The doctrine of regeneration, that is, of a second birth, is plainly set forth in the Word of God. In the first chapter of John we read, "As many as received Him, to them gave He power (the right) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name." Then, the Word continued, "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God." The new birth is also set forth in the third chapter of John, where Christ said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." Again Christ said, "Ye must be born again." The Apostle Paul speaks of the new birth in Ephesians, and he calls it the "new man." He says that after God, "it is created in righteousness and true holiness." The saddest picture in the world is that of an unsaved man or woman trying to live a Christian life. The Christian life is not an effort, it is a result. We have become a new man; that man loves the light, and therefore he cometh to the light. If we have been quickened we will find that old things have passed away, and all things have become new.
B. Because He was Raised from the Dead, You can have Spiritual resurrection
Again, not only were we dead in our sins, we were also enslaved by them. Even though we might have desired to do better, we could not. Instead our struggles to escape only drew us down, plunging us deeper and deeper into sin's quicksand. But God! God has not only called us back to life; he has also, Paul writes, "raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus" (v. 6). There are no slaves in heaven. So if we have been raised up with Christ and been made to sit in the heavenly realms in him, it is as free men and women. Sin's shackles have been broken, and we are freed to act righteously and serve God effectively in this world. He hath raised us up together. This is the picture of our release from the old graveyard where we once "lay" dead in decay, and shame. He hath raised us up out of the old life. How does the verse read? "He rook me up out of the miry clay, and put my feet on a rock." The Lord Jesus doesn't want those of us who are saved to be living in the old way, talking the old conversation. He tells us that whatsoever things are pure, and holy, and true, that we must think on these things. He speaks to us about our new life, and says, "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection," etc., etc. He says, "Put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth." Certainly,' God has called us out of the past. We are not any longer subjects of sin, that we should be in bondage to the flesh. I do not know how it is with you, individually; but I know, beloved, that your chief joy is not in the things of the earth, in carnal things. Paul said that he counted all things but refuse, that he might win Christ. Thank God, that we can have Heaven come down to us on the one hand, and we can be lifted up and made to take our seat in Heaven on the other hand.
C. Because He was Raised from the Dead, You can have Spiritual Reign
Third, God has dealt with the wrath question. In our sins we are indeed "objects of wrath" (v. 3). But since Jesus has suffered in our place for our sin and we have been delivered from it, we are no longer under wrath. Instead we are objects of "the incomparable riches of [God's] grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus" (v. 7). This means we are no longer enemies of God, but friends. We reign with Him in life.
The words "but God" show what God has done. Besides, they draw our thoughts to God and encourage us to trust him in all things.
Am I ignorant of God? Indeed, I am. " 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him'—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit" (1 Cor. 2:9-10).
Am I tempted to sin? Indeed, I am. "Temptation ... is common to man:
but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13, kjv).
Am I foolish, weak, ignoble? Yes, that too. "But God chose the foolish
things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him" (1Cor. 1:27-29).
Have I been the victim of other people's sin and ill will? Probably, or at least I will be sooner or later. Still I will be able to say, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done" (Gen. 50:20). May I put it quite simply? If you understand those two words—"but God"—they will save your soul. If you recall them daily and live by them, they will transform your life completely.
Have you experienced these words in your life? Is it true for you? Have you experienced being made alive from Spiritual death? Have you experienced God‘s ongoing kindness to yourself? Are you sure that God has worked the miracle of the new birth in you? If you have any doubt whatsoever that god has done this for you and these experiences are yours, you must seek Him today as your Saviour and Lord. If you‘ll seek that He be your saviour and Lord, you‘ll discover your interest in Christ, you‘ll discover the reality of a spiritual regeneration, a spiritual resurrection, a spiritual reign with Christ. You will discover God‘s grace. Make it yours today! Come to Him, He will never cast you out.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Can a person earn his way to heaven? This is a question that has caused immense turmoil down through many, many centuries. Is there anything that a person can do to contribute to their salvation? Lorelle‘s sister and her family had just gone to see their relatives in Tamworth. It was the first time they had really been in the country and they had a marvellous opportunity to see a cow giving birth. Not wanting to get into an extensive chat about the birds and bees with their precocious 6 year old son, they just let him watch as the farmer tied a rope around the protruding legs of the calf. Their son then piped up, ―How fast was the calf running when it hit that cow?‖ He had it backwards. In salvation most people have it backwards. There are three words, prepositions, in this passage that will help us not to get this great matter of salvation backwards. The prepositions are the words ― BY‖ ―THROUGH‖ and ―FOR‖
1. Salvation is A Present Of Grace
The term grace covers a wide range of meanings. But the common tone that resonates in them all is that of pleasantness. Grace describes the coordination and fluidity of a dancer or an athlete, a ballerina as well as a quarterback. Grace can describe a person's manners and gentility. Grace is the soothing balm that gives comfort to the downtrodden. Beautiful words are said to be words of grace. And it is upon this great theological word that our eternal destiny hangs, for the undeserved favor of God is our only hope of being accepted by Him.
a. Apprehend The Character Of Grace
The Bible is filled with examples of God's grace, not only in the New Testament but also in the Old.
The idea of grace more than any other idea binds the two Testaments together into a complete whole, for the Bible is the story of the saving work of God, that is, of the grace of God. Without grace, there would never have been any chosen people, any story to tell at all. Snaith ―Grace‖ A Theological Wordbook‖
When we think of the Old Testament, we think more about the justice of God than we do about His mercy. The images we conjure up are ones of fire and brimstone falling on Sodom and Gomorrah, rather than sweet manna falling from heaven to feed the children of Israel in the wilderness. And yet, the first time the term grace appears is in Genesis 6:8. Here the Hebrew word chen is rendered "favor." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
In many of the Old Testament stories grace is so central to the drama that it resounds in every scene like a strong musical score. Consider Joseph's treatment of his jealous and ruthless brothers in Genesis 42-50, especially 45:1-15. Reflect on the gracious way that God dealt with the Hebrews on their way from Egypt to Canaan in the books of Exodus and Numbers. Meditate on the deliverance God repeatedly offered the Hebrews throughout their cycles of rebellion in Judges. Remember David's gracious treatment of his adversary Saul, even when he had a golden opportunity for revenge in 1 Samuel 26. Add to that David's bounteous grace in dealing with Mephibosheth, Saul's relative in 2 Samuel 9. And then there is God's gracious deliverance of the recalcitrant prophet Jonah from drowning in Jonah 1:17 and 2:10. Not to mention the grace He showed in the face of the prophet's anger in chapter 4.
The Hebrew term is chen, meaning "to bend or stoop." It came to mean "condescending favor." It is the kindness "shown by a superior to an inferior, and there is no obligation on the part of the superior to show this kindness." This meaning is illustrated in God's speaking to Moses about Israel's inheritance of the Promised Land in Exodus 33:14-19.
And He said, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest." Then he said to Him, "If Thy presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Thy sight, I and Thy people? Is it not by Thy going with us, so that we, I and Thy people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?" And the Lord said to Moses, "I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight, and I have known you by name." Then Moses said, "I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!" And He said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion."
As this passage indicates, grace is favor that is undeserved and unearned. It is extended fully and freely to those who won't ever be able to repay it.
Interestingly, Jesus never used the term grace. Instead of mouthing the word, He modeled the reality.
(John 1:14, 16). For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ, (v. 17)
In Christ we see grace incarnate. In every sermon He preached, in every person He healed, we see the different nuances of this glorious word grace. The best definition of grace doesn't come from a dictionary, but from the pages of His own life. Grace seeps through the text of
the woman caught in adultery. It can be read between every line of every story He told. From the Good Samaritan to the story of the Prodigal Son, grace can be rubbed off the pages like newspaper ink. Even in His rebukes, grace softens every word. When He tells Martha that she is worried and bothered about so many things, we can hear the plaintive tone of tenderness in His voice (Luke 10:41). Matthew 9:10-12, And it happened that as He was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax-gatherers and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?" But when He heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick."
Grace is God stooping toward us in kindness when we deserved eternal punishment and hell. We were dead in our sins-why did He even look upon us in the first place? Paul said, "In my flesh dwells no good thing". Before God I have nothing to commend me-"All our righteousness is as filthy rags". This means that it is all of God and none of us. "You have been saved". Did you notice that word ―saved‖ is in the past tense? This indicates that it is a done deal. Imagine if God started saving us and then left the work unfinished-and I was to arrive in hell. What glee the devil would have. It cannot happen. If you have been born again, then you cannot be damned because God has done this by His grace. The character of Grace is the very character of God.
b. Appreciate The Cost Of Grace. "not of yourselves-gift of God, not of works" First Paul states the truth in a positive way and now a negative way. Salvation is not of yourselves-never has been and never will be. cf. Rom. 4:1-5 (Abraham). "Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling". The gospel makes paupers of us all. Our money is no good. Our efforts do not succeed. Eg-going to a friend's house for a delicious meal. As you prepare to leave you reach in your pocket and say "Now, how much do I owe you?" What an insult! Yet this world is running over with people who think there's something they must do to pay God back. Salvation is something he paid for and prepared and offered to us. (grace)
During the last century, in the worse slum district of London, there was a social worker whose name was Henry Moorehouse. One evening as he was walking along the street he saw a little girl come out of a basement store carrying a pitcher of milk. She was taking it home. But when she was a few yards from Moorehouse she suddenly slipped and fell. Her hands relaxed their grip on the pitcher and it fell on the sidewalk and broke. The milk ran into the gutter, and the little girl began to cry as if her little heart would break. Moorehouse quickly stepped up to see if she was hurt. He helped her to her feet, saying, "Don't cry, little girl." But there was no stopping her tears. She kept repeating, "My mommy'll whip me; my mommy'll whip me."
Moorehouse said, "No, little girl, your mother won't whip you. I'll see to that. Look, the pitcher isn't broken in many pieces." As he stooped down 'side her, picked up the pieces, and began to work as if he were putting the pitcher back together, the little girl stopped crying. She had hope. She came from a family in which pitchers had been mended before often. Maybe this stranger could repair the damage. She watched as Moorehouse fitted several of the pieces together until, working too roughly, he knocked it apart again. Once more she began to cry, and
Moorehouse had to repeat, "Don't cry, little girl. I promise you that your mother won't whip you."
Once more they began the task of restoration, this time getting it all together except for the handle. Moorehouse gave it to the little girl, and she tried to attach it. But, naturally, all she did was knock it down again. This time there was no stopping her tears. She would not even look at the broken pieces lying on the sidewalk. Finally Moorehouse picked the little girl up in his arms, carried her down the street to a shop that sold crockery, and bought her a new pitcher. Then, still carrying her, he went back to where the girl had bought the milk and had the new pitcher filled. He asked her where she lived. When he was told he carried her to the house, set her down on the step, and placed the full pitcher of milk in her hands. Then he opened the door for her. As she stepped in, he asked one more question, "Now, do you think
your mother will whip you?" He was rewarded for his trouble by a bright smile as she said to him, "Oh, no, sir, because it's a lot better pitcher than we had before.
Here is an illustration of the grace of God in salvation. The Bible teaches that men and women were created in the image of God. But when our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned by disobeying God's righteous law, that image was broken beyond repair. This does not mean that there is no value at all to human nature. Even a broken pitcher is not without value. Archaeologists use pieces of broken pottery to date civilizations uncovered by their digs. I have seen bits of pottery used as ashtrays or even some on which pictures have been printed. Broken pottery is not worthless. But it is worthless so far as carrying milk is concerned. In the same way, human nature in its broken state is useless for pleasing God or earning heaven. The Bible says, "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one" (Rom. 3:10-12).
Yet men keep trying to please God by their character. Like Moorehouse in his first attempts to help the little girl, they keep trying to put the pieces of their broken righteousness back together. They cannot achieve God's perfect standards of righteousness, but they see parts of their character that are good from their perspective, and they try to work with those. The result is a patchwork of shards, which God condemns. But here is where the grace of God comes in. The Lord Jesus Christ came to this world, which was weeping in its failure and sin, and he became the means by which an utterly hopeless situation was transformed. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that Jesus ever attempted to patch up fallen human nature. He did not come to assist us or reform us. He came to recreate us. He said, "You must be born again" (John 3:7). Instead of trying to piece together the broken pieces of our fallen nature, Jesus gives us a new nature: "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17). And to paraphrase the words of the little girl, "It's a lot better nature than we had before.‖
c. Embrace the Consequences Of Grace. "no one should boast" The fact that you are a Christian gives you no basis for boasting-because you didn't do it! If it was all of grace, which it was-then what credit can I take? But we tend to boast-of the good way we live, the good deeds we do, the religious activities and church services we attend etc. Is this in anyway what makes me a Christian? 50%? 25% 10%--0% El-zippo! Nada! Zilch!
2. Salvation Is A Possession Of Faith
Experience the channel of grace. "through faith". Even our faith is a gift of God; we cannot believe in Jesus unless God does a prior work in us, for we are blinded by our own deadness and by the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). The channel of faith was provided so that grace could flow into our lives. Both grace and faith are gifts. Grace is the water of life and the river in which it flows is faith. You provide neither-God does. If it is my belief that saves me then I have saved myself-Faith also is a gift of God. We must be careful not to say-it is my faith that saves me. My faith is not the cause of salvation, Jesus Christ is; faith is the channel through which it is given to me.
The point is that we have absolutely no right or access to salvation. It is not something we deserve. But God offers it to us and we must accept His kindness by believing Him. We don't even know we need it. Review verses 1-3 again-and ask Does a child of wrath by nature and behaviour deserve anything from God?
God‘s grace does not come to us by religion
God‘s grace does not come to us by activity
God‘s grace does not come to us by intelligence ( or every member of a Baptist church would be ruled out automatically).
b. Ensure The Conferment Of Grace
What faith is.
Illustration of Bullet-proof vest.
3. Salvation Is The Power For Goodness
―for Good works‖ WHAT IS MY RESPONSE TO THE GRACE OF GOD? v.10 If we're not careful we can spend all our time looking back and asking "How did we receive it?" Instead we need to look ahead and declare "Grace is ours-let's live it!" Many believe they become Christians because of the good works they do-but Paul says it is exactly the other way around. "We are His workmanship..." It is not us who have done something worth crowing about-it is God! We are His workmanship! Not our works-His work! Please don‘t get it backwards.
What is my response to the grace of God when I see that I am the result of His design? "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus" A Christian is a person in whom God has worked and is working. What kind of a work is it? It is a creation-a special design. God saves us not merely to rescue us from the wrath we rightly deserve; but also to make something beautiful of us; we are His workmanship, His poiema, His beautiful poem; His "work of art". "He is the potter and I am the clay".
What is my response to the grace of God when I honor Him as the artist? When grace is our only claim, who gets the glory? I am what I am by the grace of God. He is molding into me the divine nature of Jesus Christ. He is shaping me into his likeness. Place you hand on your chest and say with me "I am God's workmanship". He is the one who is actively working in me. The Bible is a record of God's activity from beginning to end. God is the One who is fashioning me. There is nothing more wonderful than this. What God does, he does well.
What is my response to the grace of God when I humble myself as the clay. What is a Christian? A good man or a good woman. Someone who is a little bit better than others. No-He is like Christ! The potter is conforming us to the image of His Son. No dead clay can make himself a beautiful vase-no dead person can raise himself to life. So we yield ourselves to Him and put ourselves into His hands. We trust Him with our lives. So He takes hold of this shapeless mass of clay. He begins to round it off and get rid of the jagged edges. As I think of my life, I must stop thinking in terms of what I do but instead start thinking in terms of what God is doing to me. That I am in the hands of a loving Creator and He is working on me. His work is a process!
I Home-in on the Priorities "for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." The way to look at good works is explained right here. God makes us Christians in order that we may do good works. It is not that good works lead to Christianity-but that Christianity leads to good works.. When my spiritual eyes are opened and I understand that my salvation is because God is rich in mercy and grace then a solid foundation has been poured in my life. From that basis I know that God already knows what he wants me to do. "prepared in advance" Phil.2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing". "The greatest service you can render God is to fulfill your destiny"(O. Chambers)
Longfellow could take a worthless piece of paper, write a poem on it, and instantly make it worth thousands of dollars -- and it's called genius. Rockefeller could sign his name to a piece of paper and make it worth millions of dollars -- and it's called riches. A mechanic can take material worth only five dollars and make it worth five hundred -- and it's called skill. An artist can take a fifty-cent piece of canvas, paint a picture on it, and make it worth thousands of dollars -- and it's called art. Jesus Christ can take a worthless, sinful life, wash it in His blood, put His Spirit in it, and make it valuable to God -- and that's called a wonder of grace.. The Lord is in the business of taking rough, raw material and using it -- transforming us by His power to be the extension of His work in the world. Are you a wonder of grace?
I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help him. I ended up by asking him to do his work through me.
"When I stand at the judgment seat of Christ And He shows me His plan for me, The plan of my life as it might have been Had He had His way, and I see How I blocked Him here, and I checked Him there, And I would not yield my will- Will there be grief in my Savior's eyes, Grief, though He loves me still? He would have me rich and I stand there poor, Stripped of all but His grace, While memory runs like a hunted thing Down the paths I cannot retrace. Then my desolate heart will well-nigh break With the tears that I cannot shed; I shall cover my face with my empty hands, I shall bow my uncrowned head... Lord of the years that are left to me, I give them to Your hand; Take me and break me, mold me to The pattern You have planned.
Martha Snell Nicholson
Harry Ironside was a Bible teacher, later pastor of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago. On this occasion he was riding on a train in southern California on the way to a speaking engagement. While he was sitting in the passenger car a gypsy came down the aisle offering to tell people's fortunes. She stopped at Ironside's seat, saying, "Cross my palm with a silver quarter, and I will tell your past, present, and future." Ironside asked in an amused tone if she was sure she could do that, pointing out that he was of Scottish ancestry and did not want to part with a quarter unless he was sure he would get his money's worth. But she was very earnest. "Oh yes, sir," she said. "Cross my palm with a quarter, and I will tell you all."
Ironside told her this was not necessary because he already had his past, present, and future written down in a book. The gypsy was amazed. "In a book?" she queried. "Yes," Ironside replied. "I have it with me." He pulled out his Bible and turned to these verses. "Here is my past," he said,
reading Ephesians 2:1-3: "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath."
The gypsy did not want to hear this. She began to pull away. "Wait," said Ironside. "That is only my past. You haven't heard my present. Here it is." He began to read verses 4-6: "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus."
At this point the gypsy was literally struggling to get away because Ironside had put his hand on her arm to hang onto her. "No more," she said. "I do not need to hear more." But the preacher was not ready to quit. "You must hear my future too," he continued. He read verses 7-10: "in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.... For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. By now the gypsy was heading rapidly down the aisle muttering , ―I took the wrong man.‖
Ooops Ephesians 2
11Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
19Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
*Breaking down walls & Tearing down Fences…
Its amazing what divides people. A story is told of two unmarried sisters who had so bitter a fight that they stopped speaking to each other. Unable or unwilling to leave their small home, they continued to use the same rooms and sleep in the same bedroom. A chalk line divided the sleeping area into two halves, separating doorway and fireplace, so that each could come and go and get her own meals without trespassing on her sister's domain. In the black of night each could hear the breathing of the foe. For years they coexisted in grinding silence. Neither was willing to take the first step to reconciliation.
To dwell above with saints we love, That will be grace and glory. To dwell below with the saints we know; well, that's another story!
Perhaps the greatest barrier that has ever existed between people existed between Jews and Gentiles (the rest of the nations-"Haggoyim"-"ta ethne"). The barrier was huge and seemingly impenetrable. Barclay says "If a Jew married a gentile-a funeral for the Jew was carried out. Such contact with a Gentile was the equivalent of death; even to go into a Gentile house rendered a Jew unclean". The Jew thought God loved only Israel of all the nations He had made. The greatest barrier was with God. Sin separated us from God. But the second barrier was between Jew and Gentile.
As Paul writes to the ethnic people of Ephesus, He wants them to know the desperate condition they were in before the coming of Christ.
Why are people so divided? vv.11-12 "Therefore remember, Don't forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders by birth. You were called "the uncircumcised ones" by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts…"
In the ancient world the external symbol that divided Jew and Gentile was the mark of circumcision. Circumcision was a sign that you believed in the Covenant God made with Abraham. It was very important to a Jew. Instead of being a mark that reminded the Jew of their calling to reveal the One True Living God to the world, they used it as a barrier of separation. God did not create Israel to have nothing to do with the rest of the nations, but that through them He might speak to the whole world. It is a fact of history that the Jewish
people have been an instrument in God's hand. How easy it is to misunderstand our differences and develop a false sense of values. Instead of building windows we build walls. The prevailing attitude was, if he is circumcised then he is one of God's people-if not then they were wrong and needed to be avoided. Cf. Rom. 2:28-29.
Think of something "in the flesh" that divides people. The way we do things in our denomination; the particular manner in which we dress; the ceremonies that have become meaningful to me. Before Christ the barriers were up; after Christ the barriers came down. The key word is relationship. Four nails were in our coffin that prevented us from a relationship with God and God's people.
1. Separated from the Messiah. They were without Christ. The word Christos is not primarily a proper name (though it has become one), it is an adjective meaning "the anointed one" Kings were anointed on their coronation day. Prophets and priests were anointed for the ministry that God had called them to. The Messiah was the "anointed one of God" who would come as Prophet, priest and king. The Jews always looked for the promise that someday the expected deliverer would come…but if you were not Jewish you had no such expectation. For the Jew history was always going somewhere. No matter how dark the present the future would be gloriously bright. But for Gentiles-the future was pessimistic and dark.
2. Excluded from the Kingdom (the commonwealth of Israel). To be an Israelite was to have a citizenship where God ruled over you. When you live with a destiny and an identity like that-life is different for you. The Gentile nations had no citizenship rights (politeia) in God's kingdom. They were cut off by reason of their birth. It was felt that the only way you could be a part of God's plan was to be born or married into the right family-and that was Jewish. Today because of the Messiah-I qualify-and you can too. I have born into His family (new birth) and am married to Jesus a Jew as the bride of Christ.
3. Strangers to "the" Promises. The covenants, promises of God, gave His people hope. Every time you read the OT-look for the promises of God. Let me refer to four unconditional (not dependent on you) contracts God made with His people. Covenant with Noah-never destroy the earth again with a flood. Covenant with Abraham-promised a people and a land and a blessing to all the nations. Covenant with David-that David would have a son Jesus Christ who would reign forever. New Covenant-Some day a new heart, a new spirit-take sins away by blood. What a terrible thing to pick up the Bible and read God's promise and yet not know God is speaking to you. It is foreign, strange. "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" (but only) in Christ."
4. Without hope and without God. If there is no future kingdom and no promises about that coming king and if you are not special and if there is no responsibility for you then it doesn't matter whether you live or die. You may be ignorant of God today but let me assure you, God has not forsaken you. That's why all religions apart from Jesus Christ are pessimistic. The only comfort they give you is that you can escape from this world some time. Without God it's all emptiness. There are millions living today without the help, peace, joy and hope that comes from knowing God.
That's a picture of your heritage if Jesus had never come. Mega division! Quickly now Paul turns from the tragedy of the Ephesians former desolation to the joy of their reconciliation in Christ. "But now…"
. vv.13-18 "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ…"
A. The DESCRIPTION of a new POWER. "in Christ…"
The picture of DISTANCE away from God "brought near" .v.13 Those who were once far off have been brought near. The prodigal son took his inheritance and went to a "far country" but he finally came home. When the Rabbis spoke about someone converting to Judaism-they said
that he had been brought near. I.e.-The Jewish Rabbinical writers tell how a Gentile woman came to Rabbi Eliezer-She confessed that she was a sinner and asked to be admitted to the Jewish faith. "Rabbi," she said, "bring me near." The Rabbi refused. The door was shut in her face; but now the door was open.
No matter how far away a person is from God, God has the power to draw Him back to Himself. Far off or near? Where are you? Are you outside the door or inside the door? We are brought near not by law keeping or by coming through Israel as such, but by the work of Jesus on the cross.
The picture of DESTRUCTION of a major barrier. "broke down" -v.14-"For He Himself…" Intensive-Christ and no other has the power to solve the problems of our relationships with God and man.
Paul paints another vivid picture. "broke down the barrier of the dividing wall"-a fence. Symbol was the "sorek"-divisions in the Temple. There was a series of courts in the temple each one higher and closer to the presence of God. First there was the court of the Gentiles, then the woman, then the Israelites; then the Court of the Priests, and finally the Holy Place itself. Only into the first one could Gentiles come. It was the outermost court-the one farthest away from God. There was a wall/screen, which had placards on it every so often that basically said, if a Gentile went any further he was in danger of instant death.
Paul was, at the time of this writing, under house arrest in Rome, awaiting trial because he was (falsely) accused by the Jews of taking a Gentile into the temple past the wall dividing Jew and Gentile - Paul makes it clear that in Jesus, there is no more wall!
How did Jesus break down the wall that separated them? 15 "by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances". The source of contention between Jew and Gentile was the fact that the Gentile did not keep the law. So Jesus got rid of it! How? He put to death the source of contention. Scripture says Jesus rendered it inoperative by His death -made it of none effect. He fulfilled it-He satisfied and completed the law of God.
Heb. 10:19-21 Today His work on the cross is the common ground of salvation for both Jew and Gentile, so there is no longer any dividing wall between Jew and Gentile - the powerful Saviour Jesus has broken it down!
B. The DEVELOPMENT of a new POSITION.vv.16-18
The two are Jew and Gentile-The gentile is the one far off and the Jews who had the OT promises were near. We have a new relationship-because we have a new position.
He created peace-v.15b "the two into one new man…" Jesus Himself is our peace; Jesus hasn't simply made peace…; He is our peace.
Jesus is one ambassador that can do more than just ease tensions-He can stop the war and create peace. How? "In Himself" A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do is to enter into it. So when you find the Lord you won't have to seek for peace, for he himself is your peace.
Although it was not part of his plan, at Calvary rebellious man constructed a bridge. In crucifying the Son of God, man had a part in building the "new and living way" to God. Now all of us, whether we are Greek or Jew, can walk together across that bridge.
When we walk that bridge Christ makes us into one new man. New. The word "kainos" means new in point of quality. This is what Paul says. He says that Jesus brings together Jew and Gentile and from them both produces a new kind of person.
Chrysostom explained, it is "as if one should melt down one statue of silver and another of lead, and the two together should come out gold." Jesus doesn't blot out the differences we bear-He makes people from all nations into Christians.
He reconciled both together to God-v.16 "and might reconcile them both into one body". Reconcile=used of bringing together friends who have been estranged. The work of Jesus not only removes the barriers between God and man, it also removes the barriers between groups of people. Since now God can be our friend therefore we must be friends with each other. We can find common ground in the Lordship of Jesus! If the Lordship of Jesus Christ is not greater than any difference you have with others-be it political, racial, economic, language, geography or whatever, then you have not fully understood what it means to be under the Lordship of Jesus.
Laws can and should penalize things such as racial discrimination, but they cannot change the heart of the racist - only Jesus can. The wall is only broken down by Jesus!
Recently one of the leaders of the Klu Klu Klan was converted in an Oklahoma jail cell. The first thing he did was to call the father of the Negro man he had murdered and beg forgiveness. The wonder of the grace of God was the graciousness of the the father of the victim. This man had become a Baptist pastor, and he fully forgave the murderer and began t visit him regularly to encourage him and assist him.
He provided access to the Father "through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father…" Each person of the Triune God is mentioned here. The great object of salvation is to bring us into the presence of God. This word means "bringing and introducing". "Prosagoge." Used for bringing a sacrifice to God. It was used for introducing a person into the presence of a king. In the Persian royal court there was an official called the prosagogeus whose function was to introduce people who desired an audience with the king. Providing a way to come to God. Christ did that!
You may think-Big deal! Yes it is. In the Old Testament, there is the picture of the High Priest with the bells and pomegranates on the bottom of his robe. Why? It is a staggering thing to go into the "holiest" of all-into the presence of God. Will He come out alive? So they tied a rope around his waist. That way if he died-they could pull him out without having to go there themselves. How thrilled they were to hear the jingling of the bells-God had accepted the sacrifice.
What a priceless thing this access really is-to have the privilege to break in on Him at any time-to take our troubles, our loneliness, and our sadness to him. Are you exercising your privilege? Are you going to God? If not-I would imagine that your level of peace is fairly low. Phil. 4:6-7 You must exercise your right. Because of what Christ has done-we need not wait to get to heaven to enjoy God, for we can do that here and now. In fact the Father is waiting for you to come to Him!
19 "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household."
A. It involves a new POSITION for all.
*No longer away from home. "no longer strangers and foreigners" A foreigner is one who comes from another country but not a citizen-living alongside of but not in. An alien is one who must exist on a visa or a passport and not a birth certificate. Which is that you have?
*Fellow citizens with the saints. We are people who are bound together by our allegiance to a common ruler and authority. Both are saints and thus they are a part of …
*God's household. "Belonging to God's house". Our new relationship of being in a family with God as our Father.
B. It involves a new PURPOSE for all.
…having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets… One of the greatest things taking place in the world today is the construction of this building that God has been erecting through the ages. When all the worthless products of human endeavour have crumbled into dust; when all the institutions and organizations that we have built have long been forgotten, the temple which God is erecting will be the central focus of attention through all eternity. That is what the passage implies. Furthermore, he is building it now, using human building-blocks; shaping them, edging them, sand papering them, preparing them just as he desires, putting human beings into this temple where he wants them. This building is…
*Founded on the apostles and prophets. Whole superstructure rests on them. But the more important truth is that the church is based on what the Apostles and Prophets believed and taught. "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.‖ ). A building is only as strong as the foundation upon which it is laid. Too many pastors are trying to build a skyscraper church on a chicken coop foundation. If you try to build a church on anything except the Lord Jesus Christ, it is destined to fall. A church stands on the Lord Jesus Christ or it does not stand at all. Jesus once said to Simon Peter, ―l also say to you that you are Peter [petros), little pebble], and on this rock [petra, large boulder] I will build My church‖ (Matt. 16:18) The petra, was the confession the apostle Peter made, ―You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.‖ The church is founded upon nothing other than the Person of Jesus Christ and His shed blood. That‘s how you build a church. You can‘t build a church on the personality of a pastor. You can‘t build a church on gimmicks and programs either. The church that is founded and grounded on the Lord Jesus Christ is the church that is destined to stand until the Lord Jesus Himself comes again.
*Framed around the corner stone. Cornerstone literally means at the tip of the angle. Provides the angles and straightedge for the rest of the building. It is set in place in order to be seen by all. This provides the example. It refers to the capstone or binding stone that holds the whole structure together . . . often the royal name was inscribed on it. It is the most important stone in the structure, the one on which its stability depended.
*Fitted together to grow. "being fitted together is growing" You must first be related to the cornerstone…and then you must be related to one another. "rubbed together until you fit" A force outside ourselves is working and shaping us together.
*Filled with God the Spirit.
―In whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit‖ (Eph. 2:22). That‘s how the building is filled. You have to put the building on a foundation, you have to frame the building correctly, and when that is done, then the Bible says the building becomes a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. In Exodus 40, when all the pieces of the tabernacle were properly in place, then ―the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle‖ (Ex. 40:34). When you build a church on Jesus and on the things that edify, the glory of God comes down in that church. That‘s the inward ministry of a church.
God‘s purpose for you in the local church is to be the home of God, the dwelling place of God. The purpose of this building is that it might be inhabited. "temple"-"dwelling place of God". 'The Lord is in His holy temple". Every true Christian is a part of this building.
It took a lot to get you there. It was "through the cross". This unity didn't just happen-it was a hard fought accomplishment. If you are in Christ His power produces people who make friends with each other because they are friends with God. It produces people who are one because they meet in the presence of God to whom they all have access. When conflict arises between Christians-they are forgetting that they are saved by the same gospel, are headed to the same destination, and have the same access to God.
*Is He at home in you? When my family comes back from a long trip, as soon as we get home, we take off our coats, stretch out, and make ourselves at home. We all say how great it is to be home. But what is it about our home that makes us feel that way? Isn't it that at home we can relax and be ourselves? That does not mean that when we are away from home we are
something other than ourselves, but we are always somewhat restrained. While at home, we can be all that we want to be---just relax and be ourselves. That is what God is building the Church for---to be the place where he can be what he wants to be in you, fully relaxed and all that he is, in you. That is why he is calling you and building you. This is what the church should be like. Its unity does not come from organization or denominational authority, or ritual. It comes from Christ. Do you know Him?
11Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
19Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
A. Separated from the Messiah.
B. Excluded from the Kingdom
C. Strangers to "the" Promises.
D. Without hope and without God.
A. The DESCRIPTION of a new POWER. "in Christ…"
B. The DEVELOPMENT of a new POSITION.vv.16-18
He created peace-v.15b
He reconciled both together to God-v.16
He provided access to the Father
A. It involves a new POSITION for all.
B. It involves a new PURPOSE for all.
*Founded on the apostles and prophets.
*Framed around the corner stone.
*Fitted together to grow.
*Filled with God the Spirit.
Ephesians 3:1-13 The Mysterious Value of the Church For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles --- if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. (Ephesians 3:1-13)
1. Value The Presence Of The Church
2. Value The Preaching In The Church
3. Value The Purpose Of The Church
Ephesians 3:14-21 PRAYING FOR THE POWER
14For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19to
know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
You May Come Boldly to God Because
1. Because God is now approachable.
2. Because we are apart of His family.
3. Because we understand what is most essential.
A. The Strength we need internally
B. The Source from which it (this power) comes.
C. The Spirit through whom this power comes.
D. The Sphere in which it operates. *Reason. *Conscience *Will.
4. Because we know the secret of our strength.
A. The Person of Christ dwelling within.
B. The Prominence of His strong Love.
C. The Practice of His full presence.
5. Because we believe nothing is too difficult for God. vv.20-21
Ephesians 3:1-13 The Mysterious Value of the Church
Secrets fascinate us. All of us want to be privy to secrets. Have you ever gotten interested in thoe old mummy movies set in the Egyptian desert, where the hero discovers…the Secret of the Lost Ark‖ or something like that. I recall an old television show called ―I've Got A Secret.‖ No doubt the producers of that show picked that format because they thought people would not be able to resist watching it. Secrets are fascinating.
Did you know that God has a secret which He kept for thousands of years? It's true. In the passage of Scripture under consideration, Paul calls this secret a mystery. It was a mystery which was once hidden but is now revealed. In other words, the secret which God kept hidden for thousands of years has now been fully communicated. Simply put, the secret which has now been revealed is the centrality of the Church in God's plan.
Do you really know what Church is? Do you understand the place of Church in the plan of God? Do you know what place Church ought to have in your life? These are important questions for which every Christian ought to have answers. The way we answer these questions will determine the extent to which we fully enter into God's plan for our lives. It is possible to come to know Christ as your Saviour and miss the plan of God for your life. The church is central to God‘s plan for your life. Today many denigrate the role of the church. They have a low view of God‘s people gathering together in a given place. They feel that it is optional. That it is up to where they can best get what they want to have their selfish needs fulfilled. The Church is far more than that. If you ever make the church subject to your selfish whims, then you have destroyed church for yourself and for all others that are gathered there. Church is not about your ego. Sadly, we seem to have come to a place of biblical illiteracy in our world today. There is very little understanding of the great doctrines of the Bible. And, unfortunately, this is even true in our churches. It is somewhat ironic to have to say that in the Church there is little understanding of Church. I'm not talking about the elementary things like understanding that the Church is not merely buildings and holy furniture. Most of us understand that. We understand that the Church is not the structure located at the corner of Laman and Dawson Streets. We have come far enough to know that the Church is people. But that may be the extent of our understanding.
Among many people the Church is viewed as an organization like a small business or large corporation depending upon it's size. You see, to say the Church is people is to say too little. Some people therefore assume the Church is to be run like a business where everyone is a general partner. They reduce the Church to a democratic society where the least offensive course of action is pursued --- assuring the lowest common denominator of spirituality to prevail. The Church is reduced to a social institution where the needs and preferences of the members are its focus. But that is not Church!
The Church is a living organism of God's people --- placed together by God's wisdom --- led by spiritual leaders of God's choosing --- committed to doing God's will --- living out its life together in community --- submitting to one another and God's authority in its midst --- and revealing God's grace and wisdom to all around.
The Church is central to what God is doing in the earth today. It is true that God deals with individuals, but generally God chooses to deal with them through the Church. And unless we come to this understanding of the Church as central to what God is doing in the earth today and in our own individual lives, then we will never understand why God does things the way He does. So let's look together at the mystery of Christ which is His Church.
There is a progressive presentation of this mystery. The word Paul uses for mystery is the Greek word musterion. The word mystery in English is used to translate this Greek word. But our English word mystery sometimes gives us an incorrect idea of what Paul is talking about here. Sometimes we view a mystery as being an enigma --- something that we cannot understand or figure out. But the word musterion referred to a secret hidden from all but those who were initiated into it. Those who had the secret knowledge could understand the mystery. Those who did not could not. In Paul's day there were many ―mystery religions.‖ They were much the same as the Masonic Lodge is today. Only the initiates, those inducted into the mysteries of the Lodge, understand them. So when Paul uses the word musterion, he is referring to a secret which was hidden that is now made known.
Paul says that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery. He goes on to say, in verse 4-5, that it is the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit. In other words, the secret which God is revealing has not always been plain. God had always intended to reveal His plan, but until this time He could not reveal it. Throughout all the Old Testament, God was bringing His people to this place. Now He has reached the point where the mystery can be unveiled. It is a progressive presentation through His holy apostles and prophets.
And what is it? In verse 6 he says, to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Is he saying that the mystery is that now Jews and Gentiles are both blessed together? Is that the mystery? It might help us to look at what the mystery is not. The mystery is not simply that the Gentiles were blessed. God had already revealed that throughout the Old Testament. The mystery was not that the Kingdom of God would include the Gentiles. God begins the Old Covenant with His promise to Abraham that ―In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed‖ (Genesis 12:3). So that is not the mystery. Neither is the mystery the sufferings of Christ. In Isaiah 53 we read in great detail about how Christ would come and suffer and die for our sins. These are not the mystery.
1. Value The Presence Of The Church
The mystery is that through Christ's death both Jews and Gentiles can be brought together into a new entity. Both are fellow members of the body. The body refers to the body of Christ, the Church. The mystery is that God inaugurated a New Covenant --- a unity of all peoples formed together into a new entity, which is the Church. God has inaugurated a new age in which ―there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.‖ God has established a new society on the basis of a New Covenant. The church is the only place you will find where there is no class structure, where there is no pecking order, where the whole is unified in common bond of love and care, where the commitment to Christ outshines personal agendas and overshadows divisions intrinsic in human nature.
At Babel, the peoples were divided through the division of the world into language groups. Only in the church is there than common fellowship that transcends earthly barriers of language, political viewpoint, socio economic status and cultural difference. This morning, although we may not be familiar with the languages of those present here today, we know there is that common love for the Lord Jesus Christ born from a common experience of His grace and mercy.
This is the revelation of the Church. And until the time when God could bring the Church into existence, He chose not to reveal that mystery. It is the mystery of the called out ones. In Greek, the term translated ―church‖ is ecclesia. It literally means ―called out ones.‖ And for hundreds of years church was called ecclesia --- called out ones. Then the Emperor Constantine was converted and built many gorgeous temples. The term was changed from ecclesia to kuriakos --- lordly house. Over the years and through the languages kuriakos became kirkus which became kirk which eventually became church. But a church is not a lordly house made with hands. A church is a gathering of called out ones who know the Lord and are placed together by Christ. It is a living organism known as the body of Christ. And the Church is central to God's plan.
2. Value The Preaching In The Church
. . . of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things . . . (3:7-9)
Paul says that God revealed to His holy apostles and prophets this mystery. God made the apostle Paul a minister of this mystery according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. Isn't this amazing? I have always been fascinated and awestruck by the fact that God has entrusted the preaching of His mysteries to mere mortals. It seems that we are so ill-equipped for the task. In fact, Paul echoes this very sentiment when he says to me, the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things. Paul senses his own inadequacy to preach this glorious mystery.
It seems to me that an angel could better preach this mystery. If Michael or Gabriel would suddenly appear in the clouds proclaiming in a thunderous voice the truth concerning Jesus Christ, I would certainly be impressed. But God has not chosen angels to proclaim this message. In fact, angels can't even understand this mystery first hand. Angels are not redeemed creatures. Insofar as our salvation is concerned, angels have no first hand experience. Peter refers to God's marvellous redemptive salvation in 1 Peter 1:12 where he says that these are ―things into which angels long to look.‖ And as we will see in just a moment, the angels actually learn about God's grace and wisdom through the Church. So God has chosen redeemed humanity to preach the mystery.
Jerome D. Engle, the famous Baptist preacher, was once vacationing at a well-known shore resort. One of the local churches had expected to have its pulpit filled on Sunday morning by a "supply" or visiting minister. At the last minute, the visitor was unable to appear, and the church found itself with no one to conduct services. The leaders of the church scurried around distractedly in search of a preacher, and were unable to find anyone. At last, chancing to hear of the presence in town of an eminent divine, one of the church leaders sought out Engel and begged for his services. Graciously, the minister consented. Delighted and relieved, the committeeman said, "You know, Dr. Engel, we'd have been willing to accept a poorer preacher, but it was impossible to find one."
This mystery centres around Jesus Christ. All of God's redemptive purposes centre in Christ. Paul calls this the unfathomable riches of Christ. JOHN CALVIN REFERRED TO IT AS, "THE ASTONISHING AND BOUNDLESS TREASURES OF GRACE!" 3 THAT IS THE GOSPEL IN A NUTSHELL. IT IS GOD'S MAZE. IT IS HIS HIDDEN TREASURE. IT IS SOMETHING WHICH THE MOST RE-KNOWNED MIND IN THE WORLD COULD NOT TRACE, OR FIGURE OUT. IT IS PAST FINDING OUT. IT IS THE GRACE OF GOD MANIFESTED IN THE GOSPEL OF GOD. This new humanity based on the New Covenant reveals the unfathomable riches of Christ's grace and God's wisdom. This new community is based on Christ living in you and in us corporately. This coming together of all people under the banner of the Cross and living out God's purposes through the life of the Church has it's focus in the person of Christ. Christ's riches are revealed. We see that He is rich in His love for us. We see that He is rich in His mercy toward us. We see that He is rich in His grace. And we also see the riches of His presence within us, His power in us, and His plan for us. And now we have the privilege to share that mystery with others.
3. Value The Purpose of the Church
. . . in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. (3:10-13) Here we see the present purpose of this mystery. We find that the Church, Christ's body, is in itself a revelation of the manifold wisdom of God. We see here again that the Church is central to God's purposes in redemption. The mystery of the Church is that God has established an age of grace in which He is working out His purposes through a new community in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. In other words, in the Church God teaches heavenly beings. The angels of God learn to understand the manifold wisdom of God as it is made known through the church. What an amazing statement! Let me quote W. A. Criswell on this point:
What an exalted conception and idea of the Church this is! What the angelic beings did not learn in the presence of Deity, and what they have not learned in all the providences of God through the centuries, they learn in how God saves man, and in how God's redemptive grace is building this new creation, the Church, the body of the Lord. The angels didn't learn of God's wisdom in creation. They didn't learn of God's wisdom in His dealings with man in the Old Testament. In all of God's covenants, they didn't learn of His wisdom. But through the saving work of Christ to call the Church together, they see His wisdom. In the establishing of a new humanity based on a New Covenant whereby Christ's very life is imparted to people made new by His grace, we see a wisdom unequalled anywhere in the universe.
The Church is God's enterprise. This is why it cannot be run like a human organization. This new way of living calls us to deny self and to operate out of a different mentality. It calls us to lay down our lives. It calls us to do things which are not simply hard to do, they are impossible to do without the power of God. In the Church we are called to live in community, where our actions or inaction impacts the lives of all others. We are called to lay down our individual preferences, not simply for the preferences of the majority, but for the will of God. We're called to respect and submit to the spiritual authority of the leaders God has placed in the Church, as well as to submit to one another in the Lord. We are called to forgive one another, to love one another, to serve one another, to support one another, and to encourage one another. And that runs both ways. None of this can be done by our power, or wisdom, and it certainly cannot be done by employing worldly strategies. It is only as God is present in every aspect of the life of the Church that we see the wisdom of God revealed. But when He is allowed to be in charge, then we see what He had in mind.
We must see that through the Church God reveals His manifold wisdom and unsearchable riches in Christ, and we must commit ourselves to be the Church --- those who have entered into a New Covenant of grace and into a new relationship with one another. As we do, then God will reveal His plan through the Church to us, to others, and even to angelic beings. Valuing the Purpos of the church gives strength to stay enthsiatic even when the going is tough. When the world gets worse and the Christian is downcast, knowing what the final purpose is all about brings enthusiams and purpose to hardhip and disillusionment.
Elbert Hubbard, said, "Nothing great has ever been accomplished without enthusiasm."
A positive attitude will have positive results because attitudes are contagious. - Zig Ziglar
Be a self-starter and you won't need a crank to get you going.
In 1520 one man brought small pox to Mexico, where it cost three and one half million deaths. Another man, who landed in England in 1348, was responsible for spreading the black death, "Bubonic Plague," the greatest killer Great Britain has ever known.
Likewise, one inconsistent or disloyal church member can hurt the whole church. Listen to Paul: "Whether one member suffer, all members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all themselves rejoice with it" (1 cor. 12:26). It does not take many bullets from a rifle to kill a man. One bullet can kill. It does not take many deadly diseases to bring death to the human body. One deadly disease can bring death. It does not take the breakage of many bones to cripple the hand. One broken bone can cripple.
The Bible teaches, "One sinner destroyeth much good" (Ecc. 9:18).
Most church members live so far below the standard that you'd have to backslide to be in fellowship! - Vance Havner
"On Sunday a meeting is held of all who live in the cities and villages, and a section is read from the memoirs of the Apostles and the writings of the Prophets, as long as time permits. When the reading is finished, the president, in a discourse, gives the admonition and exhortation to imitate these noble things. After this we all arise and offer a common prayer. At the close of the prayer, as we have before described, wine and bread and thanks for them according to his ability, and the congregation answers, 'Amen.' Then the consecrated elements are distributed to each one and partaken of, and are carried by the deacons to the houses of the absent. The wealthy and the willing then give contributions according to their freewill; and this collection is deposited with the president, who therewith supplies orphans, widows, prisoners, strangers, and all who are in want." Justin Martyr
Dear Church Member,
Don't wait until the hearse hauls you to church. If you do:
1. You will go, regardless of the weather.
2. You will go, regardless of the condition of your body.
3. There will be beautiful flowers there, but you won't enjoy them.
4. You will go, regardless of how your family feels.
5. The minister may say many good things, but they will do you no good.
6. There will be beautiful music, but you won't hear it.
7. There will be heartfelt prayers, but they will not touch your heart.
8. There will be friends and relatives there, but you won't worship with them.
9. You will go, no matter how many hypocrites are there.
10. You will go, no matter how much you are needed at home or work.
11. You will receive no blessing from the service.
12. You won't feel concerned about your clothes.
13. You will never have to decide about attending church again.
Aren't you glad to be alive and well and full of zest and able to choose to go to church? Our churches are in serious trouble today. There is virtually no difference between the average church member and the person who is not a Christian. God meant for the Christian to be different, to live a different kind of life, and to be on a different moral level from those who are not Christians. And yet, there is practically no difference in lifestyle. We will never become a church that effectively reaches out to those who are missing out if we shoot our wounded and major on the minuses. Instead of being fishers of men, as Christ has called us, we will be keepers of an ever shrinking aquarium. Next fall when you see geese heading south for the winter, flying along in V formation, you might be interested in knowing what science has discovered about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. (Christians who share a common direction and a sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the thrust on one another.) Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front. (If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are going.) When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.) It pays to take turns doing hard jobs - with people at church or with geese flying south.) The geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. (What do we say when we honk from behind?) Finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by a shot and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly, or until he is dead, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with their original group. (If people know we would stand by them like that in church, they would push down these walls to get in.) You see, all we have to do in order to attract those who are missing back to church is to demonstrate to the world that we have as much sense as geese here in church. That seems little enough price to pay to win the lost and minister to one another. Even geese have sense enough to know it works every time. "
A black church in Kansas City has as its slogan:
Ephesians 3:14-21 PRAYING FOR THE POWER
"But I can still pray For this cause"
What is the cause that moves Paul to pray? As you look at the letter of Ephesians, I want you to see it as an artist's canvas on which Paul, held as the Holy Spirit's brush, is painting a beautiful picture of the Church-the body of Christ. The background of this picture is a divided world with chaos everywhere. Nation against nation, tribe against tribe, man against wife, and children against parents, and even in the inner life there is disintegration and discord. God's purpose is that all the instruments that are in discord and off key will be brought together into one in the Lord Jesus Christ. But unless the church takes the message of Jesus Christ and the Love of God to every person, it cannot be done. It is for this reason that Paul prays. Don't lose the picture of where Paul is in prison (probably in Rome). The important thing for all of us to grasp is that though he is imprisoned, despite being in confinement, unable to travel and preach to people in person--there is one thing the enemy cannot stop him from doing. He cannot prevent him from praying. Paul can still pray! Have you learned that truth? The enemy can put you in a place you don't want to be. He can steal your freedom, he can put bars on the windows of access, he can hem you in and confine you physically, but he can never obstruct the path from the heart of a humble believer to the heart of the Eternal God. Think of what this means to thousands of believers all over this world at this very moment. Some are being persecuted for their faith. Some are experiencing unimaginable sufferings, but they can still pray. Perhaps I'm speaking to someone confined to a sickbed, or because of your age, you simply are no longer free to go where you want to go. You are not useless.
Your life need not be fruitless. Like Paul you can enter into the ministry of intercession. You can still go on praying. Paul was exercising a powerful ministry while in prison-- and you can do the same. Paul knew that he could help people by praying for them. So can you. --5 truths that God reveals to us--that will enable us to pray with confidence.--
1. Because God is now approachable.
"I bow my knees before The Father" The normal Jewish posture in prayer was standing with hands stretched out and the palms upwards. Paul's prayer for the Church is so intense that he prostrates himself before God in a deep heart-felt cry. This must have been quite an experience for the Roman soldier chained to Paul! It is through prayer that we lay hold of God's riches that enable us to behave like Christians and battle like Christians. Whether we actually bow our knees is not as important as bowing our hearts and wills to the Lord and asking Him for what we need. Before whom did Paul prostrate himself? The Father. God is the father to whom Jesus Christ has now given us access. Cf. 2:18; 3:12. In the OT God is the person to whom access is forbidden because of our sin. But in the NT, the essence of the Christian faith is unrestricted access to the presence of God. God is an approachable father. Cf. Hebrews 4:16
2. Because we are apart of His family from whom every family ( the whole family-nkjv) in heaven and earth derives its name.
Here we have two important words-- Father and family. The word family can be translated "fatherhood." All fatherhood in heaven and on earth gets its origin and name from God the Father. He is the great Originator; every other fatherhood is but a copy. God is the father of the whole family. What family? The family of the redeemed. Of this family, some are in heaven already and some are still on earth, but they all belong to the same family. All men are not children of God by nature. Instead, they are children of disobedience and children of wrath (Eph. 2:2-3). As Creator, God is the Father of each person; but as Saviour, He is only the Father of those who believe. There is no such thing in Scripture as the universal fatherhood of God that saves all men. Jesus said, "You must be born again" (John 3:7) Paul wants us to know how to look at ourselves. In his mind it was clear. It doesn't matter if you are Jewish or
Gentile. If we are in Christ, we are brothers and sisters and God is the Father of us all. The colour of your skin, your particular language, culture or economic status cannot divide us in the body of Christ. We are not to think of ourselves as Jewish or Gentiles, Irish or Spanish but we are to think of ourselves now as the children of God; we belong to God's great family. Cf. 2:19. Do you know what it is to be proud of the "family name"? If you know how to be proud of your school or your country or your team- do you know how to be proud of the name? As Christians we must always remember that the Name that is on us is the Name of God. And we are to live in this world as those who wear His family name. My Father's name is on me-- may I never bring shame to the name! In every family there are privileges and responsibilities. Paul begins to pray that God would give us the power to appreciate our privileges and live up to our responsibilities.
3. Because we understand what is most essential.
"...that He would grant you..." Before we look at the significant requests that Paul makes in his prayer, it is extremely meaningful to see what he does not request. Have you ever wondered how to pray effectively for others? What Christian hasn't? When we know that others are facing difficulty and trouble, what is the nature of our prayers for them? Please note--Paul does not pray for a change of circumstances. Here is a man in prison who prays not in a general way that God may be good to them, but extremely specific. When you pray that God will bless someone, you can have more confidence if you will pray as Paul did. When we talk about praying a blessing on our neighbours how are we to pray? We pray for their felt needs, but when we pray for one another we also need to pray for our real needs. What is our real need? What is essential? "...that He would grant you..."
*The Strength we need internally. "to be strengthened with power"
Paul's prayer reveals the essential need for power in the Christian life; if Christianity is in fact a source of power, it is completely different from other religions. Builders talk of reinforced concrete, reinforced fibro, reinforced blocks. When new buildings are erected, something strong is needed to shore them up and provide stability. Before you build a concrete wall, if you want it to be really strong, you put into it rods of steel to strengthen it from within. When you pray for yourself or others, are you most concerned about the external matters or the internal matters: External = circumstances, pain? Internal = spiritual growth, development, your knowledge, relationship and experiencing God.
The first priority in the face of any difficulty is to deal with our own spiritual ability to receive power from God.
*The Source from which it (this power) comes. "...according to the riches of His glory... ' God never runs out of His supply. This lake will never run dry. The resources of this storehouse are limitless. Paul prays that God will give them "according to" not "out of" His riches. If a wealthy person gives you something out of his riches- it could be as little as a dime. But if he gives you according to his riches, it will be more than adequate. Paul was praying for a generous measure.
*The Spirit through whom this power comes. "...strengthened with might through His Spirit" The Holy Spirit is the channel through whom this power is available. We are the channels through whom this power will be manifested. The filling and control of the Holy Spirit is so practical. Gal. 5:22
*The Sphere in which it operates. "in the inner man" This is where our greatest needs are. What's the inner man? What's the outer man- the physical body? Literally it is into the inside man--this seems to suggest a penetration of spiritual power into the very core of the believer's being. Do you know about the inside man? The "hidden person of the heart?" Our secret as Christians ever since we received Christ, a new man has been put inside us and that inner man is built up and strengthened. The winds and storms that blow around us and upon us are not so important. But what makes up the inner man? Three primary parts:
*Reason. It has been estimated that you and I have around 50,000 thoughts each day. That's a lot of thoughts. We are constantly using our reasoning ability. But the question is how many of my thoughts are thoughts of fear, anger, lust, worry, and unbelief? We need His strength when our reasoning is about to create a mental avalanche that isn't going anywhere good, and we need to dismiss it. Have you become aware of the mental dynamic? There is a direct relationship between what you think and how you feel! Try feeling angry without angry thoughts. Try feeling discouraged without discouraging thoughts. Or anxiety without anxious thoughts. Guess what- you can't do it! God has made us so that to experience a feeling, we must first use our reason. Some of us are very weak in the inner person. Sometimes we are conscious of a dullness - a spirit of distraction - an inability to think clearly. Some of you have no difficulty at all picking up a John Grisham novel or a newspaper, but when you try to read the Bible your mind wanders and you cannot concentrate. Our ability to reason needs help to be better able to discern between right and wrong, from what is wise and foolish, from what is impure and hurtful. And then when we discern wrong thoughts to treat them like flies at a picnic- shoo them away and get on with our day.
*Conscience. That our conscience becomes sensitive and tender to the nudging of the Spirit. It's possible to disregard our conscience to the point where it becomes dulled. We lose our alertness. Carlyle said, "The deadliest sin is the consciousness of no sin". This would be a helpful way to pray for others.
*Will. Often we know what is right, and want to do it, but our will is not strong enough to enable us to carry out our intentions. If the inner man is weak, sin takes over and a believer seems helpless to resist it. There are many commands in the NT; "Walk in the Spirit" ; love your wives" ; "Submit to one another" ; "Obey your parents". The essence of Christianity is in the will. As a result of sin and the fall our wills are weak. We resolve to do certain things and determine not to do others- and that really is our desire. Then when the time comes, we fold like a deck of cards. What is most essential in our prayers is the strengthening of our inner man! And the strength comes as Jesus Christ takes up his permanent residence in our hearts.
4. Because we know the secret of our strength.
A. The Person of Christ dwelling within. "so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" even as Jesus promised in John 14:23: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." There are two Greek words to convey the idea of "to live in"; one has the idea of living in a place as a stranger, and the other has the idea of settling down in a place to make it your permanent home. "Dwell" (house + down) is the Greek word for a permanent home; Jesus wants to settle down in your heart, not just visit as a guest or a stranger. -Hymn "Abide with Me" Christ will gladly come into your life- but he will not force his way in. He knocks and then waits for our invitation to come and bring us His strength. By the way, this prayer is offered for believers. Christ is already present in their lives, but is he dwelling there? Rev. 3:20- Laodiceans were believers but in an extremely weak condition spiritually. There is a sense in which they knew the Lord Jesus, but in a deeper personal sense they do not know Him. They were in a relationship with Him, but he did not control them. He had not settled down in their hearts. If this is where you are today, we thank God for what has happened to you, but there is so much more. There is a difference between being a believer in Christ and having Christ dwelling in your heart. To believe in the Lord Jesus is not the end, it's only the beginning.
B. The Prominence of His strong Love. "rooted and grounded in love" When the Lord Jesus lives in us His love becomes the predominant factor in our lives. The picture is of a tree that has a great root system. The roots are firmly down into the soil of God's love. This gives a believer stability and durability. Love is the soil in which our Christian life grows best. We are to be rooted in it. The real strength of a believer's life is love. I Cor. 13:1-3. Love is not something weak and flabby- it is strong and powerful. There is nothing stronger than true love. It is the greatest influence in the world. Paul asks that they may be able (strengthened) to comprehend with all the saints (together, in community) every dimension of the love of Jesus; that they would know it by experience, and not just in words. 4 dimensional love. The
cross pointed in four ways; in every direction. Its breadth- God's love is wide enough to include every human being Its length- God's love is long enough to last through all eternity Its depth- God's love is deep enough to reach the most guilty sinner Its height- God's love is high enough to take us to heaven
C. The Practice of His full presence.
"and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled" Paul asks that they may be filled unto all the fullness of God; and that they may be filled to their capacity with Jesus, even as God is filled to His own capacity with His own character and attributes. It is logical to ask how this can ever be; how can something so far above us ever become reality?
5. Because we believe nothing is too difficult for God. vv.20-21
"Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond" The key is His ability- it is only through Him. Who is able to bring these blessings and privileges to pass in our lives? Only God! These things (spiritual strength, the indwelling Jesus, experiential knowledge of God's love, and the fullness of God) are ours as birthrights in Jesus; however, they must be received by prayer and can be furthered in the lives of others by our prayers for them. Too many Christians have never "read the bank book" to find out the vast spiritual wealth that God has put to their account through Jesus Christ.
His power is unlimited. "all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us" His ability to do exceeds our ability to ask. How much can you ask for? What are the outer limits of what you can imagine? He can do exceeding abundantly beyond all of it! Is your God too small? A little child can paddle at the edge of the ocean; they bob around. But out in the middle of the ocean, even a huge ocean liner bobs around like a cork. We enter into the Christian life as little children and begin to paddle-but we must go on out into the depths and learn the limitless greatness of God.
His praise is unending. " to Him be the glory forever and ever." The only fitting response to this great God is to give Him glory - especially in the church, the company of His redeemed, and that He receive that glory throughout all ages, world without end - Amen! Can you say "Amen" to this? Do you enjoy conscious fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ? He is standing and knocking at the door of the heart of Christians and He says "I would like you to know me." If you will open the door to your inner self I will come in and I will show you myself- I will sit down and become your best friend. You can know me with an intimacy you have never experienced. I will come into you. But you must first open the door.
How do I open the door? By faith. Only faith reveals this possibility to you. You can read the scriptures with much intellectual understanding but without faith you cannot truly comprehend them. It is also faith that enables us to believe that Christ has settled down in my heart. Faith says this is reality for me. It is possible for me to walk and talk with the Lord Jesus in an intimate manner. Faith takes hold of God's promises. If you believe it then you will pray for it. And if you pray for it you will experience it.
Perhaps you need to Christ in this experiential way? You could pray in this way today:
*"I do not know Christ in this intimate manner- and I truly want to get to know Him. I believe it is possible and I am going to ask for it. So now God, with faith in your word and with confidence that this does not depend on me, I pray that you will strengthen me with your might in my inner man. I ask you Lord Jesus to come into my heart, to show yourself to me, to speak to me, to live in me. I want to know you. I want you to live in me and control my whole life."
Ephesians 4:1-16 The Believers‘ Walk
Walking worthy refers to living a life that matches your position in Christ. The first three chapters of Ephesians discuss the believer's position in Christ; the last three discuss his practice.
We have already seen in the first three chapters of Ephesians that we are now citizens of a new kingdom and members of a new family. In these first three chapters, we have seen what Christ has done for us. We have seen our privileged position in Him. We have seen the biblical basis of who we are. The position and privileges of the believer's identity in Christ have been described and now the call comes to live according to who we are. The obligations and requirements of this new society come along with the privilege of being a part of it.
The text before us, Ephesians 4:1-16, is packed with instruction worthy of many messages. We will consider some of it in future messages. But in order to understand the call issued in the first three verses we must look at the whole context which illuminates that call. The call is a call to unity.
What is our calling? The Bible speaks of "his calling", the "high calling", a "holy calling", a "heavenly calling". In a simple way Jesus called or invited his disciples. . . to follow him. Jesus said "you did not choose me but I chose you…". Cf. Matthew 4:18-22. There was a great power in the call of Jesus Christ. In fact we cannot come without it. Jesus said "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him"
The root of the Greek word translated "worthy" speaks of equalizing the scales. A Christian's lifestyle ought to be equalized with his identity. There ought to be a perfect harmony between who you are and how you live. And your circumstances shouldn't affect that, no matter how bad they might be. The worthy walk may lead to prison and death, as it did for Paul, but it should never change our commitment to walk worthy of our Lord.
1.The Grace Of Unity vss 1-3
As this chapter opens, Paul issues a call to a worthy walk. It is, in effect, a plea. It was a plea based on his understanding of what Christ was doing in His church. Paul understood Christ's purpose. And he saw all things as they related to that purpose. Sometimes we tend to see things only as they relate to us. But this is limited vision. The challenge for those who lead God's people is to avoid limited vision )) to see the broad view of how things impact the whole. So, Paul's plea is based on the overview his position as a leader had given him.
The plea is to walk worthy of the calling with which you have been called. This is not merely a suggestion by Paul. He entreats us. The word translated entreat means ―to call along side‖ in order to admonish or exhort. As a spiritual leader, he is calling those in the church to live according to the standards of their calling.
But he is not calling us to do anything that we have not already been given grace to do. So, what follows is not only what we are obligated to do, but also what we have been given grace in order to be able to do. It is the grace which enables us to live in such a way that we preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Look at the characteristics of this grace. It seems that unity can only be preserved as we apply words like humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, love, diligent, and peace to our lives.
Humility means seeing one's self aright. It means being honest with yourself.
Proverbs 11:2--"When pride cometh, then cometh shame; but with the lowly is wisdom."
Proverbs 16:5--"Every one who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord."
Proverbs 16:18--"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."
Proverbs 21:4--"An high look [the external manifestation of pride] and a proud heart [the internal manifestation of pride] ... are sin."
James 4:6--"God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble" (cf. Prov. 3:34).
Proverbs 15:33--"Before honor is humility."
Proverbs 22:4--"By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor, and life."
Proverbs 27:2--"Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth.
In Acts 20:19 Paul says he was "serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and trials." If you don't have a servant's heart you'll never walk worthy of the Master. We're to be huperetes--literally "under- rowers," originally indicating the lowest galley slaves, the ones rowing on the bottom tier of a ship (1 Cor. 4:1).
Paul boasted in only one thing: the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 10:8-18). He said, "By the grace of God I am what I am (1 Cor. 15:10). Paul recognized that although he had been a blasphemer and a persecutor, the chief of sinners, God counted him faithful and put him into the ministry (1 Tim. 1:12-15).
Pride can be defined as the sin of competing against God--when we exalt ourselves and try to steal glory from God.
An admirer once asked the famous orchestra conductor Leonard Bernstein what was the most difficult instrument to play. He responded with quick wit: "Second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm or second trumpet or second flute, now that's a problem. And yet if no one plays second, we have no harmony."
In what specific ways are you guilty of pride? According to James 4:6, what happens when you try to exalt yourself? What happens when you don't?
Gentleness could also be translated ―meekness.‖ Meekness is not weakness and gentleness doesn't mean being wishy-washy. The idea behind gentleness is ―power under control.‖ In the Greek language, the word was used of wild horses that were broken and trained.
"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city" (Prov. 16:32).
Meekness is the virtue between indifference and a short temper. Aristotle said that the gentle or meek person "is praised for being angry under the right circumstances and with the right people, and also in the right manner, at the right time, and for the right length of time" ([Indianapolis: Bobbs- Merrill, 1962], p. 100). Meekness is indeed power under control.
Do you experience self-control?
Is your anger always under control? Do you rule your own spirit (Prov. 16:32), or does your temper often flare up? When your spouse says something to you that could start an argument, do you immediately defend yourself, or do you defer when possible?
Are you angry only when God is dishonored?
The things that should make you angry are the things that dishonor God, mar His reputation, and despise His name. Do you get angry about sin or when God's Word is perverted by false doctrines and false teachers? Do you get angry with people who claim to know Christ but obviously don't? We must gently exhort those who oppose us, but we have every right to be angry when God is dishonored.
Do you respond humbly to God's Word?
James 1:21 says we are to "receive with meekness the engrafted word." Do you submit meekly to the Word of God no matter what it says?
Do you always seek to make peace?
Meek people are peacemakers. Ephesians 4:3 says they endeavor "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." If someone falls into sin, do you condemn that person or gossip about him or her? Or do you practice Galatians 6:1? There Paul said, "If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye who are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness." Are you a peacemaker? Meek people don't start fights; they end them.
Do you accept criticism without retaliation?
Whether the criticism is right or wrong, we need to accept it without retaliating. Whenever people write to criticize me, the Holy Spirit has often led me to write them back and thank them for their criticism (cf. 2 Tim. 2:24-25).
Do you have the right attitude toward non-Christians?
Peter said to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear" (1 Pet. 3:15). It's easy for Christians to become smug. We can be tempted to look down on non-Christians and become proud of our spirituality, forgetting that we were in the same position they were before God graciously saved us.
Patience is sometimes translated by ―long-suffering.‖
longsuffering -simply means suffering long.
Aristotle said that the greatest Greek virtue was refusal to tolerate any insult and readiness to strike back. But that is not God's way for His people. He is "patient with all men" (1 Thess. 5:14), even those who try his patience to the limit. Chrysostom defined longsuffering as the spirit that has the power to take revenge, but never does. This spirit never gives in-it endures to the end.
"No one will ever know the full depth of his capacity for patience and humility as long as nothing bothers him. It is only when times are troubled and difficult that he can see how much of either is in him." Saint Francis of Assisi (C. 1181-1226)
Sometimes the problems in life are not our circumstances but the people around us. Makrothumia is used in Scripture to speak of patience with people as well as patience with circumstances. For example 1 Thessalonians 5:14 says, "Be patient toward all men." That is meekness applied--the spirit that refuses to retaliate. A patient person bears insult, injury, persecution, unfair treatment, slander, criticism, hatred, jealousy, and envy. Whatever people throw at us we should accept without bitterness or complaint.
When you come in contact with a truly patient person, you couldn't start a fight with him no matter how hard you tried. You'd be forced to live in peace with him. Our normal reaction is to be defensive when we're provoked, which communicates that what's most important to us is who we are and what we do. But the important thing is to defend God and not ourselves.
A person who is long-suffering never argues with God's plan. He doesn't question circumstances, people, or God. A person who is longsuffering says, "Lord, if this is what You have planned for me, I'll obey You."
Sir. Henry Stanley traveled to Africa in 1872 to find Dr. David Livingstone, the famous missionary and explorer. After finding him Stanley spent several months with Livingstone, who by that time was an old man. Apparently Livingstone didn't say much to Stanley about spiritual things--he just continued to be about his business with the Africans. Stanley observed that throughout the months he watched him, Livingstone's habits were beyond his comprehension, especially his patience. Stanley could not understand his sympathy for the Africans, who had wronged Livingstone many times. For the sake of Christ and His gospel David Livingstone was patient, untiring, and eager. He spent himself for His Master. In his exciting account How I Found Livingstone Stanley wrote, "His religion is not of the theoretical kind, but is a constant, earnest, sincere practice. It is neither demonstrative nor loud, but manifests itself in a quiet practical way, and is always at work.... In him religion exhibits its loveliest features; it governs his conduct not only towards his servants but towards the natives ... and all who come in contact with him" ([N.Y.: C. Scribner, 1913], pp. 428-34).
Forbearance is also a product of humility, gentleness, and patience. The idea here is to hold one another up, or to sustain or support one another. We are told this operates in love. All of these are characteristics of Christ. They are the characteristics which combine to produce the nature of Christ in us. Only as we have these characteristics do we find ourselves in a place where unity is possible.
First Peter 4:8 says, "Love shall cover the multitude of sins." Proverbs 10:12 says, "Hatred stirreth up strifes, but love covereth all sins."
Agape is the Greek word translated "love" in "forbearing love" (Eph. 4:2). It is unconquerable benevolence and invincible goodness.
Matthew 5:43-48. Jesus said, "Ye have heard it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy; but I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you, that ye may be the sons of your Father, who is in heaven.... For if ye love them who love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the tax collectors the same? And if ye greet your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the heathen so? But ye, therefore, perfect, even as your Father, who is in heaven, is perfect." How is God's perfection manifest? He loves the unlovable, including His enemies, in spite of what they do to Him.
If these characteristics abide, then we will find ourselves being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The word diligent means that we are eager or zealous in our efforts. We are eager because the unity of the Spirit is worth guarding. The word translated as preserve literally means ―to guard‖ or ―to keep.‖ But we are not guarding organizational unity, we are guarding the unity of the Spirit. The Spirit of God has brought us into the bond of peace by reconciling us to God. Now we enjoy peace with God, the peace of God, and peace with one another. That is what is meant by the unity of the Spirit. And the characteristics of humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearing love all collaborate together to make us eager to preserve that unity.
"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
1 Thess. 5:13, "Live at peace with one another"
How hard do you work at keeping the peace? If my way of asserting that which is right means I break the peace, I probably am not right. The result of the doctrine of Christianity is that it brings peace. It brings broken people to wholeness through a relationship with the living God. It brings broken relationships back together-in the bonds of peace.
It is this very unity of the Spirit for which Jesus so earnestly prayed in the Upper Room shortly before His betrayal and arrest:
"Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are,… May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent
me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:21-23
2. The Ground Of Unity
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. (4:4-6)
We have a unity that is based on biblical principles. The ground of our unity is what God has done as it is revealed in His Word. You can attempt to have unity on grounds that are not biblical. Some people may say: ―We are not interested in biblical doctrines, but in love. Let's forget our doctrines and just love one another! Then we will be united.‖ Outwardly that may sound well and good. But Paul did not begin his discussion of unity until he had first laid a biblical foundation. What he mentions here in verses four through six is merely a recap of what he has already established in chapters one through three.
He says there is one body. Every believer is placed into the Body of Christ when they are born again. And this one body has its expression in the local church.
There is one Spirit. The same Spirit dwells within each believer, so that there is an interconnectedness to us all. And it is this Spirit which produces unity.
There is one hope of your calling. This is the hope we have of Christ's return to take us all to heaven. Those who are expecting Christ to return will tend to be peacemakers rather than troublemakers. A firm hope in the return of our Lord Jesus will turn our thoughts from earthly things to heavenly things.
There is one Lord. As believers, we all serve the Lord Jesus Christ. If we serve the same Lord, then we should be able to walk together in unity. But if our lord is our own preferences and desires, then we will be divided.
There is one faith. This is the central body of truth which Christ has given to His church, and revealed in His Word. Jude calls it ―the faith which was once delivered to the saints.‖ If you depart from ―the faith,‖ then you bring about disunity within the Body of Christ.
There is one baptism. Here Paul is probably referring to the baptism discussed in 1 Corinthians 12:13. This is the baptism whereby the believer is baptized into the Body of Christ at conversion.
And finally, there is one God and Father. This may be another way of simply saying that we are all in one family. It is the family of God. Those who have been born again can now refer to God as their Heavenly Father. In the Lord's prayer we do not pray ―My Father,‖ but we pray ―Our Father.‖ In the family of God there is a sense of community. We are children of the same Father. The basic doctrine of Judaism has always been, "The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!" and God's oneness is just as foundational to Christianity (see 1 Cor. 8:4-6; Eph. 4:3-6; James 2:19). Yet the New Testament also reveals the more complete truth that the one God is in three Persons-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Power of God "over all" The Providence of God "through all" The Presence of God "in all". We are one people under one sovereign (over all), omnipotent (through all), and omnipresent (in all) God.
God has already done everything you need for unity! Will you believe it, pray for it and walk in it? Will you die for it? (die to self)
So we see that the ground of our unity is not simply that we all agree, but it is that God has made us one by placing us together in Christ. We have a positional unity in Christ which we are expected to maintain in practical ways.
3. The Gifts Of Unity
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it says, ―When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.‖ (Now this expression, ―He ascended‖ what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, . . . (4:7-11)
It might first appear that Paul is moving from what we have in common to how we differ from one another. Here he begins to discuss the spiritual gifts which have been given to believers and the gifted ministries which have been given to the church. But Paul is not simply emphasizing our diversity, but unity in diversity. He is emphasizing the inter-relatedness of the gifts which are distributed to individuals but which are necessary for the welfare of the whole church. All of us have been given gifts by the grace of Christ. These gifts are given to each one of us. And all of us can function in diversity for the common good of the Body of Christ. This distribution of spiritual gifts is for the benefit of the Body )) the whole church. In 1 Corinthians 12-14 we are instructed that the gifts of the Spirit are given so that the whole church can be built up. Unity is enhanced by spiritual gifts because we come to understand that we need one another. In verse 11, he mentions several equipping gifts. These are not gifts given to individuals, they are gifted individuals who have been given to the church. He mentions apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Again, he is emphasizes the inter-relatedness of all the members in the Body of Christ. We need all the gifts and all the gifted individuals God can supply. We need one another. And our inter-relatedness is based on the activity of the Spirit in our midst. It is not based on tradition or style. It is based on the life of the Spirit in the community of those who have been made alive by the Spirit.
4. The Growth Of Unity
until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. …but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (4:12-16)
Why did Paul entreat people to walk worthy of their calling?
What does the Greek word translated "walk" mean?
What are the five characteristics of the worthy walk (Eph. 4:2-3)?
What is the essence of pride?
Ephesians 4:1-16
It's Been Too Long Since You Last Attended Church When:
* They've undergone a building program, and you aren't able to find the sanctuary.
* The greeters force you to sign the guest register.
* That bratty kid who used to bug you is now head usher.
* You head for your favorite pew, but can't remember where it's located.
* You have to fake the Lord's Prayer.
* You're shocked to learn that King James is no longer the only Bible translation.
* The last time you put a quarter in the offering plate, it really was a tenth of your income.
The last 3 chapters of Ephesians are different to the first three chapters. The first half of the Book of Ephesians has to do with Doctrine and the last three chapters talks about Duty, The first three chapters has to do with the Riches we have in Christ and the last three chapters has to with our responsibilities towards Christ and others.
The word ―therefore‖ that commences our reading of chapter 4 is important. It makes us ask the question ―What on earth is that therefore there for? It points us backwards to the first three chapters and tells us that because of all the spiritual riches which we have in Christ, therefore we can no longer live the way we were formerly living. We now have a change of lifestyle. We want to ―walk worthy‖ of the Lord.
―Walk‖ This word refers to our Christian Behaviour. The Christian Life is often compared to a walk. Early believers, often referred to the New life as ―The Way‖
Eph 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, Here is how we used to walk. but now Eph 4:1 walk worthy of your salvation.
The first aspect of our walk is we are to Walk in Unity 4:3. Last Wednesday night we gathered together and looked at the graces God desires us to develop so we can walk in unity. Unity doesn‘t mean Uniformity. Unity doesn‘t destroy individuality. But there are seven spiritual realities that unite us.. vss 4-6.
But there are still differences among believers. Expressing Christian faith in beautiful variegated manners. Now we come to verse seven where Paul spells out for us some issues of individuality. ―7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.‖ Here is individually. Here is diversity. Each believer is given their own gift. We have now entered into the topic of Spiritual Gifts.
Here are two often overlooked yet absolutely vital truths about spiritual gifts.
a. Every Believer has one or more spiritual gift.
No believer is ungifted. God has a unique purpose for your life and has gifted you accordingly.
b. Individual Gifts are bestowed upon us Sovereignly by the Lord Jesus Christ as He wills (1 Cor 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. ) He Sovereignly decides what your gifts are.
1 Cor 12:15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 1
You are not one big nose or one big thumb. Each part of the body has an individual function which other body parts do not have. There has to be unity in the body.
1. The Person Who Delivers the Gifts
8 Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men." 9(Now this, "He ascended"--what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
The focus of spiritual gifts always reverts back to the issues of Who Jesus is and what He did. He is the Ascended Lord. Which implies He also descended. Here is both the Incarnation and Exaltation of Christ. Sometimes we sing the hymn ―Out of the ivory palaces into a world of woe Only his great eternal Love could make my Saviour go.‖
2 Cor 8: 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
Phil 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
A. His Coming down
He came down to a Bethlehem cow stall. The eternal Christ was born in a cow stall. Here is amazing condescension. Yet He came down further to the death of the cross.
He was made a curse on the cross. He came down all the way.
Why? 2 statements
1 John 3:5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.
He came to take away our sins, to offer Himself as an atonement, to shed His blood that you might be free from the guilt and penalty of your sin.
1 John 3:8 For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
There was D day for the devil at the cross, but V Day, the day of total freedom from the devil is still to come.
He came down to lower parts of earth (9) to do 2 things
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah,
When we look into the Old Testament to discover about the eternal state, we discover that every one prior to Christ‘s coming went to Sheol.
In Sheol there were two abodes. In Sheol there was the place for the wicked = hades, and there was also the place for the righteous =paradise
Luke 16:19 "There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who
was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' 25 But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.'
We discover in 2Peter and Jude that some of the fallen angels who took part in Satan‘s rebellion are already chained up in hades. They are Demons in chains in Tartarus.
The Lord Jesus went and preached to these demons. He preached…not to get them saved, but To Proclaim His Victory He was saying to these demons, ―Your plan didn‘t work 3 days from now I come out of the grave.‖
B. There Is His Going Up
We are told that not only did the Lord Jesus enter Hades to proclaim His victory, but He also entered Paradise. Paradise is where the Old Testament saints dwelt. These O.T. were saved on credit. We look back to what Christ payed at the cross for our sins. These O.T. saints were saved looking forward to the cross.
Remember the dieing thief who was on the cross alongside the Lord Jesus Christ. He cried out
Luke 23: 42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." 43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
The Lord Jesus went into paradise after His crucifixion and before His resurrection. Where was Jesus durig those 3 days His body was in the tomb? He was proclaiming His victory in hades over the demons, and He was proclaiming release for those in paradise into the very presence of God. ..He was saying ―3 days from now I‘m going to take you out of Paradise to the very throne of God.‖
To the saints of God He said ―Come with me folks I‘m taking you to glory!.‖
He Ascended
Exaltation Acts 1:9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."
Paul Quotes from Psalm 68:18
There is an Old Testament picture here of a General or King returning from a military expedition and having won a decisive battle.
The victorious King would first of all take his defeated foes and put them in chains, then he would release his people who had been previously captured and chained.
You can imagine King David triumphing over his enemies and then taking them in chains, as prisoners with him back t Jerusalem. At the same time he enters the prisons of the opposing King and releases the POW‘s to bring them home in His victory procession.
He lead captivity captive and gave gifts to men.
Paul refers to this same situation in 2 Cor 2:14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those
who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.
Did you see the Russel Crowe film Gladiator? Very gruesome for blood and guts (almost as much as ER)
There is the victory procession, the Triumph, and as the procession takes place, the Victory incense is burned. It truly is an odour of life to life for the released captives, and at the very same time it is an odour of death to death for the chained prisoners.
Col 2:15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
When Jesus ascended back to heaven He ascended as our victorious general He went back having one the victory over sin and Satan and death. Psalm 24 gives us a picture of Our Lord‘s ascension.
Ps 24:7 Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory.
No back door entry into heaven or our Lord, He went through the gates of glory
Roman Generals returning in the triumph procession would lavish the spoils and gifts upon their soldiers. Our Lord has lavished gifts upon the church
The Holy Spirit is the main gift. He is the birthday gift to the Church.
Acts 2: 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
2. The People Who Develop the Gifts.
8-11… He gave gifted men.
Three are 5 basic Spiritual Gift lists in the Bible found in 1Peter 4, Rom 12, 1Cor 12.
There is a difference with this list found in Ephesians 4. The difference is that the gifts to the church are gifted men. He mentions gifted men as being given to the church.
―Some…‖ used 4 times in this passage.
He lists four basic offices god has given to the church to help the church.
These are broken down into three categories of gifted men to help you develop and deploy spiritual gifts.
A. Foundational workers Apostles/prophets Eph 2:2 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Eph 3:5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:
We are like a building, and we need a foundation, and these guys laid that foundation.
They gave us the New Testament. This was foundational.
When foundation built, you only lay it once…not on the top story, but on bottom.
When you are building the roof you don‘t bring in foundation guys. When they did their job they passed off the scene. It is disturbing and dangerous that some claim there are new apostles and prophets and new revelations. Anyone could appoint himself an apostle and prophet. If someone stands up and says ―Thus saith the Lord…‖ you are claiming direct revelation. I.e. Joseph Smith, book of Mormon.
If its already in the Bible you don‘t need it, and if its not in the Bible, you don‘t want it. Prophets and apostles are still in church (up there in heaven).
APOSTLES Those who were to be eye-witnesses of the resurrection - Ac 1:15-22 Their role in the church was foundational, necessary to the establishment of the church - Ep 2:20 As such, their work or function was temporary
PROPHETS These were inspired men and women used in the process of revelation - Ep 3:5; cf. Ac 2:17; 11:28; 21:9. As with the apostles, their role was foundational, necessary to the establishment of the church - Ep 2:20 Just as apostles were not replaced, so the prophets' role was temporary – having completed their role of providing the foundation which is the New Testament.
EVANGELISTS That’s the Evangelical workers
Literally, "bearers of good news" evangelise. To tell the Gospel story. We all are to be evangelising. These are individuals like Philip (Ac 21:8), who proclaimed the gospel of Christ both publicly and privately - cf. Ac 8:5-13,26-40 These are uniquely gifted.
i.e. Billy Graham, i.e. John Chapman, i.e. John Ridley.
Timothy was charged to "do the work of an evangelist" - 2 Tim 4:5
We are all to do the work of an evangelist. We are to share the gospel with all the Lord puts us in contact with, for Heaven and hell are in the offing.
Unlike apostles and prophets, their work does not involve "laying the foundation", but rather building upon that which is already laid, which they do every time they lead someone to Christ. Therefore, their work or function continues to the present
PASTORS AND TEACHERS The Instructional Workers
It may be that Paul intended these terms to describe one function (because "some" is not repeated. The role of "pastor" (shepherd) certainly requires "feeding" or teaching I am God’s gift to you. Well may you say “We got the booby prize!”
While there is indication elsewhere that there was a special function of "teachers" in the local church - Ac 13:1; 1 Co 12:28-29; 2 Ti 1:11; Ja 3:1 The term "pastor" is found only here in the Scriptures, but from Ac 20:17,28 and 1 Pe 5:1-2 it becomes clear that "pastors, shepherds, elders, presbyters, bishops, overseers" are simply different terms describing the spiritual leaders of local congregations.
The nature of the work of "pastors and teachers" (i.e., overseeing and feeding the flock of God) naturally follows the work of the evangelists who find the sheep. I am to feed the sheep. Putting biblical food into the trough. The music is great, but the main event is the feeding by which you can grow. ) It is not desirable for us to neglect the Word of God in order to serve tables” (Acts 6:2). Then they said, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4)
Their chief priority was the Word of God and prayer. It is interesting to note that often these are the first two things that are neglected in a busy minister's schedule. But it takes time to hear from God. Prayer and the diligent study of the Word go hand in hand in that endeavour. And, if you don't spend time at it, you might get a little talk together, but you will never equip the saints. I am also to guard the flock. Sometimes people just don’t understand. I may make myself unpopular. But sometimes I have
to guard the flock. I have to be careful that nothing comes in that would harm the flock. I am responsible to the Chief Shepherd.
3. The Purpose Which Directs These Gifts.
Some members:
1. A lot of members are like wheelbarrows -- not good unless pushed. 2. Some are like canoes -- need to be paddled. 3. Some are like kites -- if a string isn't kept on them, they fly away. 4. Some are like kittens -- more contented when petted. 5. Some are like balloons -- full of wind and ready to blow up. 6. Some are like footballs -- you can't tell which way they'll bounce next. 7. Some are like trailers -- they have to be pulled. 8. Some are like neon lights -- they keep going on and off.
Ephesians 4:1-16 b
This morning during our service we looked at this tremendous passage of scripture from Ephesians 4. We saw that the Lord Jesus Christ is
The Person Who Delivers the Gifts
While the pastors/teachers and evangelists are the
The People Who Develop the Gifts
The NRMA is the New South Wales road organisation that fixes your car as you need roadside repairs. I have belonged to the NRMA for nearly 25 years I guess. Whilst at Theological College I decided my car needed a complete tune up. It wasn’t running well. I had a look at the rotor button on the distributor. The NRMA came out and helped me push it on tighter. I bought new points and put them in. NRMA came out and helped me take the plastic cap off them.
I bought new spark plugs and set the gap in them using a set of feeler gauges. The NRMA came out and looked at the plugs, looked at the gap looked at my set of feeler gauges and suggested I buy a metric set.
I decided to set the timing on the car. I borrowed a timing light and was fiddling with it, until I pulled the distributor cap and rod right out of the socket. It took the NRMA 3 hours to get it back in the right spot. It really does pay to belong.
It pays to belong to the church too. There are two reasons you are put in the church
1. To be Equipped.
2. To be Edified. To grow to maturity.
The role of the specialised ministry Paul has listed in verse 11 is to prepare members of the body for service ("equip the saints for work of ministry").
The Greek word for Equip is Eph 4:12 to\n katartismo\n it is also used of people mending the nets. Galatians 6:1… restoring the fellow overtaken in a sin. Setting a bone, equipping a ship, fitting out a soldier.
Here we have what is called the heretical comma in the KJV. (comma after “saints”). Who does the work of the ministry? The saints! All the saints! It is the saints who do the ministry! How many ministers are there in our church? We are all the ministers. There is a terribly damaging idea of professional ministry. Where the folks turn up Sundays to see the ministers perform, so’s they can criticize.
There is a sense in which this is a specialised ministry, the ministry of the Word Acts 6. But there are all kinds of areas of service in which we are all to be involved. The word used most frequently to describe the spiritual activity of
believers differs radically from the world's value system. Diakoniva refers to menial and mundane activities, such as waiting on tables or caring for household needs -- activities without apparent dignity. Since such service necessarily involved dependence, submission, and constraints of time and freedom, the Greeks regarded diakoniva as degrading and dishonourable. Service for the public good was honoured, but "voluntary giving of oneself in service of one's fellow man is alien to Greek thought. The highest goal before a man was the development of his own personality." That last sentence is strikingly contemporary, and is mindful of the fact that a culture that is focused on self-actualisation and self-fulfilment will find little value in servanthood.
Beyer's observation about Greek attitudes suggests some parallels to modern concepts: In Greek eyes, service is not very dignified. Ruling and not service is proper to a man . . . . The formula of the sophist: "How can a man be happy when he has to serve someone?" expresses the basic Greek attitude . . . . Service acquires a higher value only when it is rendered to the State . . . . For the Greek in his wisdom and freedom there can certainly be no question of existing to serve others.
Judaism had no philosophy of ministry involving diakoniva. Though Judaism in the time of Jesus knew and practised its social responsibilities, e.g., to the poor, this was done mainly by alms, not by service (cf. Luke 10:30-35). Lowly service, e.g., waiting at table, was beneath the dignity of a free man (cf. Luke 7:44ff). Sometimes, the greater would wait at table, but this was unusual.
The New Testament introduces a radically new attitude toward ministry. Diakoniva is not the activity of a lesser to a greater, but is the lifestyle of a follower of the Lord Jesus. "Serving" pervades the New Testament, not merely in the frequency of the word's usage but in the constant recurrence of attitudes and examples of service. Diakoniva is modeled on the pattern and command of the Saviour and represents the practical outworking of God's love, especially toward fellow believers. "Ministry" is not the activity of an elite class, but the mutual caring of a band of brothers. Such service is personal and practical, rather than institutional. Service is rendered to people, not tto the church building. A diavkono" is one who by choice and position has come to be under the authority of his Master and who therefore serves others in love and gratitude.
The Lord Jesus is the source of the entirely new attitude toward diakoniva found throughout the New Testament. By the way He lived and the words He spoke, He instituted a new attitude toward service.
The Lord Jesus Christ Is the Source of ministry. Every believer enjoys a unique ministry given by the risen Head of the church. Thus while their gifts come from the indwelling Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4) and their effectiveness comes from the sovereign will of God the Father (1 Cor. 12:6), their ministry is from the Lord, for "there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord" (1 Cor. 12:5). In other words an individual believer fits into the body and functions as the Head intends. As Torrance observes, "The diavkono" is one who has been given a task by his Master, and who does only what is commanded by Him, not what he thinks out for himself."
Because every believer possesses a God-given ministry, each can speak with Paul of "the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus" (Acts 20:24). Ministry is both from Him and for Him, and a believer's motive should be to please Him in all things. The Christian thus serves with a sense of liberty and dignity. He ministers by divine calling as a fellow-worker of God (1 Cor. 3:5). sharing in the ministry of Christ. Such an exalted yet humbling perspective on service produces both rejoicing (Rom. 11:13) and endurance. As a result, suffering becomes an authenticating mark of a true servant of Christ (2 Cor. 11:23-28), a reflection of the principle that a servant is not greater than his Lord. Since He in His life of service knew suffering, opposition, and humiliation, His disciples must not expect exemption.
The church is the sphere of ministry. Service is carried out within the Master's house, to the Master's people, for the Christian is a servant of the church (Col. 1:25). This produced in Paul an overwhelming desire to bring every believer to maturity in Christ by proclaiming Christ and pouring himself into the lives of fellow believers (Col. 1:28-29). True ministry is intensely people-centred. Thus the household of Stephanas is held up as a model to follow since "they have devoted themselves for ministry to the, saints" (1 Cor. 16:15, NASB). Their authority came, not from achievement or status, but because they join in the work and they labor at it (1 Cor. 16:16). A leader worthy of recognition has a servant's heart. Even servants possess genuine authority, to which others are to submit. But servants do lead by demanding respect not for their position but by their character. Authority thus flows from service, a truth embodied in the fact that deacons, key leaders in the early church, received the unadorned title "servants" (diavkonoi, Phil. 1:1;1 Tim. 3:8).
Besides being the sphere of service, the church is based on "the work of service" (Eph. 4:12). Ministry is not something carried on by a select few for the benefit of others, nor is it merely an occupation. Saints do the work of service and every believer is part of the ministry. Nor is the ministry limited to certain tasks (preaching, counselling, administering). Ministry is all that believers do for one another in obedience to the Lord.
The fact that Christ, the Head of the church, has given believers spiritual gifts through His indwelling Spirit is of crucial importance to the biblical concept of ministry. The New Testament does not depict ministry as a specialized position, occupied by a select few. Gifts are God's provision for serving each other. Service takes place by means of spiritual gifts, which shape and define one's ministry.
Spiritual gifts are a stewardship for which believers are accountable to God. Peter indicated that believers are to use gifts "as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Pet. 4:10). Not to exercise gifts properly is to fail one's stewardship. This fact inspired Paul's exhortation to
Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it" (Col. 4:17).
Specialised Ministry Is to Equip the Saints for Mutual Ministry
While every believer is gifted for the work of service, God has also given certain individuals (Eph. 4:11) to the church "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service" (4:12). The goal is not that some "do the ministry," but rather that they equip and enlist all believers in ministry. This has great strategic importance for the functioning of an assembly of believers. A ministry does not exist for its own sake and no elite class should carry on a ministry while others passively observe. Every believer is divinely gifted, and certain people are called by the Lord to function as enablers and equippers. All ministry is mutual ministry and the body of Christ grows only by "the proper working of each individual part" (4:16). The goal of gifted men must therefore be the involvement of others by instruction in the Word and the development of spiritual gifts.
All Ministry Is to Be Loving Service
Because the Lord Jesus is the Model of ministry, love is essential. "When we speak of service, we imply work done for another either voluntarily or compulsorily, the benefit of which will accrue to the one for whom it has been done." The New Testament is filled with examples of individuals who served in practical ways, lovingly caring for the needs of others: Timothy and Erastus (Acts 19:22), the house of Stephanas (1 Cor. 16:15), Tychicus (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7), Onesiphorus (2 Tim. 1:16-18), Mark (2 Tim. 4:11), and Onesimus (Phile. 13). In each case Paul was the recipient. His ministry could never have had the impact it did if they had not served him. They were thus fellow-workers with Paul and the Lord in the gospel. All service in love is valued by the Lord.
All Ministry Is to Be to the Whole Person
In the New Testament diakoniva is often used in connection with financial contributions to believers. It describes Paul and Bamabas' journey to Jerusalem with a collection from Antioch (Acts 11:29; 12:25). Later Paul made the collection for the believers in Jerusalem such a priority that he invested years of time and risked his life in the process. This activity is a ministry "to the saints" (Rom. 15:25, 31; cf 2 Cor. 8:14, 19-20; 9:12-13). The care of widows is described as ministry ("daily serving, " Acts 6:1). Also caring for Paul's physical needs was a ministry (2 Tim. 1:18; Phile. 13).
Faithful Service Is the Key to Expanded Ministry
Speaking of deacons, Paul wrote, "And let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons (diakoneivtwsan) if they are beyond reproach" (1Tim. 3:10). If a servant is faithful in his present involvement, he may then receive greater responsibility. An individual ought not be involved at a high level of responsibility till he has proved himself. This is based on the fact that character is the key to service.
Above all else, the believer in Jesus Christ is to be a servant -- for the Lord, of His Word, and to His people.
The concept of servanthood also determines the ultimate purpose of ministry. A servant's goal is not to enlarge his sphere of influence or to achieve his personal goals. The goal of ministry is to be useful to the Master in such a way that His glory is increased and His work is extended.
"As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another. . . so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1Pet. 4:10-11).
You are not here to sit on a pew. Just do something for Jesus. Do something! Get busy. Find something to do! Do anything!
To be Edified. To grow to maturity.
John MacArthur says, "We don't hear much about spiritual growth these days. Many Christians in our society have been diverted by various teachings that promise power, spiritual energy, and success without the process of growth into spiritual maturity. They look for dramatic experiences, climactic turning points, instant solutions to their spiritual problems-but real, lasting victory doesn't come through those means. God's design is that we be seasoned to maturity through a continual process of growth." "The contemporary church's de-emphasis of spiritual growth has reaped a bitter harvest. Millions of professing Christians suffer from arrested development. Churches are filled with people who are spiritually immature, undiscerning, weak and fragile. Spiritual underdevelopment is the rule, no longer the exception. Thousands-perhaps millions-are now addicted to "therapy," evidently preferring the dependency of a counseling relationship to the rigors of true discipleship and growth in grace" (Keys to Spiritual Growth-p. 13).
You expect an infant to behave like an infant, but there is nothing sadder than an adult who acts like a baby. Infants are expected to grow and mature into adulthood and maturity. So it is in the spiritual realm. All Christians begin as infants spiritually. The first business of a believer is to grow and mature to become fit for service.
There is nothing sadder than a Christian remaining a child spiritually.
1. Commit Yourself To An Unfolding Maturity
See the contrast between vs 13 and vs 3 unity of the faith
Maintain the Unity, Attain the Unity Unity is a given and a goal
i.e. A tension between position and practice… saints Eph 1, and Eph 4:1
Unity is a given (4:4-6 a 7-fold Unity)
But there is to be an unfolding maturity so we arrive at a Unity of the faith.
Vs 13 is the goal to which we must strive to ensure we don‘t get blown about.
A friend in the country at Nyngan, used to talk about ploughing the field with a huge tractor. The first time out he thought his focus was on something in the distance that was not moving. He thought it was a rock. It was a cow. As a result every now and again he‘‘d look up at that great big rock to get his bearings. And it had moved slightly. The furrows were not straight. We are becoming more and more like the Lord Jesus. His Stature is the goal. Keep your eyes on the goal.
2. Commit Yourself To An Unwavering Stability Vs 14
I. Characteristics of Spiritual Immaturity (v. 14)
A. Instability..."tossed to and fro"
This could literally be translated "pitching about" (ex. the sea in motion).
1. The spiritually immature change their opinions easily. On Malta, the people thought Paul was a "bad" man because he was bit by a viper. Then, when the poison did not kill him, they worshipped Paul as a god.
2. The spiritually immature have little self-control. Children are creatures who have to be controlled with external inducements.
3. The spiritually immature are easily agitated.
B. Gullibility..."carried about with every wind of doctrine"
This could be translated "carried about in all directions."
1. "Every wind of doctrine" suggests a multiplicity of errors.
2."Sleight of men" suggests the deception is intentional for personal gain. The word "sleight" is used only here in the Bible. A word used to describe men crafty at manipulating dice without others noticing - giving credit to "God."
3. "Lie in wait" suggests a well laid plan to capture a victim.
The word has its root in hunting, as a hunter would carefully lay his traps. It is used here and in Ephesians 6:11 where it is translated "the wiles of the devil."
Babies are easily deceived. They have huge imaginations and are easily intrigued.
Babies have short attention spans. Running from one toy to the next.
Babies are very unstable
They have a limited vocabulary
Don‘t stay babies!
1 Cor 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?
1 Peter 2: 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
Tossed too and fro like a ship dizzying confusing affect of false teaching cultic teaching.
Carried about by every wind of doctrine.
Baby Christians are susceptible to newest book tv show or preacher running through town. Babies Like to be Entertained. They love to be at the biggest religious show in town. It is fun to be a Christian, it can be fun to be at church, but there has to be some meat and potatoes
3. Commit Yourself To An Unrelenting Activity
Characteristics of Spiritual Maturity (vs. 15-16)
A. A firm hold on "the truth"..."speaking the truth."
The word "speaking" could be translated "holding on." II Timothy 1:13 has the same idea when Paul says, "Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me." Instead of being carried about by false doctrine, learn "the truth" and hold on to it In the Early church devil tried real early to cripple church right at beginning with false teaching
Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. 32 So now, brethren, I commend you to
God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
B. A loving spirit in disagreement..."in love"
Holding "the truth" without a loving spirit makes one arrogant, caustic, and pharisaical. "In all things essential, unity; in things not essential, liberty, in all things, charity."
Speaking truth in love. Truth for your mind, love for your heart
All truth no love = brutality and ungracious. Some believers are so brutal with how they deal with young converts. All love and no truth is sentimentality. The mind grows by taking in truth the heart grows by giving out love.
C. A servant's heart in the church..."every joint supplies"
While the infant is essentially selfish, the mature have the ability to do things for others. Each believer is "fitly joined together" which tells us Christ is the builder of the church.
Christ "energizes" each of us to use our individual, unique gifts to build up the church as a whole, till we all come to maturity, "a perfect man."
How does the human body functions. It says how there is an interdependence from each member of the body grows. Every part of the body contributes to every other part of the body. Your body has a hundred trillion cells. 100 million in eye and all the cells are different blood cells like lifesaver with no hole nerve cells like wires
muscles cells sleek fat cells like big white plastic bags of garbage each part has a function. Each cell has DNA 23 pairs of chromosomes, DNA 3 billion letters of instructions. Which is equal to 1000 books 600 pgs per book.
We all contribute to the growth of one another. Commit yourself to growing other believers so you can grow too. Occassionally a cell will become selfish and will quit giving out and only takes in..takes in and grows and grows and grows cancer
When the members get selfish.. What are you gonna do for ME what are you gonna give me… selfish produces a cancer in the body of Christ and susceptible to a cult.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book Life Together (p. 107), makes this incisive statement: ―Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin.‖ In church we should care for one another that much. We should be accountable to one another and to those God has placed over us as leaders. We should love God enough to obey Him. We should love His Word enough to read it and submit to it. We should love His church enough to be committed to it. We should love people enough to reach out to them. And we should love Christians enough to walk in unity with them, to forgive them, and to be accountable together with them to the lordship of Christ. A wedding of truth and love is a mark of the mature believer.
The Danger Of Deception vs 14.
Full blown treatment in ch 6.
We have an enemy the devil wiles methodologies of the devil -schemes.
The devil is a strategist
In a war the general knows how to shift the focus to deceive.
Secular humanism disregards God and puts men on a pedastal. Dethrones God, enthrones man. Man‘s reason given the prominence.
Effectively removed Bible and prayer from public schools, Materialism
But the most recent strategy, the devil has shifted focus now focus is on spiritual mysticism.
Reincarnation, Ghosts and séance , People are seeking to fill the gap in their hearts with religious error.
i.e. cults and extremists.
We need to be aware of the cults.. cultists seek church people, immature christians are most susceptible to the cults.
1. People's emotional needs are not being met
2. The group makes them feel loved
3. Failure to cope with the real world
4. The group offers simple solutions to complex problems
5. They need to be led by very strong people
6. An immoral lifestyle is often acceptable
7. It offers them power
8. Cults prey on those dissatisfied with the Christian church
9. Cults prey on the breakdown of the family
10. People whose spiritual needs are not being met are attracted to cults
1.Any religious movement that has doctrines and practices which contradict those of the Word of God as interpreted by traditional Christianity
2. A group of people polarized around someone's interpretation of the Bible and is characterized by deviations from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, particularly the fact that God became man in Jesus Christ.
3. All cults are characterized by two things:
a. They have a false or inadequate basis of salvation
b. They have a false basis of authority
1. "New" truth- Rev.22:18-19
2. New interpretations of the Bible
3. A non-Biblical source of authority
4. They have a different Jesus
5. They reject orthodox Christianity
6. Changing theology \
7. They always teach salvation by works. Eph. 2:8
1. It is parasitic in nature
2. A cult proselytes from others- 2Jn2v7
3. They use extra-Biblical revelations as their source of authority
4. They exhibit a fanatical devotion to a special person or the teaching of that person
1. The test of focus
2. The test of source
3. The test of the person of Jesus
4. The test of the plan of salvation- -1 Jn 4
Some Commitments You Need To Make
1. Commit Yourself To An Unfolding Maturity
Some members:
1. A lot of members are like wheelbarrows -- not good unless pushed. 2. Some are like canoes -- need to be paddled. 3. Some are like kites -- if a string isn't kept on them, they fly away. 4. Some are like kittens -- more contented when petted. 5. Some are like balloons -- full of wind and ready to blow up. 6. Some are like footballs -- you can't tell which way they'll bounce next. 7. Some are like trailers -- they have to be pulled. 8. Some are like neon lights -- they keep going on and off. See the contrast between vs 13 and vs 3 unity of the faith
Maintain the Unity, Attain the Unity Unity is a given and a goal
i.e. A tension between position and practice… saints Eph 1, and Eph 4:1
Unity is a given (4:4-6 a 7-fold Unity)
But there is to be an unfolding maturity so we arrive at a Unity of the faith.
Vs 13 is the goal to which we must strive to ensure we don‘t get blown about.
A friend in the country at Nyngan, used to talk about ploughing the field with a huge tractor. The first time out he thought his focus was on something in the distance that was not moving. He thought it was a rock. It was a cow. As a result every now and again he‘‘d look up at that great big rock to get his bearings. And it had moived slightly. The furrows were not straight.
We are becoming more and more like the Lord Jesus. He whittles away some things not like the Lord Jesus in our life. Stature (Zacheus, Jn 9 he is of fullness of years)
2. Commit Yourself To An Unwavering Stability Vs 14
I want to be stable substantial solid in my faith. No more children.
A Recognition that we begin as children. Born again… a baby in the Lord. No one is born full grown. You Alwyn are about 6‘3‖ you were born 12 ― you were born as a baby.
You expect an infant to behave like an infant, but there is nothing sadder than an adult who acts like a baby. Infants are expected to grow and mature into adulthood and maturity.
So it is in the spiritual realm.
1. All Christians begin as infants spiritually.
2. The first business of a believer is to grow and mature to become fit for service.
There is nothing sadder than a Christian remaining a child spiritually.
Babies have tendencies and characteristics
Characteristics of Spiritual Immaturity (v. 14)
A. Instability..."tossed to and fro" Babies are Constantly changing…..crying one minute laughing the next. Jumping from one church to another.
This could literally be translated "pitching about" (ex. the sea in motion).
1. The spiritually immature change their opinions easily. On Malta, the people thought Paul was a "bad" man because he was bit by a viper. Then, when the poison did not kill him, they worshipped Paul as a god.
2. The spiritually immature have little self-control. Children are creatures who have to be controlled with external inducements.
3. The spiritually immature are easily agitated.
B. Gullibility..."carried about with every wind of doctrine"
This could be translated "carried about in all directions."
1. "Every wind of doctrine" suggests a multiplicity of errors.
2."Sleight of men" suggests the deception is intentional for personal gain. The word "sleight" is used only here in the Bible. A word used to describe men crafty at manipulating dice without others noticing - giving credit to "God."
3. "Lie in wait" suggests a well laid plan to capture a victim.
The word has its root in hunting, as a hunter would carefully lay his traps. It is used here and in Ephesians 6:11 where it is translated "the wiles of the devil."
Babies are easily deceived. They have huge imaginations and are easily intrigued.
Babies have short attention spans. Running from one toy to the next.
Babies are very unstable
They have a limited vocabulary
Don‘t stay babies!
1 Cor 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?
1 Peter 2: 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
Tossed too and fro like a ship dizzying confusing affect of false teaching cultic teaching.
Carried about by every wind of doctrine.
Baby Christians are susceptible to newest book tv show or preacher running through town
Babies Like to be Entertained
They love to be at the biggest religious show in town.
It is fun to be a Christian, it can be fun to be at church, but there has to be some meat and potatoes
Cunning teachers Trickery, presentations methods leading astray
Of any teaching ask yourself.. ‖Where is that in the Bible?‖
Context. I.e. Judas hanging himself go thou and do likewise. 2 vss out of context put together.
In the Early church devil tried real early to cripple church right at beginning with false teaching
Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. 32 So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
It was good that he did, because we have the answer for every heresy right here in the Word of God.
3. Commit Yourself To An Unrelenting Activity
A Growth in the Lord
Grow up into Him
In Body
Speaking truth in love
Truth for your mind, love for your heart
All truth no love = brutality and ungracious.
Some believers are so brutal with how they deal with young converts.
All love and no truth is sentimentality.
The mind grows by taking in truth the heart grows by giving out love.
How does the human body functions. It says how there is an interdependence from each member of the body grows.
Every part of the body contributes to every other part of the body.
Your body has a hundred trillion cells
100 million in eye
all cells different blood cells like lifesaver with no hole nerve cells like wires
muscles cells sleek fat cells like big white plastic bags of garbage each part has a function
each cell has DNA 23 pairs of chromnosomes,
DNA 3 billion letters of instructions. Which is equal to 1000 books 600 pgs per book.
We all contribute to the growth of one another. Commit yourself to growing other believers so you can grow too. Occassionally a cell will become selfish and will quit giving out and only takes in..takes in and grows and grows and grows cancer
When the members get selfish.. What are you gonna do for ME what are you gonna give me… selfish produces a cancer in the body of Christ and susceptible to a cult.
A. A firm hold on "the truth"..."speaking the truth."
The word "speaking" could be translated "holding on." II Timothy 1:13 has the same idea when Paul says, "Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me." Instead of being carried about by false doctrine, learn "the truth" and hold on to it
B. A loving spirit in disagreement..."in love"
Holding "the truth" without a loving spirit makes one arrogant, caustic, and pharisaical. "In all things essential, unity; in things not essential, liberty, in all things, charity."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book Life Together (p. 107), makes this incisive statement: ―Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin.‖ In church we should care for one another that much. We should be accountable to one another and to those God has placed over us as leaders. We should love God enough to obey Him. We should love His Word enough to read it and submit to it. We should love His church enough to be committed to it. We should love people enough to reach out to them. And we should love Christians enough to walk in unity with them, to forgive them, and to be accountable together with them to the lordship of Christ. A wedding of truth and love is a mark of the mature believer.
C. A servant's heart in the church..."every joint supplies"
While the infant is essentially selfish, the mature have the ability to do things for others. Each believer is "fitly joined together" which tells us Christ is the builder of the church.
Christ "energizes" each of us to use our individual, unique gifts to build up the church as a whole, till we all come to maturity, "a perfect man."
Eph 4:17-32 How To Renew The New You
"For several months, our nurses have been baffled to find a dead patient in the same bed every Friday morning" a spokeswoman for the Pelonomi Hospital (Free State, South Africa) told reporters. "There was no apparent cause for any of the deaths, and extensive checks on the air conditioning system, and a search for possible bacterial infection, failed to reveal any clues. However, further inquiries have now revealed the cause of these deaths. It seems that every Friday morning a cleaner would enter the ward, remove the plug that powered the patient's life support system, plug her floor polisher into the vacant socket, then go about her business. When she had finished her chores, she would plug the life support machine back in and leave,
unaware that the patient was now dead. She could not, after all, hear the screams and eventual death rattle over the whirring of her polisher. We are sorry, and have sent a strong letter to the cleaner in question. Further, the Free State Health and Welfare Department is arranging for an electrician to fit an extra socket, so there should be no repetition of this incident. The enquiry is now closed."
I think there was a little bit of a problem there.
"The President has kept all of the promises he intended to keep." -Clinton aide George Stephanopolous speaking on Larry King Live
"We're going to turn this team around 360 degrees." -Jason Kidd, a footballer on switching teams. upon his drafting to the Dallas Mavericks
"I'm not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president." -Hillary Clinton commenting on the release of subpoenaed documents
"It's like deja vu all over again." -Yogi Berra
"China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese" -Former French President Charles De Gaulle
"The loss of life will be irreplaceable." -Former U.S. Vice-President Dan Quayle on the San Francisco earthquake
"That lowdown scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death by a jackass, and I'm just the one to do it." -A congressional candidate in Texas
"Things are more like they are now than they ever were before." -Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Don‘t you wish you could undo some of the things you have said or done?
In the passage of Scripture before us this morning we are examining the effect of the radical change that the Lord Jesus brings in a life.
It tells us that for those who truly know the Lord Jesus Christ, there is a putting off of the old man and a putting on of the new man.
There is a radical change that God brings into our lives if we are truly born again.
I heard one fellow talking about whether some church members had actually come to a sincere faith in Christ.. He used the analogy of the duck. He said,
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck and companies with other ducks its probably a duck.
If a person walks like the world, talks like the world looks like the world, companies with the world its probably part of the world.‖ God alone can see the heart, but the behaviour would indicate something is wrong. It grieves my heart terribly to be aware that there are many folks who may have their names on some church roll somewhere who don‘t have their names in enrolled in the Lamb‘s Book of Life.
Two ministers were passing an open grocery and dairy store where, in three large baskets, eggs were displayed. On one basket was a sign reading, "Fresh eggs, 24 cents a dozen." The second sign read, "Strictly fresh eggs, 29 cents a dozen." While a third read, "Guaranteed strictly fresh eggs, 34 cents a dozen." One of the pastors exclaimed in amazement, "What does that grocer understand ‗fresh‘ to mean?" It is thus with many Scriptural terms that to our forefathers had an unvarying meaning, but like debased coins have today lost their values. These days becoming a Christian has been devalued. It used to mean a radical change. These days people think that if they turn up at church a little bit then God ought to be satisfied. But don‘t expect there to be a radical fundamental change in their nature.
We are not to walk as unbelievers walk, that is in the blindness, darkness, and hardness of their hearts (vv. 17-18). They tend to be insensitive, immoral, unclean, and greedy (v. 19), 17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
That‘s the description of you before you became a Christian. We are no longer what we were before. But we're to be like Christ. We are to put off the old man (v. 22) and put on the new man (v. 24). We are to exchange our old lifestyle for a new one.
The exchange of lifestyle is proof that we have experienced the forgiveness and eternal life that there is in the Lord Jesus. There is only one way to heaven Jn 14:6
Acts 4:12 Because there was only One sacrifice made for sin, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. But when a person receives Him into their life there is a radical change. They put off the old man and put on the new man.
20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:
Eph 4:21
Here is the picture of the school room: ―Heard him‖: Jesus is the Subject heard Himself, not merely about Him (John 10:27). ―Taught by him‖ Jesus is the teacher, `taught IN Him;' i.e., in vital union with Him (Rom 16:7): the further instruction, besides having "heard Him" at conversion. As the truth is .." `And in Him, have been taught, according as is truth in Jesus.' There is no article. "Truth" is truth in its essence and perfection in Jesus; Jesus is the school room.
By way of contrast the apostle Paul shows why we are different and how to be more like Christ.
22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness
1. A Monumental Regeneration
There are 2 phrases here 22, 24, old man new man.
The Old Man Put Off
What was the old man like? The label on the toe is ―corruption‖ Ephesians 2:
Eph 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
The lost person is in a state of decomposition., decay disintegration, destruction.
Col 3:8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,
You have put off the old man, You must put off the old man You are putting off the old man. Here is the tension between Position and Practice.
You were saved, you are being saved, you shall be saved. All three are true at same time. You have been saved from sins penalty by Saviour‘s death for you; you are being saved from the power of sin by His Spirit indwelling you; you will be saved from the very presence of sin when you enter heaven.
But here is the issue of Position and Practise.
Rom 6:6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
Rom 6:11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
Rom 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Like 2 boys playing cowboys one shoots the other and he spends a long time ―dieing‖ ―Hey, you‘re dead , why don‘t you act like it!!!‖
Your Position is that your old man is dead. Now live like it and put to death the things that speak of the old way of living.
It is like the emancipation Proclamation that was signed by President Lincoln during the civil war. The slaves were free, but some continued to live like slaves as slaves well after the civil war was over, because they didn‘t realise they could claim on itt.
It is like you bein in a forest in war time. You are fearful of the enemy for you don‘t have a rifle. Suddenly a twig breaks behind you and you see the enemy standing there with a rifle pointing right up your nose. You are captured. But suddenly the gun in your enemy‘s hands disappears miraculously and somehow appears in yours. He is now your captive. You were captivated by sin. It had you captive and was leading you off to death. But the Lord did a miracle and now the gun is in your hands and sin is under your control. You are in control and sin is your prisoner. You no longer HAVE to sin. Its your decision!
He is going to say what those things are that we ought to put off in vss 25 onwards. These things speak of what the old man is like. This is the stuff you need to drop off.
Here is some stuff you can take action on immediately. You no longer have to live like the gentiles. You no longer have to live a perverse life if you have surrendered to the Lord Jesus. Its now your choice. It wasn‘t your choice before. But now its your choice. If you are being lead captive by a sin, it may be that you have never known Christ, or the devil is deceiving you into thinking that you have to follow that particular sin because you are enslaved to it. You are no longer a slave to any particular sins. You can and for your own good ought to put off the old man. This isn‘t just will power that we are talking about here. This is claiming on the things God in Christ has already done for you.
The New Man Put On
Have you noticed that there are so many self-help books these days in the book shops. It must be frustrating to folks to read this self help book then another then another, and find that many of the ideas are contradictory and plain don‘t work because of the sinfulness of human nature. You don‘t need reformation. You can‘t fix up the old man.
"If you need anything in watch repairing go to" such a firm. One of the employees looked up and exclaimed, "I need no watch repairing; what I need is a watch." It furnished me with an excellent text. What the unsaved man needs is not a repairing of his life. He needs a new life altogether, which comes only through a second birth. Reformation is like watch repairing. Repentance is like the recognition of the lack of a watch. You can‘t fix up the old man. No matter how much you polish up the old man, the Bible says he‘s still a mass of stinking corruption. No matter how well you dress up a corpse in a coffin its still a corpse. You don‘t need a clean up job, you need a new creation. If you have become a Christian then you have
experienced the new creation. According to Ephesians 2:10 we are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul says, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
Eph 4:24 He has new feelings, principles, and desires. He has laid aside his old principles and practices, and, in everything that pertains to moral character, he is new. His body is indeed the same; the intellectual structure of his mind the same; but there has been a change in his principles and feelings which malco him, in all the great purposes of life, a new being. Learn, that regeneration is not a trifling change. It is not a mere change of relations, or of the outward condition. It is not merely being brought from the world into the church, and being baptized, though by the most holy hands; it is much more. None of these things would make proper the declaration, "he is a new man." Regeneration by the Spirit of God does. from Barnes' Notes,
In respect to God. The idea is, evidently, that man is so renewed as to become "like" God, or the divine image is restored to the soul. In the parallel passage in Colossians (Col 3:9), the idea is expressed more fully, "renewed in knowledge after "the image" of him that created him." Man, by regeneration, is restored to the lost image of God; compare Gen 1:26. God's image, which we lost in the first Adam, is restored to us more gloriously in the second Adam, the image of the invisible God. Barnes' Notes,
"Righteousness" relates to our fellowmen, "holiness" to God,
"Holiness" properly refers to purity toward God, and "righteousness" to integrity toward people;
This guy was once the biggest drug dealer on the North Coast. He could supply you with anything you wanted if you had the cash. But one night while he lay drunk in bed, he realized he was throwing his life away. He immediately stopped dealing in drugs and gave his life to Christ. More than this, he went to a Bible College, and set up a drug rehab clinic near Coffs harbour. He came to Glen innes and gave his testimony. One of the folks listening said, "It's hard to believe people can change like that. I guess it's what they call being re-born." The drug dealer had been part of the darker side of society, and by changing directions he stood out.
I came across a group of aboriginals a few years ago from a place called Woodenbong, near Kyogle, near Casino. Their community of about 300 was a terrible drunken community until God laid hold on 2 young aboriginal men who came back from Redfern where they had come to know Christ> Soon the whole community heard of the Lord and turned to Him, and Woodenbong is now known as a centre of godliness and integrity among the aboriginal community, as these folk laid aside the old self of alcoholism and trusted Christ.
Yesterday I went with Lorelle for a walk on the beach. There beside the beach was a house that had been for sale. It had been bought by someone, and rather than renovate the thing, they went in with sledgehammers and brought the whole thing down. God doesn‘t just renovate your life. He recreates it.
2. A Mental Restoration
How do we keep the renewal going? Your body needs daily renewal. Every cell in your body dies, and new cells are created to take their place. For the continual recreation of cells there needs to be the daily intake of food. I cannot understand how a dead chop can become a live cell. I cannot even understand how a brown cow standing in a green field of grass under a blue sky can produce white milk. But spiritual renewal is likewise dependant upon the intake of spiritual food so we can continue the renewing process.
2 Cor 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
This happens through our daily intake of God‘s Word. I don‘t care how often you come to church, unless you are daily taking in from God‘s Word, and meditating on it, you cannot experience that renewal of your minds by the Spirit of God.
David said similarly in Psalm 1.
Ps 1:1-3
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
2 Cor 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
"The Bible says we're being changed from glory to glory even by the Spirit of the Lord. Do you know what you ought to be able to do at the end of a year? You ought to be able to look back and see some specific ways in which you have grown spiritually. There ought to be evidence of new habits, new attitudes, and new abilities relating directly to the fact that you're being changed by the Spirit of the Lord. "Can you think of one overwhelming weakness that had you by the throat at the beginning of this year? Do you honestly believe that if Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, came into your life, he could release you from it, and you could live in newness of life?
"You say,'I don't know about that.' Nothing is impossible with God. If it is part of the divine will, it rests well within the divine capability."
"‗What must I do?‘ has oft been asked, Eternal life to gain; Man anxious seems for any task If this he may obtain.
"But all the doing has been done, As God has clearly shown, When by the offering of His Son, His purpose He made known.
"He laid on Him the sinner‘s guilt When came the appointed day. And by that blood on Calvary spilt Takes all our guilt away."
"Let not conscience make you linger, Nor of fitness fondly dream, All the fitness He requireth Is to feel your need of Him. This He gives you, ‗Tis the Spirit‘s rising beam."
Ephesians 5:1-14
5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:
"Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light."
Ephesians 5:1,2 Walk In Love
1. The Precept Of Love
2. The Pattern of Love
3. The Price of Love
Ephesians 5:3-14 Walk In The Light
A. There are Things That Are Inconsistent With Being A Child Of God.
Things That Are Unthinkable 3
Things That Are Unspeakable 4
B. There Are things That Are Consistent With Being A Child Of God 9-10
C. There Are Things That Are Inevitable In Being A Child Of God 11-14
Ephesians 5:1,2 Walk In Love
As we come into the fifth chapter, we learn that our "walk" (or conduct) which is worthy of our calling is one in which we...
a. Walk In Love - Ep 5:1-7
b. Walk As Light - Ep 5:8-14
c. Walk As Wise - Ep 5:15-21
Children are great imitators. As soon as they are able to walk. Putting on mum‘s dress, high heels make-up. Little boys imitate dad, how to walk like dad.
A Theological college lecturer at Criswell I heard about was a real runner. And of course he was skinny and had the real runner‘s clothes. One day he was getting ready to run during his training time and his young boy was watching him get dressed. As he put on his running shorts the boy asked his dad, "Why are not wearing any underwear dad?" Well son, the are special running shorts and they have the underwear built in them." This seemed to satisfy to boy curiosity. A following Sunday his young boy‘s Sunday School teacher came to him and told him that his son came into the Sunday School room and went to the teacher and said, "I am trying to be just like my dad." The Sunday School teacher said, "Oh, how is that?" "I am not wearing any underwear."
Paul tells us as dear children of God we need to imitate our heavenly Father. God is the standard for our behaviour. Sure it would be wise to imitate the apostle Paul and Billy Graham, but ultimately we are to imitate our heavenly Father in heaven. This is Paul‘s general command to be like God, imitate God. It is another way of saying "be ye holy for God is holy."
One of the problems in our country is that often young people don't have good role models. Many of them want to model their lives after movie stars. A few years ago, one survey found that Eddie Murphy and Madonna were the two individuals most admired by teenagers. That's a scary thought! All of us need good models to imitate.
That puts a great responsibility upon us for the lifestyle that we present to them. See the bad traits in children passed from generation to generation. But individuals can break the pattern by submission to the Lord Jesus as Lord and Saviour. You can blame your family for many things, but you need to grow up and take responsibility for your own behaviour and actions.
i.e. example of young man growing up in YP choosing lifestyle of gambling of father.
i.e. fellow had son walking in footsteps behind him, where are you leading him? To hell…lead to his salvation.
Enoch walked with God. Gen 5:22 after he begat Methusaleh. Realising the tremendous impact your life will have on the eternal destiny of your sons and daughters.
5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Followers….imitators mimics.
Imitate God, as a beloved child.
We ought to imitate his holiness righteousness forgiveness,
Eph 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
We are to seek to be just like God.
How you doing? Fair to middling
Strange to our ears but made in country where reg grew up.
In the bank, 2 farmers old and young, ―Scuse me son but aren‘t you Ben Smith‘s boy?‖
―Son I‘m gonna tell you you are the spittin image of your dad.‖
Young guys eyes filled with tears ―I‘d rather you say that about me than anything else you could ever say.‖
Don‘t you and I have a desire in our hearts that folks would say we were the spittin image of our heavenly Father?
What would that look like? Vs 2.
You can‘t imitate God in the creation of the Universe nor in resurrections from the dead. But do you know what God does mostly, He mostly loves. We can imitate Him here by living a life of love.
1. The Precept Of Love.
Eph 4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Walk Live your life Love.
If we live and act like God then we walk in love, God is Love. When God saves you he puts you in Love and love in you.
Words change their meanings. ―Love‖ what they most mean is Lust.. what they get out of a relationship.
The people of the world want love in a bad way. In fact, the only thing they want more than love is money. Loving, being loved, and making love are viewed as the ultimate high. Love is seen as the way to experience emotional extremes: you'll never be as happy nor as sad as when you're in love. Today's music feeds that quest for love. Throughout much of it is the same underlying message: either the fantasy of a love sought or the despair of a love lost. People continue to chase that elusive dream. They base their concept of love on what it does for them. Songs, plays, films, books, and TV programs continually perpetuate the fantasy--the dream of a perfect love perfectly fulfilled. People search for love like Ponce de Leon searched for the fountain of youth. As they look, they give themselves to other people only for what they can get. When they're no longer satisfied, they'll move on and find others who can satisfy them. The world's love is unforgiving, conditional, and self-centered--the very opposite of God's love. People in the world search for love, but it's not true love, it's Satan's perversion. Ephesians 5:3-4 says, "But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not fitting; but, rather, giving of thanks." If God's love and the love of His children is forgiving, unconditional, and self-sacrificing, you can be sure Satan will pervert that. Therefore the love of the world tends to be unforgiving, conditional, and self-centered. Worldly love focuses on desire, self-pleasure, and lust. It is shallow, selfish, sensual, and sexual. Satan has sold that definition of love to the world, and incredible as it seems, many Christians have fallen into the trap of believing it. Divorce and infidelity are rampant in the church today because of an unwillingness to walk in love. In Ephesians 5:1-6 Paul exhorts us to walk in God's love and then warns us about the world's love.
When a person comes to know Christ they are now in love and able to love. Rom 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
We are taught of God to love one another. I heard one young lady say in Kiama, ―My mother-in-law literally loved me to Jesus‖
Christianity is all about love a love relationship with god through the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 John 2:3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. 7 Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. 8 Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. 9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. NKJV
Paul is not saying anything terribly new. The Old Testament contains 39 books, 951 pages in this NIV Bible, and within it are literally hundreds of instructions. But in Matthew 22, Jesus says all of them can be summed up in two commands: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. Love God and love others. We live in a complex world. But, our primary purpose is still simple. Follow the example God gives us. Live a life of love.
Love is as old as God and as new as the day you came to know Jesus.
Puppy love….could lead to a dog‘s life. They walk around like sick puppies.
Falling in love.
Love is a very funny thing its shaped just like a lizard
It wraps its tail around your throat and goes right through your gizzard.
Something brand new? It‘s as old as God and as new as you coming to experience His love in Jesus today.
If God gives us a command , He will supply to us. What He commands He will reproduce in us.
2. The Pattern of Love
―As Christ also has loved us.‖
Some people don‘t love because they have never seen love. They have grown up without a model of love.
But we have a beautiful pattern of love, the Lord Jesus Christ himself in the Pattern of His life.
I remember someone came to me after a service and said, ―God loves me? Prove it to me!‖ Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us Commends, displays, exhibits.
You are not saved by imitation with Christ but identification by faith with the Lord Jesus‘ death on our behalf
1 Peter 2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
WWJD? In the past few years the letters "WWJD" have been displayed on posters, bracelets, T-shirts, and other places. The letters stand for "What Would Jesus Do?" It is marvellous that lots of young people, as well as older people, are asking themselves that question. Because Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, to do what Jesus would do is to imitate God. ―In His Steps‖ Doesn‘t save you but you are called to this sort of walk.
Remember Jn 11 Lazarus‘ tomb, Jesus wept. He identified Himself with the hurts and sorrows of the family. ―Behold how He loved him.‖
Or take the Rich young Ruler ―Looking on him He loved him.‖
Jesus loved His disciples. And they weren‘t an easy crowd to love. Christians can be ugly sometimes. You and I can be ugly too not very loveable. They got in a big fuss over who is #1 and #2. They must have tried the patience of the Lord.
John 13:1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
He loved lost people. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
He loved the church Eph 5:25 Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
The biggest criticism that was ever made of the Lord was: Luke 15:1 Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." NKJV
One of the verses in the Bible which I find a bit troubling is Matthew 5:46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
God is love, yes, that is what 1 John 4:8 says. But His love is always true, holy, righteous, and just. To imitate God's love does not mean we smile sweetly at people no matter what they are doing. Dr. Dobson has a book entitled, Love Must be Tough. Indeed, if we really love someone, we care enough to confront that person. I've always liked the song which says, God loves us just the way we are, but loves us too much to let us stay that way. Parents understand this. If we love our children, we do not let them have whatever they want, whenever they want. It is because we love our girls that we don't let them have Mars Bars instead of vegetables for dinner at night. It is because Lorelle loves me that she doesn't let me have Mars Bars for dinner.
3. The Price of Love
given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Sounds sweet and nice But love is costly
Ephesians 5:2 ...and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. God's love is clearly linked with the death of Jesus Christ. Christ's death is God's love in action. Jesus died as a substitutionary sacrifice, taking the place of sinners like you and me. He experienced the punishment for our sins, so that we do not have to do that. We need to realize that without the death of Jesus, God's love would be rather empty. The Lord could serenade us with love songs, but it would be of little value because without the death of Jesus Christ, we would be lost in our sins. Jesus' death on the cross is exactly what we as sinners needed and it is exactly what God provided. God's love involves more than good intentions. It is love in action. As we seek to imitate the Lord, we need to put our love into action. Thomas Watson, one of the English Puritans, once said, "Faith deals with the invisible, but God hates invisible love. Affection without action is beautiful, but barren." That's good. Friends, it is great to tell people that we love them. It is super to be compassionate and shed tears for someone who is hurting. But, as in 1 John 3:18, our love for others must be more than words, to be true love it must include action.
You can give and not love, but you cannot love and not give. Love always has a price to pay. Here is the practical application of Ephesians. Right here slap dab in the middle he hits us with vs. 2 one of the greatest doctrinal statements in the bible.
Tabernacle: In the OT there were sacrifices and offerings. They would take an animal without blemish taking the animal he would transfer symbolically the sins of the people to the animal. They would kill the animal, take the blood and sprinkle it on the mercy seat, then they would take the body and put it on the brass altar and burn it, sprinkling spices and frankincense and on the altar and smoke would rise up towards heaven a sweet smelling savour.
Ephesians 5:2 says that Christ "hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor." Christ's sacrificial offering of Himself was a fragrant aroma to God. Paul described a gift given to him as "an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God" (Phil. 4:18). That Christ's offering of Himself was sweet-smelling meant that God was well pleased with it.
Leviticus 1-3 describes three types of offerings Israel was to make: the burnt offering, the meal offering, and the peace offering. If we view Christ's work in light of those offerings, we could say that the burnt offering refers to Christ's total devotion to God--He gave His life. The meal offering refers to His perfection. And the peace offering speaks of His making peace between God and man. Those three offerings were well pleasing to God.
This was all a picture pointing to Calvary‘s cross. The cross. The cross of Jesus was sacrificial. He has given Himself . given up Himself
Love is costly it will cost you yourself . When someone wants to get married and love your wife it cost you yourself.
The cross of Jesus was voluntary. He took it up willingly. He gave Himself for us..that‘s sacrifice. He gave Himself to God, that‘s satisfaction. The Father accepted the love sacrifice the Saviour made at the cross.
The only way to live is to live loving and giving. Christ Himself is our pattern. If we're to love as He loves us, then we need to know the characteristics of His love.
1. It is forgiving When Jesus died on the cross He said of those who crucified Him, "Father, forgive them" (Luke 23:34).
The best measurement of a person's love is his ability to forgive. That's because the best measurement of God's love is His ability to forgive. Ephesians 2:5 says, "Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath made us alive together with Christ." Why? Because "God ... is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us" (v. 4).
Measure your love. Ask yourself, Do I love? If you don't, you're not one of God's own because the children of God love others (1 John 4:7-8). How can you know if you aren't characterized by love? Ask yourself, Am I bitter toward someone because of something they did to me? Do I often get angry with people, either externally or internally? Do I speak maliciously behind people's backs? Do I verbally assault people? Those are characteristics of a person who doesn't love others, and that's part of our old lifestyle--a life we must get rid of.
It is unconditional
The Bible doesn't refer to Christian love as an emotion, but as an act of self-sacrifice. A person who truly loves someone else doesn't look to see what he can get out of that person. Do you realize that God loves people on the way to hell as much as He loves those on the way to heaven? He loves those who curse Him as much as those who praise Him. Why? Because God's love is never conditioned on a response--it is unconditional.
Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, shared this story about two lawyers. These two lawyers were partners and there was a lot of conflict between the two. One of the lawyers became a Christian and he came to Bill Bright and said, "What should I do, now that I am a Christian?" Bill told him that he needed to go back to his partner and ask for forgiveness and tell him that you love him." The new believers said, "no way, I can‘t do that because I don‘t love him." Bill Bright prayed for the attorney and exhorted him that now he was a Christian he was to walk in the same love that Christ has given him. The next morning the attorney went to
his partners and said, "I have become a Christian, and I want to ask for your forgiveness for all the hurtful things that I have done to you, and I want to tell you that I love you." His partner was so shocked by this turn around that he too asked for forgiveness, and said, "I want to become a Christian too, would you show me how?" We are to walk in unconditional love for people. We cannot produce this love ourselves it comes from God. When people see imitating God by walking in love they see the love of God and are attracted to it.
Do you want to please God? Do you want your life to rise before God as a sweet-smelling aroma? Then live a life of forgiving, unconditional, and self-sacrificing love.
Walk In The Light
This morning we examined how God has called us to be imitators of Himself as beloved children. Did you notice how beloved you are as a child of God:
Col 1: 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,
Do you remember that hymn by Wesley?
Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and nature‘s night, Thine eye diffused a quickening ray, I woke the dungeon flamed with light, My chains fell off my heart was free I rose went forth and followed Thee.
Now we follow Him, as beloved children, seeking to imitate the character of so loving and gracious a God who should rescue us and bring us into His own family.
Paul encourages us to have the character of our God. Be imitators of God.
He says in verse 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
Walk as children of light. The Lord Jesus said of believers:
Matt 5: 14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Paul is saying Manifest what you are. Let the sweet communion you experience as a child of God come out in your ordinary life and relationships.
He says first of all walk in love. Now he tells us some things that are inconsistent with living as a child of God.
A. There are Things That Are Inconsistent With Being A Child Of God.
Fitting, becoming, suitable, appropriate.
1. Things That Are Unthinkable
3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;
The command "let it not be named among you" has to do sexual misconduct. The phrase indicates that as Christians we are to live so spotless that not even rumors about sexual misconduct would have a chance get started. There are two areas in which Paul tells us that we need to be spotless. We need to be spotless in our life and in our language. We need to have a purity of life and a purity of language. The area that Paul discusses is sensual sins, sensual sins of deed and sensual sins of speech.
Purity of Life The first thing Paul says concerns our life. He says that it is not fitting for God‘s people to indulge in "fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness."
The Greek word that we translate "fornication" is the word "porneia." Hence, we get the English word pornography. Fornication is unlawful sexual intercourse. Sex is a beautiful thing that God created to be enjoyed in the normal heterosexual marriage relationship. Any sex outside of a marriage between man and woman is unlawful.
The next word that Paul uses that we translate "all uncleanness" is referring to homosexuality. And covetousness reefers to the type of behavior that is self-seeking, self-indulging, and self-gratifying. These things are not fitting for God‘s people.
The church in Ephesus needed to hear this because of the culture they lived in. Ephesus was known for its temple prostitution. The temple of Diana was located there, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. So they lived in a culture that was consumed with sexual immortality, all kinds of uncleanness, and self-indulging behavior. And if they were going to imitate God they had to abandon these old ways. This may not be a popular thing to say, but I‘ll say it anyway. If you are involved in sexual immorality in any way, God declares that to be sin.
I don‘t care who you think you are, immorality is wrong.
They were to live such spotless lives that it could not even become a rumour among them. But Paul does not stop with the purity of life; he goes on to stress the purity of language.
2. Things That Are Unspeakable
4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
Paul tells us that our conversation should be free from sensual indulgence. Three things he tells us that should not be present in the Christians conversation: (1) Filthiness, this word refers to obscene talk or indecent talk. It is particularly dealing with conversation that is full of sexual vulgarity. (2) The second word deals with profanity. (3) The third word had a favourable meaning at one time. It meant "pleasant wit" or "ready wit." But over time it acquired a connotation of suggestive talk. It has in mind here not joking, but rather dirty joking.
It is not fitting for the Christian to participate in sexual immorality, homosexuality, or the kind of self-indulgence that characterize these behaviors. It is also not fitting for the Christians conversation to be one that is filthy, or obscene, filled with profanity, and sexually suggestive in nature.
Paul tells us that jesting about immorality is not ―fitting‖ for saints. Why? What‘s wrong with humour that deals with immorality? First, it doesn‘t take sin seriously enough.That is a deadly error. Second, it enables us to talk about things we would not dare to discuss seriously. Humour allows us to press the line of appropriateness further than we could seriously. If we venture too far, we simply say, ―Just kidding.‖ Third, joking about immorality often is but the first step we take toward immorality. I wonder how many people ―fell‖ into immorality after joking about it.
"The tongue - is one of the smallest parts of the body...and the most difficult to control." "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence." (Psalm 39:1)
What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.
If it is characteristic of a person‘s conversation then there is something to worry about.
By their fruit you shall know them. Trees produce according to kind If continually filthy in mind and speech then that‘s what is there at root. Instead of giving our lives over to that which is not fitting for Christians we are to give ourselves over to thankfulness.
Notice the very last phrase of verse 4, "but rather giving of thanks."
If we are going to maintain purity in life and purity in language then we must clothe ourselves with the power of thankfulness. A person that is thankful will not become discontent in their life situation and fall into sexual sins. Discontentment leads to adultery and other types of sexual sins. In the same manner, those who have a thankful attitude will not degrade sexual activity, but instead will preserve the beauty of it.
If we are going to imitate the Lord we must abandon sensual desires that are sinful and appropriate thankfulness. Paul goes on to give us the motive for purity.
5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21: Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
"The scripture is in agreement: no practicing sinner, no unrepentant sensualist, has eternal life. Do Christians fall into these sins? Of Course! But true Christians will not persist in them, for persistence in sensuality is evidence of a graceless state. Any one who is living a life of sensuality and is unwilling to turn from it is lost and has no inheritance in the kingdom of God and Christ" (Hughes)
(Revelation 21:7-8) ―He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8 ―But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death‖
If that‘s your lifestyle then you are on you way to hell . Don‘t let any smart talkers deceive you. If they say you‘re going to heaven and you‘re not?
6. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Some preachers are all positive. They don‘t preach the negative of sin. They say ―Don‘t preach about wrath of God. People will find that objectionable.‖ Well that sort of idea isn‘t true to the book. Those are Vain empty words. You can‘t get people saved till you get them lost and realise they are sinners so you can get them to Jesus and get them saved and to church and get them cleaned up.
B. There Are things That Are Consistent With Being A Child Of God
7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
You were darkness itself but now you are in the light don‘t live like them. Not saying don‘t know lost people, (otherwise how are you going to win them) But don‘t participate with them in sin.
Now we move into the glow of the brightness. You are light. You are A Partaker of the divine nature. 2Peter 1:3, The Lord Jesus is the Son of God, When you come to Christ you become sons of God
The Lord Jesus is the stone which was rejected by the builders, When you came to Christ you become living stones,
He is the Light of the world; When you come to Him you become light of the world.
Now you see things in a different way.
1 John 1:5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Now you begin to see things in a different way. Today it is common for a couple living together without marriage. The Bible condemns that.
Rom 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts.
Chambering…wantonness or shacking up. It is sin to live together without benefit of marriage. I don‘t beat them over the head if they are living like that. They are in the darkness and don‘t know it. They are in the dark I tell them about Jesus, they say, ―you know we ought not to be living together this isn‘t right.‖ He was beginning to walk in the light and he realised there were some things that were of the darkness and needed to be got sorted out. That‘s why I preach Christ and grace. Grace will take off the graveclothes. Otherwise I could turn you into a legalist with a little notebook of right and wrongs. There is nothing worse than a legalist who doesn‘t understand the grace and mercy of God in Christ. It is the grace of God which changes a person.
Light produces life. 9(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.
The good the right and the true. Proving testing and approving putting to the test for the purpose of approving what is pleasing to the Lord.
This is a real good test about anything. :Ask yourself the question; ―Is this pleasing to the Lord?‖
HA Ironside: One time in a social gathering, while the ladies are out of the room I want to tell you this joke.‖ ―Brother the ladies are out of the room, but the Holy Spirit is in the room, just be sure now that whatever you are fixing to tell wont be displeasing to the Holy Spirit.‖ This is a real good test.
C. There Are Things That Are Inevitable In Being A Child Of God
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:
"Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light."
Paul‘s teaching on separation and fellowship is clear. In general terms, as ―children of light‖ we are not to have fellowship with darkness. More specifically, we are not to shun unbelievers, nor to avoid association with them. We are to avoid intimate fellowship with them, especially as they practice what is displeasing to God. As Christians, we are not to have fellowship with those who profess to trust in Christ, but whose conduct denies Him.
1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?
In some of His final words to His disciples, our Lord indicated to them that their relationship with Him would bring about a corresponding animosity from those who rejected Him:
(John 15:18-20) ―If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‗A slave is not greater than his master.‘ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also‖
Years later, Peter writes to those who are suffering persecution at the hand of unbelievers and assures them that such is the normal reaction of those in darkness, whose deeds have been exposed by the light:
(1 Peter 4:3-4) For the time already past is sufficient for your to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and they malign you.
Our Lord Himself came as the ―light‖ (John 1:1-13). Those who acknowledged their sin turned to Him for salvation, while those who preferred darkness to light rejected Him (see John 3:16-21). We, like Christ, are to live as children of light as a part of our calling to reflect and reveal Christ and to proclaim the gospel. It is the contrast in our conduct with that of the world which makes the gospel clear. It is by our contrast with the world that we fulfill our obligation as ―lights‖:
(Matthew 5:13-16). ―You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing any more, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven‖
I fear that in many churches today which proclaim to be evangelical, we are not ―manifesting the light‖ to the glory of God and to the health of the church, and to the salvation of the lost.
To keep with the symbolism of light and darkness, I fear that some churches are trying to win the lost by ―turning the lights down low.‖
The goal of the ―lights down low‖ folks is that people won‘t be attracted to a gospel which threatens their beliefs, values, and lifestyles. And so, they say, ―in order to get people saved, we need to play down the negative aspects of the gospel (sin, righteousness, judgment) and slip the gospel in positively. We need to make the unbeliever comfortable with Christianity if we are to attract them to our churches. If sin and hell are unpleasant topics, then these should be set aside, at least for a time. Once people are saved, they tell us, then we can speak to them about discipleship.‖ This sounds a whole lot like the ―bait and switch‖ methodology of unscrupulous salesmen.
There are many difficulties with this philosophy and methodology. In the first place, it does not square with our Lord‘s methods or teaching. There were many who seemed eager to follow Jesus, but He consistently warned them of the cost of discipleship. Neither does it square with the Lord‘s teaching concerning the ministry of the Holy Spirit in evangelism, as found in the Gospel of John:
(John 16:7-11). 7 ―But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged‖
If the Holy Spirit is to convict men of sin, righteousness, and judgment, then surely we dare not avoid these truths in dealing with unbelievers. The very subjects which Scripture identify as the foundation and starting point of the gospel are those which the ―low-light gospellers‖ would set aside. The truth of the matter is that the gospel, in its pure form, is not appealing. Indeed, it is repulsive, to lost men. Nevertheless, it is our task to proclaim it in the simplest and clearest terms possible, relying upon God to draw men through the ministry of His Spirit
As Paul‘s words indicate, our task is not to ignore sin, but to expose it. This is done by living righteously, living as lights. Those whom God has chosen, He will draw to the light by His grace and through His Spirit. And those who love their sin and the darkness will seek to extinguish our light. And so it is that some of the texts which speak about light are found in close proximity to those which speak of persecution (see Matthew 5:10-16). We are not to identify with darkness, nor to withdraw entirely from it, but to live as lights in a darkened world, so that sin might be exposed by righteousness, to the glory of God, to the salvation of the lost, and to the blessing of the believer.
Only those who are in Christ can be lights. This compels me to ask you a simple question of the greatest import: ―Have you seen the light?‖ Have you acknowledged your sin, Christ‘s righteousness, and the judgment which awaits all who reject the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary? These are dark days. Those without Christ are not only darkness, subjects of the prince of darkness, but they also await the dark day of God‘s coming wrath on sinners. Come to the light. Trust in Him who suffered and died for your sins, and whose righteousness can be yours by faith.
A man bought wife a French ornamental matchbox. It was supposed to glow in the dark.
But it didn‘t glow in the dark. On the side of the matchbox in French was written: ―If you want me to shine in the night you must leave me in the light.‖
We are to shine in the night, but we must stay in the light.
Ephesians 5:15-21 Walking Wisely
Eph 5:15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Walk Wisely by
Walking Carefully 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,
Walking Conscientiously 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Walking Cautiously 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is
Walking Controlled 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,
Ephesians 5:18 How to Have a Spirit-Filled Life
1. The Reasons for Being Filled with the Spirit
Obedience to God
Obligation to God
In your worship life,.
In your wedded life.
In your work life Ephesians 6:5 -7.
In your war life. In Ephesians 6:10-17
In your witness life. Ephesians 6:18,19
Opportunity For God
2. The Requirements for Being Filled with the Spirit
The first thing you must do is to make a complete commitment to Him.
Eph 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
There must also be a continual control.
There must be a claiming of this filling of the Holy Spirit.
3. The Results of Being Filled with the Spirit
Your relationship to God will be energized by a spirit of adoration.
Your relationship to circumstances will be energized by a spirit of appreciation.
Your relationship to others will be energized by a spirit of accommodation.
If we are going to put on our new nature, if we are going to imitate God, if we are going to walk as children of the light, then we must walk wisely. How do you know if you are walking wisely? What does the walk of the wise look like? These verses will help us understand the walk of the wise. It could be said that these verses summarize this section, that these verses summarize the Christian life. Whatever the case, as God‘s children we must walk wisely.
In the earlier verses of chapter 5 Paul contrasts light and darkness. Paul now uses the contrasting language of wise and unwise, or wise and foolish. Our walk is to be a wise walk, not an unwise walk. Our walk is to be wisely, not foolishly. A similar phrase is found in the book of Colossians were Paul says, "Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time."
Paul‘s idea of wisdom goes beyond the classical Greek idea, which thought of wisdom as and attribute, never an activity, an attribute that indicated unusual ability and knowledge.
The idea Paul had for wisdom was quit the opposite. For Paul, wisdom was first and foremost something that was revealed by the Spirit. Notice Paul‘s prayer request back in chapter one verse 17, "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him."" Paul saw wisdom as an attribute revealed by the Spirit. But this wisdom would effect the activity of the one who possessed it.
In a similar prayer in the first Chapter of Colossians Paul prays, "for this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." The result of this prayer is found in the next verse, "that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him."
Thus, God given wisdom is the fear of the Lord. To fear the Lord is to fear displeasing God. To walk wisely is to make decisions that would please God. It is more than just having an unusual ability and knowledge.
Our generation illustrates this fact well. We live in a generation that is probably more knowledgeable that any other generation in history. We have made great advances in medicine and research. The life expectancy has grown tremendously because or our medical knowledge. More people are finishing college and going on to do graduate work. The Internet has put knowledge at the fingertips of almost every person. Yet, with this knowledge, our nation has dropped to the bottom of the moral and ethical ladder. Our television is full of sexual immorality. Our White House is full of sexual immorality. Our churches are full of immorality. We have great knowledge, but we lack wisdom; the kind of wisdom that leads a person to live right before God.
As God‘s people we need to walk wisely not foolishly. So what does the walk of the wise look like? The first thing we will notice is that the walk of the wise is careful.
1. The walk of the wise is careful
Verse 15 reads, "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise." The word "circumspectly" can be translated "careful" or it can be translated "accurately." That is the literal meaning of the Greek word. It means "strict conformity to a norm or a standard involving both detail and completeness." Our conduct, if we are going to walk wisely, must conform to the standard put forth by the word of God. If we are going to walk wisely we must be careful to live our lives with detail and completeness to the standard shown by our Lord and revealed in His word.
Paul is saying live according to who you are. If you are a Christian you need to live like a Christian. You must walk wisely. You do this by adhering to what you have been taught in God‘s word. Paul is saying be careful to walk the walk.
Every time I go down to Sydney, or I am travelling on the road alone, my wife Lorelle tells me to be careful. She wants me to pay attention to the road. She wants me to pay attention to other drivers. She wants me to be careful. Parents tell their kids this all the time. My dad had a nickname for me as I grew up ―Splaw foot.‖ I looked it up in the dictionary. It means that if there is somewhere you can put your foot to cause a problem, you bet I can put my foot in it. He‘d mix paint, Somehow I‘d get it on the bottom of my feet. He‘d have nails on the bench. Somehow one would be in my foot. If there was a huge floor area swept clean and only one pin on the whole floor, I‘d be guaranteed to trip on it. As a young boy I grew up in Gymea Bay in Sydney‘s South. I lived only a short walk to the Gymea Bay baths. It was an old River Baths with shark netting around it and a cat walk which sat on several piers that went around the baths. I don‘t know why they called it a cat walk. No self-respecting cat could negotiate that narrow set of 2‖ x 4 ― planks 6‖ wide with lots of holes in between the slats. I discovered I couldn‘t either and fell through the middle. I had huge blue/black and brown bruises that covered my thighs. I learnt to walk circumspectly anywhere after that. It got me scared of heights; even today neither man nor beast could get me to walk near the edge of anything; cliff or curb-side gutter, in case I might fall off.
What is true in our earthly walk about being careful is true in our spiritual walk as well. We must pay attention. We must carefully and accurately conduct our lives. When we do we are walking wisely.
The walk of the wise is careful.
2. The walk of the wise is conscientious
Paul goes on to tell us how we are to walk carefully in verse 16, "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
The clock is my dictator I shall not rest. It makes me lie down only when exhausted. It leads me to deep depression. It hounds my soul. It leads me in circles of frenzy for activity sake. Even though I run frantically from task to task, I will never get it all done. For my ideal is with me. Deadlines and my need for approval they drive me. They demand performance from me beyond the limits of my schedule. My "IN" basket overflows. Surely fatigue and time pressure will follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the bonds of frustration forever.
The verb "redeeming" is a participle, and some see it as a second imperative, but I think it is modifying the verb walk back in verse 15, and is telling us how we are to live carefully or accurately.
The word "redeeming" literally means, "to buy back." It is the same word used to describe how Jesus redeemed us." The idea is of a person being a slave or held captive, and somebody redeems that person by paying a ransom.
Time is our most precious resource. We can always get more money, but we can never get more time. We cannot save it. We cannot borrow it. We cannot buy it. But we can learn to use it wisely. How many of you would admit to never having enough time? Someone passed along to me a cartoon of Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin says, "God put me here on earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I am so far behind that I will never die.‖ Truthfully, our problem does not lie in not having enough time. Our problem lies in our use of the time that God gives to us. If you and I are to maximize our ability to fulfil God's purpose in our lives, then we must maximize our use of the days God has given us. The obvious question is, "How do we do this?" I believe the Bible gives us three things we are to do.
It does not take on the literal meaning in this verse. It means to make the best of every opportunity, to make good use of your time. Remember that this is in the context of walking carefully and accurately. We use every opportunity to walk carefully and accurately to the standards set before us. In other words, or Christian witness is not part time, but full time. We need to keep that in mind. We need to use our time properly, by living properly. There is no leisure time when it comes to your Christian walk. It is 24 hours a day, 7days a week.
The reason we are to walk carefully by making the most of every opportunity is found in the last half of verse 16, "because the days are evil."
We live in evil days, and I am here to tell you, God‘s enemy does not rest. He does not take any leisure time away from doing evil. We should take no leisure time from walking in righteousness.
The best illustration for this point is football. A football team has so much time to win a football game. They have to carefully and accurately call the plays, execute the plays, and stop the other team from running their plays. There is no time to mess around when it comes to football. It does not take much to loose the game. The most remarkable game I have ever seen was last Sunday afternoon‘s Newcastle vs Melbourne game. Newcastle picked up 30 points in 30 minutes. Melbourne failed to play carefully, dropping the ball in the silliest of circumstances. If we are going to walk wisely, then we must walk carefully and accurately, making the most out of our time because the enemy does not sleep, nor should we.
We have grown so accustomed to living on the run — we work on the run, we eat on the run, we see our families on the run, we even worship God on the run!
Only thing we stop for is to sleep — some of us do little of that!
Our time is a precious commodity; cramming all we can into a 24 hour day
The Bible tells us we need to be actively redeeming (preserving, safeguarding) our time as Christians. Each day that goes by God deals with me on making sure I am focused and in the center of His perfect will.
We need to redeem the time...
We are tenants of this world — Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
"World is not my home, only passing through" — True whether saved or lost!
Every day that passes. you must make choices
If you are lost its time to get saved? -- Matt. 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
If you are Saved its time to get serious? Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink: nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
If you are serious its time to get Serving 1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
A Christians life is a commentary — people can read us like a book
I ask you — do you know just how short your life really is?
The walk of the wise is careful. The walk of the wise is conscientious.
3. The Walk Of The Wise Is Cautious
17 "Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." This has the same idea of verse 10 where it reads, "finding out what is acceptable or pleasing to the Lord." Here is means "find out what the Lord wants you to do." We must seek out and try to understand what God would have us to do. Once again we are confronted with the fact that as God‘s people we should try to understand what pleases the Lord and do it. The walk of the wise is Cautious concerning the will of God. We understand the will of God by understanding the word of God. For it is in the word of God that we understand that God wants us to meditate on his word so that we would be careful to do his word. It is in the word of God that we are told "not to conform to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind so that we can prove what the good and acceptable and the perfect will of God is." For as we grow in the knowledge of God‘s will we are able to live lives that are worthy of the Lord and pleasing to Him.
Those who are cautious of the will of God live by the motto, "The will of God, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.‖
The only way you can understand the will of God is to understand the word of God.
The walk of the wise is careful. The walk of the wise is conscientious. The Walk Of The Wise Is Cautious
4.The walk of the wise is controlled
Verse 18 says, "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit."
Paul is using the law of contrast to show that the walk of the wise in not controlled by physical stimulants, but with the spiritual reality of the fullness of God the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Holy Spirit implies two things:
The incoming of the Holy Spirit: Before the spirit can fill our lives he must enter our lives by that miraculous operation we call regeneration. Regeneration takes place when we repent of out sins, place our faith in the Lord Jesus, and surrender to him as Lord. At that moment, when we truly believe, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. So one cannot be filled until they experience the incoming of the Holy Spirit at regeneration.
The infilling of the Holy Spirit: Paul says, "Be filled with the Holy Spirit." The tense of this verve is present tense, which suggest that this filling is to be habitual, it is to be daily, and it
is to be ongoing. We are to continuously be filled with the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the voice of this verb is passive, which suggest that it is the Holy Spirit is the one filling us. The Holy Spirit is acting upon the subject, which is the believer. He comes upon us; our role is one of surrender and yielding to the Holy Spirit‘s control over our life.
A young artist was trying to copy Raphael‘s "Madonna and Child," one of the most beautiful pictures in the entire world. He went to Florence and gazed on it, then got his easel. Sitting down in front of it he began to copy it. As he looked at it his picture became a thing of beauty, too. But suppose that, instead of only copying, the spirit of Raphael could have entered and filled that young man: what a difference it would have made! When we come to the Lord Jesus he gives us His Holy Spirit to help us live as he would have us live, and the more the Holy Spirit controls our lives, the more wisely we walk. The more like him we grow. (Intermediate Young People)
To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. This comes as we surrender and yield to the infilling of the Spirit in our lives. When we do this we are inspired or controlled by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit controls the walk of the wise.
Paul goes on to show us three characteristics of the life controlled by the Holy Spirit:
Joyfulness: "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Those who are controlled by the Spirit reveal that control with joy and singing. Paul tells us elsewhere that the fruit of the Spirit is joy. A spirit controlled life is a life characterized by joy and singing.
I am reminded of the story about Paul and Silas when they were in Philippi. It was there that Paul grew impatient with a slave girl who was possessed with a demon so he cast the demon out of the girl. This did not go over well with the slave girl‘s owner because they were making money of her demonic abilities. So an uproar was started and Paul and Silas were thrown in gaol. But they did not let that discourage them because Luke tells us that around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. They were revealing that the Spirit of God was controlling them. The next characteristic of a Spirit controlled life is thankfulness.
Thankfulness: Verse 20 says, "giving thanks always for all things always to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Spirit filled thankfulness is God exalting. It flows from a life that has contemplated all that God is in Himself, and all that he has done on behalf of the human race. Spirit filled thankfulness in Christ revealing. We give thanks in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ because it is through him that we can approach God. Spirit filled thankfulness is Time investing. Notice that Paul says that this thankfulness is to be always and in all things. If we are going to make the most of our time by walking carefully then we need to spend that time giving thanks for all things. When we do this we don‘t leave room for grumbling or complaining. The third characteristic of a Spirit filled life is mutual submission.
Submissiveness: Verse 21 says, "Submitting to one another in the fear of God." Our greatest example of submission is our Lord Jesus Christ. It was Jesus, just before his death, who stripped himself so that he could wash the feet of his prideful and at arrogant disciples. He then went on to tell them the student is not greater than the teacher. What is true of me, who is greater, is true of you, who is lesser. The Spirit filled life is one of submission, looking out for the interest of Christ and for others. We are to submit to one another in the fear of God. Christians who claim to be Spirit filled and yet they are brash, assertive, and self-promoting are living a lie. Submitting to one another is loving one another the way Christ loves us.
Ephesians 5:18 How to Have a Spirit-Filled Life
Eph 5:15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
Every Christian needs to learn how to be Spirit-filled, so that they can experience the full measure of the Christian life.
Imagine a man saved his money for years to buy a brand new car. He parks it in his driveway, shows it to his friends, and sits in it all afternoon so people will notice his new car. But he doesn't know how to start it, so everywhere the car goes he has to push it. That may seem silly to you, but that's the way many Christians are with their spiritual lives. They know the Holy Spirit dwells in them, but they never have quite figured out how to be filled with the Spirit. They've got faith, but they end up pushing their faith around rather than allowing their faith to carry them. Paul tells the Ephesians, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). I believe many Christians have not understood that verse. They realize it warns us not to get drunk, but they don't recognize that it also encourages us to be filled. The Christian life is not just a matter of "don'ts", it is also a matter of "do's." Don't be under the influence of alcoholic spirits; do be under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
1. The Reasons for Being Filled with the Spirit
We are called to be filled with the Spirit, as Stephen Olford has said, continuously, consciously, and conspicuously. Being saved is not a matter of what you do for God, but what God does through you by His Holy Spirit. If you do not know how to be filled with the Spirit, you will never fully enjoy what God has planned for the Christian life. There are several reasons why we are to be filled with the Spirit.
Obedience to God
God has commanded you to be filled. To not do so would be disobedient. Ephesians 5:18 is not just a good suggestion, it's a command! It is written in the imperative, which means it is necessary for you to do this. The Christian who is not Spirit-filled is living in rebellion against God. It is also written in the present tense, so it commands you, right at this moment, to be filled with the Holy Spirit. And the command is written in the plural, so it is not just for pastors and missionaries but for all Christians everywhere. Every Christian should be filled, right now, with the Holy Spirit.
We Baptists have a tendency to carefully study the first part of the verse, about not being drunk with wine, and forget about the last part that calls us to be filled with the Spirit. Many people seem to think that getting drunk is the worst thing someone can do. But the way that I read the verse, it is a greater sin not to be filled with the Spirit than it is to be filled with wine. I've had far more problems from people in churches who were not filled with the Holy Spirit than with people who were drunk with wine! We would all be shocked if someone came up to the platform of a church drunk, but we should be more startled if a person came up to lead a church service without being filled with the Spirit. God has commanded us to be filled, and we ought to obey.
Obligation to God
Being filled is not only our obedient response to God, it is our obligation. You have obligations as a Christian. In Ephesians 5:19-20 Paul continues, "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." In our worship life, we need to be filled with the Spirit because that's the only way to truly worship God. I have been in worship services where it came across as a tired and empty exercise. But a Spirit-filled worship time is life-changing and world-shaking. You have an obligation to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.
You also have an obligation to be Spirit-filled in your wedded life. Verse 22 reads, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." The wife is to respect and love and submit to her husband as though he were Jesus Christ. That won't be done through human nature; our culture is filled with the selfishness and independence of feminism. Women are called to stand up for themselves and throw off the shackles of patriarchy. However, God has called women to submit to their husbands, so feminism is dead wrong. To truly submit, she will have to be Spirit-filled. It's her obligation. The Bible doesn't stop with women, however. Verse 25 says, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." The wife is to submit to her husband as though he is Jesus Christ, but the husband is to love his wife as though he were Jesus Christ loving the church. Jesus loved sacrificially, giving His own life for the church. A husband ought to love his wife so much that he is willing to die for her, and he ought to show it by the way he lives for her. Most women wouldn't have any difficulty submitting to a husband whom she could see loving her that much. The problem I have is that I can't love as well as Jesus Christ loves. So I have to let the Spirit work His love through me. My wife is loved by God through me. She doesn't mind being my second love, because she knows that when I am Spirit-filled she receives the love of God through me.
Not only in your worship life and your wedded life are you to be Spirit-filled, but in your work life you are to be filled with the Spirit. In Ephesians 6:5 Paul writes, "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ." You serve your boss as though he were Jesus Christ. Even if he isn't a Christian, you serve him as though he were the Lord Himself. "Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men" (vv. 6-7). You ought to go to work with the same enthusiasm that you have for church. Your job is your temple of devotion. It is your lamp stand for witness. What better place to let your light shine? Imagine the impact we would have if all Christians on the job were known for being honest, careful, punctual, trustworthy, and hard working. Of course, that's not human nature. We are naturally slow, lazy, and critical. But you could make a difference in your office if you decided to serve others like Jesus Christ. You won't be able to do it under your own power, however. You'll need to be Spirit-filled.
You also have an obligation to be Spirit-filled in your war life. In Ephesians 6:10 we read, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God." We are in a spiritual battle, and the only way to win is to be filled with the Spirit. Our enemy is real and is active. He has marshalled the forces of hell against us, and will attempt to sabotage your life and your family. He wants to bring devastation to your home, your health, your happiness, and your trust in God. He is strong and powerful, and the only way you are going to win the war is to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
You must be filled with the Spirit if you are going to fulfill your obligations in your worship life, your wedded life, your work life, and your war life. But you must also be filled with the Spirit if you are going to be effective in your witness life. Notice Ephesians 6:18&19: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel." If you are going to talk with anyone about your faith in Christ, you must first be filled with the Spirit. Before I step into a pulpit to preach, I want the Spirit of God filling me. Without that filling, my words have no power to touch men's hearts.
2. The Requirements for Being Filled with the Spirit
Don't think of the Holy Spirit as a substance, but as a Person. Don't refer to the Spirit as "it," but as "Him." Jesus said, "When He is come He will teach you all things." The Spirit is a person, and you are His temple. 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us, "What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?" He will fill you with His presence.
The first thing you must do is to make a complete commitment to Him. You open up the door of your heart, welcome Him in, and give Him complete control of your life.
The filling with the Spirit may be pictured to the filling of a glove with a hand. Without the hand in the glove, the glove just flops about uselessly. If you have no yet become a Christian, the Holy Spirit is not living His life out through yours because He is not yet within you. As soon as you become a Christian the Holy Spirit indwells you.
Eph 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
If you are a Christian, just like the hand entering a glove, the Holy Spirit of God has entered your life. How many of you here have the same problems I do in putting on gloves. I could never live in a cold climate. I get frustrated with gloves. I get two or three fingers stuck in the same hole. If there is a little hole in the glove, my fingers will stick out through it!. I am hopeless with gloves. The Holy Spirit, just like your hand as it fills out each of the fingers of the glove, wants to fill out each area of your life and make it godly. You allow Him to come into every area of your life: your marriage, your job, your friendships, your finances. You open it all up to Him. Your complete commitment to Him is necessary before He can fill your life. He must be allowed to enter and control each area of your life. Have you let Him do that in your life? In your worship life? In your wedded life? In your work life? In your warfare life? In your witnessing life?
There must also be a continual control. The Holy Spirit wants to be continually filling your life and controlling your mind. The reason Paul used the contrast of being filled with the Spirit to being drunk with wine is because they have a similar effect on people. At the day of Pentecost, the apostles were accused of being drunk with wine. Peter had to explain they weren't drunk with wine, but drunk with the Holy Spirit. When you are drunk, the alcohol takes over and controls you. You don't act the same because the alcohol has changed your behaviour. The way you walk and talk and think are all altered. You may become generous, or violent, or talkative. You are dominated by the influence of the drink. So it is with the Holy Spirit. He controls you, and you aren't the same anymore. Your walk, your talk, your generosity, and your courage are all changed by the Spirit of God. A person gets drunk by drinking and stays drunk by drinking more. Likewise a person commits themself to the Holy Spirit, then needs to continually be dependent upon the Spirit.
There must be a claiming of this filling of the Holy Spirit. There needs to be a conscious claiming of it. "Just as you received the Lord Jesus, so walk ye in Him," the Bible says. You received Jesus by faith, so you must continually walk in faith. Just say, "Lord, I open myself up to You. Thank You for filling me with Your Spirit. I'm not looking for a feeling, I'm just claiming by faith the fact that I am filled."
3. The Results of Being Filled with the Spirit
As you are filled with the Spirit, you will see it in your relationship to God, your relationship to your circumstances, and your relationships with other people.
Your relationship to God will be energized by a spirit of adoration. You'll want to praise God and sing to Him. You'll find yourself constantly singing and praising the Lord. You can't help but
praise God when you are filled with the Spirit. Your relationship with God will be strengthened as you adore Him.
You'll also find you have a spirit of appreciation, giving thanks to God for all the wonderful things He has done in your life. Your outlook on your circumstances will change, because you will begin to see your life through the eyes of God. You will no longer be under your circumstances, but will praise God that each circumstance is a divine appointment to move you toward Christlikeness.
Finally, you will develop a spirit of accommodation, which will change your relationship to other people. You'll find the Spirit helping you to submit joyfully to others, as unto the Lord. You'll find yourself looking for ways to serve your brothers and sisters in Christ. That's because the Spirit of God has changed your heart. Is the Holy Spirit filling you right now?
Ephesians 5: 18-33 A MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN
The week before his wife turned 45, her husband asked her what she really wanted for her birthday. She thought for a moment and said, ―I‘d like to be 10 again.‖ So bright and early on her birthday, he got her up and they were at the gates of Australia‘s Wonderland when it opened. He ran her from ride to ride. They rode the Pirate Ship, the Scream Machine, the Beasty and every other ride two or three times while eating ice cream and hot dogs waiting in line. Six hours later she staggered out of the park with a splitting headache and an upturned stomach. Then he took her to a crowded movie to watch Star Wars with all the special effects and the volume cranked up to the max. While there, he fed her popcorn, candy, and Pepsi. On the way home, he stopped by McDonald‘s and bought her a Big Mac meal (super-sized) and then they climbed into all the passages of the little playground out front. Finally when she fell into bed that night, he said, ―Well, do you feel like you are ten again?‖ She looked at him through one eye and groaned, ―Actually, I meant dress size!‖
Paul wrote in Ephesians And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
He was talking about how a godly life manifests itself as the Spirit of God controls our hearts minds and attitudes. He now deals with the most difficult subject of how the Spirit of God will change a man or woman in that most vital of relationships, the marriage relationship. Paul is saying, ―don‘t talk to me about a Spirit-filled life unless all your relationships are the better for it! Particularly your marriage!‖
Some one mentioned to me after a service here about marriages. ―Have you heard the reason why it‘s very appropriate to think of a marriage as a window?‖ I said, ―No, why?‖ He said, ―The reason is that marriage is like flies on a window. Those who are outside want in and those who are inside want out!‖ Well, I don‘t know if that‘s really true. The destruction of marriages today so pervades the culture that the church today is now affected. All of us know the statistics. The divorce rate has risen 700% in this century. Fifty percent of those who marry will experience divorce in their lifetimes. If you say, well, those statistics, of course, are for the culture and society broadly. Obviously, the church‘s statistics will be different.‖ But recent research indicates that the divorce rate in the church is little different from that out side the church. So it seems to me that this subject is profoundly important for us to consider. You may or may not be married. You may be thinking to yourself, ―Oh why on earth did I come to church today, he‘s only going to speak about marriage!‖ But today you know people
relatives, friends, who are going through immense difficulties in marriage. You may say to yourself, ―Well I wouldn‘t want to pry into their problems!‖ But you may be the only helping hand they will ever have! They need you to listen carefully today to be able to counsel and encourage them with their problems. If you can‘t hear for yourself this morning, hear for someone else!
You are not naive. Marriage is difficult. There will be struggles in our marriages. There will be tough times — so what else is new? I saw two weddings where the celebrant was up front in the garden with a couple, and he‘s administering the marriage vows to them. ―And do you, Ann, take Arnold to be your husband, to have and to hold, love and cherish, until things get a little tough, you get burned out and split? ―I promise to be faithful as long as love lasts."
"All weddings are happy — it's the living together afterwards that causes all the trouble." How true! When all the sparkle and glamour of that beautiful day wear off, a period of "living together" begins. Various cliches are used to describe marriage. I once asked people what were the most important phrases they had learnt to say to keep their marriage secure:
• Yes, dear, whatever you say, dear. • It wasn‘t my fault. • Did I do/say that?
• Hurry up. • Buy whatever you want. It‘s okay. • I love you
• Sweetheart, I just called to say I love you.
• Don‘t worry about dinner tonight; I‘m taking you out.
• You look better now than when we first married.
My favorite is the one given me by a sharp lady who said with a twinkle in her eye: Have thine own way, dear, have thine own way.
For us to get a good handle on the Spirit filled marriage we need first to understand the Sciptural background to marriage.
1. The Scriptural Background to Marriage
Why marriage? Now that marriage has been in existence a few thousand years, someone ought to let the secret out. God has let the secret out. Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
"And the Lord God said, `It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him." Genesis 2:18, NLT Defining marriage: "Two imperfect people, who are committed to an exclusive interpersonal relationship, intentionally pursuing mutual intimacy, under the approval & support of God's love." Why is marriage important?
Because married people are promised a blessing "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them..." Genesis 1:27-28a Because mankind receives practical benefit "God... told them, 'Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish and birds and all the animals.' And God said, 'Look! I have given you the seed-bearing plants throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.'" Genesis 1:28b-29, NLT Because our maker tells us marriage is good! "Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was excellent in every way. This all happened on the sixth day." Genesis 1:31, NLT
Most marriages share two common defects: (1) reacting to the mate's weaknesses, and (2) evaluating the mate's performance. Both defects are characterized by competition, which basically consists of each mate keeping score of what the other has done wrong and of what he or she is expected to do. Competition gnaws away at the very foundation of the marriage union. Since the world in which we live thrives on competition, it is natural to fall into this endless competitive struggle. Everyone—whether a husband, wife, or child is seeking total fulfilment — to love and be loved, to respect and be respected, to be accepted and appreciated, and to be fully expressed as a person. How can a person experience this total fulfilment? There are two alternate plans: Plan A and Plan B.
Plan A is based upon competition and comparison, a never ending cycle of conflict and struggle to decide who is more qualified. Even though each man and woman is searching for total fulfilment and for full expression as a person, Plan A forces them down the steps of despair and emptiness. The man begins by asking himself who is more qualified. Because of the various answers he gets, he reasons from confusion. It is obvious to him that he is not the all-qualified one in his relationship with his wife. She is able to do many things so much better than he. Yet he has heard that he should be the head of the home. He's confused! A man who is unable to step out in confidence and understanding concerning his role as head will not step out at all. So the man retreats from leadership. What else can he do?
The next step the man takes toward despair is to resent his wife when she takes leadership in areas from which he has retreated. He is the one who retreated from leadership, true enough, but deep in his heart he knows he should be the head. But he doesn't know how! So he resents his wife for taking the responsibility he should have. This resentment inevitably turns into reaction against the wife. He will be the first to let her know what she has done wrong. Because of the bondage to competition and comparison, he cannot allow her to get ahead of him. Finally, the man runs elsewhere to find that total fulfilment he is craving. It is not to be found in his marriage; so he searches outside the home—other men, his business, sports, etc. Eventually this search may lead to another woman — one who gives him at least a thread of that total fulfilment and expression for which he was created.
The woman follows the same pattern of despair as the man. She, too, begins by asking the question, ―Who is more qualified?" She comes up with a different perspective on things. Throughout her life she has heard that she must be submissive to the man because woman is inferior to man. This distortion of the man-woman relationship prompts the woman to reason from pride. Who is more qualified? ―Well, I am in many areas‖ is the woman‘s answer. Her next step is to release her husband from leadership. Since she is obviously more qualified in many areas and he does not seem to be too interested in taking leadership, the wife gives up on the husband and encourages his retreat. The woman then resents her husband for not being the head. Although her actions tend to indicate otherwise, the woman in fact needs her husband to function as head. If he fails to function in his responsibilities, she resents him. That resentment must surface; so the woman reacts against her husband. If anything fails under her leadership the first one she will blame will be him — for not being her head! Her final step is to run elsewhere in search for total fulfilment and expression. She may find a degree of fulfilment in relating to her children, women's groups, employment, or even another man. There is one thing for sure — she is running away from that malfunctioning Plan A home.
The most tragic victim of the Plan A home is the innocent child. Because of the foundation of competition laid by the parents, the child reasons from insecurity. His security is not founded upon the fact that his parents love him but that his parents love each other. Competition and comparison shatter this security. Through their example the child also is caught up in the competitive struggle. He competes by trying to prove he can do without his parents' advice; so he refuses to communicate. He gradually finds it impossible to share his personal life with his parents. The so-called generation gap is actually a communication gap. Following the example of his parents, the child begins to resent them. He primarily resents not having the secure relationship of his parents. This resentment turns into rebellion to prove his independence. Finally, the child runs elsewhere—away from home—to find total fulfilment. So, as a result of
peer pressures he tries drugs and pre-marital sex, among other things, in order to gain some degree of attention.
God‘s idea for marriage has always involved completing one another rather than competing. Completeness was God's primary theme in the pre-marital counselling of Adam. He went to great lengths to bring Adam to realize how Eve was to complete him so that they could reflect the image of God, reproduce godly children, and reign together in the spiritual warfare.
In order to view your mate as one who can complete you so that you can reflect, reproduce, and reign together, you must commit yourself to God's process of completeness. This involves following the pattern of Adam and the biblical principles set forth in Genesis 2:18-25:
Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him." And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. And the man said, *This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
A. Companionship It is important to understand the background of this passage. The Lord had just finished creating everything except the peak of his creation-mankind. When God fashioned the earth he said, *This is good!" He then created the plants and said, *This is good! Next came the animals and again the Lord said, "This is good!" Then the Lord created Adam and said, "This is not good!” No doubt Adam responded, "Who, me?" Imagine the shock! Adam was masterfully created with a secure vocation, outstanding working conditions, the Creator of the universe as his employer, and most of all a perfect relationship with his Creator, the God of the universe. In spite of this, God clearly declared the situation not good. "It is not good for the man to be alone."
Alone, Adam was unable to reflect God's image, reproduce godly children, and reign in the spiritual warfare, because he was incomplete. This is why the Lord immediately followed with the resolve, "I will make him a helper suitable for him." In other words, the Lord wanted to make a helpmate for Adam who would complement him and complete him in order to help him reflect, reproduce, and reign. Without that helpmate, Adam was alone!
First, in following the pattern of Adam you must realize your problem—-you are alone! You cannot reflect, reproduce, or reign without that mate, because God created male and female to function permanently together.
Aloneness is more than being unable to reflect, reproduce, and reign. There are emotional, spiritual, and physical needs that you have right now that you are expecting your mate to meet. You need your mate to meet your needs because God made you incomplete. To the degree that your mate does not meet your needs, you are alone!
B.Completion Second, in following the pattern of Adam you must acknowledge that only your mate is the perfect provision for your problem. After God declared Adam's situation "not good," he then set out to find a helpmate for Adam. But in doing so the Lord did a strange thing. In Genesis 2:19-20 he 'had Adam examine and name all of the animals in his search for a helpmate:
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a 'helper suitable for him.‖
Why did God have Adam name the animals before giving him a wife? Primarily he wanted to demonstrate to the man the nature of his incompleteness; this would also give Adam a sense of
appreciation for the woman God was about to create for him. Once Adam had experienced his aloneness through the naming of the animals, the Lord created the only one who could meet that need for completion—woman.
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:21-22)
Since God created woman from one of the ribs of the man, woman is part of man and therefore equal to him. It is important to note that woman is not less than man, nor was she created as an afterthought. She is a vital part of God's original design. Adam had a need that God provided for through Eve. You have a need — you are alone — and God has provided for that need through your mate. You must acknowledge that your mate is God's provision for your problem of aloneness. This is not to say that you have no need for other people, but that the marital relationship is unique, completing you to a degree that no other can.
C. Communication Third, in following the pattern of Adam you must verbalize to your mate that he or she is God's provision to complete you. When Adam awakened and saw Eve for the first time, he responded ecstatically: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.” (Genesis 2:23)
Now that hardly sounds like Adam was ecstatic! The problem is the translation of the phrase "This is now," which is a Hebrew expletive having the force of "WOW!" It is the kind of total excitement that a person has when he sees the one he knows he loves and wants to marry. But, unfortunately, after the honeymoon is over this 'WOW‘ experience often turns into an "OOH!‖ God never intended that there should be disintegration of excitement in marriage; he designed marriage to be dynamic and fulfilling, where both man and woman are excited about one another.
It is interesting that Adam did not react toward his mate as many do toward their mates. His response might have been, "Lord, she's a little chunky!" "She's too tall!" "Lord, she talks too much!" Why is it that Adam did not respond as many people do? I think the reason is that Adam realized something that most people do not. He realized that to reject Eve in any way was to reject God, because God gave Eve to Adam to make him complete. It was God who designed the one-plus-one relationship, who made the provision of woman to meet man's need for completion. As Adam did, you must receive your mate from God as a completer rather than reject your mate as a competitor. To reject your mate in any way is to reject God and his design.
―For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.‖ (Genesis 2:24)
Moses describes three main principles of marriage —leave, cleave, and one flesh.
"Leave" is the principle of severance. It is a strong word meaning to forsake or abandon. Leaving means to break one's dependence upon one's parents. A woman expressing to me a series of heated arguments with her husband repeatedly referred to her mother. I assumed that her mother lived with them, but to my surprise the mother lived thirty miles away. The reason she was continually involved in their marital struggles was that her daughter never did "leave." Going back to one's parents cuts away at the oneness of the relationship.
Leaving is an attitude, not necessarily a geographical change. In the patriarchal culture of the Old Testament the newly married children often lived with one set of parents. Geographically they did not go very far, but in their attitude they were to leave. A husband and wife are not to snub their parents. The way you leave is important— with parental blessing (Proverbs 1:8; 4:1). You are moving from an obedience relationship to an honour relationship. Children (dependent ones), "obey your parents." Everyone, "honour your parents."
"Cleave" denotes permanence. It means to stick like glue. It is in the passive and should be rendered "to be cleaved by someone else." Who then does the cleaving! In Matthew 19:5, 6 it is clear that God cleaves: "What therefore God has joined [cleaved] together, let no man separate.‖ Therefore, when you commit yourself to the principle of cleaving you are
committing yourself to be cleaved by God to your mate as the one who now potentially completes the image of God in your life. God‘s design is to mould the weaknesses and the strengths of each into a full reflection of his image. This cannot happen through competition but only through completion.
"One flesh" is the principle of intimacy. The oneness that results from leaving and cleaving is to be expressed and experienced free from inhibitions: ―And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25)‖ This is not just a description of two people without clothes. The point here is that marriage is to be a close, uninhibited oneness even to the most intimate physical relationship. Total communication!
The results of committing yourself to oneness by completeness are significant.
The first result is that you are freed from reacting to your mate's weaknesses. When you realize Gods design is to bring about a oneness between man and woman (even through their weaknesses), you are released from the normal cutting response against your mate. You must view your mate's weaknesses for what they actually are — tools in the hands of God to fashion your marriage into a more complete reflection of his image.
Second, your mate is released from the feeling of being evaluated by performance. It is only as you view your mate as God's perfect gift to complete you that you are able to take him or her off the performance treadmill. You no longer treat your mate as a competitor. When a mate feels totally accepted, that very atmosphere of acceptance and excitement encourages greater performance than ever.
Third, this commitment is the basis for communication. A proper understanding of oneness by completeness eliminates the fear of not feeling accepted. In an atmosphere of acceptance honest and unthreatened communication can take place. When two people are competing with one another, each attempt to communicate sets up a threatening situation in which every statement must be guarded so as not to lose a given point. The object must be to win! Oneness by completeness removes that competitive spirit and thereby opens the door widely to free communication.
Fourth, it is the basis of role leadership. When we commit ourselves to oneness by completeness the competitive spirit is dissolved and we are set free to function as head and helpmate. you is not to doubt your mate but to doubt God. "And the two shall become one . . " God has a better design for marriage — the only one that works. God's plan for marriage calls for a spiritual head and a spiritual helpmate. Plan B is based upon completion—not competition or comparison. The best illustration of Plan B is the lock and key. No one thinks of asking the question, "Which is more qualified?" or 'Which is the greater of the two, the lock or the key?‘ Nor does the key want to be a lock or the lock a key. Two locks cannot function properly — nor can two keys. Only one lock and one key that fit together can work properly. The same is true with the marital union. It only works when you have one head and one helpmate. Just as the lock and the key are not to be compared, so the husband and wife are not to be compared. Each has distinct responsibilities that complete the other, when functioning properly. The man is to be head in the marital relationship, but he is to be helpmate in other relationships. The man is to be helpmate in his relationship to God, to his government, and to his employer. In these areas the man must submit, but when it comes to his marriage he must function as the spiritual head. The woman is to be the helpmate in the marital relationship, but she may be the head in others. She is to be head over her children, over younger women, and in some instances a woman may be head over others in her vocation. But in her marital relationship she has no other option but to function as helpmate. Plan B is fulfilling. It is the answer to that deep craving for total fulfilment and full expression that every person experiences. Plan B is Gods plan and is therefore what God intended for man and woman to experience. There is no other plan that allows man and woman to be totally expressed as persons and to enjoy a beautiful oneness together.
Fifth, it is the basis for seeing your mate as right for you at this very moment. There has been no mistake. God says you are one—-complete. To doubt that your mate is right for
2. The Spirit-Filled Marriage
The CIA was interviewing three agents for a promotion. Two were men and one was a woman. The supervisor gathered the three candidates in a room and said to the first man. Here‘s a pistol. The job is yours if you will go into the next room and shoot your wife. He thought about it and declined. He made the same offer to the second man. He immediately said, ―no way.‖ Then, he made the same offer to the female agent. ―The job is yours if you will go into the next room and shoot your husband.‖ She thought about it and said, ―That‘s pretty tough. I really don‘t want to, but if it‘s for my country, well, okay, give me the gun.‖ She walked out the door and the agents heard three gunshots and then they heard a racket like somebody was tearing up the room. They rushed into the next room, and the female agent was holding the splintered remains of a chair and her husband was lying on the floor. The chief agent said, ―What happened?‖ She replied, ―The gun only had blanks in it, so I had to beat him with this chair!‖
This morning we examined the Scripture based Marriage. This Evening we examine the Spirit-filled marriage.
A.The Responsibilities Of The Husband
The Responsibility To Lead One misconception is to think of the head of the home as a dictator. He is not a person who gives all of the orders in a dictatorial style expecting every breath to arouse an immediate response. Some think of the head as one who must snap a bullwhip with constant demands. This is completely wrong! Another misconception many have is that they must be nearly perfect to be the head of their homes. We must get one thing straight right now. The man was not chosen as head because he has everything going for him or because he is outstanding. No matter how inadequate a man feels or actually is does not change the fact that the man is to be the head. Still another misconception of headship is to think that merely announcing oneself as head is sufficient. After being motivated to be the head of their homes many men go home and announce, ―I am the head!" The wife does not believe him and no one else votes for him. So the man retreats. He substitutes the proclamation of headship for the function of it. Some men continue to express that the man is to be head and the woman is to submit in order to convince themselves of their own responsibility. We need more men to function as heads, not just to announce their headship.
Just what is a spiritual head? Headship includes two dimensions—God's representative authority and sacrificial lover.
As Gods representative authority in the marital relationship the man is in charge of the home. He is set up as authority over his wife and children. This is just one of many relationships in which there is a line of authority. God the Father is head over God the Son and the Son is head over the husband, who is followed by the wife and children respectively. God established a line of authority in all relationships for at least three reasons. (1) No one can assume all responsibilities. Each head needs a helpmate in order to get work done. (2) Waywardness is suppressed by the orderliness of a line of authority. Chaos reigns otherwise. (3) It enables human relationships to function more smoothly. In every relationship someone must be in charge or accountable to promote ease in decision-making.
To be God's representative authority is not only to be in charge of your home; God holds you responsible to Himself for your wife and children. What a sobering responsibility!
The Responsibility To Love As sacrificial lover the man is to give of himself totally. He is responsible to be the servant of his wife—to be actively seeking to meet her needs. This is not to be done when convenient, but always—sacrificially. Is there a woman in the world who would refuse to respond positively when treated in this manner?
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. (Ephesians 5:25-30)
The first command is to love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. The result is that your wife will be set apart (sanctified), and your love will elevate her to be a glorious woman without spot or wrinkle.
The second command is to love your wife as your own body. This does not mean to love your wife as much as you love your own body, but to love her as your own body, because you are one. Paul uses two words to describe this bond of love —nourish and cherish. Nourish means to build up or give strength to. Cherish has the meaning of tenderly caring for with special emphasis on warmth and tenderness. Obedience to these two commands is not optional but necessary. The spiritual head must be the real shock-absorber for the wife and at the same time build her up tenderly to present a glorious woman.
A sacrificial love (v.25) While human husbands can never attain to the degree of love which was manifested by our Lord, they are clearly exhorted to have that same kind of love. Only a man who knows the personal application of the cross in his life can truly give and forgive. Sacrificial love means you give up rights to yourself and just what you want `We are told in one of the Greek histories that the wife of one of the generals of Cyrus the King of Persia, was accused of treachery and was condemned to die. At first her husband did not know what was taking place, but as soon as he heard about it he rushed to the palace and burst into the throne room. He threw himself on the floor before the king and cried out, ―Oh my lord Cyrus, take my life instead of hers. Let me die in her place.‖
Cyrus, who by all accounts was a noble and extremely sensitive man was touched by this offer. ―Love like that must not be spoiled by death.‖ Then he gave the husband and wife back to each other and let the wife go free.
As they walked away happily the husband said to his wife, ― Did you notice how kindly the king looked at us when he gave you the pardon?‖
The wife replied ―I had no eyes the king. I saw only the man who was willing to die for me.
Most of us will never have the chance to put love to that ultimate test. One wife rightly told her husband, ―dear I know you are willing to die for me; you have told me that many times. But while you are waiting to die, could you just fill in some time by drying the dishes?‖
A sanctifying love(vv,26-27)
A satisfying love (v.28) The husband is a savior of his wife in that he cares for all the temporal and physical needs that make married life. The term husband signifies "the band of the house," or the person who keeps the marriage together. ) The true husband will study his wife in order to be intelligent concerning every aspect of her life and needs. He will see to it that she is saved from all unnecessary endangerments and embarrassments, and he will study the true laws of considerateness, chivalry, and courtesy.
The five most common needs women desire of men (and why they're important!) That personal affection is the way I know I'm loved "And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her... husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church." (Ephesians 5:25, 28-30, NLT) To meet the need, honor your wife with affirmation "In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together." (1 Peter 3:7a, NLT) That simple conversation is the way I know you're interested "I opened the door to my lover, but he was gone. I yearned for even his voice! I searched for him, but I couldn't find him anywhere. I called to him but there was no reply." (Song of Solomon 5:6, NLT) To meet the need, communicate to care for her "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29, NIV)
I‘m careful of the words I say To keep them soft and sweet. I never know from day to day, Which ones I‘ll have to eat." That openness and honesty is the way I know we're close "An honest answer is the sign of a
true friendship." (Proverbs 24:26, TEV) To meet the need, trust her with your feelings "Her husband puts his confidence in her, and he will never be poor." (Proverbs 31:11, TEV)
The wife said, ―Will you love me when my hair turns grey?‖ ―He said, ―I‘ve loved you through eight other colours.‖ That financial support is the way I know we're secure "But those who won't care for their own relatives, especially those living in their own household, have denied what we believe. Such people are worse than unbelievers." (1 Timothy 5:8, NLT) To meet the need, make it so your wife isn't required to work "Don't build your house and establish a home until your fields are ready, and you are sure that you can earn a living." (Proverbs 24:27 That family commitment is the way I know we matter "Some children were brought to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples told them not to bother him. But Jesus said, 'Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.'" (Matthew 19:13-14, NLT) To meet the need, remember the best husband is a good father "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." (Ephes 6:4, NIV)
B. The Responsibilities Of The Wife
Abraham Lincoln had an interesting poem on the roles of men and women:
The woman was not taken from Adam‘s foot we see
So he must not abuse her the meaning seems to be
The woman was not taken from Adam‘s head we know
To show she must not rule him, ‗tis evidently so
The woman she was taken from under Adam‘s arm
So she must be protected from injuries and harm.
A Submissive Relationship
This gets people upset. It suggests authority. Rock music key element is rebellion against authority. When you suggest submission to authority there is controversy. i.e. feminism.
Misunderstanding in the area of submission has caused a massive amount of emotional reaction. The most vocal of these reactions is the Women's Liberation movement. If submission actually means what many have made it out to mean the reaction would be understandable. However, most of what is portrayed as submission is absolute distortion. There are three primary misconceptions: (1) The slave girl. This is the image of the girl locked in her house with a ball and chain attached to her foot. Her life is basically dull and uninteresting. (2) Speechless. In this case the woman is forbidden to say a word—especially that which may be contrary to the boss. Her main job is to bow and await the master's next command. (3) Brain on shelf. The woman is not permitted to think for herself at all. Even if she were allowed she would probably be unable to do so. All of these are misconceptions.
No one like Christ elevated womanhood. In terms of equality and dignity the gospel is owed a great debt.
Submission is a biblical truth which is taught throughout the whole bible in a wider context than only the family.
The Greek word Upotasso for Submit = order. It was used primarily in the military where at every level in the army people were under authority, whether of the centurion, the chilliarch or the General or the Emperor.
Young men to older men 1Peter 5:5
The Members of a church to one another 1Peter 5:6
The church members to the pastors Hebrews 13
In the family in vs 21 all are to submit to one another .
Why does this cause friction and opposition Rom 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
Submission is recognising the order instituted by God in creation or providence and placing oneself under the appropriate authorities. You have authorities over you in government, in the Police force, in the work place, and in the home. Submission is the voluntary act where we choose to follow the leadership of someone we love or respect because of their position.
The same principle is found in the Trinity (I Corinthians 11:3). The husband is the head of the wife in the same way the Father is the head of Christ. Yet Christ and the Father are equal and one! Obviously there cannot be two leaders. The purpose of subordination is to allow two people to function as a team to complement one another instead of compete with one another. It is not primarily an action but an attitude.
We can say three things biblically based on this text about submission. Note the words ―as to‖ in verse 22:―Wives submitting to your own husbands as to the Lord.‖ That implies that it is not a precise similarity, that her submission to her husband is not the same as her submission to the Lord. One, her subjection to her husband is seen as a part of her subjection to the Lord. Take the Lord out of the equation and you have what we called before ―terrible tyranny.‖ God is a God of order. In God‘s ordered society there is the matter of leadership and submission to leadership. In the area of nations citizens are called to submit to the Kings, or Presidents or Prime Ministers. 1 Peter 2:13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. Second, submission or subjection is not degrading. It does not indicate inferiority. Biblically understood, what we‘re dealing with are men and women who are utterly equal before God. Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. We‘re not talking about worth but role assignment. There is no basis for saying men are more equal before God than their wives. None whatsoever! Equality, absolute equality of status before God, but differentiation of roles is the truth expressed here. Why? Think about it. If a marriage is to last, it cannot be a democracy, because you have a split vote sometimes. The functionality of roles where one leads when the chips are down is the safeguard to longevity. Otherwise, when you come to an absolute impasse over a major issue, what is there to do but split? But it is the prior commitment of the wife, when the chips are down, to submit to her husband, not because she is less than he is before the Lord, but because out of the functional needs of the roles assigned by God. There is a need for working out this problem. So she submits on that basis. The contemporary women‘s rights movement has correctly shown that there‘s a tremendous exploitation of women in our culture today. There is! It‘s wrong and Christians need to call it wrong. In many cultures the citizens of that culture have women as second-class citizens, in terms of voting, educational opportunities, employment, salaries. There‘s absolutely no justification for a woman having an inferior place in society at all. Paul has been unfairly accused of fostering such inequality, but he does not promote it. In fact he does promote a diversity of roles, and that‘s what he‘s arguing for here.
Any time there is a major decision to be made you men have a responsibility to take your wife into that decision. God has given her a mind. She may know a whole lot more on many of these decisions than you ever will. You‘d be a real dumby not to take her into the decision. Amen? You better say ―amen‖ men or there‘ll be no dinner tonight!
The third thing I’ll say about submission is that, in this diversity, the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. What does it mean for Christ to be the head of the church? As head of the church Christ is the source of the church‘s life. This notion signifies the dependence of the church upon Christ for its growth, for its strength. It also signifies that Christ is the leader of the church. He is the director of the church. He is its guide. So the husband ultimately is to lead and guide and give direction to his wife. Headship means the wife is willing to allow her husband to lead. It means that in the practical dailyness of life she
is willing to put his interests, needs and desires ahead of her own. And it means that when the chips are down and a difficult decision needs to be made and all the mutual submission has gone on, then the husband must take the lead.
A Supportive Relationship
Of all the words that could have been used to describe the beauty of a woman's submission to her husband, the Lord chose a special one. He said it is "precious." Another way to put it is ―Very expensive". This term is only used to describe a very few things that are most valuable to the Lord himself. It is used to express the value of the blood of Christ—probably the most precious thing of all to God. Can you visualize the Lord walking through his universe. As he walks he makes a comment concerning everything he has made—the stars, planets, animals, man, etc. Then when he comes to the woman who is submissive to her husband (functioning in her responsibility), he stops and says, "That is expensive!" "She's precious!" Now for me to say something is expensive means little. But for the God of the universe to say that something is expensive—that's expensive!
There is one final word that can never be overlooked in a proper understanding of oneness by responsibility. Whether or not your mate is functioning in his or her responsibility, you must function in your responsibility as head or helpmate. You can effect change in your mate by fulfilling your responsibility. On the other hand you have no hope for oneness if you wait for your mate's performance to change first.
A Sharing Relationship
The women‘s lib movement tried to say there are no differences between males and females
There are obvious Physical Differences
There are Psychological Differences.
1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
When the husband loves the wife as Christ loved the church, then the wife is all the more willing to submit to the husband‘s leadership.
Jesus Christ loved the church so much He died for it.
Remind yourself ―my husband loves me chose me is interested in my welfare. He is trying to learn to understand me.‖
When you put it in that spiritual perspective it produces liberation.
When is a train most free? When it runs in the field or when it submits to the tracks.
When the train submits to the guidelines laid down for it then it is most free.
When we submit to God‘s guidelines then we become most free.
Basically, the mandate for the helpmate is to submit to the husband in everything. "In everything?" What is the boundary of total submission? The principle is total submission without personal sin. There are two striking illustrations of this principle in the Bible. The first is that of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham lied to Pharoah in telling him that Sarah was his sister and not his wife. Abraham's lie certainly would be described as "disobedience to the word" (I Peter 3:1). Sarah could have interrupted the conversation and let Pharoah know she was really Abraham's wife. She had every reason to do so. Because of her husband's lie, she knew she would be placed in Pharoah's harem and probably be in his bed that night. Instead of actually telling Pharoah herself, she could have gently nudged or glanced at Abraham to show her disapproval of his sin. This would have been a more subtle way of getting the truth to Pharoah. Contrary to the natural response of a wife in this circumstance, Sarah submitted totally to Abraham even in this objectionable venture, and God delivered her. However, if Sarah had
been placed in the position of actually going to bed with Pharoah, the only right thing she could have done would have been to refuse. It is at the point of personal sin that a woman must refuse to obey. The line of authority is not a line of access to God. Everyone is responsible for his own sin.
The second illustration of this principle is that of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). Ananias lied to the church leaders concerning the price of some land he sold. In this particular situation the lie was against God as well. Since Ananias continued with his lie, he was struck dead by God. When Sapphira came in later Peter asked her the price of the land to see what she would say. Here was her chance. It was good to submit to her husband even in the midst of his lie, but now she was given the opportunity of telling the truth. This was not an issue of submission but an issue of personal responsibility before the Lord. She chose to lie and, like her husband, was struck dead. If she had chosen to tell the truth she would have remained alive as a living testimony to the principle of total submission without personal sin. Instead, her death is a testimony to her failure to live up to her individual responsibility to God.
The question arises, "VVhen can I disobey!" The only time disobedience becomes an option is when you are asked to do something directly contrary to Scripture. Neither your conscience nor what you "feel the Lord is leading you to do" are reliable guides. Numerous rules and lists of sins that cannot be found in the Bible form the focal point of the Christian's life style. I have heard many women complain that their husbands had forbidden them to attend the weekly ladies' Bible study. They genuinely believed they had the God given right to disobey their husbands in this matter, and some did. But attendance at ladies' Bible study groups does not even begin to be a biblical command.
For the sake of illustration, let's look at a situation where the husband asks the wife to do something that is clearly contrary to God's word. Suppose your husband asks you to engage in wife swapping, which is definitely wrong biblically, Your initial step should not be to explode. Try calmly to ask yourself instead, "What is the need in my husband's life behind the request he is making? Why does he want to engage in wife swapping? Could it be that he wants something more sexually than what he is experiencing with you? After discerning the need behind the request, suggest a creative way of meeting that basic need without resorting to contradicting Scripture. In this specific instance you must overwhelm your husband sexually — meet his sexual needs creatively. Then trust God as Sarah did. God may want to intervene and demonstrate his power. It is only after you have carefully taken these suggested steps and still are faced with the problem of disobeying God's word by obeying your husband, that you may disobey.
The beauty of total submission is something to behold. Peter expresses it in his first letter:
―And let not your adornment be external only—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, and putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands. Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.‖ (I Peter 3:3-6)
Ephesians 5:21-6:9 "How the Spirit-filled life affects your Politics."
Now I know that the most dangerous thing a pastor could ever do is preach about politics. Every body knows that in any group there are going to be at least 2 or 3 political parties that people follow. And the easiest thing to do is to talk about something that might offend everybody here one way or another.
But as we have been preaching through Ephesians I have come under the conviction that the Scriptures, because they are God-breathed, are entirely relevant to EVERY area of life. The most common charge made against the Christian church in our times is that it is irrelevant to people's real problems, and does not help people where they live. The church is accused of avoiding the blood and tears and guts of life. One of the most frequently heard charges is that the church is interested only in preserving the status quo. As someone has put it, "Come weal or come woe, our status is quo." Let us be perfectly honest and admit that this is often too true today. There are churches that do not come to grips with life. Many churches of our day are interested only in singing hymns and performing religious ceremonies, or in spouting moral platitudes and reading Scripture, but not really engaging in the current burning issues of our society. Where that is true, however, it is invariably due to a departure from the wisdom and authority of Scripture, either by setting aside the authority of Scripture, treating it as a collection of myths unworthy of modern man's intelligence, or, equally deadly, mechanically accepting the authority of Scripture without attempting to carry it out into life. In either case, perception of the Bible's relevance to life is lost, despite the fact no book is as relevant as the Bible. In Chapters 4 and 5 of Ephesians, we have seen that the Apostle Paul comes to grips with our constant urge to lie, to steal, to gossip, to be hateful and bitter with one another. In every way, he brings Christian truth right down into life, and shows us how to live in a sick society. This is what these New Testament books are all about.
Tonight we come to a passage where the apostle takes up the matter of Christian relationships with other human beings. Here we will face squarely the great, burning problems of our own day. From Ephesians 5:21-6:9 the Lord through the Apostle Paul deals with such matters as climbing divorce rates, spreading juvenile crime, the squabbles between management and employees, aboriginal land rights,, and all the pressing issues of our day, for this passage brings us right to grips with these very conflicts. What does Scripture have to say on these matters?
Well, the amazing thing is, and it is truly amazing, that what the inspired apostle has to say as to the solution of all conflicts between individuals can be put into one brief sentence. That is exactly what he does:
Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. {Eph 5:21RSV}
Eph 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. NIV
Eph 5: 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. NKJV
Eph 5:21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. NASB
Eph 5:21upotasso/menoi allh/loi$ en fo/bw| Xristou
(Copyright (c)1966, 1968, 1975, 1983 by the United Bible Societies)
Having said that, he has summarized everything he says in the next several verses, on through Chapter 6, Verse 9. He will simply apply this sentence again and again to various specific situations which a Christian faces in his relationship with other people. In saying, "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ," the apostle is dealing with the basic remedy for all the conflicts in our day, or any day.
Now you are going to say, ―Steve, you have totally lost it here! What on earth are you talking about? What do you mean land rights issues are dealt with in this passage? What do you mean this is the secret to the terrible, terrible social problems we are facing today?‖
Please, lets not be under any illusion here. We face tremendous social crises which at times make me feel as though our whole nation is going to go under. I would not at all be surprised if it did. We complain of the violence, drug abuse etc that we see rampant in the USA. But here in Australia I personally believe our social problems are a greater threat to our personal and social security than the threats the USA is under. Which of you hasn‘t been affected by break-ins and robberies. Several of my personal friends have spent time in gaol for robbery, car theft
and other crimes. The drug and alcohol abuse problems our city here faces are on our doorsteps every day.
I do believe that what the apostle Paul has for us in this one verse not only works, but is the only solution that really works when we consider the social issues we face today.
1. Recognise Your Personal Responsibility To The Lord.
Paul addresses himself to Christians, and he says to us, as individuals, "Start right where you are. Do not try to solve your problem on the community level first, or on the state level, or on any other level of society, but start as an individual; start right where you are." All the admonitions and exhortations of Scripture are addressed to us as individuals. The amazing thing, as you read through the New Testament, is to note the total absence of any appeal for corporate action in solving these basic problems of society. The solution is always addressed to individuals. Start where you are by doing one simple thing: "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ."
In applying this, Paul will discuss the relationship of husbands to wives, which brings in the whole realm of marriage and divorce and the problems that arise there. Then he will take up the matter of children and parents, which brings in the whole issue of juvenile crime -- its causes and what can be done about it. Then he will take up the issue of management and employees, masters and servants, employers and employees. In each case, the remedy is always the same: "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ." You see, at the basic level our problems are all one. The selfishness of human nature.
I suppose there is not one of us here, old or young, who has not at some time asked himself the question, "How can I get the greatest satisfaction out of life? How can I get the maximum expression of my potentialities? How can I escape boredom and monotony in my life? How, in other words, can I fulfil myself?" When we ask the questions this way -- "How can I get satisfaction out of life? How can I fulfil myself?" -- we are asking as though we were the only person in the world, as though we were all alone in the world and were responsible only for our own self-development. "What will I get out of this? What's in it for me?" Look beneath the surface of the violence, the difficulties, the wranglings involved in land rights squabbles, or in the employees struggles today, and you see that this idea underlies each situation. Each group is saying, "What can we get out of this? What's in it for us?" Under this approach, the inevitable always occurs. Sooner or later, in my attempts to develop myself and to gain satisfaction, I find myself on a collision course with someone else who is attempting the same thing with the same motives. And I find that my efforts to satisfy myself are continually sabotaged by his efforts to satisfy himself. I feel that he is standing in my way and he feels that I am standing in his. This person may be the boss, it may be the husband or wife, it may be the children, it may be the man who works next to me at my desk, it may be the income-tax assessor, it may be anyone! We constantly find ourselves in collision over personal desires. I insist on my rights and he insists on his rights, and so we become enemies, obstacles to each other. We discover that we cannot even successfully arbitrate or arrange a compromise, except for relatively short periods of time, because the same old suspicions remain within us and soon the same old charges are hurled all over again. That is the pathetic pattern of life visible all around us, on every side, both individually and corporately. But the Apostle Paul takes up this matter and changes the whole pattern for Christians. First, he reminds us of the presence of a third party in every relationship we experience: "Subject yourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ," {cf, Eph 5:21}
First, the Christian must never forget that, in every relationship of life, another person is present: It is not merely a problem of 'what I want' versus 'what you want.' There are not only the two of us present -- the husband and wife, the parent and child, the boss and employee. In every relationship, the apostle reminds us, a third person is present -- the Lord Jesus Christ. A non-christian does not recognize the universal presence of Christ. Their primary concern is 'what I want versus what you want,' but, to a Christian, this must always and inevitably be secondary. The great issue for the Christian must never be 'what I want versus what he wants,'
but "What does Christ want me to do? What does he want out of this situation?" The great question must ever be, "What does Jesus Christ, living in me, expect of this relationship and how will He supply what is necessary for my real satisfaction as I depend upon Him.
Notice how Christ is seen in each relationship. Paul has brought this to our attention in Verse 21: Subject yourselves "to one another out of reverence for Christ." Then he brings up the matter of wives and husbands. "Wives," he says, "be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord," {Eph 5:22 }. Then, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church ..." {Eph 5:25 }. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord," {Eph 6:1 }. "Parents, do not provoke your children ... but follow the instruction of the Lord," {cf, Eph 6:4}. "Slaves, be obedient to your earthly masters ... as to Christ," {Eph 6:5 }. "Masters, do the same to them, remembering you have a Master in heaven," {cf, Eph 6:9}.
So, in each of these relationships, the apostle is careful to remind us that we do not face them alone. We must never think of them that way. It is not, "This person and I, opposed to one another," but "Christ is also here, and what does he want?" That is the first consideration.
If we do not recognize his presence, then, of course, we cannot submit ourselves to one another. If we do not recognize this third party who is present in every situation, then, of course, we see only the two of us. And our pride immediately gets in the way, and grips us, and holds us, and we refuse to yield, to back down. Our pride grips us so that we cannot give in. We soon invent all kinds of reasons and excuses for why it is perfectly right and proper for us to act the way we are acting, and why we cannot, under any circumstance, yield to the other.
But when we see Christ as caringly involved in whatever matter, then the question is no longer "What am I going to get out of this?" but "What does Jesus Christ want? What is he after in this? As his representative, as the one in whom he lives, the one redeemed by his grace, what responsibility have I to him in this situation?"
Here is where the difference comes. Our first responsibility is to obey Him and trust Him with the outcome of the whole situation.
2. Recognise Your Personal Responsibility To The Structures Of Authority
Paul list for us three areas of life where there is the highest potential for conflict and social disintegration.
In The Wedded Life
In The Family Life
In The Work Life
A few weeks ago we looked at the roles of husbands and wives in the wedded life. We saw that a wife can submit to a loving husband whom she trusts.
Likewise the husbands role of submission to his wife is one of rendering to her self-sacrificing loving leadership by taking the final responsibility for the family.
Tonight we will briefly look at the submission required within the family unit of both children and parents.
It is rather obvious that in our present world something has gone drastically wrong with this relationship. This is a day when juvenile crime is skyrocketing to heights never before known. We are weel aware of the damage done by those young people who attempted to burn down our church just two years ago, and those who broke into the church 2 moths ago. These things are happening everywhere.
Perhaps the most distressing thing about this whole matter of juvenile crime is the indifference or helplessness of parents. Everywhere parents wring their hands, and cry plaintively, "I can't do anything with him (or her)." There seems to be despair on the part of parents to do anything about this situation. They look to the police to take over the responsibility of raising their children. There is a breakdown in this major relationship between parents and children.
Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: 3 "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." 4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Now notice it is not simply "Children, obey your parents." It is "Children, obey your parents in the Lord." The key to the whole command is "in the Lord." As we saw in regard to the wife, who is to submit herself to her husband as unto the Lord, so it is with the child to the parent. Children are to obey their parents, for Christ's sake.
That is the point he makes. They are to obey, not because this is what their parents want, so much as because this is what the Lord Jesus wants. This is their responsibility to Christ. They cannot possibly fulfil their desire to belong to him, and to reflect his life, unless they are willing to obey their parents. This is the ground upon which the apostle puts it.
This word obey is, literally, the Greek word "stand under." It means to be under another's authority, and it is used in many places in the Scriptures as a military term. It is the same word that would apply to a soldier in obeying his orders. It means to follow orders. To put it very practically and plainly, it says to children, "Do what your parents say."
Now this is a most important matter, for all through the Word of God you find exhortations to parents to teach their children to be obedient, and to children to be responsive to that teaching and to obey their parents.
Proverbs is probably the most helpful book on child-raising ever written. Its whole theme is this: A child must learn the most important lesson of all, to be an obedient child.
b. The fathers Submission to his children
But subjection is always a two-way street. The Word of God never says to one party only in these relationships, "Subject yourself to the other." It says. "Subject yourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ." Therefore, if it is true that children are to subject themselves to their parents by obeying them, it is equally true that parents are to subject themselves to their children. How? Paul goes on to show us in Verse 4:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. {Eph 6:4}
It has been pointed out that this word translated Fathers could well be translated Parents because it includes both the father and the mother
That is the way a father subjects himself to his children -- by deliberately avoiding the things which make a child rebel. "Provoke them not to anger." The word for anger here is not the common word which describes irritation or temporary upset, for obviously in any home even proper discipline can sometimes make a child angry. Children are not mature, they do not always react as they ought, and even necessary discipline will make a child angry. This word is not saying anything against that. The word used here means "anger which results in a rebellion." It is the word from which we get our English word paroxysm. "Fathers, do not provoke your children to the place where they completely lose control and break out against authority." That is the word to the parents.
What causes this? There are two things which cause rebellion in children, two things which provoke a child ultimately to rebel against his parents: Indulgence and harshness. These two things are the negative of the two things he instructs the father to do: "Bring them up in the
discipline and the instruction (or the exhortation) of the Lord." The opposites of these are indulgence and harshness. Those are the things which provoke a child to wrath. During the last century the father was often a tyrant in his family. Children had to toe the mark and often had very little contact with their parents in a loving relationship. Consequently there was a breaking out against this. In our day it is the other way around. We have swung to the extreme of indulgence. We give our children everything and let them have their own way, let them raise themselves.
He’s Talking About Devotion
Fathers, bring them up
He’s Taking About Discipline
Fathers, , bring them up in the discipline
He’s Talking About Direction
Fathers, bring them up in the instruction of the Lord.
b. Submission In Our Work Life
It is a coincidence -- not planned -- that in our study of the relationships of the Christian the consideration of employers and employees has fallen after the street march yesterday by the Unions in Newcastle for May Day.
Paul begins with the word "slaves" rather than "employees," and it is, of course true that in the 1st century the relationship was that of slaves and masters. At the time the apostle wrote this letter it has been estimated that one-half of the population of the Roman Empire were slaves and many of them were Christians. The Christian message did not come first to the upper or higher classes; it came among the working people and even among slaves. Many of these slaves were highly educated people who had been captured in the war and brought to other parts of the empire and made slaves. They were not unintelligent, but they were slaves, literally in bondage to others. It was among these that the Christian message found its initial reception.
There were also among them some who were in the category of masters who were likewise Christians. As they came together in worship, as the Christian community, they were taught from the Scriptures that in Christ there is neither bond nor free. There is no slavery in Christ, there is no race, there are no sexual distinctions. The Christians all met together as brothers in Jesus Christ. They found that the ground is absolutely level at the foot of the cross.
But, of course, when they went back to their homes, and to their work, the question arose: "Well, what about us now? Are we to continue this relationship as brothers in our work? Does this mean that we are to be free from any bondage, or responsibility, to another Christian?" This question soon came up and had to be settled, and this is what the apostle is doing here. He is settling this question and declaring the great principles that apply for all time in the relationship of an employer to an employee.
Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as to Christ; not in the way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that whatever good any one does, he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.
Eph 6:5-9
5 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. 9 And you, masters, do the same things to
them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
How does submission work out here with slaves?
First, there is activity which is required by this relationship. Second, there is an attitude in which that activity is to be performed. And, third, there is an awareness of a fundamental principle at work that keeps this whole relationship from degenerating into tyranny.
This is what we desperately need to hear today. I suggest that there is nothing more important to consider in the realm of economics or of human relationships in the world of capital and labor than this great section of Scripture. Here we have set before us the principles which, if observed, would resolve these great conflicts that tear our nation apart from time to time.
Work Obediently "Be obedient to those who are your earthly masters." This is the same Greek word that occurs in Chapter 6, Verse 1, with regard to children. "Children, obey your parents." We looked at that before. It means to follow orders. It is a military term, and it means that Christian employees are under obligation to those who hire them to do what they say. It is really very simple. Do what the boss says, obey him.
Paul is dealing with the most sensitive and hate-filled relationship that ever existed in humanity, the institution of slavery. If ever there was an opportunity for the apostles, and even for the Lord, to have spoken out against an entrenched evil, an evil obviously apparent in society, it was against the institution of slavery. But the amazing thing is that
The New Testament says nothing to encourage slaves to rise up and revolt against their masters. It says not one word to incite rebellion or overthrow the yoke. Not a thing is said about organizing these downtrodden people who occupied half of the population of the Roman Empire to overthrow their masters. No appeal is made to the masters to meet with these slaves and work out a way to free them. No pressure is brought upon them to accomplish this in a civic way. The Roman Empire is estimated to have had as many as 60,000,000 slaves. It is also estimated that from one-third to one-half of the populations of large cities like Ephesus and Rome were slaves. Just as Philemon in the Colossian church was a master, so some in the Ephesian church were also masters.
It is true that many slaves were horribly mistreated. They were considered as property. Aristotle, in his Nicomachian Ethics refers to a slave as ―a living tool.‖ Gaius, the Roman lawyer, confirmed the right under Roman law that a slave could be bought and sold and was not a legal person. In the Institutes he says, ―We may note that it is universally accepted that the master possesses the power of life and death over the slave.‖
Yet the interesting thing, as we look back upon twenty centuries of history, is that slavery has been largely eliminated in the world, and the force that did it was Christianity. But is was by another principle, not by direct attack. As we have ample evidence of today, direct attack only serves to perpetuate strife and violence and even to increase it. The black backlash creates a white backlash, and the white backlash, in turn, creates a counter black backlash, and so it goes.
Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire begins with these words:
While that great body (the Roman Empire) was invaded by open violence or undermined by slow decay, a pure and humble religion gently insinuated itself into the minds of men, grew up in silence and obscurity, derived new vigor from opposition, and finally erected the triumphant banner of the cross on the ruins of the capital.
That is how Christianity threw slavery out of the Roman Empire. It was not by direct appeal. And today, unless we wake up to the fact that the methods we are employing to solve these problems only perpetuate them, we are in for a greater siege of violence than we have ever seen before. The modern method only causes the power structures to shift from one side to the other, in ceaseless cycles. First power is on the side of the labor, then it is on the side of management, then it is back on the side of labor. Across the centuries the conflict rages back
and forth, the power structure moving from one side to the other and merely perpetuating the conflict.
Now, there is a better way, and the apostle puts his finger on it. It is a way that takes faith, because it does not look like it is the way. But in the realm of history, wherever it has been tried, it has always worked. It is the way that Paul specifically states: "Employees (slaves), be obedient to those who are your earthly masters." That is the activity.
Work Respectfully "with fear and trembling." The fear and trembling is not to be directed toward the boss! He may be an ogre, he may be an unjust man, but no Christian is ever exhorted to be a trembling, spineless, chinless individual toward the boss. The fear and trembling that is mentioned is to be directed toward himself. It is a healthy recognition of the danger of a Christian going along with the philosophy of those around, and acting as they do, thus destroying the possibility of God working through him and the power of God being released in that situation. It is fear and trembling lest we abort the greatest force of all in these situations of strife and difficulty.
Work Sincerely "in singleness of heart, as to Christ." What does "singleness of heart" mean? It means without divided loyalty, freedom from the tension that is created by conflicting loyalties. In other words, settle it once and for all in your mind that you are not there merely to please the boss, you are there to please the Lord. You are to carry your relationship of concern for the Lord to your work as well as to your church. You are to work as unto Christ, and your supreme concern is your loyalty to him. If you are trying to please two different forces, those around you and the Lord, you will be torn apart with a conflicting tension that never lets up. So he says, obey "in singleness of heart, as to Christ."
Then Paul expresses the same idea negatively, "not in the way of eye-service, as men-pleasers..." I heard of a man applying for a job. The manager reviewing the application said, ―I'm sorry I can't hire you, but there isn't enough work to keep you busy.‖ The applicant replied, ―You'd be surprised how little it takes.‖
I heard of a farmer who had several boys. He worked those boys extremely hard around the farm. One day one of the neighbours pointed out that it wasn't necessary to work the boys that hard in order to raise a crop. The farmer, quietly but firmly responded, ―I'm not just raising a crop. I'm also raising boys.‖
Work Wholeheartedly , "... but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart." Our work should be done whole-heartedly because we understand that we are working for the Lord. In Colossians 3:23 we read, ―Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.‖ 1Corinthians 10:31 says, ―Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.‖There's a story about Sir Christopher Wren, one of England's greatest architects. Approximately three centuries ago, when he was building St. Paul's Cathedral, he was said to have taken a walk among the workers, most of whom did not know him. To one he asked, ―What are you doing?‖ The man replied, ―Anyone can see I'm cutting stone.‖ He put the same question to another and was told, ―I'm earning five shilling two-pence a day.‖ He moved on and asked a third, who replied, ―Why, I'm helping Sir Christopher Wren build a great cathedral to the glory of God.‖
Once again, Paul says, "rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to men."
Four times the idea is put forth: never work for men, you Christians, work only for God. You can work under a man's direction, but remember that you are working unto the Lord, that your daily task is work that he has given you to do, and you do it unto him.
There is to be an awareness, Paul says, of an unseen but powerful fact: "knowing whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is slave or free." That is a principle that is always at work in any situation facing a Christian.
"Knowing that whatever good any one does, he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free." It does not make any difference what your status in life is. When work is done unto Christ, he undertakes to correct the conditions that make for
unhappiness, or else to make recompense on another level. Notice that he does not promise always to correct the condition, because God's will is that Christians must sometimes live as his Son lived, under very difficult conditions.
Employers are to submit to their employees.
In the parallel passage in the letter to the Colossians the apostle puts it this way: "Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly," {Col 4:1a RSV}. That is what this means.
The command to employers concerning employees is to do the same things to them. Here is the Golden Rule in action. Employers are to treat their employees as they would want their employees to treat them
How do you submit to one another?
Learn To recognise The Third person in all our relationships. Remember He is Lord.
Remember He is Loving
Remember He is Leading. Trust Him by your testimony of submission to work out the problems that cause you distress.
When Christian slaves in England submitted their case to the Lord and served their masters looking to the Saviour for their release, God raised up a William Wilberforce. Their release from slavery was entirely peaceful.
When Employees submitted their wage case to the Lord during the great evangelical revivals in England and served their employers, God raised up a Methodist minister to begin Unionism bringing in fair wages. When employees do not submit to the Lord and leave their case with him, then rebellion and harm often results.
EPHESIANS 6:10-18 The Dark Ruler
Question: Do you ever feel like the whole world is against you? Do you ever feel like too many things are going wrong in your life for it to be mere coincidence? Did you ever wake up and ask yourself, ―How did I ever get into this mess...and how in the world do I get out? Do you ever feel like you‘re in a battle but you‘re not quite sure who the enemy is? Do you ever feel like you are under personal attack from every direction? Let me ask you one other thing, are you living in quiet desperation of bondage to FEAR, ANGER DEPRESSION, and HABITS you cannot break, THOUGHTS, or INNER VOICES you cannot seem to overcome or SINFUL BEHAVIOR you cannot seem to stop. Would you be surprised if I told you that the Christian life is not a life exclusively made up of peace, love and hippie beads? While there certainly is peace, love and joy in Christ, and in fact Christ is the only place you
will find true peace, love, and joy. But there is also another very real aspect about the Christian life of which you need to be aware...and that is the WARFARE of the Christian life. Did you know that he moment you got saved, you entered into a war. You are engaged in a battle against a very, very powerful, cunning enemy, and the battle is very real.
The battle of which I speak is a Spiritual Battle, and the war of which I speak is Spiritual Warfare. We love the words of Jesus that say: ―Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.‖ (John 14:27) ―I have told you this that my joy might be in you, and that your joy may be complete.‖ (John 15:11) But what do you do with verses like Mt. 10:34? ―Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.‖ The Christian life is not a playground but a battle ground, not a waltz but a war. Oh yes, we are in a war. A war against the forces of darkness and even Satan himself. The moment you became a Christian, you inherited a new enemy. He is the Prince of Darkness and he opposes everything and everyone that is godly or holy.
I have had new Christians come to me and say, ―Pastor, something must be wrong. Since I‘ve become a Christian I have had problems and difficulties like never before.‖ I tell them it‘s because they have acquired a new enemy who will oppose them at all points in their‘s Satan and his demons. Whenever a Christian decides to really get serious about serving Christ and living under His Lordship, often things will get worse for them before they get better. This is because the enemy is not very disturbed by mediocre, carnal, wishy-washy, backslidden Christians. But he despises men and women who are totally sold out to God. Satan and the kingdom of darkness is kind of like a nest of angry wasps. As long as you don‘t disturb them, they don‘t bother you. But whenever you get tired of that wasp nest being where it is and you begin to molest it, you stir up some real problems, and you are very likely to get stung a time or two. The Closer You Grow and the Deeper You Go with God, the greater the battle becomes. It‘s like a football team approaching their opponents goal line. The closer they get to their opponents goal line, the more fierce, intense, up-close and personal the battle becomes. Up close to the goal line you battle over ―inches‖ of progress rather than yards. Now, some of you don‘t know what I‘m talking about. But those who are in the trenches and on the front lines know exactly what I‘m talking about. The battle is heating up more than most of us have ever experienced. But through all of the dust, smoke and fiery darts of the enemy, we can still see our Commander and Chief, Jesus Christ, leading the charge. And:
As long as He stands...we stand. As long as He fights...we fight. As long as He advances...we advance.But understand this, Christian Warrior...The Closer You Get and the Deeper You Get With God...the fiercer the battle will become. Open your Bibles to Eph. 6 and let me show you what God has to say about spiritual warfare:
Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that
when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
The War Is On: We are in a battle, literally, and the stakes are very, very high. And to some degree, Satan appears to be getting the advantage from time to time. Why is this?
1) There are many Christians who are not even aware the war is on. They are oblivious to the spiritual dimensions of life and the battles that are being waged. Martin Lloyd-Jones said on one occasion, "I am certain that one of the main causes of the ill state of the Church today is the fact that the devil is being forgotten." He was no simpleton; in fact, he was cardiologist to Her Majesty the Queen before becoming the minister of Westminster Chapel in London. John R.W. Stott, the present Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen has said this, "The devil is at his wiliest when he succeeds in persuading people that he doesn't exist."
2) There are others who are suspicious there is a war on—but they can‘t seem to decide whose side they‘re on.
3) Then there are some who know a war is on, and they know whose side they‘re on, but they don‘t seem to be sure of the outcome. They are: Discouraged. Dejected. Defeated. Their spirit is depressed. Each battle they fail, they face with despondency and fear.
4) Then there are those who know the war is on. They know which side they are on, have declared their loyalty to Christ, and they are certain of the outcome. They know Christ has already defeated the enemy and our role is not to win the victory, but to merely impose the already won victory over Satan. (See Much More, Jack Taylor, p. 116) Robert Louis Stevenson once asked the question, "Do you know the old Caledonian Railway station in Edinburgh?" Then he went on to say, "One cold, east windy morning; I met Satan there." I think we understand what Stevenson meant.
Hey, this is where I want all of us to be today. I want us to be acutely aware of several facts and be aggressively involved in the battle line.
1) Spiritual Warfare is very REAL.
I think most of us, myself included, do not give enough attention to the unseen forces of darkness that are working against us. A recent Gallop poll revealed that as many as 70% of Aussies believe there is a real devil.
Now I know there are some today who give the devil too much credit. They see a demon behind every dilemma in life. They even name demons after these human maladies:
Demon of greed. Demon of fear. Demon of anger. Demon of lust.
Demon of depression. Demon of discouragement.
There is no biblical evidence that there are demons who are exclusively demons of anger, fear, lust, etc... Most of us don‘t need a demon to drive us toward: Greed. Anger. Fear.
We produce these anti-Christ emotions and desires without any assistance from a demon. So I think there is a danger of some people giving the devil too much credit, BUT, this is not the case in the Christian circles I travel in. We are more likely to give the devil too little attention and not take him seriously enough. As a consequence of giving too little attention to Satan, often his work and devises flourish among us with little-to-no resistance.
Eph. 6:11 says we are to, ―Put on the full armor of God, so we can take our stand against the devil‘s schemes.‖ We need to intentionally, aggressively, directly and courageously stand against Satan! Listen friend: Satan is very real. Demons do exist. They are very powerful. They are very active. And it is a lethal mistake to ever under estimate their existence, activity, deception, or powerful attacks.
2) The real enemy in this warfare is SATAN and a well organized DEMONIC force.
Eph 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Would you be surprised if I told you that many of us live in defeat because we‘re fighting the wrong enemy? The true enemy ultimately is not a ―flesh and blood‖ enemy. It is not a human enemy. The enemy is not: Your irritable spouse or your unreasonable neighbour or your Impossible boss or supervisor. The true enemy is not even the government or Politicians or Drug Dealers or Abortionists. All of these are merely tools or weapons in the enemies hands. You many destroy the weapon...but the weapon is not your problem. The problem is the enemy behind the weapon. You take a gun away from a murderer, he‘ll just get another gun. If he runs out of guns, he‘ll get a knife. Take his knife away he‘ll kill with a club. The problem is not the weapon...the problem is the enemy, the murderer behind the weapon. We spend too much time battling with the weapon rather than the enemy himself. Hey, quit fighting: Your husband. Your wife. Your unreasonable boss, etc… And go after the real enemy, Satan and his demons. When Peter said to Jesus, ―I‘ll never let you go to the cross and die‖, Jesus did not attack Peter. Peter was not the ultimate problem. He was only a tool in the enemy‘s hand. Jesus understood this and went on direct attack against the enemy himself. Jesus said, ―Get thee behind me, Satan!‖ (Mark 8:33).
It wouldn‘t have done much good to punch Peter in the nose...Peter wasn‘t the problem. Satan was the problem.
With these introductory thoughts in mind, let‘s take on this study under the following outline.
As I told you already, our real enemy is not a man or any man-made institution, it is Satan and a well-organized demonic force under his domain.
Eph 6:11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
Eph 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Who is this being called ―the devil‖ in V. 11, and who are these ―rulers, authorities, powers of the dark world and spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms,‖ mentioned in V. 12?
1. The Believer’s adversary is SATAN. Satan is a fallen, arch-angel of God.
He is identified by many names in the Bible: Satan (The adversary) The devil (the accuser) Lucifer Beelzebub Belial Prince of the world Prince of the powers of the air Accuser of the brethren Adversary The great deceiver The dragon The old serpent Father of lies The tempter. God created Satan originally as a mighty, powerful, bright Angel of light named Lucifer. Ezekiel 28:12-15 ―Thus says the Lord GOD: "You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. 14 "You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. 15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.
He was a Created being. He became a Corrupted being Perfect when God created him, Lucifer lost his position of rank and glory and was cast out of heaven when he rebelled against God, attempting to seize God‘s throne and authority. Isaiah 14 describes Lucifer‘s intent in rebellion.
Isaiah 14:12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." 15 But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.
Five times he says ―I will ..‖ I‘m going up‖ he was filled with pride. Pride comes before destruction. And he was cast down. Jesus described this event when He said, ―I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven.‖ (Luke 10:18). Revelation 12:7-9 describes the same event. Rev 12:7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon
was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Notice Rev. 12:4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.
He is also a condemned being. This was prophesied from the beginning. Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."
Matt 25:41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
Satan still retains his original created powers and abilities. He is a very powerful being.
The Believer’s adversary includes a well-organized DEMONIC force.
We don‘t know how many spirits fell with Satan. There were many.
These demonic spirits are very highly organized and structured under the dominion of Satan.
I believe this structure of evil is exactly what is described in Eph. 6:12 when Paul speaks of:
Rulers. Authorities. Powers of the dark world. Spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms.
I believe it is reasonable to assume this describes an authority structure in descending order.
These forces are: Well established. Well organized. Well structured. All are operating under the evil auspices of Satan himself. These evil spirits are active and behind much of the evil and pain and horrors in human society today! They operate in the domain of this world system of: Politics. Governments. Arts. Media, as well as cultic, demonic religions. Satan is very, very, very real. Demons are very, very, very real. They are our true enemy. Not men or the institutions of men, but the demonic forces behind them. Don‘t underestimate your adversary. 1 Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Let Me Suggest Several Areas Of Your Life Where You Might Anticipate Satanic Attacks.
Some recent areas of wartime history have interested me as the ABC have broadcast a few intereting historical programmes. I watched a few testimonies about the military genius Rommel. He was a brilliant strategist and general. General Montgomery defeated Field Marshall Rommell by studying his opponent and planning a strategy to match his enemy. We need to be are of the devil‘s wiles so we can defeat him.
The devil has a three fold strategy to try and defeat you –
1. The devil attacks mentally. He wants your mind.
To get you to think as he wants you to think the devil writes tv scripts, Books, and sermons.
2 Cor. 11:3 says Satan can influence the minds of the believer and lead us astray from the sincere and pure devotion of Christ. 2 Cor 11:3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
Satan certainly deceived Eve‘s thinking and seduced her to sin through reason and logic.
Satan moved David to number Israel (1 Chron. 21:1). It sounded like a good and reasonable idea to David...but God had forbidden it. He wanted David to put his faith in Him...not in the number of his army.
Satan places suggestions in your mind that are: Seductive Deceitful Sly.
Several things make demonic influence on your mind so seductive and difficult to battle.
a) Satan places ideas in your mind and makes you think they are your ideas. Satan doesn‘t come up and say, ―Hey, this is the devil speaking...I recommend you cheat on your income tax. After all, the government is over-taxing you, wasting your money, and you work hard for that money. I don‘t think Judas realized it was Satan‘s idea to betray Jesus (John 13:2). Satan does not say, ―Hey, I‘m Lucifer and if I were you, I‘d divorce your wife because she‘s not meeting your needs.‖ Oh no, Satan is much more clandestine than that. He knows if he introduced the idea as his idea you would reject it outright. He much prefers to introduce the idea and make you think it‘s your idea.
b) Satan’s ideas often sound reasonable. It sounded very reasonable for David to take a census and count how many soldiers he had...after all, if you‘re going to wage war, you need to know what‘s in your arsenal. The only problem was—it violated God‘s command for David to trust him and live by faith...and not have confidence in his armies, chariots, and horses. Every temptation Satan leveled against Christ sounded reasonable...even spiritual. ―You‘re hungry, you‘re the Son of God—turn these stones to bread.‖
―God has promised to send his angels to protect you...jump off this pinnacle and the whole world will believe you‘re the Messiah when they see angels catching you.‖ ―Bow down and worship me, and I‘ll give you the kingdoms of the world. (Why go through the pain of the cross when there‘s an easier way?)‖
Satan often appeals to the intellect and human reason.
c) Satan’s ideas often appeal to your God-given desires and appetites. This was Satan‘s final appeal to Eve that brought her in on his deceit. Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. The fruit appealed to Eve‘s God-given appetite for: Food Beauty Knowledge and wisdom. Satan appeals to your
God-given appetite and suggests you satisfy them in ways that are outside the perimeters of God‘s laws. God was the one who made you a sexual person and gave you sexual drives. And sexuality is a wonderful part of life when fulfilled in God‘s way. But Satan prompts you to fulfill your natural desires outside of God‘s perimeters and the results are literally deadly! Satan told Jesus, ―You‘re hungry. You‘ve been fasting for 40 days. You have the right to eat. Go ahead, turn those stones to bread!‖
d) Satan’s ideas often are focused on “self.” Satan loves to prompt self-centered, selfish thoughts. ―It‘s your life, you do with it as you please.‖
―You have the right to be happy—your happiness is what is always most important.‖
Satan often uses your sense of self-preservation as entry into your mind. He tells you to:
―Fight back‖ ―Defend yourself‖ ―Don‘t let anyone run over you.‖ Satan‘s battle against our minds is extremely deceptive. That is why Eph. 6:17 says, ―Take on the helmet of salvation‖ (to protect your mind). That is why 2 Cor 10:4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Be very, very alert. Because I have seen Satan put a thought in a good person‘s mind and use that person as an instrument of his evil schemes. Satan often uses: Good people With good ideas With best intentions to do his most dastardly deeds.
Peter was a good man. And he thought he was being very noble and courageous when he said he would never allow Jesus to go to the cross and die. But Jesus said to him: Matthew 16:23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
I have seen good people, with noble causes, become a divisive tool of Satan and be used of the devil.
2. the devil attacks morally he wants your heart. People think and then they act. The devil attacks you mentally first in the way you think and then morally. He wants to replace love for God with love for sin. The human heart is made to love Jesus. (Little children love Jesus). But he wants to replace that love for sin.
3. the devil attacks you motivationally, he wants your will. There are three issues of wills in your universe; God‘s will, your will, or the devils will. Every day you face a decision; whose will will you follow. Thy will be done… But whose will? 2 Tim 2:26 that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
4.Spiritual battles will occur in your FAMILY.
Satan is on the attack against your home. There is nothing Satan would like to do more than to destroy your marriage and break up your family. Dr. Adrian Rogers suggests Satan has a 5-Step Plan to exercise dominion over the world.
1) Dethrone God. 2) Degrade man. 3) Deny Christian morality.
4)Destroy the home. 5) Dominate human society.
Satan knows the family unit is the basic building block of all human social structures. When the family crumbles—all other structures in society crumble and anarchy results. I promise you—if you do not become very intentional and take the offensive to protect your marriage and your home—Satan will come in and destroy it.
I watch these young couples who have been married 1 or 2 years. Their whole life is before them. Little do they know the devil has set his sights on their marriage. And if they neglect their relationship even the slightest, they are headed for disaster. Listen you young husbands and wives...if you want to stay in love with each other, then:
Stay in love with Jesus. Stay active in church. Stay focused on spiritual priorities.
Stay committed to the Word of God. Stay right with God.
5. .Spiritual battles will occur in your FINANCES.
The devil knows that one of the areas most of us are extremely vulnerable in is the area of our finances. I‘m watching a lot of very gifted Christian leaders have their effectiveness in ministry destroyed because they cannot manage their money.
Satan knows: Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Satan has been very, very effective in limiting the Lord‘s work by fooling God‘s people into:
Excessive debt undisciplined spending Immediate gratification Impulse purchases.
It seems many christians cannot say ―no‖ to yourselves!
I‘m telling you—many very gifted people are forfeiting effective ministry because they have no discipline in the area of their finances!
6. Spiritual battles will occur in your CHURCH.
I think the church is one of Satan‘s primary targets...and especially the church that is:
Bible-believing Soul-winning Fervently in love with Christ.
There are instances of Satan opposing the church in the Bible.
Acts 5:3—Peter declared Satan was the one behind the lies and deceit of Ananias and Sapphira.
Acts 13:9-11—Tells how Paul and Barnabas met great opposition to preaching the gospel from a sorcerer named Bar Jesus. Paul confronted him calling him ―a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right...‖ And he was blinded.
1 Thess. 2:18—Paul tells the church at Thessolanica he often had tried to come visit but Satan stopped him. Rev. 2:10—The Lord Jesus tells the church at Smyrna,
―Do not be afraid of what you‘re about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you and you will suffer persecution for ten days.‖ I doubt if Satan has much concern for dead, liberal churches. In fact, he loves them—they do his bidding under the guise of Christianity. But Satan clearly attacks the church that is standing for truth and impacting men‘s lives for Christ. Satan has many schemes and devices directed toward the Spirit-filled church... The constant threat of false doctrine (false teachers), Divisions, internal strife (1 Cor. 3),
Distractions (abandoning our primary mission and doing many other good things), The temptation to use worldly methods to try to do spiritual work, Persecution from an anti-Christ world system are all ways whereby the devil attacks the church.
6.. Spiritual battles occur in HUMAN GOVERNMENT.
Eph 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. There are several examples of Satan influencing and using government leaders for his purposes.
1 Chron. 21:1 says, ―Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.‖ Ezekiel 28 clearly reveals that Satan is the power behind the King of Tyre.
In Rev. 2:13 the city of Pergamum is called the place of Satan‘s throne.
I think the ―powers of the dark world‖ refer to the Satanic influence of world government leaders. When a government legitimizes and legalizes: Abortion Prostitution Survives on Gambling Pornography But we also need to remember that our real enemy is not the corrupt is the devil who controls that politician!
You have authority over the enemy! The enemy has no dominion over you!
Eph. 6:10 says, ―Be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. (11) Put on the full armor of God so you can take your stand against the devil‘s schemes.‖ Eph. 6:16 says, ―Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.‖
The fact is ―Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world!‖ (1 John 4:4)
Listen to just a few of God‘s promises that speak to your authority over Satan and all his demon forces: Luke 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." Luke 10:19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
Romans 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. 1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. Eph 1:18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has
called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. James 4:7 Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Satan may oppress you, but he cannot possess you. Satan may tempt you, but he cannot control you. Satan may attack you, but he cannotdefeat you. Because you have authority over the enemy!
1. You have authority over Satan because of your POSITION in Christ.
Satan cannot control or defeat you because you are positioned in Christ Jesus.
Eph 2:6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Satan cannot get to you because you are ―in Christ.‖ Now listen...because of your position in Christ, you share in His authority. Jesus said, ―All authority in heaven and earth has been given unto me.‖ And when you are positioned in Christ Jesus, you share in all His authority. Satan cannot come at you unless the Lord Jesus allows him. Martin Luther, the great father of the Reformation, is exactly right when he writes the words of his great hymn: A Mighty Fortress is our God.
―On earth is not his equal.‖ In your own power you haven‘t got a hope to over come the devil, but there is real good news. 2000 years ago the Lord Jesus came to earth robed in flesh and encountered the devil, ―spoiling principalities and powers at the cross.‖ He is a defeated foe. In the power of His might.
A Lady said after a sermon ―Oh Pastor when you preach on the devil I can see him so plainly.‖ A little boy said to his dad ―Is the devil stronger than me?‖ ―Yes son he‘s stronger than you.‖ ―Is the devil stronger than you daddy?‖ ―Yes son he‘s stronger than me.‖ ―Is the devil stronger than Jesus?‖ ―No son he‘s not stronger than Jesus!‖ ―Then I am not scared of the devil.‖
Luther continued in his hymn ―The prince of darkness grim; We tremble not for him. His rage we can endure, For lo, his doom is sure. One little word can fell him.‖ What word? The name Jesus! We are to be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might in our engagement with the devil. Claim His strength and might. Its available.
2. You have authority over Satan because of your POSSESSION of Christ.
Not only are you ―in Christ,‖ but Christ is also in you. Since you are in Christ—Satan cannot control or defeat you. Since Christ is in you, Satan cannot possess you.
Satan cannot possess you because Christ possesses you. Satan cannot live inside your body and possess, control, or dominate you because Jesus Christ lives inside you! Now, Satan certainly can: Attack you Tempt you Deceive you Trick you Discourage you Oppress you but Satan cannot defeat you or possess you. 1 John 4:4 (KJV) …because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. Today you should be enlightened concerning the devil, and you should be encouraged concerning the devil, for you can be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.‖
Ephesians 6:10-18
Do you know, some people don‘t think there is a devil around. I am reminded of the story Billy Graham tells. It is a story of a boxer who was engaged in a boxing match and was being badly beaten. Battered and bruised, he leaned over the ropes and said to his trainer, "Please throw in the towel! This guy is killing me!" The trainer said, "Oh no, he's not. He's not even hitting you. He hasn't laid a glove on you!" And the boxer said, "Well then, I wish you'd watch that referee -- somebody is sure hitting me!" The questions we must ask when we are challenged with this idea that there is no devil are, "How do you explain what is going on in the world? How do you explain what is happening? How do you explain the entrenched evil in human affairs?"
M.Scott Peck an American Psychiatrist (graduated 1958 from Harvard), author of ―The Road Less Traveled‖, which sold more than 1.5 million copies, affirms he now believes in the devil. Mr. Peck was converted to becoming a Christian after witnessing a few clients who could not have been anything else but demon possessed. After 421 sessions with a lady named Charlene, he was fully convinced that she loved evil and was demon possessed. You don‘t need interviews with demon possessed people to know there is a power behind much that we see and hear today.
World history itself reveals such a being. Behind the problems of the world, behind the evil which manifests itself in mankind, there is a hierarchy of evil spirits -- the devil and his angels. There is an organized kingdom of principalities and powers at various levels of authority who sit as world rulers of the present darkness, wicked spirits in high places.
It is as Paul puts it in Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts
of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints--
And you and fight this battle daily on the personal level.
There‘s something that pulls us up There‘s something that pulls us down
And the consequence is that we wobble ‗Twixt muck and a golden crown.
The Lord Jesus spoke of this same battle this way;
Luke 11: 20 But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. 22 But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.
A person under Satan is not a happy being. He is forever restless and peevish and discontent. That is why the world continually reflects those qualities. Man sees the problems he creates, and he is always trying to remedy them. He keeps busy trying to solve these problems which break out, these difficulties which are reported in our newspapers, but all his efforts achieve is merely to shift the pattern till they take a different form. Then man pats himself on the back and proudly says, "We have solved this problem!" But he has only moved to a different symptom of the same disease. As C. S. Lewis so aptly put it, "No clever arrangement of bad eggs will make a good omelette."
Listen to these words by the late Bertrand Russell, the atheistic philosopher:
―The life of man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, toward a goal that few can hope to reach and where none can tarry long. One by one as they march our comrades vanish from our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent death. Brief and powerless is man's life. On him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls, pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way. For man, condemned today to lose his dearest, tomorrow himself to pass through the gates of darkness, it remains only to cherish, ere yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day.‖
Those eloquent words just high lights the sheer despair into which man falls when he is far from God. There is a growing sense of despair everywhere you turn today. It is the unconscious realization of man's helplessness under Satan.
1. Your Enemy
I want you to somehow wake up to the reality of what is happening all around you in regards to spiritual warfare: There is a very real devil—who orchestrates a very real kingdom of darkness, made up of very real demonic spirits. This devil is your enemy. He is the enemy of your Spiritual life, your Home life, your Marriage, your Church.
He would love nothing more than to find you as a parent, asleep at your post when you should be alert and on guard. He would love nothing more but to slip past you clandestinely and: Ravage you marriage. Ravage your children.
I fear that some of you many even be assisting him in his dastardly destruction without even knowing it especially as it relates to the lives of our children. We let them listen to rock music that promotes exclusively a culture of drugs, demons and death. We expose them to television programs and movies that are filled with illicit sex, violence, cursing and devilish philosophies. We allow them to run with peers who are obviously living in total rebellion. We send them to public schools where their minds are pumped full of godless philosophies, such as: Evolution, Atheism, Gay rights and other perversities. The sex education courses in many public schools would embarrass and horrify you. When I was doing teacher training I was involved with the Health teachers in their course, and it was shocking.
The Christian world often acts like an ostrich with their heads in the sand, while Satan literally ravages the minds and lives of our children! Listen, there is a war on...and you need to get equipped and trained for battle. I ought to title this section of Ephesians 6 Spiritual Boot Camp. Last Sunday night we commenced a short series within our studies on Ephesians.
We saw
We are going to cover more ground this morning in these areas, looking at
1. Your Enemy
2. Your Energy
3. Your Expectation
Tonight we shall study the topic
And Next Sunday morning we shall look at the most important topic of prayer.
Who is this enemy that seeks to destroy you and those whom you love? His name is: Lucifer. Beelzebub. Satan. He is very, very real. The Bible mentions the devil by name at least 110 times. Both Old and New Testament affirm his existence. Even if you did not believe the Bible, you would be very foolish and naive to ignore the reality of Satan‘s existence or to fail to acknowledge the reality of the devil and demons. In all our daily newspapers we can read our daily astrological forecast or horoscope.
Almost daily we hear of bizarre slayings and animal sacrifices attributed to Satanic cults and/or witch covens. Well, if we are going to be effective in ―standing‖ against this dark enemy, then we first of all must know something about him. Any good soldier knows that the most essential element of successful warfare is to
know your enemy. General Montgomery defeated Field Marshall Rommel during the 2nd World War desert campaign, not because he was a better strategist, for Rommell was the best, not because he was a better general, for Rommell was the best, not because he was a better leader, but because he knew his enemy, he read all his books.
On Sunday night last we examined several facts about this enemy.
1) Satan is a CREATED being.
He is not eternal. He was created. Only God is eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. God created Satan.
Ezekiel 28:15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.
Col 1:16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
Eze. 28 tells us that God created him originally as Lucifer (meaning Morning Star, or Shining Star). Satan was created originally as a beautiful ANGEL or a cherub. (Cherub means literally, engraving). Eze. 28:14 says ―You were anointed as a guardian cherub...‖ Smart, Eze. 28:12b ―...You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom...‖
Satan was beautiful, Eze. 28:12b ―...You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.‖
Satan was powerful. Eze. 28:14 ―You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.‖ Some believe Lucifer was a powerful guardian angel whose created duty was to protect God‘s Throne and Creation.
Satan fell from his created position because of PRIDE. Isaiah 14:12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." 15 But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. One-third of heaven‘s hosts followed Satan in his rebellion (Rev. 12:4; Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4).
Satan retains supernatural ABILITIES.
The power of LOCOMOTION (he travels as any spirit being) Job 1:7 The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."
The power of TRANSFORMATION. 2 Cor. 11:14 says, …for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light‖ (KJV). He appeared as a beautiful serpent to Eve in the garden.
The power to perform MIRACLES (influence matter). Job 1:16 caused fire to fall from heaven. 2 Thess. 2:9 Satan works with ―all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders...‖
The power to OPPRESS human bodies. Job 2:7 he smote Job with sores.
The power to POSSESS human bodies. Matt. 8:28-34 The Gadarene demoniac was possessed by many demons named Legion.
The power to influence human THOUGHT. Satan entered Judas and persuaded him to betray Christ. Satan persuaded Peter to try to protect Christ from the cross.
Satan is more powerful than you or I, But Satan has LIMITATIONS.
Satan is intelligent, but not OMNISCIENT.
Satan is mobile, but not OMNIPRESENT. (Satan can only be at one place at a time).
Satan is powerful, but not OMNIPOTENT. (Satan is limited by the authority, blood and dominion of Jesus Christ.)
Satan has a hoard of one third of the angels of heaven who joined him in his rebellion against God.
The Bible speaks of ―angels that sinned‖ (II Peter 2:4) and ―the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation‖ (Jude 6).
Evil spirits - I Samuel 16:14-l 6, 23; 18:l0; 19:9; Acts 19:15-16
Unclean spirits - Matthew 12:43-45
Seducing spirits - I Timothy 4:l
Principalities and Powers - Colossians 2:5
Rulers of the darkness of this world - Eph. 6:12
Spiritual wickedness in high places - Eph. 6:12
Devils/Demons - James 2:19; Revelation 16:14
They NUMBER into the millions - Mark 5:9-15; Rev. 9:16; 12:4, 7
They FOLLOW the orders of Satan who controls them –Matt. 12:24; 25:4I
They CONTROL the unbeliever - II Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:1-3; I John 5:19
They WRESTLE with the believer - Eph. 6:10-13, 16
They can use the forces of nature under the permissive hand of God -Job l:10-12, 18-19
They can work miracles - II Thes. 2:9; Rev. 16:13-14
They can inflict physical and mental diseases upon people –
Dumbness - Matt. 9:32-33
Lunacy - Matt. 4:24; 17:14-18
Uncontrollable behavior - Mark 5:1-5, 1
Physical deformity - Luke 13:11-13, 16-17
Deafness - Mark 9:25
They can inflict death - Hebrew 2:14
They can take possession of a person and completely control them – Luke 8:26-40
They can cause bitter envying and strife among believers – Jam. 3:13-18
To deceive - II Cor. 11:13-l 5; Rev. 20:3, 8-10
To blind the minds of non-believers - II Cor. 4:4
To accuse and slander believers - Job 1:l 1; Rev. 12:10
To hinder the work of believers - I Thes. 2:18
To sow tares among the wheat - Matt. 13:38-39
To cause doubt and disobedience to God - Gen. 3;1-6
To tempt and entice us to sin - I Cor. 7:5; James 1:13-15
To devour and destroy the believer‘s trust in the Lord –I Peter 5:7-l 0
The PREDICTION was made in the Garden of Eden –Gen. 3: 15 cf. Rom. 16:20
The POWER of the devil and his angels was broken by the death of Jesus Christ - Col.
2:14-15; Heb. 2:14-15; I John 3:8
The PUNISHMENT of these demonic forces will be carried out in the lake of fire Matt. 25:41; II Pet. 2:4; Jude 6-7; Revelation 20:l0
The POSSIBILITY of demon possession in the Old Testament - I Sam. 16:16;
18:10-11; 19:9-18
The POWER of Satan and demons in the unbeliever
Blinds their minds - II Corinthians 4:3-4
Works in them, controlling their conduct –Eph. 2: l-3; I John 5:19
The PRESENCE of demon possession during the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (two common denominators)
Immediate recognition of His identity - Mark 1:24 & 34; Luke 4:3,40-41;
Uncontrollable behavior (mental disorders and physical diseases)
The PREDICTION of demon possession during the church age - Mark 16:17; Acts 5:3, 15-l6; 19:l l-20; I Timothy 4:l
The PREVALENCE of demon activity during the great tribulation – Rev. 9:1-3,
11, 20; 12:9, 12; 13:2; 16:13-14
The PROTECTION of believers from demon possession
The devil is not in us - I John 4:4
We can resist the devil - James 4:7; I Peter 5:8
We have overcome the wicked one - I John 2:13-14
The wicked one does not touch us - I John 5:18
Our ultimate victory is assured by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross –John 12:31-33; Rev. 12:ll
Our ultimate victory is assured by the eternal Consequences that the devil and
his, angels will face –Matt. 25:41; Jude 6-7; Rev. 20:l0
Our present victory is based on five things:
The purpose of God in allowing satanic attack II Cor. 12:7-l0; I Pet. 5:8-l0
The prayer of Jesus Christ - John 17:15
The protection of God‘ s armour – Eph. 6:10-18
The promise of God if we resist the devil – James 4:7
The presence and power of the Holy Spirit – I Jn. 4:4
Luke 11: 20 But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. 22 But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armour in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.
2. Your Energy
He breaks the power of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me.
In the mystery of the cross of Jesus, and in the power of his resurrection, applied by faith, we men and women who have been born into a society which is under the control of the evil one discover release from his control. His power to grip us is loosed, and we are set free. There is no other power which can do it. That is why this gospel is such an exclusive thing. That is why Christians are perfectly justified when they say there is no other answer to the problems of man; there is no other power which can touch the basic problem of human life. There is only one "stronger one" who has come into the world and has come to grips with the power of this dark spirit and broken his power over human life.
How many there are throughout the Christian centuries, and also here this morning, who can testify to this. Not only the prostitutes and alcoholics and dope addicts, not only those who have been gripped by the power of evil habits, but also those who are held by the power of evil attitudes -- temper, lust, self-righteousness, bitterness, and pride. The strongest chains are not those around the body, but around the mind. The writers of Scripture make that clear. They say, "The god of this world has blinded the minds of them who believe not," {2 Cor 4:4}. Now the gospel is that Jesus Christ has come to set men free. John says Jesus came into the world "to destroy the works of the devil," {1 Jn 3:8}. There is no adequate explanation of His coming, apart from that. Paul says he came "to deliver us out from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of his love." Paul himself was chosen as apostle to the Gentiles and, in that dramatic conversion experience on the Damascus road, he said to the Lord whom he saw in the glory, "What will you have me to do?" {Acts 9:6}. Jesus replied, "Stand upon your feet, for I will send you far hence unto the Gentiles, to open their eyes and to turn men from darkness unto light and from the power of Satan unto God," {Acts 26:16-18}.
Mankind is in the grips of a power which it is helpless to do anything about. The only one who can deliver us from it is Jesus Christ. He has already done all that is necessary to deliver us from the hands of the evil one through His cross and through the power and glory of His resurrection. When a man or woman believes that, and commits himself into the Saviour‘s hands, he discovers that the whole thing becomes practical and actual in his experience. This is what we call conversion. That is the beginning of the battle.
That same power at work when the Lord Jesus was raised from the dead has already worked in you delivering you from the domain of darkness and transferring you to the kingdom of God‘s Son. And now we are involved in a battle which the Lord Jesus Himself has already won.
3. Your Expectation
Our Lord reveals one other principle in this passage in Luke 11:23 ―He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.‖ The Lord is saying thee is an expectation laid upon you. Paul says the same thing.
There is something for you to do about all this. There is an expectation.
There is no neutral ground. Mere profession is insufficient. Jesus said, "He who is not with me is against me." There are always those who say, "I understand something of the gospel, and I must confess that I believe there is much of value in the Christian faith. I am a friend of Christianity. I believe that it has a great moral impact to bring into our world, but I do not care to go so far as personally 'receiving Christ.' I think I will remain neutral." Jesus says this is impossible. There is no neutrality. "He who is not with me is against me." He who has not received the deliverance wrought is still under the bondage and control of the dark powers of Satan. There are no exceptions. And when you have received Him there is the further expectation. That you must take up the weapons of warfare against the devil. He says 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore
You are called to Stand. This means that inspite of all the assaults of the evil one you are expected by the Lord to stand. No matter how wiley and deceitful and powerful may be the personal attacks against you, the Lord intends for you to stand. By the way, did you notice here that the devil doesn‘t attack forcefully every day, but in the evil day. There are days when the fighting and conflict will be worse than others. There are times when you will wonder what on earth is going on around you. But even in the overwhelming conflict of the evil day, all the power of God and all the purposes of God are that you should stand for Him. Do you notice how many times Paul says it here. Stand, withstand, stand! It is the idea of being in the field of conflict and although all others may give way you continue to stand.
What does it mean, "to stand"?
Well, imagine a football team defending its goal line. The team lines up on the try line and simply stands, refusing to be moved backward or to le anyone through. This is exactly what this word pictures to us. We are to refuse to move from the ground of faith we have taken, refuse to yield ground, stand. Now why does the apostle put it this way? Why does he not say fight? Having done all, fight! Put on the whole armor of God and advance, charge. Why does he not use some military term that speaks of moving out? We must take these words seriously, for, after all, these are not play words used lightly as children would in playing games. These are serious commands given in a very serious fight. The apostle uses the word stand because it is the only proper word to use. It is the only word which described the final attitude we must have to insure absolute victory.
As we look at this word more carefully, we can see that it touches on three aspects of the struggle of life:
First, the use of this word stand reveals to us the intensity of the struggle in which we are involved. We are told to stand because there are times when that is all we can do. The most we can possibly hope to achieve at times is that we should simply stand, unmoved. There are times in battle when a soldier can do no more than try to protect himself, and stay where he is. The intensity of the conflict becomes so furious, so fierce, there is nothing else he can do but simply hold his ground. That is what this word implies to us.
The word stand indicates to us the character of the battle the Christian faces. We are to stand because this is a defensive action, primarily. The proper defense will win the day. I know this is oftentimes misunderstood, for we frequently hear the proverb, "The best defense if a good offense." But if a castle is under attack from an army, the battle is not won by those in the castle venturing forth to overwhelm the army outside. The battle is won by repelling all invasion. This is a picture of our Christian life. This is a defensive battle, not offensive. We are not out to take new ground; we are to defend that which is already ours. In the Christian battle the offensive work was done over 1900 years ago at the cross and the resurrection. The Lord Jesus is the only one who has the power and strength to take the offensive in this great battle with the prince of darkness. But he has already done that. All that we possess as believers is already given to us. We do not fight for it. We do not battle to be saved, or fight to be justified, or forgiven, or accepted into the family of God. All these things are given to us. They were won by another, who, in the words of Paul in Colossians, took principalities and powers and nailed
them to his cross, triumphing over them in it, and led them captive who had held the world captive.
But we are to fight to use all this, to enjoy it, to experience it fully. The enemy is trying to keep us from realizing what we have and using it to the full. This is where the battle lines are. We do not need to take new ground as Christians. We cannot. All has been accomplished; all is given to us. As Jude says, in almost the last word of the New Testament, "earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints," {cf, Jude 1:3 RSV}. We are to hold on to that which God gives us and not let any of it be lost or taken from us, as to our use of it. This is what the phrase "contend earnestly for the faith" means. It means to hold on to what God has already given you and utilize it to the full. As Paul writes to the Corinthians, "Stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong," {1 Cor 16:13 KJV}. Do not surrender an inch of ground, even though others do.
This word stand tells us of the certainty of victory. If putting on the armor of God and prayer makes it possible to stand unmoved and immovable, then nothing more is required to win. After all, if a castle cannot be taken, the attacking army has nothing left to do but to withdraw. There is nothing else it can do. It is defeated, beaten. We have been talking a great deal in this series about the cleverness of Satan, his subtlety of attack, "the wiles of the devil," and the impossibility of defeating him by mere human wisdom. We have said that every saint in the record of Scripture, every believer throughout the history of time has been, at one time or another, defeated by the devil when he tried to match wits with him in his own strength. This is true. But it is also true that when any saint, any believer, even the newest and weakest, stands in the strength of Christ, puts on the whole armor of God, and, in dependence upon the presence of God in prayer, stands, the devil is always defeated. The devil ultimately must be defeated if anyone will simply stand on what God has said.
The cross is the great example of this. The cross looked like the supreme achievement of the devil, the supreme moment of victory when all the powers of darkness were howling with glee as they saw the Son of God beaten and wounded, rejected and despised, hanging upon a cross, naked, before all the world. It looked like the triumph of darkness.
Jesus said it was: "This is your hour," he said, "and the power of darkness," {Luke 22:53b}. But it was that very moment when the devil lost. In the cross all that the devil had risked was defeated, beaten down, and the devil and all his angels were disarmed and openly displayed as defeated by the power of Jesus Christ. This is what God does all through life. The devil sends sickness, defeat, death, darkness, pain, suffering and tragedy. It is all the work of Satan. But that is not the whole of the story. God takes those very things -- those very things! -- and uses them to strengthen us and bless us, to teach us and enlarge us and fulfill us, if we stand. This is the whole story.
Here is a quotation from a Christian man who has been an invalid all his life -- one of those lonely, obscure people who live in constant pain -- who does not know what it means to be able to use his physical body in any way except in pain and suffering. But he writes this:
Loneliness is not a thing of itself, not an evil sent to rob us of the joys of life. Loneliness, loss, pain, sorrow, these are disciplines, God's gifts to drive us to his very heart, to increase our sensitivities and understanding, to temper our spiritual lives so that they may become channels of his mercy to others and so bear fruit for his kingdom. But these disciplines must be seized upon and used, not thwarted. They must not be seen as excuses for living in the shadow of half-lives, but as messengers, however painful, to bring our souls into vital contact with the living God, that our lives may be filled to overflowing with himself in ways that may, perhaps, be impossible to those who know less of life's darkness.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross; Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss. From victory unto victory His army shall He lead, Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey; Forth to the mighty conflict, in this His glorious day. Ye that are brave now serve Him against unnumbered foes; Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone; The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own. Put on the gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer; Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long; This day the noise of battle, the next the victor's song. To those who vanquish evil a crown of life shall be; They with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.
If you have not known the Lord as your strength and help you can know it now. Perhaps you have had to say, "If what you have said be true, then I am still an unbeliever. I am still under the power of Satan." Then the gospel comes to you now, and this is its message:
In one moment of time you can pass from death into life.
In one moment of commitment, trusting Christ and his work, no longer reckoning upon anything you are trying to do to make you good enough, you can say, "Lord, here am I. Save me."
You pass in that moment from death into life. That is what conversion is. In the quietness of this moment there may be many who will want to make that decision, who will say, "Lord, if this be true, if this is the reason why human life can never progress beyond what it has in these centuries of struggle and darkness, then I no longer want to be a part of that. I want to pass from death into life. Lord Jesus, save me."
In those words you will open the door which permits him to do his saving work.
4. Your Equipment
Ephesians 6:13-15 The Believer's Armor Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having
girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:13-15)
We are engaged in a spiritual battle. Our enemy is aggressive . God‘s word says,
1 Peter 5: 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Our enemy is highly intelligent. Eph 6:11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
Ever seen a highly intricate plot on a movie, where you had to follow every second or you‘d lose the whole story? Satan is much more c0mplicated than that. He schemes, he plots and plans. Like it or not, we must deal with the situation.
―For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.‖
We are engaged in a supernatural, spiritual battle. We must fight spiritual forces with spiritual weapons. We must put on the armor of God and use the weapons of the Spirit. This armor and weaponry is the subject of our text. By understanding how to use this armor and weaponry, we will be able to be protected from the attack of the enemy.
Paul, the writer of this letter, was intimately familiar with the Roman world of his day. Everyone knew of the might of the Roman army, and could describe the equipment worn by a Roman soldier. Paul was certainly no stranger to these things. In fact, he spent months chained to a Roman soldier. However he probably drew his image of this weaponry not from the soldiers around him, but the Old Testament Scriptures. Listen to Isa 59:14-18
14 Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands afar off; For truth is fallen in the street, And equity cannot enter. 15 So truth fails, And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him That there was no justice. 16 He saw that there was no man, And wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him. 17 For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, And was clad with zeal as a cloak. 18 According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, Fury to His adversaries, Recompense to His enemies; The coastlands He will fully repay.
He uses each element of a soldier's armor to illustrate the spiritual equipment necessary for our fight of faith. It is essential for us to see the importance of this armor. We are required to put on this armor and understand how to use it. The alternative is that we go down to defeat. Without this armor we are in danger. With this armor we emerge victorious. But we must understand the contemporary message behind this coat of mail.
The Belt of Truth
"Having girded your loins with truth" -- that is always the place to start whenever you are under attack. Whenever you feel discouraged, defeated, uncertain,
confused, downcast, depressed, or indifferent, this is the place to start: "Gird up your loins with truth." The officers in the Roman army wore short skirts, very much like Scottish kilts. Over them they had a cloak or tunic which was secured at the waist with a girdle. When they were about to enter battle they would tuck the tunic up under the girdle so as to leave their legs free and unimpeded for the fight. Girding the loins was always a symbol of readiness to fight. That is why this is first. You cannot do battle until you first gird up the loins with truth.
When Satan attacks you with doubts and discouragement about God‘s Actual being, Truth is the belt that repels this attack.
When you are threatened by discouragement, coldness, and similar moods, how do you fight back? Well, you remember that, when you became a Christian, you girded up your loins with truth. What does that mean precisely? It means to remind yourself that, in coming to Jesus Christ, you found the truth behind all things, you found him who is in himself the truth, the key to life, the secret of the universe, final reality! You find the truth used in that sense in this very letter. In Chapter 4, Verse 20, the apostle says to these Ephesians,
You did not so learn Christ! [i.e., in uncleanness and licentiousness, etc.] -- assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus. {Eph 4:20-21} He is the truth, he is reality, he is the key to life. "In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," {cf, Col 2:3}. That‘s why He said I am the way the Truth and the Life..The truth. Satan will tempt you with regard to
a. Is it all worth it. Is it worth being a Christian, when all the world can give itself to sin without guilt. Is it worth it, when we tithe and are ridiculed for being Christians. Is it worth it? Yes it is worth it, for God is real, there is an eternity to prepare for, and the Lord Jesus proved Himself to be the only Saviour by his resurrection from the dead. Thefore it is worth it. The Christian faith is OBJECTIVELY TRUE> Therfore, whether you feel it is worth it or not , even if all the demons of hell are arraigned against you, Christianity is still true God still is and Jesus is still your Saviour.
What has he been to you? What has he been to others? Look back at your own Christian life and its beginnings. Did he deliver you? Has he set you free? Has he broken any chains in your life? Has he been your friend? Has he brought you back into balance and harmony? It has been pointed out that through the centuries men have been calling on others for help. You may lack courage and call on a great contemporary hero to help you, but nothing happens. You may lack wisdom and call on one of the great philosophers of the day. Or, lacking eloquence, you may cry, "Shakespeare, help me!" But no help comes. Yet for twenty centuries men and women in desperate plight have been calling our, "Lord Jesus Christ, help me" -- and help is given! Deliverance comes! That is how we know he is the truth.
Remember that all conflicting systems and philosophies must be tested at all points, not just at one. Many philosophies can do something. Ah, yes, many systems which basically are wrong still can help in a limited area. They can help somewhere, they can accomplish some good. But, my Christian friends, we must learn that this is never the mark of truth. Because something does some good is no mark of truth. Truth is a complete entity. Truth is reality, the way things really
are. Therefore it is the explanation of all things. You know you have found the truth when you find something which is wide enough and deep enough and high enough to encompass all things. That is what Jesus Christ does.
Further, ultimate reality never changes. Here is another mark. Truth never needs updating, never needs to be modernized. If something was true ten thousand years ago, it is still true today. If it is true today, it was true a hundred thousand years ago. Truth does not need updating.
I delight in the story of the man to came to his old friend, a music teacher, and said to him in that flippant way we moderns use, "What's the good news today?" The old man never said a word. He walked across the room, picked up a hammer and struck a tuning fork. As the note sounded out through the room, he said, "That is 'A.' It is 'A' today, it was 'A' five thousand years ago, and it will be 'A' ten thousand years from now. The soprano upstairs sings off-key, the tenor across the hall flats his high notes, and the piano downstairs is out of tune." He struck the note again, and said, "That is 'A,' my friend, and that's the good news for today!"
That is what Jesus Christ is -- unchanging. He is "the same yesterday, today, and forever," {cf, Heb 13:8}. That is how you know you have truth. Remember that when you feel defeated, when you are under attack, when doubts come flooding into your mind. Remember that you have girded up your loins with truth; you have found him who is the solid rock:
On Christ the solid rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.
When Satan attacks you with doubts, take up the belt of truth. You won‘t get tripped up.
The Breastplate of Righteousness
For the Roman soldier, the breastplate protected the vital organs. The heart, lungs, kidneys, stomach, and other organs were covered by this vital piece of armor. The point which Paul is making is that the breastplate of righteousness is essential for the Christian to avoid a mortal wound. What is this righteousness? Well, one thing it isn't is our own righteousness. Our righteousness was not sufficient to save us, and our righteousness will never be sufficient to keep us. Isaiah likens our righteousness to ―filthy rags.‖ Our righteousness is not in view, rather it is the righteousness of Christ which is in view.
In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we read, ―He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.‖
He died there for us, and in our place. He now gives us His righteousness in exchange for ours. Actually, He is our righteousness. In 1 Corinthians 1:30 we read, ―But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.‖ When you receive Christ, you receive His righteousness.
When Satan attacks you with doubts concerning your Acceptance with God, you can take up the breastplate of righteousness.
This is perhaps the most frequent ground of attack against Christian faith. Christians, by one means or another, through one circumstance or another, often feel they lack assurance. They feel unworthy of God. They feel they are a failure in the Christian life and that God, therefore, is certain to reject them, that he is no longer interested in them. They are so aware of their failures and shortcomings. Growth has been so slow. The first joy of faith has faded, and they feel God is angry with them or that he is distant, far off somewhere. There is a constant sense of guilt. Their conscience is always stabbing them, making them unhappy, miserable. They feel God blames them. This is simply a satanic attack, a means of opposing and destroying what God intends to do.
How do you answer an attack like this? You are to remember that you have put on the breastplate of righteousness. In other words, you do not stand on your own merits. You never did. You never had anything worthwhile in yourself to offer to God. You gave all that up when you came to Christ. You quit trying to be good enough to please God. You came on his merits. You came on the ground of his imputed righteousness -- that which he gives to you. You began your Christian life like that and there is no change now. You are still on that basis.
This is why Paul begins his great eighth chapter to the Romans with the words, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," {Rom 8:1 RSV}. No condemnation! You are believing a lie when you believe that God is angry with you and that he rejects you. Remember, you stand on Christ's merits, "accepted in the Beloved," This is Satan‘s most useful weapon to take us away from the glorious truth of the Gospel. Satan will even whisper in your ear ―It is presumptuous for anyone to think they are going to heaven. We‘ll never know till you die.‖ But the fact is The Lord Jesus Christ has died for our sins. If Christ has made the offering of Himself, then nothing more is necessary. I find comfort in the book of Hebrews. Chapter 9 says,
Heb 9:24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another-- 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
He has done it. Now you have a decision. Will you accept what He has so clearly said in His word about having died once for all your sins to make you accepted in the beloved, or will you bring dishonour to the gospel by going along moping all your life, thinking ―oh I wouldn‘t presume to claim Christ‘s sacrifice has given me eternal life‖ You bring dishonour on the gospel by listening to Satan‘s lie and being a blooming moper!!! Going along ―Oh Me oh my! Maybe I‘ll never get to heaven in the end..‖ And as a result you have no goood news to share with anyone else!!!!!!
The Boots of Peace
The Roman soldier wore a certain kind of shoe. It was an open-toed spiked shoe which laced up past his ankles. If you have visited at our house and caught me unawares, you know how I hate to wear shoes. When we go to the beach, half the time I forget to put thongs on. If you haven‘t walked barefoot on a hot road and felt the blisters grow and the flesh sizzle, you haven‘t appreciated shoes.
Eph 6:15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Shoes are absolutely essential to fighting. Imagine a soldier clad in armor from head to foot but with no shoes on, a barefoot soldier. Imagine how quickly the rough ground would tear his feet and bruise them. Soon, despite the fact that he had all the equipment he needed otherwise, he would be out of combat. His feet would render him unfit to fight. But with a good pair of shoes he would be ready and equipped, able to fight. That is what this phrase means. It is the word "readiness" in Greek that is essential here: "Your feet shod with the readiness produced by the good news of peace." It is peace in the heart that makes you able to have something to share with the lost, those who do not know Christ. Do you notice here that evangelism is part of your spiritual weaponry. It is part of your personal weaponry.
You must be prepared, ready to bring the Gospel of peace to those who do not have peace with God.
I don‘t think there is anything more scarey in the Christian life is there. The thought that you might not have the right answer at the right time scares us. But we are to know that God will give us the words to speak at the right time.
Luke 12:4 "And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 8 "Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. 9 But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven. 11 Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."
Is the Gospel worth it to you? Is heaven and forgiveness of sins worth it to you? Is it worth it knowing you have eternal life? Then why not speak up for it. What you won‘t own publicly you wont own when the press of battle is on!
The Roman soldier's shoe was an important piece of equipment. It served much the same purpose as a football player's spiked shoe. It was made to help the soldier stand his ground and advance. He needed traction. Most of the combat was hand-to-hand. Armies would surge toward one another and be locked in mortal combat. A soldier could not afford to be pushed backwards. He could not afford to slip down. And neither can we.
We need to understand the good news of Christ and be prepared to give an answer to those who may ask us. If you are not regularly reading your bible, and regularly reading books that will tell you how to tell others about Christ, you are not prepared. You need to be in a bible study group. We have material ―Share Jesus Without Fear‖ That will help you have to the preparation that comes from the
Gospel of peace. A readiness to stand for the Saviour and tell others of His grace and love.
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
It will enable you to stand firm. It will give you traction in life. It will enable you to advance against the enemy on any terrain. Whatever your circumstances, you will stand firm.
The Shield of Faith Eph 6:16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
The shield for a Roman soldier was a valuable piece of equipment. The kind of shield which is spoken of here was a large shield approximately two and one-half feet wide and four and one-half feet high. It was made of a solid piece of wood and covered with metal or leather. The soldiers used these shields to stand behind. Often they would stand side-by-side with their shields together, forming a long protective wall against the barrage of enemy arrows.
Many of these arrows were wrapped in pieces of cloth and soaked in pitch. The tips would be set ablaze and the arrow shot at the enemy. Such flaming missiles could inflict serious damage on unprotected troops. Well equipped troops, however, with leather-coated shields soaked in water, had a good defense. When the arrows would strike such shields, the wet leather would extinguish them. Our shield is a shield of faith.
You may be experiencing what Paul calls here "the flaming darts of the evil one." These are part of the wiles of the devil, the wiliness, the stratagems of Satan. They come to us in various forms. Sometimes they are evil thoughts and imaginations which intrude themselves suddenly upon our thinking, oftentimes at the most incongruous times. We may be reading the Bible, we may be bowed in prayer, we may be thinking about something else quite entirely when all of a sudden some filthy, lewd thought flashes into our mind. What is this? One of the fiery darts of the evil one! We ought to recognize it as such.
Sometimes these come as doubts, and even blasphemies, sudden feelings we experience that perhaps this Christianity is nothing after all but a big hoax, some dream which men had. Perhaps we feel that it can all be explained psychologically, or that Jesus Christ is really a humbug, a victim of self-delusion. Perhaps the world is not the way we have been taught it is, and things are not the way the Bible says. You have doubtless experienced these times. All Christians have had this sudden feeling that perhaps it is all a fantasy, imagination. Again, these fiery darts may come in the form of sudden fears, anxieties, a fleeting sensation that things are all wrong. We cannot seem to shake it. Though we try to reason ourselves out of it, we cannot.
What are these feelings? Well, whatever form they may take, they are always from the same source. They are the fiery darts of the wicked one. We are the biggest fools on earth if we do not see them in that light, and deal with them as such. And, in whatever form they may come to us, they always have two characteristics.
First, they seem to arise out of our own thoughts. They seem to come right from our inner selves. We feel, "This is something I am thinking," and oftentimes it is a shocking thing. But the devil is really whispering to us. He is communicating to us. He is influencing us. Ah yes, but it does not seem like that to us. In our ignorance and innocence we blame ourselves, "How can I think a thing like this if I am a Christian? Can a Christian have such a lewd and filthy thought as this? Can I really be a Christian if I think like this. I must not be one after all." This, of course, is exactly why the devil sent his thought to you, because this is what he wants you to think. If it is a doubt (and we are always exposed to doubts, these sudden attacks upon faith, these sudden feelings that Christianity is not as sure and certain as it once seemed to us), we say to ourselves, "I must have already lost my faith or I would not think like this. What is the matter with me? How can I be a Christian and even have a thought like this?"
What are we to do? How are we to combat these things successfully? Well, the apostle says, "Take the shield of faith with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one."
Do you do that? Have you learned how to take the shield of faith when doubts come? Do you say? ...
"Christ is the truth. He is the basic revelation of things which really are. He has demonstrated it. Therefore, I cannot accept this thought that Christianity is a hoax. I cannot believe both. I cannot believe that Christ is the truth and that this thing is true, too. I have committed myself to Christ because I have been persuaded that he has demonstrated truth fully. I stand on that ground. Therefore I must reject this insinuation."
Do you reason? ...
"Christ is the truth. Therefore I cannot believe this subtle philosophy which exalts man and makes God unnecessary in human affairs. I must reject it. Since I have found Christ true, I cannot believe this sudden feeling I have of unreality. I must regard it as what Christ says it is. It is from the devil. Jesus Christ says he is a liar from the beginning. Therefore this is a lie and I reject it."
Do you say these things?
Our problem is that we have become so accustomed to believing our feelings as though they were facts. We never examine them. We never take them and look at them and ask, "It this true?" We simply say, "I feel this way. Therefore it must be true." This is why so many are constantly defeated -- because they accept their feelings as facts.
We are to say:
"Christ is my righteousness. I am linked with him. I am one with him. His life is my life and my life is his life. We are married. Therefore, I cannot believe this lie that these evil thoughts are my thoughts. They are not my thoughts at all. They are thoughts which come into my mind, are insinuated there by another force. It is not my thinking at all. No, it is the devil again. I do not want these thoughts. I do not like them. I reject them. I do not want them in my thinking; therefore they are not mine. They are the devil's children, and I'll spank them and send them back where they belong!"
Using the shield of faith means refusal to feel condemned or to feel guilty:
"God loves me. He says so. He says nothing will change that. Nothing will separate us. Nothing I do or fail to do will separate us! All right, then I will believe that, and therefore I cannot believe this thought that God does not love me and want me."
You see, you cannot have both. No man can serve two masters.
"Christ is the ground of my peace. Therefore it is his responsibility to take me through everything. He is the adequate One. He has come to carry me through every situation. So I cannot, I will not, believe this fear, this sudden anxiety which grips my heart. I will not believe that it is from me. It is simply sent to shake my confidence in Christ. It is an attempt to destroy my peace. But Christ is adequate for even this and therefore I refuse to change."
This is what James calls "resisting the devil," {Jas 4:7b}. This is the shield of faith. This is refusing the believe the lie that if you have doubts you cannot have faith. Because that is a lie. Doubt is always an attack on faith. The fact that you have doubts proves that you have faith. They are not opposites at all. Doubt is the proof of the reality of faith. Therefore re-examine the ground of your faith and reassert it, and remember that feelings are not necessarily at all.
And James says that, if you keep on resisting the devil, "he will flee from you," {Jas 4:7c}. Think of that! He will flee from you. You do it again and again every time the thought comes back. You resist it on that basis. You refuse to give up your position. And, sooner or later, inevitably, the doubts will clear. Your feelings will change, the attacks cease, and you will be back again in the sunshine of faith and the experience of the love and joy of God
Eph 6: 17 And take the helmet of salvation,
Have you noticed that for 20 centuries and more men have come up with grandiose schemes to bring in a new world order. They set up their Fabian socities, their various societies in the hope of bringing in a fair and just society> And those castles built in the clouds just blow right away. But the Christian has a helmet of salvation. He has a hope for the future. He has an understanding that God is working out his purposes and therefore he is not disturbed when human programs go wrong and everything fails -- when the New Deal, and the Fair Deal, and the Great Society, and all the other fancy names for human progress end up in the same old place -- time after time after time. The Christian has learned to expect wars and rumors of wars unto the very end. He expects false teachings and false philosophies and cults and heresies to abound. He is told all this will happen. It is part of the program, part of the total overall plan and purpose and moving of God in history. The Christian knows that wars are unavoidable, even though every effort should be made to avoid them, and that there is no contradiction in this. The Christian knows that war is madness, that nothing is really solved by war. But he knows also that we are living in a mad world, a world which is deluded by silken, subtle, satanic lies which are deliberately designed to end up in the mangling and mutilating of the bodies and souls of men. The helmet of hope not only tells us that these things are happening and will happen, but that a certain, sure salvation is coming, and that it is even now at work. This is what we need to know. Not merely that it will finally end right, but that the ending is being worked out now! History is not a meaningless jumble but a controlled pattern, and the
Lord Jesus Christ is himself the one who is directing these events. He is the Lord of history. God is at work in the selfsame events that we look at with such horror and confusion.
We are to remind ourselves frequently of the coming of the Lord. How many times did he say, "Watch! Watch therefore. That you may be ready for that hour," {Matt 24:42, 25:13}. We must live daily in its hope and anticipation. The battle is not ours. This is not merely a private fight we are engaged in. We have been talking about this great struggle against the devil and his angels, against the principalities and powers, against the wiles of the devil, as though it were primarily a private fight. It does come down to that at last. It meets us right where we live -- in our homes, our offices, our relationship with our fellow human beings everywhere we turn -- but it is not only that, and it is always good to remember the fact. The battle is not ours, but the Lord's. We are individual units fighting in a great army. The ultimate cause is sure and the end is certain. We do not need to be troubled by all the things happening on the face of the earth, for our Conqueror has already won.
The end is absolutely certain, the outcome is sure, the battle is the Lord's. It is not, finally, and ultimately, a struggle between us and the devil, but a struggle between Christ and Satan, and the outcome is completely sure! The Weapon of All Prayer
Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. {Eph 6:18-20 RSV}
Pray Regularly ―praying always‖
Pray Accurately ―with all prayer‖
Pray Alertly ―being watchful to this end‖
Pray Persistently ―with all perseverance‖
Pray Pervasively ―and supplication for all the saints—―
What is the one thing that most often keeps Christians from experiencing God's making a dramatic difference in their lives? Is it carelessness? Lack of good Christian fellowship? Temptation? May I suggest prayerlessness?
How often do you and I receive answers to prayer? Many Christians have no idea what it means to be a child of God who can talk with the Lord about a real need, let alone to receive a specific, valid, and recognizable answer to their prayers.
I could tell you Bible promises on prayer, plus some of my own experiences and those of friends, but I can't do your praying for you. You can read all the manuals on prayer and listen to other people pray, but until you begin to pray yourself you
will never understand prayer. It's like riding a bicycle or swimming: You learn by doing.
Martin Luther said, "Just as the business of the tailor is to make clothing, and that of the shoemaker to mend shoes, so the business of the Christian is to pray." The secret of Luther's revolutionary life was his commitment to spend time alone with God every day.
"Consider the lives of the most outstanding and shining servants of God," J.C. Ryle challenges us, "whether they be in the Bible or out of the Bible. In all of them you will find that they were men of prayer. Depend on prayer; prayer is powerful." I encourage you to take time every day to talk with God. Don't just give Him thirty seconds while you're rushing around in the morning: "O Lord, bless this day, especially since it is Monday. . . ." What kind of prayer is that? Satan does not want you to pray because by prayer the power of God is unleashed in our lives. By prayer we become strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might to resist the evil one. Have you noticed that Satan desires to keep you from praying. There are always distraction. You sit down to pray and the phone rings. You start to pray and the cat goes swimming in the fish tank. You get invaded with unwelcome stray thoughts.
Wicked thoughts
Wayward thoughts
Worthless thoughts.
Satan does not want you to pray. Therefore if you would put on the whole armour of God, you must learn to pray.
Take on the Gospel armour, each piece put on with prayer…‖ says the hymn. How should you pray to defeat the enemy? To defeat the enemy you must
1. Pray Regularly ―praying always‖
V. 18 ―Pray in the Spirit on ALL occasions ...‖
V. 18b ― ...Be alert and ALWAYS keep on praying ...‖
Sometimes we wait to pray until we are in a crisis. I wonder how many crisis could be avoided in the first place if we were ―praying always‖!
We need to constantly be in communication with the Father—ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS: Thinking of Him. Talking to Him. Listening to Him. Interceding before Him. Petitioning Him. Keep talking to God all day long, every day.
Prayerless times are perilous times in your spiritual warfare. Satan will seek to tempt you and take you right off track in those times when you have least prayed.
It is essential to set aside a specific time each day for personal prayer. Strive for order and faithfulness, but avoid legalism. On certain occasions you may need to select a different time during the day to pray. Nothing is wrong with that. But strive for consistency.
I have found the early hours of the day are the best to pray. So have such men of God as Martin Luther in Germany, John Wesley in England, Hudson Taylor in China,
and many others. Evangelist D.L. Moody echoed their sentiments when he said, "We ought to see the face of God every morning before we see the face of man. If you have so much business to attend to that you have no time to pray, depend upon it that you have more business on hand than God ever intended." Make room in your schedule to begin each day alone with God in prayer.
On the other hand, prayer is something that should take place during the entire day. The Bible says, "Pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). At any moment, whatever the occasion, we are free to speak with our Father. Albert J. Wollen says every Christian can enjoy "constant, conscious communion with God." We enjoy this communion with the living God, who lives within us, through prayer.
"If Jesus prayed, what about you? What about you?" asks the hymn writer. It's always surprising to see how much time Jesus dedicated to prayer. He never considered Himself too busy to pray. As the obligations increased and as He faced big decisions, He went away alone to pray. How about you?
"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4).
"The Lord will keep you from all harm--he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore" (Psalm 121:7-8).
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe" (Proverbs 18:10).
"If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you" (John 15:7).
To defeat the enemy you must
2. Pray Accurately ―with all prayer‖
Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
Moody had this to say about prayer: "Some men's prayers need to be cut short at both ends and set on fire in the middle."
Are your prayers on fire? Are they prayers that reach the ear of God? Are they prayers that move the hearts of people?
Let me briefly describe the kind of prayer God delights to answer. If you take these principles to heart, watch for God to anoint your prayers with fire!
Listen, don‘t try to fight Satan with human weapons on human battlefields. Satan‘s advances will never be stopped by: Politics, Protests or Persuasive Arguments.
Satan is defeated only by PRAYER!
A. The Holy Spirit assists us in accurately praying the will of God. (Eph. 6:18; 1 Cor. 14:6-19) V. 18 ―Pray in the Spirit ...‖The reason some of our praying is so ineffective is because it is inaccurate praying. We miss the target of God‘s perfect will. James 4:3 ―You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss...‖ (KJV).
To pray in the Spirit is to pray in accordance with the character and will of the Holy Spirit.
Rom 8:26-27 26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
B. The Word of God assists us in accurately praying the will of God.
Bible expositor W. Graham Scroggie wrote, "In the Bible God speaks to us, and in prayer we speak to God." The Bible and prayer are intertwined strands forming the intimate cord of communion between God and ourselves. Read the great prayers of Moses, Nehemiah, Ezra, and Daniel. In their petitions they spoke God's words back to Him. This is the prayer language God delights to answer. As you pray, let Him bring Scriptures to mind. Pray them back to God as they apply to you.
Before you spend time reading and studying the Bible each day, pray that God will make your heart sensitive to His Word. Martin Luther said, "Having prayed well is having studied well." We cannot have one without the other. We can pray according to the will of God by praying the word of God. Let God‘s Word guide your praying.
George Müller fellowshiped with God as few men in history have ever done. Through him, God cared for thousands of orphans. Despite his tremendous financial responsibilities, Müller never asked other people to help meet his needs. Extreme financial pressures only motivated him to spend more time in intimate conversation with God.
Listen to what Müller said about his times alone with God: "I begin to meditate on the New Testament early in the mornings. . . . Invariably, I have found that . . . after so many minutes of meditation, my soul is guided to confession, or to give thanks, or to intercede, or to make a request. So, even when you couldn't say that I had given myself to prayer, but rather to meditation, nevertheless, it turned out that almost immediately the meditation turned into prayer." As God's Word spoke to Müller's heart, he naturally responded back to God in prayer. He enjoyed intimate fellowship with his Lord.
Communication is the key to any relationship. Our relationship with God can grow only as we communicate our adoration, confession, petition, intercession, and thanksgiving to Him through prayer, and as we listen to His voice through the daily study of His Word.
How well do you know God? How intimate is your relationship with Him? Müller could come to God, ask Him for five pounds, and know his heavenly Father would somehow supply his need. Could you ask God for that, or are you only an acquaintance?
1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
How effective would an army be if they never aimed their artillery, but they just randomly fired their weapons in all directions? How effective would a bomber be if he took off and had no target, he just randomly dropped his bombs wherever he felt like it? And yet that is exactly how some of us pray. We pray with no direction.
In modern warfare, our bombers use laser guided bombs and missiles. A radar locks onto the target and then uses a laser beam to direct the bomb precisely to the target. Hey, let the Holy Spirit be your radar to guide your praying. Pray in the direction the Holy Spirit points you.
C. The Scriptures indicate several types of prayers to pray We need to pray ALL WAYS. V. 18 ―And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests ...‖ Petition. Intercession. Confession. Praise. Thanksgiving.
It ought to be as constant and natural to us as breathing.
All kinds of prayer are effective in limiting Satan and weakening his attacks.
We ought to always pray in all kinds of ways:
Pray silently—Pray out loud. Pray privately—Pray publicly.
Pray in the closet—Pray in the church. Pray on your knees—Pray working at your desk. Pray alone—Pray in groups. Pray with laughter—Pray with tears. Pray short prayers—Pray long prayers. Just pray, pray, pray. Constantly pray all kinds of prayer!
To defeat the enemy you must
3. Pray Alertly.
V. 18b ―With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.‖
Have you ever prayed half asleep? Have you ever prayed with your mind wandering? There are plenty of times when I pray and my mind is in a fog. My mind wanders, my thoughts go astray. We need to learn to not be lazy in our praying, but to be disciplined and alert. Here are some things that help me stay alert when praying ... Pray with your Bible open. Pray with your eyes open. Pray out loud. Pray kneeling, standing, or walking.
Do whatever it takes to stay alert when you are on duty, standing guard in prayer!
Back in the days of sailing ships a young sailor went to sea for the first time. The ship encountered a heavy storm in the North Atlantic. The sailor was commanded to go aloft and trim the sails. As the young sailor started to climb, he made a mistake and looked down. The roll of the ship combined with the tossing of the waves made for a frightening experience. The young man started to lose his balance. At that moment, an older sailor underneath him shouted, "Look up, son! Look up!" The young sailor looked up and regained his balance. We Christians need to stop napping around down cast and hopeless and look up toward heaven, the source of our salvation. There is victory in Jesus and we need to start acting like it. To defeat the enemy you must
4. Pray Persistently ―with all perseverance‖
Paul is admitting that prayer is hard work and we ought to stick at it. The Lord Jesus said so too.
Luke 18:1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, 'Get justice for me from my adversary.' 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.' " 6 Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
The Lord was teaching by contrasts and saying that if a man of this unreliable kind could be persuaded by the persistence of a woman who was pleading, how much more could you be sure that God, who is not an unjust judge, but a loving Father answer your prayer.
God does not need to be persuaded. The Almighty does not need to be coaxed! We as believers are sons and daughters of the God. Therefore there is no need for us to think we have to wear God ragged before He will answer our prayers.
But what about the mystery of unanswered prayer? God always answers the prayers of those who are truly His children. He answers Yes, or No, or Wait, or Watch.
Sometimes God has to make us wait until we become the sort of people whom He can trust with His answers to prayer. Sometimes He desires us to discover how we ought to pray about something so that we pray according to His Word and Spirit.
Three Ways to Determine When to Stop Praying
1.Pray until God answers your prayer.
2.Pray until you have assurance that you have prayed correctly about the matter. (Dan. 10:12)
3.Pray until God tells you no.
To defeat the enemy you must
5. Pray Pervasively ― and supplication for all the saints—―
We need to pray for ALL PEOPLE.
V. 18b ―Be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.‖
Don‘t just pray selfishly for yourself and your own wish-list. Pray for others and their needs.
1 Tim 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. {Eph 6:18-20 RSV}
He prays for himself that he might have clarity and courage in the proclamation of the gospel. You need to pray for me this way You need to pray for you this way.
You are an ambassador.
2 Cor 5:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.
You represent the King of kings.
You need to pray for clarity.
I remember a few times thinking to myself as I have preached or shared the gospel in personal witness that I had made it as clear as mud.
You need to pray for courage.
Hugh Latimer was a young man who came to know the Lord as he was preparing to pastor a church. Later on he had the opportunity to preach regularly toi the king of England Henry VIII. Henry didn‘t like one sermon, it touched a little too close to the bone, and with Henry there was always the chance that heads would roll literally. Latimer was asked to re preach the sermon to the king‘s satisfaction! He began the next Sunday ― oh Hugh Latimer, Dost thou know before whom thou art about to preach. Why thou art about to preach before the King of England, mind what thou sayest.! For he has the power of life and death over thee. Bu oh Hugh Latimer, dost thou realise for whom thou dost preach? Thou dost preach for the King of Kings and Lord of lords. Mindest thou what thou sayest for He has the power to take away thy soul.‖ And Latimer went on and preached the exact same sermon again for Henry. That takes courage. You may not have the opportunity to stand before Emperors or kings and declare the Gospel. But you just never know who the Lord will put you with. .I was talking to a believer a few years ago who got bumped up from cattle class to first class on an airplane and found himself sitting next to a fellow with who he shared the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ. He wrote to me a few years ago from his home in the USA. He asked me if I knew a fairly wealthy man name Alan Bond. It appears he was influential in bringing him to the Lord. (failed business entrepreneur Alan Bond lost more than 540 million dollars in Australia a few years ago.) Now I always like to think that whoever you are about to speak to has to put his trousers on in the morning the self same way I do, therefore I try not to take note of a person‘s position or occupation when I share the gospel with them. It helps me to have courage when I share with them this message of life in Christ.
I was reading yesterday in Acts 4and 5 how the disciples stood before the Sanhedrin, those murderers of the Lord Jesus Christ, to declare Him as the Messiah.
Acts 5:17 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, 18 and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. 19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 Go, stand
in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life." 21 And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught.
Acts 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!" 29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him." 33 When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them.
40-42 and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
That took courage. You and I need courage and clarity to speak up for the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for it. Ephesians 6:17 The Bible: Our Sword
Along with the lance, twibill, spontoon, bow and arrow and catapult, the sword is an extinct weapon in modern warfare and is used today only on ceremonial occasions. But the "sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Eph. 6:17) will never be replaced by a better weapon. In fact, the Word of God and prayer are the only offensive weapons the believer has for carrying on spiritual warfare. The sword the Roman soldier carried was a short sword for close combat, not a long sword for duelling. The forces in Satan's demonic army get as close to us as they can, and we must always be prepared for battle. Jesus encountered Satan's soldiers in the synagogue (Luke 4:33-37) and in a graveyard (Luke 8:26-36), and Paul met them while witnessing (Acts 13:6-13) and while walking to a prayer meeting (Acts 16:16-18). You never know when Satan will attack, so "be sober, be vigilant" (1 Peter 5:8 )
It is recorded that during the coronation of Edward VI, after various ceremonial swords had been brought to him, the king said to his nobles: "There is one sword yet lacking, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Without that sword we are nothing and we can do nothing!" To what the king said we can say "amen".
This sword is vital to our existence as Christians. We can do nothing without it and without it we are nothing. This evening I want to challenge each of us to know, to trust, and to use the sword of the Spirit, God's Word.
I. Know Your Bible.
A. You are to Be A Student Of The Word of God
We come to know the Bible by reading it.
Charles Spurgeon was asked how a Christian could obtain a thorough knowledge of the Bible. He replied, "There are three rules to follow in order to have a deep under- standing of the Word of God: First, read the Bible; Second, read the Bible; and Third, read the Bible. The Bible does not need to be re-written, but it does need to be re-read!
Noted Bible teacher Dr. James M. Gray declared, "There is only one law of Bible study, and that is to read the Book, and when you have read it, to read it again, and then sit down and read it again, and then sit down and read it once more, and by and by you will come to know the Book."
B. We come to know the Bible by memorizing portions of God's Word.
We teach our children to learn memory verses in S/S, but what about us? Ps. 119:11, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." God instructed Joshua concerning His Word, "...thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein..." If we are to know the Bible we need to read it and memorize it.
The Scriptures which Paul and Timothy knew were the 39 books of the Old Testament. They hadn‘t been bound into a single volume but were grouped as the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. These scrolls were read regularly in the synagogues and the children taught to memorize important passages. You can never tell how the thorough learning of Scripture will be used in later life. Richard Wurmbrand was a pastor in Romania and was imprisoned and tortured for his faith by the communist authorities. He testified that it was the passages of Scripture that he had memorized as a youth that sustained him in his years of captivity. C. We come to know it by studying it.
We should study its history, its prophecy, and its theology Paul's instruction to Timothy, was to "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth." 2 Timothy 2:15
II. Trust Your Bible.
A. We must trust our sword as being divine.
It is the sword of the Spirit. Like the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Living Word of God, the written Word of God has two natures. It is the fusion of both the human and divine elements."...Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." 2 Peter 1:21 We must be careful how we handle the Scriptures. During the British Coronation ceremony a Bible is presented to the monarch with the words:"We present you with the Bible, the most valuable thing which this world affords. Here is wisdom. This is the Royal law. These are the lively oracles of God." 2 Tim 3:15-17 from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able
to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
It claims to be the Word of God Holy Scriptures (theopneustos)
Arthur T. Pierson, a noted Bible expositor, explained the Bible's uniqueness this way: "From all human oracles, however self-confident, we turn at last to the inspired Word, where instead of ambiguous and untrustworthy utterances, we find teachings distinct and definite, authoritative and infallible." We can trust God's Word!
If God couldn't write a book that is perfect, then why should you or I trust such a God with our salvation? I am not saying that belief in inspiration is necessary for salvation, but I am saying that to experience authority and power and fellowship with God in our Christian walk, we must accept the Bible as God's Word. "All Scripture is God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16). John R.W. Stott explains the importance of this declaration for us this way: "The meaning then is not that God breathed into the writings to give them their special character, but that what was written by men was breathed by God. He spoke through them. These were his spokesmen."
It Speaks with the wisdom of God which are able to make you wise for salvation
It Shows the Way to God through faith which is in Christ Jesus
It Teaches the Will of God 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
Charles Haddon Spurgeon said ―I would as soon expect to grow prize roses in my coal cellar as to see a man become holy who neglects his Bible.‖
It Fits us for the Work of God 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
B. We must trust our sword as being dependable.
The very words of Scripture are inspired by God. Someone has said, "You can as easily have music without notes, or mathematics without figures, as thoughts without words." Inspiration applies to every part of the Bible and to the Bible as a whole--not just to the "thoughts" it conveys to a reader. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (Matthew 5:18). He guarantees even the most minute parts of it!
The early church fathers also asserted the authority of the Bible. Augustine declared, "Let us therefore yield ourselves and bow to the authority of the Holy Scriptures, which can neither err nor deceive."
D.L. Moody confidently stated, "God never made a promise that was too good to be true." Solomon, in his dedication of the temple, said this, "...according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise..." 1 Kings 8:56 "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me
void, but it shall accomplish that which I please and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Is. 55:11
Do not question the dependability of God's is as dependable as God Himself!
Someone may ask, "What do you do if an unsaved man does not accept the authority of the Bible?" If you were in a battle and the other person looked at your sword and said he didn't believe it could cut hot butter would you lower it and put it away? Absolutely not! You would show him that it would cut and thrust him through with it. We must do the same with the sword of the Spirit, God's Word. Someone says, "I am an athiest." Quote Ps. 14:1, "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God." Someone says, "I believe the way I want to and you can believe the way you want to."
Quote Proverbs 12:15, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth to counsel is wise." Quote Proverbs 14:12, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
If they say they just don't want to hear it then quote 2 Timothy 4:4, "And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
C. We must trust our sword as being durable.
The Word of God has survived all sorts of attacks and it endures through the ravings of its critics. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Mt. 24:35
The Anvil--God's Word
Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith's door,
And heard the anvil ring in vesper chime;
Then, looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
"How many anvils have you had," said I,
"To wear and batter all these hammers so?"
"Just one," said he, and then with twinkling eye,
"The anvil wears the hammers out, you know."
And so, thought I, the anvil of God's Word,
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
Yes, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed---the hammers gone.
God Word, the sword of the Spirit, will is not the book-of-the-month it is the Book of Ages!
III. Use Your Bible.
A. When we are tempted.
Now in the phrase, "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," it is important to see that it is not the complete Bible which is referred to by the phrase used here, "the word of God." There are two words used in Scripture for "the word of God." There is the familiar word, logos, which is used in the opening verse of John's Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God," {John 1:1}. Then there is another word, used less frequently, rhema, which is somewhat different in meaning. Logos refers to the total utterance of God, the complete revelation of what God has said. Rhema means a specific saying of God, a passage or a verse which has special application to an immediate situation. It is the Word of God used for a particular need, applied to experience, to our existence.
Rhema is the word used here. The "sword of the Spirit" is the saying of God applied to a specific situation. This is the great weapon placed in the hands of a believer. Perhaps all of us have had some experience with this. We have all read passages of Scripture when the words suddenly seemed to come alive, take on flesh and bones, and leap out of the page at us, or develop a voice that echoes in our hearts until we just can‘t get away from it. We have had this experience perhaps in some moment of temptation or doubt, when we were assailed by what Paul calls here "the flaming darts of the evil one." But it has been answered immediately by a passage of Scripture which flashed to mind, just plain out of the blue.
In the New Testament we have the account of the temptation of Christ by the enemy. At every point Jesus quoted the Word of God.
Look at how the Lord handled it.
Matt 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' " 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and,
'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.' "
7 Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.' " 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.' " 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
The Lord knew the right passage for the right temptation. You are in a spiritual battle. The only way you will have the right passage at the right time is by reading the scriptures consistently, studying them so that you won‘t get tripped up by the devil‘s schemes.
This means we must know our sword! Obviously, the greater exposure there is to Scripture, the more the Spirit can use this mighty sword in our lives. If you never read or study your Bible, you are terribly exposed to defeat and despair. You have no defense, you have nothing to put up against these forces that are at work. Therefore, read your Bible regularly. Read all of Scripture, for each section has a special purpose. The Christian who neglects the reading of the Scriptures is in direct disobedience to the will of the Lord. The Lord Jesus said, "It is they [the Scriptures] that bear witness to me," (John 5:39). This is the way you come to know Christ. There is no way apart from the Scriptures. And there is no way to come into full maturity as a Christian apart from the Scriptures. The sword of the Spirit does us no good unless we take it by faith and use it in the strength of the Lord. "It is written" carries more spiritual power to defeat the devil than does a library full of books or a head filled with theological outlines.
If we use the Bible effectively it will not only inform, but has the power to reform and transform lives.
B. When You Are Testifying.
Testifying? Yes you are expected by god to testify to what you have experienced of His love and grace. Sharing the gospel is like one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread. If you have found the Saviour to be a wonderful Saviour, if you have discovered Him to be kind and gracious and faithful and merciful, you just won‘t be able to shut up about Him. You‘ll testify to the things you have seen and heard of Him. But perhaps your testimony of Him is a little dull? Unlike the metal sword of the Roman soldier, the sword of the Spirit never gets dull. The Word of God is always "sharper than any two-edged sword" (Heb. 4:12). Sometimes we who carry the sword get "dull of hearing" (Heb. 5:11) and don't wield the Word of God effectively; but that isn't the fault of the weapon. We must spend time daily with the Word of God, studying it, memorizing it and learning how to apply it in spiritual combat. If we're filled with the Spirit, then we'll have no difficulty wielding the Spirit's sword; for He wrote the Word and He can help us use it to the glory of God.
The Roman soldier's sword was powerless of itself, but the Word of God is "living and powerful" (Heb. 4:12) and isn't limited by the personal weakness of the believer.
Men need to hear God's Word to be saved. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Ro. 10:17 1 Peter 1:23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,
Human reasoning will not convert souls to Christ...only the Word of God will bring life everlasting.
The Roman soldier's sword brought death, but the sword of the Spirit is "living and powerful" (Heb 4:12) and imparts life to those who submit to it. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter used his physical sword and got himself into trouble. But on the Day of Pentecost, he used the sword of the Spirit and three thousand dead sinners were "cut to the heart" (Acts 2:37 NKJV) and found life in Jesus Christ. What a remarkable sword!
Christian soldiers who think they have better weapons than the Word of God and prayer are destined to experience shame and failure, no matter how successful they may appear to the world. "In whatever man does without God," wrote George MacDonald, "he must fail miserably or succeed more miserably."
The Holy Spirit hasn't promised to bless human philosophies or even our hallowed systems of theology. God doesn't put the anointing on human talent or cleverness, no matter how much applause they might generate from congregations that are looking more for entertainment than for edification. "It is not great talents God blesses," wrote Robert Murray McCheyne, "but great likeness to Jesus."
Satan isn't impressed by our buildings and budgets, our religious arguments, our fine-tuned sermon outlines or our denominational programs; but he trembles before the Word of God when it's wielded by dedicated soldiers who know how to pray.
The Lord Jesus prayed to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17). His Word cleanses us (John 15:3).
C. It must be a part of our life.
2 Samuel 23:10 tells of the victory Eleazar experienced, "...and his hand clave unto the sword and the Lord wrought a great victory that day..." May we use the Word of God so often that it becomes a part of us. As the sword became just an extension of Eleazar's arm; may the Word of God become a part of our life. The sword of the Spirit, God's Word. We must know it, trust it, and use it. It is our only weapon as we stand in the face of the enemy struggling to win others to Christ and live victoriously for Him.
Are you currently spending time every day reading at least one chapter of the Bible? If not, how often are you reading God's Word?
If you spent time daily in Scripture, what impact could it make on your life? On the lives of others around you?
James tells us, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (James 1:22).
Obey the Word by prayerfully meditating on it with the goal of better understanding and applying it.
THE SECRET (by Ralph Cushman)
I met God in the morning, When my day was at its best,
And His presence came like sunrise, Like a glory in my breast.
All day long the presence lingered; All day long He stayed with me;
And we sailed in perfect calmness, O'er a very troubled sea.
Other ships were blown and battered, Other ships were sore distressed,
But the winds that seemed to drive them, Brought to us a peace and rest.
Then I thought of other mornings, With a keen remorse of mind,
When I too had loosed the moorings, With the Presence left behind.
So I think I know the secret, Learned from many a troubled way;
You must seek Him in the morning, If you want Him through the day.
The sword of the Spirit is yours for the taking. Don't leave home without it.
Eph 6:10-20 Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints-- 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Morning The Sword of The Spirit
I. Know Your Bible.
A. You are to Be A Student Of The Word of God
B. We come to know the Bible by memorizing portions of God's Word.
C. We come to know it by studying it.
II. Trust Your Bible.
A. We must trust our sword as being divine.
B. We must trust our sword as being dependable.
C. We must trust our sword as being durable.
III. Use Your Bible.
A. When we are tempted.
B. When You Are Testifying.
Evening The Weapon of All Prayer
If You Would Defeat The Enemy You Must:
1. Pray Regularly ―praying always”
2. Pray Accurately “with all prayer”
3. Pray Alertly “being watchful to this end”
4. Pray Persistently “with all perseverance”
5. Pray Pervasively ―and supplication for all the saints”

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Free Hit Counter