Monday, October 26, 2020

Christ and the Church 4: Christ in Our Outward Walk Eph 5:1-20

Christ and the Church 4: Christ in Our Outward Walk

Text: Ephesians 5:1-20

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Introduction:

Joke: Former brawling lumberjack, gets saved and called into the ministry. He takes a small church back up in the mountains among the same kind of lumber camps he used to work at. He preached hard and long against the sin in the camps, especially the drunkenness. One particular man took it personally and one day after he had drunk all night rode out to the church to teach that interfering preacher a lesson.

He rode into the church yard and there was the former lumberjack now a pastor doing some work around the church. The drunk rode right up to him, jumped off his horse told him, “I’m sick and tired of your preaching” and then he took a swing at the new pastor. The pastor had been a lumberjack for good reason, he was tall, well over 6 foot and heavily muscled from all the years of hard work felling trees. He had also been a man who before he got saved loved to fight, but now God was his father and Jesus was his savior and he wasn’t going to brawl with this drunk, especially in the church yard. So he just spun him around picked him up by his collar and by the seat of his pants walked over to the 6 ft high fence on the side of the church yard and lifted the man over the fence and dropped him. As he walked away he heard the man call out and as he looked back around he saw, the now very polite drunk looking through a knot hole in the fence. As he listened the man said, “Pastor, if you’ll just hand me my horse over this here fence, I think I’ll be on my way." 

That pastor had to live and act differently than he did when he was lost. He had to walk a different path and that is what Paul was encouraging the Ephesians to do in the chapters we have been looking at.

Review: Christ and The Church

Chapter One – Who We are In Christ

1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Chapter Two - Salvation In Christ

2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Chapter Three – Grow In Christ

3:18 (You) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 

Then last week in Chapter 4 we began the practical section of the epistle with Christ in our Walk.

4:1-6 Walk In Unity

4:7-16 Walk in Maturity

4:17-32 Walk In Newness

Imitators of the Almighty:

Then Paul says in Eph 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God

The Gk word is μιμητής (mimētḗs) where we get the word mimic and imitate. Paul is telling us to be like our heavenly Father, to follow him, to imitate him. And he adds a qualifier as to how we are supposed to do that. “As dear children.” God is our father and we are his children therefore, it should be natural for us to imitate and follow Him because this is who we are, we are children of God. There should be a family resemblance.

When I was a boy growing up in the same town where my grandparents and dad had lived, people were constantly asking me, “aren’t you Sammy Minefee's boy?  You look just like him.” I didn't try to look like my Dad. I just was like my Dad because I was his son.

That’s what Paul is telling the Ephesians, be like your Abba, Father. We need to have people around us notice the resemblance. Wouldn’t it be great to hear from a lost person, “I can tell, you must be a Christian.” 

That resemblance is seen in our walk. Now Chapter 5 is a continuation of the theme of Christ in Our Walk from Chapter 4 so I couldn’t understand why in 5:1 Paul says, Therefore. “Be ye therefore followers of God” What was the reason for the conclusion. So I looked at the walks of chp 4 and of chp 5 and I say a difference. If I had seen it last week I would have labeled last week’s sermon Christ in our Inward Walk, because as you look at the descriptions, Unity, Maturity and Newnews, you can see that those are inner qualities, but when we come to chapter 5 these walk are outward walks, our life that is seen by the lost.

And the first outward walk is Walking in Love.

Walk In Love – Ephesians 5:2-14

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 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 convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

Showing God’s Love

The word for love here is the one you would expect, agape, self-giving, sacrificial love. The love that Jesus had for us is the love that is to empower our walk in Christ.

And this love is meant to be seen. It cannot be agape love unless it is a giving, sacrificial love and that can only be true when we are giving or sacrifice to and for others.

I wanted to sing that chorus, we used to sing as teenagers in the southern Baptist church I grew up in. “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes they will know we are Christians by our love.” I didn’t use it because it also says things like We are one in the spirit we are one in the Lord and we pray that someday all unity will be restored” No Baptist can sing that, it was written by a Catholic priest and that is what they would like for all denominations to be gathered back to Rome, well Baptists were never part of that mess and we can’t sing about unity be restored when there never was unity with error, but I still like the part that says, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” Yes they should know that. The lost world should know the love of Christ in us and through us, poured out to them.

Paul also makes sure that the Ephesians, who were former pagans and many of whom worshipped their Gods by in immoral sexual rites, understand what Christian love was not,

Walking in Love as followers and children of God is not anything like the world’s ideas of love.

He lists the world’s corrupted ideas of love.

Fornication: any sex outside of marriage.

Uncleanness: pornography, voyeurism, lust and creating lust in others.

 Covetousness: love of things

 He exhorts them, “Let in not be named among you, as becometh saints.”  Because of who you are, a saint, a sanctified and separated one.

Then he lists the kind of speech that can’t proceed from a mouth controlled by God’s love

 Filthiness: foul mouth

 Foolish talking: being the fool instead of the saint.

 Jesting: dirty jokes

But rather, Paul says, God’s love is expressed by the giving of thanks.

 Your speech should reflect God’s grace and love not the world’s filth and immorality, because someone out in the world is always listening.

He tells them, “This you know” - this is the knowledge of a child of God,

No whoremonger: lover of whores, prostitutes

Nor unclean person: whose inner man is polluted

Nor covetous man, who is an idolater

Has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Let no man deceive you with vain, empty words, God’s wrath comes upon the children of disobedience because of these things. Be not partakers with them.  Literally, Stop being partakers with them.

Love Walker

We as followers and children of God must be different enough in our walk, in our love to make a difference in this lost world.

We are children of God. Be like Him. You should be a supernatural wonder in a world of supermundane sin.  Yet too many times we lose sight of who we are and see only what the world offers.

Peter Marshall describes 20th century Christians in these words: "They are like deep-sea divers encased in suits designed for many fathoms deep, marching bravely forth to pull plugs out of bathtubs."

We are the children of God and we know what is right and what is wrong.  We know that we need to live our life under the banner of truth.  That we need to see that no excuse for worldliness, will stand one day before God.  That our children are watching us, our lost family, friends and neigbors are watching us. We need to wake up to the reality of a world that is dying and going to hell and it doesn’t know the love that you and I know.  We need to realize that the day is fading and night is fast approaching.  We need to see ourselves as the children of God sent forth into this world to change it by the love of Jesus.

Illustration:

Leslie Flynn in Dare to Care Like Jesus tells the following story: "A Christian baroness, living in the highlands of Nairobi, Kenya, told of a young national who was employed as her houseboy. After three months he asked the baroness to give him a letter of reference to a friendly sheik some miles away. The baroness, not wishing the houseboy to leave just when he had learned the routine of the household, offered to increase his pay. The lad replied that he was not leaving for higher pay. Rather, he had decided he would become either a Christian or a Mohammedan. This was why he had come to work for the baroness for three months. He had wished to see how Christians acted. Now he wanted to work for three months for the sheik to observe the ways of the Mohammedans. Then he would decide which way of life he would follow. The baroness was stunned as she recalled her many blemishes in her dealings with the houseboy. She could only exclaim, 'Why didn't you tell me at the beginning!'

Transition: Paul next goes to our outer walk of light

Walk In Light – Ephesians 5:8-14

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

Showing God’s Light

Walk as Children of light, Paul says, take action, live, conduct your life in such a matter that you make a positive, holy, righteous difference, just be the way you live.

He is telling us still to be like our Father. God is light.  Jesus said, "I am the light of the world."  We also should be light as He is light.

The Paul lists Four Elements of Walking In The Light.

vs. 9 Light walkers bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

 All goodness, All righteousness, and All truth.

Vs. 10 Light walkers prove what is acceptable, (what is pleasing) to God.

Vs. 11 Light walkers have no fellowship with but rather reprove unfruitful works of darkness, this the contrast with the fruit of the Spirit.

Vs. 14 Light walkers awake the dead by bringing them to Christ. Wow, isn’t that a supernatural call to duty? As you walk in light you are awaking the dead by showing them Jesus! We as Children of God should go out into the dark cemeteries of sin and set them alight by just walking in.

 Light Walkers

You these things by being who we are, Children of God, walkers in Christ, walkers in love, walkers in light.

You remember the hero of Star Wars, Luke Skywalker. I always thought at was such a cool name, Skywalker, but you have a better one you for are and I are Light walkers. So next time you introduce yourself you have my permission to say, “Hello there, I’m Kris Lightwalker.” You know people are going to be impressed! Of course, if you have to tell people who you are supposed to be as a Christian, somethings not working in your walk. They should just know you are Chuck Lightwalker, LeeOra Lightwalker, Jason Lightwalker.

Isn’t this what Christ said in Matthew 5:14  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Illustration: Daniel Webster’s Responsibility to God

At one time, Daniel Webster was considered the greatest of all living Americans. He was outstanding as a statesman, lawyer, orator, scholar, intellectual and political leader. Twenty-five of the nation’s leaders attended a select banquet in his honor.  One man at the banquet asked Mr. Webster, "Sir, what is the greatest thought that ever entered your mind?" Without hesitation, Webster replied, "The greatest thought that ever entered my mind was the thought of my responsibility to God." As he spoke, he wept, excused himself from the banquet, and went outside to get control of his emotions.

If that story is true then I believe Daniel Webster probably was one of the greatest of all Americans at that time, not because of his intellect but because he understood how he was meant to walk as a follower of God.

 Transition: Paul’s final walk is in vss. 15-20

Walk In Wisdom – Ephesians 5:15-20

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  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;

Showing God’s Wisdom

See then, in light of what has been said, walk circumspectly, walk wisely. Walk in Wisdom. And again Paul list the elements of our walk, our living that would mark it as a path of wisdom. The Wisdom Walkway is marked by…

Vs. 16  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Buying up time, making use of every opportunity by use it twice once here on earth during our life and then in eternity when we receive the reward for how we literally spent our time.

Vs. 17  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. You cannot be a wisdom walker unless you know where God wants you walk and what He wants you to do. You can’t be a wisdom walker unless you know the Lord’s will and that is found in and only in, God’s word. If you are wise you will know this book.

Vs. 18  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. Now here is some real wisdom, don’t be a drunk. Paul uses wine here because it was the most common intoxicant of his time, but you can put anything here that would fill and control you. The follower of God, the child of God, the wisdom walker knows that they should only be controlled and filled by the Holy Spirit. Anything else makes us look and walk like fools.

Vs. 19  Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. I don’t know if Paul was a musician, but he sure understand the connection between God and us through music. He says if you are wise then sing and worship through, three types of music, 1. Psalms, 2 Hymns 3 Spiritual Songs. This probably means that the worship music of the church was changing because it had moved past just the praise songs of Israel found in the book of Psalm. Psalms were usually songs set to stringed instruments, but now Paul also mentions hymns, which meant a song of celebration, and spiritual songs, which speaks of songs that reflected the Christians new life.

Finally in vs. 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wisdom walkers are thanks givers. Truly wise people, know how much they owe to their Lord and Savior and they give thanks always, for all things in His name. In all ways and for all things means you are perpetually thankful.

Wisdom Walker

There are many things in this overloaded, over saturated world of information that tries to convince us what is wise. We have become so inundated with facts, figures and forms that it has become almost impossible to sift through it all and find real wisdom. It truth it was always that way, the world has always tried to drown us in trivia in order to hide from us the truth.

Aren’t you glad God has cut through all that by giving us His Word, the revelation of what is truth and where wisdom may be found?

This is where we come to understand about redeeming time and the eternity that is coming. Here is where we see the will of the Lord. On these pages is where we realize the power and control of God’s Holy Spirit in us. In these chapter and verses is where we learn to praise God and to know why He is worthy of that praise and of our thanks, in all ways and at all times for all things.

Paul speaking to the Corinthians, a city that was renowned for its places of learning, said this in 1 Corinthians 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God...

Later in 1 Corinthians 4:10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ …

The world can’t understand this wisdom, can’t see it as anything but foolishness, but the world thinks lust is love and darkness is light. You as a child of God have found real love, you have seen pure light and you now walk in Christ in Wisdom.

Conclusion:

 What an awesome calling we have been given

Paul began this section of Ephesians by telling us “Walk worthy of the vocation by which you have been called.”

That is quite a walk when you consider what you have been called to. You been called to salvation, called to grow, called to unity, called to maturity, called to a new man every day, called to be, what you are, children of God, followers, disciples, imitators of our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ.

It is a walk that will fill a lifetime and it begins again with the very next step I take and I must determine with each step that I will walk this path in love and light and wisdom as the child of God that I am.

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Seven Stages of Self: Examine Yourself In Your Relationship To God

The Seven Stages of Self

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Introduction:

The Bible often tell us to examine and judge ourselves, to use our insight and experience to see who we are and where we are in relationship to God and even to ourselves. Below are some of these admonitions.

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? - 2 Corinthians 13:5 

I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. - Psalms 119:59

Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. - Lamentations 3:40

Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. - Ezekeil 18:28

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. - Haggai 1:7

For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. – 1 Corinthians 11:31

This study is meant to help us along the path of knowing ourselves by giving 7 stages of self by which we can gauge the person we are in light of God’s Word.

Self-Deception

Expressed:  I am not to blame. I am not at fault and I do not need to change who or what I am. I need no one to save me because I am not lost.

Exhibited:  This is the natural state of man before he is convicted of sin and confronted by the Holy Spirit. Left to themselves, this person will become bitter, hateful and have no hope in this world or in the world to come. Self-deception can often become self-hatred and self-destructive.

Exhortation: Romans 3:10-18

What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways:  And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Example: Adam Genesis 3:11-12

And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

Self-Gratification

Expressed:  I don’t care whose fault it is. I am willing to change but only if I get what I want. I can care for others but only if they meet my needs.

Exhibited: This is the selfish self. In this state only today is important, while everything about this person is centerd on themselves. There is little or no real love for others. This state is reached when we move from self-hating to self-loving without the insight of God’s Word or the leadership of the Holy Spirit. In the end there is no true knowledge of what love is.

Exhortatation: 2 Titus 3:1-7  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth

 

Example: Samson

Judges 14:1-3 And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.

Self-Acknowledgment

Expressed: I am responsible for my own life and circumstances. I now realize that I can truly change but only through Christ in my life.

Exhibited: Here we understand  and accept blame, guilt and sin but realize that with repentance there is hope in Jesus Christ. This person has sees themselves as lacking what is necessary for salvation, growth and happiness. They reach outside themselves to God, have been saved and everything about them has the potential for lasting, eternal change.

Exhortation:

Romans 10: 8-13 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Example: Jacob

Genesis 32:9-12, 24-26 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.  And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

Self-Esteem

Expressed: I know what I was but Jesus died for me and my past will not hinder my future. My Father loves me, I have been forgiven and my sins have been forgotten. I am not worthless, or a failure for God has redeemed me.

Exhibited:  This is the Child of God looking with hope and expectation to the future with Jesus as their Savior. This true self-esteem comes to us when we realize I am not worthless in the eyes of God for Jesus gave his life for me.  I have been bought with the priceless gift of God’s own son.

Exhortation: Romans 6:1-11

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Example: Zacheus

Luke 19: 8-10 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Self-Confidence

Expressed: Through Christ I am changing and growing everyday. My Spirit led, Bible directed choices will define my life, protect my family and bless me today and will also bring God’s reward in eternity.

Exhibited:  This saved sinner, has faith and confidence in Christ and through Christ in themself. They look at the future as a positive thing filled with hope. Self-confidence is confidence in the person I am now in Christ.  It is achieved as I walk with Christ in the experiences of life and learn to trust Him more and more.

Exhortation: 2 Tim. 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Example: Peter & John

Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

Act 4: 13  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Self-Empowered

Expressed: I am responsible to God and in the future will be everything He wills me to be.

Exhibited: This person knows themself in Christ and in their duty toward Him. They have begun to see the power of Christ and hear the call of Christ in their life. The peson who is empowered finds great power through an intimate relationship with Christ and it is seen as they serve Him.

Exhortation: Philip. 4:11-13

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Example: Timothy

2Timothy 1:6 6-8 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

Self-Sacrificed

Expressed: I have given myself completely to God and all I am, all I will ever be is completely in His hands. 

Exhibited: This is the believer who has come to a place of sacrifice through the denial of self. They desire God to shape them for His service, no matter the cost. The self-sacrificed person has come to a place of absoulute, unconditional surrender. It is here at the point of their greatest surrender, that the greatest victory is realized.

Exhortation: Romans 12:1-2

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

Example: Paul - 2 Timothy 4: 6-8

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 

Conclusion

The encouragement to examine ourselves can’t be fully carried unless we also seek examination outside our own perceptions. Many times we can be blind to the most glaring weaknesses, faults and failures. Part of this growing of ourseleves in relationship to God is to also give ourselves to his searching of our lives. No one knows us better and can bring about the changes we need better than the one who created us.

David knew this and prayed in Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

If we are to move grow from stage to stage, closer and closer to God and the happiness of a fulfilled life, then David’s prayer must also be our own. “Search me, O God.”

 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Christ and The Church 3: Christ In Our Walk - Ephesians 4

 Christ and The Church 3: Christ In Our Walk

Text Ephesians 4

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Review: Chapter One

Chapter One - We are In Christ

 Location in Christ - Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Sanctification in Christ - Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 

Vocation in Christ - Ephesians 1:11-12  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:  That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Illumination in Christ - Ephesians 1:17-19  That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.

Ephesians 2 – Salvation In Christ

Our Past: Dead in Sin - Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;  

Our Present: Seated in Heavenly Places - Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Our Future: Showing the Riches of His Mercy - Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 3 – Grow In Christ

Passion - 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

Prayer - 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Power - 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us

 

Introduction: Quick Thinking Youth Ministry

There is a story about a new youth minister in a church.  A church member asked him if she could get a copy of the Old Testament but not the New Testament. 

“I already have a New Testament.  I only want the Old.” Not knowing what to do, he excused himself to ask the pastor.

"Pastor, some nut out there wants to get half the Bible..." he began, and, suddenly realizing that the member had entered the office behind him, continued, " ...  and this lovely lady would like to get the other half if it’s the Old Testament."

Thinking he could help the youth minister to think before he spoke instead of using his wit to try and avoid the foot in his mouth, the pastor asked him  "Where are you from?" asked the pastor.

"Fessairton, Pennsylvania," replied the youth minister, "home of ugly women and great hockey teams."

"Really, said the pastor, “Well what would you say if I told you my WIFE is from Fessairton.”

Without skipping a beat, the youth pastor asked, "Well, I would ask you, what hockey team was she on?"

As we’ve read and preached through Ephesians, we have moved with Paul and the Holy Spirit from our Position in Christ, to our Purpose in Christ, to Passion and Power in Christ. Now with chapter 4 we’ve moved in to the practice of being in Christ. As will all of Paul’s letters, after establishing the doctrinal he moves to the practical. Knowing becomes doing. Understanding brings us to action.

Paul describes this practice, this action of our life as a walk, in fact as several walks all the way from chapter 4 to 5. A "walk" is a visible lifestyle or action.   

The Walks of Ephesians

Walk In Unity 4:1-6

Walk in Maturity 4:7-16

Walk In Newness 4:17-32

Walk In Love  5:1-7

Walk In Light  5:8-14

Walk In Wisdom  5:15-21

You can see this transition from the doctrinal to the practical as he begins in 4:1 with the word “therefore.”

 Christ In Our Walk, Unity - Ephesians 4:1-6

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

The Rule of One

Paul exhorts the Ephesians to act, to walk, in keeping with the calling they have received. The word vocation is translated 10 times as calling and this once as vocation. It is half of the word ekklesia which is the compound word used for church in the Greek NT. It means Called Out.

Paul says we are called by God. First called to salvation but with that call to salvation is also a call to vocation. We are called to be and act like the Children of God that we are. We are called to be Christians, ones like Christ in all that means and as Paul especially focuses on the church, he tells us that we are called to walk in unity.

In order to walk in unity requires Christ like attributes of lowliness, gentleness and long-suffering.  These give us the ability to “forebear” one another, to put up with the faults, failures and foibles of our brother and sisters in our local body. (And if some of you don’t think you have foibles, well you need to look that word up because believe you me, we got foibles all up in this place.) Having these qualities then, Paul says, Endeavor, not just try but try hard and keep trying, to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The bond of peace means we are tied together, bound together with the cords of peace. First bound to God but then also tied together with one another.

Then Paul gives us the example, the goal we are to be walking toward in 4-6, “  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;  One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit says, there is only one faith and one baptism. Their one faith was the truth they believed, and the one baptism was the ordinance of the church that showed that faith publicly and the brought them into that local church and submitted them to the authority of that local church. It was a symbol now of their unity to that body.

This is why the church should be united because we are all under the rule of one. As there is unity in one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, over us all, there should be unity in us all.

One Rule to Bind Them

Baseball manager, Casey Stengel used to say, "It's easy to get good players. Gettin' em to play together, that's the hard part." He might have been pastor Casey Stengel and saying it about his church.

If Calvary Baptist church is ever to accomplish the mission God had given us, we must be united pulling together, praying together, struggling and sacrificing together.  Without that kind of unity, not only will we not succeed we won’t even survive.

Exhortations to unity: It is so important to the life of a church that Paul constantly reminds the churches in his letters, you need to be united, you need to be one body.

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Philippians 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

Thomas Carlyle said, "Ten men banded together in love and unity can do what ten thousand separately would fail to do." We don’t need a church with a thousand members to fulfill Jesus commission, we just need the members we have united by the rule of one, walking in unity.

Illustration: Pulling the plow

Back in 1957 the First Brethren Church of Sarasota, Florida had a ground-breaking service. Instead of the usual shovels for special people to use in digging, they brought an old one horse plow. Recalling the words of Jesus, "Take my yoke upon you," they borrowed an old yoke and two stalwart laymen were hitched up. But the two were unable to pull the plow. Then the entire Building Committee of the congregation were put on the rope, but even then, the plow did not move. Other church officers were added, and the Sunday school officers and teachers, but still the plow did not move. Finally, every member of the congregation who was present each took a hold of the rope. With every member pulling together, the plow moved, the ground was broken.

If we are going to carry out the Lord’s work in Athens, Texas we must do it together there is no other way for God’s people in the Lord’s church to walk but in unity.

Transition:

Next in vs. 7 -15 Paul urges the church to walk in maturity.

 

Christ In Our Walk, Maturity Eph 4:7-16

7  But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.8  Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.9  (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?10  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Gifts To Grow

Paul points out that Christ gave various gifts to the church. These gifts are different from those in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, where the gifts are to individuals for the work of the church. Here they are offices giving to the church as a body for the purpose of maturing the church.

He says the gifts were, apostles; prophets; evangelists; pastors and teachers;

These were given that the church would edify (build up) itself in love.

Translated from the Greek work oikodome {oy-kod-om-ay'} (the act of) building, building up promoting another's growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, holiness.

Notice the path this walk must take.

First the gifts were given by Christ to the Church. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”

Then we are told why, or the purpose of these gifts was for the maturing of the members that they might to the work of the ministry that that work might build up the body of Christ.  Look at vs 12 “ For (this purpose) the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Only after this begins can we come to where this path is leading, vs13 – 16; “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

What is the end product of growing as a church? Its not numbers, or a building, or money or a fancy pastor, or a great music ministry. The mark of a mature church grown by the gifts given, and what ever joint supplies is a church that grows in the knowledge of Christ, grows in love and unity, is able to stand against false doctrine, speaks the truth in love and builds itself up in love.

Making Maturity

We all want to be a church that mature church, filled with perfected saints and each of us supplying that which will builds our church and one another up in love but it won’t happen unless we walk along the path that Paul just laid out for us.

The church Jesus built was never meant to be a church run by a professional staff with an audience of onlookers.  Christianity was never meant to be a spectator sport. Or a business administered by proxies. Once that happens and it happens all the time,  then the real church, the Church Jesus left upon this earth to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth, grinds to a halt and the Firs Church of Passive Non-Involvement begins.

“Let the preacher and song leader do it, that’s what we pay them for.” In some denominations its designed that way, like the Catholics, the Presbyterians and the Methodists. They don’t want people in the pew messing things up and so they run your church for you, sometimes all the way from Rome and I’m not talking Rome, Texas. The church is meant to be the vanguard, the front line of the battle for the souls of men and that means everyone of us needs to be matured by the church, in the church for the work of the church.

Story of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

Once upon a time there were four church members named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. But Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it. But Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about it, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, and Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody and Nobody did the job that Anybody could have done in the first place.

Illustration: Parable of the Orange Tree

I dreamed I drove on a Florida road; still and straight and empty.  On either side were groves of orange trees, so that as I turned to look at them from time to time, line after line of trees stretched back endlessly from the road -their boughs heavy with round orange fruit.  This was harvest time.  My wonder grew as the miles slipped by.  How could the harvest be gathered?

    Suddenly I realized that for all the hours I had driven (and this was how I knew I must be dreaming) I had seen no other person.  I was alone in a forest of orange trees.

    The sun had long passed its zenith, and the shadows were lengthening when, without any warning, I turned a corner of the road to see a notice, Leaving NEGLECTED COUNTY -Entering HOME COUNTY.  The contrast was so startling that I scarcely had time to take in the notice.  People by the thousands swarmed the road and crowded the sidewalks.

    Even more startling was the transformation in the orange groves.  Orange groves were still there, and orange trees in abundance; but now, far from being silent and empty, they were filled with the laughter and singing of multitudes of people.

I parked the car and mingled with the crowd.  Smart gowns, neat shoes, showy hats, expensive suits and starched shirts, everyone seemed so fresh, and poised, and happy.

    Is it a holiday?  I asked a well-dressed woman with whom I fell in step.     You're a stranger, aren't you?  she said, This is Orange Day.”

    She must have seen a puzzled look on my face, for she went on.  It is so good to turn aside from one's labors and pick oranges one day of the week.

But don't you pick oranges every day?  I asked her.

One may pick oranges at any time, she said.  We should always be ready to pick oranges, but Orange Day is the day that we devote especially to orange picking.

I left her and made my way further into the trees.  By and by I noticed around one of the orange trees seats had been arranged, rising upward in tiers from the ground.  The seats were almost full but, as I approached the group, a smiling well-dressed gentlemen shook my hand and conducted me to a seat.

There, around the foot of the orange tree, I could see a number of people.  One of them was addressing all the people on the seats and, just as I got to my seat, everyone rose to his feet and began to sing.  The man next to me shared with me his songbook.  It was called Songs of the Orange Groves.

    They sang for some time, and the song leader waved his arms with a strange and frenzied abandon, exhorting the people in the intervals between the songs to sing more loudly.

    I grew steadily more puzzled. When do we start to pick oranges?  I asked the man who had loaned me his book.

“It's not long now, he told me. We like to get everyone warmed up first. Besides, we want to make the oranges feel at home.”

After a while a rather fat man took over from the song leader and, after reading two sentences from his well-thumbed copy of the Orange Picker's Manual, began to make a speech.  I wasn't clear whether he was addressing the people or the oranges.

I glanced behind me and saw a number of groups of people similar to our own group gathering around an occasional tree and being addressed by other fat men. 

   “Which trees do we pick from?”  I asked the man beside me.  He did not seem to understand so I pointed to the trees round about.

 “This is our tree, he said, pointing to the one we were gathered around.”

    “But there are too many of us to pick from just one tree, I protested.  Why, there are more people than oranges!”

    “But we don't pick oranges, the man explained.  We haven't been called.  That's the Pastor Orange Picker's job.  We're here to support him.  Besides we haven't been to college.  You need to know how an orange thinks before you can pick it successfully, orange psychology, you know.  Most of these folk here, he went on, pointing to the congregation, have never been to Manual school.

    “I see, I murmured.”  I had no idea that picking oranges was so difficult. The fat man at the front was still making his speech.  His face was red, and he appeared to be indignant about something, but a moment later a glow came on his face.

 “But we are not forsaken, he said.  We have much to be thankful for, we are now completely debt free from the money we owed on the new cushion covers that grace the seats you now sit on.

    “Isn't it wonderful?  the man next to me murmured.”  I made no reply.  I felt that something must be profoundly wrong somewhere.  All this seemed to be a very roundabout way of picking oranges.

    The fat man was reaching a climax in his speech.  The atmosphere seemed tense.  Then with a very dramatic gesture he reached two of the oranges, plucked them from the branch, and placed them in the basket at his feet.  The applause was deafening.

 “Do we start on the picking now?”  I asked.

    “What in the world do you think we're doing?  he hissed.  What do you suppose this tremendous effort has been made for?  There's more orange-picking talent in this group than in the rest of Home County.  Thousands of dollars have been spent on the tree you're looking at.”

    I apologized quickly.  “I wasn't being critical, I said.  And I'm sure the fat man must be a very good orange picker, but surely the rest of us could try.  After all, there are so many oranges that need picking.  We've all got a pair of hands, and we could read the Manual.”

    “When you've been in the business as long as I have, you'll realize that it's not as simple as that, he replied.  There isn't time, for one thing.  We have our work to do, our families to care for, and our homes to look after.  We...

 But I wasn't listening.  Light was beginning to break on me.  Whatever these people were, they were not orange pickers. Orange picking was just a form of entertainment for their weekends.

The moral of the story is that I don’t want to be the fat man getting red in the face talking about seat cushions and every single one of us should be out there picking oranges! The mature church is supplied by every joint, every member of the body.

Transition:

Paul has one more walk that we are going to look at this morning, Walk in the Newness of Jesus Christ.

Christ In Our Walk, Newness - Ephesians 4:17-24

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20  But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;24  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

New Walk For New Minds

Notice the characteristics of the old man.

17 That walk in the vanity, the folly the emptiness,  of their mind.

18 Their understanding, moral insight, reasoning, is darkened

18 They are alienated, separated from the life, the blessings of God

18 They are ignorant, unable and unwilling to know God.

18 there is a blindness of their heart:

19 They are past feeling, made hard and callous

19 They are given unto lasciviousness, sensuality, the pleasure for the senses

19 They work all uncleanness, immorality, depravity, with greediness, serving self and no others. 

But, Paul says, you have not so learned Christ. That is not you as the body of Christ, that is not you as mature, growing members of the Lord’s church.

Paul says in Vs 21 If ye have learned Christ, if you have heard him and been taught by him because the truth is in Jesus. Christ is the embodiment of all Truth.

Vs. 22 Because you have learned and been taught the truth, 22-24, 22  That ye put off (means to strip off as one removes old dirty clothes) concerning the former conversation (the old way of life)  the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

The idea here is that every day we strip off the old person we were and we put on the new person we are in Christ.

And Paul gives us very specific examples of those old life rags we should be stripping off.

Ephesians 4:25-32 25  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27  Neither give place to the devil. 28  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

In chapter 2 Paul said we were, in the past Dead Men walking but now he is telling us that we are new so we should be …

Live Men Walking

Each day, we must be conscious of doing what Paul is exhorting here in these last verses.

Remember who Christ is and who you are in Christ, remember what you have learned of Christ and in Christ. Remember Christ is the truth.

We must make a conscious decision and commitment to strip away the shreds of the old man and his lingering lifestyle, and with that stripping away, be renewed. You must choose to put on the new man, the new woman, the new child.  This is not and cannot be a passive, automatic, non-action but it must be the deliberate, conscious choice of someone who knows Christ, has been born again and desires to face this day and every other day as a new creature in Christ. Be renewed!

Scripture: 1Corinthans 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

That is true the day you were saved, and it should be true every day we walk as children of God, taught by Christ.

Conclusion:

He Died Climbing

High in the Alps is a monument raised in honor of a faithful guide who perished while ascending a peak to rescue a stranded tourist. Inscribed on that memorial stone are these words: HE DIED CLIMBING.

Wouldn’t it be fitting if that could be inscribed on our memorial at the end of our life.  He died climbing. She died climbing.  

Every day to us as Christians is new, every day should start with the old stripped away and the power of the new put on. We should just keep climbing in our walk with Christ.