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Ephesians– overview of 3:1-9; The Secret of the Ages, part 14 (Overcoming sin and suffering).

length: 64:32 - taught on Aug, 20 2019
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Class Outline:

Tuesday August 20, 2019


1TI 6:3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,


“godliness” - eusebeia = to be well-devoted. Truths and actions that are well-pleasing to God.


1TI 6:4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions,


1TI 6:5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.


1TI 6:6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.


Contentment - to be happy with what God has given.


Meritocracy - the hard work of the elite to maintain their wealth, status, and power.


As opposed to aristocracy, in which a person was born into wealth and leisure, meritocracy is when a person is born into wealth and the expectations and hard work to rise to the same status. For instance, elite colleges enroll more people from the top 1% than they do from the bottom 60%. The hard-working outsider does not have the same opportunity. That might not be such a bad thing.


The elite of our nation are protecting themselves and their children. However, to maintain what they have, they have to work very hard.


Rich parents in major cities now commonly apply to 10 kindergartens, running a gauntlet of essays, appraisals, and interviews - all designed to evaluate 4-year-olds. This is repeated in middle-schools and high-schools while the young elites are filled with ambition, hope, and worry.


Yet, a job in a major bank, law firm, finance company, upper management in a major corporation, or in medicine requires admission into a major university, in which less than 10% of the applicants are admitted. Just a few decades ago, about 30% of applicants were admitted to elite universities and now it is less than 10%. In 1995 the University of Chicago admitted 71% of its applicants and in 2019 it admitted 6%.


If the youngsters can get past this gauntlet, things don’t ease up in the workplace.


This life of the elite in America all depends on a person extracting value from their human capital - they must give of their time, talent, money, and energy. A major law firm stated that it was not unreasonable to work 72 hours a week. Banker’s hours, which used to refer to the 10-3 when the doors of the bank were open, which then evolved into the 9-5, is now called the “banker 9-5” which is 9am to 5am the next day. Amazon’s “leadership principles” states that when you hit the wall, don’t stop, climb it. The capacity to bear these hours has become the way of the elite in our nation. They days of the leisure, rich, aristocrat jet-setting and yachting around the world is a thing of the past.  


1TI 6:7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.


1TI 6:8 And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.


1TI 6:9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.


1TI 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.


Paul had either witnessed himself or heard on reliable accounts that Christians in the first generation of the church had left their former dedication to the church and the word of God for the pursuit of wealth.


This is another thing that we have to repent from - the love of money. Christians are not confined to poverty. Being made children of God and citizens of heaven they have lost all claims on earthly materialism.


MAT 13:22 “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”


MAT 19:21 Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 


MAT 19:22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.


Disappointed in Jesus’ ministry, discouraged with they way it had turned, Judas Iscariot decided to at least get something for himself. This is the pinnacle example of choosing the earth over the Son of God.


MAT 26:14 Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests,


MAT 26:15 and said, "What are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to you?" And they weighed out to him thirty pieces of silver.


MAT 26:16 And from then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Him.


The American meritocracy has molded the children of the elite to live a life where their very selves are extracted as human capital in order to be at work during the great majority of their waking lives, selling to the highest bidder their time, talent, money, and energy.    But does not God tell us that life is all about laying down your life?


What is the one difference between the expenditure of human capital in the elite system and in God’s system? They do it for themselves while we do it for others.


Our lives are full and rewarding, while their lives are tiresome, unrewarding, unfun, and have no real, positive impact for good upon any others, not even their spouses, children, families.


Our Lord, during His years on this earth, and even during the three years of His public ministry, did not ever market Himself. He did not join the Sanhedrin or claim an earthly throne or office. He did not work up through the ranks of Jewish political society.


MAT 12:15 But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed Him, and He healed them all,


MAT 12:16 and warned them not to make Him known,


We might conclude that His motivation was avoiding the plans of the Pharisees for killing Him, but that was not it at all.


MAT 12:17 in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, might be fulfilled, saying,


MAT 12:18 "Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen;

My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased;

I will put My Spirit upon Him,

And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.


MAT 12:19 "He will not quarrel, nor cry out;

Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.


MAT 12:20 "A battered reed He will not break off,

And a smoldering wick He will not put out,

Until He leads justice to victory.


MAT 12:21 "And in His name the Gentiles will hope."


The battered reed is the weak man who can barely support himself. The smoldering wick in the spent man who seems close to death. They will not fall or go out, but in fact they will find hope.


Oddly, the meritocrat, as well as many others, are battered reeds who are trying desperately to establish their own support, and smoldering wicks trying to breathe animation into their fading lives.


Jesus’ greatest impact was upon those who were close to Him. His disciples, His close followers became His family, and it is they that He influenced the most. He didn’t set Himself on a world stage. And, in the great plan of God, the ones that He influenced would influence others who would carry that same gospel to others still and soon the whole earth would be full of it.


This is why I started with the meritocrat. He or she seeks a wide influence, but only so as it will bring wealth and power and standing to themselves. While selling their lives for it, they neglect their spouses, children, and family. God purposely gave us only 24 hours in a day, making a 70 hour work week incompatible with intimate relationships.


God has zero purposes that hurt the well-being of people. His judgments are only upon those who have rejected the good that He has done for them.


When the one sheep goes astray, He leaves the 99 who are safe. Nothing God does endangers one person. I mention this in response to those who see what they are doing as a benefit to some, even themselves, and those that are hurt by what they do as acceptable losses. If I can see that 99 are benefited by what I am doing while one is legitimately hurt by it, then that thing is not of God.


There is no formula for this in God’s word. We must judge it for ourselves, and no other man can be our judge concerning it, but be sure to know that God will.


[Malcolm Muggeridge] “Before finally taking off, I had a few day’s leave, which of course I spent at Whatlington with Kitty and the children. It was the only place I ever wanted to be, and the place I was constantly leaving; my heart was there, but my body was restless and nomadic. Kitty and the children were with me always, yet easily forgotten in the foolish, and often vainglorious, if not squalid, preoccupations of the moment. The saddest thing to me, in looking back on my life, has been to recall, not so much the wickedness I have been involved in, the cruel and selfish and egotistic things I have done, the hurt I have inflicted on those I loved - although all that is painful enough. What hurts most is the preference I have so often shown for what is inferior, tenth-rate, when the first-rate was there for the having. Like a man who goes shopping, and comes back with cardboard shoes when he might have had leather, with dried fruit when he might have had fresh, with processed cheese when he might have had cheddar, with paper flowers when the primroses were out. ‘Nothing is so beautiful and wonderful, nothing is so continually fresh and surprising, so full of sweet and perpetual ecstasy as the good,’ Simone Weil writes. ‘No desert is so dreary, monotonous and boring as evil.’ True; but, as she goes on to point out, with fantasy it is the other way round - ‘Fictional good is boring and flat, while fictional evil is varied and intriguing, attractive, and profound, and full of charm.’ Alas, so much of my life has been spent pursuing this fictional good, and forgetful of the other, the real good, that is ever inspiring, ever renewed, and making us, again to quote Simone Weil, ‘grow wings to overcome gravity.’”


I would interpret Weil’s “grow wings to overcome gravity” as living heavenly and Christ-like while dwelling on earth.


1TI 6:11 But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.


1TI 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.


1TI 6:13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate [“My kingdom is not of this world”],


1TI 6:14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,


1TI 6:15 which He will bring about at the proper time —  He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords;


1TI 6:16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.  


To repent, one has to surrender, submit, suffer, and die.


The Son of God became a Man who could then surrender, submit, suffer, and die in our place. His finished work enables every one of us to repent from sin and evil and to take hold of and pursue eternal life.


All of us struggle with the understanding of these things. Many doctrines are written, true to the scriptures, and compiled in categories, systematic, in order to explain what God did in Christ, what the fulfillment of that did for us, and how we are to live with those things. We need those doctrines; they are our map. We couldn’t possibly get anywhere with God if we didn’t have the doctrines written, taught, and understood. But, like all the objects in the Tabernacle that taught of God, so the doctrines teach us about God and His purposes, but they are not themselves God.


Doctrines are explanations of the journey, which is why we find some of them need some adjustment when we are farther along on the journey. The journey is Christ Himself, who goes with us, for He alone knows the way.


If the things that God has done are beyond what we ask or think, then we must understand that the limits of human language will struggle to explain them fully. Yet, God uses human language to direct us.


God tells us to go ‘there’ but leaves off the detailed explanation of what ‘there’ will be like. He wants you to see it for yourself.


I suppose it is sort of like describing a city to someone who hasn’t seen it but is traveling there today and will see it for themselves tomorrow. I don’t go into a great amount of detail. The description pales in comparison to the actual seeing.


1CO 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,


1CO 13:5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,


1CO 13:6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;


1CO 13:7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


1CO 13:8 Love never fails;


Is the description enough?


I often find that I don’t want to be patient, kind, bear all things, endure all things. I often find that I am strongly tempted to be jealous, brag, be prideful, act badly, and seek for myself. Yet, if I am not these things, I will not really know God’s love.



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