Ephesians– overview of 3:1-9; tapping into the power of God, part 20.
Thursday November 21, 2019
Is there any bounty, hopefulness, goodness, and real wealth to human life? When man’s eyes are opened to the things freely given him by God.
1Co 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God,
1Co 2:13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual [thoughts] with spiritual [words].
Truth carries with it always a self-evidencing power. The possessor of truth always knows he has it because truth bears witness of itself and produces its unique fruit.
1Co 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
1Co 2:15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man.
“It is quite probable that if you act as your Master did, you will be as ill off in this world as He was.” [Dods]
“But is that any reason why you should at once call Him your Master and refuse to obey His precepts and follow His example? One thing is certain: that so long as men honestly accepted Christ’s words in their plain meaning, and followed Him in His own way, making light of worldly loss, Christianity was believed in and rapidly extended. It was seen to be a new moral power among men, and was welcomed as such until a large part of the world received it; but its victory was its defeat. Once it became the fashion, once it became popular, the heart of it was eaten out. As soon as it became a religion without hardship, it became a religion without vitality.” [Dods]
One might interpret those last lines as a call to asceticism, but it is not. It is the same call that we have seen the last few lessons when Paul called us to be imitators of him. Like in Corinth, so in the world, especially the western world, Christianity became the fashion, and what was dropped from it was the call to holiness, the call to “have this mind in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,” “to consider one another as more important than yourselves,” “to lay down your lives for one another,” to give sacrificially, “to consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,” to wash one another’s feet, to be the greatest by being the servant of all, and onward in this vein of love. For that life is one that has very often in it, hardships. Have you noticed that the NT never tells us to press any outward restraint on the wrong-doer, but instead calls us to meekness, unselfishness, unworldliness as we suffer wrong?
From what we are told, Christianity is booming in China and Iran, nations where the persecution of Christianity removed all the churches that were filled with fashionable Christianity. Only the Christianity of holiness and hardship survived, went underground, suffered even more, and the light of Christ shined even more. There are parts to this that are hard to understand, but the reality of it is unmistakable.
Joyous service of God is the clearest evidence of a man drawn into God’s love.
God means our attachment to Him should be real and permanent. He means that we should be His, not only because we are His creatures or because He has a clear right to our service as the source of our life; but He means that our hearts should be His, drawn into a relationship with Him because of His love for us. He didn’t purchase us like the rich purchase things in this world without sacrifice or profound interest, but with a price that was minted and issued by love, which carries in it the token and pledge of love, and which therefore wins us wholly.
This is a thought that the heart can scarcely endure, that it is loved by God, that it has been counted so precious in God’s sight that divine love and sacrifice should have been spent on its restoration.
The members of Christ’s church, His body, are those upon whom the burden falls of giving prevalence to Christ’s principles of life.
The gospel doesn’t appeal to human wisdom.
The truth does not mix with nor compliment any human passion, neither in the brothel, the bar, the sports arena, or the university or seminary.
Sever yourself determinedly from all that alienates you from Christ. The old life and the new should not run parallel with one another so that you can pass from one to the other. They are not side by side, but end to end; the one all preceding the other, the one ceasing and terminating where the other begins.
Men desire that which the world considers respectable and has position and standing in the world, and they consider Christianity to be an opiate for the lower strata of society. They consider themselves too wise and clever for something as foolish as Jesus sacrificing His life for the salvation of others.
1Co 1:18 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1Co 1:19 For it is written [Isa 29:14],
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside."
1Co 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
1Co 1:21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God [Plato’s philosophy didn’t lead anyone to God], God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
Plato philosophizes, and a few souls seem for a moment to see things more clearly; Peter preaches, and three thousand souls spring to life.
Paul summons the seeker of God away from the high and elevating speculations of Plato down to the man nailed to a murderer’s cross.
Ironically, the Jews witnessing the crucifixion, of whom Paul said “the Jews require a sign,” said that if He was the Son of God that He would come down from the cross. They didn’t know that proof of His deity was shown by His remaining on it.
Many attitudes in life are thought by the many to be right. Much that is bad is not seen as such until brought into the light of Christ’s spirit; the spiteful, vindictive, selfish, greedy feelings that are expected in society. All things are to be seen in the light of Christ’s spirit and the leaven is to be all put away, cleaned out.
1Co 1:22 For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom;
1Co 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness,
1Co 1:24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
The power of God – sympathy, compassion, sacrifice for others (love).
The power of God that is required to draw men to Himself is not power to move mountains, but power to sympathize, to make men’s sorrows His own, to sacrifice self, to give all for the needs of His creatures. Power is in giving not getting. Fallen man is ever so occupied with what he is getting today or will get tomorrow or has gotten yesterday, but it is better to give than to receive. Power is in giving, and God supplies seed to the sower.
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.
Power is in giving, not getting. Give your life to others and God will supply the seeds that bear divine fruit in that life.
2Co 9:10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;
2Co 9:11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality
Think of the Pharisees who were masters of disguise. Remember the Pharisee (Luk 18:9-14) who thanked God he was “the real thing” and condemned the poor sinner? He was ugly when compared with reality. Jesus described them as white-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones. Yet, the Pharisees said many right things, and preached much that was true. They believed in God, they believed the scriptures were divine and authoritative, and they believed in the resurrection of the dead. They condemned adultery, cheating, lying and stealing. They were very concerned that the law of God be central in their thoughts and actions. Yet, despite these good things in their possession, they did not have the approval of God. They handled, discussed and debated truth, and yet their lives produced ugliness. Somehow their daily diet of doctrine did not result in love, joy, peace, and longsuffering. We could say a lot about them, but what we can say for sure is that they had no sacrificial love and they loved receiving far more than giving.
The goal of instruction is love, 1Ti 1:5.
1Ti 1:3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,
1Ti 1:4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.
1Ti 1:5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Two Christians who love like God does would have far more in common doctrinally than not in common.
1Ti 1:6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,
1Ti 1:7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.