Ephesians 4:7-16; Wisdom makes us able to serve with our gifts.
Sunday August 1,2021
Wisdom literature, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job are designed to help us cope wisely with our day-to-day lives.
They apply to the details of our character that can fluctuate day to day. One might look at their life over a period of years and see trends, like love, joy, and peace; and these are deep seated virtues. But, of course, that person didn’t love or experience peace every day in that time period. Wisdom literature gets to what we’re supposed to be and how we are in the daily tasks that life makes necessary: sexuality, friendship, marriage, work, money, etc. The ethical way of these is found in Proverbs. The help we need when life gets very confusing and perplexing is in Ecclesiastes and Job.
Our main subject pertains to the gifts that Christ has given to all of us when He ascended to heaven.
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says,
"When He ascended on high,
He led captive a host of captives,
And He gave gifts to men."
If we cannot manage our day-to-day lives with Wisdom (one of Christ’s gifts to the church) then we will not be able to use His gifts to serve one another.
If my life is in shambles because I violate the law of Wisdom, then I will be useless to serve the church and the world’s people, though I possess the wonderful and eternal gifts given to me by Christ and the Holy Spirit, and the Father.
God does not tell us that we only need to serve Him and the church when things are going well and life is comfortable for us. Our entire lives we are in full time Christian service.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death works in us, but life in you.
God taught Paul that his hard and confusing times made his service ministry even better. Rather than focusing on himself, he learned to focus on Christ.
When times are perplexing, confusing, and painful to not focus on self means to have a very deep and lasting focus in Christ. In good times it is easier to fix our eyes on Christ, but our gaze is not as intense as it is when life pains us.
And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me — to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
This final division of the Book of the Servant is in two parts: the fourth Servant Song followed by a twofold invitation: 1) to sing of security, peace, and righteousness, which is followed by an 2) invitation for the whole world to come and enter into a covenanted pardon. It is wonderful.
There are many things to mention and ponder in the fourth Servant Song. One of the greatest is the frequent mention of the Servant, the only perfect and obedient Man, submitting to be a substitute sacrifice for us, for our sin.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
That He was cut off out of the land of the living,
For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due?
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.
How incredibly humbling this is. The second Song began to cast a shadow over Him …
But I said, "I have toiled in vain,
I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity;
Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the Lord,
And My reward with My God."
Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and its Holy One,
To the despised One,
To the One abhorred by the nation,
And in the third Song that shadow dominates …
I gave My back to those who strike Me,
And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard;
I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
In the fourth, that shadow invites us to walk within it and see that it is going to wound, and bruise, and violently kill the Servant because He is willing to bear the sins of others.
But He was pierced through
He was crushed
And by His scourging
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
By oppression and judgment
But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He poured out Himself to death,
Such violence done to Him, such grief upon Him who was innocent, such pain and anguish of a level none of us could know. And then … It is over!
Sing for Joy!
The result of His sin-bearing work, Zion is to shout for joy, for the sons of the desolate one (Sarah), referring to the sons who enter into the covenant [expound].
"Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child [Sarah];
Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed;
Due to the sacrifice of the Servant, God then calls Israel to enter with Him into eternal peace.
For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,"
Says the Lord who has compassion on you.
God’s fulfilment of His covenant, as He lovingly brings Israel to Himself forever, which words fill the rest of this chapter, are some of most touching I’ve ever read.
Due to the sacrifice of the Servant the whole world is invited into an everlasting covenant with God.
"Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
2 "Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.
3 "Incline your ear and come to Me.
Listen, that you may live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
According to the faithful mercies shown to David.
Throughout the Book of the Servant, Isaiah allowed the suspense to mount. Something had to happen to bring to pass God’s desire for man. Now we meet the arm of the Lord (53:1), who accomplishes peace with God (53:5; 54:10), establishes people in righteousness (53:11; 54:17), and summons the whole world to pardon (55:6-7), and to a pilgrimage home (55:12).
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.