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Meekness, Gentleness, and Unity in Christ

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
April 28, 2024 12:01 am

Meekness, Gentleness, and Unity in Christ

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 28, 2024 12:01 am

Knowing that the Lord has saved us by sheer, undeserved grace, what kind of people should Christians endeavor to be? From his expositional series in the book of Ephesians, today R.C. Sproul expounds on several qualities that should characterize the lives of God's people.

Get R.C. Sproul's Expositional Commentary on Ephesians for Your Gift of Any Amount: https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/3270/ephesians-commentary

Meet Today's Teacher:

R.C. Sproul (1939-2017) was known for his ability to winsomely and clearly communicate deep, practical truths from God's Word. He was founder of Ligonier Ministries, first minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew's Chapel, first president of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine.

Meet the Host:

Nathan W. Bingham is vice president of ministry engagement for Ligonier Ministries, executive producer and host of Renewing Your Mind, host of the Ask Ligonier podcast, and a graduate of Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne, Australia. Nathan joined Ligonier in 2012 and lives in Central Florida with his wife and four children.

Don't forget to make RenewingYourMind.org your home for daily in-depth Bible study and Christian resources.

Renewing Your Mind is a donor-supported outreach of Ligonier Ministries. Explore all of our podcasts: https://www.ligonier.org/podcasts

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A long-suffering person is a person who puts up with stuff day after day after day after day. And when Paul here speaks about long-suffering, we're to imitate God because how long-suffering has God been with you and with me? What should the Christian life look like?

What is it about the character of Christians that should be different to that of the world? Paul tells us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. And today we'll consider how Paul describes that worthy walk. Hi, I'm Nathan W Bingham and it's great to have you join us for this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind as we feature the preaching and teaching ministry of R.C.

Sproul. We're currently in Ephesians and we're spending several weeks considering portions of Ephesians chapter 3 and chapter 4. If you'd like to study this wonderful letter by the Apostle Paul line by line, you can request R.C. Sproul's new expositional commentary on Ephesians when you give a donation of any amount at renewingyourmind.org. So what does that worthy walk look like? Paul answers that in Ephesians 4 verse 2.

Here's Dr. Sproul. Paul describes what sanctification will look like, what our lives will be when we walk in a manner that's worthy of the grace in which we were called. When we walk in this axiomatic fashion, the first way he describes it is that we will walk with all lowliness. Now it's a fascinating thing to me because the word that he uses here for lowliness, sometimes the other translators will translate it humility, is a word that was a completely negative word in the Greek language and in the Greek culture. For somebody to be lowly meant that they were of a base character.

They were the dregs of the earth, the worst of the worst. Now when Paul says, walk in lowliness, he's not encouraging us to be base persons living in the sins, living in sordid sinfulness, but rather he's using it in the Jewish manner of humble lowliness, the way Mary in the Magnificat said, you know, my soul doth magnify the Lord and so on, for He hath regarded the lowest state of His handmaiden. This is a call to humility so that the first thing that we should understand is if God has been gracious to us and we are in His kingdom through no merit of our own, we can't really say there but for the grace of God go I. We have to believe that there but for the grace of God go I, and we have nothing in ourselves of which to boast. We are to be in this sense totally humble, and not only humble but gentle.

One translator has translated the word there instead of gentleness, mild. Do you remember the Superman series? Clark Kent was described as what kind of a reporter for the Metropolitan Daily Planet? Mild mannered reporter, but when he went into the phone booth and he changed his clothes, out comes Superman, anything but Mr.

Milk Toast, anything but mild. This concept here is the concept biblically of meekness. Moses, who was a powerful leader of the Jewish people and the mediator of the Old Covenant, was described in sacred Scripture as a meek man. You've all heard of Friedrich Nietzsche and his doctrine of the Superman or the Ubermensch. He's the one who declared that God is dead, and he said the reason why God died was he died of pity, and he blamed the death of God and the death of 19th century European culture on Christianity because it exalted meekness as a virtue. When for Nietzsche calling for the advent of the Ubermensch, the Superman, he said that the Superman will be known as a conqueror. He'll sail his ship unto uncharted waters.

He'll build his house on the slopes of Vesuvius. He'll shake his fist defiantly against all others, and he will get rid of this culture of meekness that was destroying the very fiber of humanity, according to Nietzsche. Whereas in Nietzsche's view, meekness was a weakness. According to the New Testament, meekness is indeed a virtue.

Again, it is the polar opposite of arrogance. A meek person is not a pantywaist. A meek person biblically is not a coward.

A meek person is a person, again, who's gentle in his dealings with people. And when we think of Jesus, he was the supreme gentleman. Obviously, there were times when he was not so gentle.

When he was encountering the strong leaders of his day, he responded to their strength with a greater strength. He was not blessed Jesus meek and mild when he was dealing with the Pharisees, but when he dealt with the normal people, the fallen people of this world. And when he deals with you, even when he admonishes you in your sin and rebukes you for your sin, he's gentle. That's the difference between the accusation of Satan and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Both may address the same sin in our lives where the goal of Satan is to destroy us with guilt, where the goal of the Spirit is to heal us and redeem us from our sin. And so, as God the Spirit has been gentle with you and gentle with me, so the Christian life in response to that is to be one that manifests gentleness, lowliness and gentleness with long suffering, bearing with one another in love. Now we talk about people who have short tempers, fly off the handle easily, hot heads. They're short suffering. They're not long suffering.

A long suffering person is a person who puts up with stuff day after day after day after day without going ballistic. And when Paul here speaks about long suffering, again, we're to imitate God because how patient, how long suffering has God been with you and with me for bearing when He could have crushed me like a bug? Remember Edwards' sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. I think the greatest sermon ever preached in North America, if not in the world, when he talked about the imagery of the fire of hell, and he said, O sinner, you hang like a spider on a slender thread above a burning fire with the flames of divine wrath, dashing and thrashing about it, ready to burn it and singe it at any moment. And the only thing that keeps you from feeling you from falling into that fire is what?

God's hand that keeps you up. And then he asked the rhetorical question, can you give any reason since when you got out of your bed this morning, God hasn't dropped you into that fire? Let me just pause. Does that offend you?

It offends a lot of people that read it. But let me ask Edwards' question. Can you give any reason why, since you got out of your bed this morning, God hasn't dropped you into the pit of hell? I can't, not in myself, but only His forbearing, long-suffering, tender mercy keeps us from what we deserve. His wrath and His judgment. Now, this forbearing that Paul was talking about, this long-suffering is a long-suffering that is to be done in love. Again, we're called to mirror and reflect the way God treats us. God doesn't just put up with us. He doesn't just endure us. But in the long-suffering patient, He loves us, and His forbearance is rooted in love. And so even if I'm annoyed constantly by somebody, Paul not just asks me to put up with them and to tolerate them, but be patient in the same manner of love that God is patient with me.

And again, this is the paradigm. How can I not be patient with other people when God is so patient with me? How can I not be loving? I don't have to like people, but I have to love them, and there's a difference. To love them means to be loving towards them, to treat them kindly and justly and mercifully as God treats us.

Bearing one another in love, endeavoring. My grandmother was a Methodist. My grandmother was a Methodist.

She couldn't help it. But she used to talk about being a member of their group in the church. In those days, it was called Christian Endeavor. Some of you may have heard of that Methodist organization, which was really an evangelical organization, and it was trying to teach people the pursuit of holiness and the pursuit of godliness. And the idea, the title of the organization was Christian, that defines it. It's Christian Endeavor. It's an attempt.

It's something that people were trying to do that had a Christian significance to it. Now, every time we try to do something, we hope we will succeed, but we don't always succeed. All of us have been involved in all kinds of endeavors in our life that have ended in frustration and in failure. We didn't accomplish, but we set out to accomplish.

But at least we tried. We endeavored to reach a particular goal. And that's what Paul is saying here. He said, we are to endeavor, to try to work at keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Now, Paul doesn't just here introduce the concept of unity.

He's labored earlier on in the epistle about the unity between the Gentile believers and the Jewish believers, that we're one body. And Christ has brought us together in unity in Him. And that unity that we enjoy as Christians, humanly speaking, is a fragile unity. It's a unity that can easily be broken. It can involve relationships among Christians that are shattered.

We're all aware of that. But Paul said if we are to walk worthy of the calling by which we are called, we are to live lowliness, gentleness, trying to maintain the unity of the Spirit. And then he tells us how, in the bond of peace. The word that he uses there for bond is the word that could be translated ligament.

It ties together various muscles and so on, keeps them connected. And what Paul is saying here is that what really maintains spiritual unity among the people of God is peace. Now, there is such a thing as a carnal peace.

You never forget the image of Neville Chamberlain hanging over the balcony with his umbrella saying, We have achieved peace for our time, while Hitler was mobilizing the blitzkrieg. There is such a thing as a false peace. It was the favorite message of the false prophet of the Old Testament. Jeremiah complained to God because the false prophets were crying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. And we have people like that in the church who can't stand to debate any point of truth. They'll surrender the whole gospel for the sake of peace.

That's not what Paul is talking about here. That's a carnal peace. But rather, there is an authentic peace that comes from Christ, the Prince of Peace.

His legacy to His church and to His people was what? Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. Not the way the world gives peace. Peace I give to you. And it is that peace that passes understanding, that peace that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

It's the cement of spiritual unity among the people of God. We are to be people of the peace of Christ. And then he goes on to say, Because there's one body, one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.

Look at all the ones that are here already. One body. There's only one body of Christ. There may be ten thousand denominations, but the invisible church, the true body of Christ, made up of every person who is in Christ and in whom Christ dwells, there's only one body. There's only one body.

That's the true body of Christ. There's one Spirit. There are not five spirits. There's one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling. Every Christian who is justified by faith also has hope. And again, the Greek concept, the Greek word for hope in the New Testament is not, I wish something would come to pass, but I'm not sure it will. Rather, the biblical concept of hope is that which is the anchor for our souls. It is the sure for our souls. It is the sure promise of God for the future that He's laid up for His people.

And that hope of heaven and the ultimate kingdom of God is singular, and every Christian possesses that same hope that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit. One Lord. Those were fighting words when Paul wrote this. The emperor, presumably, who was the one who commanded Paul's execution, the Emperor Nero, said that he was the Lord of the entire universe. The loyalty oath to the Roman Empire were the two words, Kaiser Kurios, Caesar is Lord. Caesar is Lord. It's been argued that the earliest Christian confession of faith was in response to that where the New Testament believers said, Jesus is Lord.

Not Caesar, not the king, not the president. We're to respect them, to honor them, but none of them is Lord. There's only one to whom the title Kurios has been given by the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ. And every Christian is subject to that same unique Lord. One Lord, one faith. There's a dispute about what that means here. Does it refer to that we all have the same pistalo, that faith that saves, that every Christian who is justified by faith is justified by the same thing, namely that trust in Christ and in Christ alone? Maybe that's what Paul has in view. Maybe he has a broader view where sometimes the entire content of biblical truth was called the faith. When we say keep the faith, we're saying keep the theology.

There's only one true theology. I know of a professor in the seminary the first day of class for New Testament exegesis, Greek exegesis. He assigned a passage to the students, and he said, find fifty applications of this text.

The students stayed up all night, shared their discoveries, compared notes, dragged themselves into the class the next day with their list of fifty, and the assignment for day two was find fifty more applications from the same verse. He said a verse can have a hundred applications, but only one meaning. I don't know how many times I've been in discussions with people, and I'm talking about a biblical text, and somebody will say, well, that's your interpretation. Well, what do they mean by that? Obviously, it's my interpretation and the one that just gave it, you know.

What do they mean? Do they mean, well, that's your interpretation, and the unspoken assumption is any interpretation that Sproul makes is wrong, so since this is Sproul's interpretation, it must be the wrong one. I don't think they're that base in their attack on me, but what they often mean is you interpret the Bible one way, I interpret the other way, and even though our interpretation of the Bible is different, we're both right. No.

No. If we differ on our interpretation of Scripture, we could both be wrong, but we can't both be right because there's only one correct meaning. God doesn't speak in a forked tongue. God's not a pluralist, nor is He a relativist. You live in a culture that's saturated in that sort of thing, but it's not in the Word of God. So Paul says there's one faith, one true faith.

There's a lot of false ones. One baptism. Again, we don't know if he's speaking of water baptism because all the saints at that time shared in that New Covenant sign of baptism, and there was only one, not more than one, but also the deeper meaning that Paul expounds elsewhere that all believers are baptized in the Holy Spirit, and that every Christian shares that Spirit baptism, contrary to views that are held widely in our culture today that say some Christians have the baptism of the Spirit, others don't. I don't think that's a New Testament view, but in any case, one God and Father of all. He's not talking about the Father of all people. He's talking about the Father of all of us, the Father who has adopted every believer into His household, just as God has only one Son, the monogenes, the only begotten of the Father. So through Christ, our elder brother, all of us share the same parent by adoption into the house and family of God the Father, who is above all, through all, and in all.

It's almost like sometimes Paul can't help himself. In the middle of his exposition of doctrine, spontaneously he breaks out in doxology, we're all of one Father, the Father who's above all, transcends all, He governs all things, He permeates all things, and He is in all of us. So here is the preparation that the Apostle gives for part two of his letter to the Ephesians in terms of the practical outworking of our sanctification that we would walk worthy of the calling by which we were called.

That was R.C. Sproul on this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind, and he was the first minister of preaching and teaching at St. Andrew's Chapel in Sanford, Florida, where he preached and taught through many books of the Bible. And Ligonier Ministries has just released his expositional commentary on the book of Ephesians, and you can request the hardcover edition to add to your library when you give a gift of any amount at renewingyourmind.org. This letter paints a beautiful picture of the Gospel, reminding us of our union with Christ and the sovereignty of God in our salvation. Take time to work through this letter of Paul with the help of Dr. Sproul's new commentary. Request yours today at renewingyourmind.org while there's still time, as this offer ends at midnight. Join us next Sunday as we continue in Ephesians, picking up at verse 7, here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-28 02:25:10 / 2024-04-28 02:33:08 / 8

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