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God’s Laboratories, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
February 22, 2023 9:00 am

God’s Laboratories, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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February 22, 2023 9:00 am

Pastor J.D. continues in this message from Ephesians 5 and helps us understand the biblical meaning of submission and how, when we use our relationships in marriage, family, and work to love and serve like Christ, we grow deeper in joy and unity and put the gospel on display.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer.

So the way that you honor your mom and dad when you are an adult is by becoming the man or woman God created you to be and by obeying him, which means ironically enough the best way for some of you to honor your mother and father is to deny their wishes when they're asking you to do something against God because the point of parenting is to teach you to obey God and once you're doing that you have actually honored your mom and dad. Welcome back to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. Wives submit to your husbands. You know what I'm talking about? That might be one of the most misunderstood lines in the entire Bible and it raises all sorts of questions for many people.

What exactly does submit mean? Today as Pastor J.D. continues in this message from Ephesians 5, he helps us understand how when we use our relationships in marriage or family and work to love and serve like Christ, we grow deeper in joy and unity and we put the gospel on display.

Don't forget you can reach out to us at or give us a call at 866-335-5220 anytime. But right now let's rejoin Pastor J.D. in the book of Ephesians. The world will be restored when men take that Christ-like leadership role. Amen, ladies. Amen. Amen.

All right. Now to the wife. He says, wife, you reflect Jesus and how you submit to that leadership. Submit to your husbands in everything. So what does that mean? Well, first let me point out what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean the dominance of the man as if she exists as a serf in his house to cater to his whims because, like I showed you, the husband is told first to lay down his life for her. Nor does it mean, ladies, that you ever allow yourself to be put in a situation where you might be harmed. Verse 22, and it says submit to him as to the Lord. What it does mean is submit to him as a way of serving God, not submitting to him as if he were God. That means that if your husband was ever telling you to do something that would make you disobey the Lord or his leadership ever put you or your family in physical harm's way, it means you need to get out of there.

You need to get some counseling. That concept doesn't mean that all women everywhere should submit to all men everywhere as if women cannot lead in the workplace or in government. Paul is only talking about the marriage relationship here. Finally, guys, let me also point out to you that this verse is actually not addressed to you. It's addressed to her, which means that you can't use it as a tool to wield over your wife.

That's her verse, not yours. If she's not doing it, the only thing you can do is to try to be the kind of leader that it would be a joy to submit to. You play your role and trust God with her playing hers. What it does mean, ladies, is that you allow him the space to steer the family. Guys, I've told you this, spiritual headship is not license to do whatever you want to do. Spiritual headship is empowerment to do what you ought to do. But wives, that means that you don't only follow him when you agree with him or feel like he's making the right decision. That's not submission, that's agreement. A lot of times a woman would come back from a conference and she'd be like, oh, my husband's not a spiritual leader.

What do I do with that? They wonder, you know, what does that mean for how I follow him? Well, notice the verse doesn't say submit when he is a sufficiently spiritual enough leader in your eyes. Ladies, let me tell you something about men, and I'm sure you already know this, but let me just so you can hear from the perspective of a man. If your husband is not a spiritual leader, your submission to him in this way can help call him up into that kind of leadership. Let me explain something about guys.

And again, you probably already know this, but just hear from one of us. Every guy from the day that he is born, from the day he emerges from the womb, comes into the world asking the question, do I have what it takes? And some of us were blessed enough that we got that affirmation from our fathers, and so we became spiritual leaders. But a lot of guys had lousy dads, and so they didn't get that affirmation. And so they doubt whether or not they actually have it, and then they get married to you. And you can call him up into that by saying you do have what it takes and you can lead.

Your submission creates a vacuum that serves as an invitation. And when he does, you need to encourage him. You need to say things like, that's my man right there. That's my man, help him make these decisions.

That's my man leadership, and watch him come alive. Listen to both husbands and wives, let me encourage you. Don't reject this just because you've seen this warped. All relationships can be twisted, marriage, parenting, work relationships, but just because they're twisted and messed up sometimes doesn't mean the frameworks are wrong in themselves. And a friend, Matt Chandler, pastor out in Texas, he says a husband sacrificially loving his wife and a wife submitted to her godly husband creates a relationship that the world would never look at and say how disgusting and archaic. A lot of people who say they're turned off by the Christian teaching on marriage are actually attracted to the Christian marriages that they see. So listen, let me tell you, when you the two of you start to conduct your marriage this way, you're gonna find, I promise you, that deeper joy that you've been searching for in marriage.

This is what happy marriages are made of because happy marriages are not about perfect romance. Happy marriages are all about fellowship with Jesus. And at its core marriage, first and foremost, is supposed to be gospel reenactment.

It's a laboratory where you learn to be like Jesus and you learn to walk with Jesus. In fact, when marriages fall apart, it's not because couples fall out of love, it's because couples fall out of fellowship with Jesus. You see that relationship, that vertical relationship, ends up becoming the source of blessing and the horizontal relationships that you have with one another. So this is all about fellowship with Jesus and it's about being so enamored with him and walking with him that it then affects how you you behave in your marriage because ultimately you're doing it for him not for them. For those of you who are single, there are other laboratories where God works on this also.

Marriage is just one of the laboratories. Paul's main objective in all these relationships is not fixing the marriage, it's actually getting you to focus here. So there are other relationships where he says you can learn the same thing. You can learn this principle of submission and selflessness. So he's going to turn now to these other two relationships.

Be encouraged, by the way. Marriage is his main relationship. It's where he spends most of his time.

It's where I've spent most of my time. Shorter in his book, be shorter in mine too. All right, lab two. Here we go. Children. Children, obey your parents, Paul says, and the Lord, because this is right. Then he quotes the fifth commandment from the Old Testament. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment, with a promise.

And that promise was that it would go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land. Family is a lab, listen to this, where children learn to obey God by obeying their parents. Paul's point here is not just the family. Paul's point is the laboratory that teaches you to obey God. You want to know how I know that?

Because he ties this to this. So the command to obey your parents is tied to the command to honor your father and mother. Now, honor your father and mother is the fifth commandment, which means the fifth commandment is right in the middle of the 10. That's just brilliant, right?

You're like, how does he know this stuff? Yes, it's right in the middle of the 10, which means that there are four before it and five after it. The first four commandments, watch, are all about your relationship with God. The last five commandments are all about your relationships with other people. Don't kill, don't steal, don't commit adultery. Right in the middle is this command to honor your father and mother. Here's the question. Is it about your relationship with God or is it about your relationship with other humans?

The answer is yes. It is about your relationship with another human who for a while stands in the place of God in your life. And by learning to obey and respect and submit to them, you actually learn to obey and respect and submit to him. When we're young, our parents represent the authority of God to us. That means for those of you who are living with your parents at home, if you're not like over 18, how you submit to the authority of your mom and dad is how you submit to God.

Let me just let that kind of sink in for just a minute. How you submit to the authority of your mom and dad is how you submit to God. Parents, it's right here. Do not be looking at your teenager. This is not for you to play the Holy Spirit, okay?

Just look right at me. Parents, listen, that's one of the reasons that we take discipline around my house so seriously because how they learn to respect me, how they learn to submit to me is how they're going to learn to submit to their heavenly father. I don't demand that my kids respect me because I'm me or because it embarrasses me in front of my friends when they don't. I demand they respect me because of who I represent to them and I try to teach them that, that ultimately, this is not about me and you.

This is about you and him and I care more about your heart than I do your behavior. Parenting is a lab that teaches children to submit to God, which actually brings up a question I get a lot about this commandment. People say, well, what about when you're older? When you're older and you don't live with your parents anymore, do you still have to obey them because, I mean, the command doesn't seem to be addressed to those kids.

It's addressed to everybody. So when you're older, do you have to keep obeying your parents? And I know that we have parents in this church who try to control their adult children.

We have at least, well, we have several couples on the mission field right now whose parents forbid them from going after they were adults. And they quoted the command, well, honor your father and mother. You got to do what we say. Well, see, that's where it really helps to understand that this command that is given as a way of teaching us to relate to God. Notice the command itself is not to obey. The command is to honor. Honor your father and mother because this is a way of relating to God. When you're a child, the way that you do that is by obeying.

Watch this. When you're an adult, the way that you honor your mom and dad is by obeying God because your parents were given to you for a while to teach you to obey God. At some point in your life, the authority was supposed to shift from them to Him. So the way that you honor your mom and dad when you are an adult is by becoming the man or woman God created you to be and by obeying Him, which means ironically enough, the best way for some of you to honor your mother and father is to deny their wishes when they're asking you to do something against God because the point of parenting is to teach you to obey God. And once you're doing that, you have actually honored your mom and dad. So it's all about honoring your mom and dad and you are becoming what God wants you because it's ultimately about that. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. To learn more about this ministry, including becoming a monthly giver known as a gospel partner, visit Throughout the book of Ephesians, God demonstrates how help His eternal plans can affect our darkest hours. The strength that we need to overcome opposition, obstacles, and spiritual oppression is found in God's incredible love for us. So to go along with this teaching series we've been in called Love Incorruptible, we have a new Bible study to share with you that travels right alongside us through the book of Ephesians.

It's called Your Place in God's Plan. Jump on board right away and take these messages to a deeper level by reserving your copy today. Give us a call at 866-335-5220 or go online to to reserve this Bible study today. Now let's return to our teaching here on Summit Life.

Once again, here's Pastor J.D. There are still multiple ways that you and I continue to honor our moms and dads by getting their advice on things. Your parents have a lot of years of experience on you. Nobody knows you more intimately, nobody cares about you more, so of course you should seek their counsel. That's a way of honoring them, calling them sometimes. I've never had a parent look at me and say, my kid calls me too much.

I'm too involved in their, well actually I've had him once, but usually that's not the case. Another way I honor them is to just say thank you to them. Then thank you for the way that you represented God to me and what you communicated to me, taking care of them in their older age. You know, realizing that if they took care of you and got you out for the first 20 years, then of course by honoring them, we want to take care of them as they grow old as well. That's honoring your father and mother. On your parent's side, Paul turns to them and he says this, watch, fathers, don't stir up anger in your children or bring them up on the training instruction, Lord.

All right, stop real quick. Did you notice there is not a, maybe there's one. I have never found a single parenting instruction in the Bible that's not addressed to the man. They're always addressed to the man. And in our society, it's always who leads in discipline in the family. Mom, dads, dads, the whole book of Proverbs is where you're going to find more parenting advice than anywhere else. It's written to a man.

It's a dad talking to a son. You take the lead here, men. You take the lead here. Bring up your children in the training and instruction of the Lord. What that is showing you is that ultimately the purpose of your discipline is not about controlling their behavior. It's about shaping their heart. Shaping their heart toward God, not controlling their behavior for you. And usually when you're stirring up anger in them, that shows you that you've shifted from shaping of the heart to controlling the behavior, which is usually more about your convenience than their development.

Because ultimately I'm trying to shape their heart and not control their behavior. There is a ton more I would love to say on this. I would love to dive into it, but I just don't have the space today. I would recommend a couple of books if you're a parent that you should read immediately if you have not read them. One is called Shepherding the Child's Heart by Ted Tripp. The other is called Gospel Powered Parenting. Me and some of our other pastors here a couple of years ago, we did a study with LifeWay, published a study called Ready to Launch about parenting.

And you could get that and do it in your small group if your small group's got kids in it. Just these things will kind of explore what we're talking about here. So much more to say on that, but we got to move.

Here we go. Number three, work. Work. Third relationships he points out. Servants, he says, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart as you would Christ. Now for the sake of these verses, I want you to, when you see the word servant and master, I want you to read that as employee and employer relationship. Some translations say slaves, but most translations don't use that because Paul is in no way here condoning what we in the Western world would think of when we say slavery. Paul makes very clear in other places in the New Testament the wickedness of that practice. Paul here is referring to a practice that we would think of like indentured servanthood, which was typically a voluntary contract that didn't last for a lifetime that you chose to enter into that was not based on race.

Now granted, it was not a great working situation because you literally would sell yourself to somebody, but this is in no way a commendation of the chattel slavery system that we think of when we use the word slave. So for the sake of interpreting this and applying this, read those instructions as employees to employers and vice versa because that's really what Paul is talking about here. This is a Christian philosophy of work, which a lot of you have asked about. You're like, well, what does the Bible teach about work?

And you know, I just never hear anything on it. Yeah, because when you think of a Christian philosophy of work, you get these horrific images in your mind. And we've talked about it before where you have a coffee shop called Jehovah Java, you know, and then you're like, that's what it means. Or Hebrews, these are actual logos that I found. This is not made up. Or my favorite, St. Arbuck's, that's how I'm going to have a Christian coffee shop.

Or you open up a hair salon called His Clips or a Cut Above. On the internet the other day I found a site that was giving 100 ways to be a witness at work. I thought, well, this is going to be pretty good. So I look it up. Some of them were decent, but a lot of them were like this.

Number 61. I kid you not. Put up a sign, if you own a store, put up a sign that says, ask us about our exchange policy. When customers ask, let them know about your actual policy. Then ask if they would like to hear about the greatest exchange policy on the planet, Jesus' righteousness for our sin. And you're like, that's good theology, but I just don't, I don't see, or there's number 60.

When a customer has paid his bill in full, send them a receipt that says, paid in full. These are the same words the bloody Jesus spoke from the cross about your sin. And you're like, I'm just not sure I can get away with that in my job. Or do you remember me telling you about the, true story, 2004 American Airlines pilot who was fired, remember this? Because he just got back from a mission trip and he's, you know, in the captain's deck or whatever. And he comes on the intercom before they take off. And he says, Hey folks, I just want to know how many of you in the plane here are born again, Christians raise your hand.

And people kind of, you know, people, some people put up their hand. He said, for those of you who are not born again, Christians, I would strongly advise that you talk to one of these people about their lives, goes on and tell them about the mission trip, how important Jesus is. He says, I think this is a really important question because we don't anticipate any problems in the flight today, but you never know, you know? And you're like, I just don't think that I can get away with that at my job. And you're probably correct.

You're probably correct. I admire these people's zeal, but what Paul is going to give you is a better way, a better way to be a witness and put on Jesus on display at your workplace. Here's what he says, Christian philosophy of work. Obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, like you would Christ, not by way of eye service as people pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not unto man. What I see in that is that Christ-like submission at work has at least three characteristics I see in there.

Characteristic number one, or letter A, a cheerful disposition toward obedience. Obey them like you would Christ. Notice it's not contingent on whether or not he or she is a good boss, doesn't contingent on whether or not they reward you properly. You're like, my boss is a jerk. Yeah, and God's going to give him what's coming to him one day.

You ain't got to worry about that. But what you do is you look through your boss and you see that ultimately you're not serving this earthly master, you're serving that heavenly one. So you're going to do your work in a way that is glorifying to him, even if your boss doesn't treat you the right way, because you're not working for him, you're working for him, right? Does it make sense?

Not him or her, but him. Here's the second thing I see in it. He says, not by way of eye service means you got a commitment to excellence.

You're not just doing stuff so that you get approval when people see it. It means beyond what people see. C.S. Lewis had the best example for this. He said, you know, when explorers came to the New World, they discovered valleys that as far as they knew, no other human had ever laid eyes on before. He said, and in those valleys, they would find some of the most exquisite, beautiful flowers nobody had ever seen.

And C.S. Lewis's question was, if you've got thousands of years, you've got flowers of exquisite beauty that no human eye ever sees, are they wasted? Did God waste all his creativity and beauty on something that no human eye would ever see?

And C.S. Lewis said, no, because for thousands of years, when no human saw him, God still saw him. And God ultimately creates beauty for himself.

Well, see, he said, Lewis then took that and applied it to work. And he said, that means that even when other people are not seeing the flower of my work, I still do it as a way of putting God on display, because ultimately I'm not working for them, I'm working for him. So I don't just do it, and people can see it and affirm it. I do it for Jesus, and I put him on display.

Here's your third thing. He says, third way Christ's submission to work shows up, an attitude of servanthood, rendering service with a goodwill. This may be the biggest distinction between how people in the world see work and how we as believers see work. People in the world see work as a means to an end, a way that you get money for yourself. And if you ever get enough money, then you stop working. That's the point, work till you get money.

And then when I'm done, I'm done. Christians see instead that God created work as a way of serving our fellow man. God put us into a world of raw materials, like a garden, and we take the raw materials of that garden and we create food out of it. We create things that bless and serve others, which means that making money for me is a side benefit of what I do. It's a blessing God gives me, but I'm doing what I do, whether that's building houses, teaching children, preaching sermons, or adjudicating law cases, I'm doing all that as a way of serving somebody else. And he said, that's a disposition that you'll carry into work that will put Christ on display. So see friends, once again, we see here that work is a laboratory, like all of these relationships, where you learn to serve like Jesus, lead like Jesus, put Jesus on display for everybody to see, and it's the best way that you can be a witness to him. All right, so listen, as Paul nears the end of the book of Ephesians, what he's trying to get the Ephesians to see is that in all their relationships, even the most mundane ones, ultimately God's focus is on the vertical relationship, not the horizontal ones. In fact, if the vertical one is right, the horizontal ones will have peace. There's a lot of you that have disruption in your horizontal relationships. If I were to pick three areas of your life that are out of control, it's your marriage, your family, and your work.

What if the horizontal chaos was simply a result of the vertical disruption? What if you put so much weight on these relationships because you had so little richness in this relationship? The reason these people here are so big to you is because Jesus is so small, and instead of just giving you a band-aid on how to fix your marriage and fix your home and fix your workplace, what God is saying is there's actually something deeper and richer and better, and that is for you to get this relationship right, because when this relationship gets right, these relationships will just start taking care of themselves. Ultimately, it's not a horizontal relational problem you have.

Ultimately, usually it is a vertical problem, and that's good news because God offers reconciliation. He offers these things. If you will simply submit to Him and do things His way, if you're secure in Jesus, if you're focused on Jesus, if you are rich in Jesus, if you feel safe in Him, then you become somebody that is able to be a good husband and to be a good father and to be a good worker. The reason some of you can't be any of those things is because this relationship here is damaged. So let me just ask, let me just ask, is that why God brought you here today? Did God bring you here today? Because you've got all this chaos in these relationships, and He is calling you. He's saying it's a problem here. Marriage, family, and work are God's laboratories that He uses to make us more like Himself. So put your lab coat on right now and let's get to work. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. If you've missed any of the previous messages in this teaching series called Love Incorruptible, you can hear them online at We are so thankful for the support of our Summit Life family each and every day. You're the ones who make this program possible, and we'd like to thank you.

To show our appreciation for your gift today, let us send you the Bible study through Ephesians that I mentioned earlier in the program. You know, today people define themselves by their work and how they spend their days, but the Bible gives us a better answer. God tells us who we are by what He has done for us. You are not simply a product of what you do, thankfully, right? So then who are you?

That's the question the book of Ephesians answers, and we have a Bible study from our friends at The Good Book Company called Your Place in God's Plan. The Bible study is yours when you give generously to support this ministry today. Call us right now at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or visit us online at That's If you'd rather mail your donation, our address is JD Greer Ministries, P.O. Box 122-93, Durham, North Carolina, 277-09. I'm Molly Vidovitch, inviting you to join us again tomorrow as we journey toward the end of our time through Ephesians, right here on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-22 10:38:15 / 2023-02-22 10:49:20 / 11

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