Share This Episode
The Bible Study Hour James Boice Logo

The Way We Were

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
December 21, 2020 7:00 am

The Way We Were

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 586 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

December 21, 2020 7:00 am

Recently, weve witnessed an odd trend in entertainment: the rise of zombie books, movies, and TV shows. You may have found yourself wondering what all the fuss is over zombies, but have you ever contemplated what these morbid characters can teach us about our relationship with God?

Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
Love Worth Finding
Adrian Rogers
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Pulpit
Don Green
Matt Slick Live!
Matt Slick

Recently we've witnessed an trend in entertainment. The rise of zombie books, movies and TV shows. You may have found yourself wondering what all the fuss is over zombies, but have you ever contemplated with these morbid characters can teach us about our relationship with God will get the answer to that question today during the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Morris preparing you to think and act biblically. The second chapter of Ephesians begins with an odd description of us, one that likens our pre-salvation existence to that of the walking dead.

How can we have been dead in our trespasses, yet actively walking in sin. Let's listen in and find out number of years ago, shortly after I had gone to Philadelphia committee of 10 churchmen to plan our own Sunday school curriculum. We were satisfied with the curriculums that existed at the time either. They were strong in Bible content, but we can theology and pedagogy are they were strong in teaching methods, but they lacks the theological content chiefly. We were disappointed at the lack of the great doctrines of the Bible. So we did what we often do here.

We decided to do our own way eventually produced a curriculum that had a three year cycle and which is still in use. The first year was the year in which we taught basic doctrines outright. We taught about sin, salvation, Bible study, prayer, Christian life and related subjects in the second year we came at those same doctrines, but not from the perspective of the doctrines themselves.

We focus instead on the church and a matter of relationships between people within the body of the church. So now instead of talking about sin and salvation.

We talked about what the church is and how one becomes a member of an and is supposed to function within that fellowship.

Then in the third year we dealt with the place of the individual believer in history in the great plan of God. I mentioned that now because that is somewhat what we find the apostle Paul doing as we move from the first of the second chapter of Ephesians in which we will find him doing again as we move from the third to the fourth chapter in this first chapter which we have now started we find the apostle Paul treating salvation in terms of the great doctrines deals with the nature of God work of Christ atonement, redemption, and he focuses on the great plan of God through salvation eventually to subject all things to Jesus who is the head of the church now and forever same doctrines are here in chapter 2, but now the focus changes series. Not thinking so much of the great plan of God as the use of the experience of salvation on the individual believer. Now he talks about what the individual was before the grace of God came to them in Jesus Christ.

He was dead in transgressions and sins.

He speaks about what God did in Christ and his life raising them spiritually from the dead and then he talks about the future work that God has for such a redeemed person to do. I think we could point out the contrast like this we could say that in chapter 1 Paul is dealing with the past, present and future of God's great plan of salvation. That's the big picture. Chapter 2 is dealing with the past, present and future of the individual whom Christ saves some years ago there was a nostalgic film entitled the way we were was a sentimental look at the plastics away. Most people like to look at the past was nice old days that are gone but which we like to think about from time to time. Apostle Paul as he begins this new thrust in chapter 2 also looks at the past only when Paul looks at the way we were he's not the least bit sentimental or nostalgic under realist because he is realist and what he has to say about our condition before Christ exerted his presence in our lives. He paints what is undoubtedly one of the most pessimistic portraits of human nature in all of human literature. This passage is even pessimistic when compared to Romans, which as we know is pessimistic about Paul wants to show how terrible things were before Christ intervened in the lives of individual Christians and it's only after that but it is after that that he goes on to talk about the glory of God in salvation which is as optimistic a note as his portrait of human nature apart from grace is pessimistic. First of all, he plumbs the depths of pessimism in order but afterwards he might soar to the heights of optimism and contemplating God's grace, so he talks about human nature.

We want to ask is what he has.

To say about in the whole history of human rights have really only been three basic positions where an analysis of human nature is concerned, we would use medical terms to describe them, we would say they are number one. The view that man is basically well or healthy. Number two of you. The man is sick month basically well or healthy and number three in the view the biblical view of the man spiritually speaking, is dead. Olivehurst view is common enough people want to think well of human nature. Nobody really wants to say there's very much wrong with this whole people who are essential optimistic this point bold Barry about how good we are, say good, yes, but maybe not perfect they will point to the fact that in the past history of the human race in the been bad things are have been wars, disease and starvation misunderstandings and economic hardships in such things, but they say oh we live in an evolving world.

Things get better and better and well we may not be perfect but were a lot better than we were in no one day even the slight imperfections are going to be done away. Problem with that view in the obvious answer to it is that the human race is been around a long time, and if our imperfections really are just imperfections.

Certainly they should have been eliminated long before this.

Yet as we look around us we still see fightings and strife and war and dissensions and economic hardship and starvation of all those things men and women don't seem to be able to get along anymore now than they did before.

If what's wrong with human nature is really a slight as the optimistic view maintains then these things should've been eliminated long before this. The fact that they're not shows that the situation is undoubtedly more serious than the optimistic view maintains. Second, you a more realistic one is that man is not well or healthy, but man is actually sick. How there would be some disagreement about how sick he is. Some would say well seriously ill others would say maybe even mortally ill things keep going as they are going to destroy the human race entirely. Were gonna blow ourselves off the planet. Guests maybe even mortally sick but not dead yet.

As long as there's life. Well, we have a saying we say where there's life there's hope.

So let's not despair. Let's do the best we can. There's no need to call the mortician yet another is the third view in the third view is the biblical view and it's the view that Paul expresses here in classical language balls as you say, that is not a case of human beings being healthy. It's not question of human beings being merely sick in spiritual terms it's far, far worse than that, so far as our relationship to God's concern apart from God's grace we are actually spiritually dead, which means we have no more ability to help ourselves no more ability to respond to God's call. No more ability even to think right thoughts about God, the corpse lying in its coffin. What we need for going to find God is saying spiritual resurrection which, of course, is precisely what the apostle Paul goes on to say God does do in the case of those who find Christ real crux of this matter to the bar, being dead in trespasses and sins involves the human will.

How much ability does it have.

Do we really have the ability on our own, unaided by the grace of God to turn to God or respond to God or some Christians and teach this order is the human will actually enslaved to sin so that we cannot turn to God and do not respond even to the preaching of the gospel, regardless of how winsome that preaching is this is something that has a long theological history it's been debated in the Christian church almost from the beginning were always been people who have wanted to hold out hope for humanity saying it's true that things are very very bad. But they're not so bad that we can't do something for ourselves now denying grace. God did not have to send Jesus Christ and were not denying grace even in the preaching of the gospel is by grace that the preacher calms makes the gospel known but in the final analysis we have some ability to respond to people who say that yet. What is happened has. This is been debated in the church is that whenever an answer has been given an official why the church is always come out on the biblical side saying what is true, namely, spiritually speaking, even in the matter of the well we are unable to respond unless God is first of all, there bringing out spiritual life.

Now it's been expressed in different darkness.

Martin Luther expressed a different terms in St. Augustine. John Calvin talked about it in a different way from Martin Luther. Jonathan Edwards perhaps had the most original contribution of all and yet all of these men agreed and saying the same thing, namely, that the situation is desperate. You do not do justice to the Bible's teaching about sin unless you say so far as our ability to respond to God is concerned, we are precisely what Paul says dead in our trespasses and sins. We do not respond because, morally speaking, we cannot.

Jonathan Edwards was the most perceptive at this point Jonathan Edwards said the real secret to understanding the problem here is to recognize what the human will is Luther talked about the bondage of the will. He meant the same thing, Edwards later also meant but Edward said no, strictly speaking, the well isn't bound because well well well is just the mind making choices. The problem isn't with the well the problems with the mind and the moral nature that determines what we think Edward said the real problem is what he called motives. We will have motives for doing what we do and believing what we do when acting in the way we do in the motives we have a sinful human beings are such that they always turn us from God. We can't understand the truth about God intellectually, but we don't like the truth about God that we understand intellectually so we can exercise our mind in every way we can to deny the authority of God in our lives. It's not that we can understand morally that if God exists and is our creator and he is died for us in Jesus Christ. We owe him all our loyalty and obedience. We can understand that that makes perfect rational sense we have motives for not doing it.

We want to do what we want to do. We want to live our own lives and so rather than turn willingly to the God was life we willingly turn from the God who is light and experience the kind spiritual death, about which Paul speaks so morally speaking, we cannot turn to God by the exercise of I will because we don't want to. We will not unless God first of all, does a miracle resurrection. After Paul has said that we are dead in our transgressions and sins. He goes on to talk about the kind of death. This is that it's very strange kind of death because when Paul talks about our being dead in transgressions and sins.

He doesn't say that because were dead.

We just lie there, as it were, and do nothing less. What you would expect from the image he says rather being spiritually dead you nevertheless walking around quite actively practicing all kinds of wickedness uses active verbs here. He says you follow the ways of this world and you were seeking to gratify the cravings of your sinful nature some years ago I heard John Gerstner speaking on this particular passage the sin of the unregenerate person, the death that results from Blanton. He said that some time before that he had been sitting on a train and hadn't had anything to read and somebody had left a magazine there on the seat beside him so he picked it up and glanced at it.

It was one of these horror magazines that tells stories of the macabre of death in ghosts and demons and such things and he began to look at it out of idle curiosity and one of the stories of this particular horror magazine was about a zombie now for those of you who don't normally read that kind of literature.

Let me explain what a zombie is a zombie is a person who has died but it was nevertheless up and walking around or over is even worse than that this animated body is a dead body in this means that it's a body that's decaying putrefying. I can't think of anything more disgusting than that, it's far more disgusting than it is terrifying and yet Gerstner referred to that to say I think it likely that it is a picture of what the apostle Paul describes of men and women in their natural state, they are dead in trespasses and sins, but to make matters worse in their trespasses and sins are not even content to lie there and do nothing wraparound living. They are living dead people infecting all about them. Gerstner said I wouldn't say thing like this, but Gerstner said the implication of the image is that we are on the fence to God's nostrils, spiritually speaking in our trespasses and sins. We stink by as I can anything be worse than that. Yes, every single phrase in this description is worse thing that goes before. After Paul explains how though dead were up moving around practicing wickedness. He talks about the kind of wickedness, we practice and he relates it to the world.

On the one hand, following the ways of the world, the devil, on the other. Following ruler of the kingdom of this air and to our fleshly sinful nature verse three because he said we were gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. You know, I'm sure that in the liturgy of the church. There has been a traditional way of speaking of the sources of temptation in which those three ideas are used. Church speaks of the world the flesh and the devil in the temptations that come from but notice Paul here is not speaking simply of the world the flesh and the devil, as a source of temptations. Paul is speaking about these three categories as ways of life, ways of life, from which apart from the grace of God we can escape. I was talking about the last verses of chapter 1, I mentioned the world, the flesh of the devil and how, through the work of Christ, we have victory over these areas and how we are liberated from them.

But Paul is not talking about that here Paul is saying, being dead in trespasses and sins, we are enslaved by the world spirit. We are enslaved by the devil.

We are captured by our fleshly sinful loss and so we can't shake free perfectly evident that apart from the work of Christ. Individual is enslaved by the world. This term world refers not to the earth. The world globe doesn't even refer to people in Scripture so much as it characteristically refers to the world system, its values, its way of thinking about things the kind of things that are just pouring out at us hour by hour even minute by minute through the newspapers, the television, the radio and such things as the world's value. Paul is saying that in our natural state. We can escape from that. We just have no way of breaking free. So the world thinks we think will we try to exert our independence from time to time.

We say we disagree with something, but even when we disagree, we exhibits world spirit.

We don't think is God thinks God's ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts, we can't break out of that. So every single thing we think is distorted by this world.

Captivity. What we need is the renewing of our minds that Paul talks about in Romans 12 and then there's the devil. This is an interesting phrase. Here Paul speaks of our following the ways of the world and all that is, the ways of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the devil and then it says the spirit was now at work in those were disobedient.

Now, as we read that in English Bibles would seem that the word spirit is in opposition with the ruler of the kingdom of the air that is the ruler of the kingdom of the air is the devil, and the spirit. I would work and those were disobedient is the devil of evil spirit. Actually, that's not the case. This word spirit in the second half of verse two is not in the accusative case which the word ruler of the kingdom of the areas within the genitive, genitive is case of possession. It's what you usually translate by the introduction of the word of what that really means is that it should be translated something like this.

We follow the ways of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the ruler who exercises control over the spirit, which is now working in those who were disobedient is important because it explains how the devil actually influences people in the world.

I pointed out before that the devil is not like God's in the sense that he is omnipresent and omniscient them all powerful. He's a creature is limited in time, space, power, and so on.

As we are the devil can't tempt everyone at the same time with the devil exercises his power over the world by his power over the world spirit is a certain way of thinking about things it's controlled by Satan.

And that's what captures men and women, and then finally, Paul talks about the third of these. The cravings of our sinful nature, the flesh, he points out it's very clear in the passage that it's not merely what we would call sexual or sensual sins that perhaps is involved in the word desires, but it's something that concerns our thoughts as well. Fleshly open sins are obvious loss, laziness and greed.

Such things is that, but less obvious I get every bit as bad are those internal intellectual sin sins of pride, false ambition, malice and envy of other people, and so on. Paul says we are captivated by these things.

Well, I said a moment ago that every phrase we come to here is worse than the one before that is no less true of this last idea Wallace talked about our being dead in trespasses and sins talks in the second place about the kind of death, that is, that is an active wicked death where we practice evil being enslaved by the powers of the world the flesh and the devil now in the third place.

He talks about God's wrath says you say that we were by nature, objects of God's wrath. I think I can hear and objection somebody says wrath that I really really hear you say God's wrath.

If you did, surely you can't be serious.

I'm aware that there are places in the Bible, perhaps infrequent, but there nevertheless to talk about the wrath of God. But surely today this is not something about which a minister or the church of Jesus Christ should speak we don't talk about the wrath of God today. That's an outmoded idea. What we want to talk about today is God's love talk about God's holiness if you will even talk about God's justice, not wrath that something about which Christians surely should be ashamed. Yet when I hear that objection what I hear is the very captivity to the world's way of thinking about which Paul has been speaking. We may not like the idea of God's wrath and data we understand it properly. We fear God's wrath. That certainly is in Scripture and is not merely in a few isolated passages in the Old Testament in the Hebrew language there more than 20 words that are used to express dimensions of the wrath of Almighty God. There are over 600 important passages, not merely places where these words occur passages with the wrath of God is discussed in detail in the New Testament, there are two great words wrath three months, which has to do with the rushing along in anger the way an angry man would take off after somebody for vengeance is used occasionally, especially in Revelation and the second word organic, which is quite different. It means to rise up slowly in the building growing sense. This is the word that you steer speaks of the building and intensified opposition of a holy God said all those passages together and wrath of God seemed to be something which is controlled and intense judicial and is not. It makes it so frightening see it's not simply a case of God. Well, as we would say getting angry suddenly getting mad at something that we do rushing off blocking us down and then forgetting about. That's not the way the Bible talks about the wrath of God. The Bible talks about the wrath of God is God's intensifying building opposition to everything which is opposed to himself and his righteousness. Holy Jost cumulative wrath, which in one day is going to pour out against all the ungodliness and wickedness of men and women. It's not something or over. That's only in the future as a present sense of the wrath of God. Paul writes about that in Romans he says because God's wrath against sin. Sin always has consequences and he speaks there in a sequence of verses about the way in which when we oppose God we find ourselves come offer much good based in our thinking and eventually corrupted our morals of the pinks there horrible picture of the human race and it said that's just a way of saying that God in his Holiness has determined that sin will never thrive. Sin always produces judgment that the top it all off, there's the wrath to come. The author of Hebrews writes about it. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely.

Do you think a man deserves to be punished was trampled the son of God underfoot was treated as an unholy thing. The blood of the covenant that sanctified him and who has insulted the spirit of grace. We know him that is God who said it is mine to avenge, I will repay, and again the Lord will judge his people is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. We read these verses we say well if that's the way we were from a possible source. Can we ever find salvation, but of course this is what Paul now was going to talk about here is a dreadful radical disease.

It requires a radical remedy. God is the source of that remedy next verses say. But because of his great love for us.

God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. It is by grace you have been saved dead in transgressions. Yes dead and sins.

Yes, God God is the God of resurrections and that's what we need George Whitfield great Calvinistic evangelist had a way of talking about this based on the story of Christ's resurrection of Lazarus. He did this so well he would have people weeping as the cold of the resurrection of Lazarus and compared their stage in their sin apart from the grace of God that corpse of Jesus friend.

He did like them to come forward and look at Lazarus and he paint the picture before that. Is he said data corpse lying in the tomb found in brave close great stronghold against the door, look at him, smiling. He would say how he stinks that he would say I must tell you that dead decaying helpless body. Lazarus is only a pale reflection of what your soul is like spiritually before God dead yes so are you. He would say you are is dead you are is unable to help yourself as Lazarus was flying in the tomb, wrapped in brave close so are you rafted your corruptions, your sin, your disobedience, your practice of wickedness shut you off from God keep you in its hold great stone lying against the door.

So are you sealed your faith that he would say see Jesus, Jesus speaks a word, and he calls Lazarus his friend whom he loves to life.

That's what's necessary. That is the only hope for any man or woman. Apart from that intervention of God. What we were remains.

What we are and continues is what we shall be, and we shall perish in it and we perish already. When Jesus speaks the word Jesus calls his sheep by name. When Jesus calls out Lazarus, come forth, those were his hear his voice and come his voice brings forth light for them. Stone is rolled away. They emerge the grave close or unwrapped and they go forth to serve him that your experience that be the demonstration of the resurrection and his power in your life are great God and our father we acknowledge as we must let these words though Graham are accurate, where our own lives apart from Jesus Christ are concerned we are is dead as Lazarus, Uranus, unable to help ourselves as any dead body at any time in history.

All our father how we rejoice that you do what is impossible for man. You bring the life out of death you've demonstrated in Jesus Christ our Savior and in the lives of those who have awoken to new life in him.

Her father do that in many this day for his sake and for his glory and you are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888.

Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103, you can visit us for Canadian smell goes 2237 Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON. In one scene 2Y9 ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and thank you again for your continued support and for listening to Bible study

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime