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But God

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
December 22, 2020 7:00 am

But God

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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December 22, 2020 7:00 am

Scripture presents a bleak diagnosis for mankind - it tells us we are separated from God and spiritually dead. But with two small words, the entire story changes. Find out what these two words are how they hold the power to bring dead men to life!


Scripture presents an oblique diagnosis for mankind. It tells us we are separated from God and spiritually dead, but with two small words. The entire story changes. Find out what these two words are and how they hold the power to bring deadman to life.

That's today during the Bible study hour has Dr. James Boyce continues his series from Ephesian welcome to the Bible study hour and a radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. Some Christians tend to think of God's redeeming work as a one time experience we encounter at the moment of salvation, however, is Dr. Boyce will explain the reality of the Christian life is that each day we relive our need for God and his saving power at work in our lives. It's customary in doing English translations of the New Testament to rearrange the Greek phrases as is appropriate and necessary because Greek syntax is different from English syntax and the rearrangement often makes the meaning of the Greek clearer to English minds than would otherwise be the case. Still, I wish that the translators of the new international version had not rearrange the words of Ephesians 24 gauze in the Greek text, this verse begins with the words, what God is a tremendous significant statement and that is somewhat weakened in my opinion by interspersing the phrase because of his great love for us between them and the version we have Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones in his commentary says that these two words but God are in a certain sense the whole of the gospel.

That's true because they indicate God is not a point to an interjection of God into a situation which apart from God's action would have continued in a deplorable manner. But, of course, is a connective conjunction like the word and but it has an adversative affected links. What follows verse four with what is gone before, but it links it by way of contrast, the opening verses of the chapter were told what the situation is apart from God is awful.

All right says, for you know you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you follow the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit was now at work in those were disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature, following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest we were by nature, objects of wrath, desperate, hopeless penis deplorable picture but then verse four we read all that makes all the difference. We look at that combination of two words I want to ask more questions about first of all, who is this God. Secondly, what has he done. Third, why has he done it and forth but mostly then do that's important the first question.

Who is this God because there are many false ideas about God, people inevitably apart from the revelation that God himself gives have a lesser idea of them in one area or another that is actually the case. Most people I suppose. Think of God as benevolent but does basically weak is out there someplace. He means well but somehow he can't quite do everything that's necessary. He wants to help us in maybe sometimes he does but basically he's unable to do the things we really need them to do other people think of God is powerful, but God is remote abstract unconcern be helpless if he wanted to but she doesn't he just doesn't care these ideas, and a host of others are also misconceptions are supported by the Bible because when Bible rights. As Paul does.

Here he writes lots of weak or a powerful but indifferent God but the God of the Old Testament, God of the New Testament, the God of the Lord Jesus Christ gone about whom he is written very carefully in the very first chapter of this letter. This God is a great God and as we see in this passage God who actually intervenes in human life to do precisely what needs to be done quickly set about this God. The first thing we have to say about him is the sovereign after begin at this point because God is not sovereign God is not God's sovereignty has to do with rule and the sovereignty of God means that God rules over his creation. He made it dead ends. He controls it, and therefore things do not just happen, as we would say by chance. Nothing in this universe ever rises up to somehow surprise God knows it all. From the beginning and the reason God knows it from the beginning is a God controls it from the beginning. You can't miss that in reading the first chapter because Paul and I chapters tracing God's great plan of salvation from eternity past return in the future, and he speaks about the future with the same kind of certainty that he speaks about the past. Now it would be possible for Paul to speak about the past. Certainly, on the basis of simple observation all could say this is what God is done because we have seen them do it. This is simply something we know what's significant is that Paul speaks about the future, with no less certainty in the reason he can speak about the future with certainty is a God is sovereign. The future is going to unfold the way Paul describes it here in the glorification of Jesus Christ and the subjection of all sin and enemies beneath his feet, because God controls the future precisely as he has controlled the past when the Bible talks about God's talking. First of all about the sovereign, all powerful God. Secondly, God is holy, practically everything said in Ephesians 1 presupposes this because Ephesians 1 is talking about salvation, and salvation is salvation from sin from all that is not holy. Sin is a great block of the universe. God is made and Paul describes here how God is not indifferent to it. God is a holy God.

God stands for righteousness.

Therefore, God works in one hand and judgment on the other hand by salvation to rescue those who have been trapped by sin early and in the verse immediately before our text Paul says a God's wrath is God's wrath against sin. This is considered by many people to be an unworthy attribute of God, one about which Christian should be embarrassed but it isn't. And when we rightly understand it, we understand why it has to be there. God really is holy God must stand against everything that is not holy God can't do is we do that is holds in his mind to contradictory opinions or moral stances, both at the same time, we say well yesterday is something I believe in. Be well, that's contrary to enable I believe that God doesn't operate that way about his holy God loves holiness and righteousness, and stands for goodness then God must hate everything that is against righteousness and holiness, and goodness in the wrath of God is that aspect of God's character which is directed against those things. Paul says here that wrath is directed against those who are by nature, objects of wrath by virtue of their sin. See that's what makes our condition as Paul describes in the first three verses so terrifying, so frightful, merely that we're not like God. That's true enough, but that in itself is an frightening, we say well it's unfortunate perhaps we would rather be God. God is God and we are people and we might wish we were him, but well or not doesn't make a lot of difference. We might say, well, God is holy were sinners, so lots, so you might be able to maintain that position of God was indifference to what goes on in his universe with the Bible tells us that God is not indifferent God's wrath toward sin and therefore it were sinners.

We are objects of his wrath. And that's what makes our condition so frightening when we talk about God. These verses that is the God of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ with whom we must come to terms but I secondly this not only tells us who God is, but it also tells us what God is done in a word, God has done everything that needs to be done. God is saved, she is saved us from our sin. Paul uses that word sometimes read the Bible as if it's a collection of random thoughts. Perhaps we think it's that because that's the way most of us think many of the time and yet that is not what's going on here. These are very carefully constructed thoughts and what Paul says about God's action in Jesus Christ to save us perfectly parallels everything that he is already said about our loss condition in our transgressions, let me review what is he said in the opening three verses Paula said. First of all that were dead in our transgressions and sins were like Lazarus in the tomb. We are is unable to respond to righteousness still the call of the gospel claim by human messengers as a corpse lying in a tomb like Lazarus is unable to respond to the voice of the living was God does something that's our condition Jesus Christ can be proclaimed before us. The gospel can be preached with fervor messages can be made when some and yet we remain spiritually dead in arch that gospel message was God does something supernatural. Secondly, we are active in our sin. It's a strange kind of death you see we are dead spiritually to God but somehow in our deadness were nevertheless quite active in the practice of wickedness and so Paul describes it.

He says we are following the ways of the world of the ruler of the kingdom of darkness, and so on. That is the way we function and as a result were enslaved to these things to see if we are deaf to God. We are dead righteousness. It means we can escape this world of sin, in which we live. We like to perhaps we think we like to, but we can't do it. So the world the flesh and the devil. Exercise of tyranny over us and were unable to break free from it unless God does something, and then in the third place.

He talks about wrath the subject I just mentioned. He says we are objects of that dreadful wrath of God but God but God. God does what needs to be done. Are we dead in transgressions and since his status in a desperate condition. Yes indeed it is. But God is the God of resurrections and so Paul says God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in sins we enslaved to sin. Yes, that too, but Paul goes on to say that God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. There are no slaves in heaven within Christ's we are raised up and are made to sit with him in the heavenly places limits as free men and women. The shackles of sin are broken were delivered from the tyranny under which we labored.

What about God's wrath by nature children of wrath. Yes, that describes us. That's what we are God.

You see his great mercy has saved us in Christ and has poured out his loving kindness upon us.

Let's what happens formerly dead in transgressions now alive in Christ, formerly bound by sin now delivered and redeemed in Christ. Formerly objects of God's wrath.

Now the objects of his eternal and infinite benevolence. See that's something for which if we've experienced it. We must praise God and trust him to the same principle, but God is something that we find.

You see, not only at the beginning of the Christian life. It's something we find along the way as well ask questions about our condition might ignorance of God. Well, yes I am. But here's what Paul writes in first Corinthians. No eye has seen nowhere is heard no mind is conceived what God has prepared for those who love him, but God has revealed it unto us by his Spirit by tempted to sin. Yes indeed, I have even as a Christian, but all rights temptation is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not permit you to be tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation also provide a means of escape, that you may be able to bear it my foolish by week my ignoble by disgraced yes back to what God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are so that no one may boast before him by been the victim of other people's sin and ill will, well probably released I will be sooner or later still be able to say, as Joseph did you intended it to harm me, but God intended it for good. I ask my third question I've asked who is this God I've asked what has God done I asked. Now why did he do it answers grace to simple answer. That's the answer in one word is interesting, however, that is, Paul begins to talk about what we might call the divine motivation.

Paul uses not one word grace but for words in this passage as C seems to ransack the Greek language returns to adequately express why God acts as he does here. They are first when his love verse four God for his great love wherewith he loved us. Most Christians sue about any Bible study at all know that that is say translation of the Greek Greek word agape love our pothole to love the bird refers to that unique kind of love which only God is capable.

It's a word that almost defies description.

We can talk about human lobbyists and we can say they flow from God and reflect the love of God and all that is true, but when we talk about our debate. We are still beyond anything that we experience CS Lewis had before.

Love says passage where he talks about this in some detail and describes it very vividly. He says that God out of his great love has willed into being what from his perspective are utterly superfluous creatures, namely you and me. All the while foreseeing our fall in the sand and anticipating his action in saving them on the cross body says, saw an advance or he says since there is no time with God. God sees the buzzing flies about the cross. The flayed back pressed against the uneven would hunger the first the agony of Golgotha and he says this is love.

This is the divine love poured out to create, save in perfect those whom he is brought to face in Jesus. The second word Paul uses is mercy. It's also in verse four God was rich in mercy flows from love, but mercy has a special characteristic mercy is the favor of God displayed on those who deserve the precise opposite is we don't deserve mercy. What we deserve is wrath apart from the action of God. We are by nature children of wrath in here is God who, in mercy, reaches out to save us in Jesus Christ.

The third what is grace you find it in verse five. This probably is what was most on Paul's mind because he repeats it twice verse five. It is by grace you have been saved and then again in verse eight, almost the same words for it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God's grace means that God does not owe us anything. This is very hard for us to get through our heads.

Even Christians after we been saying for many years retain an idea that somehow God owes sinful human beings. Something we might not put in quite the way the world does, but will say what God at least owes people a chance to hear the gospel, you think that way you haven't really understood what grace is all about. Grace means God is not owe us anything at all. God is not owe us salvation.

God does not even owe us a chance to hear about salvation and if we are saved to see it is by grace utterly apart from anything in ourselves. Fourth word Paul uses his kindness find it in verse seven, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus now compared to the other words kindness seems to be weak relatively it's not weak. However, because it is part of the character of God and God's character is not weak. God is great in his kindness, where we see this most is in the Christian life. What happens when, in the Christian life we sin go our own way. When we stumble and fall. When we disobey what we know to be the teachings of Scripture is God and knock us down is God say you sin, take that as God say I can't have anything to do with somebody was sin that way and turn his back and will often leave us to our misery. God does nothing of the sort God is kind to us back in your life when you disobeyed him and you know you've done it, and you know what you deserve.

God give you what you deserve.

Now we did nothing of the sort. God was kind because this is desired, not merely to save us from his judgment but to save us from sin's power and perfect his day by day as we grow into the measure of the fullness of Jesus Christ. So I back to the question that I asked gets again, why did God act as he hands the answer again is grace. This is the way God operates. It is because Paul says he is love and mercy and grace and kindness yellow.

We say that we have to confess that we still haven't answered the question because we haven't given any real explanation for God acting the way that he does except to say this is what God is like God is a loving and merciful, gracious, kind, God because of that, those who understood this post praising him for it. If you understand grace of God then you are born again because you understand your sin and God's action, the Savior, Jesus Christ. And if you don't then you haven't begun to understand the first thing about the Christian religion. I asked this final question is, what must I do. We talk about what God is done why God is not the question is, what must I do, we must praise God. Of course, but it's more than that, we must act to one thing that we do can possibly merit salvation. Nothing we do can possibly commend us to God. We are even at our best objects of God's wrath having been called by God. We serve him and we can respond in faith and obedience to that which he proclaims. If you're not yet a Christian, then this proclamation of the love of God in Christ is meant to change you would woo you to regenerate you to make you alive in Christ because this is the gospel, by which God operates. God speaks through Paul in the book of Romans the fifth chapter to say, but God commended his love toward us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us is why we were like the person described in verses 1 to 3 that God sent Christ to be our Savior that is meant to draw you to faith in him and are already a Christian.

Then this knowledge of God's grace displayed in Christ is meant to draw you to him and faithful service you have to say with the hymn writer love so amazing, so divine commands my life my soul my whole this is what was in Calvin's mind when he got toward the end of his exposition of the section of Ephesians. I want to read you what Calvin says now let us cast ourselves down before the majesty of our good God with acknowledgment of our faults bring them to make us so to feel them that it makes us not only confess three or four of them, but also go back even to our birth and acknowledge that there is nothing but sin in us that there is no way for us to be reconciled to our God, but by the blood.

Death and passion of the Lord Jesus Christ and therefore is often as we feel any regrets to turn aside from the grace of God's and the site is before his judgment seat, let us have no other refuge than the sacrifice by which our Lord Jesus Christ has made atonement between God and us whenever we are weak. Let us desire him to remedy it by his Holy Spirit, which is the means that he's ordained to make us partakers of all his gracious gifts. Let us so continue in the same that we may be an example to others labor to draw them with us to the faith unity of this doctrine by our life and good conversation show that we have bought in vain on to so go to school as last of the son of God spread her father.

We stand in awe before this sentence. Other statements of Scripture that tell us what you have done when we were lost in our transgressions, we marvel at your wisdom, love and power to do all that needs to be done to rescue us from death to free us from sin's bondage to deliver us from wrath, and then only to do that negatively, but positively to bring us into fellowship with yourself and enrich us and fill us with the fullness of Jesus Christ, our father, use this gospel through us in our witness and through this teaching draw many that joy in Christ which so many countless others have already found pray in Jesus name, amen and amen. 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.

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