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January 6, 2021 7:00 am
Just like a calculator that's designed to receive input data and produce corresponding output results. Our lives are meant to absorb the truth of God, and in turn reduce faith and good works alive truly impacted by doctrine will be a life that is sanctified in this broadcast of the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce discusses this important idea in an encouraging message entitled the worthy life. Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Bortz preparing you to think and act quickly. Scripture calls us to be worthy of our calling, but that can seem like quite a daunting task.
Let's listen as Dr. Boyce simplifies this concept by asking one fundamental question what can I do to make the life of Christ evident to those around me quite a few years ago when my wife and I were in a Christian education class in seminary. We were given an assignment to design the Sunday school curriculum that so many years ago that I don't remember all the details of the curriculum we develop. But I do remember quite vividly the overlying theme. It was the idea that imports which is what we call that referring to the content taught should equal output at decidedly practical expression of the contents in particular, acts of service in the students lives. I don't know how that would've worked out in practice. But I do know that the principal is a valid one. It's a very principal that the apostle Paul so often uses in the outline of the letters we have from them in the New Testament, there is often you know this if you've ever studied Paul's letters carefully. A large first section dealing with Christian doctrine. That's the important part of it and then equally often this is followed by a practical section in which the truth communicated in the first part are matched to particular kinds of behavior and service that are to be expected of Christians really believe what has been taught first.
I mentioned that now because that is precisely what we have in the book of Ephesians we been studying this carefully for some time now and have progressed in our study. As far as the first three chapters that is the doctrinal portion of the book. Paul has stressed doctrine in such an exciting and exhilarating way that even he is he got to the end of his exposition could hardly contain himself. He seems in the last verses of chapter 3 to be stretching for words in the finally ends in that great doxology that we find in verse 21 to him. That is, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
And we hear that an if we understood those great doctrines about which is been talking. We say our heart Amen and amen. Talk about predestination election and adoption the redemption of rebirth and the work of the Holy Spirit and that great work of God informing the church out of all kinds of people of all nations, particularly bringing together Jew and Gentile, which was the particular problem in this particular church and we say, isn't that marvelous. What God has done to him be glory forever and ever.
Yeah, Paul doesn't stop there because no sooner has he talked about all these great doctrines and he begins to get intensely practical. He says as he begins chapter 4 is a prisoner for the Lord, then I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received what I've been saying.
By way of introduction is contained in the full meaning of that word were the worthy. Of course, means to have worth, or to have value, but it means more than that is not just to be worthy, but a worth equal to your position. For example we talk about a worthy opponent, we mean opponent choose gifts or skills are equal to our own.
We talk about a workman who is worthy of his hire, we mean a workman who service is equal to the reward in terms of wages that is going to receive. Martyn Lloyd Jones in his commentary uses the illustration of the scale says it's a case of having the scale equally balanced and in this case it's case of having doctrine balanced by practical expression of the doctrine. That's the worthy life, worthy life is the life which in practical terms matches what is true doctrinally a life in which Ephesians 4 through six perfectly matches what we have in Ephesians 13 Martyn Lloyd Jones describes in this way. He says the apostle was beseeching them and exhorting them always to give equal weight in their lives. The doctrine and practice is not put all the weight on doctrine that none unpracticed or all the weight on practice and just a little, if any, on doctrine to do so produces imbalance and lopsided notice Ephesians must take great pains to see that the scales are perfectly balanced so easy to do as it some Christians by their very nature are intellectual.
They just love doctrine or the kind that read books they love study groups and when the preacher begins exposition of some great doctrinal passage why their hearts just warm the exposition. While that's all well and good, that's a wonderful thing. Doctrine is a delight Christian. The doesn't appreciate the great doctrines of the faith is an impoverished Christian that there's a danger in this approach, and sometimes send people like this. There is a great weakness that results from an inability to overcome the danger that simply that people like this often become so enraptured by the doctrine that they find the practical expression of the doctrine to be somewhat irrelevant and maybe even doll may thrive on Ephesians 13, but they come to chapter floor and they say well you know that's obvious.
I know all that may flip the pages very quickly so they can get on the doctrinal sections of Philippians, which is the book that comes next.
That's one kind Christian, then, are the others just love practice their experiential and their orientation a struggle through Ephesians 1 to 3, but they are so happy when the preacher gets to chapter 4 and begins to talk about spiritual gifts.
That's what they want to know what's my spiritual gift and how might exercise it and they come to the later chapters, and they find all that instruction about the families of husbands and wives in children's and parents and they say that's where it's at and yet their great danger. You see, is to be so moved by experience and carried along by it are grounded in the doctrines that they move equally well and then loading us as well.
As in a proper direction.
The point of course is we need both, which is what the worthy life as the Bible talks about it is all about when he doctrine because without doctrine. We have no grounding the other hand, we need practice because without the practice. Well doctrine just becomes intellectual idea and we don't even have evidence in our lives at the doctrine and true spiritual way has taken hold. Paul doesn't allow us to forget that. And when we come as we do to the first verse of this fourth chapter. We have to keep the balance constantly in mind Paul is simply saying when he says I urge you to live a worthy life that the input is equal the output were to be the kind of Christians. God really desires us to be. I was argument is that were to live a life worthy of the calling we received some of the older versions this point. Use the word location now in its Latin root location means precisely the same thing as calling from the Latin verb Bukhari, which means to call.
I think it's desirable to translate this way the new international version does not because the word location is wrong, but because it our way of thinking of things. Location has an idea slightly misleading.
In this context, see vocation as we normally think about it is something we choose to say well you're in school. What's your vocation going to be in your reply.
Well I think I'll go in the law. Think I might go into design.
Maybe I'll be a doctor see that something you choose calling on the other hand, is something that is chosen for us to put it spiritually. It is what God does in bringing us to himself. This is all upon God, that's appropriate in the context of the letter because if you understood anything about these first three chapters you understood.
I'm sure that it is God who is the author of salvation is God who calls us in his body redeems us as God informs the church or church itself in the Greek place you being so sore called out as called out by God not called out by themselves.
We don't call people in the church. Something God does. That's why, in the early chapters of acts it says and the Lord added daily to the church such as should be saved that God's work. So when we talk about this calling for which we live a worthy life. We are brought back once again to what God has done for us another two aspects of this. We particularly need to keep in mind Peter when he writes in his first letter says that God has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light that has to do with understanding and great dramatization of what this means is the story of the blind man in John nine why men couldn't see couldn't see Christ he couldn't even value in a certain sense the site. He didn't have because is a story tells us he was blind from birth. You'd never been able to see so he didn't really know what site was doing was missing something but he couldn't even find it properly and where like that spiritually before God calls us, we think that the way to happiness is the world's way we try and send it doesn't work, we think well is something wrong with us so we try different aspect of that we pursue one thing after the other and when religion is spoken when the gospel is presented just seems to us to be the most foolish thing in the world.
We can see it where we are blind we are still in the dark, spiritually the call of God is that which brings us out of darkness into God's light. It's a question of having our eyes open and now we see how foolish we were to think that we could satisfy our lives which are eternal with temporal passing things and we see that God is not a great work for us in Jesus Christ. And so we recognize that he is the Savior and that he is the source of life and that the abundant life.
A happy life is to be found in serving him. That's understanding then is this second aspect. Not only are we brought out of darkness into God's marvelous light. We are brought out of death into life. This is what Paul has been talking about in Ephesians 2, where he says sit before our conversion we were dead in trespasses and sins in the coming to Christ by the call of God is the equivalent of the resurrection that speaks of power. See how important both of those things are before we even understand what the Christian life is all about. We have to understand that you can't pursue it if you don't understand what it is you're pursuing, but understanding it isn't enough, we can understand that that's the way to go and still be unable to do it.
So the calling of God gives us not only understanding but gives power actually follow in the Christian way when Paul begins chapter 4 as he does by saying I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you received reminding us of what God is done. God's given his understanding and power is brought us out of darkness to light out of death into life beset us up on a new way and he says now that is the way in which her to walk and that is the power by which you are to live.
Now everything in these next chapters is going to be an exposition of that as I've already intimated going to have two main parts.
Paul is going to talk about the unity of the body of Christ.
From this point on three verse 16.
He's going to deal with unity as a particular kind of unity and unity that embraces diversity as one aspect of pennies going to talk about what we would call the godly or the sanctified life is going to deal with that in very practical terms, beginning with verse 17 of chapter 4 in carrying on the and including all kinds of interpersonal relationships, and finally the Christian warfare against evil but surround us.
Those are his two main themes. These verses. Verses 1 to 3 Paul summarizes PE puts it together in a brief announcement which is then going to develop more fully.
And here's the way puts beginning with verse to be completely humble and gentle. Be patients bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. Out of five characteristics that he mentions, just in that short space verse on the Ms. humility. Humility is the opposite of pride or self-assertion.
It is quite evident that humility must be characteristic of the Christian life. If, as Paul has said earlier in the letter were saved not by works but by grace, so that no one can boast.
Then obviously pride must go with very foundation of the Christian life has to be life of humble receiving what God himself is done and moreover it's also equally evident that that should spill over into our relationship with other people. Paul says in the second chapter of Philippians that were not to be conceited or boast in ourselves, but rather with humbleness of mind, each is to think of the other person better than himself or herself. The difficulty is saying is that we nevertheless still have our pride. So when were mistreated.
We got our backs up as we sign we get defensive. We want to show that we are right to the other person is wrong when we want to insist on justice instead of living out the Christian life. Watch Moneta Chinese evangelist and his very brief treatment of Ephesians tells the story of a Chinese rice farmer who learned a great lesson in this area.
He had his field about halfway up the hill and down below the bottom of the hill there was a stream and the way in which he got his rice to grow was by using a hand pump in order to pump water from the stream up to irrigate his field. I done that for years. It was just his way of life. But one summer when he was in the midst of his irrigation. He went home at night and came back the next morning to discover that neighbor who owns the two fields just down the hill on his own come at night and broke a hole in his wall and allow the water to run out of his field down into the neighbors to fields, so his fields were dry and the neighbors were fully didn't know what to do. He took Capt. next day when out and filled up his field again. Same thing happened neighbor open the dividing wall install the water happen two or three times.
Finally the Christian rice farmer went to the other Christians and said no.
What can I do it. I tried to be patient. I tried to do the right thing but he said it is the right thing now to insist that I get my water and to confront this neighbor of mine who has been stealing.
I prayed about it in one of the Christians in the group said you know if the only thing we do is what's right were really very poor Christians we have to do more than what is right.
So the rice farmer was impressed by that thought it over in the next day he went out to the fields and in the morning.
All morning he pump water into his neighbors to fields and then in the afternoon after his neighbors fields were full. He pump water, and the result of a bout time on were no more holes made in the dividing wall. The neighbor was astounded. He began to ask questions and eventually as he got answers to his questions. He became a Christian.
That's what Paul is talking about. You say that's humility.
That's the kind of attitude that does not consist upon its rights. It does not put its own pride forward. Says rather what can I do to make the life of Jesus Christ evident to those who are in the world around. Secondly, Paul talks about gentleness, which is just the new internationals versions translation of the word meekness. I'm glad again that the word is translated in this way because although meekness is a good biblical word. It does suggest the wrong things to assist us with the most of us, meekness means weakness, and so we think. Well, we don't want to be weak.
We forget that Moses is praised a number says the most meek, new international version like translated humble words, meek, the meekest man who was living upon the face of the earth and yet Moses wasn't a week Manny was a strong man. He was strong enough to stand before Pharaoh greatest monarch of his day and say to him, thus saith the Lord. Let my people go, and he persevered in the challenge until the people were finally brought out of Egypt by God's hand or Jesus Christ was meek. He said take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and gentle and hard and you shall find rest for your souls. He said blessed are the meek, because they shall inherit the earth. This is the attitude that the apostle Paul recommends to the Ephesians and to ourselves. 30 talks about patience.
We should be patient. She says patient above all with one another and with the world. The difficulty with patients is that it is achieved through tribulations and none of us want to pay that price from years ago rather pious. Perhaps a falsely pious individual came to a preacher said his people sometimes do all preacher I sold lack patience said it very humble way. I sold lack patience. I wish you'd pray for me that I might have patience and the preacher said I'd be glad to do that will pray for you right now, so he bowed his head and began to pray. All God our father, please send great tribulations and that his brother's life a hand when out. Wait a minute, is that I think you misunderstood me.
I said I needed patients not tribulations preacher settle. I understood you very well understood that you want patients, but haven't you ever read Romans 53 Romans 53 says, and we glory in tribulations also knowing that tribulation worketh patience is by what we suffer, we learn patience and so I'm praying that God will send great tribulation and you're like most of us don't want to pay that price. And yet, here is Paul saying that we are to be patient and that this is an important characteristic for thing he talks about his bearing with one another in love. Now these virtues are all closely related translation makes that clear, humble and gentle. Those go together. Patient she could say patient and bearing with one another in love. Patience is almost the same thing as bearing with one another in love with her is the slight difference when he says patient she's thinking of patients in all things at the say patience with all people in patients in all circumstances when hard things come into our lives to be patient knowing that God has his purpose in that and he'll accomplish it in his own time when he says, bearing with one another in love is talking about patience, but he's talking about patience. Above all, in relationship to other Christians by what he did that because sometimes that's the hardest of all say when that Chinese rice farmer had his neighbor take the water he could say well you know he's not a Christian. It's irritating, but for the sake of my witness to him. I'll do what's right. What you doing Christian does the same thing say Lord judges are, you say well maybe he's not a Christian, after all, there is Paul saying that if we are to live out the Christian life you must be patient without brother because of course that is precisely the way God has been with us were to be long-suffering suffering means to suffer long. God had suffered long with us there would be no Christianity because God has suffered long with us. We are to match that in the way we live and suffer along with others and this is last point verse three make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There's a sense in which all of these qualities been leading up to this verse and of course, is what Paul is now going to talk about at length. He's going to talk about that unity that we have, beginning with verse four. Two important things to be said about unity and the first is that it is a unity which the Holy Spirit has already given to the church of Jesus Christ to pray that God will establish unity. God is already given us the unity. That's why Paul says in verse four there is one body, and there is one spirit there is one hope there is one Lord, there is one faith, there is one baptism, there is one God and father of all, it was over all and through all and in you all exclamations of our unity and it's something that we as a marvelous thing everyone sighed in his commentary tells a story which I think Apple illustrates this. He had been in Minneapolis preaching any fallen sick. He came down with typhoid fever left him very weak and that eventually, when he had enough strength to return home.
He returned home to California by train which was the main way of travel in those days because he was too weak to stand the reporter and the train made a bed up in the pulmonary and just left it there throughout the day so as Ironside traveled. He traveled reclining on this Pullman birth first morning out. He got out his Bible early to begin his devotions and he was there reading it when a rather stout German lady came by and she looked down at him and she said not that I be able and he said yes it's a Bible. Well, she said, I think I go get my people, and we have our devotions together so she went off and she came back, and pretty soon the two of them were sitting there reading their Bible little while later that same morning a rather tall man came by and he said law are you reading and that turned out he was a Norwegian.
He said I thank I go get my Bible to and he went off and got his Bible and came back, and pretty soon another person join them in another and another.
They do that every morning.
Ironside said by the time they reach Sacramento, where the train split up to go into different directions. There were as many as 28 people in 28 Bibles for these devotions in the Porter who probably was a Baptist went up and down the train, saying the camp meeting is beginning in car 13. Everyone is welcome to come and so the Christian community grew and prospered on that trip to California when they reach Sacramento and the train divided.
As I said German lady was about to go in one direction. Ironside another. She said now before I go up I want to ask you a question. She said what nomination are you. Ironside said well I belong to the same denomination. David belong to said I didn't know David had a denomination. Oh yes, said Ironside, David wrote I belong to the company of those who fear the Lord and keep his precepts and she said Yaya that is a good church evidence. You say that regardless of national background or denomination, nor particularly experience.
Christians are members of one church and they are united with a unity that comes not out of the heart of sinful men or women, but which comes from God that you see. Paul says make every effort to keep this unity when he says that he's making clear the second most important thing that has to be said about the unity of the church.
That is, it is very easy to harm it to destroy you for whatever reason, sometimes it's an unbalanced denominational loyalty. Other times it's a distorted idea of some Christian truth. Sometimes it's just a desire for placer prominence, but for whatever reason, tensions come into the body of Christ and as we know historically, there have been many many divisions.
Quite a few of them very unnecessary. And here is Paul says look, I know that there are is that problem and so I say make every effort to keep the unity of the Holy Spirit through the bond of peace. You say how can we do that, am I able to do that to say, will it happen. Well, we can and will.
If these characteristics, Paul urges upon us really do have God's proper place in our hearts will happen if we are humble, completely slow and gentle and patient and if we bear with one another in love. The purpose of God will be accomplished in our midst, and that each gray body of doctrine which we so much cherish will be made visible before the watching world. Let us pray our father we ask you to bless these truths to our hearts are not difficult truths in the way some doctrines are there practical but they are extremely difficult for many of us if we are serious about the men really want to live them out in our lives. Give us grace to do that much that we might be exalted. How could we possibly be exalted. All praise goes to you the grades and gracious God, but in order that you might be exalted in your people in this place.
The praise of the glory of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.
Amen. You are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.
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