This broadcaster has 222 podcast archives available on-demand.
Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.
January 14, 2021 7:00 am
What if there was one key to life. One ultimate truth that would change everything in this broadcast of the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce will argue that such a truth does exist, will explain that knowing this ultimate reality makes all the difference both for this life and for eternity is the key to life in ancient proverb or perhaps a new success habits. Let's find out. Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. We all share a common human experience a desire for fulfillment and the quest for meaning. Let's listen as Dr. Boyce teaches from Ephesians chapter 4 to unlock the key to a life of hope and assurance.
I wonder if you've ever considered how significant it is that in the Western world.
We don't reckon time from some fixed point in the past which we had inevitably but rather reckon time from a point fixed at the approximation of the birth of Jesus Christ from which we number both forward and back buttery calendars like that the Jewish calendar is like that. It begins with what it fixes as the point of creation, and then it numbers forward from last Chinese calendar is the same but not the Christian calendar. We begin with the birth of Christ and then we numbered into directions we number backwards sin and accumulating recession of years that we call BC before Christ, and we reckon forward in the accumulating series of years which we call ADD stands for auto Domine year of our Lord. That's strange, but by that strange way reckoning years we testify to our conviction that Jesus Christ is the dividing line of history. What is true historically is also true.
Personally, for those who have come to know him. He is the dividing line the great divide in the Christian's life division between what we were before we came to him and what we have become.
As a result. This is what Paul is talking about in Ephesians 4. This is the great portion of the book where he is going to talk about the Christian life and how Christians must live the point at which he begins having first of all describe what we've come out of namely the Gentile world of futility and darkened understanding having spoken of that. He now speaks of that which has made the difference and its Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 420 says you did not come to know Christ that way is really interesting because what he saying here is that it's only Jesus Christ that makes any real difference in anyone's life is the only one was made any real difference in history and is the only one that is ever going to make any real difference for you, whomever you may be the world doesn't think that, of course, we think we're going to produce change in all sorts of other ways. Some people think they're going to change themselves through self-discovery. Hello hello business in our day in the personal discovery movement through such groups is asked in life. Spring in mind dynamics and Scientology and other groups like that only you can get down and do yourself deep and often shed your inhibitions. Well, you'll be a changed person. But it doesn't really work. You can shed your inhibitions. But what you discover underneath is not a new person but what you been all along.
Some people think well know, produce changes through enlightenment and so we have the sole attempt of people to discover something new through the mystery religions of our time. The new influx of the religions from the Eastern mysticism other people still hang onto that old but outmoded 19th century notion of the inevitability of historical progress.
We just hang in there long enough things are going to change. We just work of the problems long enough things are going to change what the early preachers of the gospel would sigh and what Christians really should be saying in our time is that all of that is a great allusion because the only real difference is that of ever common history of come through Jesus Christ, the only real differences never come to you and I, as a result of what he does. Personally in our lives as we believe on him and obey is what Paul is talking about. It's interesting how he does it uses three verbs here in an unusual way.
Marcus barked the son of the great theologian Karl Barth has written, and large commentary on the book of Ephesians and he speaks here of the extraordinary use of these verbs by Paul and calls the usage baffling might be overstating the baffling part, but there's no doubt that it's an extraordinary usage by which he means and should main that Paul uses language here in uncommon ways. Explain what he does.
First word is a mate it's for know what it occurs in that phrase which our Bibles translates did not come to know Christ that way talking about knowing Christ and really it means learning Christ reason why this is extraordinary is that there is no other example in the Bible, at least in biblical Greek of somebody being encouraged to know a person using that word. And furthermore that particular usage doesn't exist in any other known pre-biblical Greek document so we asked what does Paul have in mind presumably means more than just that were to know about Jesus or that we are to become acquainted with his doctrines so we can regurgitate his teaching, he must mean knowing Jesus in a deeper sense than that when we begin to reflect on that internists of other biblical verses led to the kind of thing that Jesus himself spoke about in that great prayer.
John 17 where he said as he defined salvation. This is eternal life, that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. The verb is different is not the word that Paul uses here, but the meaning I think is the same. What Jesus is saying is that these Christians in Ephesus had come to know Jesus Christ on the deepest and most personal level player come to know him is a personal friend, second or rear occurs in verse 21 and it's the verb that's translated heard it's a coup Sontag.
It's a simple Greek word for hearing now the unusual thing in Paul's usage of this verb is not the verb itself, but the fact that he is saying to these Ephesians that they heard Jesus last week when I was comparing the new international version to the King James version. I pointed out in the passage I was talking about the new international version did a better translation. At that point. Here's a place where I think the new international version doesn't do it as well. Word of in the phrase shortly you heard of him is not in the Greek doesn't set you have heard of Jesus.
It says rather you have heard Jesus and so that causes us to stop and think what is Paul talking about they heard Jesus. Jesus had died long before the gospel ever reached Ephesus and Paul had been one and since his coming others as well. To preach the gospel to them. I had heard about Jesus that much is true in heard of him but really say they have heard it.
I think what Paul has in mind here is that as the gospel was preached to them. Jesus himself the person of the Holy Spirit actually spoke to their hearts.
That was proper to say that in the preaching of the word they heard him. This is something that the world doesn't at all understand it can even begin to understand it because it doesn't have spiritual perception to go back to the illustration I used before of William Pitt the younger Wilberforce. The gospel is preached. The world hears it, but it doesn't understand because his mind is clouded and his eyes are blind or spiritual truth in every Christian knows exactly what this means Christians sitting there under the preaching of the word, and I emphasize the preaching of the word, especially because that's the way the Ephesians hard, but it's also true in our personal Bible study Christian is sitting there under the preaching of the word not really expecting anything. Perhaps Brad just in church because that's where they ought to be listening, because that's what they want to do and then suddenly, often in an unexpected way.
You're aware that Jesus is actually speaking to you through the exposition of that text. This is what Paul says happened to these Christians in Ephesus had come to know Jesus Christ personally in the personal Jesus Christ. It was their Savior, spoke to them as his gospel was made known and enters 1/3 verb taught in him, and a docks that says the Greek verb teach and what's unusual about this expression is that it says taught in him, how we wouldn't be surprised if at this point Paul had said Julie were taught about him or even if he had said you were taught by him because presumably Jesus would teach them through his messengers, but it is what he says. He said Julie were taught in him.
That seems to be speaking about the environment about this theater, in which these Christians were learning the image here is the image of the school of Jesus Christ.
And this is as if the apostle Paul is saying, Jesus is himself the school and he's a professor and is the subject matter as well. We've all become acquainted with the phrase or sentence that Marshall McLuhan made popular when the was talking about pot mediums of communication contrasting them with cool mediums of communication and talking about television and what she said the medium is the message that may be true in some lesser sense of television but here the apostle Paul is saying in Christianity Jesus Christ is the medium and Jesus Christ is the message and Jesus Christ is the environment as well is the way John Stott puts it in his commentary on this passage, he says, when Jesus Christ is at once the subject. The objects and the environments of the moral instruction being given. We may have confidence that it is truly Christian for as it says truth is in Jesus. And so it is. It's this that I have in mind when I called him a great divide. I we want to be specific. At this point and what we want to ask in specific terms, is what difference does this teaching and knowledge in a personal way of the Lord Jesus Christ mean I want to suggest that there are a number of alternatives first alternative is that between God and atheism.
I know when I present the alternative. This way that someone is going to sigh a rejection of Christianity does not necessarily lead atheism.
After all their many religions in the world.
Christianity is just one of them and it would seem far from being the case that the choice is between God and atheism. The choices actually between a multiplicity of religions. I know that is true, and I would even argue that it is because of the existence of the God of Christianity that we have all those religion Christianity teaches. And as Paul himself is taught in the paragraph immediately preceding this is that men and women in their rebellious sinful state of repressed knowledge of the true God by repressing that knowledge. They created a spiritual vacuum in their lives that something has to fill what feels it is religion is an empty thing a futile thing because it doesn't focus on the true God is only one God and so if it's focusing on another God is focusing on something that's no God, and nothing that's inevitably frustrating, but it's because of the existence of the true God of Christianity that the other religions exist, I would argue that when I want to make here is that because of the nature of religions other than the Christian religion, focusing on the gone other than the true God of Christianity is inevitably the case that these other religions lead the futility and in the final extreme to atheism was true in the apostle Paul's day, someone would say all the ancient world was very religious and indeed it was all kinds of religions of the ancient world, but it was leading to a great deal of disillusionment and skepticism and ultimately to atheism and see as I mentioned before, when Edward Gibbon summed up the case of religion in the ancient world and looked at all those various religions, he said to the common people.
They were all equally true in the philosophers of all equally false to the magistrates. They were all equally useful.
That's skepticism of a higher order and if we look down to our own time, we find that that is happening today people today would not say well we are atheists for the most part, though some would, but they are practical atheists.
I live as if there were no God and they suffer. The resulting emptiness and utility of their lives. The difference Jesus makes is that difference.
The difference between God. On the one hand and a practical and perhaps also philosophical atheism. On the other. I'm impressed with the fact that Francis Schaeffer and his writings begins at this point as she works with Christian apologetics.
He has popularized his position in the phrase goes, God is there any is not silently as a book by that name, and it appears in others of his writing that is the beginning point is why the Bible begins Genesis 11 in the beginning God you begin. At that point every else follows sense and makes meaning, but if you throw out God either in the philosophical way are a practical way.
Everything else becomes from.
It is just chaos.
So I say Jesus the great divide makes that difference. The second alternative is between there being a plan to human life and history or all thing simply being in accidents. The evolutionists of our day dominant philosophical orientation of our time would say that it's all an accident. They have no God at the beginning so they look at life. We know they say well it came from somewhere but if there was no God, there wasn't anyone to determine where it went was no plan because it was no plan or it must've just happened by chance, so they begin to talk about it that way sort of back in the beginning it was matter and the from certain forms so that matter various organic compounds like carbon, methane and ammonia carbon dioxide and water and hydrogen. There came in time to be by organic compounds. Things like good sugars and amino acids, and then from matter came to be biopolymers all by chance.
Large protein like structures and then from that eventually became the first cells, perhaps in the form of algae at the beginning and then once life was there.
Well, the progress was just all onward and upward for my point all by chance that's utterly absurd. The greatness of the absurdities of the absurdity isn't even understood by those that are talking about. It is chance after all we talk about chances of chance was the former chance with the plan changes nothing by very definition chance means is no plan. It just what happens happen all apart from the plan.
And believe me, if the choice is between a planning chance is no choice. Chance is nothing there has to be a plan in order for there to be a planner must be a planner in order for there to be plan of the scope must be a planner who is God, whom Jesus Christ reveals though I point out that in addition to that great alternative between God and atheism with which everything begins or Jesus Christ is also the dividing line at this practical level.
Is there a planned life or is it all an accident. Some people like the idea of an accident because of course it was an accident can do anything you want that's the case that means is that your life has no meaning you can do anything if you're not responsible. Anyone is no standard if there's no God. It was put you here to give you something to do then what you do doesn't the final analysis mean anything at all life from death, your achievements, no achievements. The final analysis, it just doesn't matter and you might as well take the stance that the ancient world had taken even in the time of the apostle Paul and they said well let's eat drink and be merry because tomorrow we die.
What matter beyond the grave know people talk about chance but when you get right down to the implications of that you say. Well, it means then that life is meaningless. They won't accept that reason they won't accept that of course is that even though there in rebellion against God gives the meeting there.
Nevertheless, in spite of themselves and their philosophy made in the image of God and so they have meaning, whether they know it or acknowledge it or want it or not. What we have to do is find that in relationship to Jesus Christ.
There's 1/3 alternative alternative between truth which comes by revelation.
On the one hand, or ignorance, skepticism, on the other must've been a surprise for the ancients to be told as they were by the apostle Paul, not so much in this letter, but especially I'm thinking first Corinthians that the wisdom of the ancient world is foolishness went nowhere because, of course, wisdom was one of the things of the ancient world prided itself on the Greeks in particular. Greeks produced the great philosophers. The Greeks had the first schools the first academies people flocked Athens to learn the wisdom of the great philosophers had to teach them the right to a people like that say apart from the revelation that is coming Jesus Christ all of your wisdom is foolishness that must've been a startling thing indeed. Yet even the philosophers the best of them knew the limitations of their knowledge they observed.
They reason they be Bruce Road conclusions but at the end of all process they were aware that they didn't have real certainty where these things were concerned, so Plato were told one occasion turned to his students and said rather wistfully. Perhaps one day there will come forth the word out of God, who will review all mysteries and make everything play. He didn't know who that word once he hadn't heard he hoped that revelation.
None of the Greeks in the time of Plato, or for many centuries after had any idea about word until the first preachers of the gospel came and preached low-cost Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh to them.
So the revelation of God in Christ and the Scripture began to provide for the world, by the grace of God, a platform basic foundation upon which we can know truly, exhaustively we all know everything what we know and the basis of God's revelation we know truly because God is God truly does not lie is revealed himself in truth to us in this book we can take that and can build upon it.
Regardless of what we may prefer or what may seem right to us before the alternative that is made possible by the coming of Jesus Christ, is the choice between life and oblivion. That is life, not oblivion, which men and women fear as they look at death. What is the great fear of the modern world. The great fear of the modern world is death and not for two reasons one hand, ignorance, people don't know what stands behind that portal of death. This is what Francis Bacon had in mind when he wrote on one occasion men fear death like children fear the dark. That's one reason for the fear the other is a sense of impending judgment say we may not believe in God.
We may not want to face up to the reality of God.
But deep in our beings.
Whether we acknowledge it to ourselves or not we fear that someday we have to stand before him, and when we stand before there will be a reckoning. I think that's what Dr. Johnson sensed the roach after witnessing the death of a friend that he was overtaken by a gloomy terror without a name. See if when we die.
Oblivion is what we experience, that is the best of all possibilities apart from the revelation of God in Christ. The worst is judgment that we have to face God Jesse in place about Jesus comes with his staff for Ross and his resurrection than Susan's revelation of the presence and power of God, and he says look it's not necessary to tremble and fear before death portal said the passing of that portal is passing out into the unknown. But in a certain sense the passing out of death here in the life there is not oblivion, but rather its eternal existence and fellowship with God forever more. Oh what a difference the Lord Jesus Christ makes that point, I am glad that we've come to know him in that way and enters his fifth alternative. The last of the difference between blessing or cursing.
I'm not talking about blessing or cursing in the life to come.
That's a reality that's a true alternative, but rather blessing upon our lives or judgment upon our lives here now you know the great seal of the book of Joshua whereafter the people had come into the promised land and had begun to possess it had won a number of battles became that area in the central portion of the country where there were two mountains mount evil mount gear is a in between was the type of natural amphitheater and long before they even entered it when they were still in the wilderness Moses who was alive at that time leading the people of that time said when you get to the promised land. When you come mount evil and there is a mere go through a certain ceremony. They are the people or to stand upon the two sides of the mountains in this natural amphitheater and there in that place the law is to be read to the people by the Levites. On the one hand, the Levites are to read off a whole string of blessings upon the people where that law is obeyed every time they read off a blessing. The people were to say amen and then the Levites were to read off a whole list of cursing's all the places where the people would not obey that law and wherever that was.
Read the people were to say a man it was a great demonstration of the fundamental principle of the book of Deuteronomy, namely the weather is obedience. There is a blessing, and where there is disobedience there is judgment on life. Now that you know you look at that scene and you you say, especially knowing the history of the people from that point on, yes, but what if they do disobey because they did and you say, what if we disobey because we do and you say, what if we want to obey what we don't find it within ourselves to do it because we don't find it within ourselves to do it. What then down to the bottom of that amphitheater between the two mountains was an older on that altar been plastered over the law was written, that law was the thing that condemned. That's what brought down the curses wonderful thing you say is that it was upon the altar of the law was written, the man older spoke of sacrifice and look forward to the death of Jesus Christ to here, as elsewhere, makes all the difference in the world we sin. Jesus Christ is the atonement for that sin.
Where would we be without that where we Jesus Christ is the power he makes all the difference in the world. Hallelujah for such a Savior of his prior our father we look at our past we look at our hearts we see ourselves in those terms that Paul uses for the Gentiles, the futility of their thinking darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God and yet we look at Christ came and we can say is, he also says of them. We did not learn Jesus Christ. That way our father how we thank you for Jesus, how we thank you that he makes all the difference for us and for others know how we wish to exalt him grant that he might have his way with us. Grant that he might be lifted up so receive all glory and what we do and say how we act as individuals and as the company of your people are we praying is blessed and holy name. 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 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 or you can visit us email@example.com for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Ruse Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON, and 1C2Y9 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