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1774. With Christ in the School of Conversion

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
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May 16, 2024 5:00 pm

1774. With Christ in the School of Conversion

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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May 16, 2024 5:00 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit continues the series entitled “New Life in Christ,” with a message from Ephesians 4:20-24.

The post 1774. With Christ in the School of Conversion appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

The Daily Platform
Bob Jones University
The Daily Platform
Bob Jones University

Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Today on The Daily Platform, Dr. Steve Pettit is continuing a study series from Ephesians entitled New Life in Christ. Today, Steve will walk us through the term conversion in Ephesians 4, 20-24. Please take your Bibles this morning and turn with me to the book of Ephesians, Ephesians chapter 4.

Tonight, we'll be doing our fourth study in the dorms. I hope that they have been encouraging to you as we work through this passage of Scripture, looking in the book of Ephesians chapter 4 at the New Life in Christ, and especially as we are learning about the walk of the believer. This morning, I'd like us to begin in verse 20.

We're going to work down through verse 24. These are very well-known verses. So whenever you come to well-known verses, it's sort of easy to say, well, I know that or I understand that.

I find in my own life, actually, that's not true. I find that it's sort of like looking at the ocean and you think you got the ocean until you put on a snorkel mask and then you drop underneath and you begin to see things in a greater, fuller way. That's what happens when you study the Word, especially through expository preaching. You actually get a bigger view, a bigger vision of what God is saying. So that's what I hope we'll see this morning as we begin reading in verse 20 where the Apostle Paul says these words, but you have not so learned Christ, if so be that you have heard him and have been taught by him as the truth is in Jesus. That you put off concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lust and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.

And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness and may God add his blessing to the reading of his Word. Last week we saw where Paul the Apostle described the lifestyle of the Gentiles. He talked about how they think, their mindset, and he talked about how they live.

He dealt with their morality. And Paul solemnly testifies to the Ephesian believers that living a pagan lifestyle is completely incompatible with the Christian life. The believer's conduct, that is the way that we live, must be completely in contrast to the current corrupt culture of the day. In other words, Christians should be different.

So the question this morning is why should there be a difference? And that's really what this passage is dealing with. And what he is saying here is that Christians have entered into a life changing experience with Christ because they have gone through conversion. They have been converted. Personally I don't know of anything more wonderful in this world than to see somebody converted. To see somebody's life dramatically transform where they go from bondage to freedom and from death to life. I was thinking yesterday what would it be like if we could go back 2,000 years ago and meet the people that were saved under the ministry of Christ and just be able to talk to them. Like what would it be like to go back and meet the woman at the cell? Or blind Bartimaeus who can now see?

Or even the maniac of Gadara, the rude dude who was really crude, who got saved, who ran around and he was chained and he broke chains and he lived in a graveyard and suddenly his life is transformed. How cool would it be to hear their stories? Or maybe for Zacchaeus to tell us what it was like when Jesus came into his house and then he came out of the house a believer. Or to listen, for example, to the centurion soldier who stood at the feet of Jesus and he literally watched Jesus die and he became a believer.

Or to hear Lazarus tell the story of how he came back from the dead after being dead for four days and suddenly he walks out of the grave alive. There is nothing more wonderful in the world than to see someone saved. And so with this in mind this morning I'd like us to look at this section where the Apostle Paul explains biblical conversion. And my message is entitled this morning with Christ in the school of conversion.

And the three things I want you to note this morning. The first is the idea or the essence of conversion. What is the nature of conversion?

What is happening? And I want you to notice that in verse 20 the Apostle Paul makes a contrast between what he had been saying about the pagan way of living and the Christian way of living. Notice he says in verse 20, but you have not so learned Christ. He's speaking to those who have been saved. He's describing what your lifestyle was like but you don't live that way because when you were converted you learned something different. And the Apostle Paul here is using a particular writing style that is supposed to strengthen the contrast or the difference. That style is what we call litotes. A litote is using a positive statement or he's trying to make a positive statement by expressing a negative understatement.

Now we do this on a regular basis. For example, here's a salesman and they sell you something and he says to you, you won't be sorry. Well what is he saying? He's really saying you will be happy. Or somebody says how was it you say it wasn't that bad.

What you're really saying was it was actually pretty good. It's the opposite. The Apostle Paul did this in Romans 1 when he said I'm not ashamed of the Gospel. What he was really saying is I'm very proud of the Gospel. So when Paul said here you have not so learned Christ this is a litote.

What he is saying is actually the opposite. The way that you learn Christ is a total opposite way of living like the Gentiles. The mindset and the conduct of a Christian is the opposite.

It's a black and white issue. In other words the true Gospel message would never even give the remote possibility that getting saved and living a life of vanity, darkness, ignorance, hardness, and immorality is compatible. When somebody learns Christ they are Biblically converted and their life is transformed. That's the idea of conversion. It is a transformed life. Now for some people conversion has often been a little confusing because the word is not really used that much in the New Testament however if you go back to the Old Testament you'll find a parallel word that is used scores of times is to use is the word turn.

Turn from your sin or return to the Lord. So what is conversion? Well it's a total change in one's direction or orientation of life.

Jesus said in Matthew 18 3 except you be converted and become as a little child you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. There's a change there's something that happens in your life a turning around. For a Christian it means a change from a life that is going away from God and you turn around and you begin to follow God. Acts 15 verse 3 Paul says or the book of Acts says that Paul and Barnabas passed through Phoenicia and Samaria and what did they do? They declared the conversion of the Gentiles.

That's the text. They declared how these Gentiles were worshiping idols in darkness and sin and immorality and the light broke in and they were converted. They were changed. They came to Christ. They came to the knowledge of the truth and they begin to live a life pursuing holiness and not sinfulness. So the essential idea or the nature of salvation is somebody is converted. So my question to ask you this morning is have you been converted?

There's no possible way in a crowd that we have here today that everybody here is converted. That some of you have a knowledge of God. It's in your head but it's not dropped 18 inches into your heart and the difference between heaven and hell is about 18 inches. What I know up here and what I believe down here are two different things and you may have grown up as an insider in Christianity but the whole time you've been an outsider and it's amazing how many people who are outsiders get saved and suddenly they become insiders. So the essence of conversion is this transformation of life and that leads me to the second point and that is how does this happen?

What is the means by which we are converted? And go back to verses 20 and 21 and we'll see it. Verse 20 we have the negative statement but you have not so learned Christ. So what is verse 21? Verse 21 is the positive explanation of what it means to learn Christ. Notice what it says, if so be that you have heard him and have been taught by him as the truth is in Jesus. Paul here is making an assumption that if you have heard Christ and you have been taught by Christ then obviously you've learned Christ and your life has been changed.

So what does verse 21 mean? Let me break it down. I want to break it down to three things. Number one, Paul here is using school terms.

Terms we're all very familiar with. Learning, hearing and teaching. It's very interesting that the apostle Paul taught the gospel in Ephesus in a school called the school of Tyrannus. And Paul is taking the school concept as a reminder that the Gentiles were converted through the teaching of the gospel and in that they learned about Christ and they received Jesus Christ. So that's with Christ in the school of conversion.

And what's interesting here is that Christ was the center of the entire education. Paul says that Jesus was the subject of the teaching. It was all about him. Paul says you learned him, you heard him and you were taught by him.

It's all about him. They learned about his deity, his death, his resurrection, his reign and glory and his return to the earth. They learned about his kingdom, his lordship, his rule of righteousness, his moral demands of the new life to which he's called all of us in salvation. Jesus was the teaching. It was about Christ. That's the only message, by the way, that's going to convert a soul.

You have to preach Christ and him crucified. But not only was Jesus the message, but Jesus was actually the messenger. You see, though Paul was speaking to those who were listening, what they were actually hearing was the voice of Christ. That's what Paul's saying here.

He says you heard him. What this is referring to is what Jesus said when he would send the Holy Spirit. What is the ministry of the Holy Spirit? John 15 26. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth.

Isn't that interesting that that's what the same phrase you get in verse 21? The Spirit, he says, shall testify of me. The ministry of the unseen Spirit, though you cannot see him, he is very real.

He's a real person. And the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to make Christ real so that when the preacher is preaching, actually Jesus is preaching. One writer R. Kent Hughes said it this way, when true preaching takes place, Jesus is invisibly in the pulpit and walking the aisles, personally teaching his own. So not only is Jesus the subject, but Jesus is also the one who is doing the teaching through the one who's teaching. And then thirdly, Jesus is the atmosphere. Everything was in Jesus. The Bible says as the truth is in Jesus, just like a fish lives in the atmosphere of the water. So we are living in the atmosphere of Christ when the gospel is being preached.

Now think about what that means. I mean, think about the fact that the presence of the very one you're learning about is not only with you, but he's the one that's teaching you. I mean, here you go to class and a teacher stands up and he teaches about Napoleon. But in reality, Napoleon is there in the room.

And Napoleon is the one who is actually doing the speaking through the teacher. That's the idea. And the whole reason why this is happening is because what Jesus is wanting to do is to have a relationship with you. That's what's happening in preaching. In conversion preaching, you get everything. You get the message.

You get the messenger. And you get the manifestation of the presence of the one who's doing the preaching. Yesterday morning I was preaching in the First Baptist Church of Glen Esty, Ohio.

My message was entitled The Death of Christ and so I spent the whole message just sort of unfolding Christ's death. I invited people to respond and people came forward to accept Christ as Savior and afterwards I was eating with the pastor. And he said, by the way, he said a man came forward, a Hispanic man came forward this morning.

This was yesterday. And he said he really didn't speak any English, but he came forward and he met with one of the men and one of the men was obviously, could only speak English. And so he got on the phone and he connected this Hispanic man with one of the men in the church who spoke Spanish and so they connected back and forth and basically he went through the gospel with him and the man got saved yesterday morning. And I asked him, I asked the pastor, I said, why did he come forward? And his response was this, that the man came forward, he said, because in the service he felt compelled. He felt compelled.

Now folks, I don't know if I fully understand that, but I know this. When people get saved, they are being drawn to Jesus. There is a compulsion that is taking place and this is what the apostle Paul is talking about here. He preached Christ, he taught Christ, and the people came to Christ. One other thing I'd like you to note that goes back to explaining what it means to hear him and be taught by him and that is this, that all of these verbs, learn, hear, and teach are in the aorist tense.

You say, what does that mean? It points back to a time when they were converted in the past. In other words, what he is saying is this, that there is a time when you hear Christ and you respond and you come to Christ. It's not, it may be a process to get you there, but there is a time in your life when you're converted. Can you tell me when you were converted? Now you may not know the exact day, the exact hour, and all the circumstances surrounding it, but you know in your life there was a change. There was a turning from and there was a turning to Jesus Christ. Paul sums it up in Colossians 2. He says, as you therefore receive Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him. There was a time when you receive Jesus Christ personally in your life. That's what happens in conversion. And that leads me to the last point. And how is it then were these Ephesians converted?

Or more specifically, what really happened? Let's go back and look at verses 22-24. Oftentimes these verses have been used to teach about how you grow as a Christian, but in reality it actually is teaching how you get saved first and then from that you grow. Notice what he says, that you put off concerning the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lust and be renewed in the spirit of your mind and that you put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

There are two primary elements in conversion. Number one, the old man is put off and number two, the new man is put on. So what does that mean? Put off the old man. The word put off is the idea of stripping off old clothes. It implies a once for all decision to get rid of, to remove, to lay aside your old former way of life. And that former way of life is called the old man. So what is the old man? Simply defined, it's everything you are in Adam because of sin. The old man is everything you are in Adam because of sin. Think of it this way, when Jesus came to this earth, what was his mission? His mission was to undo what Adam did in the fall.

Jesus came to reverse the curse. Adam was the first man and the representative head of the entire human race so that when he sinned, his sin affected all humanity. And when Adam sinned, his guilt was transferred to all mankind.

Romans 5 18, therefore as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation. When Adam sinned, not only was guilt transferred, but his nature was transmitted to all mankind through procreation. That means that when we are born, we're born with the nature of Adam, the sinful nature. So let me put it this way, we are all condemned by Adam's imputed guilt and we are all controlled by Adam's imparted sinful nature. This entire condition is called original sin and is known as the old man. It's everything we are in sin because of Adam. When you were born into this world the first time, you were born in Adam.

In order for you to get into heaven, you have to be born a second time, you have to be born into Christ. And the old man term here not only describes his condition, but it also describes his corruption. Look at what he says, you put off concerning the former conversation, the former lifestyle, the old man. In other words, the old man has a way to live.

How does he live? Which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. What does it mean to be corrupt? It means something that is rotting or decaying. What comes to my mind is going out and buying at the grocery store a 16 ounce ribeye steak. Wouldn't that sound good for lunch today? A little marinated, a little butter, salt, pepper, big old thick ribeye steak. But we're not going to cook it up, I'm going to take it and put it out in the backyard and let it sit.

And I'm going to check on it in about three days. Now let me ask you a question, after three days sitting outside, what do you think that steak is going to be like? Are you going to want to cook it and eat it?

No, why? It's rotting. It's rotting flesh.

Here's what Paul is saying. He is saying that the old man is continually rotting through the indulging of selfish lusts. And those lusts promise to gratify and satisfy if you choose to indulge them. However, it's only deception because the more you indulge, the worse you get. It begins to corrupt your emotions, your conscience, your mind, your thinking, your body.

Inevitably, it leads to moral pollution, emotional disintegration, and ultimately eternal destruction. What he is saying is, in Adam, if I live in my sin, it gets worse. So how do you put off the old man? I mean, you just can't like take it off.

How do you do that? And that's where the work of Christ comes in. Romans 6 verse 6, knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him. Everything you were in the first Adam is put away by the means of the death of the second Adam. Christ went to the cross and he took the sin of Adam upon himself. And by the power of his resurrection, we are personally set free from the bondage and the power of our sin nature, our flesh. And though the flesh is not removed from the body, it no longer dominates and controls us because the power of the flesh was broken at the cross.

The body of sin has been rendered inoperative. How do we put off that old man? We put off the old man through repentance, through turning from that old life, recognizing and turning to Christ. And then he says, put on the new man. Once you've stripped off the old clothes, you need to put on the new clothes. Somebody has called this the divine wardrobe, the clothing for the third race, the church of God.

It is a clothing that is heavenly and eternal in style and it never goes out of date. So what is the new man? Well, if the old man is everything you are in Adam because of sin, then the new man is everything you are in Christ because of grace. This new man is literally new created life within you. It is the restoration of the image of God lost by Adam.

Think of this. What Adam had before he sinned, you actually receive when you get Christ. Now, you don't have the new body yet. You still have a sinful nature, but the essence of what Adam had in the garden, you actually receive at the moment of salvation. And he tells us what these qualities are. Notice he says, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. What does God do in you? He creates in you a desire to do what is right. Before you're saved, you hate the law. After you're saved, you embrace the law. He puts within you a devotion to know and love God.

That's called holiness. This is recreated in the heart of someone that has been converted. And God has internally sanctified the desires of your heart through your new life. Therefore, all change of life comes or begins internally through the nurturing of the sanctified desires. God has put this in your heart. You are a new creation and therefore change is not outside in, it's always inside out. And so how does all this take place?

When does this event occur? It occurs the moment you repent, put off the old man, and the moment you believe when you personally accept Jesus Christ into your own heart and life. That's what it means to be converted.

Could you bow your head and close your eyes with me? In a moment I'm going to have a word of prayer, but before I pray, I'd like to urge many of you who have never been converted that you get saved. I had one of our leaders come up to me the other day and was so encouraged that three girls in her dorm had been saved already this year.

What does that tell me? There are many of you who have never been converted. You know Christ in your head. You do not know Christ in your heart.

I can't think of any more wonderful place to be as a Christian than at Bob Jones University learning what you're learning if you're a Christian with a new nature. And so my prayer is that you will truly repent, decisively turn to Christ and turn from your old life and receive the new life that is in Christ. Father, we thank you for the gospel, and we thank you for its life-transforming power. Lord, help us to live out in reality what we've experienced in conversion, and thank you, Father, for the old man that has been stripped away and the new man that has come in Jesus' name.

Amen. God bless you. You've been listening to a sermon from Ephesians chapter 4 by Dr. Steve Pettit. Steve is now utilizing his gifts as a compelling communicator and expositor of Scripture and travels to local churches with preaching, concerts, and conferences emphasizing gospel-centered evangelism and Christian leadership development. You can get more information about Steve's ministry at That's Thanks again for listening. Join us again tomorrow as we study God's Word together on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-16 19:30:29 / 2024-05-16 19:39:53 / 9

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