THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 4-6-03
LESSON TITLE: PAUL'S LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS: "CHAPTER 4: BECOMING A NEW CREATURE IN CHRIST"
Good morning! Let me welcome each of you to our program this morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us to hear the Living Word of God. We are excited that you have chosen to give this time of sacrifice to our God. Won't you take advantage of every opportunity this morning to give your own reverence to God, as we together offer this time of worship to Him. May all things be done, to God, for God and unto His glory. Let's begin our offering to with a prayer!
Our God does so much for us on a daily basis, I think we often tend to take it all for granted! However, the reality is, from time to time we do need to stop and realize all God has done, is doing and will do in our lives. Then we need to show Him the proper thankfulness, honor and respect for all these things. This morning, our first song deals with this very need to remember all that God does for us. So, please participate with the congregation as we sing together, "When Upon Life's Billows!"
(SONG # 1)
Now let me ask you again, how often do we each forget all the great and wondrous things God does for us? Furthermore, how often do we forget that He does these things for us on a daily basis? We just sang the beautiful old song, "Count your many blessings, name them one by one." Oh, how to it is that we would be a much happier people of God, if we but remember this simple concept.
But now let me ask you, to what extent does God provide for us and help us in this life? Well, the answer is given very beautifully in Ephesians 3:20, were Paul said, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." Think about that for a minute! How does God answer our prayers? How does God respond to the needs we have in this life? Well, this verse says that He does even more than we ask or even think of! What a mighty and loving God we serve.
Now, if we go down to the next verse, which is verse 21 and read through Ephesians chapter 4, and verse 1, we find out about our part in the equation. There it says, "to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. You see, our part is that we must give glory to God the giver and provider of all. How long must we do this? The verse here says forever and ever.
The final verse answers how we give this glory to God when it said that we must, "walk worthy of the calling." Our job then is to glorify God by walking in His will according to how we are called in Jesus Christ. We must all do the work of the Lord and in this we praise and glorify His holy name.
One writer summed it up like this, when he said, when we, "attempt great things for God, we can expect great things from Him. Oh, how true this statement is, because the Bible said that the more we do for Him the more we will receive. So, are you glorifying God through your labors in His service. If you are, then remember that His promise is that He will do more for us than we ever ask or think. Our God is great!
This morning we will continue our series together on, "Paul's Letter To The Ephesians." Our specific topic today will cover, "Chapter 4: Becoming A New Creature In Christ." So stay with us and after our next song I will lead our lesson thoughts of the morning. Now let's join together in our second song of the day. The name of this hymn, "Blest Be The Tie That Binds."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thank you for continuing with us this morning as we now have the opportunity to go to God's Word as we see what He has to say to us as New Testament Christians, primarily at this time as we look at what the inspired writers have to say to churches in the New Testament, and as we've been looking together at Paul's letter to the Ephesians.
So far, I think we've had a good study together. We've been able to consider not only an introduction but also the first three chapters. In those chapters, we've looked at a wealth of information, but primarily have focused on the concepts in these chapters such as God's eternal plan for redemption. In fact, the book of Ephesians does so well, I believe, to not only show us the great revelation that has been made known to all man, but really that revelation is the fact of that concept that we talked about here, the redemption, that redemption through Jesus Christ, the life that He lived, the death that He suffered, the burying as He was put into the grave and as He was coming from the grave and rising again in order that He might overcome that which He had been put into. So as we consider all of these facts in these chapters, then we see also the second chapter that really focused primarily on the concept that we are saved by grace through faith. That really was the emphasis that we had in that chapter, but again in that same chapter it dealt with God's revelation and the plan of redemption and many other concepts, but here it seemed to really bring out this addition or this concept that truly we are not worthy of what God has given us or the promises that He has made to us. Therefore, we need grace in order to be saved. But yet although He mentions grace, He doesn't dismiss the concept of a need that a man have faith. In other words, that a man do his part and show something so that when God extends the grace to him, then certainly man can do his part to have faith and receive that grace and live as God certainly has asked him to.
There again in chapter 3 we remember that last week we looked at the mystery specifically being revealed and that mystery was revealed. In all of these things, I think over and over we've seen the clear conclusion of how that God's Will was given to all man. It was different from the old law and the things that we find under the Jewish law at that time because under the new law through Christ Jesus that all man might be one in Christ Jesus. That's exactly what we saw in the Galatian letter that we looked at just previously in our studies together as we were told there that in Christ there is no division, there is no separation, but in Christ we are all one whether Jew or Gentile, whether free or bond, no matter what race we are of, no matter what job we have, we are all one and equal in the eyes of Christ Jesus as we are His servants, as we are His children. That's exactly where we begin in chapter 4.
As we look at chapter 4, we see here clearly that this chapter once again helps us with some of the same concepts not with the idea of redemption, not with the idea of the mystery that has been provided, but really it gives us a further glimpse at what it's all about and how that as followers of God, we have put away the things that are old and we have become new creatures, new followers according to the Will of the Father. But with that in mind and looking at chapter 4 and verse 1, you might also notice that back in chapter 2 that a lot of the things dealt with in chapter 4 and verse 1 were again focused on in chapter 2 around verse 14 where he began to talk about how that Christ had torn down that wall of division and how He had taken the old law and the new law and really had made all of them, in a sense, to be one through the new law, through Christ Jesus and made the Jew over here and the Gentile to be brought into one and all of these things had been broken down so that through one body, Christ Jesus, through one blood, that as it says there in verse 16 that "all might be reconciled into one, into one church and all the division and the enmity and all those things that were keeping man apart in days prior, those things have been taken away through Christ Jesus." Therefore, we see in chapter 1 as he begins to talk about the emphasis again for the need for unity, there's no doubt again what he is talking about that we must be one. We can't be stuck in the old law as many of the Jews were, as we've seen in our studies in the past. We can't be stuck in pagan religions as Gentiles or maybe those things that are contrary to the Will of God. We can't just pick and choose and do things in this life that we want to do, but rather we must walk as one body, reconciled, having the knowledge in our lives of who Jesus is, what His Will is through the Bible, obeying that Will, knowing that that Will in the flesh that was shed there, the blood that was shed on the cross, that all these things give us the opportunity to be one in Christ Jesus, to be equal, to share together as brethren in Christ again no matter who we are.
Therefore in chapter 4 and verse 1, Paul mentions there that "we must walk worthy of that calling." He mentions there again the fact of him being a prisoner and how he is a prisoner for the sake of the Lord, but we must all walk worthy of the calling, the calling to do what God has said, working together, doing those things. In fact, he goes on in verse 2 to say that "we need lowliness and gentleness and long-suffering and the ability to love one another and we need all of these things so that we might again have what God wants, the oneness, the oneness of the church, the oneness of His people, the oneness of His children, the oneness of His followers. Again, that's what Paul here emphasizes.
Then he begins in verses 3 and following of chapter 4 to help us really to have a plan if you will, or some suggestions that are really again through this inspired writer given clearly as things that will help us to be one. In other words, those items that are often referred to as the needs for oneness or those seven points of unity that are really required as Paul leaves specified them here in this passage. So it says here in verse 3 that "if we want that unity, if we want to have peace and be bonded in peace and in doing the things that God has said..." then verse 4 says that "we must all believe and be one in that one body." He further says that "we must have one spirit. We must have the one hope of our calling." Verse 5 goes on to say that "we must have the one Lord, the believe there in Jesus Christ, the one faith..." is mentioned in verse 5. Not various faiths, or different ideas or different beliefs but one faith. He also mentions there the one baptism. Not different baptisms. Not one of John and one being baptized of Christ, but one baptism in Jesus Christ just like we as those who are followers of Christ must be obedient to that same baptism, that we must be buried with Christ in order that we might have forgiveness of sins, in order that we might put on Christ through baptism. (Galatians 3, verses 27 & 28)
But then in verse 6 he goes on to say "one God. One Father of all who is above all and through all and in you all." Here again, the concept of believing not only in the Lord as it says in verse 5 and in the Savior Jesus Christ but also in the Father and knowing that the Father is everywhere at all times, that through His spirit He is around us and in us and just everywhere. God is there for us. So the writer here begins, Paul again, the inspired man, saying, "If we want to be one, no matter who we are, no matter where we are from, no matter what religious backgrounds, no matter what cultures we come from, no matter what race we're from, no matter what color, again, all are one in Christ Jesus. Therefore, if we want to be one, then stand in one in the things of God. In our faith. The things that God says, believe those and be one in those and follow them so that we might be a part as he began there of the one true body. You know when we do what God has said, according to our faith in Him, in other words our part again as God has given us grace and we extend our faith and obedience to His Will, when we've done what God requires, what does He do? He adds us to the body. Not many bodies. Not a great division of what the body of Christ should be and that everybody is approaching from different angles. There's one body in Jesus Christ and that one body is based as it says here on the one faith, the one spirit, the one Lord, and the oneness of mind, the sameness of mind, working again from the same textbook, and that is the Bible again. If we study and we follow the same Word, why don't we come to the same conclusions? Well certainly we can as God says here that we must through His inspired writer.
Let me take several verses beginning in verse 7 there again in our text in Ephesians chapter 4, and he talks about how there were spiritual gifts that were given to the measure of each individual. In other words, those followers in that day often as we know had spiritual or miraculous abilities. And why? To confirm the Word. They didn't have the Bible as we do in this time and therefore they were able to speak the things that the Spirit had told them or the things that they had learned, but yet the only way they could confirm these things is actually by performing some type of a miracle and that is exactly the concept that is given to us be Jesus Himself as He uses the inspired writer in the book of Mark. In fact, in Mark chapter 16 you might remember verse 20 where it talks about how they went everywhere teaching the Word and doing the work of the Lord and how they were confirming the Word in a certain way. Notice what it says there in verse 20 that "through accompanying signs of wonders..." That's how they were confirming the Word. The same thing was true here in the book of Ephesians. Thus he said that "they were receiving certain gifts, the measure of the gift of Christ." Notice as it says in verse 7 that "each one was given a certain type of gift according to their needs, according to what works they were doing for the sake of God."
Then it goes on to even clarify further how that God broke these things down and how that really all of these concepts are coming from God in heaven. This is not just something that He just chose on the spur of the moment but really He planned as we see in verse 10. But then in verse 11, he said for that reason really He gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors and some to be teachers. He said that in the church there was a need for different things just as we see today in the Lord's church. Well why? Well the next verse, verse 12 says, "So that we might equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." The purposes of these offices is to edify, to encourage, to teach. That's certainly why they are there are certainly what we must do in the church just as we looked last week in Ephesians chapter 3 and verse 10 and also verse 11 talking about the eternal purpose that God gave to the church to make known His wisdom and not only to the world and to the powers of the world, but to one another, to teach and to preach. That's the great purpose. It's something that must be done for unity as it goes on to say in verse 13 until we all come to the unity of the faith. Notice where that basis again is found. What brings that unity of the faith? Knowledge. That same verse, verse 13 says that "it's that knowledge of the son of God to bring us to a perfect man, a measure of the stature or the fullness of Christ." The more we know about God, the more we know about Christ, the better we can follow Him and do what He has asked us to do, the more and greater faith we have, the one faith that we share in and therefore we won't be just thrown around, tossed to and fro, thrown here and there, because with every doctrine that comes we just accept it and fall into it, rather we go back to the one faith, the one teaching, the one body as it says there in verse 15 that we are all a part of in who's head is Christ Jesus. You see, that's the part, that's the family, that's the one of God that I want to be a part of, the one that shares in the love and in the work and in all that God has said according to the one faith based on the one Father, Son, and Spirit that we are all involved with as dear sons and children.
But then if you'll look with me in verse 17, we see then this concept again, really the emphasis of our sermon this morning of that culmination of what it really means to have that mystery revealed and the knowledge of that great redemption, that plan of redemption as he talks about here that when we are redeemed through the blood of Christ, no matter who we are (verse 17) whether we are as the Gentiles and those he talked to here who were in the former things of the Gentiles and the former lust that they were involved in, he says, "You put those things away. You have buried them and laid them in the watery grave." That's exactly what it talks about in Romans chapter 6. It talks about there that how we died to the old man and we buried ourselves in baptism and when we rise we become new creatures. That again is what he has said here that we no longer have a lack of feeling and really don't try to distinguish between good and bad but we focus on Christ Jesus. The new man focuses on God and puts away the old, the sinful and the bad which is wrong according to Christ Jesus.
Verses 22 and 23 I think really sum up exactly the point we're trying to make that you may put off concerning the former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to deceitful lust and be renewed in spirit of your mind. He says, "Put off the old man." That's what we do when we demonstrate that faith when we become Christians, when we are put into Christ and we wash away the old and we leave the sin in the watery grave. That's what we do. We do it for what reason? Verse 24 tells us once again that "we may put on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness." You see, being a Christian is all about being God-like, being Christ-like because here he says that the new man is based on righteousness and holiness. Who do you know who was perfect and perfect only in righteousness and holiness? God. Therefore, I must be like that. The new man that I represent in Christ Jesus must strive for perfection, to be Christ-like, to be holy, to be righteous as our God is. So that's the new man. That's the redemption that we have been purchased with through the blood of Christ that we might put away that old and bury the old and leave it behind and follow what God has given us opportunity to follow through the new man again based on the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Now I'd like to just mention the final things that are said from verses 25 on. Really what Paul goes on to say now is what is not encompassed in this new man, this holy and this righteous man. He says that there are things that you again need to put away. There are things that maybe some of you are becoming tripped up in and that you are reverting to and going back to the old man. He says that the old man is dead. Leave the old man and no longer do the things of the old man, and do again what God has asked you to do. There he mentions in verse 25, he says, "Don't lie." He says, "When you are angry..." in verse 26 he says, "don't allow that anger to become wrathful." Don't allow it to become wrath because wrath is a sin. Verse 27, "Don't give place to the devil, and be angry and sinning and doing these things such as lying." The next verse, verse 28, he says, "Don't steal like you may have in the past. Don't take what is not yours and don't speak bad words," as is mentioned also in verse 29. "Let no bad words come out of your mouth but rather only those things that edify and encourage the hearer." He talks about in verse 31, "Don't be bitter and don't allow wrath and malice and all of these things but rather..." in verse 32 be kind to one another and love one another, forgive one another as Christ has forgiven you."
Are you the new man in Christ Jesus? Are you the new woman in Christ Jesus? The new person that has been bought with that great price of redemption as the mystery revealed giving you opportunity to put away all of these former lusts just as the Gentiles were spoken to in Ephesians. Have you chosen to follow Christ and to follow Christ only and to do that which Christ did for you, to forgive others? And when you forgive others, furthermore, be those who show love and kindness and do all that which is truly according to what we now have learned which is righteous and holy just as our God is.
(SONG # 3 - "Burdens are Lifted At Calvary!")
Thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in giving this time to God. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!
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May we each realize that through Christ we have become new creatures, thus dying to the old man and becoming more like Jesus! Have you done what it takes to be a new creature in Christ?