Proclaim the Gospel! Ephesians 6:19-20 Sermon

In this sermon Tim continues our Ephesians series by encouraging us to have some good news to share, be ready to tell the world about the Gospel!

Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday July 25, 2021.

SERMON NOTES:

Change to plans – Today we were meant to be having Uncle Nath come and do his clean Christian comedy.

  • No doubt it would have been a packed church with lots of guests here…
  • Leading to an amazing Alpha Course launch this Wednesday night…
  • Well instead here we are watching online and continuing our series in Ephesians. And it is our second last week!
  • So today, on being a people with good news to share
  • And next week on encouragement as Paul signs off his letter to the Ephesians!

So, let’s have a look at Ephesians 6:19-20

19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

When I became a Christian towards the end of High School, I became quite the fervent little evangelist. 

  • I am not sure if I personally explained the Good News about Jesus to people very well, but I certainly invited a lot of people to church and camps and bible studies. 
  • Maybe I was a bit more like Andrew in John 1 who finds his brother and brings him to Jesus.
  • I even spoke at my school chapel service in year 12
  • Again I am not sure if my message won the school year to Jesus.
  • But the thing that drove me, was the desire to share the good news about Jesus, as I felt I should! And it really is good news. 

That is what Ephesians has been all about. Paul reminding them of the story of Jesus that is good news, that then reshapes every part of our story.

  • Which is why as Paul comes into land in his letter, he ask them to pray for him, that he may fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel
  • He asks them to pray that he would declare it fearlessly, as I should. 

What is he making known? What is he declaring?

  • Well remember Paul’s story? 
  • The great persecutor of the church, encounters the risen Jesus, begins sharing the faith, becomes an Apostle to the Gentiles…
  • The fruit of that was a church established over two years of ministry in Ephesus
  • And a letter to the church, written from jail, that reminds them of the good news and how to live as a result. 

So from Ephesians alone, you can understand the gospel he proclaimed.

  • Ephesians 1:2 “Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (good news)
  • 1:7 “In Jesus we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (good news)
  • 2:4 “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ.”  (good news)
  • 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourself, it is the gift of God.” (great news)
  • 2:17 “He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.”
  • So what a message… grace and peace, forgiveness, coming alive in Christ!

And of course we know from all of this that the good news is Jesus!

  • And in times like these there are lots of things that can help a person…
  • Community is amazing, we need friends.
  • Having a job or getting support from the government is such a blessing.
  • Indeed living in a place like this during lockdown helps…
  • But there is nothing like Jesus, the one who came to seek and save the lost, he is the one who reconciles us to God and folds us into the Kingdom of light.

I was reminded at Calum’s baptism 3 weeks ago that at the heart of the Gospel is Jesus telling the story of the prodigal son.

  • Jesus says, do you want to know what God is like, do you want to know why I have come and what I reveal about God… let me tell you a story.
  • A son…

And Paul makes it clear to the Ephesians that this was his task! Proclaiming again and again, this good news!

  • Ephesians 3:8-9 “Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ.”
  • There is another great place in Romans where Paul talks about his task again. This time he says…
  • Romans 15:18-19 “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known.”

So with Jesus command to go and make disciples of all nations to his followers…

  • And Paul as inspiration as one who took this commission seriously…
  • How do we in a culture that’s increasingly cynical, lost and post Christian… one in which the institution of the church has got so much wrong!
  • How in a place like Australia where the church is entering it’s seventh decade of decline…
  • How do we bring the good news of Jesus afresh to the people in our lives?

I remember reading an interesting bit of research on Christianity a few years ago.

  • The gist was that ordinary Australian were asked about their feelings towards the church and then their feelings towards any Christians they know.
  • And basically the research showed that ordinary Aussies have a pretty bad perceptiom of the church.
  • But then asked “do you know any Christians” they would consistently say, oh yeah, I know a bunch of Christians and I really like them. 
  • You know “they are great parents” or “they are really friendly.’
  • And to me that speaks to the need for all of us to be fearless in sharing the Gospel.

So 3 Tips.

  1. Find people of peace

Sometimes we find the hardest heart towards the gospel… and maybe because they post anti-religious sentiment…

  • We think, ok, I’ll start with them. Haha!
  • And then lo and behold we get discouraged, or we end up in endless debates that go nowhere. 
  • Or we feel attacked. 
  • Instead, can I encourage you to find people of peace. 
  • And I would define people of peace, as those you know who you are friendly with, who are open to spiritual conversations and invitations, and who you sense are searching.

Charlie Mackasey tells a story of an Alpha Group…

  • Going round in circles… debating theology and getting a bit heated.
  • Woman was asked what do you think about Jesus?
  • She said “I’ve heard this Jesus hung around people like me, and if it helps, then that will be enough for me.”
  • You see the harvest of those ready for the good news of a God who loves them, is plentiful
  • But it’s ok to be discerning and shared the good news with those ready to hear!

And we see this with Paul in the Book of Acts. 

  • When he goes to Ephesus he starts at the Synagogue… but it says they became obstinate (Acts 19:9), they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way!
  • So what does Paul do? Does he give up, does he keep arguing with them, does he leave town?
  • Well, we read that he then moves to the lecture hall of Tyrannus and ends up having the fruitful ministry there that leads to the church growing in Ephesus. 
  • So he finds the people of peace. 
  1. Have some good news to share 

You know I think sometimes we think we need to have done a 4 year degree in theology, in order to be qualified to share the good news.

  • But you know we all have a story to share.
  • Even Paul when he is writing to the churches he established or in his sermons in the Book of Acts tells of how he became a Christian.
  • And we have our story of how we came to faith and what a difference it has made. And my experience is people love hearing these. 
  • And you cant argue against your own experience of finding hope in Jesus. 

And then we all have little stories of life in the faith that we can share

  • You can talk about going to church, or your friends from church… and sometimes people will pick up on this and start asking questions. 
  • And we all need to know something of the good news that we can share with someone
  • Maybe it is the story of the prodigal son. Maybe it is a story from the gospel of Jesus meeting someone. Maybe it is just a clear way to share about the cross and the forgiveness of sins. 
  • Uncle Nath (say something, something will happen, say nothing, nothing will happen)

Someone I Iove in this church is Joey because he always has a story about what God is doing

  • He always has a neighbour he has been chatting to
  • Or he always has a testimony of what God is doing in his life. So be like Joey!
  • No great surprise that when he had his kids dedicated, there were a bunch of Bec and his neighbours who came along.
  • Always have a good news story to share…
  1. Be fearless

Just like Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for him, that he may be fearless

  • We need to have the same courage and attitude towards sharing the good news of the gospel. 
  • That was Paul says in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”
  • He says, I am not ashamed because the gospel is powerful. The gospel saves!
  • And it really is good news.

You know there have been heaps of opportunities where I could have shared the Gospel or something of my faith and I haven’t

  • And I always regret it. 
  • But I’ll tell you this, when I do take the opportunity, I never regret it.
  • Because there is nothing more important and there is nothing more exciting than sharing the good news of Jesus. 
  • I was talking on the phone just 2 days ago with a new Christian here at Manly Life. He was just saying what an incredible difference it has made!
  • Go for it Manly Life, lets be part of many more stories like that!

Prayer in the Spirit – Ephesians 6:18 Sermon

In this sermon Tim continues our Ephesians series by calling us to pray in the spirit on all occasions, to be aware that we are in a spiritual battle and to stand firmw with the armour of God!

Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday July 17, 2021.

SERMON NOTES:

Change to plans – this was meant to be the final week in Ephesians…

  • Was going to talk on these last verses in Ephesians about prayer and declaring the Gospel… leading to a season on outreach and evangelism… 
  • Uncle Nath and launching Alpha…
  • In our grand scheming it was all going to flow so wonderfully effectively. 

Anyhow, like a lot of things, our plans are evolving…

  • Guess what – instead of 1 more week in Ephesians, we are going to do 3 more weeks in Ephesians! Waahoo! Dance! (music plays while I dance)…
  • Why – because Paul actually closes the letter speaking about proclamation, and encouragement and people of encouragement… 
  • So we don’t want to skip over that!
  • Not in a time like this where we all need to be encouraged. 
  • I wonder have you ever had some one cheer you on or encourage you and not felt uplifted!
  • I love it in Mark 3 where Jesus renames some of his disciples the “sons of thunder” 
  • Was that because they farted a lot? I don’t know.
  • But I would love on my tomb stone to be called a “son of encouragement.” Anyhow I digress…

So let’s have a read of today’s passage – Ephesians 6:18-20

  • A reminder… Paul is writing from jail in Rome to the church of Ephesus that he had helped establish over 2 years of ministry.
  • He loves them, and he has seen the remarkable good news of the gospel take hold of a people, made up of Jewish believers and gentile believers… 
  • And they had come from all kinds of spiritual backgrounds, including temple worship of the fertility goddess Artemis. You can read about it in Acts 19.
  • So Paul longs for them to stand firm in the faith, to be strong in the Lord (verse 10-110 knowing they are and will come against all kinds of opposition. 
  • Both from temptations, old ways of life, and spiritual forces of evil that are at work in the world. 

So Ephesians 6:17-18

17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 

So really this passage is a continuation of what Greg has been preaching on the last 2 weeks.

  • It speaks to the reality of spiritual warfare and the need to be alert to what may destroy faith within us. 
  • As Greg helpfully pointed out, sometimes we hear stories of spiritual warfare in developing countries and think that is something that happens “over there”… but not really here. 
  • One of my first encounters with this kind of overt spiritual warfare was when I lived in Kenya
  • Young lady at Nairobi Pentecostal Church… manifested… prayed over and eventually was delivered.
  • Back story was she had moved to Nairobi from the country and was staying with an aunt who was into witchcraft… and she had been cursed by her aunt.

But you know even last week when we were in Byron Bay with Calum, you sense the spiritual warfare – everywhere you go there are Eastern spiritualities and crystals and tarots and so on…

  • Of course the world thinks this stuff is harmless. Uh, uh…
  • And we met a girl at Calum’s baptism who had been saved out of the New Age 
  • Spoke about how oppressive it was… and how coming to Jesus had changed her life.
  • Basically in the midst of nightmares and darkness she called out on the name of Jesus…
  • And she hasn’t looked back!

So again, you may think, yep in Africa, yep in a place like Byron, but what about in my world.

  • And I guess I would echo Greg’s thoughts from the last two weeks, that we are no less in a spiritual battle that would stop us from standing firm
  • So in our lives, what is it that makes relationships deteriorate and fall apart?
  • What is it that causes divisions and gossip and enmity within communities?
  • What is it that makes temptation so hard to resist? What is it that make addictions so hard to break. 
  • Says in the scriptures, do no let the devil get a foothold.

The idea being, that to us who belong to Jesus and have received all the blessings that Ephesians talks about – redemption and adoption into God’s family, forgiveness and grace!

  • Do not let the enemy get an inch of your life that may cause you to stumble!
  • And that may be being exposed to witchcraft or the New Age… or it may be opening doors to pornography, or substances or gambling…
  • And then you find yourself not able to stand firm in the faith. Right?
  • And the question is, who is behind all of this? 
  • Well the scriptures would tell us that it is the devil, spiritual forces at work in the world trying to undo the good work God has begun in you. 

You know think about pornography. I don’t mean to pick on it… the Lord knows there are a multitude of things that come against us…

  • But statistically a massive problem, particularly but not exclusively to men. 
  • And I don’t mean this to be condemning… but no point having a pulpit and not talking about real issues…
  • I just don’t see how it is any different to adultery. To cheating on your spouse. 
  • I mean get real, you don’t think you are in a spiritual battle? 
  • You don’t think the devil hasn’t used pornography to distort your mind and sow seeds of discord between you and your partner. 
  • I know of a marriage of some people who were here at Manly Life that busted up for that exact reason. 
  • And if it is an issue for you, don’t hide in the darkness, engage the battle… get help, fight the good fight… 

So anyhow, Paul speak to the church in Ephesus and says be strong in the Lord!

  • He says stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  
  • And put on the armour of God. 
  • Right as Peter says in 1 Peter5:8 “your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Far out… that just got real…
  • And as Pastor I see people get devoured all too often. And it is so sad. 
  • People get taken out because as that verse in 1 Peter 5 starts, they didn’t pay attention to when it says “Be alert and of sober mind.”

To the question of how do we stand firm against spiritual forces of evil and all of the things that would make Christians fall away. 

  • Paul says “put on the armour of God.”
  • Paul has said there are some defensive strategies. 
  • And this week we come to the offensive strategies. 

The defensive strategies were… verse 14 of Ephesians 14

  • The belt of truth around your waist. Right elsewhere it says the devil is a liar. But we protect ourselves by living in the truth. 
  • It talks about the breastplate of righteousness. That is both your position before God because of what Jesus has done on the cross, and also our increasing holiness that comes from following the Lord.
  • Feet fitted with the gospel of peace. So we are protected from attacks by being peacemakers and agents of forgiveness and mercy.
  • The shield of faith – right? Take your stand with the gift of faith in a cynical and self serving world. 
  • Finally on the defensive armour, the helmet of salvation. 

And now Paul says we, like any good soldier do not just try and stand firm by defending off attacks…

  • But we get on the front foot and attack… we take ground for the kingdom
  • So verse 17 mentions the sword of the Spirit. We have God’s presence at work within us to push back against what would make us stumble!
  • And the Spirit operates through our prayer and proclamation. 
  • We speak out our prayers in the Spirit.
  • And like Paul requests, we make known the mysteries of God by declaring the Word fearlessly. 
  • So lets go through this passage… looking at prayer and then next week, proclamation…

So prayer…

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 

So when it comes to engaging the battle, Paul suggests to the Ephesians that they should pray in the Spirit on all occasions. 

  • Now clearly in the scriptures there are two types of prayer, that which we do with our mind, and that which we do in the Spirit, and this is most commonly known as praying in tongues.
  • So prayer with our mind is amazing… we pray the Lord’s prayer. That is a conscience, articulated prayer that Jesus teaches us to pray.
  • Elsewhere we are encouraged to bring to God all kinds of prayers and petitions. 
  • So we have worries or requests and praying with our mind, we bring these things to our heavenly Father.

But then there are times to pray in the Spirit. And this is where the Spirit of God, alive in us helps us to pray in a way that our minds do not understand.

  • And yet it is fruitful in spiritual warfare and building up the faith of the individual and body of believers. 
  • God if you like helps us to pray in our weakness, to take on the things that are seemingly unable to overcome. 
  • It is a wonderful gift, or piece of armour that the Lord gives us in the battle we find ourselves in.

Now should we talk about tongues and prayer? 

  • I don’t think it is something I have spoken about much here at Manly Life, even though it’s a part of many of our spiritual lives.
  • Should just note here that profound NT scholar Gordon Fee helps me here a lot…
  • He states; “There is every good reason to think that Paul intends this phrase “praying in the Spirit” to refer to that form of prayer in which the Spirit assumes a special role in the praying, especially, though probably not exclusively, praying in tongues.”
  • So there is praying with the mind, and praying in/with the Spirit. 
  1.  Not everyone speaks in tongues

That might seem a weird place to start, but I think it is helpful to remind us that there aren’t different classes of Christians. 

  • I mean I have met Christians who pray in tongues who are a nightmare…
  • And of course this is not me saying this, the Apostle Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthains 12-14, in which he makes clear not all have this gift from God. 
  • So while we are told to desire the spiritual gifts available, not all, have all gifts. Because we are a body with different parts. 
  • So God gives different gifts to different people and many mature, mighty men and women of the faith do not speak in tongues or pray in the Spirit in this way. 
  • Now why is this so. Why do dome pray in the Spirit and others pray mightily with their minds…
  • And I have a profound and spiritual answer to this… 
  • I don’t know. Maybe it’s a disposition thing or a personality thing, or a cerebral versus emotional thing. I don’t know. 
  • But if you desire to pray in the Spirit, pursue it, but also don’t be worried if nothing happens. 
  1.  It is given to help us in our weakness

And I think this is an insight into why it helps us stand firm in the battle.

  •  And I get this particularly from the Romans 8 reference to praying in the Spirit. 
  • Let me read it – Romans 8:26-27

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

You see, so often in the spiritual battle that we are in, it is in our weakness that we begin to pray in the Spirit, as God in one sense kicks in and helps us out.

  • What it says is the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
  • It is in our weakness where we don’t know what to pray, that God prays for us, or with us, or in us… 
  • The first time I ever prayer in tongues was in South Africa…
  • Another example happened in this room… Jesse and Em Mitchell…
  1. It is not to be overused, particularly in corporate gatherings.

We know that right, because of 1 Corinthians 12-14, where there is all kinds of warnings against excessive use of tongues in public meetings… 

  • Mainly for the sake on unbelievers not thinking we’ve gone livin ‘ lavida loco!
  • So we don’t want to get obsessed maybe with our own spiritual importance if this is a gift God has given you…
  • And of course we are told early in Ephesians that a result of being filled with the Spirit is singing spiritual songs… 
  • So it is not something we avoid completely in church meetings, and indeed in our meetings someone may pray in tongues and then have that interpreted as a way of encouraging the believers…
  • So not too much… not too little. Sounds like a lot of things!
  1. It can really help 

And I guess this is what I really want to focus on… if we take it to be real and true that there is a spiritual battle going on. We need to be clothed in the armour of God. 

  • We need to go into battle with the resources that God has given to us. 
  • Verse 17 stuff… the Spirit is the sword of God! 
  • Right, the Spirit helps us declare the Word of God over situations… right? Declaring Jesus over situations, declaring his Word. 
  • Declaring that the light has overcome the darkness.
  • Declaring our spiritual authority that has been given to us in Christ. 
  • And verse 17, the Spirit is the Word of God… because the truth is present in his presence!

So praying in the Spirit, declaring the truth of God is very powerful!

  • Jacqui Pulinger talks about whenever she felt cold in her faith she would take her team in Hong Kong and go and lay hands on people and pray in the Spirit…
  • And then whoosh! Alive would come her faith!
  • And I think it helps because while our prayers are great and important and expected in our Christian lives…
  • Praying in the Spirit is taking the battle to the enemy with the resources of God. 

When Victoria had a stroke… I can assure you I prayed both with my mind and with the Spirit. 

  • Now depending what story you live in, you could understand that as simply a misfortunate medical emergency.
  • Or if you come into a spiritual awareness of what can often lie behind the events of life…
  • Victoria has often said to me that growing up she had many premonitions that she would die young.
  • And she believes that the day of her stroke 7 years ago, may have been the day the enemy planned to take her out of action.
  • But God. But God. 
  • And as she was in surgery and word got out of what had happened, my prayers in the Spirit and the prayers of faithful Christians, both through their minds prayers and in the Spirit sought the Lord. 
  • And as you know we believe we got a miracle that day with Victoria’s full recovery and no deficits. 

Stand firm Manly Life. Stand firm against the enemies plans and evil spiritual forces at work in the world and around you today!

  • Don’t get taken out. You are loved by God and you are given the armour of God to stand firm.
  • Stand firm Manly Life. Don’t let your marriage get taken out. 
  • Don’t let pornography take you out. 
  • Don’t let bitterness or division or loose words take you out. Stand firm. 
  • And pray in the Spirit on all occasions….

So finally, how do we start praying in the Spirit?

  • I have another deeply theological answer. I don’t know…
  • But here is what I have seen…
  • Often in deeply felt spiritual crisis or battles…
  • Often in an atmosphere of faith and worship… there is something ecstatic about it… 
  • Often imparted from a spiritual mentor or leader who has lived the battle and imparts it to the next gen. 
  • I saw this with Jacqui Pulinger. 
  • Finally I would say just start making noise… abba, papa…

Armour of God Sermon Part 1 – Ephesians 6:10-13

In this sermon Greg Beech continues our series on Ephesians in his first sermon on the Armour of God. Greg talks about the reality of spiritual warfare but also the truth of our position of authority over the demonic because of Jesus Christ!

Preached by Greg Beech on Sunday July 4, 2021.

Jesus Is The Ultimate Master Sermon – Ephesians 6:5-9

In this sermon Greg continues our Ephesians series by talking about the last segment of the ‘household code’ part of Ephesians 6 by explaining the master/bondservant roles in the ancient world and applying it to our modern world of the workplace plus illustrating how Jesus is our ultimate Master!

Sermon preached by Greg Steiniger on Sunday June 27, 2021.

SERMON NOTES:

Introduction
Tim asked me to preach, I did what any good boss would do – I promptly forgot about
it until 10 pm last night and then got Vikki, Emma, and Josh out of bed and told them
to do it for me.
For some of you, this anecdote may be more real than it is funny. And that could
either be because you work for someone like this, or, maybe, if you are honest with
yourself, you have taken advantage of your role as a boss to treat the people who
work for you like this. Either way, today’s message is for you.

Ephesians 6:5–9
 ESV
Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere
heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as
bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a
good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does,
this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.
Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is
both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
So how does theis passage fit in with what we have been studying in Ephesians?
For the last 6 weeks, we have been focusing on how we are to respond as Christians
in light of what Christ has done for us. In the last two weeks, we have focused on the
Household codes which include the relationships between husbands and wives and
in turn parents and children.
Today;’s passage is an extension of the Household codes and helps us to
understand the difference between slavery in Jesus’ day and our modern idea of
slavery.The relationship between bond servants and masters is an extension of the
husband and wife and parent and child relationships of the household
δοῦλος – doulos
A person who is legally owned by someone else and whose entire livelihood and
purpose was determined by their master.
κύριος – kyrios
a person who has general authority over others (slaves or subjects); often as an
owner as well as authority figure.

Bond servants
In the ancient world, it is estimated that 30% of all people were bond servants and
they did all sorts of jobs. They were teachers, stable hands, cooks, maids, servants,

overseers of vast empire and holdings as we see from Genesis and the story of
Joseph in Egypt.
So there are two main differntiators betwen the bond service of the ancient world and
modern day slavery:

  1. Not about race – Many ways to become a bond servant – War, debt, sold or
    abandoned by family
  2. It was not primarily about human trafficking and other illegal activities. That’s not
    to say this type of bond service did not exist, but it was not the norm.
    Slaves could in turn also own slaves themselves
    Most people were able to work or redeem themselves to freedom by the age of 30
    Very similar to the concept for wives and children – bond servants were the
    possession of the master of the household
    Before I go on, I want to make one point, and if you can’t remember anything from
    this message today, at least keep this in mind. Whatever our title or what we or
    anyone thinks about our authority on Earth, There is no differentiation in heaven of
    earthly mastere and bond servants because we are all bond servants of Christ

    Galatians 3:28
     ESV
    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and
    female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    1 Corinthians 7:21–23
     ESV
    Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can
    gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the
    Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when
    called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become
    bondservants of men.
    Think about this, no matter how high we climb up the corporate ladder and the
    number of people who report to us, we will always report to a higher authority. Are
    you the CEO? You still answer to the Board of Directors. Make it to the BOD?
    Congraulations, you still answer to your industry’s regulators.
    Even if you do make it to the top, you are still a bond servant of Christ!
    So in the context of how bond service worked in the ancient world, how is Paul
    asking bondservants to act?
    There are two ways, first, how we interact with our Masters. and second, what we do
    for them. Let’s look at the how first. He is calling bond servants to be obedient to
    their masters as a sign of obedience to God, whether their masters are Christians or
    not.
    In this Paul is re-iterating that as Christians we are to love our neighbors and our
    enemies. And whether bond servants in Paul’s time or we in this current day and age

like our Masters or not, we are called to treat them with the same respect as we treat
our Father in heaven. This echoes Jesus’ teaching on loving your enemies from the
Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5:43–48
 ESV
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your
enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise
on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you
love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors
do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than
others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as
your heavenly Father is perfect.
And the standard set is very high because as Christians we are not only called to be
obedient, but also to delivery to a heavenly standard. Paul doesn’t want us to use the
excuse, “Well, it’s good enough for government work!” We are to work and deliver
like the output will be handed over to God for review, and sign-off.
My first paid job was to work in a hotel cleaning rooms, and I can tell you there are
all sorts of shortcuts you can use to make a room look clean which only require
doing about half the work. Is that the standard that God holds us to even if we can
get away with it? No, of course not!
The passages says we are not to be people-pleasers and that can mean two things –
pandering to someone for recognition, potentially at someone else’s expense, but it
also means something else – the earthly standard is merely a shadow of the
heavenly standard. If our vocation is meant to be an act of worship to God, then the
bar is set very high.
We are called to serve God obediently in everything we do and we are committed to
doing it at a very high standard – not what tricks we can get away with. And we are to
work this way whether our earthly Masters are Christians or not. And Because God’s
standard is very high the secondary outcome is we will also impress our earthly
masters.
So this the standard, but for most if not all of us, this is where the reality of God’s
higher standard conflicts with how we actually interact with others and deliver for
them in our world.
It’s easy to love our family and our friends and people we like. Hopefully, our
spouses and our children fall into this category. And as a result, we probably try to
avoid burning their dinner, or doing a shoddy assembly job that could put them at
risk. But are we committed to the same standard for strangers, or worse, people we
know and have already recognised we don’t like?
Did masters persecute their bond servants in Jesus’ time? Does your boss persecute
you today? Yes and yes. But, Jesus and Paul are both calling us to ignore the sleight

and instead respond to masters and bosses in the same way as we respond to
Jesus.
This is hard! Raise your hands if you struggle with this. Don’t be shy, you’re all at
home this morning with family watching this on Facebook and chances are pretty
good that the people with you already know how you feel about your boss.
I can’t see any hands, so I can speak about my own situation at my last job in
Singapore.
Long story short – I began reporting to someone I would have never taken a job with
it were up to me. For the last six months she micromanaged me, publicly humiliated
me, actively tried to sow self doubt in me, talked negatively behind my back. In short,
she made me hate going to work everyday. I was miserable and from the world’s
perspective, I could have justified doing the same to her. And at first I did. But I
became more miserable and reliant on God I have shared before that in early 2019, I
prayed to God that He would help to trust Him more. As I was slowly becoming more
reliant on God, during my prayer tiomes, God made it very clear to me that doing
what the world thought was ok was not ok by His standards.
I would like to tell you that after I resigned that the situation with my boss got better –
it didn’t, in many ways it got worse. And I still had to go to work everyday for 3 more
months. But a funny thing happened during that time. My colleagues of all beliefs
began telling me how obvious it was to them that I wasn’t taking the bait and they
wanted to know why that was happening. Because of my earthly boss’ treatment of
me, I was provided the opportunity to share with my non-Christian coleagues about
my heavenly Father.
God honours obedience and uses it to provide us opportunities to witness about Him
and the gospel. This was the opportunity God provided for me and it is the same
opportunity he provide bond servants of the ancient world and all of us today. Our
witness of faithful hard work in service of our Master in heaven impacts the world
around us.
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus doesn’t ask us to do anything He wouldn’t do
Himself, so if we are every struggling with submitting to the will of our masters, we
can always look to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsamene.

Mark 14:35–36
 ESV
And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible,
the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for
you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Jesus too struggled with His Master’s will. We can take comfort in the fact that just
because our superior asks us to do something, it isn’t always easy. And we can also
find hope that because of what Jesus did on the cross for us, the work we are
required to do in daily jobs is far easier than what Jesus did for us.

Philippians 2:5–8
 ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he
was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but
emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the
point of death, even death on a cross.
So what about Masters?

The company I work for describes leadership as both a privilege and a responsibilty.
This is important because getting to be THE BOSS isn’t a right or just something that
should eventually happens if you stick around long enough. Leading people is again
an act of worship and as believers our example for how to do this is again Jesus.
Before we go into this, let’s focus on the different commonly used descriptions of
masters – bosses and leaders. I point this out because as Christians, our mindset
needs to be right if we are going to humbly lead people as the passage calls us to.
So what is the difference between a boss and a leader?
Boss – measures success by a title or rank in the hierarchy
Leaders – measures success by passion and impact of the people they influence
No matter how well you lead, your staff will probably refer to you as “my boss” or “my
manager”, I caught myself doing this as well because it seems strange to say “my
leader” it sounds like you are escorting leaders to meet the president or you are part
of a cult. But based on the definiton, if we have the privilege and responsibilty of
leading a team the focus should be on people, not titles or tasks.
What about managers? Managers are necessary to get things done. Manager
employ a number of techniques to get things done, do things right, plan, organise,
coordinate, direct, control, and follows rules
The question is whether in doing these things their focus is on themselves or the
people they are responsible for leading
In all of these things though, there needs to be a focus on the people doing the work.
Let’s retun to the passage and see what the call to action for leaders is:

Ephesians 6:5–9
 ESV
Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere
heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as
bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a
good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does,
this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.
Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is
both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

Boss – stop your threatening because the ultimate Master in Heaven for both of you
doesn’t value the earthly boss more than the servant.
So who was Jesus? A servant leader – we see this in the paage from John 13:2-8

John 13:2–8
 ESV
During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot,
Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into
his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from
supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe
them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who
said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing
you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him,
“You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have
no share with me.”
Here we see Jesus was willing to lower himself to wash the filth of the feet of the
disciples. In other stories we see he wakes up to calm the raging storm which is
causing the disciples to fear for their lives.
On the night he is betrayed, Jesus cleans up the mess created by one of the
disciples cutting the ear off of a soldier. Jesus reattaches the ear.
So what does this teach us about how we are to lead? Instead of just telling the
disciples what to do, Jesus takes the mess they have created and helps them out of
it. For better or for worse, He allows the disciples to learn by doing and often failing.
And he picks them up, and he has compassion on them and he trusts them to try
again, and he give them the chance to demonstrate they can do better. Does that
sound like someone we would want to work for?
Dresdner example – Money, power, getting even with our colleagues, faster
promotion
But I wasn’t ready to lead. My motivation to be the boss was because I had been
unfaithful with money and thought getting promoted was the way out. I didn’t care
about the well-being of the team or how I would need to support them in improving.
Thankfully, and probably most out of compassion for those I would have been the
boss of, someone else was chosen to lead
If you think you are ready to be that type of leader, ask yourself this question, first
coined by the rap group Naughty by Nature in the early 1990s: You down with
O.P.P? loosely translated into a full English sentence, this means are you ready for
the responsibilty of addressing other people’s problems?
If any of you are early 90’s rap fans, you will know the correct response is, “Yeah you
know me”, or again translated “yes, I am willing to take on the responsibilty of
leadership” And this sums up what our response should be if we are in a postion of
leadership.

Leadership is rarely about accolades and praise, on a day to day basis, it’s usually
about trusting your team to take on tasks they may not have already demonstrated
an aptitude for, addressing the mistakes they inevitably make because they are
humans and that what we do, and taking responsibilty for those mistakes when
senior management questions you why the work isn’t done yet.
You’re probably thinking, That doesn’t sound very much fun. Why is that considered
a privilege? Well, you do tend to get paid more and often do get promoted faster.
But honestly, those things pale in comparison to what the real privilege is – mentoring
people, seeing them grow and take on new responsibilities, witnessing them become
leaders themselves, and seeing them share these things with their teams.
Isn’t this what Christ and the Holy Spirit do in us? Aren’t these the things we get
excited about as we watch our children develop and grow?
As Christians we have th opportunity to impart what God teaches us into all of the
activities associated with mentoring people and therefore, our jobs become acts of
worship to God while we lead.
When the focus of our jobs becomes the growth and care for other people as an act
of worship to God, we avoid becoming the Masters the passage is admonishing
against.
To summarize, we are all bond servants of Christ and called to respond to our
Masters as if we are working for Christ Himself

Godly Families Sermon – Ephesians 6:1-4

In this sermon Tim continues our series on Ephesians, looking at the beginning of chapter 6 where Paul encourages families to honour and respect each in other with God’s help. Tim’s encouragement is for all of us to be a Godly family member and to lead our own families in the Lord!

Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday June 20, 2021.

SERMON NOTES

Talking about families today! I love family… that is probably why I have ended up living in the same house as my parents!

  • And families of course are so diverse and colourful… and it ain’t always straight forward!
  • My son Luca who is 6, surprised me the other day. 
  • Out of nowhere he asked me if he was adopted. 
  • I paused for a second and finally said to him… “Yes Luca. At two you were adopted.”
  • “But it didn’t work out and they sent you back to us.”

Well we are continuing today in this section of the household codes in Pauls letter to the Ephesians. 

  • And we are saying that in light of the amazing Gospel story of us receiving forgiveness and adoption into the children of God
  • That we are encouraged to now live a life worthy of the calling we have received. 
  • So in light of the gospel, it reshapes all of our lives. Our virtues, relationships, priorities. 
  • And last week we looked at this beautiful picture of marriage where husband and wife are submitted to one another, loving each other like Jesus loved the church!
  • So today we get to chapter 6 and the relationship between parents and children. 

Ephesians 6:1-4

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother” which is the first commandment with a promise “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

It is interesting to me, that God’s redemptive plans have always involved families. 

  • And like a lot of our families, they have been complex, dysfunctional and even at time at war with each other…
  • And yet God in his faithfulness remains true to his promise to bless the world through his family!
  • It starts of course in Genesis 12 when God promises to Abraham that he will take his family and make them into a great nation, blessed by God
  • And that through this family (verse 3) “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
  • God uses a family to carry his blessing to the world. 

It’s a pretty torrid tale then through the Old Testament of families that betray each other, cheat each other and so on….

  • And yet through it all, God is faithful and the promise continues… because he loves his children, and he longs for the world, including families to be put right again!
  • So the blessing continues in families by it being passed along through teaching our kids.
  • Listen to Genesis 18:18-19. God says;
  • “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Are you still with me? Do you see God’s plan. 

  • He forms a blessed family to bless the world… but to do that, his children and household are to be directed to keep the ways of the Lord by doing what is right and just!
  • God intends for families to carry his blessing by keeping the way of the Lord. 
  • Right? Parents are to model and teach what pleases God, and children are to listen to, honour and grow in the ways of God.  

And when it works… it’s a beautiful thing! Generational blessings of faithfulness, honour, life and justice.

  • And we see that today. Families that serve the Lord together and shine the light of their faith through faithfulness, compassion and love. 
  • And when it doesn’t happen… holy moly… the wheels fall off… and human nature, it’s selfish, controlling, coercive nature rears its ugly head.
  • And it is so sad when families fall apart. For everyone!

So practically, the Genesis 18 thing of directing your children in the way of the Lord… how does that happen. 

  • Well practically, God gives his people a book of distilled wisdom called Proverbs that’s goal is to teach the next generations of Abraham’s family how to live. 
  • Or in general terms; how not to shipwreck your life and instead be blessed!
  • The book explains the general pattern of life. It’s not a guarantee that you do these things and nothing will go wrong.
  • But it gives God’s wisdom for a well put together life. 
  • Right? It’s all there… its not a mystery… its all there… you don’t have to climb a mountain and meditate on the meaning of life in Nepal….
  • Parents were to take the wisdom of Proverbs they had learnt from their parents and raise their children in the knowledge and fear of the Lord. 

Listen to Proverbs 1 and see if you can hear the echo of the command to Abraham…

“The Proverbs… for gaining wisdom and instruction, for understanding words of insight, for receiving instruction in prudent behaviour, doing what is right and just and fair… knowledge and discretion to the young.’

  • Right?
  • Verse 8 “listen to your Father’s instruction, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”
  • Then it gets pretty practical… I don’t have time to read you all 31 chapters today… but its good stuff.
  • 1:10 “my son if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.” Right? Keep good company.
  • 2:12 “wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, whose words are perverse.”
  • 2:16 “wisdom will save you from the adulterous woman.”
  • 3:3 “let love and faithfulness never leave you, bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your hearts. Then you will win favour and a good name, in the sight of God and man.”

Right? It goes on and on. This is how to not ship wreck your life. Teach your kids this!

  • Warnings against get rich schemes, against lying, against using your words to cause harm and encouragements to trust the Lord, work hard, be honest and faithful…
  • So Proverbs is probably the most helpful book on child-raising ever written.
  • It is glorious, it is beautiful and of course we still have that mandate to teach our children the wisdom of God. And Jesus of course is called the wisdom of God!

So God loves families… 

  • And he uses them to pass on knowledge of the Lord and as the building blocks of cohesive, healthy churches, communities and even countries. 
  • Now if that is the goal… families as depositories of God’s blessings and righteousness…
  • We know don’t we that sadly that isn’t the reality of the world around us… and it certainly wasn’t the case in Jesus day!

So we talked last week about how this section in Ephesians was written as a challenge to the prevailing norms of the Roman Household Code. 

  • So in the ancient world, as today, there was a well known code of conduct if you like for how society should function, particularly around three relationships.
  • Husbands and wives, parents and children, slaves and masters. 
  • And in the ancient world, the head of all three sets of relationships was the same person. 
  • The Husband/Father/Master. He was boss over his wife, his children and his slaves. 
  • And in general the power dynamic was unbalanced, coercive and toxic. 
  • We noted for instance; Aristotle who wrote “hence by nature there are various classes of rulers, for the free rules the slave, the male the female, the man the child.” Not good…

When it came to children, under Romans law, they were simply not valued. 

  • Scholar William Barclay notes that under the Patria Potestas (which is Latin for ‘Power of a Father’), a Roman Father had absolute power over his family. 
  • He could sell his own children as slaves, he could make them work in his fields even in chains, he could punish as he liked. 
  • And this power extended over the child’s whole life, so long as the Father lived. 
  • I’ve mentioned before the ancient practice of exposure. It was within the rights for a Roman citizen who didn’t want a child to have them left in the city dump. 
  • There they would either die from exposure to the elements or be picked up by slave traders. 
  • So children really were treated as non-humans. 

And while it may not be as extreme today, as then, I would argue that so many of the issues of children in our society is a different kind of exposure. 

  • Parents, basically absconding any responsibility to their children, letting them run a mock. 
  • Or modelling their own immorality to their children and then wondering why their kids have no sense of right from wrong.
  • Recent issues around consent and sexual assault amongst school children highlights this. 
  • Speaks to children not being taught right from wrong, but being left up to their own devices, with alcohol fuelled assaults apparently being normal.  

Into all of that… children an afterthought… not valued, not taught, not loved… Jesus!

It’s a little story… but again, hear it in light of what Israel was meant to be doing with it’s children, and listen to it in light of how children were treated in the ancient world. 

  • Jesus comes to set things right!
  • Matthew 19:13 “Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.’
  • Now just stop there. Why do the disciples try and stop children coming to Jesus….
  • My guess is because they were infected with this idea that children had no value. 
  • Verse 14: “Jesus said; “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Right? DO NOT HINDER THEM! Hear that! Do not hinder them.

  • Parents, don’t we dare do anything that stops a child from coming to Jesus. 
  • For me it is one of the strongest things that Jesus says in all the Gospels…
  • I, we need to consider where we are in this story. 
  • Are we in any way hindering our children from coming to Jesus….
  • Or do we demonstrate the value and love and dignity Jesus bestows on children. 
  • Through us, does the kingdom of heaven belong to our kids?

So we get to today’s passage… about children obeying and honouring their parents, and parents bringing up children in the training and instruction of the Lord.

  • Does it make sense now? Should preach itself from here… haha!
  • So… we were saying last week that in the household codes the only authority and power went in one direction… husbands over wives, parents over children, masters over slaves…
  • Gets subverted by Ephesians 5:21. To the Spirit filled, Gospel filled children of God… Paul exhorts everyone….
  • “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ….”
  • So everyone… willingly… in both directions… serve one another… Get below one another in how you work out your relationships… in the Lord. 

So how does it work for children and parents?

  • Well, children the way to be subject to our parents is to obey and honour them as they teach you the ways of the Lord. 
  • And for parents being subject to your children happens by being intentional in the way you love them, and teach them and build them up to know and follow the Lord!
  • Right? 
  • Reshaped by the Gospel and empowered by the Holy Spirit… I serve my kids by actively investing in their lives and creating the paths for them to know Jesus and live well.
  • And my kids serve me by listening and putting into practice the wisdom and ways that I try and instil in them.

So let’s just finish with some quick applications for us as kids… and for us as parents, or future parents, or potential spiritual parents that we can be!

Now the truth is, these 4 verses are not long enough to go into the complex nature of families, particularly when they are not functioning or have disintegrated.

  • What we do have in this section of the household codes, is a high conception of how children and parents are meant to function
  • And obviously we are not to obey and honour our parents if they are teaching us how to steal cars or enter the narcotics trade!  
  • Right? This is talking about an honour and obedience that works within the relationship of  children and parents in the faith, filled with the Holy Spirit, and submitting to one another. 

And I won’t say too much on children obey your parents as there aren’t too many young children in here listening to this sermon 

  • But I do think the bit about honouring your parents applies to all of us as this doesn’t stop after we finish school…
  • Now the Greek word for honour is timao which means to prize or show high regard, respect or value to someone. 
  • If obedience is the duty we owe to our parents, honour is the disposition. 
  • So to honour ones parents means to show them respect and love and to care for them, as long as they need.
  • So maybe there is a challenge there for us whose parents are getting older. 
  • What does it mean to prize and value them, and to keep including them centrally in our extended families?

And how does this work when child and parental relationships are strained? Well I believe…

  • You can honour and respect them while still disagreeing with them about all kinds of things
  • You can value them while still having good boundaries in place
  • You can choose love for them no matter how they may treat you – that’s hard! 
  • But where we deposit and develop the honour, value and the love of Christ towards our parents, life will grow, and kingdom connection will grow. 

Now let’s shift to raising children. And I am aware that has varied relevance across our community.

  • But in one sense while there is direct relevance to parents of children, we are all the family of God and play our part in raising our community of children. 
  • And you know its funny… as I get older… there are lots of things I want for my children…
  • Obviously I want them to be happy and healthy, I want them to have good friends and to be kind kids…
  • But the greatest thing I want for them… above everything is to know and love Jesus and to follow him in how they live the rest of their lives. 
  • I want them to come to Jesus. 
  • And God calls parents to disciple their children. To grow and nurture them in faith!

Now lots of parents will attest to the fact that you can’t make your children Christians. And I know Godly, loving parents whose children aren’t following the Lord. 

  • But that doesn’t discount our responsibility to make it easier to love Jesus in your home. 
  • You can endeavour to make your home ring with gospel joy. 
  • You can endeavour to make your family not only a family of Christians, but a Christian family, that loves God and together loves people!

Right, so as parents we must be aware of the rhythms of life. How are our weeks structured?

  • And do we make Jesus and our church community a priority in our family lives?
  • Right? Is church and youth groups and so on in pencil while everything else gets put into our diaries in pen? 
  • Then that says something about the reality of God and priority we place on raising our children to grow in the community of faith. 
  • If you never pray or read the Bible in front of or with your kids, if you never talk about Jesus in any regular, open way, if you never invite others into your home for the sake of the gospel and hospitality, 
  • If you never serve Jesus together as a family, if you never ask your kids about who they think Jesus is, we may need to reset how we are raising our children.

Bible teacher Ray Stedman: There are two things which cause rebellion in children, two things which provoke a child ultimately to rebel against his parents: Indulgence and harshness. 

  • While we are told to “Bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” 
  • The opposites of these are indulgence and harshness. Those are the things which can lead a child to abandoning the faith of their parents. 
  • Now it’s a generalisation, but he says, “during the last century the father was often a tyrant in his family. Children had to toe the mark and often had very little contact with their parents in a loving relationship. Consequently there was a breaking out against this. 
  • In our day it is the other way around. We have swung to the extreme of indulgence. We give our children everything and let them have their own way, let them raise themselves.”
  • Both hinder a child from coming to Jesus. 

So let me encourage you… let me encourage myself to be wise in the way we disciple our kids.

  • You can’t just fish it out to bringing them to church or school scripture.
  • As important as that is in raising a community of children who know and love Jesus.
  • Can I just say how grateful I am to the volunteers who help at kids church too – what an amazing act of service you do!
  • But we need to take personal responsibility in doing this with our kids or spiritual children.
  • I know I try and talk about the wonders of Jesus with my kids and on the way to school encourage them around what Christian virtues in action looks like. 
  • And I can’t recommend the Jesus Storybook Bible enough – what we give to all the families getting dedicated. 

Well final thing today… and that is God is in the business of redeeming families. 

  • Because Jesus is a redeemer, it means no family is too far gone. 
  • You may think, “We’re a mess.” Well, ok. We all are. All you have to do today is say to Christ, “I’m your mess.” And he’ll come in and begin to clean it up. 
  • None of us have perfect families, and we belong to the faith that tells the story of the Prodigal Son as the highest conceptualisation of what God is like with wayward children. 
  • And so we pray for our families. We actively love our families. We always leave the door open for prodigal children. 
  • And God can do marvellous things even with the most broken and messy families. 

I read a nice story about a man named David in Eternity News this week. He said;

  • “I grew up in Willoughby. My dad was a sparkie. My extended family was a network of disasters.”
  • At 14, he was sent to church and heard the glorious gospel. 
  • He said “That year I found myself sitting on the floor of my bedroom, reflecting on my extended family… the domestic violence, alcoholism, divorce, broken marriages,  you name it. I got on my knees and I said, ‘OK, God, I know you’re there. I know you’re listening. I know you died for me. I’m yours. Please let the mess stop here.’
  • He said; “God has been at work in my life ever since.”
  • He goes on to say that he became an Indonesian teacher after studying at university and ended up teaching at a Christian school and influencing many for Jesus. 
  • He then talked about marrying his wife who came from a faithful Christian family and now having four believing children and eleven grandchildren. God he said, graciously answered his prayers.
  • I love that story… because it shows how God can take someone from such a broken family and create something so beautiful. 
  • Jesus breaks the chains of destructive behaviour and relationships. 

Our God is the great redeemer, and he can be the great redeemer in your life and family.

  • But you need to come to him and trust him and follow him.
  • God loves you. God loves your family and he wants your family in his family – the children of God!
  • Will you come to him today?

Godly Marriage Sermon – Ephesians 5:21-33

In this sermon Tim continues our Ephesians series, talking about mutual submission under Christ in Godly marriages and the ultimate call for everyone to love sacrificially because of what Christ did for us!

Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday June 13 2021.

SERMON NOTES

And didn’t Jarrah do a great job last Sunday – so very good and scripturally rich. 

  • What a great  imperative from the scriptures to be ongoingly filled with the Holy Spirit. 
  • I grew up in a great church. But it was one where we really believed in the Father, the Son and the Holy Bible… 
  • Odd for a bible believing church to never mention the Holy Spirit, because the scriptures, and indeed Ephesians is soaked in the language of the Spirit. 
  • Loved that bit in Jarrah’s sermon where he went through the HS verses in Ephesians alone!
  • So of course over the last 20 years it has been wonderful to grow in the charismatic side of the Christian faith. 

Anyhow, we’ve got a big one today as we enter this amazing, but controversial section of Ephesians that is rightfully headed in the NIV – Instructions for Christian Households. 

  • Doesn’t get much more practical than that!
  • Just before I read the first section, on marriage, one of the big mistakes the church made was starting this section at verse 22.
  • That has led to, particularly, women feeling like this is some antiquated, sexist, misogynist teaching that belongs to a different era if you start at verse 22. 
  • Particularly if the section on wives was read without the parallel section for husbands.
  • Rightfully though, the NIV, the Message and most modern bible translations start this new paragraph or section on the household code of Christians in verse 21.
  • You will see why this is important. 

OK – so Ephesians 5:21-33

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

So the Apostle Paul, writing to the church he planted in the city of Ephesus, from jail in Rome

  • Continues his section of the letter that instructs Christians on how to live a life worthy of the gospel in light of the amazing good news they have received.
  • In light of the gospel story that reshapes every part of our story, how then should we live?
  • In our homes, in our work, in our relationships, what will change as a result of being saved and transformed by the glorious gospel?
  • Good question.

So Paul speaks to this in Ephesians 5:21-6:9 in regard to the household code. 

  • What was that?
  • Well in the ancient world, as today, there was a well known code of conduct if you like for how society should function, particularly around three relationships.
  • Husbands and wives, parents and children, slaves and masters. 
  • And that is what we are going to look at the next 3 weeks…

And slightly differently to today, all three of these relationships were basically conducted under the one roof. Marriage, parenting and work. 

  • Though for many, COVID has brought that back together. My brother in Melbourne knows all about that!
  • And in the ancient world, the head of all three sets of relationships was the same person. 
  • Can anyone guess who this was?
  • The Husband/Father/Master. He was boss over his wife, his children and his slaves. 
  • And in general the power dynamic was unbalanced, coercive and toxic. 

You see since the beginning of time, relationships have been twisted. Read Genesis.

  • With the fall, God’s good original intention for relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children and if you like employers and employees got distorted. 
  • We see this all the time. The horrendous toll of domestic abuse, child abuse and staff abuse. 
  • And that is a particular problem as we know here on the Northern Beaches. It is our dark underbelly to life in paradise. 
  • The old unholy trio of abusive power, sex and money rears its ugly head as our selfishness and brokenness plays itself out in the cruellest of ways. 

In the world into which Jesus came, women, children, servants were treated as mere objects to be used.

  • I am sure there were exceptions in the ancient world… wonderful males who cared for and honoured their wives, children and slaves…
  • Afterall, especially in Israel, there was a high ethic on everyone being created in the image of God and having value.
  • That flowed from Genesis 1:27 where we are told “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.”
  • So there was meant to be inherent dignity for humanity as created in the image of God flowing from the foundation and ethics of Israel’s creation narrative. 
  • But undoubtedly the ancient world of Jesus time, was a violent and abusive place. 

Aristotle in his essay “Politics” speaks of household management. These 3 sets of relationships it was thought by him, needed to work for society to work. 

  • Good so far…
  • But in most 1st century political visions, the husband, Father, master was the only one viewed as truly human. It is awful.
  • Aristotle for instance did not think women had the same rational capacity as men. And that as beloved Aristotle of Western philosophy. He wrote;
  • “hence by nature there are various classes of rulers, for the free rules the slave, the male the female, the man the child.” 
  • So that was just the way it was… or should I say, is…

So the Greek man expected his wife to raise his children and manage aspects of the household… but faithfulness was out of the question. 

  • There is a quote in which a powerful Greek man around the time of Jesus talks about having his wife for bearing him legitimate children and prostitutes to meet his needs. 
  • So the household codes was wives subjugated (that is under dominion or control) to their husbands, children subjugated to their parents and servants subjugated to their masters.
  • It was just the way it was… it all flowed one direction. 

And then… Jesus!

  • Then Jesus Christ enters the scene. The Word made flesh, dwelling amongst us. Coming in grace and truth. 
  • Trampling over every social boundary. With women, with sinners, with outcasts, with children.
  • And the only ethic the world had ever known that celebrated power and sex and rigid classes is abolished as he comes to seek and save the lost and serve and not be served. 
  • And so it is in John 15 that the most powerful man to ever live says to his disciples “I no longer call you servants. I have called you friends.”
  • Let that sink in….
  • And on the cross he undermines the powers that be, not by fighting them but by submitting to them, even to death on a cross as a common criminal. 
  • And what looks like a loss becomes a victory in the resurrection!

I was reading an article on how the cross reshaped civilization in a Methodist journal this week. 

  • (And you wonder what joys I get up to during the week…). 
  • Anyhow, the author said;
  • “The power of the cross led to a broad transformation of values in which meekness, lowliness and humility were no longer despised but now celebrated, yes celebrated!”
  • You see up until this point in human history theology mirrored a lot of anthropology. 
  • We created gods in our own image. We still do today. 
  • No real mystery that the gods of Ephesus were into sex, power and control. Because the people of Ephesus were into sex, power and control
  • And then along comes the cruciform God in Christ.

One of my favourite passages is in 1 Corinthians where it talks about the gospel being foolishness to the Greeks and weakness to the Jews… 

  • But to us being saved by God, it is the power and wisdom of God. 
  • And so slowly but surely a new dynamic called grace enters the world, and the Kingdom of God advances as his Spirit filled believers follow the way of Jesus.
  • We see his kingdom come as we serve the poor, empty ourselves of power and stand on the side of the abused and oppressed. 
  • Can you see what is going to happen to the Household code of the ancient world?
  • The Spirit of Jesus Christ begins to fill his people… and so into the Jewish and Greek and Roman world… it all gets turned upside down. 

So, it becomes so important as we explore the dynamics between husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and slaves. 

  • That everything that is written is to be read as exhortations to Spirit filled, Christ following believers whose primary lens is verse 21.
  • “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
  • That is the revolution. That is the kicker. That is the new dynamic. That is how we read the rest of this text. 
  • Not just wives submit to husbands, children submit to parents, slaves submit to masters.
  • To everyone, there is a new ethic, a new way of relating… to all of us, verse 21 “submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.”

So following out of last week’s imperative to be ongoingly filled with the Holy Spirit a new relational dynamic is established. 

  • Be subject to one another. Willingly. Both ways… And why?
  • Because being filled with the Spirit goes to the root of relational dynamics…
  • Be filled with the Spirit… is be filled with the life of Jesus… 
  • Without the Spirit at work we fight each other, we control each other, we are selfish with one another.
  • But filled with the life of Jesus, we now find a new way of relating to each other… the way Jesus related to you and I. 
  • Matthew 20:28… Jesus says, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”

So some things on this passage… which may I say, I believe presents the most challenging and yet glorious picture of Christian relationships, particularly in marriage. 

  • And if you are not married yet, you may well be one day. 
  • And my hope for you, my hope for everyone is that our marriages will indeed mirror the relationship Jesus has with the church. 
  • Right? Verse 25 “husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

So 5 quick things…

Firstly, as we have been noting, it all flows out of verse 21 which is an exhortation to mutual submission in all of our relationships. 

  • To submit means to willingly yield oneself in the service of another. 
  • A concept totally at odds with our world that says self love and personal gain are the highest qualities to ascribe to. 
  • So marriage should at its heart be about unconditional love, putting the other ahead of ourselves, and if you like a race to out serve one another. 
  • Imagine that applied to cleaning the home, or cooking meals or listening to one another. 

Secondly, the notion of a husband’s headship over the family, from this passage only has to do with one thing. 

  • And that is service – the giving of your own life for the good of the other. And we are shown that Jesus is the obvious example us husbands are to follow.
  • It is Christ like willingness to suffer for the good of the family, loving them like you would love your own body or own life. 
  • Submission can only be understood in this context. It would be submitting to a husband who lays down his life for his family. 

Thirdly, and I find this interesting, the application of mutual submission and service to one another is addressed differently to husbands and wives. 

  • The Christian historian and biblical scholar John Dickson has written on this. He notes; 
  • The wife is told simply to submit to her spouse. However, this does not mean that wives are free not to love their husbands, any more than it means husbands are free not to submit to their wives. 
  • The import of these commands is as follows: While all believers are to express the virtues of love and submission toward one another, 
  • Husbands in their relationships with their wives are to pay special attention to the attitude of love and service.
  • And wives in their relationships with their husbands are to pay special attention to the attitude of submission.

Now I am not going to talk about why wives are told to give special attention to the attitude of submission in a mutually submissive marriage. 

  • But I’ll address the husband bit as I have a bit of experience in that one. 
  • Did I ever tell you about the time I bought a men’s jacket for Victoria’s birthday?
  • Naturally, I know for me, what I need to work on is being less selfish and more loving to Victoria’s needs. 
  • I’ll let Victoria and others speak to the wives part, but I know here Paul is spot on for me. 
  • As I try to live a life worthy of the gospel, in my marriage, my challenge is to be less selfish and to love Victoria in sacrificial ways (verse 25) like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Ok, Fourthly, we need to work this out in our relationships with care, wisdom and prayerfully with God. 

  • Again Dickson; “Husbands and wives should reflect on this model as they consider together their responsibilities in the marriage. 
  • Moreover, it is noteworthy that the submission-commands of Ephesians 5 is addressed directly to wives, not husbands. It says, “Wives, submit to your husbands.” 
  • Nowhere do we find, “Husbands, ensure that your wives submit to you.” 
  • He says; “I take it, therefore, that it is not for the husband to work out the application of this command. It is entirely for the wife to hear God’s word and seek to apply it as she sees fit. 
  • Husbands have their own domain: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). 
  • That is quite enough to worry about.”

That is good. Much of the abuse of this passage through history has been where toxic husbands have demanded their wives submit to their leadership. 

  • Is there a place for male leadership within marriage? I would suggest yes. Particularly in caring and loving our families as we would want to be led and cared for ourselves says the passage. 
  • But ultimately, deal with your own side first and foremost. 

When a lot of marriages break down, what we sadly often see is each partner trying to change their spouse. Shifting the blame entirely onto the other.

  • Making it out as though they are blameless and their partner is a narcissist. Gosh I hear that a lot. 
  • Now occasionally that may be the case. But fundamentally what the bible speaks to… is you. Start with you. Seek the Spirit to change you!
  • Love and serve and submit to one another. Model your marriage on how Christ loved the church and laid down his life for it. 
  • Be willing to make the changes you need to make. And then see what the state of the marriage is. 

Ok, fifthly and finally, onto the positive! What an opportunity we have to experience marriage and love, redeemed to be the way the creator made it!

  • There is nothing as good as a healthy Christian marriage. 
  • Wedding yesterday – Purpose of marriage: trust and security in which true love can grow
  • Vows: our way of saying “I’m not going anywhere”
  • Sermon reminder about love as the circuit breaker. Downward spirals and virtuous upward spirals. 

Tip: Surround yourself with people whose marriages you admire and listen loudest to the voices that uphold marriage, that fight for marriage and that call marriages higher!

  • I doubt you will find any perfect one… but there are things in common that apply to marriages that thrive!
  • An unwavering commitment to faithfulness and serving one another
  • Carving out time to have fun and listen to one another.
  • A genuine desire to create a common life. 

At weddings I often tell the story of a man called Robert McQuilkin, the thing he always wanted to do, was to become a principle of a college. 

  • And eventually he did, and he thrived, then his wife Muriel got Alzheimer’s disease. 
  • And her health degenerated to the point where he couldn’t look after her and be principle of the college. At the age of 59 he decided to give up his position. 
  • His colleagues couldn’t believe it, they were saying things to him like, “what are you doing? She doesn’t even know who you are.”
  • He said, “She might not know who I am, but I know who she is. She’s the women that I made a promise to, until death us do part. She is such a delight for me…
  • “I don’t have to care for her, I get to care for her.”
  • That is Christian marriage. That is leadership within a marriage. That is service!

Be Filled With The Holy Spirit – Ephesians 5:15-20 Sermon

In this sermon Jarrah continues our Ephesians by telling us how we can be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit and learnt to listen to the Holy Spirit!

Sermon preached by Jarrah Duckhs on Sunday June 6th 2021.


SERMON NOTES
Confusion about the work of the Spirit – on one hand we see biblically that we
can have these life-changing singular experiences with the Holy Spirit when he
“shows up”, where tongues, healing, prophetic ministry breaks out for
example, but on the other hand the bible speaks to this ongoing,
transformational work of the Holy Spirit in you that are even more life-
changing..This is what we are going to explore today.

Ephesians recap – Ch1-4 the revolutionary story of Jesus’ death, burial and
resurrection and we have seen from Ch 4 until now how our lives are radically
changed as a result of this gospel story. And we have seen some seriously
profound and life changing revelations of who the Holy Spirit is to us. This far
into Ephesians, we have seen that The Holy Spirit is the:

  1. Past, present and future realisation of God’s kingdom
  2. Provider of the “apokolypsis” revelation and wisdom / understanding to know
    Christ better.
  3. He is the Heart changing indwelling presence of God that sustains a constant
    energising, empowering, prayer generating, Christ imparting relationship to
    you at the core of your being.
  4. The power (dunamis) of God that strengthens your “inner man” (that is your
    soul) with the capacity, ability and authority to live a Godly life
  5. One who enables us to ‘put on’ the new man created in righteousness and
    holiness and repent, renounce and renew. Theme of Ephesians theme that has begun to play out through the book of
    Ephesians, and all of it begins to point to this reality – that all truly Christian
    behaviour is a result of the Spirit of God, living by the Spirit, walking by the
    Spirit. And, as we will see today, “being filled with the Spirit”.

Question:

  1. Are we both individually and corporately desperate to be filled by/with the
    Holy Spirit?

Sermon Body:
So Lets Read Ephesians 5:18-21:
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery (or as other versions
say for this will ruin your life), but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one
another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody
to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God
the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another
out of reverence for Christ.

Verse context: We have seen from Ch4 through to now Paul building a long list
of instructions and exhortations on how to live in light of the gospel story what
we saw in Ch1-4. We see such imperatives as:
a. Chapter 4:22 To “put on” the new self created after the likeness of God
in true righteousness and “throw off” all patterns of sin
b. Chapter 4:25 To put of falsehood, and speak truth
c. Chapter 4:30 To not grieve the Holy Spirit
d. Chapter 5:1 To be imitators of God, being a fragrant offering to the Lord
e. Chapter 5: 3 To throw off sin
f. Chapter 5:8-9 To walk as children of the light that produce Spiritual
Fruit
g. Chapter 5:15 To look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but
wise, where Paul is picking up the theme, again, from 4:23 be “renewed
in your mind”.
h. Chapter 5:17 To not be foolish / act thoughtlessly, but to understand
what the will of the Lord is (which as we see in Romans 12:2 relies
upon the Spirit)

Paul brings this series of exhortations to conclusion, by urging us to be “filled
with the Spirit”. WE must see that here “being filled with the Spirit” is not just
another imperative that is bolted onto the rest, but it is the KEY, the only
means by which all others can be lived.
Here is how I want to approach this revelation packed passage:
a. Define what “being filled by the Spirit” actually is;
b. How we are “filled with the Spirit”; and
c. The implications and effects of the Spirit filled life.

  1. What is “being filled with
    the Spirit”
  2. As humans, are triune beings created in the image of God, that is made up of 3
    faculties, or components? Biblically speaking, we are composed of a Spirit,
    Soul and Body:
    a. “SPIRIT” (inner core of our being, the point within us brought into
    contact with the Spirit of God)
    b. “SOUL” (mind, will, emotions, intellect, understanding, decision etc).
    perceives, searches, imagines, desires, loves, hates, resolves, and so
    forth. Biblically, the Spirit and the Soul make up the inner man.
    c. “BODY” (the senses of our being that interact with the world)
  3. To understand what “being filled with the Spirit” means, we need to first lay
    out the foundation upon which this verse is written and see how the gospel /
    Spirit interact with these aspects of your life – so here are 2 gospel revelations
    to help us understand this:
    d. In Romans we see that Jesus saves and severs your “spirit” from sin
    through his death, burial and resurrection so that you get ‘born again’
    and your spirit is restored as God deposits his Spirit (that is, His
    presence) in you. Spiritually in that moment of justification, you were
    made brand new and made spiritually righteous seated at the right hand
    of God….But interestingly in that moment you get born again you still
    have a soul (mind, will, emotions, affections, desires) that has for years
    been taught to think, feel desire and respond to the fall of man. Don’t
    get me wrong, these also change when you come to know Jesus, but
    there is still potential for Patterns of sin to still exist! This is what 1 John
    speaks to. But this leads to the 2nd revelation of the gospel:
    e. Jesus sustains and applies our salvation through the ongoing, life-long
    transformational work of the Holy Spirit in our soul (mind, will,
    emotions); that is through a process called sanctification. 1 Thess 5:23 –
    Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and
    may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the
    coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. So as a result of sanctification,
    patterns of sin are being broken, God’s kingdom advances in and
    through your life and produces righteousness and holiness which
    ultimately makes you become more like Jesus.

Paul is speaking to the Ephesians Church here, that is Christians, so the past reality of
salvation and receiving the Holy Spirit as a deposit, is clearly already established.
Therefore we must conclude that this passage “be filled with the Spirit” is therefore
making reference to the ongoing sanctifying / transforming work of the Spirit in you
walk in relationship with Jesus. And the Greek… definitions of “Filled” from Eph 5:18
and the word “Sanctification”.

FILLED – Greek “plerou”

  1. To make full – be full/filled
  2. To carry into effect, bring into
    realisation progressively
  3. To fill so as to diffuse throughout
    ones soul, take possession of, to
    permeate ones heart – to spread
    through and renew every part.
    Now reading this in the context of the
    verse – “Do not get drunk on wine, but
    allow the Holy Spirit to diffuse through
    your soul, take possession of it and
    renew it.
    Its like yeast that spreads through a
    dough. Its a process.

And check this out because look at the
Greek for the word sanctification which
presents the same reality:
SANCTIFICATION – Greek
“Hagiasmos”

  1. To separate from sin and dedicate
    to God – consecration / setting
    apart.
  2. To be Purified internally by the
    renewing of your soul to become
    more like Christ in righteousness,
    holiness and conduct (that is to be
    set apart for the purposes of God).

So now it is clear that biblically speaking, “being filled with the Spirit” is to be
sanctified / transformed by the Spirit as constant way of life. This is where the Spirit:

  1. Renews your minds, that is to give you the capacity to perceive and live out
    spiritual truth and ultimately understand His will (as it says in Romans 12:2)
  2. The Holy Spirit transforms and renews our emotions, passions and desires to
    abstain from passion of the flesh (as it says in 1 Thesselonians) and
  3. The Holy Spirit transforms and renews our wills to align with His (as it says in
    Philippians).
    Through this process, your life ultimately becomes realigned with God’s authentic
    design for your life which is to become more like Jesus; where the fruits of the Spirit
    characterise your life. This brings the ULTIMATE glory to the Lord on the earth and
    is the ULTIMATE sense of life itself.
  4. How we are “being filled with
    the Spirit”
    Learned truth has to become living truth. 4 ways the bible says we are filled with the
    Spirit:
  5. How to be filled with the Spirit #1 – Get in His word and Presence daily

a. We see this in the NT everywhere, but Look at Colossians 3:16 the
parallel verse to Ephesians 5:18 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you
richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing
psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts
to God”. This is so interesting, because the word and the Spirit have the
same effect – singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. We see the
beautiful interaction here between the word of God and the Spirit of
God, where the the Holy Spirit takes the word of Christ and transforms
our lives with it.
b. John 17:17 17 Sanctify them by[a] the truth; your word is truth.

  1. How to be filled with the Spirit #2 -Active surrender and yielding to the
    leadership of the Holy Spirit.
    a. To surrender to the Spirit is simply to “walk with the Spirit” and obey
    his leadership. It is to be under the influence, guidance and dynamic
    power of the Holy Spirit in each faculty / aspect of your life and actively
    / intentionally surrendering to his transformational work. This becomes
    a reality the more we are in relationship with him, as we grow in
    confidence and sensitivity in hearing his voice and obeying his leading.
  2. How to be filled with the Spirit #3 -“Putting on” the New Self by the
    strength and power of the Holy Spirit.
    a. We saw this in 4:22-24. “throw off your old sinful nature and your
    former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23
    Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put
    on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and
    holy.”
    b. Putting on the “new nature” is like putting on a cloak. Romans 13:14 –
    “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not
    think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh”. Our task is not
    to “weave” the garment, as this is the Lord’s, it is to “wear” the garment,
    “throwing off” the garment of our old nature, that is sinful practices.
    God has a walk in robe of new clothes already prepared for you to wear
    through the Holy Spirit.
    c. Metaphorically it is being clothed with new clothes woven by God, but
    practically it is walking in constant connection with the truth of God in
    his word and allowing the Holy Spirit to take this truth and transform
    our lives and character to cause the fruits of the spirit to define it.
  3. How to be filled with the Spirit #4 – Behold His Glory
    a. 2 Corinthians 3:18 – And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the
    glory of the Lord,[a] are being transformed into the same image
    from one degree of glory to another.[b] For this comes from the
    Lord who is the Spirit.
    b. YOU BECOME WHAT YOU BEHOLD. If you behold the glory and
    majesty of Christ, you are transformed into the image of Christ by the

work of the Spirit in you. Because the fruits of his life become the fruits
of your life.

DO NOT GET CAUGHT IN THE LEGALISTIC MINDSET. This is where I went
wrong for so many years, because these biblical “how to’s” and the imperatives we
saw in Ch4 and 5 this far aren’t just another set of hard and fast laws and regulations
we must follow in order to be “filled with Spirit”. Its not because “God HAS”
therefore “NOW YOU MUST” in a legalistic way, but rather it is a “God HAS”,
“Now you CAN” through the power of the Holy Spirit. We must understand who is
working in you and what this work in you causes you to do…
You are not the one “working” to be “filled with the Spirit”….because WE ARE
SAVED AND SANCTIFIED BY GOD THE FATHER, IN GOD THE SON AND
THROUGH GOD THE SPIRIT. It is and always will be God working in us. But see
there is this transaction that takes place – Philippians 2:13 says that God energizes
and creates in us the power (through His Holy Spirit) and the desire to will and
to work for His good pleasure. As you are filled with the Spirit, the Spirit creates in
you an ever-deepening faith and trust in Jesus and an ever-increasing delight in His
word, His Spirit and to do His will. So no longer can we interpret these how to’s “be
filled”, “work out your salvation”, “let the word of Chirst”, “throw off sin” as “work
fuelled by the flesh to earn the favour of God”, it is talking about “work fuelled by
faith for the Glory of God”.

  1. Effects of a Spirit-filled life
    We have seen “what” being filled with the Spirit is, we have seen “how” we are filled
    with the Spirit and now we must conclude with the personal and corporate effects of
    Spirit-filled life.
    Here is how the passage reads.
    18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the
    Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
    singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart 20 giving thanks
    always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus
    Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
    It is in these verses that Paul draws out the ultimate imperative of “being filled with
    the Spirit” and that is this: That we (personally / individually) are so filled with the
    Spirit that we come to know God in all his fullness and we reflect this in the way we
    live in worship and thanksgiving to the Lord but with equal seriousness Paul is
    imploring God’s people collectively, as a body of believers, to be so full of the Spirit

that our worship, our church and our relationships give full evidence of the Spirits
work in us.

  1. Look with me to v19 and 20. but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing
    one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and
    making melody to the Lord with your heart
    We see that the effects of a “filled with Spirit” are one that results in a life of Worship.
    Paul alludes to two dimensions of worship here: both the personal and the corporate.
    The Personal Dimension:
    On the personal level, “being filled with the Spirit” causes us to worship and praise
    God with all your heart in response to what He has done, what He is doing and what
    He will do in and through us. So “being filled with the Spirit” causes us to respond to
    God with singing “Psalms” and “Hymns” – which simply mean “to praise God” and
    with “spiritual songs” which in other translations says “spontaneous songs of the
    Spirit”. This is the new songs to the Lord like the psalm 95-100 songs where our
    hearts are so alive by what the Holy Spirit is doing in us that our hearts break fourth in
    song and melody.
    And if this worship gives glory to God, as we have seen in the bible, then could you
    imagine what happens when a collection of people worshipping the Lord in this
    manner come together and corporately worship the Lord?
    The corporate dimension:
    This is exactly why Paul introduces the “corporate dimension” of the worship that
    results from “being filled with the Spirit”. See in v19 it says Speaking/singing to one
    another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs or as in other versions, teach and
    admonish one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. In both versions we see
    the expression of Worship whereby we “teach” or “speak” to one another as we
    worship, that is to impart instruction and instill doctrine into each other, and we
    “admonish” each other which is to edify and encourage. We praise God and edify one
    another at the same time. We may not realise it, but this is happening here every
    Sunday, every life group, every Wednesday worship night!
    This is the church that God is shaping across the earth, a church where, as we saw in
    Ephesians 2:21-22 the whole building is being joined together and rises to
    become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built
    together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Conclusion:

So Church, I ask you again – ARE YOU PERSONALLY / AND ARE WE
CORPORATELY DESPERATE TO BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Because the Spirit changes, transforms and brings life to you, but in doing so changes,
transform and brings life to this community, and every sphere you are in. And let me
tell you Manly Life, there is so much life in this Church which is direct evidence of
the Spirit being at work in this place.

Living in the Light – Ephesians 5:1-13 Sermon

We continue our series in the book of Ephesians with Tim preaching on living in the light, how we should leave the old life behind and embrace the new life Good has for us in His life!

SERMON NOTES

Well let’s kick on with Ephesians… this is the last week in some of the morality of Christian
faith, or the ethics of believers…

  • And we have been saying it all flows from the good news of the gospel story that then
    reshapes every part of our story.
  • So any imperative to truthful speech or not stealing or being compassionate and forgiving
    is always done in light of what God has done first!

How did you go with truthful speech this last week?

  • I know I caught myself a few times during the week. Not outright lying but just
    exaggerating things or embellishing the truth…
  • And I asked myself a few time, why was I doing that… and I realised every time it was
    because of self preservation, or trying to make myself look good.
  • So it’s a challenge… put off the old self and put on the new and speak truthfully.

Ok, so… Ephesians 5:1-14
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as
Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity,
or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity,
foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can
be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any
inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for
because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.7 Therefore do not be
partners with them.

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the
fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases
the Lord.11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It
is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the
light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

Star Wars has basically taken over my house… the kids have just finished the Mandalorian,
after already having done the 9 Star Wars films.

  • Luca has several lightsabres and a favourite game at the moment after dinner is we take
    turns pretending to be a Star Wars character and we all have to guess who it is.
  • I do a particularly good Jabba the Hut. It comes naturally…
  • But the kids are fascinated by the idea of a Dark side and turning to the light.

  • Luca is always asking when a new character appears in Star Wars “are they a good guy or a
    bad guy Dad?”

Good question… and we often ask that of people around us… are they good guys or bad guys…
often with most of us, the story is more complex…

  • But what if we asked that of ourselves?
  • Are we on the side of light? And where does darkness still reside within us?
  • Does our daily living demonstrate who we belong to by how we walk…
  • Last week we looked at speaking the truth and we asked do our words tilt the world
    around us to heaven or do they tilt the world towards hell?
  • And as the children of God, we have an incredible mandate to live as children of light.

In the Christian faith we soon learn a few truths…

  • Firstly, All of humanity starts on the darkside. Right we are all Darth Vader 😉
  • And I’ve never really had a problem accepting that about myself because I know my own
    heart and where my life would lead without God’s grace.
  • Secondly, Jesus brings us into the light through imputed righteousness. Right Jesus is Luke
    who brings Darth Vader back to the light.
  • Am I stretching this too far?
  • But we become light or righteousness through a gift from God. Not something we earn.
  • And finally, we are called to live as children of the light.
  • And for that I have no Star Wars analogy.
  • Other than maybe, beware the power of the darkside…

In Ephesians 5 Paul again sets up the contrast between the old way of living and the new self.

  • It starts pretty powerfully: “Walk in the way of love…” again it is done by explaining how
    God has done this first…
  • Verse 2 – “just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”
  • So walking in the way of love for us includes sacrificial behaviour… putting others first.

  • It shouldn’t surprise us, that so many of the ethical imperatives of following Jesus involve
    love.
  • And it being based on a love demonstrated or modelled through Jesus sacrificial love.

There is this great section in Romans where Paul is talking about how we should live as
Christians… Romans 13:8-10
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever
loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You
shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command
there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love
does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Isn’t that the best passage on ethical living in the New Testament?

  • He basically says, do everything through the context of “is this loving?”
  • Does this action or decision fulfil loving your neighbour as yourself?”
  • Right? You wont commit adultery or murder or steal or covet, because it is not walking in
    love.
  • The things you would want done to yourself, because you love yourself… you then do to
    others…
  • So we walk in the way of love. That is the lens through which as children of God we do
    everything!

This is kind of the 101 of Christian living… walking in the way of love.

  • 1 Corinthians 13 – if I do not have love I am nothing.
  • That has to be the defining characteristic of who we are.
  • Right? 1 John 4:7 says Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
  • And it says in verse 8 “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
  • So let the love of God infuse you deeply… receive it, bask in it, know it, glory in it….
  • And then walk in the way of love as our response…


So Paul then moves on to a spray about old ways of living and new ways of living again.

  • I don’t want to rehash last week, but quickly, we said that any moral exhortation from Paul
    is always read in light of the good news of what God has done.
  • It isn’t… “because God has, you now must.”
  • But instead it is “because God has, you now can.”
  • It is because we are loved, forgiven, empowered that a whole new way of life is now
    available to us.

Some of the ones we find in Ephesians 5:3-4 includes

  • Have no hint of sexual immorality or greed or foolish talk amongst you.

And this is why walking in the light is going to become important, because in one sense these
are the areas of our lives we like to keep hidden.

  • Think about those areas… immorality, impurity, greed…
  • Maybe best exposed by what you could call the Mum and Dad test.
  • Would you be happy for your parents to know the details of your life around these things?
  • And don’t worry, it has to work for them too… would your parents be happy for their
    parents to know everything about their lives. Haha!

Timothy Keller is good on this. Because it says greedy people are idolaters.

  • He says, “Money, itself, isn’t usually an idol. But what you put your money towards does
    show you where your idols are usually.”
  • Ohhh that’s good.
  • You see if you are not generous with your money and your home and your time… it may
    expose what you really worship.
  • If you spend more on fitness than the kingdom of God… maybe your priorities are out.
  • If you spend obscene amounts on home improvements and never building other people a
    home… maybe you worshipping the wrong thing.


And then sexual immorality. Again Tim Keller who is a Pastor in New York speaking about the
early church.
“A pagan gave nobody their money and practically gave everybody their body. And the Christians
came along and gave practically nobody their body and they gave practically everybody
their money.”

  • Whoa! Read that again…
  • Or as my friend Charlie said… “Christians shouldn’t be able to keep their wallet in their
    pants…” haha as opposed to… ok you get it…
  • But we should be desiring holiness with our sexuality, despite it being a battle (I mean lets
    get real – it isn’t easy”).
  • I mean some of you could be part time models… (not David Jones models, but at least Best
    and Less models… the temptation must be extreme…)
  • And we should be ridiculously generous. Right – set and forget…
  • But actually don’t forget… keep on giving, keep on responding to need… let it hurt a bit!

Now we do all of this of course in a greedy, sex saturated world.

  • Victoria went to a parents evening held by the wonderful Melinda Tankart Reiss on the
    sexualisation of our kids.
  • And someone asked, when should I get my kid a mobile phone. And her answer was,
    “when you are ready for them to be exposed to porn.”
  • So we need each other, calling each other to a different narrative, a different way of life.
  • We need to uphold the beauty of being created in the image of God, and sex being special
    and for marriage and for faithfulness.
  • And when we get it wrong, we throw ourselves on the mercy of God, receive his grace and
    we try again!

So how do we do all of this?

In Ephesians 5, Paul then goes into this whole section on living as children of the light… and
that is where I want to finish the sermon today.

  • So what do we learn from this passage?

  • Verse 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of
    light 
  • So there is our calling as the children of God.

Verse 8 “you were once darkness.” So we are back to Star Wars? I think we have run that
analogies full course…

  • So Paul starts with the reality of the human condition. Outside of Jesus we exist in
    darkness.
  • Maybe this could be called the doctrine of original sin, or the unregenerate state of human
    life…
  • But the reality is that every single one of us have things in our lives that we need saving
    from in order to be brought into the light or into a relationship with God.
  • Paul talks about things that people do that are (verse 12) shameful to even mention what
    the disobedient do in secret.
  • And that is probably a big part of living in darkness… it is the stuff in our lives that we
    wouldn’t want exposed.
  • We were talking last week about the truth and how we tell lies that we then cover up with
    lies… and it can all unravel.

I don’t know why, but one of my favourite films is the Woody Allen movie with Cate Blanchett
called Blue Jasmine.

  • It’s very un-hollywood because it doesn’t have a happy, neat ending…
  • And it’s really the story of the unravelling that occurs when you build your life around self
    absorption, lies and dishonesty…
  • The main character Jasmine is a formerly rich Manhatten socialite whose life comes
    crashing down when her husbands financial fraud and philandering comes out and he
    takes his life…
  • But rather than confront the truth, she continues to propagate her life on a series of lies…
  • And it all comes crashing down when the lies she has told to her new partner begin to
    unravel, and once again she looses it all…


I think it’s a great film, because it exposes how darkness and lies always tend to unravel and
come crashing down.

  • If truth sets free, lies destroy and wreak havoc in all directions…
  • If the light exposes the truth and illuminates us…. Then darkness compounds and devours.

Verse 8 continued “but now you are light in the Lord.”

  • This is of course a gift from God.
  • And the Greek is correctly translated here not as you are in the light. But you are light in
    the Lord.
  • Theologically this is an example of what you would call imputed righteousness.
  • It is not that we all of a sudden are a light, like Jesus when he says “I am the light of the
    world.”
  • Instead this is bestowed upon us because of the gift of Jesus. It is imputed to us.
  • Right, this is not something we actualise within ourselves, but rather it is imputed… or
    given to us or bestowed upon us.

In Colossians 1 it says;
“the Father… has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of
light. (verse 13) For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the
kingdom of the Son he loves.”

  • In the Alpha Course Nicky talks about a football transfer. Old course: David Beckham…
    Man U to Real Madrid
  • So you are rescued from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of light.
  • You no longer belong to the old way of living. You have been purchased at a price to join a
    new family.
  • Or as it is put in Ephesians – you are now light in the Lord… (this is who you now play for)

The transfer analogy continues in verse 8…

  • Old club cant ask why you are not at training or still playing for them…
  • You now belong to a new club… and now you start playing in the new team in a new way.


Verse 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 

  • So we begin to live like the new club we are a part of.
  • We begin to live in a transparent and illuminating way that throws off the darkness and
    embraces being a light in the world.

Let me finish today with one thought. If you are struggling majorly with an area in your life.

  • Let me encourage you to live transparently. And by that I mean, don’t keep it in the
    darkness… but bring it into the light.
  • That is one of the gifts of community. We can have accountability.
  • And good accountability isn’t judgemental, but it does in love encourage you to embrace
    the truth and walk towards the light.
  • Right? Let me encourage you to find someone you can trust who you can be honest with
    about your struggles.

Vulnerability is a really good thing.

  • Because we want to be in the light, we want to be the light. We desperately want nothing
    to do with the deeds of darkness…
  • But getting there is an adventure and it takes a bit of honesty and support and
    encouragement.

Well let’s do this. Just for ministry I was thinking about that idea of imputed righteousness or
imputed light!

  • That very last verse says everything that is illuminated becomes a light!
  • So clearly we need to have this prayed into us, or filling us…
  • And that is Jarrah’s sermon next week about the ongoing filling of the Holy Spirit.
  • But lets go after this today!

Speaking the Truth Sermon – Ephesians 4:25-32 Sermon

Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday May 23 2021.

SERMON NOTES

  • Well isn’t Ephesians just a cracker of a book. Victoria was wonderful last week as usual.
  • She continued this pivot in the Book of Ephesians from the wonders of the Gospel to now how we walk out the life of the gospel!
  •  And that is what we have been saying… that in light of the Gospel story of grace and forgiveness and redemption…
  •  We are called to live a life worthy of that calling. We come into balance…And so we come today to some pretty direct, honest, confronting truths or exhortations for how we should live.

– As we put off the old self and put on the new self, made new in the attitudes of our minds and created to be like God.

Everything that Paul will say links to what has gone before… right?

  • If you read these rules for living, or these moral guidelines for life in community without the remarkable good news that has gone before
  • It would be easy to slip into legalism or to become judgemental of everyone’s life…

– But Paul is going to talk about how to live, as allowing the Gospel story to reshape every part of our stories.

So verse 1 of chapter 4, “live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

  • The Gospel story that he has reminded them of should be something that we feel compelled to want to come into balance with, in how we now live our lives.
  • And Victoria quoted the message version of Ephesians 4:23-24… It says;“Everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.”
  • So good… so good… all of this good news brings you in…
  • allowing for the possibility of a life renewed from the inside.So let’s have a look at today’s passage. Ephesians 4:25-3225 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
    29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.This amazing passage of contrasting ways of living, is generally summarised by scholars as being about truthful speech.
  • The encouragement, or exhortation from Paul in light of putting off the old self and putting on the new, is live a transformed life compared to what went before.
  •  I like in the Bible Project schematic that we have been following how they summarise this.
  •  Old self vs new self… what we take off and what we put on…
  • Take off lies. Put on truth
  • Get rid of anger. Live in peace.
  • Stop stealing. Be generous.
  • Don’t gossip. Use your words to encourage.
  • Don’t seek revenge. Practice forgiveness.
  • And the next two weeks. Don’t be promiscuous. Walk in the way of love.
  •  Don’t get drunk on wine. Be filled with the Holy Spirit.It’s brilliant right. Who wouldn’t want to live this life?

  •  And when we meet people who embody this kind of life, you can’t help but respect and honour and look up to them.
  • And the promise as Victoria said last week, is that as our minds are renewed… as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit.
  • These imperatives about how to live aren’t, “Because God has… you must…”
  •  But instead they are “because God has… you now can…”So we might read this section starting with… Ephesians 1:3 “Because God has blessed us with every Spiritual blessing in Christ…”
  • You can now take off lies. Speak the truth
  • Because God has, you can now get rid of anger. Live in peace.
  • Because God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ, you can refrain fromstealing. Be generous.
  • Because God has, you can now stop gossiping. Use your words to encourage.
  • Because God has, you can choose to not seek revenge. Practice forgiveness.
  • Right? And we can read any moral imperatives in light of what God has done…Let’s go another round of this… Ephesians 1:19 “Because of God’s incomparably great power for us who believe…”
  • You can now take off lies. Speak the truth
  • Because God has, you can now get rid of anger. Live in peace.
  • Because of God’s incomparably great power for us who believe, you can refrain from stealing. Be generous.
  • Because God has, you can now stop gossip. Use your words to encourage.
  • Because God has, you can now choose to not seek revenge. Practice forgiveness.One more round… Ephesians 1:7-8 “Because God forgave our sins in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us…”
  •  You can now take off lies. Speak the truth
  • Because God has, you can now get rid of anger. Live in peace.
  •  Because God forgave and lavished grace on us, you can refrain from stealing. Be generous. Because God has, you can now stop gossip. Use your words to encourage.
  •  Because God has, you can choose to not seek revenge. Practice forgiveness.Are you with me?You see shame is an awful motivation for changing our behaviour.
  • Condemnation is an awful motivation for changing our behaviour
  • Fear of punishment is an awful motivation for changing our behaviour
  • But receiving every spiritual blessing in Christ. Being given great power. Being forgiven andlavished in grace…
  • That can compel and empower us to want to live a life worthy of the calling we havereceived.So let’s talk about some of the way Paul calls us to now walk as the children of God.
  • And I think it is good to remember that this letter was written to a community… these are ethics for how to live together…
  • Someone from this church was chatting with me the other day… and it was very encouraging what they were saying about what has formed here at Manly Life…
  • Particularly referring to all of the young families… and the sense of community and fun… and how great the services are…
  • And he said to me… “I mean what could go wrong from here…”

And I felt like such a party pooper… because what came to mind was the incredible human capacity to muck things up!

  • I have this incredibly high view of church community but also a very realistic view of church community.
  • Right? I absolutely believe that this is the place where people get saved and transformed and find friends and learn to forgive and share and be compassionate. I see it all the time.
  • But this is also a community full of broken people like me.
  • You know what could spoil this church community? Well I could… You probably could.
  •  If we are not committed to putting off the old self and putting on the new we can do allkind of damage. And it is in Paul’s list here.I mean we can tell lies to one another… we can let anger at a real or perceived relational hurt consume us.
  • People can fall out because of bitterness, rage and slander.
  • Right? Because we are doing life together, because we do become friends… we are rubbingup against each other… all the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • And it is so easy to make a judgement on another person and then talk about them behindtheir back.
  • In verse 27, Paul says this is giving the devil a foothold.So we daily, need to be reshaped in every part of our lives by the Gospel story.
  • It is why on the huge one of forgiving each other in verse 32, it is explained that we do this, “just as in Christ, God forgave you!”
  • Right? There it is again – it is the gospel story that reshapes our story. It is because God has… we now can too!Ok, I just want to finish today with truthful speech.
  • Interesting to me that in getting to some of the morals or ethics or ways of living out the Christian faith, Paul starts with speaking the truth…
  • And I think that is because of the absolute centrality given to truth in the Christian faith.
  • Truth is the Greek word Aletheia which means without concealment. Or out in the open.
  • In John 1 it says Jesus came in grace and truth.
  • He came without concealing anything… he revealed who God is. Fully, openly, perfectly.Isn’t that a great way to think about it…
  • He come to fully reveal who God is. Nothing hidden.
  • And his words are what you would consider the perfect conceptualisation of goodnesss.
  • Right – that is the Sermon on the Mount – pure unconcealed truth.
  •  That’s why he says in the sermon on the mount “be perfect as your Father in heaven isperfect.”
  •  Right? This is the absolute highest conception of moral truth…
  • It’s why Jesus says in John 8, know the truth and the truth will set you free…So Paul says put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour!
  •  So as Christians, as followers of Jesus we have a fundamental commitment to the truth and speaking the truth.
  • And why? Because truth speaks life into being… and lies speak hell into being…
  • The clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson… talks about our words tilting the world a bitmore towards heaven or a bit more towards hell.That’s a mic drop moment… truth speaks life and tilts the world towards heaven…. Lies and any co-operation with it speak hell into being.
  • So that is a good question to ask: Do your words tilt the world a bit more towards heaven or hell…
  • You see as we move towards the truth everything comes together… when we lie everything begins to fall apart…I find this such a challenge, but here is the reality… when we lie to each other, we find ourselves often having to lie more to cover up previous lies.
  • We end up entrapped by our own falsehoods…
  • And you can see why truthful speech is a great way to start for a transformed life.
  • See if you are committed to speaking the truth, then all the other stuff flows on…
  • You aren’t going to blow up in anger… which often leads us to say things we regret,.
  • We won’t steal because that involves fundamental dishonesty.
  • Instead, we begin to (verse 29) speak only what is helpful for building others up.Right? So then everything that then follows is in one sense a derivative action of telling the truth.
  • Bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander. These are all things related to the old way of living in which self preservation and getting ahead and selfishness rules our hearts.
  • But as we put on the new self… as our story is reshaped by the Gospel story… it says
  • “Instead be kind, compassionate and forgiving.”Again Jordan Peterson, he has written so much on the importance of speaking truthfully.
  • He says, “Use your words carefully and wisely and truthfully.”
  • He says the thing about telling the truth is that it is so adventurous… I like that.
  • You say not what you think will benefit me… or what will get me ahead in a situation.
  • But instead you speak what is true in every situation… and see where the chips fall…
  • I mean yes there is a think called tact… that’s important… but imagine prioritising truth!
  • Sometimes I counsel people… and the temptation is so strong to tell them what they wantto hear… you know “yeah leave your wife” or “yeah it’s all someone else’s fault.”
  • But I try and commit myself to speaking the truth. Of course in love. But the truth.As we finish… and I want to do some ministry at the end of the service… let’s just consider 3 places we can speak the truth.Firstly, In our workplace. I wonder what your work place is like? Good? Bit toxic?
  • I met with someone from church just this week who has just quit their job because the culture of their workplace was so oppressive.
  • And we spend so much time in the office or at school or the hospital or the shop…
  • And I wonder as a child of God whether you are titling it towards heaven or hell with yourwords?
  • You have an unbelievable opportunity right where you are to stand for truth and to speak the truth.
  • Selfridge story….
  • So shaped by the truth, be a person in your place of work who is committed to speakingthe truth.Secondly, At Home. I wonder what your home life is like and how words are used?
  • Most marriages that disintegrate have the common cause of truthful speech being an early casualty. (repeat that)
  • Starts maybe with little lies over where you have been, or what you have done with the finances or covering up addictions or bad habits.
  • And then lies are said to cover up lies… So a regenerated heart and renewed mind… leads to truthful speech.
  • My guess is you wont cheat on your partner if you are committed to truthful speech.
  • Imagine instead using your words only to encourage and build up and to speak truthfully.Victoria and I had a bit of a blow up one night this week. I think we were both tired and a few things had probably niggled each other the previous week.
  • And it wasn’t our finest moment…. But in the heat of an argument, your words can really sting!
  • Anyhow, the kids went to bed and we got a chance to talk… and we cleared the air and both committed to doing better.
  • And then bless Victoria, the next day she message me apologising for being a snappy turtle.
  •  And then I messaged her about how much I love her and how much she does and brings to the family.Right… but that is the power of following Jesus. Grace is a circuit breaker…
  • Instead of following the path of destructive words downwards and getting bitter and then slandering each other.
  • We forgive as the Lord forgave us in Christ Jesus…

– We then get to build each other up instead of tearing each other down.

And then finally, at church! This needs to be a place of truth!

  • So this is going well… this is a great church… what could possibly go wrong?
  • Hahahah!
  •  Look… listen… we need to come as we are… broken and real and with all of our mess…
  • But we need to come, so ready to bless and encourage and build each other up!
  • We have such an opportunity for this to be a house of honour and grace and truth! But it takes every single one of us to be on guard and to watch our words!
  • Imagine walking into this place and being bathed in encouragement?

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