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Connected Through Words                        28 SEP 14

There was a question last week in my class as to how the Charles B. Williams translation read for EPH 4:11: (Williams) “And He has given some men to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors and teachers,” Also for 1 COR 12:4 (Williams) “There are varieties of gifts, but the Spirit is the same in all;”

We then dug into 1 COR 12:31 (Williams) “But your higher spiritual gifts” along with 1 COR 14:1 (Williams) “Keep on pursuing love, but still keep cultivating your spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophesying.” [Literally: speaking new spiritual truths.] The new means those true spiritual truths you did not previously know. Both of these verses demand growth in the Christian. We discovered that no one preaches or teaches about “keep cultivating your spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophesying.” Most Southern Baptist literature and instruction has been and still is about finding your gift and not about expanding and maturing your gifts to the high level of prophesying. I have never heard a sermon on this verse.

Point 1: “Cultivate” is the total process of taking ability or task and learning all you can about it while practicing intently toward the professional use of it. This certainly is MATT 28:19-20 in action as we become mature Christians.

Point 2: Every Christian is assigned at least one specific task or duty by the Holy Spirit. But no Christian is to stop with just that one. Every Christian is to grow into having ability in any tasks, with prophesying one of the highest and most critical tasks. Prophesying means here to know and declare the full and true Gospel as commanded in MATT 28:19. This takes desire, seeking correct teachers, learning, studying, practicing, and applying what is learned. Learning is the disciple’s responsibility. It is not the teachers.

This is what Paul means by “to mature manhood” in (Eph 4:13 RSV) "until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;"

 It is an application of Peter’s (2 Pet 3:18 RSV) "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." This certainly includes “keep cultivating your spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophesying.”

 

EPH 4:22-24 Therefore, “you must earnestly continue to cultivate” is a personal, individual action and responsibility. So is (Eph 4:22-24 RSV) "Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, {23} and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, {24} and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Who has the action and responsibility here as well? It is not the Father nor the Son nor the Holy Spirit. The Christian must “put off” and “put on” as part of “be renewed.” A Christian is a new spiritual creation but we still live in the old physical body. So there will be a war (as Paul put it) between the new spirit and the old mind with its sin programming. A saved person is not “born again” as a perfect person. Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs in his Studying Life and Work Lessons, April-June 1975, page 49 wrote “the Christian has a new ethic and direction of life. He should be renewed or made young and fresh in the spirit of his mind, mind referring to the entire inner man. This is a picture of repentance - a change of mind, heart, attitude, and life direction.” Note what Paul said to the Corinthians. He called a Christian who is still controlled by the flesh as a carnal Christian. A spiritual Christian is one who controls the old body by responding to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and overwriting the old with the new spiritual information and impulses in the mind.

EPH 4:23 A. T. Robertson in his Word Pictures of the New Testament wrote “That ye be renewed (ananeousthai). Present passive infinitive (epexegetical, like apothesthai, of alêtheia en tôi Iêsou) and to be compared with anakainoumenon in Col 3:10. It is an old verb, ananeoô, to make new (young) again; though only here in N.T. The spirit (tôi pneumati). Not the Holy Spirit, but the human spirit.” We are to reprogram our brains with right knowledge and right thinking, following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. God will not do it!

EPH 4:24 Unless a Christian puts on the “new nature”, it will never happen. (Rom 8:29 RSV) "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren." We have to “conform” ourselves “to the image of his Son” by doing the Growth Process of Peter in 2 PET 1:5-7. Note that none of it is the responsibility of God.

EPH 4:25 So, based upon the previous, WE are told to be “putting away falsehood.” What falsehood(s)? False doctrines! Paul talked about false doctrines this way in (Eph 4:14 RSV) "so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles."

Today the SBC and most local churches have some to many winds of doctrines. Look at EPH 4:11-12. Almost everyone ends with verse twelve. But the quote to memorize is Eph 4:11-14. Verse 13 demands that we work for the “unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.” That means ONE in fellowship and DOCTRINE! Look at (Eph 4:4-6 RSV) "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, {5} one Lord, one faith, one baptism, {6} one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all." In the SBC and most local churches we can find at least: two definitions of the Trinity; various versions of the way to be saved from just saying “I have been bad so Jesus save me from Hell” to ACTS 20:21 with supporting verses for definitions; that making Jesus Lord is an option after salvation to you cannot be saved without making Jesus your Lord; etc. UNTIL and unless the doctrines of a local church gets right and meets Eph 4:4-6, I do not think God will do the “works” members say they are praying for. But even here the core of the issue is personal action. People are praying for “God to do a mighty work and make us a vibrant church.” They are putting the action and responsibility on God. They feel that just by praying God will act. Paul said we must “put off” and “put on” as part of “be renewed.” The fault is not on God. The fault is we when there is no “one” correct doctrine in the church. We are not stepping up to our responsibility of right knowledge and right thinking. As long as we think we can pray a revival to being, it won’t happen. Why study Ephesians at all if we reject “put off” and “put on”? The problem is us, not God. Why study James when he wrote (James 1:21-22 RSV) "Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. {22} But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." We don’t have even the fundamental doctrines correct anymore. That is what we need to pray about! That is what we need to be doing something about. Where is Discipleship Training when we need it? It is closed down by the false doctrines like “God, come and take control and make me a proper Christian.” False doctrines, no matter the right intent and sincerity behind them, are still false.

EPH 4:26-27 Right here we have “be” and “give.” Just who is supposed to do this? It is not God. For example, A. T. Robertson wrote of “give”: “Present active imperative in prohibition, either stop doing it or do not have the habit.” Neither of these are God’s action or responsibility. Giving no opportunity to the devil sounds like (James 4:7 RSV) "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." We are to “submit” and “resist”, not God. As Jesus said in (Mat 16:11 RSV) "How is it that you fail to perceive that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."" It doesn’t take much of sincere false doctrine to make a mess of the whole loaf. (Mat 16:12 RSV) "Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees." So we (WE) are to remove the bad leaven of false doctrines! (1 Cor 5:6-8 RSV) "Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? {7} Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. {8} Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." Note that the sincerity and intent of the persons who proclaim false doctrines as true are usually real. But right intentions do not turn untruths into truths.

EPH 4:28 A. T. Robertson notes “Steal no more (mêketi kleptetô). Clearly here, cease stealing (present active imperative with mêketi).” It is a definitive command for personal action. He also wrote “Even unemployment is no excuse for stealing. To give (metadidonai). Present active infinitive of metadidômi, to share with one.”

EPH 4:29 Again this is an action taken by the Christian and not by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not responsible for your sins.

EPH 4:30 A. T. Robertson here stated “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God ( lupeite to pneuma to hagion tou theou). "Cease grieving" or "do not have the habit of grieving." Who of us has not sometimes grieved the Holy Spirit?” We grieve the Holy Spirit when we reject his guidance and do sinful things. We are commanded to not make a habit of this. Yet Paul, in the same sentence, restates that Eternal Security remains even when we grieve very Holy Spirit who still keeps us eternity secure. Dr. Hobbs, page 49 “The word “grieve” means to make sad.” The Holy Spirit is holy and expects, rightly so, the dwell in a clean holy of holies.

EPH 4:31 Once again, who has the action and responsibility? You (we) are to “put away” sin from our lifestyle. A. T. Robinson: “Be put away (arthêtô). First aorist passive imperative of airô, old verb, to pick up and carry away, to make a clean sweep.” It is yet another imperative command. Dr. Hobbs, page 50 “The verb tense calls for complete and immediate action.”

EPH 4:32 Also we have it here. A. T. Robertson “Be ye kind to one another (ginesthe eis allêlous chrêstoi). Present middle imperative of ginomai, "keep on becoming kind (chrêstos, used of God in Rom 2:4) toward one another."” These are aspects of being in unity with Christ and each other.

            Words are important. Some of the most important and vital words are those in true and correct doctrines. Recall carefully (Eph 4:5 RSV) "one Lord, one faith, one baptism," There is to be no differences in doctrine between any local churches.

 

Marvin Ganote, Advanced Bible Study Class, Adult Teacher. Lesson at: http://dma1.org/~ganotemd/lesson.htm  or http://academic.udayton.edu/MarvinGanote/Bible/lessn.htm