Notes on the Book of Ephesians

Taken at a Bible Study Led by Walt Henrichsen

In San Francisco, 19-23 March 2007

 

 

Table of Contents

Chapter 4. 1

Lowliness and gentleness in everyday life (4:2) 2

Know your depravity or else you’ll risk trusting yourself instead of God. 2

The limits of unity of the Spirit (4:3) and when to discipline. 3

Dealing with women preachers and the breaking of commandments today. 5

The conscience is authoritative but not absolute. 6

How to deal with homosexuals and fornicators. 7

Lack of unity is inexcusable (4:4,5) 7

Does God give one or two types of grace (4:7)?. 7

The danger of being too attached to a man-made system of theology. 10

God’s partiality in giving enough grace to some people to be saved. 10

Spiritual gifts and different amounts of grace to understand God’s Word. 10

Judaizers were a constant source of trouble to Paul wherever he went 12

The captives whom Jesus led captive (4:8) 12

Where Jesus descended to (4:9) 13

The gifts Jesus gave (4:7-12) 14

Unity, union and strange doctrines (4:13-16) 15

Matrix of ministries. 15

Limits of accountability. 16

Speaking the truth in love (4:16) 17

Vanity / futility of the unbelievers’ minds (4:17) 18

Darkened understanding and being calloused (4:18) 18

Truth and absolutes related to righteousness and holiness. 19

Lying and bargaining (4:25) 20

Anger (4:26) 21

Bitterness (4:31) 22

Tenderheartedness (4:32) 22

 

 

Chapter 4

 

Beginning of the application section

·        3 ideas blend together in chapter 4: unity, equality and differences

·        Outline of chapter 4:

·        1-6 That which all believers have in common

·        7-16 What each person has to contribute to the common good

·        17-24 Hindrances of unity

·        25-32 Demonstration of unity

 

Q:  What do you understand to be the meaning of “vocation” or “calling” in verse 1?

·        Salvation.

 

Lowliness and gentleness in everyday life (4:2)

Q:  In 4:2, what is lowliness?

·        Modesty, having a humble opinion of oneself.

·        Meekness – gentle and mild and longsuffering, forbearing (sustain, bear up), constancy, patience, slow to avenge wrong.

 

Q:  What do they look like in every day life for you?

Q:  In what arena do you find the greatest difficulty in practicing them,
 assuming you are tested on occasion to violate them?

·        Some responses:

·        Driving.  Close family and friends, because the more you know them the harder it is.

·        Familiarity seems to causes it

·        You lose respect, which breeds contempt.

·        Nowhere to hide.  You have to do it every day.

 

Q:  Is it difficult because of union?

·        It sure tests it severely or destroys it.

·        A lot of it is that you have a vested interest in how that person performs.

 

More responses to question about difficulty in being lowly and gentle

·        When I forget that God is in control, I do not endure.

·        When I forget about eternal reward, I have trouble bearing up.

 

Awareness of depravity and empathy

·        My awareness of my own depravity and my own inability to meet my own expectations should make me willing to be kind and gentle with other people who fail as well.

·        Anger with others’ failings assumes that under the same set of circumstances you would not have done that.

 

Q:  Does that mean we should never be angry?

·        Depends on the reason: If you are angry because he’s hurting himself or because the cause of Christ is not upheld, it ‘s OK.  Be angry and do not sin.

 

Know your depravity or else you’ll risk trusting yourself instead of God

·        I don’t know about you men, but a great deal of my anger is directed at myself.

·        I know I’m a bumbling idiot, but it just infuriates me when I demonstrate it.

 

Q:  Is depravity always the absence of obedience?  Is it most of the time?  If not, what is it?

·        It’s my sinful nature. 

 

Q:  If you’re not disobeying, how do you know you are sinful?

Q:  Are all my manifestations expressions of my disobedience?

Q:  Is temptation an ingredient of depravity?  If so, why was Jesus tempted?

·        Paul said he kept all the law but was the chief sinner.

 

Q:  Can a man be depraved without disobeying?

Q:  What does it look like?

·        Thoughts of doing wrong.

 

Q:  Is the awareness of my capability depravity?

Q:  Are we saying that Jesus in the garden was depraved [had a sinful nature]?

·        Temptation and test are the same word in Greek.

·        A temptation is a test that you are in the process of failing.

·        Jesus was not depraved, but He was tempted.

 

Q:  How does your sinful nature express itself in a way that does not break the commandments?

·        I Cor. 4:3,4 says you can know when you have a bad motive but not a good one, so conscience has the ability to condemn but not absolve.

 

Q:  Have you ever said anything sincerely and without malice yet later regretted it, concluding that the words were inappropriate – thoughtless, dumb thing to say but not sin?

·        Rom. 7 – the good I want to do I do not, and the bad I don’t want to do I do.

 

Q:  Is this manifestation of depravity?

·        Yes.

·         

Q:  Is he breaking any commandments?

·        Not necessarily.

·        I would encourage you on your own, if you are in agreement with God that you are depraved, and if your depravity is more than the violation of the commandments, to think about this.

·        You should know what it looks like; or else you may not really believe you are depraved.

·        A man can say I’m the chief of sinners and not really believe it.

·        To say so theologically would be not be the same as acute awareness.

·        When my daughters were growing up, we did not want them dating Armenians.

·        A man who thinks he’s good I cannot trust.  And such a man I don’t want dating my daughter.

·        I want men who are aware in their sinfulness and who have no trust in themselves.

·        “We had the sentence of death ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises from the dead.” [2 Cor. 1:9]

 

The limits of unity of the Spirit (4:3) and when to discipline

Q:  Eph. 4:3 says, “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
   What precludes unity?  Why can’t you have unity?

·        Wanting to have my way.

 

Q:  That assumes that the failure is your fault.  Is it always your fault?

·        No.  Sometimes it’s the other person’s problem.

·        Most doctrine and non-essentials are not grounds for breaking unity.

 

Q:  How can you have unity with disagreement?

·        It seems to me that there are certain things that force us to break the unity, like unrepentant sin.

·        If a man cheats on his wife and refuses to repent, unity is broken.

·        Also, you cannot have unity with a guy who does not want it.

·        Biblically, you should say that you have no enemies,
but that does not mean that people will not consider you their enemy.

·        You cannot be at peace with these two people:
a man who doesn’t want to be at peace and a man who refuses to live a repentant life.

·        In one case he doesn’t want to be at peace, and in the other you don't want to.

 

Q:  Do you apply Mt. 18:15-18 with your family?

·        If discipline is for the purpose of love, why would you love them less than anyone else?

 

Q:  Would not denominations be a hindrance to unity?

·        Denominations are not an endeavor to keep unity, but union.

 

Q:  What does discipline look like in the family?

·        Unless or until they repent, Paul says you don’t even have a meal with them [1 Cor. 5:11].

·        Rom. 12:18 says, “As far as possible, as much as it depends on you live at peace with all men.”

·        It’s not that you are not at peace with him, but he’s not at peace with you.

 

Q:  How many times you go to him and try to heal the breach?

·        That’s between you and God, but unless you did wrong, the problem is between him and God.

·        Assuming you’ve done nothing to grieve God or make him angry, you are OK.

·        Endeavor = keep working at it; it’s not natural.

·        There are times when you say it’s got to be on my terms or else we are not going to have it.

·        I remember reading a letter a few years ago from the National Council of Churches, which is an organization which seeks to unite all the denominations, and in their statement they said:

·        “We agree that there is a huge difference between essential and non-essential issues.  We further agree with you as to what those are.  And our unity is based on the fact that we will not impose our convictions regarding the essentials on you – that everybody can be persuaded in his own mind – because they are by nature essential.  We will, however, ask for you to comply with what we agree to be nonessential, and that becomes the basis for our unity.”

 

There are times when people seek it and you refuse to give it.

·        A man may be a professing Christian and a fornicator, so we disapprove.

·        I told a man I would not sit under a woman preacher,
because I will not create the impression of condoning that behavior.

·        He said life is too short.  For me the only deal-breaker is homosexuality.

·        There was no absence of unity between us,
but there was a huge difference in whom we seek unity with.

·        I’m not going to make his disagreement with my core issues a part of my core.

·        So I will not insist in you feeling the same about the commandments as I do.

·        Although you and I can be in unity, we won’t be in unity with the same people.

·        Therefore, keep our inner circle as tight as possible.

 

Q:  So obeying God trumps unity?

·        Never affirm an individual in the violating the commandments of God.

·        If a person breaks the commandments, I will not do anything to affirm the breaking of a command.

·        For me, sitting under a woman preacher affirms her violating the commandments, so I won’t do it.

·        You may be able to sit under her preaching and say you are not affirming,
but that’s between you and God.

·        However, never, ever affirm a person in the violating of the commandments.

·        Don’t ever do it.  I can’t think of a quicker way to live in eternal regret than to try that.

 

Q:  How would you not having union look if it were with your daughter?

·        My daughter would not be welcome in my home if she did that.

 

Q:  But you’d still love her?

·        Of course!  I’d do it because I love her.

 

Q:  So there’s no room for breaking a commandment?

·        Willful [breaking of a commandment]!

 

Dealing with women preachers and the breaking of commandments today

Q:  Will you treat those who disagree with your tight core in a heretical way?

Q:  Will you have unity with the heretic?

·        I’m schizophrenic and hypocritical, because the commandments of God are so ignored in my part of the world.

·        So I don’t know how to relate with that can of worms.

·        I’m not at peace with myself over what that ought to look like.

 

Q:  Is unity synonymous as having fellowship?

·        Yes.

 

Q:  So this means having fellowship even though you have disagreements?

·        Sure.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes, like my friend [who will sit under a woman preacher]

·        Wonderful friend – wonderful friendship and fellowship, but we just don’t agree on this.

 

Q:  So, women [not] preaching is part of your core, a non-negotiable [issue]?

·        [Yes,] because it’s one of the commandments.  The commandments are part of my core.

 

Your friend [who does not put women not preaching in his core] does not agree with your core

·        That is correct.

 

Q:  He permits a woman to violate a command, but in doing so he’s affirming a woman in sin, though, right?

·        I cannot accuse him of that.  That’s between him and God.

·        [He’s not] if he says to me, “No, Henrichsen, I’m not affirming her.”

 

But then he agrees it’s a command.

·        Everybody agrees it’s a command.  Commands are not ambiguous, my friend.

·        Even she will agree that it’s a command.  It’s still is a command, even if he calls it cultural.

·        Even is someone says it doesn’t apply today, it’s still a command.

·        In other words [she says], “I feel justified in breaking, but it is a command.”  Correct?

·        Let’s not be ambiguous with our language.  Either it’s a command or it isn’t a command.

 

Q:  So you both agree it’s a command?

·        That’s what she says.  That’s what the Bible says.

 

Q:  Your friend allows it to happen, though, so he supports the breaking of a command?

·        Right, so I say to you I’m schizophrenic.  I say I don’t know how to relate to the flagrant disregard for the commandments of God that I see around me.  I freely admit that.

·        He’s just saying to me that his line of tolerance exceeds mine.

 

Q:  If there were a command not to listen to a woman preacher, then you would break fellowship?

·        That’s where I’m schizophrenic.  The Bible says to wash feet, women have long hair, men have short hair, women not speak in church, and women cover their heads when praying or prophesying.

·        The Bible says there are certain requirements for a man to be an elder or deacon.

·        In my world, most vocational Christian workers do not meet the requirements.

·        How do I relate?  My friend’s wife’s hair is shorter than his is.

·        If I confronted this woman, she’s say,
“I never even considered it.  It’s not an issue for me.  Go away.”

 

Q:  At what point do you make an issue out of it?

·        Every man must draw the line at some point.

·        To be honest, I don’t know how to relate to the body of Christ.

 

Q:  We always talk about this every year.  Do you want to stop?

·        No.  We want to keep talking about it, because there are always questions about it.

·        Disregard for the commandments among professing Christians keeps getting worse, so it’s a bigger and bigger issue.

 

 

[Third day’s afternoon break]

 

 

The conscience is authoritative but not absolute

Q:  Some people would say, “My core is what my conscience says is a moral issue.  What would be your comment?  We’re talking about disobedience, where we draw the line.

·        He’s saying draw it on conscience, and I’ve heard this argument: “It does not offend my conscience.  Therefore it’s not wrong.”

·        Note with me that many, many of the commandments are not addressed by conscience.

·        The ones we talked about before the break fit in that category, such as requirements for elders, women preachers, etc.

·        But let me also remind you that honoring your mother and father is not an issue that is affirmed by conscience.

·        That’s why children today feel no compulsion [irresistible persistent impulse] to [not] dishonor their parents if they don’t feel they are worthy of honor.

·        Let me remind you that divorce is not addressed by conscience.

·        That’s why the religious leaders were surprised with the stance that Jesus took on it in Mt. 19.
[“What God has joined together, let not man separate … Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning that was not so.  And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”]

·        If you have a seemingly impossible marriage, and both of you agree to divorce and try it over, why not do it?  Conscience won’t address that.

·        We talked before about the fact that conscience is authoritative, but it can never be absolute.

·        And when a man moves to the position to where he only feels compelled to obey those commandments that are addressed by his conscience, he’s simply one half step from severing or searing [burning or injuring] his conscience.

·        You take homosexuality.  Show me a denomination which affirms the ordination of women, and I will show you a denomination who will then in 20-30 years will then affirm the ordination of homosexuals

·        Ones who will be at the vanguard [the forefront of a movement] of affirming it will be the ordained women, because after all, people like me are the male chauvinist pigs that they had to get rid of to get ordained in the first place.

 

How to deal with homosexuals and fornicators

Q:  Is there a difference in how we relate to a Christian or a non-Christian [homosexual]?  They’re my neighbors, and they’re nice.  I don’t mind talking to them or going to their house for dinner.  Is that correct?

·        Paul, when he finishes chapter 5 of 1st Corinthians, when he talks about the importance of disciplining fellow-believers, he makes it a point [in 5:13], saying that this does NOT include the non-Christian.  We don’t judge them.

 

Q:  Is it OK to say [to a brother who is fornicating] that according to 1 Cor. 6 immorality is against your own body, so it’s somehow worse than other sins?  Or would you just say we’re hypocrites?

·        I’m a hypocrite.  We start with that.

·        We know that when talking about getting into heaven, a sin’s a sin’s a sin.

·        But apart from that, there’s a huge difference between sins.

·        There’s a huge difference between having a lustful thought and going to bed with a woman,
a huge difference between being angry with somebody and killing him, so not all sins are the same.

·        All I say to such a man is – whatever it looks like – never affirm an individual in the violating of a command.

 

Q:  Do you think he will give account to God for what choice he makes?

·        [Yes,] but so will I.  He’s just simply saying, “I’m counting on it looking different from how you look at it.”  And he may be right.

·        But times are changing, and the sins in the US are spreading to Asia, so get ready for harder times.

 

Lack of unity is inexcusable (4:4,5)

Q:  What do 4:4,5 have to do with unity?

·        Paul is giving a rationale for unity.  After all, there’s only “one Lord, one faith, one Holy Spirit, one God and Father who is above all and through all and in you all.”

·        There’s only one body.  Jesus didn’t have 16 bodies.  Therefore, a lack of unity is inexcusable.

 

Does God give one or two types of grace (4:7)?

Q:  Does 4:7 mean the amount of grace dispensed differs in amount from one person to another?

·        [“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”]

·        This grace is different from the grace of election in chapter 1, which is all or none.  So here, God dispenses grace in differing amounts.  [Not affirmed by Walt; he has never made this distinction.]

·        I’m accountable for what I am given, but He gives different amounts of grace.

·        So Paul is simply saying remember that when you talk about receiving more.

 

Q:  In Ph. 1:6, when Paul says, “Being confident of this that God will complete a good work in you and will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,” is he saying that we can be certain that when God begins a work in a man’s life He’ll complete it?

·        The context was that he saw their track record over 10 years and felt good about their chances.

 

Q:  What about Demas?  He forsook Christ [2 Tim. 4:10].  What happened to the grace of God in his life?

·        [Some say] if you’re truly one of the elect, there is certainty, but you can’t be certain you’re one of the elect.

·        I’ve dealt with men who professed faith in Christ, walked with Christ, evangelized in the name of Christ and [then] abandoned Christ.

Q:  Would you say that the gift that was present in election was the same for everybody in that regard, or would you say that the gift of grace present in election differs from individual to individual in some mysterious way?

·        You and I know people who have all appearances [of following Christ] and then abandon God.

·        These people said Jesus is Lord, and Jesus said, “I never knew you.”

·        Now these people I’m talking about say, “I never knew Jesus.  I tried it.  I’m through.”

·        Would you say that the efficacious grace of God was never appropriated to such a man?

·        Paul said in 3:7 that his ministry was from grace.  This is similar to 4:7.

·        We want to distinguish it from salvific [bringing salvation] grace.

·        That’s the consensus I’m hearing [though not affirming].

 

Q:  We all agree that a man is not half-born.  Either he’s born or not born.  How about in the spiritual realm?  Are we saying that when God begins an efficacious work of grace in a man’s heart, He always culminates in conversion and eternal life?

·        I take that to be different from irresistible grace [4th part of Calvin’s TULIP] in that nobody thwarts the will of God.  If God wants you, you’re had, so to speak.  But that’s not the question I’m asking.

·        The answer I heard was there is a difference in the grace of salvation and the grace of spiritual gifts.

·        It’s not a third category [grace seeming to lead to salvation but not really]

·        I would have called it only one category.

 

Q:  So is it a myth or not a myth that you can fall from grace for your salvation?

·        From the sovereignty of God perspective, no.  From the responsibility of man, yes.

·        1 Peter – God will keep those who are called to the end [1 Pt. 1:2,5].

·        1 John – those who departed did not really belong to us [1 Jn. 2:19].

 

Q:  When John says they were never part of us, is he saying that God was never gracious to them in a salvific sense?  They flunked the grace of God.  They never were part of the elect.  Is that what he’s saying?

·        If one is part of the elect, he can never know, but if one is not part of the elect, he does not have the grace from God.

·        So Eph. 4:7 can say that a person can have the grace of God but then go away.

 

Q:  So it is not necessarily grace for salvation?

·        Well, I have never made that distinction.  Other people have made that distinction.

·        I created the impression of dividing grace into three parts.  I meant only to keep it as one part.

·        So people can act like Christians without the grace of God.

·        That’s the impression of John 2:19 – they left because they were never one of us.

 

Q:  So are you saying there is no distinction in the types of grace?

·        Why, apart from a desire for a theological distinction, would I conclude that they did differ?

 

Q:  So in all of Paul’s epistles’ greetings mentioning grace, are you saying all kinds of grace are salvific grace?

·        Eph. 4:29 – “Let no corrupt word proceed from your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”

·        Like in the English language, so also in Biblical language the word grace is used in different ways.

·        Let your speech be seasoned with grace.  She was a very gracious hostess.

·        I understood 4:7 as being a grace that is dispensed by God, not a greeting, not a desire for good speech, but a gift from God.

 

Q:  The same as the Eph. 2:8 grace – for salvation?

·        My question is, why would I consider it differently?

 

Q:  In the greeting, what is Paul wishing?

·        God be gracious to you.

 

Q:  Can God be gracious to a man and not elect him?

·        What other grace is there besides salvation?

·        Paul says the grace is given in differing measures.

·        What he means by it we can’t agree, but that’s what he says.

 

Q:  So what do you think about verse 7?

·        I am desirous that we do not manage the text – “it can’t mean this because that is true”

 

Q:  How is this related to the context?

·        It says here the grace is a gift and is given in differing amounts to differing people.

·        He says this is the reason why the Bible says in verses 8-10.

·        Then he says in verse 11 gifted people that God gives to the Church for the equipping of the saints, that the saints may do the work of the ministry, the objective being that the body may be edified.

·        He doesn’t say in verse 11 He gave the grace of apostleship to some people in different measures, and He gave the grace of prophecy in certain measures to various people, etc.

·        The grace has nothing to do in this sentence here with these men.

·        God gives these men, it says, to the Church for the equipping of the saints, that the saints may do work the ministry, that the body might be edified.

·        But he precedes it by saying that he dispenses grace in differing amounts to people.

·        That’s why he said when He ascended on high, He led captivity captive and gave gifts to men.

 

The point of this discussion on grace

·        In part what I’m saying is that [if] I’m so committed to Reformed Theology, because I see the unprofitable peril of what that the opposite produces, that if I’m not careful, I will manage those texts which seem to call into question the reason I why I embrace Reformed Theology.

 

Q:  How do verses 11-13 support the argument that the grace in verse 7 is salvation grace?

·        It doesn’t.  The point is that he doesn’t make a connection.  He doesn’t connect it [11-13] to grace.

·        I didn’t say the gifts are not connected to grace.

·        I said that he [Paul] didn’t connect them.  He seemingly did not connect them.

 

Q:  How are we supposed to understand the measure of Christ’s gift then?

·        It may be in salvific grace, the amount He gives you may differ from another person.

·        So ‘gift’ of 4:7 is not necessarily related to the ‘gifts’ [of verse 8 or the gifted men who follow]

·        So we tend to think in verse 7 that “Christ’s gift” is a spiritual gift, but it doesn’t have to be, even though verses 11-12 are talking about spiritual gifts.

 

The danger of being too attached to a man-made system of theology

·        When we studied 1 Cor. 5 I asked the question, “When the disciplined individual is delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus, when such a man is delivered unto Satan, does the Holy Spirit still live in him?”

·        If you say ‘yes,’ then you’re saying that the Holy Spirit continues to dwell in a man who’s been given to Satan.

·        If you say ‘no,’ then you say to me that the Spirit of God comes and goes in people’s lives.

·        And nobody wants to say that. 

·        I used that as an analogy to being so married to a theology that my understanding of a passage cannot be challenged.

·        One reason I enjoy liberal commentators is that they don’t care.

·        They’re very bright guys who’ve given themselves to study of these subjects, and they really don’t care.

·        They have no vested interest in this system.  They don’t have a system!

 

God’s partiality in giving enough grace to some people to be saved

Q:  If different amounts of grace for salvation are given to different people, will it affect their chances of being saved?

·        Sure!  That’s what I would suggest.

 

Q:  In the parable of the sower, of the four which ones saved and which ones lost?

·        1st two lost, but 3rd and 4th saved.

·        If 3rd is lost, then from where did he get his life?

·        The interesting thing about it is that we can’t agree.

·        We’ve never been able to agree, even after Jesus told us the meaning of the parable.

·        [Therefore,] why shouldn’t I say that God does that?

·        Because it makes one confused.

·        Grace is grace.  It all depends on God, whether initial or later.

·        God is not impartial when it comes to judging.  We all get the same standard.

·        But in every other way He is exceedingly partial.  He has favorites, and He has people that He hates.

 

Q:  So those who don’t have enough grace are not the elect, whereas those who have enough grace are the elect?

·        Yes, especially if we call elect/non-elect a heaven/hell issue.

 

Q:  Is there any other elect?

·        He calls Israel an elect nation, and we say that’s a beautiful illustration of God’s grace and election.

·        But as far as any individual Jew is concerned, why should he care?

 

Spiritual gifts and different amounts of grace to understand God’s Word

Q:  Does having a different gift mean a different amount of grace?

·        Yes.  Why not?

 

Q:  Can we say that the gift of apostleship is of greater grace than that of a comforter?

·        Paul was in a more favorable position than us.  He was taken to the third heaven.  He got to see these things first hand.  You and I have to walk by faith in a way that he didn’t have to.  He had an element of certainty to it that we never get.

·        So I’d say yes, why not?  But he has greater responsibility.

 

Q:  If God gives grace to a person but not enough to be saved, and he is not of the elect, then why even bother him any grace?  Is it for the sake of holding him accountable?

·        Eph. 1.  It calls attention to His greatness, and it’s for His pleasure.

 

Q:  So how does it affect me?  How does it make a difference?

·        The only difference it makes from my perspective is your ability to understand God’s Word.

·        To the man who says, “That’s not important to me,” then it makes no difference.

·        But to the degree that that is important to us, that is the reason why it’s important.

 

Q:  Should someone whose his gift is more prominent be careful to avoid thinking he has more grace than others?

·        Agreed.  Nor should you think that you’ve got more grace than another guy, because Paul says [in 1 Cor. 10:12], “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”

·        Gentlemen, I want to say that I look at the footprints of God in my life and I marvel.  I absolutely marvel at how infinitely good God has been to me, not only in what He’s given but also in what He’s refused to give me, and not only in what He has refused to give me, but in what He has insisted I not have even though I tried desperately to get it.

 

Q:  So how would you answer the question on Ph. 1:6?

·        I have every confidence that God who began a work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.  I have every confidence that when you die you will go to heaven.

·        I’ve got confidence, but it may not happen.

·        I had every confidence in a guy I led to Christ, and then he was living with a woman, and I called him.

·        He said, “I knew you were going to call me.  I just want to tell you before you get started that you can do whatever you want in terms of discipline.  I’ve read the passage.  I’ve memorized it, preached it.”

·        He said, “I don’t believe it.  Not any more.”

 

Q:  What does it mean, “He led captivity captive” or in the RSV, “He led a host of captives?” Who are these captives?  Probably he’s quoting from Ps. 68:18.  Does that help us answer the question?

[Discussion to follow on the next day.]

 

Well, gentlemen, having discussed irresistible grace and election, I want to close the day saying, “Good luck!”

 

 

[End of third day’s discussion]

 

 

Synopsis of where we’ve been from a brother in Shanghai

·        Regarding 3:14-21, the prayer is related to 3:13 (asking them not to faint).

·        The first three chapters teach salvation is by election, it's transcultural, and it's by grace.

·        Therefore, Gentiles enter into the promises of Abraham and his descendants.

·        Gentiles can enter the Church through a transcultural gospel.

·        Jews persecuted Paul because of his gospel.

·        Paul says they should not faint because of his imprisonment.

·        In fact, the Jews' rejection of the gospel enables Gentiles to gain.

·        Final glory goes to God, like in Romans 11.

 

Judaizers were a constant source of trouble to Paul wherever he went

Q:  To what extent were Paul’s problems caused by Judaism (rather than by the Judaizers)?

·        I’m not completely clear in my own mind.

·        Acts 15:1 begins with a statement that certain Jews said if a man was not circumcised, he could not be saved.

·        I don’t read that to mean that circumcision was essential for salvation, but rather that a person who is not circumcised could not consider himself to be saved.

·        Like evidence of salvation, not a condition.

·        For example, the absence of stealing does not get you to heaven,
but the presence of stealing means you’re not there, and so if you steal, you cannot be saved.

·        So he’s not arguing for a ‘works’ righteousness per se, but he’s simply saying that just as there are NT commands to be obeyed if we are going to call ourselves followers of Christ, so also these OT commands wrapped up in Judaism had to be obeyed.

·        As you know, these Judaizers – these Jewish Christians who insisted on compliance with the [Mosaic] Law – were source of consternation [dismay] to the apostle [Paul] in many of the places he ministered.

·        The unbelieving Jews and the Judaizers were part of the Jewish Christians.

·        My sense is that most Jewish Christians were to some extent Judaizers,
as evidenced by Paul having to rebuke Peter in Antioch.

 

Q:  But in Acts 15:1, they said if you are not circumcised you cannot be saved [i.e., a condition]

·        I would say, “If you continue to fornicate you cannot be saved.]

 

Q:  So was Paul being persecuted by the unbelieving Jews or by the Jewish converts?

·        Probably both, but certainly the Judaizers were a constant thorn in his side.

·        They were a very vexing aspect of his ministry.

·        It’s extraordinary that on two separate occasions he raised funds among churches to relieve the needs of the Judaizers in Jerusalem [Acts 11:28-30; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; 1 Cor. 9:1-5], and still they wanted his head on a platter.

 

Q:  In Phil. 1:15-18 are the competitors also the Judaizers?

·        I think so.

 

 

[Prayer before beginning chapter 4]

 

 

The captives whom Jesus led captive (4:8)

Q:  Eph 4:8 was probably taken from Psalm 68:18.  Of what importance is this? Who are the captives?  How is this related to the giving of gifts?

 

Q:  Why is it “received” in Psalms and “gave” in Eph 4:8?

·        One possibility is that the Hebrew word could be translated either way.

·        [Also see explanation below about David at Ziklag]

 

Background information and observations

·        [Ps. 68:18 – You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, even from the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwell there.]

·        [David took the stronghold of Jerusalem from the Jebusites, and he called it the City of David (2 Sam. 5:6-9, 1 Chr. 11:4-7).  Not long afterward, he brought the ark of God to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:2-15, 1 Chr. 13:1-14, 15:1-16:43).  Then, he decided to build God a temple in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 7:1-17, 2 Chr. 17:1-15).]

·        Ps. 68 was [probably] due to David’s victory over the [rebellious] Jebusites, his enemies

·        Receiving gifts was from among the rebellious.

·        Probably all of them were rebellious, so in Paul’s mind the captives were all those in rebellion.

·        Jesus saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Lk. 10:18).

·        At Calvary He won the battle already over the evil spirits.

·        He took from the rebellious [demonic] authorities [locked up in Tartarus (2 Pt. 2:4,5) due to their fornication with human women (Gen. 6:2,4; 1 Pt. 3:19,20; Jude 6,7)] and redistributed it to believers, so as to build up the body and so that Christ could fill all things.

·        [Some people also interpret Ps. 68 and Eph. 4:7-10  to say that all in the promise of God were set free, so the captives were the believing Jews, the remnant], but the context of Psalm 68 seems to be dealing with David’s enemies he led captive.

·        In most of the world in those days, the victorious army participated in the spoils of war, so the leader distributed the spoils.

·        That was one of the compelling forces of Islam.  Men were attracted to the idea of plundering the spoils, like pirates.

·        David did that too at Ziklag, and some men got angry, because those who didn’t go still got spoils (1 Sam. 30:17-31).

·        Since David gave gifts [from the spoils after most all victories], Paul could use the word ‘gave’ in 4:8.

 

Where Jesus descended to (4:9)

Q:  What does ‘descended into the lower parts of the earth’ mean?

·        There are two possible interpretations:

·        Simple incarnation to earth

·        Descended into the deep of the earth to Satan’s throne

·        [There are at least three more:

·        Descended into the deep of the earth to Tartarus, the place where evil angels are locked up after they fornicate with human women (Gen. 6:2,4; 1 Pt. 3:19,20; Jude 6,7).

·        Descended into the deep of the earth to purgatory (2 Maccabbees 12:43-46).

·        Went to the spirits in prison and announced that the salvation plan was completed (1 Pt. 3:18-20)]

 

Q:  Is it your understanding of 1 Pt. 3:18-20 that between His death and resurrection, our Lord Jesus went into the underworld to a holding tank of saints in waiting and preached to them and set them free [third interpretation]?

·        If that were your understanding, then 4:8 would suggest that that was part of His mission.

·        But these were disobedient spirits (1 Pt 3:19,20)

·        Some people think these were souls in purgatory, based on 2 Mac. 12:43-46, part of the Apocrypha

·        However, the context of Ps. 68 is David’s enemies, so the gifts were part of the spoil that he gave to his own men, so none of these enemies were set free.

·        I can’t be dogmatic, but I think the enemies were enemies.

·        I called attention to it, because it’s a problematic passage, and like most problematic passages, you find people arguing about it.

 

Q:  Does this mean Jesus took something from the enemy and gave it to the saints?

·        God doesn’t have to, but He did.

 

The gifts Jesus gave (4:7-12)

Q:  Are the gifts of 4:8 related to the spiritual gifts of 11,12?

·        Yes

 

Q:  So it is true that Satan possesses some abilities or gifts to use with his demons?

·        Peter says he’s a roaring lion seeking one to devour (1 Pt. 5:8).  He’s powerful, seeking harm.

·        But always when he sets about to do something, it’s because God has sent him on that mission.

·        God said to Satan, “Have you seen my servant Job?” [Job 1:8, 2:3]

·        This was like throwing meat to hungry dog.

·        So any action the enemy takes is because God sent him.

·        In Rev. 9:1-10, when the demonic forces come out of the bottomless pit, they come out for a specific period of time [5 months] and then go back.

 

Q:  Are you saying that some of the fallen angels of Revelation 12 came down as the sons of God to marry the daughters of men in Genesis 6 but were sent to wait [in Tartarus] in the earth as mentioned in 1 Peter 3 until the time when Christ was victorious, as mentioned in Ephesians 4, so that He went down to proclaim His victory and take their spiritual weapons and then distribute them as gifts to the church, so the body of Christ could be built up and God glorified?

·        There is no need to connect all these verses, although it may be the case.

·        So the individual gifts in the body are not an end in themselves but merely a means to building up the body into maturity.

 

Q:  Is 4:11,12 about vocational and lay people?

·        No, this does not necessitate any of these people being full-time.

 

Q:  Why are we given this list?

·        Most of the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 emphasize what God has distributed to the people.

·        Here, it’s what God has distributed for the people.

 

Observations about spiritual gifts

·        Evangelists are both to evangelize and teach others to evangelize.

·        The men in 4:11 are given for equipping the body.  I’m not suggesting that they do not do ministry.

·        If parenthood teaches us anything, it teaches us that the follower of Christ most not only be a disciple but a disciple-maker.  Every father has the responsibility of discipling his children.

·        In that we see that it is the intent of God Almighty that we not only go into all the world to preach the gospel to all creation, but also that we teach them all things.

 

Q:  Is there a difference between sheep and laborers?

·        Yes, but we should not make a distinction.

·        Part of what the pastor and the teacher hope for is that the sheep become disciples.

·        I think Jesus said strongly to Peter, “I want those sheep fed.”

·        You are my disciples if you continue in My Word.  A disciple feeds himself.

·        We can be both at the same time, but it should not be essential.

·        This is why I’m so appreciative of the dysfunctional local church.

·        For most Christians, attendance at the local church is the only exposure they’ll get to the Word of God all week.  It should not be that way, but it is.

 

Unity, union and strange doctrines (4:13-16)

Q:  In 4:13, is this unity the same unity we talked of in 4:3-6 earlier?

·        Yes.  “Union” does not appear at all in the KJV.

·        In the NIV and RSV it appears twice: in Zech. 11:7,14

·        There are illustrations that suggest union, so I suggest there is nothing wrong with union.

·        But unity is essential.  Union is optional.

 

Q:  Can we legitimately call ourselves the body of Christ?

·        All of us agree that we are an expression of the body

·        Are you suggesting we are half a body?

 

Q:  What is union?

·        You take a dog and a cat, tie them together by their tails and throw them over a clothesline.

·        Then, you have union but not unity.

 

Q:  Will we have unity in heaven?

·        It depends on whether we’ll bring our will into heaven.

 

Q:  What does 4:14 mean?

·        This tells us which doctrines not to believe.

·        It seems to me that the men you ought shun are not those who come up with a strange doctrine but those who come with an agenda, trying to deceive for the purpose of manipulating, like guys who talk you into going to South America to drink Kool-Aid.

·        If a man comes up with a crazy idea, and if he’s in the Word of God, he will rectify himself.

·        What about a guy not under a church and teaching?

·        The man who wants to receive glory is undone [in great trouble with God].

 

Q:  Is there a legitimate agenda?

·        Yes.  4:13 [“come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man…”]

 

Matrix of ministries

·        Nobody in this room is the product of a single man’s ministry.

·        All of us come from a matrix of ministries, orchestrated by the Holy Spirit.

·        It may start with a godly grandmother before you were born.

·        It’s as varied as a snowflake or a fingerprint.  Each man’s story is different.

·        Two things to remember:

·        Expose friends to friends, give away relationships

·  Because it is the matrix of ministries that makes the man of God, one of the most important things we can do is give away relationships.

·  When your friend becomes a friend of your friends, that improves the matrix.

·  So if we can expose ourselves to others, the cause of Christ is served.

·        Don’t feel bad when people leave

·  The ministry is like a train.  There are people getting off and people getting on.

·  It should not bother you when people get off.

·  Otherwise, soon you won’t have room for people getting on.

·  So when men get off, don’t take it personally.

·  Just be amazed that they stayed on as long as they did.

 

Q:  How about if your train car is empty?  It is difficult if you’ve spent a lot of time with a man.  It’s hard not to take it personally.  You know when things have changed.  There’s a coldness.

·        When John the Baptist was faced with this problem, he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  [Jn. 3:30]

·        To the degree that you are less important and Christ is more important, you know you are succeeding.

 

More tips on ministering and affirming

·        You may find yourself ministering to men who will never be a part of your local congregation.

·        We should be proactive in affirming men in whatever they want to do if they are not violating scripture.

 

Limits of accountability

Three kinds of accountability:

1.      If I sin, you come to me whether I want you to come or not

2.      I ask you to watch for my soul as they that must give an account.  I want you to have permission to address anything you see that is counter-productive

3.      I’m going to ask you what you think and use your counsel as my urim and thummim.  I won’t tell him this, but I’ll ask.  Nobody wants to play Holy Spirit in another man’s life.

 

Accountability suggestions

·        If the man says, “I think God wants me to open a coffee shop,” I won’t go to him.

·        I have said to my [adult] children and son and daughter-in-law. “I need your counsel. How are we going to relate?”

·        If I see you involved in something counter-productive, do you want me to call it to your attention?

·        If so, then don’t get mad at me when I do.

 

Q:  What if a guy says, “Yes, I want you to call things to my attention,” but then “no” afterwards?

·        Gal 4:16 – “Have I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”

 

Q:  As parents, do we automatically do 1 & 2?

·        When under my authority, yes.  When not, no.

 

Q:  When does that happen?

·        The Bible doesn’t tell us.

·        You only need counsel if you don’t have confidence.

·        For me, the line is ‘as long as they are feeding in my trough.’

 

Q:  For #2, is accountability usually unidirectional or bi-directional?

·        Accountability does not have to be reciprocal.

·        If I ask you to watch for my soul, you’re not obligated to ask me to watch for your soul.

·        A vivid illustration is when Absolom stole the kingdom, and he was killed, and David bemoaned his death.  Joab came to him and told him, “If you don’t clean up your act and stop your sniveling you’re going to lose the kingdom.” (2 Sam. 18:31-19:8).

·        My sense is he never forgave Joab for that (1 Ki. 2:5,6).

·        Joab took a liberty that he had no right to take.

 

Q:  Wasn’t Joab trying to serve the whole kingdom, though?  It could have led to disaster.

·        At no time will the fate of any individual or organization rest on your shoulders.

 

Q:  But Pr. 24:11,12 says, “Rescue those being led away to death.  Hold back those staggering towards slaughter.  If we say we knew nothing about this, doe not He who weighs the heart perceive it?  Does not He who guards your life know it?  Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?”  So if I see something – someone is in trouble – and I just remain silent, I’ll be accountable, don’t you think?

·        Pr. 26:17 – He who passes by and meddles with strife belonging not to him is like one that takes a dog by the ears.  

·        Be careful!  I can’t tell you where that line is.  If you’re not careful, you’ll get bit!

 

Speaking the truth in love (4:16)

Q:  Where is your greatest challenge in speaking the truth in love (4:16)?

·        [One brother:]  Not speaking up for fear of breaking the relationship.

 

Q:  Do you agree that doctrine is ambiguous?

·        On a doctrinal issue you take the issue irrespective of how the guy will take it.

·        [Same brother:]  I take the relationship into account.

 

Q: When people in the body disobey the commandments, will you go to them and ask them about it?

·        [Same brother:]  If they ask.

·        You have modified the parameters.

·        You are very close to someone who loves God, and her daughter cuts her hair short.

·        Will you call it to their attention?

·        The daughter is easier than the wife.  But I should do it.  It’s great I don’t have this problem.

·        There is an emotional aspect – when, how you say it.

·        [2nd brother:] My wife once said, “I know it was wrong, but you could have said it privately in a nicer way.”

·        There’s never an excuse to belittle, humiliate, embarrass, ridicule or say something at another person’s expense.  It’s absolutely inexcusable when others do it to you.

·        However, if my wife said to me, “You’re teaching me,” why wouldn’t I say to her, “Of course, I’m teaching you.  Are you saying that I shouldn’t teach?”

·        I guess one of the questions has to be, would my wife if she were sitting here tell you that I allow her to teach me?  Do I appear teachable – not to myself – but to my family?

·        Do my kids call me teachable?  I may think I’m teachable, but my family may say “no, not at all”.

·        [3rd brother:] I think what is difficult in loving is the subjective element in how people respond.

·        If I heard the 1st brother correctly, he said that’s the challenge.  Exactly!

 

4:17-24 breaking with the past

17-32: 13 things I don’t want you to do and 14 things he says I do want you to do.

 

 

[Fourth day’s morning break]

 

 

Q:  4:13 – when will this unity finally be accomplished?

·        For sure not before the end of the eschaton [age], but after that, maybe, depending on if we have a will in eternity.

·        Let’s say you have a will in eternity.  Just because you are the obedient servant of Jesus Christ, that doesn’t mean you have to like me.

·        So we need to continually strive for unity in that sense, drawing from His grace and power.

·        Yes.  You might say to me in eternity, Henrichsen, I didn’t like you much in the last life.  I like you even less in this one.

·        That’s a distinct possibility.

 

Vanity / futility of the unbelievers’ minds (4:17)

Q:  The unity of the soul with the spirit heart and mind would lead me to believe that the vanity or futility of their minds that he is talking about is the whole person.  It is a moral as well as an intellectual worthlessness he discusses here.  So, its the total person, the soul and the spirit, that’s included in the mind.  Would you agree or disagree with that?

·        Excluded from the life of God [4:18] would mean the totality of the person.

 

Q:  He’s saying in 4:17 don’t emulate the gentile, right?  Do you think it’s don’t emulate him in his soulish psyche, or don’t I emulate him in the totality of his worthlessness?

·        I won’t push it, but think about that.  This is where from my point of view it becomes important.

·        Coming from your training [Reformed?], I would assume that total depravity means that there is no spark of good in them.  They’re dead, and dead men do not have sparks of goodness in them, so therefore the distinction between the soul and spirit is a moot question.

 

Q:  If it [the futility of their mind] meant the totality of the man, wouldn’t that mean that you’d effectively need to isolate yourself from society, so the thinking of the guy next to you couldn’t influence you?  Whereas, if it’s separate, at least I can learn from a non-Christian some amoral issues like how to invest in stocks?

·        The Bible does not suggest that the unregenerate is void of natural wisdom.

·        He’s just void of spiritual wisdom.

·        Martin Luther was taught that it was what he did that was going to determine whether he’s going to go to heaven or hell, so he isolated himself from society as you suggest.  He went to the monestary.

·        Of course he realized to his horror that he brought the world with him into the cell.

·        So I don’t think anybody would be suggesting that.  At least I hope not.

 

Q:  So if it were the totality, and Paul is saying to stay away from that [in verse 17], then how would you apply that?

·        Well I would apply it in one way for sure in not encouraging such an individual in the direction of self-reformation.

 

Q:  You mean like Alcoholics Anonymous?

·        Right.  [However,] Alcoholics Anonymous was started as a Christian outreach, and in many segments, that’s exactly what it is.  I know a guy very successful in evangelism in it.

·        But I would not protest to try to get the Philistines to close the abortion clinics, or vote against gay marriages, or, or, or…

·        Because our hope is that their depravity will become so aware to them that it will bring them to repentance.

 

Darkened understanding and being calloused (4:18)

Q:  Can you comment on their “having their understanding darkened”  and “being calloused” [past feeling] (4:18,19)?  How can they be ignorant if they were dumb on purpose?

·        Paul uses the voice, doesn’t he?  They had impaired or darkened minds.  They were born dead.

·        It’s for that reason that they’re ignorant.

·        I cross-referenced it with 1 Cor. 2:14 – “The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him.  Neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

·        So it seems to me that spiritual regeneration is necessary for spiritual discernment.

·        Romans 3 mentions 4 character qualities – none righteous, none understand, none seek God, none fear.

·        When you find an individual with any of the 4 ingredients present, though he may not be a Christian, but the Spirit of God is at work in Him, because the natural man does not have these.

 

Q:  How would you explain a person who is falling away?  You’ve worked with him, and he seems to get it, but then he goes back.  I wouldn’t call that person ignorant, because he has some knowledge.  What happened there?

·        Scripture so graphically portrays him: he’s like a dog that returns to its vomit (2 Pt. 2:20-22).

·        We talked at great length about the absence or presence of grace in that man’s life.

·        I don’t think we ought to go back there again.  I think that’s precisely the conundrum [dilemma].

·        How do you evaluate such phenomenon?  I don’t know.

 

Q:  In 4:19 the KJV says, “past feeling”; the RSV/NASB says “calloused.”  What does he look like?

·        Doesn’t hurt, doesn’t care.  If I build calluses on my hands, then my hands don’t hurt when I work.

·        They don’t even feel there’s natural law.  They have given themselves over so sin.

·        Point: when a man ceases to feel pain, that’s were he goes.

·        The nature of the soul in itself has no source of any good.

·        Romans 1 – God leaves these people to their own appetites.

·        God punishes sin by giving people what they want.

·        Like at Kadesh Barnea – want to die in the wilderness?  Then there you will die.

·        Want me to take care of the kids?  Then I’ll take care of the kids for you.

 

Learning Christ (4:20)

Q: “You have not so learned Christ” – How do you learn a person?

·        It takes time.  The other person has to reveal something.  That’s why dead men do not see it.

 

“IF indeed you have heard and been taught by Him” (4:21) – big assumption.

 

Put off the old man (4:22)

·        Some Christians in US say when a man sins he’s just lost awareness of who he is – the Deeper Life Movement – Ian Thomas, Norman Grubb, Keswick Movement

·        If there were no such thing as an old nature fighting the new nature, then these words would not be necessary.

 

Truth and absolutes related to righteousness and holiness

Q:  What is the definition of “truth” as mentioned in 4:15, 21, 24, 25?  Biblical truth?

Q:  Is there such a thing as unbiblical truth?

·        Scientists would say so.

·        Jesus said I am the way and the truth and the life.

·        Truth requires a standard.  You cannot have truth without a standard.

·        How long is this table?  It is 96 inches.  But that assumes a standard

·        Everybody believes that truth is absolute.

·        That’s why Judeo-Christian truth brought about the scientific method.

·        There is truth in everything.  A law is just an explanation of truth.

·        So people who do not believe in absolute truth are not being truthful.  They do believe it.

·        Alan Bloom wrote a book, “The Closing of the American Mind” in which he was arguing that skepticism destroys the scientific method.

·        He argued that you’ve got to assume that truth is absolute to be a scientist.

·        Thus, truth is in a context of building up the body.

·        So in 4:24 righteousness and holiness are the products of applying truth.

 

Q: What standard do you use to determine righteousness and holiness?

Q:  “There are 27 books of the NT” – how does this statement influence your righteousness and holiness?

·        2 Tim. 3:16,17

·        I suggest that understanding John 1:1 helps you understand the source of truth,
but it does not help you become righteous and holy.

·        4:25-32 will help, because he tells you what a righteous and holy man will look like.

·        You don’t lie, you don’t let the son go down on your anger, you don’t grieve the Holy Spirit, and you put off bitterness.

·        So the gentiles don’t do 4:25-32 because they don’t believe it.

·        Abraham believed and it was imputed to him for righteousness.  Believing is always volitional.

·        Jn. 17:17 – “Sanctify them by the truth.  Your Word is truth.”

·        Jesus says if you do what I ask you to do, then you’ll know what is right.

·        But if you are not willing to do what I do, then you won’t know what’s right.

·        Rom. 1 – truth from creation, Rom. 2 – truth from conscience.

 

Q:  John 1:1 does not help me be righteous; what helps me understand the standard by which we become holy and righteous?

·        From Genesis to Revelation, what makes a man holy and righteous is not doctrine but obedience.

·        Paul said the OT is true, and the Judaizers said, “Why don’t you circumcise, then?”

·        Paul said, “Jesus and I had a conversation about it.”  So you can see why it was not well received.

 

Lying and bargaining (4:25)

Q:  4:25 – “put off lying” – can you comment on that?

·        What is the motivation to lying?

·        One brother said the difficulty of speaking the truth in love is that we want to preserve relationships, caring more about pleasing others than God.

·        Even if I am not trying to please men, I dare not run over others telling truth [be insensitive]

·        We lie for other reasons – to deceive or manipulate.

·        There are a lot of ways to be kind without lying.

·        The challenge is to say it well.

 

Q:  Is hypocrisy a form of lying?

·        Yes.

 

Q:  How about in bargaining in business?  Is it OK?

·        Mt. 10:16 – “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

·        It’s OK if in your heart you are trying to serve rather than seek personal gain.

·        But that does not mean it’s right.  My sense is that God does not want us to figure that out.

·        In many cases the institution requires that you do things that are good for the institution, like making the numbers look good.

·        I go to certain parts of the world, and I bargain before I buy.

·        If I get the price ridiculously low, I feel good about that.

·        One day as I was giving to the Lord, He asked me, “Why do you feel good about giving to Me and also feel good about trying to cheat My servants?”  I said “ouch.”

 

Q:  What if it’s my job as a buyer at a company to bargain?

·        Be very careful when it comes to self-justification

·        He doesn’t want self-justification or an easy answer.

 

Q:  Any suggestions how to grow in this area?

·        Remind ourselves that we will give account for every word we say.

·        Always be sure that when you go before God you can say that you had his best interests at heart.

·        We all face many difficulties like this.

·        My sense is that God doesn’t want questions like this answered.

·        The golden rule helps in many situations.  [“Do to others as you’d have them do to you.” Mt. 7:12]

·        I know that if God were completely honest with me about myself He would destroy me.

 

Stealing (4:28)

·        Be careful that you do not steal from a man because you can get away with it.

·        God says it is more blessed to give than receive – not because you feel good but because He said it is.

 

The Holy Spirit and conscience

·        4:30 “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” – any sin you commit violates your conscience

·        You do this because the Holy Spirit speaks to your conscience.

 

Anger (4:26)

Q:  4:26 – Is it sin if you let the sun go down on my anger?

·        There are various kinds of anger.

·        Generally speaking, fear is directed toward the future and anger toward the past.

·        They have in common that you don’t like what’s happening.

·        Jesus had righteous anger, so sometimes we can be angry.

 

Q:  What about when you are angry with yourself?

·        If you are angry for the wrong reason and/or don’t handle it well, you sin.

·        4:31 ties it with wrath.

·        It often just happens without delay.

 

4:29 – Don’t let any putrid talk come out of your mouths.

 

Heart, tongue and unity

·        One brother said 4:17-24 deals with the mind and heart, and 4:18-31 deals with the tongue.

·        The context of chapter 4 is unity in the church.

·        So maintain unity, we have to be mindful with the things in our heart and then our tongue.

 

Q:  Can you give an illustration of being angry and not sinning?

·        Have you ever seen a man or woman profess his faith in Christ and seemingly willfully violate the commands of God so that you know it is going to hurt them badly?

·        For example, a sister in Christ gives her heart away to a non-Christian.

·        A huge portion of my anger is towards myself, because I’m a stupid man.

·        Nevertheless there are times I think I’m angry for causes I feel justified for, such as the wholesale neglect of the commands.

·        Anger towards self could be an example of 4:26.

·        In the book, Pride and Prejudice, the father had a habit of regretting things and expressing self-anger.

·        But he’d say, “That’s alright.  It will pass.”  Most self-anger is like that.  It will soon pass.

 

Q:  I required my children to memorize 4:32 [Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you], and then found them quoting it to each other.  My question is therefore, what are the characteristics of tenderheartedness?  How do you identify it in your life or others? 

·        Weep with those who weep.  This is easier than rejoicing with those who rejoice (Rom. 12:15).

 

 

[Fourth day’s lunch break]

 

 

Q:  How define tenderhearted?

 

Bitterness (4:31)

Q:  Why would a person be bitter?

·        He’s hurt.  Bitterness is a poison that a man swallows, hoping to kill the other person.

 

Q:  Apart from God not wanting you to be bitter, why should you not be bitter?

·        It hurts you, but it always feels good.

·        There is something very soothing and enjoyable with self-pity.

·        If God is in control of your life and decides the hurt that comes into your life, then to be angry or bitter toward a person is to be angry toward the wrong person.

·        The Bible is full of illustrations of people being angry with God – like Lamentations, Habakkuk – “How could you send the Babylonians after us?”  Not a happy camper.

·        I suggest to you, gentlemen, there is nothing being wrong with being angry at God, as long as you don’t threaten Him.  That’s a quick way to hell.

·        For example: “God if you’re going to give my wife cancer, then that’s it with us.”

 

Q:  Is complaining to God OK?

·        It’s OK as long as don’t threaten Him.  Like, “If you do this, I’m not going to worship you.”

·        Jesus sure did: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” [Mt. 27:46]  Isn’t that a complaint?

·        1 Cor. 10:10 – [(Let us not) complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.]

·        If it calls into question the goodness of God, then I think you are in trouble.

·        Bitterness toward God is a form of threatening Him.

 

Tenderheartedness (4:32)

·        Let me suggest that tenderheartedness in the final analysis is vertical even though 4:32 applies it horizontally.

·        Perpetual brokenness and repentance is an irreversible minimum for tenderness, but the vertical plays out in the horizontal.  Like Ps. 51:17 – “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

·        Repentance is not just an act.  It’s a state of being.

·        The thing that makes me tender toward God is the knowledge of who He is and who I am.

·        Maybe I’m different from others, but it’s then when I’m undone, I’m broken.

·        Most of the time when I’m angry, it’s because I fail to recognize who I am.

·        Not all, but most anger is directed toward God and how He runs His universe.