"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
A plan is a program of action, “a scheme for making, doing, or arranging something” (Webster). We are familiar with plans: Football teams have game plans, architects have building plans, and teachers have lesson plans. Many people use “day-planners” to arrange their daily activities.
Having a plan indicates order and definition. Although the word is not used in Ephesians 1:3-14, it is obvious from a reading of that passage that God has executed His plan of saving the lost through Jesus Christ. When we speak of the “scheme of redemption” we are referring to this plan of God that saves sinners.
When speaking of how God’s salvation is appropriated into the life of the sinner, we also speak of a plan: the plan of salvation. A reading of the New Testament makes it clear that God has a plan – an arrangement – whereby His mercy and grace removes man’s sins. What follows is that plan – the arrangement God has revealed – which, when obeyed, will result in our salvation.
First, one must believe in God and His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 11:6; Jno. 8:24). Without faith, nobody will be saved. One is brought to belief in Christ by hearing the word of God (Jno. 20:30-31; Rom. 10:17). That same word commands the sinner to confess his faith in Jesus Christ (Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10). When one has confessed his faith in Christ, his faith compels him to repent of his sins, another commandment Christ has given us in order to be saved (Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30). Having changed one’s mind toward sin, what now remains is for Christ to wash away one’s past sins, which He does when one is baptized (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27). Now saved in Christ, the Christian is added by the Lord to His church and called upon to live a life of obedient service to Jesus (Acts 2:47; Rom. 6:17-18; 12:1-2).
Yes, God has a plan of salvation. The question is whether or not you have obeyed it? If you haven’t, not why not do so now? (2 Cor. 6:2)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom. 12:1)
With these familiar words the Holy Spirit urges every Christian to slay self-interest and to present oneself in holiness to God for His service. To unselfishly service to God is a reasonable (logical) expectation of the Christian in view of the mercy he has in Christ.
To be a “living sacrifice” implies activity on our part. We must “put to death” the deeds of the flesh and live in the Spirit according to the truth He has revealed in inspired Scripture (Rom. 8:13; Gal. 5:16, 18, 25). This transformation begins by renewing one’s mind toward doing the will of God (Rom. 12:2). Until we want to do God’s will we can never be living sacrifices that please God.
Romans 12:3-21 teaches us how to be a living sacrifice that is acceptable to God.
Think soberly (12:3). We must have a proper estimation of ourselves to be worthy servants of God. Soberness means to be in one’s right mind so as to exercise self-control. Here, the idea seems to be “to put a moderate estimate upon one’s self” or “think of one’s self soberly” (Thayer, 613). We must see ourselves as servants of God, not servants of self. Otherwise we will make little sacrifice for the sake of Christ.
Function faithfully (12:4-8). We must see that we are parts of the whole. The world does not revolve around us. And, for that matter, the church doesn’t, either. We are “individually members of one another” and are to faithfully function according to the abilities and opportunities given us by the Lord (12:4-5, 6-8). Although we are variously blessed, the living sacrifice shows honor for the body of Christ by faithfully accepting his or her role in it.
Love sincerely (12:9-10). True love is “without hypocrisy” whether it is for one’s family and friends, one’s brethren, one’s enemies, God’s truth or for God Himself. Our love for good is directly opposite to our abhorrence of evil (v. 9). Like ancient Israel, we must “hate evil” and “love good” (Amos 5:15). Without genuine love for what is good in the sight of God we can be holy sacrifices; we will be blemished with spots of sin that defiles us before God. Sincere love is shown toward our brethren through kind words and consideration (v. 10).
Serve fervently (12:11-16). Jesus Christ “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Zeal for God’s purposes marked His life of service on this earth (Jno. 2:17; 17:4). His example of service is set before us as a worthy reminder of how we should serve the Lord: “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another” (Rom. 12:12-15). How truly it obliges us to crucify ourselves in order to give such constant care and devoted service to others – even those who persecute us (cf. Jesus, Psa. 69:9; Rom. 15:3). Such service will not occur where there is a heart of conceit instead of one that thinks soberly (12:16, 3).
Live peaceably (12:17-21). Retribution belongs to the Lord; He is Judge of all (Heb. 12:23; 2 Cor. 5:10). The gospel calls us to overcome evil with good – not be conquered by evil. If we take vengeance into our own hands against those who wrong us we fail to honor God’s righteous judgment and we descend to the realms of worldly thinking and conduct.
Living sacrifices present themselves to God for His service and honor. Living sacrifices obey the word of God, not the selfish appeals of the world. Living sacrifices set their minds on things above. Living sacrifices please God.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Elders in Every Church
Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 34:23-31
promised & delivered “one shepherd” to feed His sheep: Christ (Jno. 10:11,
14; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 2:25; 5:4).
I. EACH CHURCH NEEDS TO BE ORGANIZED AS THE LORD WOULD HAVE IT. The authority for elders is established by…
Commanded – Titus 1:5.
II. EACH CHURCH NEEDS SHEPHERDS –Eph. 4:11 (cf. Jno. 10:1-6, 11-15).
Lead Us – Heb. 13:7, 17 (cf. Acts 11:30; 15:4, 6, 22-23; 21:18-26; Jas.
5:14); 1 Pet. 5:3.
III. EACH CHURCH NEEDS MEN WHO ARE QUALIFIED & WILLING TO DO THE WORK – Acts 14:21-23.
Must be Qualified & Willing to Serve – 1 Tim. 3:1, 2-7, 11; Titus 1:5-9;
1. Need for
elders exists & should be met with faith in the Lord’s will and ways.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
How Do I Apply God's Truth in My Life?
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:17-24
1. Truth is
practical – Heb. 4:12 (Eph. 4:17-24).
I. A GOOD HEART – Lk. 8:15; Matt. 23:25-26.
A. An Unprejudiced Mind, Willing to Receive & Hold Fast to the Truth – Lk. 8:15; 2 Tim. 3:16; Psa. 51:10-13.
II. A RESPONSIVE FAITH – Hebrews 11:6.
A. Trust that what God Says Will Work in Your Life, & that it will be the Best for You – Heb. 11 (Col. 3:12-15; Eph. 5:22-30; 1 Cor. 15:58).
III. COMPLETE COMMITMENT - Matt. 6:19-24; Rom. 12:11 (Acts 11:23).
Pursue what is Valuable to Us – 6:19-21.
IV. SERIOUS STUDY OF GOD’S WORD – 2 Tim. 2:15.
must be Our Final Authority (Source of Direction) – Jno. 6:63, 68; Psa.
V. SELF-EXAMINATION USING GOD’S WORD – 2 Cor. 13:5 (Jas. 1:22-25).
Waste Time Comparing Your Life to the Wrong Things: