Saturday, January 28, 2023

Listening vs. Hearing

Bobservations' Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

On April 15, 1912, Harold Cottam, the Communications Officer aboard the R.M.S. Carpathia was preparing to climb into his berth for a good night’s sleep. He had left his radio on while readying for bed, listening to idle chatter from the shipping lanes of the North Atlantic. He left a final evening’s message for his acquaintance, the radio operator aboard R.M.S. Titanic; there were messages awaiting the Titanic when they arrived in New York. Suddenly, the idle chatter on the radio became urgent! He tuned his ear to the radio and heard his friend’s plea, “Come at once. We have struck a berg!”

The Carpathia turned about and headed toward the Titanic, 58 miles and 3½ hours away. She was first on the scene of the sinking ship. The S.S. California was much closer, but that radio officer had turned off his radio and gone to bed, hearing nothing. The rest is history; the Carpathia plucked more than 700 passengers from the water and lifeboats. In England, her Captain was honored for the heroic efforts of leading his crew and passengers in the rescue of so many. He later received similar acclaim after US Senate Hearings.

In 1898, fourteen years earlier, Maritime writer Morgan Robertson had written of a similar ship. The fictional “Titan,” was described it as “unsinkable,” a floating city in itself. The fictional ship of the book was exactly like the Titanic, and in the book, it suffered the exact same fate as the Titanic.

Besides the 700 lives saved by the Carpathia, there were more than 1,500 others who perished as the Titanic went down on that dreadful night. Listening can be passive. Hearing can mean the difference between life and death!

In the Epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul has been zeroing in on his target audience, the readers of this sacred letter, inspired by God. Warnings abound in this Epistle! We ended last chapter with the relationship between husbands and wives, making their relationship analogous to Christ’s and His Bride, the Church. In this sixth and final chapter, the whole family and household is included as Paul zeroes in further and speaks to the children (the fruit of marriage), to their fathers again, and to the household employees.

1 Samuel 15:23 (spoken to King Saul…) -

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, He hath also rejected thee from being king.”

Today's Audio Message:
Ephesians 6:1-17 - "Listening vs. Hearing"


In previous weeks we learned that Paul had been teaching the Ephesians about the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:18, 3:19), the importance of being filled with the Spirit, and the life that flows from it.

There is a difference between the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Holy Spirit. The permanent indwelling of the Spirit is a gift given to all believers in Jesus without exception, and no conditions are placed upon this gift except faith in Christ (John 7:37-39). The indwelling of the Holy Spirit happens at the moment of salvation (Ephesians 1:13; Galatians 3:2), and His indwelling is permanent. The Holy Spirit’s indwelling the believer is a down payment of sorts, or verification of our future glorification in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 4:30).

Being filled with the Spirit comes from obedience to God. Sin hinders that filling, and obedience is how the filling of the Spirit is maintained (Ephesians 5:18). Obedience to God’s commands allows the Holy Spirit the freedom to work within us, and since we have not yet in our perfect state, we are still very much prone to sin.

Paul outlined the standards of the Spirit filled life for believers individually, for fellowship within the Christian community, and for the more intimate family relationships within the home (marriage, children, and household), which we will learn more about today.

Our generation is watching the death of marriage and the family as we know it. Among the many factors contributing to its destruction are immorality, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, abortion, sterilization, so-called women's liberation, and rebellion to name a few.

Society has had many opinions about the restructuring of marriage, the family, morals, values, and more. Those opinions have turned into a war. Surely, we are all aware of the cultural war going on today, but as Christians, are we aware of the spiritual war we are engaged in? In Ephesians 6:12, Paul warns us to, "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."  

Christian marriages and families should demonstrate the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  God has blessed us with lives that are rewarding, meaningful, and fulfilling.  It is His work in our lives that should be evident to the world around us.

As we continue our study in Ephesians, the text continues to flow out of the command in Ephesians 5:18, to be filled with the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit means we actually live in obedience to God’s Word.

In today's study we are beginning in chapter 6, and here Paul directly deals with the family, the relationship between children and their parents, and the rest of the household, including relationships between employer and employee.

This wonderful new life we have received through Christ’s death and resurrection, is a transformed life. It is a life that no longer conforms to the ways of the world, but one that pleases God. This is accomplished by the renewing of our minds, an inward spiritual transformation that will manifest itself in outward actions. Transformation involves those who were once far from God being “drawn near” to Him through the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13) and being led by the Spirit of God. It is through the power of God’s Spirit that Christ lives within us, the Spirit indwells us, and where we draw our strength.

Finally, Paul reminded believers that the Christian life means participation in a spiritual battle. From his own experience, the apostle knew the opposition is real and the warfare intense: 
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:11–13).

Since believers are engaged in an ongoing spiritual battle with the powers of darkness, they cannot endure without the power of God. To be strong in the Lord and the power of His might is vital to living a victorious Christian life. No one who goes to war wants to be on the losing side. 
Notice the scripture says to be strengthened “in the Lord.” Our lives must be positioned in the Lord to obtain His power.

Paul goes into detail about how the Lord equips us for ongoing spiritual warfare with the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-18), so that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  What are the wiles of the devil? They are deceptive methods of trickery as he lies in wait to trip us up.  2 Peter 5:8 tells us to "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."

We must stand against the wiles of the devil.  In vs. 13, the phrase “having done all, to stand” is a clear indication of personal responsibility. “Having done all” means while God has supplied everything we need, we must prepare everything necessary to stand. In other words, our responsibility is to “PUT ON” the full armor (vs 11.) 

Paul, before his death, wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  Paul understood this battle, and he fought well with His faith intact.  He kept the faith by guarding and watching over.  His trust in the Lord never wavered.   What a powerful affirmation of his unyielding love and undying faith in Jesus and the gospel message.

Being strong in the Lord is a call to faithfulness, abiding in Christ, trusting in the Lord’s power for everything in our lives. The Christian’s true strength comes from being completely dependent upon the Lord, obedience to His Word, unyielding in our love for Him and hope and assurance we have in Christ Jesus.

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