(A Series on Ephesians)
C.R.5/3/87a.m. Ephesians 6:1-9
PROPOSITION: There is a spirit of selflessness and
mutual respect and submission that characterizes the relationships and roles of the home and the work place for all believers in Christ.
- RITA and I had a great time last Sunday morning, sharing our marriage and the grace of Christ in our family......taken primarily from Paul's discussion on marriage in Ephesians 5. (If you were not here and would like to hear it, please feel free to stop by the tape table on your way out and get a copy.)
- (BY the way, I really believe that last Sunday evening's message was a special word from the Lord for our fellowship concerning "The Demonstration of the Power of God".......in healing, in freedom from bondage, in the harvest, in marriage....and would encourage you to get the tape.
* Someone came up to me after the evening service and said, "Pastor, you should have preached that on a Sunday morning, when everyone was here."
* Well, that is one of the reasons that we have Sunday evening services. We believe that the pulpit ministry sets the focus and speaks the vision of the fellowship.....morning and evening.....and would invite you to come back on Sunday nights with your family, if you are able, so you can share in the whole vision and move with us.)
- BUT let's move on to God's Word for the family this morning, from Ephesians 6:1-9.
- GOD is passionately, intensely committed to the family.
* It is His #1 vehicle for evangelism.
* It is where pastors and evangelists and missionaries and teachers and workers and worshippers get their most important training...in those formative years where great or poor foundations are laid.
* It is where our future is shaped.
* It is where the baton of the faith is passed on to the next generation.
- MY love for people and the work of the ministry came through watching my Dad and Mom give their lives gladly and cheerfully to the work of the Lord.
* My parents loved the family of God and gladly gave their lives to see it made strong.
- MY deep desire for a spiritual awakening in Cedar Rapids was passed on to me through my family.
* I can remember being on vacation and driving through a town called Grahamstown in the Cape Province in South Africa, and looking at my Dad's eyes in the rear-view mirror and seeing tears quietly running out of them....I asked him what was wrong......we were on vacation.
* And he smiled and said, "Nothing son, I am just hungry for a great out-pouring of the Holy Spirit. We are desperate...if people are going to be healed and saved.
- WHAT is a husband supposed to be? I learned it from my Dad.
* Monday was his day off and he'd spend it every week helping Mom wash and hang out the laundry.
* I don't think I ever heard him call my mother by her first name...it was always by some endearing term like "Sweetie or dearie."
* When we would be driving down the road, I'd see his hand slide over on the seat and rest on her leg for miles at a time.
- HOW did I learn about God, my Father? I learned it from my Dad.
* I don't think a day went by that he didn't say, "I love you, son."
* And he'd back that up by the time he would spend with me. I really believed he wanted to be with me. Every week we would play 18 holes of golf and fish...at least one of those and sometimes both.
* The night that I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit he cried and worshipped with his arms around me.
* But his love wasn't wishy washy either. When I would disobey him...I remember the look in his eyes. It was as if he was hurting more than angry. That was the part that used to tear me up. I remember thinking that I would much rather get a spanking than a talk.
* When he disciplined me I knew that it was never with hatred....and now that I am a father I can appreciate that more than ever.
* After he disciplined me, and I asked for forgiveness it was always given readily and NEVER held against me.
- SOME of the most important formation of my character and my understanding of God and my role as a husband and father and my calling have come through my family.
- CAN you see why God has such high priority for the family.
- GREAT passages of scripture on the family, both in the Old and New Testaments, written by the Holy Spirit, are devoted to God's passion for the family....it is His creation....it is His design.
- WHEN it is operated according to the Word of God and the power of the Spirit it can be the most beautiful place in the world. When it is not it can be hell....but that's the way with everything when God's Word is ignored.
- THE ability to have a wonderful family is NOT in our own grasp...it is too great a task for man or woman alone.
- THE ability to have a wonderful family rests solely with the One who wrote the Holy Ghost Owners Manual......it is possible for the families who lay down their lives and their wills and put themselves solidly in Jesus Hands.
- NOW, in all these teachings on the family, I think it is important to know a little something of the culture of the times....otherwise we are tempted to think that the passages don't apply to us.
"If the apostle Paul knew what a jerk my husband was......he would never have told me to submit to him."
"My wife's so ugly she makes Bella Abzuk look like Farrah Fawcett.....surely I am not supposed to love her like Paul says."
"I raised in such a strict environment and was spanked a lot, so I determined never to raise my children that way. I read Dr. Spock."
- WELL, these passage were written to a culture where marriages were all prearranged by the time the children were 3 years old or younger.
* How would you like to have your wife or husband chosen at three...and have no say in it at all?
* No courting....no dating.....no tests for compatability.
* No matching of interests...or hobbies shared together on weekends.
* No arguments that the marriage "just wasn't God's will." You were hitched and that was it....like it or not.
* Ladies, you might have ended up with Don Knotts as a husband.......or Archie Bunker.......or Clint Eastwood.
* Men, you might have ended up marrying someone who turned out like Gloria Steinem.....or Edith Bunker....it was not your choice. (Edith Bunker, Gloria Steinem and Farah Fawcett all looked alike and acted alike at 3.)
- THERE was none of this "boy meets girl"....."heart goes pitty pat"....."had the peace of God that we were to be together....cause she turns me on"
- THE parents and the Rabbi said, "You marry you!"....next!
- YET in spite of all this, Paul says "Love your wives, submit to your husbands and obey your parents."
- HOW can this be? Because the power of God is supposed to make a difference in the lives of people who have the Holy Spirit inside.
- TWO incompatible, mismatched believers ought to be able to have a terrific home life....if self is left at the cross.
- GOOD families have nothing to do with human abilities...they have everything to do with the power of God and obedience to the Word.
- IN Ephesians 6, Paul stays with the subject of relationships. He moves on from husband/wife to the relationship between parents and children and employer/employee.....and it all remains under the heading of chapter 5:21......submit one to another.
- SO here is this chapter in Paul's letter, written to be read in the church at Ephesus, yet written, addressed in chapter 6, to the family.......families went to church together back then.
- AND he starts his teaching on children by writing;
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother'--which is the first commandment with a promise--'that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.'" (vv1-3)
- CHILDREN are to obey their parents....simple and straightforward.
- I STUDIED the word "obey" in the Greek. It means "obey".
- PAUL gives three foundation stones for children obeying parents;
* It is right.....i.e.it is part of the law of nature.
* You don't need special revelation to understand it unless you are Planned Parenthood...then you have trouble comprehending elementary things like this.
* Do you realize that every civilization in history whether Christian or pagan or even communist hold that children are not able to make sound value judgments yet and need to obey their children.
* Practically every civilization has recognized parental authority as indispensable to a stable society.
* It is only a society with its head in the sand that says;
* We will not give our children any moral or spiritual foundation....we think it is important for them to make their own decisions about that sort of thing when they get older.
* Now, that makes a lot of sense doesn't it?
* It is like the dark ages mentality that believes in giving our children condoms for "safe sex".
* That's like giving them a crash helmet for running across I 380.
* No, Paul says that obeying parents is right....it is part of the natural law....it is just plain common sense.
* Next, Paul says....in verse 2...that it is part of the revealed law of God, given to Moses on stone tablets.
* It brings the obedience to children into the realm of duty to God....then surely that makes it right.
* It is part of God's method for order in a society...it is submission to authority.
* The parent's authority is God-given. The children are NOT the wards of the state. God placed them under the authority of the home.
* The way the foundation of learning is laid down in the lives of our children is NOT the prerogative of the state....it lies in the hands of the parents.
* If the state or NEA believes that it is their right to instruct my child in matters of society's prevailing morality, sexual behavior or witches and warlocks...they ought to have us all over them like sweat bees in the summer.
* Obedience to parents is the revealed command of God. He took up space for it in His ten commandments to all mankind...we ought to include it in our lifetstyle.
* Permissive child-raising has no place in the Christian home.
* Re-directed attention is NOT the way to teach obedience and internal discipline....who is going to be there to offer your child a nice and neat alternative to sin when they are faced with choices ten years from now and you are not around to say, "try this instead Johnny."
* Obedience should be the norm in our families....and it has to start when they are 3 months old.....not thirteen.
* This is the first commandment with a promise....that life may go well for you.
* Lastly, Paul says that children should obey parents "in the Lord."
* This puts emphasis on the children's relationship to the Lord.
* Obeying parents is part of their walk with the Lord.
* Again, you see that Jesus is at the center of the healthy family.
* Society is fractured by sin and divorce. Love is twisted into lust. Authority is made into oppression. But by being "in the Lord" God has the power to turn it all into good because self-centeredness is purged from the life of the believer.
III.PARENTS, BE GENTLE
- THEN, in verse 4, Paul swings the spotlight on the parents. I LOVE THE BALANCE OF SCRIPTURE.
- HE writes;
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
- HERE, Paul speaks of the restraint of authority on the part of the parent.
- HE paints the picture of parents as self-controlled, gentle and patient educators.
- THIS was in stark contrast with the norm of Paul's day, where parents treated chilren like chattel property....holding rights over them that included the death penalty for disobedience.
- THE Christian parent is to be completely different, since all fatherhood derives its model from the God and Father of us all.
* First Paul says, "Don't provoke your children..."
* Don't make irritating and unreasonable demands...that makes no allowance for the inexperience and immaturity of children.
* Don't be unpredictable as to when you will go off like Mnt. Vesuvius and when you will ignore certain behaviour.
* Don't be cruel with your words or humiliating....there are places and times to correct or spank and the store or public place isn't one of them.
* Sarcasm and ridicule cannot be a part of your home. (Tell Muscovie duck story)
* Don't discipline out of anger. Wait until you are under control.
* Paul's second instruction is to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
* Raise them tenderly....cherish them a lot.
* Love on them a lot....it is impossible to love on them too much. You won't turn out a homosexual Dad.....in fact the absence of strong love from you maay well turn out a homosexual.
* Children are fragile and need tender loving care from someone who is under the control of the Holy Spirit.
* Jealously guard this privilege.....never surrender it.
* Take time with your children to raise them....instruction takes time and words.
IV.EMPLOYEES, SERVE CHRIST
- PAUL'S last instruction here is to employees.
- HE writes in verses 5-9;
"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him."
- WORK as if you were serving Christ.
* Be respectful.
* Obey with singleness of mind....with pure motives.
* Be conscientious.
* Be willing and cheerful.
- LASTLY, a word to employers.
* Do the same to them as you want in return....respect, concern, loyalty.
* Don't threaten and misuse authority.
- CHRIST is the master of us all.
- ALL this is possible in the power of the Lord.
- THE question is whetjer you will agree with the Word and submit to the power of the Lord.
IN MY HOME LORD