Faithlife Sermons

(Eph 5:1-2) Father's Who Imitate Christ [Father's Day]

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Have you ever considered how your Bible is put together?
Is it a topical index on life issues?
That is –
you have your book on parenting,
you have your book on worship,
you have your book on anger,
you have your book on success.
I think when we ask it that way,
we realize our Bibles are not a topical index.
It may talk about parenting, worship, anger, and success.
It may have powerful passages on those topics.
But it is not a manual arranged by topic.
This why we often use the
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Or MacArthur’s Topical Bible
Because the Bible is not a topical index.
Instead it is a collection of God breathed -
parables of wisdom,
and personal letters.
Sometimes it addresses parenting, worship, anger, and success,
But the 66 books of the Bible really has a focus that is bigger and beyond those simple topics.
That might not seem that significant,
until you start asking “what does my Bible say about X”?
What does the Bible say about being a good father and parent?
what does the Bible say about being a good son or daughter?
Questions that we might have consider on Father’s Day.
And I would suggest,
that the Bible has a lot to say for fathers and children,
but what it says may not be titled - how do you be a great father or how to be a son or daughter?
One of the most convicting books I ever read on being a pastor,
was a book that never referenced passage this specifically talked about being a pastor.
Maybe this book was powerful because it hit me my blind spot,
but the book powerfully challenged me by pointing me to the every day themes of the Bible.
There are numerous major themes in the Bible that have a lot to say about parenting and honoring your parents.
Today I like to point you to a passage –
that is not specifically addressed to fathers or children.
Yet, if we implement its teachings into our parenting
- it will powerfully transform your whole family.
What theme today am I pointing you too?
One, of several passages, that remind us to imitate Christ in our life.
Ephesians 5:1–2 ESV
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
According to Paul -

We ought to imitate Christ with our lives.

And Paul teaches us 2 aspects of what it means to imitate Christ.
First, I want you to consider -

1) The Call to Imitation (Eph 5:1)

We are told in our text to imitate Christ.
Perhaps you have imitated a teacher or boss in the past?
You probably have seen people who would pretend to be like a teacher and they lecture like they do.
Or they pretend to be there boss and boss like they do.
Usually we mean it in a bad way.
Usually were making fun of the person.
But there are still others in our life – who we truly admire.
And for whatever reason we say – “I want to be just like that person.”
And so you imitate that person’s life.
For the Christian,
The person we should admire the most.
The person we should imitate the most is Christ.
Ephesians 5:1 ESV
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
Paul commands us in this passage – to imitate God.
But what does it mean to imitate God?
Let’s consider that for a moment.
To –

a) Imitate means to be a follower of Christ. (a disciple)

To imitate someone, is another way of saying to follow someone else’s example.
To be a disciple.
The word imitate is essentially a discipleship term.
Now if you’re wise,
you realize this is not the exact same word for discipleship.
To imitate is not the same word as to be a disciple.
But I would challenge us that the word imitate is a near cousin to the word disciple.
Think about this logically.
The word imitate essentially means to copy.
Just like we follow the example of that person we admire,
we are follow the example of Jesus Christ.
In fact,
if you’re holding the King James Bible in your hand you will notice it doesn’t say imitate.
What does it say?
Ephesians 5:1 KJV 1900
1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
Imitate means to follow.
And what does the word disciple mean?
> Word disciple essentially means to be a follower of Christ.
> The first century idea of being a disciple, was to copy the example of your master.
As a disciple you are not only to believe in the same teachings as your master,
but you were to live like your master.
Doesn’t that sound like the word imitate?
And I’m not the only one to think so.
The term “imitator” is one link between the disciples of Jesus in the Gospels and the believers of the early Church. Although the word “disciple” (mathētēs) is curiously absent from the epistles, Michaelis’ conclusion is representative of recent scholarship: “The mathētēs … and the mimētēs are one and the same” (TDNT 4:673; cf. Betz 1967: 42–43; Schulz 1962: 332–35). (AYBD)
Grant Osborne:
In Paul’s writings imitation is at the heart of discipleship. In Philippians 3:17 he asks his readers to imitate him just as he imitates Christ (also 1 Thess 1:6; 2 Thess 3:7–9). When we follow through on this injunction, we become concrete models of Christlikeness and show other people how to emulate him. (Grant Osbonre)
Imitate means to be a disciple.

b) To imitate God is to imitate Christ.

Several of you are excellent scholars.
And you noticed your Bible doesn’t say – imitate Christ.
What does your Bible say – imitate God.
How can I say that this passage teaches us to imitate Christ?
It’s not an assumption,
or even a general principle.
This is the only place in our Bibles we are told to imitate God.
But as we consider Ephesians 5:2
we realize that to imitate God is to imitate Christ.
And every other time our Bible tells us to imitate someone,
we are told to imitate Christ.
I would suggest that if we are to follow God,
we must follow Christ.
They are essentially the same practice.
It is why you can’t follow the god of some other religion?
Because they don’t follow Christ.
So Paul tells us we ought to go out and imitate Christ.
But what does that mean?
How do we know if I’m copying Christ correctly?
I remember having the chance to sit down with one young man,
and he had been in a lot of different kinds of churches.
One of the problems with being in a lot of different kinds of churches,
is that they say a lot of different things about Jesus.
And when I talked to him, he had one main question – how do I know that your teaching is right and these other teachings are wrong?
I told him, you need to look at what your Bibles says.
These days,
people say a lot of different things about following Christ.
But what does it mean to follow Christ?
Ephesians 5:2 gives us –

2) The Meaning of Imitation. (Ephesians 5:2a)

Ephesians 5:2 ESV
2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
The word translated “And”
Is not adding something to what Paul is saying,
But is clarifying what Paul is saying.
The and should be translated “that is” in order to convey the idea that Ephesians 5:2 explains how a believer is to imitate God: by walking in love. (Bible Knowledge Commentary)
So Paul is not saying,
imitate Christ and walk in love.
Do both of these.
He is saying,
to imitate Christ is to to walk in love.
He is telling us what it means to Imitate Christ.
So what does it mean to walk in Christ?
It means to –

a) Live in the love of Christ (Walk).

The primary imitation that we are to do is to walk in love.
But many times when our Bible says walk,
it doesn’t literally mean walk.
Even in English,
we often use walk to describe how someone lives.
You need to walk with purpose.
You need to walk the talk.
Are either talking about actually walking down the street?
It means - go out and live it.
To imitate Christ – is live a life of love.
We are to live the lives of grace, mercy, compassion - because that is what Jesus did.
I understand this whole section is really talking about what it’s like to live the new life found in Christ.
But many have saw a connection between Ephesians 5:2 and Ephesians 4:32.
Ephesians 4:32 ESV
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
What does it mean to walk a walk that is imitating the love of Jesus?
Ephesians 4:32 ESV
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
It is interesting - just like Ephesians 4:32 – Ephesians 5:2 points us to the example of Christ.
Ephesians 5:2 ESV
2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
I see a little stronger contrast than when our ESV translates here.
A better translation would be – “just as even”
Paul is telling us,
to imitate Christ, = is to live a life of love = just as the example we have from Jesus.
Observe -

b) The Example of Jesus:

Ephesians 5:2 ESV
2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
(1) Love others like Christ.
(2) Sacrificially serve others like Christ.
Negatively -
What has Jesus not forgiven that should allow us not to forgive?
Is there a point where we should not walk with mercy and grace?
Letting love cover a multitude of sins.
Loving your enemies.
Its fathers day -so let me mention this.
Many times families harbor bitterness and anger,
but the Bible teaches us that we should follow the example of Jesus’s forgiveness instead.
Positively -
We should give grace.
- Show unmerited kindness to others.
- Be a blessing.
Our lives should reflect the love and sacrifice of Jesus.
Families are often most selfish to the one’s they love the most.
Fathers, Mothers, Children - Families are centered around what makes me happy.
But Jesus gives us a model to prefer others over ourselves.
To show unmerited kindness.
There is other passages that teach us about the model and example of Jesus.
But this text emphasizes that to imitate Christ - is to love like God loves.
John 3:16 ESV
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Are you imitating the love of Jesus in your life?
Charles Spurgeon:
“Be ye imitators”—that is, do not only meditate upon God and think that you have done enough, but go on to copy what you study. Meditation is a happy, holy, profitable engagement, and it will instruct you, strengthen you, comfort you, inspire your heart, and make your soul steadfast; but you may not stop at meditation, you must go on to imitation of the character of God. Let your spiritual life not only bud and blossom in devout thought, but let it bring forth fruit in holy act. (Charles Spurgeon)
Since it is father’s day,
I want to apply this text in a really narrow way.
In a way that will encourage fathers, regardless of age.
In a way that encourage children, sons and daughters, regardless of age.
>Some of you have children at home and this is a passage that can really encourage you in your parenting.
> Some of you have grandchildren, and this can encourage you about how continue to influence your children and grandchildren.
One of the greatest things you can do in your parenting, regardless of their age - is to imitate Christ.
Paul says - be an imitator of God.
Make your life a copycat of Jesus’s life.
If you walk in the teachings and example of Christ – then you will give your children an incredible example for how to live life.
If you want to see your adult children come to Christ - then point them to the Gospel by being a concrete human example of Christ likeness.
In our modern culture,
when we talk about discipling our children we automatically think about doing Family devotions.
But discipleship is more than just giving new knowledge.
Discipleship is also showing someone how to live Christ.
Walking side by side as a model of what Jesus is like.
Modeling Christlikeness is as much teaching others, as the most robust Bible study you can do with your kids.
Consider these other examples of imitating.
1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV
1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Philippians 3:17 ESV
17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
1 Thessalonians 1:6–7 ESV
6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.
I’m not saying don’t spend time directly teaching your kids.
I’m saying don’t only spend time teaching your kids.
I’m saying you also need to show your kids by your example.
Discipleship is not just sitting down and doing a Bible study.
Its showing them what it means to live for Jesus by your own example.
And perhaps you are sitting and saying, but my kids don’t live at home anymore.
This is why this is a wonderful message to parents.
It teaches us that I can still disciple my children when all grown up, because I model what it means to live for Jesus.
Are you imitating Christ to your children?
Are you discipling your children - by showing them a concrete human example of who Jesus is?
Now let’s talk about children.
You want to know, regardless of age, how you can live in a way that honors your parents?
Do you want to know, regardless of age, how you can please your parents?
Imitate Christ in your life.
Many of us children want to make our parents proud.
Many of us want good relationships with our dad.
And even young children have a desire to please their parents.
Or at least a desire not to make them angry.
The Bible commands us to honor our parents.
And If you were living as a concrete example of Christ likeness, then I guarantee you honor your parents.
At the very least you will honor than before God,
and build the best relationship you can’t have with another sinner.
And remind you fathers and children,
what does Paul say in this passage, what imitating Christ is like?
Showing unconditional, unmerited, love
just like Jesus loved you and gave himself for you.
Imitation of Christ is not directly related to parenting,
but I hope you’ve seen today how imitating Christ can transform your family.
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