Sunday, January 26, 2014

P2 4 impossible areas made possible

Ephesians 4:1 "Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called."

Introduction & review from yesterday's post
Yesterday we began looking at 4 impossible areas that are made possible by the Person and power of the Holy Spirit.  We noted two of them and will note two more in today's post:
1. Salvation
2. Ministry
3. Family
4. Life

When the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians church, his circumstances would be considered by most to be impossible. He was chained to a Roman soldier, under house arrest in Rome. At the time he wrote his letters to not only to Ephesus, but also Phillipi, Colosse and to Philemon, there was some uncertainty as to how his situation was ultimately going to turn out.  The odds were stacked against Paul and yet he did the impossible.  He wrote inerrant letters by the Spirit's Divine inspiration.  He urged his readers to consider their inheritance (Ephesians), press onto maturity in Christ (Colossians), be joyful (Philippians) and exercise forgiveness (Philemon). Paul did the impossible by the power of the Holy Spirit.  As we continue on in this theme, we will once again rely mainly on the book of Ephesians. Note the two other impossible areas that are made possible by the Holy Spirit.

The Christian family is impossible without the Power of the Holy Spirit
As one journeys into Ephesians 4 & 5, we see further mentioning of the Holy Spirit.  Christians are warned not to grieve Him, but to cultivate a rich relationship with Him by practicing forgiveness and love in relationships with others. (Ephesians 4:30-32)  Ephesians 5:18 gives us one of the most important commands in scriptures: "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit." In salvation, the believer gets all of the Holy Spirit they are ever going to receive by way of His indwelling their human spirit (innermost being). (1 Corinthians 2:12) However the issue remains through the rest of the Christian life of the Spirit getting more and more of the believer to submit under His influence, leading and control. To be filled with the Spirit has to do with submitting under His leading through repeated Christian obedience.  Spirit-filled living carries with it the blessings of empowerment to achieve extraordinary things that are otherwise impossible in the flesh. (compare Romans 8:1-5)  

It is no accident that following the command to be filled or under the influence of the Spirit's control, we find immediate areas of application.  Certainly church life is one of those areas (5:19-21).  But now what composes the local church? Families.  Hence we see the two main areas that make up the Christian family: marriage (5:22-33) and children (6:1-6).  

A Godly, Christ-centered marriage cannot be possible unless the Holy Spirit is the One in control.  
To love one's wife like Christ loves the church is not possible in the domain of human love.  Unless the husband has given himself to prayer, humility and the scripture, he will not be able to achieve the commands given by Paul.  Likewise the wife too must be Spirit-filled in order to not merely submit out of duty, but out of delight.  The husbands' love is primary and is what regulates and encourages the wife's voluntary submission.  When the Holy Spirit is filling both spouses, Christ will never be more present or sensed than when such conditions are present. 

Parents and children need to be filled with the Holy Spirit  
Raising up of children with Christian conviction in this 21st century age requires more than what parents can give. As a father of four children myself, my wife and I are keenly aware of the demands.  We have two teenagers, an 8 year old and a pre-schooler.  It is more than fair to say that lest the Spirit be empowering and filling us daily, we will not be able to exercise the patience and soundness of mind needed to guide our children through their development.  Likewise too, children who are converted unto Christ must learn what it means to be Spirit filled, since their obedience is commanded in the context. (Ephesians 6:1). Unless parents model such a conviction, they can run the risk of exasperating their children and thus violating the instruction given in Ephesians 6:4.  

So we have seen thus far that salvation, ministry and the Christian family are impossibilities apart from the Holy Spirit.  There is one more impossible area that requires the Holy Spirit's power, namely....

The Christian-life is impossible without the Holy Spirit
As the reader scans through Ephesians 6:7-10 and 6:11-24, two general areas of the Christian-life can be noted: the work place and spiritual warfare. 

The Christian employee and employer need to be Spirit-filled
Again the whole point of this two-part series has been to aid the reader in identifying areas that are impossible to do in human strength, and see that only by the Spirit's empowerment can such areas be deemed possible. 

Ephesians 6:7-8 and 6:9 deal in the respective areas of what would had been slaves and masters in the setting of first century Roman culture. Slavery in the first century was different from the more familiar, brutality that was exercised during the 19th century, Civil War period.  Though there were excesses and abuses in the first century, oftentimes slaves would have it better than so-called "free-men".  Slaves often had trades and even had the option of being adopted by slave owners.  It was not-uncommon for masters to bequeath their wealth to slaves upon their death.

In looking at Ephesians 6:7-9 we can apply the principles of slaves regarding their masters and masters taking care of their slaves to what is necessary in the work place.  A Spirit-filled Christian employee can be a blessing to his boss or business owner, being that he is all about pleasing His Master in heaven. (Colossians 4:1) The same type of logic can be applied in the other direction concerning a Spirit-filled employer's treatment of employees. The Christian-life in general is often no more tested than in the work place.  Without the Spirit's empowerment, Christian employees and employers will not be able to bring glory to Jesus Christ.  

Spiritual warfare requires the Christian to be Spirit-filled
Likewise the second main area of the Christian-life, spiritual warfare, undoubtedly requires the Spirit's power.  Passages such as 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 remind the reader that our warfare is not with flesh and blood.  The warfare of the Christian is not a conventional warfare.  The forces of darkness are at work against the church.  As Paul wrote these words, he undoubtedly was directed by the Spirit to gaze upon that Roman soldier to whom he was chained.  The full-length description of the spiritual armor matches what would had been standard issue Roman armory. Truly the Christian life is a call to arms. We are called to live the life of a soldier, not a civilian. Civilians aims to center their lives around convenience and comfort.  However the Christian is a soldier.  Consider what Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:3-4 "Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier."

Conclusions: How 4 impossible areas are made possible
Over the past two days we have explored 4 impossible areas.  These 4 areas are regarded by most people as doable and achievable within the realm of human strength and ingenuity.  We have proposed that these 4 areas: salvation, ministry, Christian family & Christian life are impossible to accomplish apart from the Holy Spirit's power.  We have walked our way through the book of Ephesians and other texts to demonstrate this central set of assumptions. Practically speaking, the ways in which we can open ourselves to the Spirit's power and filling in our lives in these four areas is through opening our Bibles, opening our hearts to prayer and opening ourselves to be humble. When the Spirit of God is running the show in the realm of our cooperation, rather than the self in non-cooperation, the Power to achieve the impossible is truly made possible.   

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