I was supposed to teach this material tomorrow (April 13th), but we have prayerfully pushed back our scheduled teaching time in Ephesians this week to spend time in fervent, focused prayer as well as discuss this past Sunday's sermon that answered the question, "What is the nature of the church?" We will resume our regular teaching in Ephesians next time we meet (which is the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month). You can find our church's new sermon series here: What is the Church? That link will lead you to my church website with the mp3's of my pastor, Chris Taylor. Trust me, it is EXCELLENT!
To prepare for when we go over the material in Ephesians 2:1-7 (April 27th), I want you to think of practical applications of these great doctrines and then answer the questions within this post to prepare for our next meeting. Why? Because instead of me "teaching" I will lead you all into a round-table discussion on these practical applications and yes, Ladies of Legacy, we will be taping the whole thing and making it available as an mp3 on our church website with the rest of our series HERE. (no pressure)
I will give you one example of how to apply these doctrines in your marriage. I was inspired to write this 2-step program from Adrian Warnock's post HERE.
1. Step one: Know and understand the Doctrine of the Total Depravity of Man. If you do:
a. You will be rightly reminded that your spouse is married to a sinner
b. You will more fully understand that because you are a sinner, it is tough to be married to you
2. Step Two: Know and understand the Doctrine of Grace… which is to remember what it means to be saved by grace alone. If you do:
a. You will not burden your spouse with expectations he will never meet
b. It will remind you that your spouse’s performance is not the basis of your acceptance of him, any more than your performance is the basis of God’s acceptance of you.
These 2 God-centered steps are not only easier to keep up with then 12 man-centered ones, but when you do sin, they are far more likely to lead you to: “The sorrow that is according to the will of God [that] produces a repentance without regret …” (2 Cor 7) and help you comprehend that your “adequacy is from God.” (2 Cor 3)
As our Elder, Jeremy, would say, “ God, His Word, and the Spirit of Christ are sufficient to save, and therefore are sufficient to sanctify. The introduction of external, pragmatic human enterprises deployed in an attempt to “supplement” the divine work of salvation or sanctification only serves as a hindrance, and subsequently robs the sinner of the very means by which God has ordained to deliver him…….namely, repentance. [Man-centered] “recovery programs “… distance [believers] from God’s omnisciently-architected “repentance program”. … the more we foolishly rely upon and glory in our “programs”, the greater we distance ourselves from that [God-centered, fully sufficient provision of grace].”
Warning: Applying the two steps above will likely result in the following when you do fall into sin:
(1) You will fall to your knees, possibly to your face, & repent
(2) You will pray for wisdom, forgiveness, and strength
(3) You will search the Scriptures
(4) You will humbly seek the Spirit-led counsel and accountability of godly elders and believer - within your own assembly - who are willing to “…bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the Law of Christ” (Gal 6)
(5) In this process of your sanctification, you will grow in His grace and knowledge and be utterly humbled by itNow, I want to encourage you to prayerfully answer the following questions to prepare for our round-table discussion:
- What does it mean we were dead in our trespasses and sins?
- What does it mean that we were made alive?
- How can I apply the 2 step "repentance program" to parenting?
- ...to friendships?
- ...as a member of my church?
- ...if I am anxious or depressed?
- ...to unbelievers?
- ...to struggling believers?
- ...to people that annoy me?
As you prepare, I want to remind you that sin is sin before God. Knowing the Doctrine of the Total Depravity of Man should cause us to value human relationships and not have such a low view of humans that we forget that we are all made in the image of God. People are worth our time. Having such a high view of man that we fail to recognize that God alone deserves to be on a pedestal is another danger. Let's prayerfully keep the pendulum in balance.
Jesus is a friend of who? Sinners. Jesus said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
The way we share the Gospel with a prostitute or an ex-con would foundationally be the same as a college graduate or successful business man. The way we minister to them will probably look different, as long as we are, as Jesus, not respecters of persons in the sense that we treat a rich man better than a poor man, etc.
Trust me, the prostitute could be genuinely repentant and the prideful, successful business man, though impressive on the outside, could be still utterly corrupt and unrepentant. In God's eyes, their sin is the same and yet He looks down on the one who is repentant with compassion and the one who is glorying in himself with perfect, and just wrath. One as redeemed, the other as His enemy.
Remember, apart from God we are all wicked and corrupt worms. Doesn't matter how pretty you look on the outside, how successful you are in this world- Not in the eyes of God... where it counts eternally.