September 14, 2018
Strong and Courageous
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— Eph. 4:17-20 ESV
We currently have been doing an expositional study of the book of Ephesians in our church. This last Sunday Gary preached an excellent sermon out of the fourth chapter, which included the passage listed above. He developed the idea that Christians are not to be trapped in futile thinking, because that is not the way that we have learned Christ. The affirmation of being justified by faith springs forth hope that is eternal in nature. So much so, that we are to live our lives above circumstance because we have the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
For this week’s post, I would like to look at the other side of futile thinking, namely those who do not believe in Christ. This is valuable in our understanding of evangelism. We have been talking about pragmatic opportunities on how to share the gospel in the fishers of men series of posts. All of that information hinges on the fact that it is God himself that draws people into the kingdom. We get to be a part of the journey, but we are not the chief agency.
One of the most important teachings of Jesus on this subject is found in John 6:60-65 which states: It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” Here we see that those who do not have the presence of the Holy Spirit can only think in terms of the flesh. It is up to the Father to draw a person to faith in Christ.
R.C. Sproul in his book titled Chosen by God, develops the idea that futile fleshly thinking is not even able to seek after God. Sproul states “The words ‘No one” are all-inclusive. They allow for no exception apart from the exceptions Jesus adds. The next word is crucial. It is the word can. This has to do with ability, not permission.
In this passage, Jesus is not saying that no one is allowed to come to me… He is saying that no one is able to come to me…” unless the Father draws them.
The tragic aspect is that while a futile mind can be extremely adept at worldly matters; that mind is lost in a sea of hopelessness at the end of the day. If all that we are is particles in motion, and we have to define our lives in a strictly finite sense, the end point becomes nothing less than despair. The fool says in his heart, that there is no God.