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Russell Moore recently posted a good article on the Gospel Coalition website (read it here). The article talks about the dysfunction of being drawn to controversy, as we use say, “just for controversy’s sake.” While it is certainly true that many controversies are unavoidable, it is equally true that many of them can be avoided. Some people just like taste of blood in the corner of their mouth, and Paul warned the church about them.
In the next couple of messages (Oct. 10 and 31) I will be working through a very short passage of Scripture. It is only four verses, but they contain some interesting topics. Yes, topics that are sometimes controversial. I am not addressing them to be controversial...but they are clearly in our passage ahead:
“Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. Eph. 5:15-21
My first pass through the passage I saw a sermon about wisdom and God’s will. On my second pass through it I noticed a couple other items that come up in frequent discussions. So in the next couple of sermons, I will be talking about these issues…
God’s will. Some people see God’s will as something hidden to be discovered with a lot of agonizing and self-doubt. Finding his will is a fearful hide-and-seek that often leaves the seeker second guessing. In Ephesians Paul does not approach it that way at all. I will contrast a few approaches to “finding” God’s will and offer some pastoral ideas I have about the subject.
Alcohol. Things have changed in my lifetime on this issue. Christian culture absorbed Prohibition thinking without really looking at Scripture closely on this issue. On the other hand, many believers are more concerned about their “rights” than what Scripture warns about alcohol. This passage is not really primarily about alcohol, but it does bring up the issue—and even in a context of moral warning.
Spirit filling. I have always been amazed at how much people can say about the filling of the Spirit since Scripture says so little about it. There are denominations largely built on their view of what this phrase means. For some groups Spirit filling may involve fainting, dancing, or almost ecstatic experience. Is that where Paul was going? Is Spirit filling normative? Do I do something to make it happen?
Marital roles. Just that phrase is controversial today. Our gender-agnostic culture now vilifies as sexist anything that smacks of distinction between men and women. Clearly the world of the Bible had no such internal conflict. It is true that people thought very differently 2000 years ago—so is the answer to just dismiss anything that is not a 21st century (American) way of seeing things as a theological reject? Or, is it possible our understanding of “biblical marriage” was influenced by perceptions of a previous age that need to be blown out of our theology?
I hope you can be with us. I hope the Word enlightens, and that we learn more about what it is to "understand what the Lord's is."
See you in church.