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Sermon #54 — Ephesians Sermons

 

Title:                           In the School of Christ

 

Text:                            Ephesians 4:20-21

Subject:                     The Believer’s walk in New Life

Date:                          Tuesday Evening — November 15, 2016

Readings:     Mark Daniel and Allen Kibby

Introduction:

 

Our Savior’s call to our souls is…

 

(Matthew 11:28-30) “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

Our Lord Jesus says to all who come to him, to all who trust him, “Learn of me.” If we are God’s children, we are students at school. We are in the school of grace, in the school of Christ; and our lesson is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. O may God graciously enable us to keep to our lesson, so that we may ever learn Christ. If we are taught of God and born again by the Spirit of God, we are in the school of Christ. That is my subject. — In the School of Christ. My text is Ephesians 4:20-21. — In the School of Christ (Ephesians 4:20-21).

 

(Ephesians 4:20-21) “But ye have not so learned Christ; (21) If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus.”

 

One thing that separates the children of light from the children of darkness is this: — We have learned Christ. We’ve heard him. We’ve heard the Shepherd’s voice. Hearing his voice, we have been taught and are being taught by him, we have learned and are learning him. We are In the School of Christ, learning to live for him, learning to live for God.

 

The Contrast

 

This is a distinction that should be manifest in every aspect of our lives. — We are In the School of Christ. Paul has been writing concerning other Gentiles, and the evil lives that they live. Now he tells us that as believers, we ought not to walk as unconverted men ordinarily do. Look at the sharp contrast Paul makes between unbelievers and believers (vv. 17-21).

 

(Ephesians 4:17-19) This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, (18) Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: (19) Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”

 

(Ephesians 4:20-21) “But ye have not so learned Christ; (21) If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus.”

 

If we are indeed the children of God, if we are in the school of Christ, there is a manifest difference between us and the men of the world.

 

Marked Distinction

 

There is, always has been, and always must be a marked distinction between the woman’s seed and the serpent’s seed, between the righteous and the wicked, between those who follow Christ and those who follow the lusts of their flesh, between the children of God and the children of the devil. The distinction is one made and maintained by God alone (1 Corinthians 4:7). It is God and God alone who puts a difference between Israel and Egypt. But there is an everlasting distinction between nature and grace, between God’s elect and the reprobate of this world. That distinction is made and maintained by…

Š      God’s Sovereign and Eternal Election (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).

Š      God’s Eternal Purpose of Grace in Predestination (Ephesians 1:3-6).

Š      Christ’s Particular and Effectual Redemption (Isaiah 53:4-10; Galatians 3:13-14; Ephesians 1:7).

Š      The Irresistible Grace and Effectual Call of God the Holy Ghost (John 3:3-8; 6:63; Ephesians 2:1-10).

Š      God’s Gracious Preservation of Our Souls in Grace and Faith (Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5).

 

And that marked distinction is a distinction that is to be maintained by us, as long as we live in this world. We are either dead in trespasses and sins, or we are quickened by divine grace. We have either passed from the darkness of nature into God’s marvelous light, or we are still abiding in darkness. And we ought always to strive to live as those who are born of God and taught of God.

 

Being raised as a Southerner, and always desirous of honoring my heritage, there are some things I always try to do. Any time I fail to do so, I am embarrassed.

Š      Open the Door for a Lady

Š      Stand Up when a Lady Enters the Room

Š      Never Sit while a Lady Stands

Š      Take My Hat Off when I Come Inside

Š      Take My Glove Off when I Shake Your Hand

 

Sometimes I fail to do those things that I know I ought to do. Sometimes I am not physically able to do them. Either way, when I fail to act like a proper, Southern gentleman, I am embarrassed by my conduct.

 

And, as a believer, as a child of God, there are some things I know I just ought to do. I have learned these things and am learning them in the school of Christ, being “taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus.” I try to do specific things and try to avoid others, because I want to honor God my Savior. When I fail to do so, I am embarrassed.

 

The fact is, there are some “things that accompany salvation.” If you are God’s child, there is something in you which is not to be found in the best of worldlings, something which is not discovered in the most admirable of carnal men. There is a higher something in your character which marks you as belonging to another family of men. You are in Christ, new creatures in him. And the fact that Christ lives in you separates you from the rest of mankind.

 

Something Learned

 

The great cause of this distinction is something we have learned. We have been taught of God. We have been made disciples in the school of Christ. — “But ye have not so learned Christ.” It is something which we have learned that makes us different from other people. Sitting at the Master’s feet and being taught of him, we learn of him. And being taught of him, we are distinguished from the mass of Adam’s fallen race.

 

God the Holy Spirit is our Teacher. He takes us to school. The Bible is our textbook. Christ is our Lesson. The Holy Spirit has taught us something already. He is teaching us more now. And he will continue to teach us more and more, until we shall know even as we are known.

 

Proposition: The Lord Jesus Christ is the lesson must learn.

 

Divisions: I want, if the blessed Spirit of God will enable me, to speak to you for a little while about what it is to be in the school of Christ. May his divine power rest upon me, as I try to set before you a few plain statements about this subject.

1.    I want you to see that – Christ Jesus the Lord is the lesson which we must learn.

2.    I will show you how we have not learned Christ.

3.    I will show you that – The Apostle tells us how we have learned Christ.

 

Christ our Lesson

 

1st — The first thing that I hope to accomplish this evening is most important. I want to show you that — Christ Jesus the Lord is the Lesson we must learn. If you do not hear anything else I say this evening, hear me now. This is most important. Christ is the lesson you and I must learn. Christ is the one lesson of Divine Revelation. Learn him, and you learn all. If you do not learn him, then you learn nothing. Christ is the only lesson which will eternally profit your soul. This lesson is absolutely necessary. Everything rests upon this — that you learn Christ. Hear his words…

 

(John 17:1-3)These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: (2) As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. (3) And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

 

Be careful not to miss read Paul’s words in our text. He does not say, “Ye have not so learned of Christ,” but, “Ye have not so learned Christ.” That is a very unusual expression. It is not usual to learn a person. But Paul says, “Ye have not so learned Christ.”

 

The Apostle does not mean that God’s people merely learn the doctrine of Christ. Many know what Christ taught, who have not learned Christ. They have read their Bibles. Perhaps they even study the Scriptures. They know orthodox doctrine. But they have not learned Christ. It is proper for us to learn the teachings of Christ, and value every word that he has spoken. Still, that is not the lesson. We must learn Christ himself.

 

Our text is not about learning the precepts of Christ. You may learn all that Christ commands, and still not learn him. You may learn all there is to know about Believer’s Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and miss Christ. You may read with great care our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, his many parables and discourses, and carefully mark his every precept, and still not learn him.

 

Learning Christ is much more than merely learning about Christ. You may know much about Christ, whose Son he is, what he has done, what he is doing, where he is, what he is yet going to do, and even how he will do it. You may know enough to be a teacher of others. You might be thought of as a theologian, and yet, for all that, not learn Christ.

 

I know a great deal about many very famous people. I read their biographies. I know about their habits. I am even aware of some of their family secrets. But I cannot say that I know them. So it is for many concerning Christ. They know all about him, but they have not learned him.

 

Beware of being satisfied with knowing about Christ, yet not knowing him, not learning him. I am very much afraid for many who seem to always be increasing in knowledge, but not in grace. — Nothing is more dangerous to the soul of a man than a barren familiarity with sacred things.

 

Paul’s Meaning

 

What does it mean for a man to learn Christ? — We must learn to know him. To know him is eternal life. This is the knowledge for which Paul gladly suffered the loss of all things. This is the one thing he desired. This is that better part, that one good thing, which Mary chose. —— “That I might know him!

 

I must know Christ personally. I must have an intimate, personal acquaintance with Christ as a real Savior. To learn Christ, to know Christ is to know his heart, his voice, and his ways (Psalm 51:10-13).

 

(Psalm 51:10-13) “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (11) Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. (12) Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit. (13) Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”

 

This is the very essence of all true religion. — It is personally living with a personal Savior, personally trusting a personal Redeemer, personally crying out to a personal Intercessor, personally receiving answers from one who loves us and reveals himself to us as he does not to the world.

 

Spurgeon was exactly right when he said, “To many people, Christ is only a name to bow at, not a person to embrace.”

 

We must know Christ’s nature. We must know who he is. We know that Jesus Christ is God. This is more than a mere doctrinal understanding, or theoretical opinion. We know that Jesus of Nazareth is God, because “his eternal power and Godhead” have been proved in us.

Š      He has taken away from us the mass of sin, which only God could remove.

Š      He has given us the peace of God that passes understanding.

Š      He has taken away from us the heavy burden of guilt that only God could relieve.

Š      He has shown us our true selves by that omniscient power that dwells in God alone.

Š      He has given us the Spirit of adoption, crying, “Abba, Father!

Like Thomas, what we have experienced compels us to cry out, “My Lord, and my God.”

 

I never cared much about reading arguments to prove the deity of Christ. I would as soon read a book which sought to prove the existence of my wife. Christ is my God! This is something that I know for myself. I have tried it, and proved it, and felt its power.

 

Only the most self-willed and deliberately blinded fool would think of denying our Lord’s humanity. But we know his humanity by our personal acquaintance with him.

Š      He has felt for us, as none but a brother born for adversity could feel.

Š      He has watched over our griefs, as only the man of sorrows could.

Š      He has spoken to our hearts such words of cheer, as only a tender companion could.

Š      He succors his tempted ones as only a tempted man could.

 

To us, this is not a matter of doctrine alone. It does not need to be proved. We have seen him for ourselves. We have spoken with him personally (1 John 1:1-3). We not only believe his Word; but our own hearts have tested and proved beyond all question that he is Immanuel — God with us. We have tasted that the Lord is gracious and good!

 

(1 John 1:1-3) “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (2) (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) (3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

 

Another part of the lesson which we must learn is to know Christ in all the offices he bears for us. In our first Sunday School lessons we learned that the Lord Jesus Christ is Prophet, Priest, and King. But now, we know it.

 

I know that Christ is my Prophet, for he has taken away my ignorance and shown me the things of God. Daily, he teaches me the will of God, and guides me into the ways of God.

 

I know that Christ is Priest before God for me as well.

Š      He has fulfilled all righteousness by his perfect obedience to the law.

Š      He has satisfied God’s justice for all my sins by his death.

Š      He intercedes for me in the presence of God.

Š      He washes my polluted soul in his blood.

 

I know that Christ is my King, too, because he has made me willing in the day of his power to bow myself to his gracious rule. My sinful lusts are stubborn and strong; but he subdues my heart by his grace.

 

Do you understand what I am saying? There is many “a master in Israel” like Nicodemus, who does not know these things. It is one thing to fluently talk about theology, but quite another thing to know Christ. Doctors of theology may know many things, and yet never learn Christ. But those who know Christ have been taught of God.

 

There is much more to be found in this text than I can give you. But, I must say this — We have not learned Christ until we know the sweet influences of his person. Learning Christ, we see what charms there are in him; and we feel the power he has over our hearts in all circumstances. — (Song of Solomon — “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!” — “He brought me into his banqueting house, and his banner over me was love!” — “His Lips!” — “His Locks!” — “His Legs!”)

Š      Did you ever feel the power of Christ break your heart?

Š      Have you learned his power to heal the broken hearted?

Š      Has your heart ever become cold and indifferent, only to experience the joy of his grace that warms and revives?

Š      Have you not known what it is to rest your weary soul upon him?

Š      Does he renew your strength day by day?

Š      Do you know what it is to sit with him in heavenly places?

Š      Do you know what it is to feel the beat of his heart?

 

Oh, may God help us to learn Christ in this personal way, by the power of his presence in us! So that we may know what he is to us.

Š      The Foundation upon which we are Built

Š      The Food upon which we Live

Š      The Water by which we are Refreshed

Š      The Righteousness with which we are Clothed

Š      The Hope by which we are Satisfied

Š      The Head to whom we are Members

Š      The Refuge to which we Flee

Š      The Crown for which we Labor

Š      The Holiness without which we Cannot See the Lord

 

We must learn to believe Christ. To learn Christ is to have faith in him. “Everyone therefore that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” To believe Christ is to come to him, like a sick man comes to the doctor, like a hungry man comes to food, like a thirsty man to the well, like a manslayer would flee to the city of refuge.

 

We must learn to love Christ. Can we speak like Peter to our Lord, and say, “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee?” All who have learned Christ love him.

Š      He himself so lovely that all who know him love him. — “Thou art fairer than the children of men” (Psalm 45:2) — “My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand…yea, he is altogether lovely” (Song of Solomon 5:10, 16).

Š      He has been so loving to my soul that I cannot refuse to love him. — “He loved me and gave himself for me.” His is a love that passes all knowledge. None can resist it who have learned it!

 

We must learn to obey Christ. Let us walk not as other men, but walk as we have Christ for an example (John 13:15), as we have learned him. All who have learned Christ, have learned his character, so that they obey his example. This is never perfect, but it is what we most intensely desire, to be conformed unto his image. — This is true godliness. — Imitating Christ!

Š      We imitate him in faith.

Š      We imitate him in love.

Š      We imitate him in kindness.

Š      We imitate him in seeking the glory of God.

 

Not So Learned

 

2nd — Let me briefly show you — How we have not learned Christ. “Ye have not so learned Christ.” There are some people who vainly imagine that they have learned Christ, who yet remain the same as they were before.

Š      Their lives are motivated by the same principles as before – lust and greed.

Š      Their hearts are still fixed upon this world.

Š      They live as selfishly as they did before.

Š      They still trust in themselves, that they are righteous!

Š      That simply cannot be. Those who have learned Christ are new creatures.

 

Some even profess to have so learned Christ as to make excuse for their sin out of the fact that he is so ready to pardon. “Shall we sin that grace may abound? God forbid!” We never hated sin so much as we have since we learned what it cost our Lord to put it away.

 

Some say that they have learned Christ, yet they refuse to obey him. “Ye have not so learned Christ.” God save us from a mere doctrinal knowledge of Christ!

 

How We Learned

 

3rdThe Spirit of God tells us how we have learned Christ. “If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus” (v. 21).

 

We have learned Christ, because we have heard him. Our faith finds its foundation in the Word of God alone. This is the Word of Christ. — “My sheep hear my voice.” We hear his voice by his Word, by the gospel.

Š      It is not enough to hear your pastor, you must hear Christ.

Š      It is not enough to be emotionally stirred, you must hear Christ.

Š      It is not enough to join the church, you must hear Christ.

Š      It is not enough to pray, you must hear Christ.

 

Christ speaks to us personally in the Scriptures. “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life.” And these are they that testify of Christ. The Holy Scriptures are able to make you wise unto salvation. — The Word of God becomes the living Word of the living Savior to our souls, when the Lord Jesus Christ sends his Spirit to reveal himself by his Word (1 Corinthians 2:11, 14).

 

I want to know more of Christ, but the only way to learn Christ more is by living in fellowship with him. “And have been taught by (in him) him.”

 

We can only learn Christ by Christ himself, for the truth is in him. Pilate ask, “What is truth?” Many today ask the same question. I tell you that Christ is the Truth. He is the embodiment of truth. All truth is in him.

Š      He lived the truth.

Š      He is the truth that sets men free, for he is the truth of God.

Š      Study Christ, for to learn him is to learn truth.

 

Study everything in its connection with Christ.

Š      Doctrine without Christ is only an empty tomb.

Š      Commandments without Christ are only impossible precepts.

Š      Experience without Christ is only fanaticism.

 

Application

 

Christ is our Lesson. May God enable us to learn him.

  • He is the lesson that everyone should learn.
  • He is the lesson that anyone may learn. In Christ, “the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err.”
  • He is the lesson that very few do learn.

 

Multitudes are damned eternally for not learning Christ. This is the only damning sin. Whatever we have done wrong, if we learn Christ, it shall be forgiven. Whatever good we have done, unless we have learned Christ, we shall be damned.

  • Christ is the lesson that we learn best on our knees.
  • Learn Christ. — He will sweeten your spirit. — He will arouse your affections. — He will subdue your passions.

 

Prize this lesson above all else.“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and in the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death.”

 

All who are taught of God are in the school of Christ. In the school of Christ, Christ himself is the lesson. And this is what he teaches all the students in his school (Ephesians 4:20-5:2).

 

(Ephesians 4:20-5:2) “But ye have not so learned Christ; (21) If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: (22) That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (23) And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; (24) And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (25) Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. (26) Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (27) Neither give place to the devil. (28) Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (29) Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (30) And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (5:1) Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; (2) And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”

 

Take courage, my brother. Take courage, my sister. Though we have learned so little here, when we see him face to face, in a moment we shall learn Christ. We shall know even as we are known. Oh, it matters little what we will see in heaven. I think that a millennium will pass before I take my eyes off of his blessed face.

 

“Millions of years my wondering eyes

Shall o’er Thy beauties rove;

And endless ages I’ll adore

The glories of Thy love!

 

Haste, my Beloved, fetch my soul

Up to Thy blest abode;

Fly, for my spirit longs to see,

My Savior and my God!”

Isaac Watts

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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