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Sermon #66 — Ephesians Sermons

 

Title:                           Redeeming the Time

 

Text:                           Ephesians 5:15-16

Subject:                     Using the Time We have for Christ

Date:                          Tuesday Evening — April 25, 2017

Readings:     Bobbie Estes and Mark Henson

Introduction:

 

You will find my text in the 5th chapter of Ephesians ⸺ (Ephesians 5:16). Throughout this chapter of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul is giving us direction and instruction for walking as children of light, as we make our pilgrimage through this world. He states his case both positively and negatively. Paul plainly tells us that there are some things that the children of light should not do; and there are certain things that we must carefully adhere to. “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light.”

 

As children of light, we are to prove what the will of the Lord is in our daily conversation. And we are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.” Because we are constantly in danger of foolishly sleeping away the hours of the day, Paul exhorts us to diligence, saying ⸺ “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” Then, in verses 15 and 16, he tells us how to walk in the light.

 

(Ephesians 5:15-16) “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, (16) Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

 

If we would “walk circumspectly, not as fools,” we must redeem the time the Lord God gives us in this world. What a solemn word we have before us in our text. What a needful exhortation this is.

 

(Ephesians 5:16) “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

 

That is my subject. — REDEEMING THE TIME.” Our text does not simply say, “redeeming time.” That would have been a very wise statement. Time is a precious thing. But notice carefully what Paul says, “Redeeming the time.” He uses the definite article “the,” calling our attention specifically to “the time” God has given us, “the time” of our life. It is the space of our opportunity that we must redeem.

 

The text could be read like this — Buying up the opportunity. As believers, we should not wait for opportunity to fall into our laps. We must buy the opportunity. What does this mean?

 

A Price

 

In buying anything a price must be paid. We part with one thing to obtain another. Merchants will not refuse to pay any price for such goods as they think will be profitable to them. So, the Spirit of God here tells us not refuse to part with any temporary convenience to buy “the time” our God gives us in the days of our lives. Time is such a precious commodity, so useful for the eternal glory of Christ and the souls of men, that we should spend any ease, carnal pleasure, or worldly convenience that we may buy it.

 

Here’s something else. ⸺ That which is purchased belongs to the buyer. Therefore, buy time to make it your own for spiritual advantage. Our translation uses the word redeeming.” That implies another metaphor. It speaks of the recovery of a loss, the redeeming of that which has been lost, or pawned. Paul is obviously referring to our former misuse of time, when we were children of darkness. In the days of our unregeneracy, before God saved us, we lost so much of our time to Satan, to the world, and to vanity. Let us now employ every means to redeem it.

 

Again, this word, “time,” properly signifies the opportunity, or season. We must not let the opportunity, the season, slip away. ⸺ “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men” (Galatians 6:10). There are special seasons and opportunities for doing specific things.

Š      Carnal Things

Š      Spiritual Things

The opportunities are not long. Therefore, we must buy up the opportunity.

 

The Reason

 

Why should we be concerned about “redeeming the time?” Paul tells us, “because the days are evil.” This may refer to the whole course of person’s life.“Jacob said to Pharaoh, the days of the years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been” (Genesis 47:9). Our days in this world are few in themselves, but especially so in comparison with eternity. And they are evil in regard to sin and misery. In heaven, they are neither few nor evil. Here, it is a mercy that they are few, because they are evil. We can all say with the Savior ⸺ “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34).

 

The days in which Paul lived and served Christ were days of great wickedness and much evil. And they were days of great persecution. This is one of Paul’s “Prison Epistles”. His message to us is this: Since there is great danger and wickedness in these days, since there is so much evil in these days, see that you buy up every opportunity for the glory of Christ.

 

Proposition: The Holy Ghost here teaches us that in the evil days in which we live, we are to buy up every opportunity to serve and honor our God and Savior, to serve the interests of his gospel, his church, and his kingdom, and to serve his people, every opportunity to do them good.

 

Time is one of the most valuable and precious things in the world. Once it is lost, it can never be regained. It is neither stopped nor prolonged. Let us buy up our time. It is wise to do God’s work in God’s time. We all soon grow old and die. So, we must seize the opportunity before us. We must redeem the time we have.

 

Listen to the words of our Lord Jesus.“I must work the works of him that sent me whilst it is day, the night cometh when no man can work” (John 9:4, 11:9). This is the time of our opportunity. Let us use it for Christ.

 

We frequently complain, “These are bad times.” That complaint should be turned into a reason to redeem the time. The worse the times the more diligent we should be. Stars shine brightest in the darkest night. This pleasure mad generation wastes time. Believers should be careful to redeem it. Let us “shine as lights in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation” (Philippians 2:15). God’s children are best in the worst of times. Let us not complain of the evil times. Instead, labor to reclaim the time and make it better. Let us, by “redeeming the time,” live for eternity. ⸺ “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5). The period of time that has been allotted us, wherein we may serve the Lord our God, his cause, and his people is brief, very brief. Therefore, let us redeem the time.

 

Two little lines I heard one day,

Traveling along life’s busy way;

Bringing conviction to my heart,

And from my mind would not depart;

Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Only one life, yes only one,

Soon will its fleeting hours be done;

Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,

And stand before His Judgment seat;

Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Divisions: Give me your attention, and I will give you my message by answering three questions.

1.    What does the Spirit of God tell us to redeem?

2.    Why should we redeem the time?

3.    How can we redeem the time?

 

What?

 

1stWhat does the Spirit of God tell us to redeem? The answer is plainly given in our text ⸺ “Redeeming the time.” Here the Apostle tells us that we are to carefully take advantage of the time that we have and employ every opportunity for the glory of God.

 

It is wise for men to redeem the time they have in this life. Each of us have the space of the days of this life to do good for our immortal souls. The days of a man’s life are but a preparation for eternity. This is the only opportunity you have for the great work and business of your everlasting soul. How foolish it is to waste this time. Be wise and redeem the time.

 

Some of you are not yet converted. You are lost, without Christ. The wrath of God abides upon you. And the days of your life upon this earth are passing away. Redeem the time. Up to this point, the days of your life have been wastefully spent in sin. Repent, and be converted now and buy the time. Trust Christ, and redeem the time!

 

The sooner you begin to buy the time, the better the bargain you will have. Every man wants to have the most can get for his money. Therefore, you young boys and girls, young men and women, should take the market while it is best. ⸺ “Remember now thy Creator, in the days of thy youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Š      You parents ought to frequently press upon your children the claims of Christ, the brevity of life, and the reality of eternity.

Š      Young men and women, I would to God that I could make you see the misery and pain that sin brings. Then you would flee to Christ today.

Š      The sooner a child is converted the better.

 

A small twig is more easily bent than a strong tree. We grow stiff and hardened by habitual sin. ⸺ “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then ye also may do good, that are accustomed to evil” (Jeremiah 13:23).

Š      The earlier a child is converted, the greater is his opportunity for serving God.

Š      You cannot begin too soon in your journey to heaven.

Š      There is great honor to God and to others when we trust God sooner than later.

 

The Apostle took notice of those who were in Christ before him. Is it not a mighty act of God’s grace to free a young man from the slavery of sin and Satan? Is God only worthy of the days of weakness and old age? ⸺ “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.”

 

Some of you have already lost the time of your youth. You must now redeem the time, because there is little time left. Turn to Christ this hour; and buy up the days that remain.

 

But Paul is here speaking to believers. Children of God, our whole time should be spent for God and redeemed for his glory. May God grant “that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life” (Luke 1:74-75).

Š      We must not serve God now and then; but our entire life, our whole time is God’s. ⸺ “He that liveth, he liveth unto God” (Romans 6:10).

Š      God’s glory must be the ultimate end of all our actions. Our worship, our work, and even our recreation should be to the honor of our God. ⸺ “The life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Š      Christ died for us that we might live unto him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 1 Peter 4:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 19-20; 10:31; Colossians 3:17).

 

(2 Corinthians 5:14-15) “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: (15) And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

 

(1 Peter 4:1-2) “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; (2) That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”

 

(1 Corinthians 6:9-11) “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

 

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”

 

(1 Corinthians 10:31) “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

 

(Colossians 3:17) “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

 

Night and day, in labor and in leisure, in religion and in recreation, use your time for the glory of God.

Š      Buy up the time of worship for God’s glory.

Š      Buy up the time of your employment for God’s glory.

Š      Buy up the time of your home for God’s glory.

Š      Buy up the time of your recreation for God’s glory.

When Paul admonishes us to be redeeming the time, he is telling us to buy up every opportunity and season.But there are special opportunities of receiving and doing good. We must buy them up.We should buy up every opportunity of receiving good from God.

 

There are certain times when God makes nearer approaches to sinners than at other times. God’s times are not at the beck and call of sinners. He says, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). ⸺ “While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may be children of the light” (John 12:36). ⸺ “Turn ye at my reproof. Behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you; I will make known my words unto you” (Proverbs 1:23).

 

It is a dangerous and foolish thing to let conviction die, as Felix stifled the pricks of his conscience. No iron is so hard as that which has been often heated and often cooled; and none are so hardened in sin as those who have lost the advantage of conviction.

 

Children of God, we should be sensitive to the times when God speaks to us. Buy up the opportunity of receiving good from him.

Š      When he draws, let us run after him.

Š      When he knocks, let us open to him.

Š      When the waters are stirred, we should step in for cure.

 

God does, as it were, sometimes, call us by name, speaking to our case and condition. Oh, that we would buy up such opportunity. If we do not, it shall be our great loss. When the church would not open to her Beloved, it cost her afterwards many a weary step and bitter sigh.

 

We should also buy up every opportunity to receive good from men. When God gives us the company of godly and wise men, we should seek to profit by their company. How foolish some are who absent themselves from the preaching of the gospel, losing the opportunity when God might speak to them.

 

Far too often we miss opportunity of serving God by simply refusing to redeem the time.

Š      Many times, we are influenced by the Holy Spirit to do a certain thing; but we put it off and miss our opportunity.

Š      When God speaks to us, we should respond to him. ⸺ “When thou saidest, seek ye my face, my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8).

 

The Apostle Paul went from place to place, as God moved upon his heart, doing the will of God. God’s work must be done by God’s man, in God’s place, and in God’s time.

Š      Who knoweth whether thou art come into the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

Š      Paul and Onesimus

Š      David and Goliath ⸺ “Is there not a cause?

 

If we would do good to the souls of men, it must be while we have the opportunity. ⸺“A word spoken in due season, how good it is” (Proverbs 15:23). Everything is beautiful in its season. When God gives us opportunity to speak or to do something for the good of another, we must buy it up.

 

Why?

 

2ndWhy must we redeem the time? Writing to the Corinthians, Paul said…

 

(1 Corinthians 7:29-32) “This I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; (30) And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; (31) And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away. (32) But I would have you without carefulness.”

 

As believers, you and I need to be constantly reminded that the time is short. Hear the words of inspiration, and ask God to burn them in your heart. ⸺ “The time is short.” We have but a short time. The time that we have in this world is very short. The whole life of a man is very short. It is but a short journey from the cradle to the grave.

Š      “The days of our years are threescore years and then; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away.”

Š      “All flesh is grass.” The rich and beautiful are like the flower of the field, a little fairer, a little more delicate, but all are like the grass. “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass” (Isaiah 40:7).

Š      “What is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14).

Š      “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle” (Job 7:6). “My days are swifter than a post; they flee away…They are passed away as the swift ships; as the eagle that hasteth to the prey” (Job 9:25-26).

 

We should redeem the time, because so much time has been lost already.

Š      Most of us wasted the substance of our lives with riotous living for many years.

Š      The time since I came among you as the servant of Christ seems to me like only a few days; but 37 years are now behind us. My heart aches to realize how little has been done for the glory of Christ!

 

The days that are now left to us for the service of Christ are all numbered. Let us, therefore, redeem the time.

Š      All of you have a certain number of Sundays and Tuesdays left. The number of sermons you are yet to hear are fixed.

Š      Your years and days are numbered.

Š      For some of us, this is the last year that we will see upon the earth. Some of us have probably already celebrated our last birthday.

Š      Your grave is marked, and mine. The time is short. In a little while I will stand before your coffin, or you will stand before mine.

 

Since the time is short, let us both be warned and alarmed. We have but a short time in this world. How shall we spend that time? Knowing the shortness of time, we have none to waste. It is necessary to have some recreation and relaxation as diversions from the strain of labor and anxiety. But we were not redeemed to live for pleasure. We were redeemed to live for Christ.

 

The time for salvation is short.“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). My friend, you have but a short time to repent and believe the gospel. Many of you have lived long in indecision. It is high time for you to awake out of your deadly sleep and be saved.

 

The time for service is short.

Š      We cannot afford to lose our time in senseless talk, idle gossip, and domestic scandals.

Š      We cannot afford to lose our time debating fine points of religious controversy.

Š      We cannot afford to lose our time with the many trivialities that entertain other men.

Š      The time is short; let us be admonished to singleness of purpose.

 

Those who preach the gospel ought, above all other people, to redeem the time for the single purpose of uplifting the name of Christ to this perishing generation of eternity-bound souls!

Š      Spend out the days of your life for the glory of Christ.

Š      Seek opportunities of serving Christ’s kingdom.

Š      Souls are perishing around you. Seek to do them good and win them to Christ.

 

The time for study is short.“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.”

 

The time for suffering is short.“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receiveth the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:7-8).

 

Not only must we redeem our time because of its shortness. We must redeem the time because the days are evil.

Š      These are days in which men are tempted on every side to live only for the pleasures of this life. Let us buy the opportunity to make them aware of eternity — of their souls — of God and Christ — of heaven and hell.

Š      These are days of great sin, evil, and irreverence. Let us buy up every opportunity to declare unto men the righteousness of God.

Š      These are times when all the foundations of society are crumbling. Let us buy up the opportunity of laying before men the foundation for their souls — Christ’s righteousness and redeeming blood.

Š      These are times when men are perishing for want of knowledge. Let us point them to the way of life.

Š      These are times of sinful rebellion and anarchy. Let us declare the sovereignty and crown rights of King Jesus.

 

How?

 

3rdHow can I redeem the time? Paul tells us to redeem the time, to buy up the opportunity, to ransom the season. But how can this be done? I will give you just two brief words of direction.

 

First, if we would redeem the time, we must live in the constant realization of the brevity of life.“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

 

All of that time which is not spent for Christ is lost time. ⸺ “He that liveth in pleasure is dead while he liveth.” Our time is not ours to dispose of as we will. A believer is one who has given up himself entirely to God. And that includes our time. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ.” That is — my life is Christ’s.

 

We have no time that cannot be serviceable to God, our Savior. Morning, evening, and night, we should ask ourselves, “What can I do for Christ?” We have a great deal of work to do, and a short time to do it in.

 

There is much to do. Let us spend our time in matters of most concern. We complain of the shortness of time; and, yet, we all have more time than we use well. We should complain over the waste of time, rather than the lack of time. When you hear the clock strike, it might be well to remind yourself — “Now I have another hour for which to answer.” When you go to bed at night, put this searching question to your heart — “What have I done today? The day is gone. What has been done for the glory of God and the souls of men?”

 

Second, since time is so short and so precious, if we would redeem the time, we must live in a manner that is detached from all things in this world. Let us be as much detached from the dearest objects of this world as we may prudently be. ⸺ It remaineth that those that have wives be as though they had none. Though marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled, a married believer must be in some respects as though he were not married. This is true of all earthly relations.

 

David Brainard spoke of a believing woman who was resigned to God in the most tender areas. She was asked, “What if God would take away your husband. How do you think you could bear that?” She replied, “He belongs to God and not to me. He may do with him just what he pleases.” When she longed to die, to be free from sin, she was asked what would become of her infant son. She said, “God will take care of him. He belongs to God.”

 

Samuel Rutherford gave this advice. “Build your nest upon no tree here: for you see, God hath sold the forest to death, and every tree whereon we would rest is ready to be cut down, to the end that we may flee and mount up, and build upon the Rock, and dwell in the holes of the Rock.”

 

We must learn to lean upon Christ alone. We must be willing to part with your dearest companion, and still cling to Christ.

 

We must be detached from the sorrows of this world, too.They that weep, as though they wept not.” This world is a vale of tears. There are always some that weep. No sooner is the tear dried up on one cheek than it trickles down the other. No sooner does one widow lay aside her vail than another takes it up. But we live in the expectation of a world that knows no sorrow (2 Corinthians 4:15 – 5:1).

 

(2 Corinthians 4:15-5:1) “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. (16) For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. (17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (18) While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (1) For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

 

And we must be detached from the joys of this world.“They that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not.” It is right for us to use this world and to enjoy it. But we must pursue Christ, not happiness or even joy.

 

We must be detached from the possessions of this world.“They that buy as though they possessed not.” Whatever we may possess, we possess only as stewards.

Š      Use what God has given you for the glory of God.

Š      Be ready, at a moment’s notice, to part with all you have for a greater inheritance.

It is proper to use this world. But we dare not abuse it. Use all things. But use them in moderation. The Lord is at hand. The time is short.

 

We live for eternity; all things in this world are passing away and coming to an end, so let us be detached from all things.“The fashion of this world passeth away.” This present world is passing away. We are living in a world where everything is temporal. Anyone who does not realize that is willfully ignorant. Everything around us is decaying and dying.

Š      Every one of us is dying.

Š      Your beauty is decaying.

Š      Your strength is fading.

Š      Your riches are soon to vanish.

Š      This entire world and everything in it, as we now see it, will soon be gone.

 

There is a promised world that is rapidly approaching.“Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2 Peter 3:13-14). ⸺ “You who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know no God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).

 

When Christ comes in his glory, all the earth and all wicked men shall be consumed by him.

Š      His coming is certain.

Š      His coming will be sudden.

Š      His coming may be at any time.

 

When the Lord Jesus Christ has brought the last scene to the theater of this world, and folded it up as a garment, he will create a new heavens and new earth.

Š      That new earth shall be real.

Š      It shall be full of righteousness.

Š      The new earth and all who inhabit it shall be eternal.

We should live in the expectation of this new creation, of which Christ is the glory. Count nothing dearer now than you will count it in eternity! ⸺ “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).

 

Application

 

Let all who love the name of Christ be — “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Š      Seek the honor of God.

Š      Seek the good of his kingdom.

Š      Seek the good of perishing souls.

Š      Seek his will and do it.

Š      Keep your heart in love to Christ and in anticipation of heaven.

 

C. T. Studd was converted when he was 16 years old. He became a very famous cricket player at Cambridge and graduated at the top of his class. After he graduated from Cambridge he went to China as a missionary under the oversight of Hudson Taylor. When asked why he did son, Studd answered, “Some want to live within the sound of a chapel bell. I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”

 

After serving for ten years in China, he went to India, where he labored for seven years. Then he and his family moved to Africa. Studd died in Africa, at the age of seventy, having spent most of his adult life in missionary service: ten years in China, seven years in India, and roughly twenty years in Africa. The pioneering missionary work he did was rigorous. But it was fueled by a simple and sincere conviction. He said, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.”

 

His unwavering commitment to serve Christ no matter the cost is perhaps best captured in the words of that well-known poem he wrote, which I read to you when I began my message. It might be more meaningful now.

 

Two little lines I heard one day,

Traveling along life’s busy way;

Bringing conviction to my heart,

And from my mind would not depart;

Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Only one life, yes only one,

Soon will its fleeting hours be done;

Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,

And stand before His Judgment seat;

Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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