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Bondservants and Masters (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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June 17, 2020 4:00 am

Bondservants and Masters (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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June 17, 2020 4:00 am

When the Spirit of God comes to live within us, it changes everything—especially our relationships. That’s our subject as we continue our study in the book of Ephesians on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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The gospel unites us with an quality that is grounded in our relationship with Christ. So what's our responsibility to those who have authority over us nuts are subject today on Truth for Life has Alistair Begg continues a study called life together were in Ephesians chapter 6 will begin today by reading from a different book of the Bible of a letter called Philemon Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother to Philemon. Our beloved fellow worker and asked for our sister and archivists. Our fellow soldier and the church in your house. Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ that I have derive much joy and comfort from your love my brother because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required. Yet, for love's sake.

I prefer to appeal to.

I call an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus. I appeal to you for my child on SMS whose father I became in my imprisonment. Formerly, he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me I'm sending them back to you sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I prefer to do nothing without your consent. In order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord for this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while that you might have him back forever no longer as a bondservant, but more than a bondservant as a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you both in the flesh and in the Lord. So if you consider me your partner receive him as you would receive me. If he is wrong to et al. arose you and nothing charge that to my account.

I Paul write this with my own hand, I will repay it to say nothing of your owing me. Even your own self yes brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord refreshed my heart in Christ confident of your obedience. I write to you knowing that you will do even more than I say. At the same time prepare a guest room for me, for I'm hoping that through your prayers. I will be graciously given to pathless my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus sends greetings to you as to mark Aristarchus Dimas and Luke my fellow workers.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, amen. When I invite you to turn to no surprise Ephesians chapter 6 and read from verse five bondservant source slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart as you would Christ not by the way of I services people pleasers, but is bondservant's of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart rendering service with a goodwill as to the Lord and not to man knowing that whatever good anyone does this, he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free masters do the same today and start your threatening knowing that he who is both their master and yours is in heaven and that there is no partiality with him.

Well, once again, it is important for us to remind ourselves that when we come to this material that Paul is not writing as it were, just to the man or the woman on the streets of Ephesus, but that he is writing as per the introduction of the latter way back in chapter 1 he is writing to those whom he describes as faithful in Christ Jesus. Those who later on in chapter 5, he reminds are light in the Lord.

Those who were once darkness, he says you are now light in the Lord and in the 18th verse of chapter 5.

Those who are not getting drunk with wine but who instead are being filled with the Holy Spirit and as they are filled with the Holy Spirit. These brothers and sisters in Ephesus, and indeed all the readers of this letter in Christ are learning what it means to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Now I belabor the point expressly because it is very possible to come to any portion of the Bible in such a way as to miss the fact that the Bible is ultimately to introduce us to Jesus to introduce us to Jesus as the one who has done for us what we could never do for ourselves, both in living the life that God intends and then dying death in the place of sinners and that it is in our awareness of who Jesus is and what Jesus is done that. We are then able to come to the places of application and recognize that this is not simply a form of moralism. Do this and do that and don't do this and don't do that, but rather it is the dynamic of the work of the Spirit of God quickening those who are the faithful in Christ and enabling us to become what God intends for us to be. He has describes these individuals are back again in chapter 1 as those who have Herod the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation and have believed that not everybody who is here the word of truth has actually understood what is being said and maybe you, you've been listening for a while, but you never actually come personally to believe you haven't settled the matter of whether this really is truth and whether this is a matter of great and eternal significance of God is at work and he will accomplish his purposes, but to those who have understood what Paul is saying here, then you will of realized what these individuals realize to namely that when the Spirit of God comes to live in the life of an individual.

It changes everything and it changes, particularly the way in which a person thinks first of all, the way in which we think and that is the point that Paul is making and that is why he has narrowed down to these three crucial areas of life for everybody. Nothing more significant than the issue of husband-and-wife or the challenges of parent and child or as we now come to this morning the area of industrial relations or human resources and the everyday events of life in which some report to others and others are in charge of them so let's be clear about that.

The gospel changes our view of things and it is a change that is a wonderful change but it is a radical change member, we often quote CS Lewis when he says I believe in Christianity as I believe in the rising of the sun, not simply because I can see it, but because by it.

I can see everything else so that the gospel changes our view of marriage changes our understanding of what it means to be a wife or a child or an employer or an employee and here in this paragraph that we begin this morning in verse five he is dealing with the impact of the Christian faith in the workplace are right now, the ESV uses bondservant's. If you have the same translation as I have.

You will notice that it is a little one there.

Then at the bottom of the pages translating the Greek noun due loss than it refers us to the preface, and so on it. It simply means slaves slaves and he is addressing those who are slaves and he's addressing those who are the masters of the slaves another verify that he's doing so indicates something to his immediately. Namely, that within the congregation in Ephesus, presumably sitting side-by-side as this letter was given its first reading where those who were to be found in each category. Those whose role in life was within the servitude of a bondservant, and those who were in the position of having slaves within their home now when we come to this, it is immediately a challenge for many of us certainly is for me to make sure that I am not immediately sidetracked in dealing with this by viewing this material through the prism of the Civil War, of immediately coming to this and seem to contextualize it in light of hundred and 50 years ago when we are confronted with the horrendous nature of circumstances here in our own nation. For those of us who have lived in a country where slavery has been abolished for more than a century and 1/2. We recognize that it is hard to conceive how the ownership of another person could be countenanced in this way. So let's just acknowledge that I had and the challenge that is represented in it in coming to the text. The easy thing for me to do is simply to say you will notice that this is bondservant it could be translated slaves. What it actually means is employers so let's talk about employers and let's talk about employees but you're too smart for that because you're sitting there going I will wait a minute, there's an underlying question here that needs to be addressed and so I want to do something with her this morning I want to tell you that have been greatly help to know that I read novels and I've told you in the past of the novels by the author Robert Harris, and particularly his as Cicero trilogy written concerning life in the Roman Empire and the voice in those novels is the voice of tearful, who is Cicero's slave, and as he serves in the home of Cicero. He asked serves. First of all, for the majority of his life as a slave and then as a free man. But even after he is granted his freedom by Cicero. He remains within the context of Cicero's home to serve him because of the relationship that exists between them and the relationship that existed between them was that of master and slave without question, but in actual terms tearful was neither socially nor physically, or economically deprived on Julie. In that context, and he was like thousands millions actually of slaves at that time in the Roman Empire.

So the context in which Paul writes is much more that context, then our contacts this morning, or even our context hundred and 50 years ago or 200 years ago is been estimated that at this time about 35% of the population in the Roman Empire comprise those who were bondservant's or slaves. So if you think about that you realize how fundamentally important these individuals were in the tasks that they fulfilled for the well-being of the empire. There is no question that many of them are treated brutally, cruelly, and so on. But the fact is, to quote Westerman of an earlier era, the institution of slavery was a fact of Mediterranean economic life so completely accepted as a part of the labor structure of the time that one cannot correctly speak of the slave problem in antiquity. In other words, you can speak of it simply in problematic terms when you're dealing with that era. Given all that was represented in and just parenthetically, we need to recognize that there was no racial component in the Roman Empire.

There was nothing of that which was as reprehensible as what was being tackled in America in the Civil War.

So again I say to you when you come to this. Do not start from there and then try and read this in light of that, rather read this and then once we come to terms with this, then we locate, we can begin to apply this to that, whatever that may be. I hope that is straightforward to note the fact that Paul addresses the bond service of the slaves. In this way is actually in keeping with Westerman's assessment that they were responsible members of the Christian community and the appeals to them as such. Now resisting the temptation to just make a quantum leap into hours, I was your boss been treating you right lately and have you been turning up for work in on time, and so on, which are all matters of importance before we get to that. Let's acknowledge.

First of all what I have had to acknowledge as a been studying this week that the most striking thing. First of all, for me is what Paul doesn't say and find the most striking thing for me is what the New Testament doesn't say think about. He does not say to the slaves. Now that you are a Christian you are free of your obligation to your master.

He does not say to the masters now that you're a Christian, you must set your slaves free. Just think about that for a moment is important symbolism. Paul, the one who wrote in Galatians 3 that in Christ there is neither bondservant nor free man, there is neither slave nor master.

There is neither male nor female, there is neither Greek or barbarian or Jew or salient or blonder free that one is all in all is one and saw this, he wrote up what was he talking about their you talk about what it means to be saved. You talk about the nature of salvation.

If you think about it logically, you realize, of course, there were Jews and of course, of the Gentiles.

Of course there were masters and of course there were slaves what he saying is what we often say and does that is that that men and women are equal in the sight of God but men and women are not equal is a silly thing to say record ratio to your car and we are not equal.

You will beat me for sure I can play about three notes on the piano. You can play the entire piano were not equal no inner sight of God. He has made us, and in Jesus there is an equality that is grounded in salvation but that reality does not alter the social, economic aspects of our existence.

And so when you come to this, you realize that Paul is not calling for the abolition of slavery be subject to your masters with all respect not only to the good and the gentle but also to the unjust, that's not Paul that's Peter in first Peter two is doing the same thing he says to these believers that if you want to commend the gospel.

This is what your to do your to be subject to your masters, you're not involved in insurrection God has instituted a structure in the world and that structure is there and this is the part that you play well.

My only supposed to be kind and nice and good and subservient.

If the person is a good and a gentle master no. Even if he or she is in unjust master okay to observations one it when I say practically speaking, and the other theologically speaking, and will spend the balance of our time theologically not practically okay. Practically speaking, Paul was in no position to bring about the abolition of slavery. He couldn't of done it if he had suggested to these individuals that they operate in a different way from that which was expected within the framework of the Empire, then surely would have had an impact in some way in some small way, but 35% of the population were involved in slavery. There was no way in fact the reverse would've been the case.

Not only would have had very little impact on the practice but it may well practically have precipitated the extermination of the fledgling church because what we know we don't know much. Many of us know what we know of the Roman Empire were thinking here in terms of Nero is not Mr. nice guy who's in charge of the place only know the Roman Empire is that whenever something went wrong in the Roman Empire who got the blame the Christians.

This, it is the Christians. The Christians are atheists. Why would they say Christians are atheists because the Christians did not believe in all the gods that were in the pantheon, and since they didn't believe in all the gods in the pantheon, then there is atheists and as a result of that, the pressure that was on them was significant. If Christianity that in that context had taken up if you like, or taken on the institution of slavery than the Roman Empire would've just crushed it into oblivion and all the power to do so.

She God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea and the rides upon the storm is why I pray this morning concerning North Korea. We would we we trust and hope and pray that the news that will eventually come out of North Korea is that all the church has been brutalized and driven underground that it may actually have been thriving.

Although we know nothing of it at all. Certainly that was true of the cultural Revolution. The church is barred in the gates closed and the Christians driven underground and everybody would've said well if it was only different from that that it would've flourished greatly. God knows the expansion of the church in the first three centuries was a church that expanded under persecution. In practical terms, we could make those observations listing to Truth for Life. Today's message is titled bond servants, and masters in a series called life together. Hope you can join us each day for this study. If you ever miss a message. Keep in mind the entire archive of Alistair's past teaching is available free of or on the Truth for Life mobile app letters and emails come to us from people all around the world telling us how grateful they are for these options for listing but there thanks doesn't really belong to us belongs to the team of faithful truth partners who give a set amount each month because it's true them that God provides the means to cover the production and distribution expenses for this program. Today I want to ask you to join this essential team and when you become a true partner would love to send you a copy of a new book by pastor and author Tim Savage titled discovering the good life. We live in a world that often seems like a dark and broken place, but the world Jesus stepped into 2000 years ago was every bit as dark and every bit as broken. Jesus brought light into that world and he offers us as his followers something no one else can offer abundant life discovering the good life beautifully maps out the path from sin and death to the new and abundant life available through Jesus death and resurrection. If you're looking to deepen your faith or encourage a friend who's been asking questions about Jesus. The book discovering the good life is for you. Alastair describes this is a book that teaches refreshers and even surprises.

Be sure to request your copy when you become a true partner today or when you make a generous one time donation go to partner or call 88858878841 less resource to mention before we conclude we have put together a special collection of Bible teaching that we want to make available to you.

This is a USB titled 10 years of favorites an extensive collection of Alistair's most popular messages from the past 10 years. The best part is the price. This valuable compilation is yours for only five dollars and the shipping is free. You can order your copy of the 10 years of Bob Lapine hope you can join us Thursday as we continue our message titled, bond servants, and masters were learning how the gospel transforms our relationships with others in every aspect of our lives. The Bible teaching of Alastair Bragg is furnished by Truth for Life or the Learning is for Living

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