Wednesday, April 6, 2022

A Conversation around some of the Causes of & Key Solutions for Depression

Some Collected & Edited thoughts 

by 

Marc S. Blackwell, Sr.

The following are supportive notes designed for use with a small group discussion or with a mentorship conversation. They are not meant for direct use with or by depressed persons. Rather, these notes and thoughts are for mentally and spiritually preparing the strategy of a spiritual leader who may have opportunity to be an encouragement. Comforting someone facing one of the many causes lurking behind life's 'scenes' comes from the God of all comfort and through the comfort we as believers have received. These thoughts are not meant to dominate but rather challenge your thinking as a spiritual leader.

Depression affects everyone. Men, women, rich and poor, famous and successful; Everyone is affected by it .... Christian and non-Christian! Even the severely depressed can be totally "cured" if the condition is identified early enough. It is important to heed the early warning signs of depression and act immediately. It is important to remember that once a person starts becoming depressed, he or she usually behaves in a manner that reinforces their own depression.

Depression in itself is not sin. It is a symptom of something disturbing the balance in your life. There are many causes for depression as you will see in the list below. The cause may be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. Read Genesis 4:4 –7 to see that sins – such as jealousy and/ or anger, etc. can lead to depression (2 Cor. 10:12-13; Hebrews 13:5; Psalm 37; John 14:1-6; 15-27). Challenges (with accompanying stress or fears) such as that found in 1 Konings 19:9-15 can also lead to depression. Unresolved conflict also leads to depression – read the story around Daniel 4: 33-35 (1 Samuel 18:10).

The “dynamic of depression” is outlined in Proverbs 5:21-23, as well. The cords of his own sin hold the depressed person in – instruction is too easily rejected – usually as impractical or too difficult! Matter’s spiral downward – step for step. The responses found in Romans 5:2-6 and 1 Peter 1:1-11 for reversing the downward spiral and leading to upward step by step growth are not taken seriously enough! Right Thinking: Romans 6:11 and 1 Cor. 6:9-11 is essential – as is right actions! In spite of feelings – right actions, choices and attitudes – while working together with others and using self-discipline to do what is right and true must be faithfully practiced. Elation is not the goal! Over-reaction and pendulum lifestyles do not help overcome depression!

What is depression?

Though s major simplification, I suggest (for the purposes of our conversations) that: A depressed person will have some of the following characteristics, but not all of them. A depressed person feels hopelessness, despair, sadness and apathy. It is a feeling of overall gloom. Paralysis of the will sets in, and there is a movement toward feelings of hopelessness. The depressed person loses perspective on life, work and family. The depressed person experiences changes in physical activities––appetite, sleeping and sex. Some lose interest in food while others attempt to set a world record at gouging themselves. Some sleep constantly; others cannot get to sleep easily, or wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep. The depressed have a general loss of self-esteem. He or she feels less and less positive about himself or herself, and questions his or her own personal value.

Their self–confidence is almost always quite low. There is a withdrawal from others because of a groundless fear of being rejected. The depressed person’s withdrawal brings on some rejection by others. They cancel favourite activities, they fail to return phone calls, and they seek ways to avoid talking with or seeing others. The depressed person seeks to escape from problems and even from life itself. Thoughts of leaving home, running away or avoidance of others is common. They feel life is hopeless and worthless. Therefore, suicidal thoughts may be entertained. The depressed person is overly sensitive to what others say and do. He or she may misinterpret actions and comments in a negative way and become irritable because of those mistaken perceptions.

The person cries often. The depressed person has difficulty handling his feelings. Anger is especially difficult since it can be misdirected toward self and others. A sense of worthlessness and lack of knowing how to deal with a situation produces anger at oneself. This can be directed outward at others. There is usually an underlying feeling of guilt that may be real or imagined. Frequently he feels overly responsible for other people’s feelings. Often depression leads to a dependency state upon other people. This further reinforces a feeling of helplessness. The depressed person then becomes angry at his own helplessness.

Causes of Depression

The common thread that underlies much of depression is a sense of loss. This sense of loss may be real or imagined. Simple things like not eating properly and not getting proper rest can cause depression. A reaction to certain drugs can affect a person’s moods. All drugs affect the body and the mental processes in some way. If a drug results in the brain or nervous system toxicity, extreme depression could be the result. Toxic depression results when a person takes too much of a drug or sedative over an extended time. This kind of depression and drug toxicity will clear up in a day or so after the drug is no longer in the system. If you become depressed while taking a medication consult your pastor-counsellor and your medical doctor. Let them guide you together.

The following are some physical causes of depression: hepatitis, hypoglycaemia, infections, physiological brain or nervous system disorders. Others such as glandular disorders, low thyroid, hyperthyroidism, excessive ovarian hormonal irregularities can cause depression. Repressed anger turned inward upon oneself will lead to depression. Reactive depression, or grief reaction, occurs after the loss of a loved one, job or some important opportunity is very common. This usually lessens with time. The loss of a close friend or relative brings on this kind of emotional reaction. Biochemical or endogenous depression is caused by a disturbance in the body’s chemical system – though the world’s current fixation on these imbalances is often in itself an imbalanced and yet unscientific response in so many cases.(See Encouraging Hope: MSB Sr, Session I Facilitating Life-Responses.) Negative and faulty thinking is the root of most depression.

Low self–esteem (also a misguided issue in our modern society – See Adams, Jay, The Biblical View of Self-Esteem, Self-love and Self-Image) may cause or rather reinforce and intensify depression. Unrealistic expectations cause depression. Excessive self–pity leads to depression. This in turn reinforces a poor self-concept and further aggravates the depression. If your behaviour is contrary to your moral standards or your value system this can result in depression. It produces real guilt, and guilt is a component in depression. Success, achieving a high goal, gaining a valued position with the demands for higher level of performance can be threatening and lead to depression. Postpartum “blues” after the birth of a child may lead to depression. Physical exhaustion can contribute to depression. Look over the above list of causes of depression and see if you can think of anything that might be causing you to become depressed. It is often a sign that your body needs rest and refreshment after a period of strain. Obey this sign as you would a sign of pain or hunger.

Some Basic Principles in Handling Depression

Get rid of your grudges on a daily basis (Ephesians 4:26). Don’t “let the sun go down on your wrath”! Use today’s Healthy anger – disappointments – sense of righteous indignation to motivate you to resolve the angry feelings or issues with that other person. Resolve your bitterness, hurts and anger on a daily basis. Live your life motivated around Good Thoughts – Philippians 4:8,9 and bring everything to the Lord in PRAYER – trusting Him – leaving matters to Him to resolve and stay focused on serving the Lord and the good of others!

Do all you can do to resolve family conflicts. "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" (Romans 12:18). Do your part to be at peace with every member of your family. Each week, preferably each day, find something that you can do for a special person. Go out of your way to reach out to someone in need. Commit yourself to an intimate love relationship with Jesus Christ. Glorify Jesus Christ, your Lord, with your daily life. "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).

Become involved in a small group Bible study or share group. Take time to fellowship with one or two committed Christians of the same sex. Spend time each day meditating on God’s Word and applying it to your everyday life. (Read: Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1; Psalm 100 & 119). Be personally involved in something that will still be worthwhile to you a million years from now. Have a daily routine that brings personal satisfaction to you and that will glorify God through your life. Depression is a common ailment shared by many people. It is not unusual, and it's not permanent. Never accept any present mood as permanent. You can return to the person you were or better – the person God is busy making you – even having learned more of Him and His will through this negative experience. Never give up!

I understand depression as a symptom of something that is out of balance in your life. Always look at depression as a warning signal from your body telling you some aspect of your life is out of adjustment. You should remember that you could be having more than one source for your depression: physical illness (diagnosed by a competent medical practitioner); stress – work, family – personal goals {possibly too high?]; spiritual and experiential (loss of a loved one, new environment or challenge.)

How can I help myself get through depression on a day–to–day basis? The following tips for handling depression have been used by a large number of people who have found them helpful.

On a day–to–day basis we all have our own methods for getting through the worst times as best we can. Sometimes these things work, sometimes they don't. Just keep trying different ones until you find some techniques that work for you. These ideas should not rule out getting professional help from a conservative, Bible-believing Christian counsellor { thought these are somewhat rare). If your depression is life threatening, or lasts a couple of weeks, have a thorough physical check up by a physician who knows what to look for. It may be something that is very serious that is causing your depression. Be sure to tell your physician all your symptoms, how long you have been depressed and any unusual sense of loss to your self–esteem, kinds of stress, etc. Never self–prescribe antidepressant drugs for yourself or anyone else. Do not take medicine that is not prescribed for you. The responsibility and authority for their use belongs to your physician.

Though I am the last one to recommend drug therapies for resolving depression, they can be used in life-threatening situations without fear. There are specific drugs for specific types of depression and though many of these are not proven and hold a seriously flawed subjective element in their use – they are not dangerous to your health and relative to certain life-threatening situations might need to be applied for a period of time. If you might be a danger to yourself, don't be alone. Find people. If that is not practical, call them up on the phone. If there is no one you feel you can call, suicide hotlines can be helpful, even if you're not quite that bad off yet.

1. If you spend more than thirty minutes feeling depressed - do this now: phone and visit but talk to a friend. Get up and move, pick up the phone and call someone who is a caring person. Let them know that you are depressed. Share with them this list of tips before hand if possible and ask them to help you when you get depressed. Have a person you can trust and to whom you can express your feelings of anger.

2. Do not go through life without fellowship, fun and support of friends. Keep in touch with friends who will help you receive the "strokes," "warm fuzzies," positive reinforcement that you need to function wholesomely. Having a friend helps you when you are down. It also helps the other person when he is down. Someone has said, "A friend a day keeps depression away." Learn to share your joys, happiness, hopes, ambitions, desires, frustrations, anger, etc. Ask for what you need. Do not go through life without the support of friends who care about you. Have a sympathetic, understanding, caring friend who will listen. Share your feelings.

3. If your family or friends are quick to scold you for being depressed, explain to them that you don't want self–pity. Tell them you want and need a firm caring attitude that will encourage, support and sustain you during this temporary low time in your life. While people may tell you to "snap out" of your depression, that is not possible. You cannot simply make yourself "snap out" of the depression. Asking you to "snap out" of sever depression makes as much sense as asking someone to "snap out" of diabetes or an under–active thyroid gland.

4. Do not make any major decisions while you are depressed. Put them off or get someone else to make them for you until you can gain the right perspective. The depressed person has distorted thinking.

5. Accept your own responsibility. No one else can accept it for you. You have the problem and you can do something about it.

6. Ask yourself what you can learn from your depression and stress. Use your stress as a learning experience in order to develop and grow as a person. Write out on a 3x5 inch card the following statement and read it out loud to yourself several times a day:

God loves me just as much now as in my brightest and happiest moment of life. There are valid reasons why I am depressed, and my depression is telling me that there is something bothering me about the way I am living my life. This down time will help me to understand myself better. I am going to learn something new and I am going to grow from this experience I am going to feel better. This, too, shall pass.

 7. Write out several STOP cards with Philippians 4:4–9 on one side and the word STOP in large red letters with a magic marker on the other. Meditate on these verses. Determine that you will "think on these things:" whatever is true, whatever is honourable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, whatever is of any excellence, worthy of praise, etc. Write these out on cards in detail in advance so you will have them ready when you are depressed. Pull your card out and focus your thinking and imagination on these truths. Other excellent passages of Scripture to use for STOP cards are Isaiah 40:28–31; 41:19; 42:3; and 43:1–4.  Learn to use these the moment you catch yourself going down.

8. Trust in the Lord as fully as you can. Do not rely on religious or any other feelings, good or bad, but trust in God's grace and mercy alone. Do not examine your religious experiences at this time. You can't go by your feelings when depressed. You can firmly hold onto the facts in the Bible. Faith is relying on Him, not on your feelings.

9. Meditate on these Scriptures. Psalm 42; 34:18; 88:1–5; John 16:23, 24; Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22; John 16:20; Romans 5:3–5; Psalm 35:9; Isaiah 61:10; I Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20; John 10:10; Psalm 147:3; 3:5, 6; Isaiah 41:10; Proverbs 14:30; Job 4:6; Psalm 43:5; 40:1,2; Matthew 12:20; Luke 4:18; Proverbs 3:13, 18; 10:10; 13:12, etc.

10. Get some sound books on a Christian perspective of God are serious but helpful reading at a level that will get your mind off your self and make you think. I suggest: The Innocence of God, and Neither Necessary Nor Inevitable by Udo W. Middleman . The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer, Knowing God by J. I. Paker are also popular reads. I would suggest that there is value in reading on the topic of What to do during Depression: A Reason to Live, by Melody Beattie, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL. This book focuses on reasons to choose life over suicide but is still useful even if suicide isn't on your mind.

11. Who is your most valued person? My most valued person is Jesus Christ. His love is unconditional and eternal. It never changes. Focus your attention upon Him. What would He say to you if He visited you right now? What word of encouragement would He share with you?

12. Personalize Scripture by substituting the second person plural and third person plural pronouns and singular pronouns with first person singular in Scripture passages that accent your sense of security, significance, and sufficiency. Take Ephesians 2:8–10 for example: "For by grace I have been saved through faith; and not of myself, it is the gift of God; not as a result of my works, that I should boast. For I am His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand, that I should walk in them."

This may help some people to realize the promises and admonitions of the Word of God are for them to claim and not just a history book or message for people thousands of years ago.

13. Read over this list of Causes of Depression and see if you can recognize any of these as possible reasons for your depression.

14. Stick to a daily routine that brings personal satisfaction to you.

15. Make an effort to get rid of grudges, resentments, bitterness, anger, etc. on a daily basis. "Don't let the sun go down on your wrath." Deal with your anger before you go to bed at night.

16. Do everything you can do to remove family conflicts. Spend time every day getting more intimate with your spouse and children.

17. See if you can find a way to modify or remove the cause of your stress. What is it's source? Can you remove it? Can you alter it? How can you break it up into smaller pieces?

18. Think through your values. What do you want out of this life? Can you arrange things so you can obtain your goals in a different manner? Can you find a good substitute? Do you really want what you think you want? Is your goal only a means to an end that could be achieved in some other way? How does your goal relate to Matthew 6:33? Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

19. Rule out any physical causes for depression. If you find some physical causes – have them treated medically but remember depression can be mult-dimensional coming from more than one source. Get eight hours of sleep, exercise and plenty of relaxation. Get three good, well–balanced meals a day. Keep eating even if it means several small meals and snacks. If the symptoms persist, see your physician.

20. Ask yourself, "What am I doing that could be causing me to be depressed? How much stress am I undergoing? Remember that your body will only tolerate so much stress before it begins to tell you that something is wrong. Are you facing life's changes? Is there a hormone change taking place in your body? See your physician.

21. Force yourself to stay active and be with other people. Break any negative behaviour pattern. The depressed person behaves in a way that reinforces his depression. Spend time with a mature friend. Ask yourself, "If I weren't depressed what would I do?" Then get up and go do it.

22. Keep up your daily routine at home, work, school, etc. Try doing things spontaneously. Focus on actions and thoughts that will keep you moving in the opposite direction from depression. Consider your daily routine important. Set some realistic goals for your life. Plan your day the night before on paper and stick with your schedule.

23. Meditate on I Timothy 6:11 in the Living Bible, and Job 3:25–26 in the NASB. 24. How will you let significant others know what you are thinking and feeling?

25. What have you been thinking about that might cause or bring about depression? Write down what you have been silently saying to yourself. Look over it. Analyse it. Have a mature friend look over it with you. Recognize and identify the thoughts you express to yourself. Review the "Cognitive Distortions" handout and look for causes of depression in your thinking and self–talk. Is your self–talk negative? Is it critical, judgmental, hostile or angry? What are your imaginations and daydreams like? In what way have I been thinking that might have helped to bring on depression? Begin controlling your thoughts and behaviour.

26. Try putting the silent sentences that run through your mind into words. This will help you reduce the frequency with which it comes back, decrease the intensity of the idea, and lessen the feeling or mood that it generates. Keep a diary or stream of consciousness. Write down your thoughts and learn to identify your self–criticisms and then challenge them. Talk to yourself rather than allowing yourself to talk to you. Learn to handle your self–talk by thinking on

God's goodness, mercies, love, forgiveness and attributes at this time. Meditate on Psalm 42. Spend time studying and reflecting upon the Word of God. Memorize and meditate on the encouraging promises in the Scriptures. Relax and imagine yourself walking and talking with Jesus in some scenic part of the Gospels such as Jesus feeding the 5,000 or the Good Shepherd in John 10. Put yourself in your favourite Scripture passage.

27. Get out of the house or office for a few minutes. Deliberate, physical activity is very important in overcoming depression.

28. Ask yourself, "Is there anything I might be doing that may be causing my depression?" A depressed person usually behaves in such a way that he reinforces his depression. Observe your behavioural patterns. If they are reinforcing your depression, change them.

29. Think back over what happened in the two or three days preceding the beginning of your depression. What happened the week before it set in? What were you thinking? Was it angry thoughts, hostile, bitterness, self–pity or some real sense of loss to you? If your depression has lasted for some time, think back over what happened in the week before it started. Try to spot any causes.

30. Give yourself inner directions. Tell yourself, "Go call a friend." "Talk to someone who will listen." "Hey, I'm getting depressed. STOP. Read your STOP card. Get up and get into action. I don't have anything to lose by trying." Learn to say to yourself, "I'm jumping to conclusions. Where is the evidence that what I am saying to myself is true? Where are the facts?"

31. Do I have a negative view of myself, life, or a false view of the future? How am I looking at a recent experience or event, and how does it relate to me? Correct your negative thinking. Read "Because God Loves Me" out loud to yourself at least three times a day for the next twenty–one days.

32. Don't take life so seriously. Bring your goals into keeping with your abilities. Become more practical. Don't be unreasonable with yourself. Stop being obsessive–compulsive. Relax your critical, judgmental, perfectionist attitude toward yourself. Who are you trying to impress? What are you trying to prove?

33. Avoid the guilt trap. Stop punishing yourself. Do you need to forgive yourself? Work through true guilt by confessing it to God and claiming the promise in I John 1:9. God loves you. You can't merit His love. God took the initiative when we were unlovely, unwanted, inferior nobodies. Read and study "GOD + ME = A WHOLE PERSON." False guilt needs to be recognized as false and gotten rid of. Work at self–acceptance.

34. Remove the years of accumulated anger, frozen rage, hostility, hate, resentments and guilt. Work out your negative feelings with someone who will treat you with unconditional love and acceptance. Don't be afraid to get professional help. Learn how to deal with your hostility and anger in a more constructive and acceptable model. Talk it out with someone, not everyone, and not just anyone. Find a mature person to help you interpret for yourself your troubled feelings. Claim God's forgiveness in Psalm 51; Romans 4:6–8; 5:8; 8:1; I Corinthians 6:9–11; Colossians 1:14, 22; I Peter 1:3; I John 1:9; 2:2,12.

35. KEY: Replace negative emotional habits with positive attitudes and thought patterns. Read Job 3:15–26; Proverbs 23:7, Philippians 4.

36. Let go of the past. If you find yourself going over and over some experience in your past, or continually expressing the sorrow, hurts, grievances, anger, etc., try to break the pattern. If you have already dealt with your depression from a Biblical perspective, be prepared to take responsibility, take personal leadership decisions, and resolve not to be afraid of loneliness but include God's Word, prayer and Christian fellowship (through a sound local church) in your future. Seek friendships and accept the advise of a wise and mature believer.

                                                                       ===============

If you are the caregiver do not give up on the depressed person. Give reassurance to the person in a calm manner. Never scold. Let him know that you understand and help him to see the causes of depression. Help him develop a stronger Biblically-based view of God, themselves and their own self–imnage in-Christ. If he is suicidal do not leave him alone. He needs a caring, warm, willing person who will express warm, accepting, firm, objective concern for him. Get him to professional medical and spiritual (emotional) help as soon as the circumstances permit.

(Modified from contributions by Bill Goode, Jay Adams, Wil Pounds and others, but responsibility for these thoughts remain my own, Dr. Marc S. Blackwell, Sr, Cape Town)

Friday, September 17, 2021

The State and Denominational Churches Expand in South Africa. 1820-1885.

  

With the “1820 Settlers” and the period that followed came many new influences, like the English and German Baptists, the London Missionary Society and many other similar evangelistic efforts. The Eastern Cape’s expansion led to serious ‘colonial’ racial wars, a revival of German Baptist evangelism and Church Planting, and the advancement of Evangelical Christianity through broad missionary outreach. 

In 1806 the Cape Colony was placed under British Authority.

The NedGerefKerk (Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk  formed an independent Reformed Synod in1824.

Two Societies formed from an 1812 division: the Methodist formed (from 1795) & English Calvinist Church in 1807.

Anglican Church (1836), Rev. W. Boardman arrived with the 1820 Settlers, 1848 - Bishop Gray arrived to a divided church.

Baptist Churches (1820) Grahamstown 

EXPANSION: From 1806 to 1895 South African Christianity would experience major expansion. Methodist missionaries, Barnabas Shaw and later, William Shaw;  and in time the Anglican’s Robert Gray. 

OFFICIAL OR State and denominational churches were busy expanding - in some rather unusual ways - amidst much division.

EVANGELICAL MISSIONARIES ARRIVE: it is also of note to point out that the Lord was doing a wonderful work through the lives of many evangelical missionaries! Numerous ‘Scots missionaries’ - under various Missionary ‘banners’ and many more arrived. 

The Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (1813) was established in England by Dr. Thomas Coke. The first missionary the WMMS would send to South Africa was Rev. Barnabas Shaw in 1816. Rev. William Shaw (no relation) arrived in Algoa Bay in 1820.

The Glasgow Missionary Society (1823) opened its missionary work in the Eastern Cape and focused on education. In 1841 the insitution of Lovedale was established by John Bennie and Rev. John Ross (Ross was ordained in 1823 by the Church of Scotland specifically to do missionary work.)

Lutheran German Societies - Hermannsburg (1824) to Tswana in W. Transvaal & Berlin (1857) to Pedi in E. Transvaal.

The Rhenish Missionary Society(1828) [Based from: Cologne, Elberfeld & Barmen]. 1840 the ministry moved to Namaqualand.

The Reglement betrekkelijk het Ordenen van Zendelinge was published providing for NedGerefKerk mission from 1828 

At this time in history, missionaries had many who opposed evangelism, questioned the possibility or need for giving the Gospel to the "heathen," and who often acted as detractors and outright ‘enemies’ but without doubt these missionaries had a major impact on evangelism, missionary educational outreach and most of them had a positive impact on the good and useful development of Southern Africa and to some degree upon all of Africa.

The Moffit and Livingstone Influences. 

From 1806 to 1895 South African Christianity would experience major expansion. Methodist missionaries, Barnabas Shaw and later, William Shaw; The Anglican’s Robert Gray. Though the official or state and denominational churches were busy expanding - in some unusual ways -- amidst much division, it is also of note to point out that the Lord was doing a wonderful work through the lives of many evangelical missionaries! 

Numerous ‘Scots missionaries’ - under various Missionary ‘banners’ and many more arrived. Without doubt among the greatest of missionaries and best representatives of  Scottish missionaries and of the ministry of the new London Missionary Society were the Moffits and the Livingstones. 

Robert & Mary Moffat (1795-1883) were Scottish pioneer missionaries to South Africa who arrived in Cape Town in 1817. They opened mission stations in the interior, translated the Bible into the language of the Bechuanas, and wrote two missionary books on South Africa: Labors and Scenes in South Africa and Rivers of Water in a Dry Place.  His oldest daughter Mary,  married David Livingstone.

Mary Smith Moffat (1795-1871) the missionary wife of Robert Moffat, and mother was  Born in New Windsor, England, she married Robert Moffat in December, 1819 at Cape Town, South Africa. They settled at Kuruman in Bechuanaland and established a mission there. They had ten children: Mary (who married David Livingstone), Ann, Robert (died as an infant), Robert, Helen, Elizabeth (died as an infant), James, John, Elizabeth, and Jean. The Moffats returned to England in 1839 for their only furlough. In 1870, the aged missionaries returned again to England to stay. Mary died shortly thereafter.

At this time in history, missionaries had many who opposed evangelism, questioned the possibility or need for giving the Gospel to the "heathen," and who often acted as detractors and outright ‘enemies’ but without doubt these missionaries had a major impact on evangelism, missionary educational outreach and most of them had a positive impact on the good and useful development of Southern Africa and to some degree upon all of Africa.

David Livingstone was born in Blantyre, Scotland, on March 19th, 1813 and he died at Ilala, Africa, on May 1, 1873. David Livingstone sailed for Cape Town in 1840. In 1844 he married Mary Moffat, the oldest daughter of Robert and Mary Moffat. They were blessed with six children were born, one dying in infancy. They loved the Lord and they loved each other and Africa and they would often face long periods of separation to be able to raise and educate their children - a separation that was something they did for the Lord. 

By 1845 the Livingstones had moved to Chonuane, and then to Kolebeng. Chief Sechele, was the first of his many converts to Christ. He was also an explorer  since he wanted to “Open the Doors” or lead the way for others to come with the Gospel. He discovered Lake 'Ngami. David Livingstone was often misunderstood since his explorations were viewed by many as unnecessary for a “missionary.”  

Livingstone had come to believe that if he could find a series of habitable regions he could “open” the interior bring and end to slavery and advance Christianity, civilization and commerce would lift the poverty from off the backs of the people. His dedication amidst great hardship is summed-up in this quotation: "As for me, I am determined to open up Africa or perish."

By 1853 Livingstone had reached Linyanti, on the Zambesi. and focused on opening the heart of Africa by June 1854 having experienced and overcome amazing opposition and difficulties with fever and dysentery he arrived at St. Paul de Loanda, on the west coast. His personal ‘motto” was: "Forward, - anywhere, providing it is forward." His ‘motto” had served him well and he had faced Africa at its worst and he’d experienced the condition of a people without Christ; so much abuse, brutality and cruel forms of death - due to the horrors of slavery, polygamy, incest, hostile tribes and even cannibalism! 

In Sept 1855 he arrived at Linyanti and travelled down the Zambesi River ‘discovering’ Victoria Falls. He had discovered two longitudinal elevations where Europeans could live free from fever and with his maps and observations, as well, he would be awarded their gold medal by the  Royal Geographical Society. By May 1856, he arrived at Quilimane on Africa’s eastern coast covering in one trip West to East an amazing personal ‘trek.’

Then he returned to his wife and family in England in December 1856 and amidst all the honours given him considered Lord Shaftesbury’s honour one of the greatest when he honoured Mary with “equal tribute with her husband.” It was at this stage that he wrote his most famous book "Missionary Travels," but he also faced opposition and decided to leave the London Missionary Society . 

In 1858, David and Mary with their son Oswell, sailed from England but Mary’s illness meant she would not travel with him in the coming years. Livingstone explored the Zambesi, the Shire River and discovered Lake Nyassa by 1861 he had explored the river Rovuma and assisted in establishing the “Universities Mission” hoping to identify future missions sites. As a medical doctor he not only healed along the way but he did essential research in the fight against malaria  while writing for scientific articles and periodicals back in England. His ‘warfare’ against the atrocities of slavey “stirred the whole world.”

After spending a year at the Cape, Mary returned to England to insure her children’s security and education. Then she return to David in 1862 and had only travelled with him for some three months when illness took her life and David would bury her by the Baobab tree at the mouth of the Shire. David confessed that: "For the first time in my life I want to die." 

In 1863 he returned once again to his family and used this trip to further expose the evils of the slave-trade.  The family enjoyed their ‘reunion’ except for Robert, who had travelled to Africa to find his father. Once he realised he had missed his father he sailed for America, and volunteered to serve on the side of the North trying to liberate the black man from slavery on that continent while his father gave his life to liberate the black man on another continent, as well. Robert was buried in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Meanwhile, David returned to Africa and to his ministry and explorations went to  Lake Tanganyika; discovered Lakes Moero and Bangweolo. Then amidst numerous battles with his health and difficulties in travel his journeys led him between Ujiji (1869-1871) to the river Lealaba. Stanley’s arrival and famous greeting: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" together with the arrival of mail and supplies renewed Livingstone and he and Stanley spent four months exploring Lake Tanganyika. 

Stanley wrote about Livingstone: "I challenge any man to find a fault in his character... The secret is that his religion is a constant, earnest and sincere practice." rather than returning with Stanley, Livingstone determined to find the “source of the Nile” and on his 59th birthday - the 19th of March 1872, he’d write words that would later become a popular Christian chorus: "My Jesus, my King, my Life, my All. 

I again dedicate my whole self to Thee." Yet his illness haunted him and within five weeks his travels led him to the village of Chitambo, in Ilala, on Lake Bangweolo and on the 1st of May 1873, His friend, porter and guide,Susi, found him kneeling at the bedside, with his head buried in his hands upon the pillow. Livingstone servants, led by Susi, removed Livingstone’s heart and buried it under a tree near where he died. Then, they dried the body in the sun, tied it to a pole and after nine months' march reached the coast and shipped it to England. On the 18th of April 1874, Livingstone’s remains were laid to rest,, in Westminster Abbey, London.

Livingstone's Life

1813 Born at Blantyre, in Lanarkshire, Scotland, March 19.

1833 His conversion t

1836 Entered school in Glasgow.

1838 Accepted by London Missionary Society.

1840 Ordained missionary in Albion St. Chapel.

1841 Arrived at Kuruman.

1842 Explorations to Bechuana.

1844 Married Mary Moffat of Kuruman.

1846 Settled at Chonuane with Chief Sechele.

1847 Moved to Kolobeng.

1848 Sechele, first convert, baptized, October 1.

1849 Lake 'Ngami discovered, August 1.

1851 Discovered the upper Zambesi August 3.

1852 Mary and four children sailed from Cape Town April 23.

1853  Explorations from Linyanti to west coast, November 11 to May 31, 1854.

1854 Explored from west coast back to Linyanti, Sept 1855.

1855 Explored Linyanti to Quilimane on east coast, Nov to May 1856;

1856 London to visit his family.

1857 Honoured in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and by the Royal Geographical Society, London; Geographical Society of Paris; K.K. Geographical Society of Vienna; Degree of D.C.L. by University of Oxford; 

1858 Returned with Mrs. Livingstone to Africa, March 10.

1859 River Shire explored and Lake Nyassa discovered.

1862 Mary Livingstone died at Shupanga, April 27;

1864 Arrived in Bombay and then London.

1866 Arrived at Zanzibar.

1867 Discovered Lake Tanganyika.

1868 Discovered Lake Bangweolo.

1869 Arrived at Ujiji, 

1871 Henry M. Stanley found him 28 October.

1873 Died in his tent at Ilala, 1st of May.

1874 Buried with honors in Westminster Abbey, London, April 18.

The extent of Livingstone’s influence overlaps the story of another giant of the faith! The C.H. Spurgeon influence in Africa was a real part of the providential (i.e., Kind, Caring, but NOT fatalistic control) workings of the Lord. The encouragement of one faithful brother in the life of another is clearly illustrated through the following anecdotes. Not only had the famous Scottish missionary to Africa, David Livingstone, visited Spurgeon's services at the Surrey Music Hall in 1857, but he was also an avid reader of Spurgeon's writings. 

At the death of David Livingstone in 1873, one of Spurgeon's sermons (turned yellow through age and use) was found embedded in one of his journals and inscribed in his neat hand, `Very  good -D. L..   After Livingstone died a further copy of one of Spurgeon's sermons was found folded away inside Livingstone's own cap.

Beyond famous Scottish missionary, David Livingstone, and the Spurgeon Influence on South Africa and SA Baptists we will want to mention John & Andrew Murray's struggles with liberalism and modernism. The Murray's conservative views led them to repeatedly warn about the Seminaries and graduates in Holland.

Bishop John Williams Colenso (1814-1883) became Anglican Bishop of Natal. His liberal and heretical European Biblical Critical views and publications led to the split and creation of the Church of England of South Africa.

drMSBsr


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

LOVE IS A RELATIONSHIP SUBMITTED TO GOD'S WILL

 THE RELATIONSHIP OF LOVE  - 5:22-26  

Earnestness is giving.


Ephesians 5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,


The love of Christ for His church is now addressed in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians! 

Such “love” speaks of God’s genuine or true concern and commitment to our well-being. As our Creator and in light of mankind’s regrettable choice and the “fall” into sinfulness -  our rebellion and our sinful nature - places us outside the blessed relationship God would have for us! God’s response is to go into action on our part! 


The fact is, before the foundation of the world itself, God knew we would make this disastrous choice and from before time planned our return to Him. This return to a right relationship - this reconciliation would be provided in such a way that the righteousness and justice of God would not be compromised. God would provide Himself an atonement for our sin - He would lower Himself - condescending to come in the form of human flesh - and as both truly God and truly man - He would voluntarily offer His sinless life to pay the penalty for our sin! This is a “love story” like no other! Such gracious and merciful - and fully undeserved love was given to us by Jesus Christ with the goal of returning us to a joyous relationship with our Creator - our God, Three in One (in His triunity).


Once we come to the Lord by faith and accept Him as our Redeemer or Savior and Lord we experience regeneration by the Spirit of God and in the newness of Life - as Born Again believers we learn to love as God first loved us! This new Godlike love, is clearly explained in Philippians 2:1-5  and in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 as the special spiritual attitude of one believer toward another believer! This new spiritual love (agape) is intended as our new “norm” for living-out our day-to-day human relationships. 


It is important to remember that the teaching and truth found in verses 1-21 in chapter five are provided as preparation for this section. Before submission can be a reality one must learn to be an “imitator” of God (v.1); one who “walks in love” (v.2); no immorality (v.3); no rebellion(v.6); but, walking as children of light (v.8); pleasing the Lord (v.10). Then by carefully walking, using our time wisely, understanding the will of the Lord, being ‘controlled‘ by the Spirit and singing and making melody in our hearts with thankfulness ... we can prepare ourselves for living out our lives and enjoying our earthly relationships through lives lived on the basis of Christlike love!  


This new Christlike love, simply defined, is: preferring the good of others over one’s own interests. Love is also to be spiritually viewed from the ‘vantage point’ of its deep inherent ‘patience’ and its abiding ‘hope’. Such Christlike love is especially patient in regard to the trials and the tests that come into the Christian’s life relationships. 


Our Heavenly Father uses the analogy of the marriage of Christians in this instance  to give us a picture or even ‘a sample or suggestion of something that lies ahead ’ in our future heavenly relationship - something that we, as genuine believers, will enjoy with Christ, Jesus, our spiritual “bridegroom” ... our soon coming Lord and Saviour. This selfless “love” or commitment to ‘the good of another’ ... is something expected naturally within and rightful intended for those committed to the confines of marriage! Such genuine ‘love’ (a relationship within the plan and will of God - i.e., ‘marriage’) is best defined as the selfless and earnest ‘appreciation’ for our spouse! 


Then, to the degree that, we have this sincere Christlike attitude (or ‘thoughtful’ spirit) combined with honest commitment to action, we will be found truly desiring to ‘reach-out’ to the other’s needs. In this “caring-for” relationship we communicate to our spouse the “love” we have for him or her.  Love, then (in this spiritual sense), is understood as genuinely ‘earnest’ or showing sincerity! Of course their are other definitions of “love” - some deal with one’s emotions, or feelings and others extend to the physical aspects of a relationship. In these Scriptures, though, the Ephesians are being challenged with a view of love that is centered in the Divine essence of the Godhead, its nature and its character. We can learn, so much in this section, so much that can bring joy and peace to our lives and our relationships.  



THE LIFESTYLE LIVED “AS TO THE LORD.” (22-24)


In music, Harmony is defined as: “the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions having a pleasing effect • the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole - a blending in harmony, or an agreement or concord. Spiritually Paul is redefining harmony in light of the new life in Christ and the new walk in Christ! 


Now, Paul is unfolding this higher understanding of human relationships that find their source and strength in Christ Jesus, as one;s personal Savior and Lord. This new relationship refers to true Christian Brotherhood. To illustrate the harmony of the body and bride of Christ - the assembly of believers the concept of betrothal now unfolds in the imagery and lessons of the Christian’s marriage relationships.  


Paul the Apostle has provided an amazing amount of information on spiritual “accord” or “harmony” in the Christian’s brotherly relationships. The old animosities and flames of discrimination between Jew and Gentile, Male and Female and Bond and Free were to be extinguished where possible, diverted, truly modified into a spiritually higher and socially more acceptable attitude or activity! 


The key truths around the theme of harmony that received special focus in the letter to the Ephesians were: unity, oneness and loveHarmony in the writing of his letter to the Ephesians also found further expression in the concept of subjection: “to submit,” “to be in submission” & “to adapt to.”


One could assume that this emphasis on harmony as unity, oneness and love, along with its practical application expressed by our being “subject to others” was being emphasised since Paul, (so inspired by the Spirit of God,) sought to encourage the believer to take “the high ground” of personal responsibility! For the believer to chose, to abandon (or rather to reject) the inclinations of one’s own sinful nature and its inclinations is all truly and quite necessary from God’s own perspective! 


This call to a new lifestyle (a holy or separate or consecrated life) was especially called for (i.e. truly the will of God) in light of the ‘mystery message’ Paul was commissioned to give and explain - this ‘Mystery’ was the Lord’s message regarding the purpose and plan for a newly created and newly revealed body of believers - the assembly (ekklesia) of believers - the commonly referred to “local church.” 


There would now - in this Dispensation of Grace - be a new body through which God would be glorified - a body of believers, baptised and gathered in worshipful fellowship under the leadership of pastors and deacons and in submission to one another. As promised, Israel would return to Faith in Christ and repent of their sin but this would only come during the Great Tribulation - a period that would follow the Dispensation of Grace. Until the church was Raptured home to be with the Lord, and the ‘Times of the Gentiles’ be fulfilled - this Age of Grace would offer salvation to all - Jew or Gentile, Male or Female, Bond or Free - all the same - individually - personally and freely


The Church of Jesus Christ was to be known for its love and unity - a oneness - first, to be enjoyed as the betrothed and prepared one - set apart to and for eternal spiritual oneness with Christ Jesus and then, of course, as the gathered “bride” of Christ! Paul focused on the “bride’s” salvation, spiritual unity and love, sanctification and separation from sin before calling the bride to live in submission. 


The life lived as subject to (or in submission to) Christ is a life lived in subjection to or as a bondslave of Christ! Such a life is lived in obedience to the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures! Such a life is lived in submission to the influence or is under the control of the Spirit of God! 


Such a life is portrayed and pictured through the Christian Marriage as an example is outlined in these verses! Wives are not just called to do something in isolation or just in a limited relationship with their spouse but rather they are to see the larger picture - the purpose of marriage is to demonstrate, teach, show and encourage us in our faith and walk with Christ. 


Marriage is God’s will for the all couples in the world - saved and unsaved alike - because this is how He planned and created this world to be, to act and to operate. But the Christian Marriage - is the marriage where the two persons are both born again Christians and they are both committed to live-out their lives in a Christlike way and to the honour of Christ’s Name as their Savior and Lord and to the general glory of God in the world.


We are to be an encouragement - a witness - a testimony to one another - wives to husbands, husbands to wives, parents to children, families to other Christian families and all of us a living manifestation or demonstration of God’s grace to the lost world around us!


-------------------------------


PASTORS  ARE TO SET THE EXAMPLE


Peter explains a quite similar theme to pastors in 1 Peter 5:1-3, i.e., that the are to under-shepherd the church by tending, nurturing, guarding and guiding the flock ...verse 2 -  with a “cheerful spirit.”


In verse 3 Not domineering [as arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing persons] over those in your charge, but being examples (patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation).” 


The pastor, as such - being the under-shepherd of Christ the “Chief Shepherd”  is the example and role model demonstrating for every Christian husband what it means to be “the head of” God’s flock - in the case of the husband then ... His own wife.


Then too, the pastor is also commissioned with being a demonstration for every Christian wife what it means to be “subject to Christ” and thus to be subject in the same sense to those matters of the family where the husband is given responsibility.


It is important, then, that we all remind ourselves that all that we do - all that we say - all that we think and act upon ... our choices and decisions are testimonies - or should be - of God’s grace, love and truth! We are, then, clearly expected to live our lives in a transparent, honest and open way. We are not to be living one way at church and another way at home and yet another way at work, etc. 


We are living in reality in a “house with glass walls” for all to see and all to hear ... who we are and what we are.. we are to be manifesting the truth before the consciences of each other, our children, our families and our friends and co-workers ... all men ( 2 Corinthians 4:2b)  


 THE LIFESTYLE LIVED ACCORDING TO THE WORD. (25-26)


Ephesians 5:25 outlines the selfless love of our Savior as attitudes founded in His own nature. Our love is to be founded in our new regenerated born again and renewed New Man. This New Man’s walk in the Spirit is the walk of one who has received the atonement, been justified and adopted. Our love is His love operative in and through us. We are to love our wives as Christ loved the church and freely give ourselves for their good, blessing and betterment. We are to recognise our marital role as a picture of His Redeeming Role. We are to “serve the imaginations” of our wives, children and brethren as we provide their “imaginations” with the very image of Christ. We are to portray Him! 


As Christ gave and cleansed us all - all who have believed in Christ for their eternal salvation - He has cleansed us - prepared us and set us apart (See: Our Savior’s Prayer. John 17:17 and 1 Peter 1:21)  We, then, like our Savior are called to the use of the Word of God in our relationships. We are to obey the Word ( 1 Peter 3:1,7-9) of God in practical terms and ways! We are to allow the Word of God freedom (or free course) in our lives - our thoughts and decisions, choices - and actions! 


The Spirit of God operates through the Word of God in our inner man and those who submit to Him submit to His Word and those that submit to the Word find themselves in submission to and under the control of the Spirit of God.

Our marriages - our relationships - communications and daily lives are to reflect these truths. Granted, we are in a growing process and no one person, no couple can see themselves - as “Having arrived!” Yet, this is no excuse - we are to be faithful and use the grace available to us with the faith given us! (2 Cor 12:9 and Romans 12:3-4) .


Ephesians 5:27 

 the church ... in glorious splendor,


OUR PRESENTATION IN PURITY - 5:27-32 AS HIS GLORIOUS BRIDE.


Expectation must not be 'dampened." 


1  THE PRESENTATION IN ALL GLORY (27)

2  THE BRIDE LOVED WITH UNLIMITED LOVE. (28-30)

3  THE MYSTERY OF “MUTUALLY COMMITTED” LOVE. (31-32)


THE PRESENTATION IN PURITY: The very thought of the believer being the “bride” - the ones chosen to come out of the world system as a witness of Christ to the world - of being those that are gathering together in this and that place as a witness is a most amazing thought! How could we, who are nothing more than sinners - saved by the grace of God - having nothing ourselves to offer God, now become something of “glory” or praise to the name of God - both here on earth and at His coming? How can such a wonderful and amazing opportunity ever take place? How can we be changed so radically from mere and obvious sinners to a glorious bride?


Ephesians 5:27 

The church (the assembly / ‘ekklesia’) 


First, we must not forget the role and place of the Word of God as seen in our previous studies from verses 23-26. 


Second, we must remember matters such as “subjection” (22,24); Christ’s federal headship as the second Adam our reconciler, the redeeming role, work and ministry of His atoning and saving sacrifice on the cross(23), His selfless love (25) and His setting us apart (sanctifying) and cleansing work “with the washing of the water by the word.” (26) ... all of these factors are central or vital to our becoming regenerated new creations in Christ.


HIS GLORIOUS BRIDE

The very expectation, possibility or potentiality of such a glorious salvation brings “awe” or amazement to us all! A sense and spirit of expectation in relation to being the glorious “bride” of Christ cannot be overlooked! Like any bride there will be the natural excitement and feelings of joy as a part of the expectation that goes with marriage, but this story has a much deeper message of wonderful spiritual and eternal potential for those who read it careful and understand it well! 


This is the deeply spiritual ‘story of change,’  the change and process of changes in setting the bride apart from the slavery to sinfulness to the gloriousness freedom available through the New Covenant and the agency of the very Spirit of God. This ‘story’ pictures the reality of expectation in the light of real life change, change that takes place in the heart, or inner life and the outward lifestyle of the bride, you and I born-again believers progressively being spiritually, morally and ethically formed into the image of Jesus Christ. The Biblical Christian, (i.e. that Christian who goes beyond believing in the Bible in a general sort of way, but rather studies God’s Word, as well) is one who increasing becomes aware of the increasing nearness of the event (the arrival of “that day”) when her redemption, her salvation, her new eternal relationship with Christ will be final and totally fulfilled. 


The excitement of expectation... continues to build toward an increased crescendo as we come, that is, nearer to THAT DAY! His coming is clearly taught as something - where the timing is that which only the Father’s knows, but we are told throughout the New Testament to consider it (or view the matter) as truly imminent ... about to happen! The story of Dwight L Moody asking his ministry’s “Board of Directors” if they thought it would be today? All showed hesitancy or being a bit cautious - not wanting to demonstrate some sort of cultic irresponsibility. Then Dr. Moody quoted:  Acts 1:7.  The New Testament’s teaching regarding the role and the purpose of the church includes the church keeping everyone’s heart - i.e. their spiritual eyes (if you will), truly focused on the return of their Savior to meet them - imminently - in the air! 


 THE PRESENTATION IN ALL GLORY (27)

THE BRIDE LOVED WITH UNLIMITED LOVE. (28-30)


Dr. Kenneth Wuest makes a most useful contribution at this point. He states: “Christ and husband are each head, as Paul as has already put it, and as the Church is the body in relation to the former, so is the wife in relation to the latter. The husband, the head, therefore is to love the wife as being his body, even as Christ loved the church as forming his body.  The fact that Christ loved the church means that though God, the Father, loved the World (John 3:16) enough to send His own Son to provide the atonement for the World’s sin, this love of Christ (for the church) may well be understood as His love or concern for the good - the end of the church at and on the day of His visitation, 


The idea of husband and wife as being one flesh is probably also in view. “He that loveth his own wife loveth himself.” The relation of the head and body means that the wife is part of the husbands self. To love his wife, therefore, in this character as being his body, is to love himself. It is a love consequently, not merely of duty - but of nature.”


5:30 “Because members (in the emphatic position) we are” ...  ‘of his body.” (The literal Greek sentence structure) The bride is not just incidentally related to Christ but is betrothed to be “married” to or to enter into a real thought spiritual union with Christ in eternity- something that is clearly related to fully and gloriously receiving the end of our salvation. 1 Peter 2:9 “[At the same time] you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”


THE MYSTERY OF “MUTUALLY COMMITTED” LOVE. (31-32)


Marriage is the coming to be of a couple in or into “one flesh” and this mystery is profound or great since it refers to the total and mutual commitment of selflessness by both parties. The husband, as we have already seen is giving himself - his all for the good of his wife and the wife is giving herself by showing submission to her husband thus guaranteeing the genuineness of the mutual commitment - this according to 1 Peter 3:6 she does by trusting or committing the outcome of her life to God, as did Christ ( 1 Peter 2:23). This is not a 50% / 50% “partnership” but a 100% commitment of both to the good of each other to God’s glory!


But this Mystery is profound ... and our marriages ( as important and  beautiful as they truly are), are in this context little more than an illustration or a similitude of a far more important unity - the unity of the Spirit found in those who make-up Christ’s bride and the oneness between the Bridegroom and the Bride - the believers down though time who through their relationship with Christ - in Christ have submitted to God and one another by coming out of the world and publicly assembling themselves together to glorify the name of Christ. 


This “bride” is formed, then, from those ...

1. who have been redeemed (bought out of slavery) and “spoken for” & “betrothed”  by the bridegroom: 


2. who are especially recognisable by their ‘coming together‘ submission to the Spirit of God (5:18)


3. who in a voluntary mutual submission have come-out from the world to serve Christ’s will and glory as the “assembly” of born-again believers; 


4. who are baptised as a testimony of their faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ; 


5. who truly submit to the Word of God, and to the discipline of the body and the care of their pastors;


6. who honestly worship in oneness of heart, edify one another and give themselves to give the gospel - the God News of Salvation in Christ alone to the unbelieving world around them.


7. who carefully, sees that “each one” loves his wife as himself / as Expositors explains: 33  let each one of you love his wife as himself, “he is to love her as being herself part and parcel of himself according to the divine idea of the marriage union.” 


and who truly treats her husband with deference (or out out of respect for; in consideration of..) the will of God and the fact that she can trust the Lord’s will, His grace and His plan ...33 ... and let the wife see that she respects her husband. ESV


 In so doing we honour our God, bless our marriages and focus our families and friends on the truth of Christ - the Bridegroom’s faithfulness and love for His Bride both now and in - all eternity.


SUBMISSIVE? WHO ME?

 ARE WE WALKING AS GOD'S SUBMISSIVE CHILDREN? 

(EPHESIANS  5


5:15 What does it mean (to me) to be walking with the Lord? It seems almost everyone when encountered and asked directly if they are the Lord’s child, all reply the same: “of course, yes - I am a Christian.”  But are you really “walking” with the Lord? Have you come to Him in humble prayer - asked Him to forgive the rebellion and sinfulness of your heart? Have you made your ‘peace’ with God? Have you genuinely trusted Him for the eternal salvation that is alone available through faith in the saving and keeping work of His dear Son, Jesus Christ? Has this led to you looking to Him for His daily blessings for your soul - the spiritual renewing of your mind? Adam & Eve once walked with the Lord - in the Garden of Eden. Enoch also walked with God! So, do you “walk” ... with the Lord? 


Every Christian is invited to enjoy this wonderful privilege of"walking with the Lord" - of enjoying fellowship with their Lord. Walking with the Lord is an opportunity for friendship and honest communication. All of this calls for our being consciously, actively, even pro-actively, committed to a life of love toward God, in Christ.  Our “walk” with our Saviour - our Lord Jesus Christ is so vitall but so few pursue this “walk” - as they could and most likely should. 


Eternal and Everlasting Life begins at the moment we call upon God for the salvation of our souls. This new life in Christ begins from the moment of our personal prayer for salvation and His blessings are ever available for those who walk in the light - the Truth!   Such a life lived in our day to day - today - lives is meant to be lived in the awareness and exciting prospect of life overshadowed by His love - it is a joyous peaceful life and is a life blessed - it is a “walk” or a daily living-with God. Such lives, lived so, could never be the same as the life lived by the average man in the world.


Look carefully then ... how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately

 Dr. Kenneth Wuest explains in his commentary on the book of Ephesians that the thought of this “Walk is ‘peripateo’ (Grk) and is to order one’s behaviour, to conduct one’s self. ... It is like a motorist accurately following on the correct side of the centre-line that divides the traffic.”


Such a “walk” is not just an abstract notion or passive idea to give something “a try” but it is a life lived within the revealed will of God - a life lived according to the teaching of the Holy Scriptures ... thus we see it is a life lived with purpose - with a specific purpose to Glorify God - to share the Gospel (the Good News of Salvation available to all who will believe - a salvation accomplished by the (propitiating) sacrifice of Christ for our sins on the Cross of Calvary and a salvation guaranteed by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. This salvation leads to our justification, our adoption and reconciliation to God and then is a salvation that leads to a blessed life (or “walk” with God) while we await His coming! Such lives blessed and joyous, in Christ, is maintained through the Heavenly Mediation of Christ as our Advocate.


This purposeful “walk” is a life that is different than the one you were living. Change is a necessity! The blessedness of the Father’s forgiveness, Christ’s love and the Holy Spirit’s comfort can never leave us the same as we were! Change is inevitable! The question is will we readily cooperate with these changes? Will we walk with purpose in our step or will we “just meander along” and shuffle our feet or step out smartly and pick-up the pace of life walking happily along-side our Savior?   


Will we “walk” [5:15c] ... “worthily” - will we walk as Paul stated in Ephesians 4:1 “In a manner worthy of or “equally in weight to” or equal to our “new standing” -i.e., equal to our new blessedness - our new vocation or our new calling! We are expected to be honest, modest or unpretentious about this new blessedness in Christ having an accurate estimate of ourselves - not thinking or pretending to have accomplished any of our blessedness in ourselves - in our own ability or through our “good” works! 


We are to “walk”  [5:15d] ...“accurately,” (or in other words), that is:  “not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people).” This means that our “walk” with the Lord cannot be an after-thought, or something that is prioritised and planned to follow-on or after other matters. We are to love the Lord with our whole hearts - He is to be FIRST! First in our priorities, first in our plans - our schedules, first in our commitments, our use of our time too: - our use of our schedule for prayer, Bible study, our caring for others with needs. Then, we are to hold Christ first in our talents too: - our abilities, our creativity and our interests ;and then, of course, we are to give God the first place in our treasures too: - our family, our friends and our finances. 


5:16 Do we need to discipline our lives - as regards to our use of time? The danger is apathy, uncontrolled business, the “tyranny of the urgent,” - the seemingly overpowering demands of daily living! God will’s to be first, not second. Our wives or husbands are not to be first! Our children, their needs, their education, their sports or hobbies - none of these are to be first - not before God! We are to love Him, worship, make time to commune with Him - to pray to Him, to listen to the Truth of His Word, the Holy Scriptures. 


This matter is all quite a genuine and a most serious matter! The world distracts us, our friends and family demand our attention and pre-occupy our time, our lives are not our own, our schedules are in disarray and we use every excuse we can think of - but the Scriptures are clear: God has spoken and is speaking! We are being warned ... 


5:17 What is the will of the Lord?  So many people confuse the issue of “the will of God!” In most cases people are wanting “guidance” or some specific “direction” or even help in making a day to day decision. From the perspective of the individual this seems so very natural and even responsible. Why wouldn’t a Christian look to the Lord for the day to day choices and decisions? It seems so obvious that certain words or quotations of Jesus Teachings in the Gospels invite us to seek detailed guidance or direction for our life decisions and choices. For many, prayer is understood as primarily a call upon God for (i.) decision making, (ii.) His Sovereign care and blessings and (iii.) solutions to our daily life and work related problems.


Hebrews 13:5 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” 


(1.) The will of God is that we live lives that nobly enjoy and represent our spiritual status and state as the adopted children of the King of Glory! Christianity today has clearly lost its composure and its graciousness or nobility and all of this at the expense of its collective character and spiritual security. Where we lose our “contentedness” we convey our unwillingness or failure to look to the Lord as our helper. We want the Lord to “resolve our problems ... for us,” rather than accept His gracious strength, objectiveness, insightfulness, truthfulness and the spirit of wisdom that can give us a responsible and enlightened nobility rather than a worldly and self-centred attitude toward life. Living one’s life to Christ’s glory and in thankfulness for God’s grace replaces the fears and covetousness of a prayer life focused on “our needs” rather than God’s will overseen by Him Who ... “never leaves ... nor forsakes.” 


Hebrews 13:7 “ Remember them which have the rule (or the guidance) over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation (lifestyles).  8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. 9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.   . . .


(2. ) The will of God is founded in God’s eternal concern and care for us. We may pray for victory over every trial and temptation and ask for supernatural guidance or direction for our lives, families and businesses but the truth of the matter is that God wills or wants us to follow the faith and lifestyles of those He gives us to care for us. We have to recognise this gift - this blessing and avoid looking to every glossy Christian Magazine, every slick voiced preacher-teacher and every super-logical book on Christian living ... rather than having our “heart be established in grace!” 


But many would cry out, “How can we trust one man - one person - even one who is a ‘pastor’? My reply, is found in the sound advice of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” This verse follows-on to chapter ten - especially verses 10:23-33 and calls us to follow our God-given leaders as long as or “as-far-as” and so-long as that they continue to follow Christ. (Philippians 4:9; 1 Timothy 5:19-20; 2 Timothy 3:10-12.)


   Hebrews 13:15 "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.  16 But to do good and to communicate (give) forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.  18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.”


(3. ) The will of God is that e live lives of continual praise to God! Giving thanks, doing good, giving to others - all these please God...they are His will. Then too their is “obedience” - strange idea, that! Without the Christian learning and practicing obedience toward the authorised care-giver - shepherd - watchman - guide - and spiritual ‘governor’ or overseer of God’s flock - the local church .... there is little “profit” available to you! Your wife will struggle to see the love of Christ in you - and she will struggle to submit to you, your children will struggle to see the wisdom of God in you and they will struggle to submit to you, and your friends, co-workers and neighbours will struggle to see the love of Christ in you and will “keep their distance,” as well!


The fact of the matter is that today’s popular Christianity has for some time and is continuing to encouraging a most self-centred and even selfish preoccupation or focus on “prayer.”  The so-called: “TV Evangelists,” “Radio Pastors,” “Internet Ministry Teachers” definitely work at impressing you with their “insider abilities” and then openly encourage this superficial form of Christianity.  In addition, the self-proclaimed “Authors and Speakers” who are filling the shelves of our “Christian Bookstores” publish “How to” ... Christian Life Books, DVDs, and CDs ... that focus on living victorious lives that overcome every possible life crisis. Prayer is viewed as the key to victory, success, self-confidence, health, mental health and even (of course) wealth!


Much of today's collectively Christianity voice is effectively “burying” the role of the local church pastor and his teaching and caring ministry. Many, of course, complain that “their churches” or “their pastors” fail to take their responsibilities serious enough. These Christians need to either voice their concerns and bring about change in their churches and leadership or they need to realise their churches are ‘dead’ and they need to go out and find a church that cares in a Biblical manner and has a pastor that teaches faithfully the Truth of God’s Word, without apology.


All of this para-church Christianity is confusing the issue of the local church’s responsibility, and the individual’s need to submit to their leaders and other believers within the church. This preoccupation with surfing Christian websites, watching every possible “Ministry - DVD” is diluting the clear message and confusing the Christian regarding who to “listen to!”   The fact is, that to teach on this subject - or at least from this perspective or in this manner will mean that some (or in certain situations, that many) will just reject this honest view of Christianity and will just “up and leave” the church of any pastor who dares to proclaim the truth about the ‘state of Christianity’ and so many ‘Christians’ ... today!  (2 Timothy 3:1-9 and 4:1-5.)











EPHESIANS 5:18-21

 

5:18 What is God’s will for me in regards to His Spirit? To understand the will of God, as in our relationship to His Divine Spirit, one must understand God Himself, at least to the degree that He has revealed himself.


The Triunity of God is so very amazing! The Third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, is revealed to us as the eternal personage within the Godhead who accomplishes the specific act of regeneration in the believer. The Holy Spirit operates by and through the Word of God, which He authored and by which He works or accomplishes the will of God, to convict and draw the world to God, to change the believer into the image of Christ, to comfort, to guide and to encourage the child of God. 


IWe know what is right and we are to take the responsibility for our choices -- knowing for whom we have done them and knowing by what standard of Truth we have accomplished what we have done!


Ephesians 5:18 

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  


“Under the influence!” The illustration of drunkenness is lost on so many. Paul is simply explaining that just as one who is drunken is no longer under self-control; so too, is the one (the genuine believer) who is under the controlling influence of the Spirit of God no longer listening to himself or herself, but rather is found busy listening to God! To be “filled with the Spirit” then, is to be controlled by or under the control of the Spirit of God. 


Now, this control has at at times been most direct! God has, down through history, chosen to work and reveal Himself directly to many - some believers and even some unbelievers! In fact, the student of the Word of God knows that God has chosen to communicate or speak in the most direct or open ways - especially when He wanted to confirm that His acts - especially in the case of those perceived changes in His manner of operating with different people or societies. God was and is careful regarding those actions (in fact) that are His. 


His ACTS must be discern-able from the actions of others - even deceivers - such as Satan and those who serve Satan’s bidding or commands. In these cases God’s acts are accompanied with the presence of prophets, wonders, miracles and the like! God can, when He so wills, be most direct!


On the other hand, God is most generally not so very direct! God’s Word teaches us that God works sovereignly in “providential” acts, or in other words in acts and actions that are not always obvious or self-evident, at least, ... not on the surface level!  


The fact that God planned to save - that He planned to bless “the saved” and planned to care for those “saved” teaches us of God’s mercy, of His Grace - all accomplished  through Christ Jesus, the Lord and by His overshadowing presence but also in believers this is accomplished through the “comforting work” of the Spirit. The comfort of the Spirit is necessary since Jesus returned to His Father and His Throne but should not be understood as something limited to empathy or sympathy but also something that speaks of enablement, competency and completeness.


If you choose, (voluntarily, but obediently), to submit yourself to the will of God and the working of God in and through your life - you are surely needing to submit to the control or to allowing the revealed will of God to be “your own will” - a work of renewal of the heart and mind. 


It is clear that when Paul wrote the Colossian Christians regarding some of the same issues of Christian living, he chose to use another (synonymous) phrase: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” - this is not simply some mistaken “juxtapositioning” of two phrases but is a part of the revelation - the inspired Word of God teaching us that to be filled or controlled by the Spirit of God is equivalent to or (in fact) vitally linked-to our submission to the Word of God, the Holy Bible. The Holy Scriptures were inspired - written by the Divine direction of God, by His Spirit! If we are to do the will of God as revealed by the Spirit of God, then - we are to submit to the authority and sufficient role and revelation of God’s Word in directing our moral decisions, ethical actions and attitudes and our spiritual work and walk with God! 


5:19 What is the purpose of spiritual fellowship? Whatever else it may be and whatever else it may include, the purpose of spiritual fellowship is the blessedness and the building-up or edification of God’s people - a result that is evident through the deeper or more meaningful relationship between the believer and God.


Ephesians 5:19 

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;


No doubt, we all enjoy friendship, fellowship and gathering together to enjoy one another! For the Christian, though, the church is far more than this! It is important that we do not reduce the church to a “family like experience” that is modeled on the family life of the world! 


Speaking to yourselves in psalms:  When we speak or sing or worship together - when we attend (in any of these ways - and / or in many other ways) ... to one-another we are to speak (to - or sing or recite Scripture, or admonish, teach, care for) in such a way that the testimonies of David, Asaph and the other Psalmists become the true source of our conversation. 


We are to be found speaking (singing, admonishing, caring for) about the “things of the Lord.” It may be about Him: His unity, His infinity, His perfection, His omnipresence, His omnipotence, His omniscience, His  Holiness, His Truth, His Justice and Righteousness, His Love. These were the Psalms - Israel’s own recorded national songs, personal poems and collective prayers telling of eternal life, eternity, God’s nature, His character and His salvation!


Speaking to yourselves in ... hymns. Though few commentators or church historians are willing to give full assurance that they can accurately define or identify the “hymns” of the New Testament church, we can using the context of Scriptures recognise that these hymns were the truths of the New Covenant standing on the lessons of the Old Testament Scriptures available to the congregations through the Scripture - Old and New Testament. These hymns were the truths - the doctrinal teachings of Paul, Peter, James and John ... they were the songs of the “soul set free!” They were the congregations expressions, poems or songs of redemption, regeneration, justification, adoption! 


The Hymns spoke of the Triunity of God, the salvation in Christ, the new birth by the Word of God and through the agency of the indwelling Spirit of God. They spoke of the church, the body of Christ, the bride of Christ and the servants of Christ! The Hymns spoke of the truths of grace, sanctification, evangelisation, and coming glory! These were the hymns of souls redeemed, saints raptured, victory won and Christ’s own immanent return to earth to rule and reign for 1000 years of peace! These were words of faith, hope and love!


Speaking to yourselves in ... spiritual songs, Just as the Psalms pointed to God and His faithfulness; and just as the Hymns praised God for His works: His creation, His salvation and His people, both Israel and the New Testament Church; so too, the words of the “spiritual songs” were born from hearts that were”born again,” words that came from the newness of everlasting life formed by the Scriptures surging through the hearts of people “made alive,” people newly regenerated by the Spirit! 


These spiritual songs were the testimonies of those who were now indwelt by the Spirit of God. These were the testimonies and words of thanksgiving coming from lives now redeemed by the righteous blood of their Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. These were the songs of those growing into the image of Christ, men and women growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ jesus, their own personal Savior and Lord! 


These were songs of testimony, songs encouraging one another, challenging one another to service, holy living and faithfulness! These were the songs of joy, of peace, of patient waiting for their soon returning Saviour! 


Speaking to yourselves (by) singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. These songs were meant to build-up the body of Christ, the Bride, the local churches - their fellow believers! But these songs were also songs of the inner man - the believer ... the Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual songs were also meant for the believer to use to encourage himself or herself in their daily walk with the Lord and others!


These songs have a special tune - a special melody, if not even their own “harmony” - these are to be songs born in the New Testament (New Covenant Promises) Truth of the Holy Scriptures! These are to be songs of our inner man - our songs of faith in God and faithfulness to God. These songs speak of our love to God, our love for one another and our concern for the lost all around us! These are songs of Hope - hope in His soon coming to rapture (catch away) His Saints - the living and the dead - in Christ! These are songs of a great assembling - a great wedding - of great worship to God! These are songs of Millennial Hope, of New Heavens and a New Earth, of Heaven - in the presence of God - before His Throne, forever!~


5:20-21 What is the value of thankfulness? Of course, most everyone would ascent to the fact that “thankfulness” is a most useful virtue. To fail to be thankful is obviously a serious failing, or worse - even a sin! When we fail to be thankful we can neither enjoy God, nor allow Him to enjoy us! When we fail to be thankful we indicate that we are selfish and are not prepared to bring joy into the lives of others! Regrettably, those who are not thankful are indicating that they are not prepared to allow others to bring joy into our own lives, as well!


Ephesians 5:20

 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;  21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” 


Many more are willing to attempt lives of “thankfulness” than are prepared to live lives of submission, or so it seems. The awe-filled life, the truly thankful life has more than respect, though respect is important, the life filled with the awe and wonder of God’s greatness knows the “fear of God” - knows and acts out of an awareness of just how great God must be! 


If we fail to submit ourselves one to another - in our Christian experience, whether it be among Christians within the ministry life of our church, or it be among believing family members within our family circle we are failing God! If we fail to submit to those that God has placed or positioned over or above us: governors, pastors, husbands, parents or masters (or bosses in our modern democratic and Western working experience) .... we are failing to be thankful, and we are failing to be worshipful to our God! The Lord wants us to be submissive and He calls for that submission within the church and in relationship to all who are around us in our congregational life! (Colossians 3:9-17)


Are we, (as dangerous as this sounds), failing to appreciate the “things” God has done for us in the very “name” of our Lord Jesus Christ! Are we falling short or failing to appreciate our own salvation, our Hope in Christ, itself!  If so, then, our attitude toward one another ... surely and immediately needs review!


It is important to remember that we have been betrothed (“spoken for”) as the ‘Bride of Christ’ and our preparation is not singular or only personal but is relational! We are more than a team - we are adopted into the family of God and we as brothers and sisters (“saints” - set apart ones) are being prepared for a spiritual and eternal union with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.






















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