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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
 www.bethelurc.org
 
Preached At:Lynwood United Reformed Church
 Lynwood, IL
 www.lynwoodurc.org
 
Title:The Call of Obedience
Text:LD 39 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Obedience
 
Added:2004-05-27
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ephesians 5.21-6:9
LD 39
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved in the Lord, the fifth commandment calls us, and all people, to honor and obey those who are placed in authority over us. In Ephesians 5-6, God's Word provides some specific examples of obedience within the normal, everyday relationships of a New Testament Christian.

Beloved in the Lord, the fifth commandment calls us, and all people, to honor and obey those who are placed in authority over us. In Ephesians 5-6, God's Word provides some specific examples of obedience within the normal, everyday relationships of a New Testament Christian.

But that is a fundamental truth foreign to unbelievers. After all, they would argue that 2/3 of those relationships are oppressive. They would insist that true freedom can only be found if the woman held equal authority with her husband, and if the slave rebelled against his master.

Most ungodly people argue that obedience is required only if and when it suits them and serves their best interest. But what's even more unsettling than that, beloved, is the fact that the principle of freedom through obedience has been lost to so many generations of Christians.

We've simply forgotten (or rejected) the foundational relationship between obedience to God's law and the freedom which God promises His people. Let's recall, for a moment, how Deuteronomy 6 ties together obedience and freedom. If a son were to ask his father the meaning of the law, he was to begin by telling him about grace-how the Lord God brought them out of Egypt, and brought them to the land of Canaan.

Then he was to tell them how the Lord commanded them to obey all His decrees and to fear the Lord, so that they, in turn, would always prosper, and be kept alive. God taught His people that the way to freedom, to life, to blessing and promise came through obedience to Him.

On the one hand, we understand that freedom from the viewpoint of Jesus Christ and His active obedience--His righteous life, in which He came in our nature, and kept every command perfectly. The Father imputed His Son's perfect obedience to our account, so that His obedience was counted as our own.

But we also have to understand this freedom from the viewpoint of the promise. That if we love our God and obey His commands, if we honor all those in authority that He puts over us (not only when it suits us, but always-even when the call of obedience seems oppressive in the eyes of the world), then our God will be true to His Word. He will reward and bless our obedience, granting us long life, prosperity, and blessing. This is what God requires of us and promises to us in the fifth commandment. God Calls His Church to Honor and Obey All Authority. Notice, 3 aspects of God's Call to Obedience:

1) Its Basis;
2) Its Beginning;
3) Its Blessing.


1) Its Basis

First of all, beloved, we consider the basis of God's call to obedience. That basis rests solely and completely on the fact that our sovereign, omnipotent God holds all authority in His Hand. God is our Creator, and He has every right to tell His creatures what to do. Psalm 24: 1 says as much, The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world and all who dwell therein.

In that passage, the Lord's claims the divine right of ownership over the lives of all creatures great and small, in heaven and on earth, including man, of course. God created them, God rules over them, therefore all creatures owe Him their allegiance and worship.

The Bible also teaches us that God does not rule over us directly, but rather indirectly. His authority over us comes to expression in the form of parents, teachers, elders, counselors, employers, babysitters, judges, policemen, mayors, and other governing officials. These are the people whom God, in His infinite wisdom, has appointed to rule over us

That is consistent with what God's Word says to us in Romans 13, that all the authorities that exist have been established by God. Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.

So as Christians, we heartily confess that God is the solitary source of all authority in heaven and on earth. No power, no authority exists outside of His domain, outside of His sovereignty, outside of His control. Just recall what Jesus told Pilate when Pilate told him that he had the power to either free Jesus or have him crucified. Jesus said, You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.

So that is why we say that everyone ought to readily and cheerfully submit to those in authority, because as the last line of LD 39 (A. 104) reads, for through them, God chooses to rule us. Or as the older version states: Since it pleases God to govern us by their hand.

But the basis for God's call to obedience, the basis for His authority over us, rests not only in creation, but also in redemption. Our Creator God is also Lord of our salvation. Because of that, we call God's Son, Jesus Christ, our eternal King. He is our Master and our Lord. Even as Ephesians 5 teaches, Christ is the Head-the Husband--of His Church, which is His bride, and so we as Christians respectfully submit our will, to His.

We also think of what Jesus said to His disciples after His resurrection and shortly before His ascension: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey! everything I have commanded you.

Likewise, we think of Philippians 2, where Paul writes that after Jesus willingly humbled himself, taking the very form of a servant, making Himself obedient to death, even death on the cross, that therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

That ties in beautifully with Revelation 1, in which Jesus is called the Ruler of the kings of the earth, and Revelation 5, where Jesus is identified as the Lamb of God who sits upon the throne, and all creatures in heaven and one earth bring Him all praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever.

So the Bible is absolutely clear about the basis for the fifth commandment--God's call unto obedience. It means that to honor and obey the appointed authorities, is to honor and obey God. To dishonor and disobey the appointed authorities is to dishonor and disobey God. So boys and girls, when you disobey your mother or father, you are disobeying God.

When we choose to disobey the rules of the road, or the laws of our nation, or the elders of our church, or the rulings of our School-Board, we are disobeying God. When we go to the park, and the sign says, 'No Pets', but we let our pet run free, we are dishonoring God.

When you boys and girls read the sign that says, 'No Littering', yet you throw your pop cans and candy wrappers on the ground, you are dishonoring God. No doubt, there are countless ways in which this law applies to our lives. We just have to be more alert and aware of the many ways. And, as always, we have to humble our hearts, and keep our minds focused on our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, understanding that in every act of obedience, no matter how difficult it seems, we are ultimately bowing our knee to His supreme majesty and authority.


2. Its Beginning

But now, the question comes, how can we learn all this? Where can we learn all this? How can we get this mindset so thoroughly instilled and implanted within us, that in each and every instance, we clearly hear the call to obey, and we faithfully heed the call to obey?

Congregation, I suspect that no one will be surprised when I say that it all has to start in the home. For this is where the call to obedience finds its beginning. We are reminded of that every time we hear this command read, Honor your father and your mother. This command is directed first of all to children in relationship to their parents, because that is the very foundation upon which all other relationships are built.

If a young child learns to properly and lovingly respect and submit to the authority of his parents in the home, then that child will most certainly demonstrate loving respect and proper submission to the authorities which he will encounter in other areas of life-like at his friend's house, or at school in the classroom, or in the workplace, or at church, or when he's on the road, or even when he's all alone, and no one is looking over his shoulder.

It's for this reason, that we parents are called to struggle mightily to impress upon our children the importance of obedience. But that impression has to be made when our children are young. God's Word makes it very clear to us that the direction of a person's life is determined not when they come of age at 16, or 21, not when that person decides it's time to settle down, find a career, and get married! No, the direction of a person's life is determined when they're little children-when they're 3, 4, 5, or 6 years of age.

That's what we refer to as the 'impressionable years' of a person's life. Boys and girls, Do you know what an impression is? You do, if you've every amused yourself with Play-Dough. Play- Dough is a very soft, pliable, clay like substance. And if you take a hard object, like your thumb, or your hand, or even a quarter, and press that into the Play-Dough and then lift it out, it will leave an impression behind.

The soft Play-Dough is left with the imprint, the impression of that object upon it. The shape and markings of that object (your hand, your thumb, or that quarter), are clearly seen on the Play Dough. And, we have to remember that the way the Lord made us is that when we are young, when we are little children, our hearts and minds are extremely impressionable. God made our hearts and minds like impressionable lumps of clay, so that we parents can teach, and train, and instruct our children in the way that they should go. So that, as Proverbs 22. 6 says, when they are older, they will not depart from it. Just listen to what the Lord said to Israel about impressing His law upon the hearts of children. Deuteronomy 6. 6-7 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress the on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands, and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Even though orthodox Jews have taken those last verses literally, and have tied phylacteries to their foreheads and arms, and have placed little metal containers or small boxes on their doorframes (containing Scriptures), we know that the Lord was speaking figuratively here, that His Word was to be written on the hearts and minds of His people and their children.

Furthermore, as Christians, we would insist that God calls us to impress the whole of Scriptures upon the hearts and minds of our children. For what good is the knowledge of God's law, without the knowledge of the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ? What good is our obedience unless it comes in the context of the New Covenant which God sealed unto us with the precious blood of His Son Jesus Christ.

So the call of obedience begins at home, with parents (ultimately father are held responsible for this) being sure that our children are taught to submit, obey, and honor them as parents, as well as all those that are in authority over them. We heard that point emphasized very clearly when we read A. 104 together:

What is God's will for us in the fifth commandment? That I honor, love, and be loyal to my father and mother and all those in authority over me; that I obey them and submit to them, as is proper, when they correct and punish me; and also that I be patient with their failings

What does it take to accomplish this? It requires real love, commitment, and courage. I say that because training and instructing children will require discipline, and in order for a parent to effectively and efficiently discipline his children, he has to love them dearly. Those of you who were in the Couple's Club Bible Study last year may recall that when we dealt with the subject of discipline, we looked up many passages in Proverbs which tied together the love of a parent with the practice of discipline.

Look at Prov. 13:24, He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him; Prov. 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him; Prov. 19:18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope. Do not be a willing party to his death; Prov. 23: 13-14 Do not withhold discipline from a child, if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod, and save his soul from death.

I say it takes courage and commitment to discipline our children, because so many child experts in the world today insist that spanking our children, literally applying the rod of correction to their back-sides, is akin to child abuse, and ought to be outlawed and we parents prosecuted. I believe it is that way already in parts of Canada.

But to claim that loving discipline is child abuse, to try to pass laws which would outlaw spanking, is to deprive parents of one of the most fundamental methods of making an impression on their children. It is to challenge the promise of God's Word, that discipline works! Discipline literally drives the folly out of our children's hearts!

Now, I understand that we parents do not always discipline in a loving manner. Sometimes we parents discipline our children in the midst of anger, when we are not in control of our emotions. That results in us doing things and even saying things to our children that are sinful and mean and more abusive than loving. For that, we parents need to repent and seek the forgiveness of our children, and make every effort to control our emotions when disciplining.

But there's something here for you children as well. As you know, this command is directed right at you young boys and girls. It's directed right at you young people in our teenage years, and to you young adults, still under your parents authority and supervision.

God calls you to heed the discipline and instruction of your parents. Prov. 13:1 says A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke. Prov. 4:1 Listen my son to a father's instruction, pay attention and gain understanding.

Now, it's easy to love and honor your parents, to obey them when you agree with their instruction and see the need for their discipline. But the real tester comes, when you disagree with your parents. The real tester comes when you fail to see why you should do what they told you to do. Or why you cannot do what you want to do.

The real tester comes when you grow older and as teenagers you start to see the faults and the weaknesses and the inconsistencies of your parents, and of your teachers, and of your politicians and lawmakers. You find out that the people who make the rules and get to enforce the rules are not nearly as righteous and law-abiding as they make themselves out to be.

Usually, that makes rebels out of most young people. But in God's Kingdom, as people who've been washed in the blood of Jesus, we're expected as young people to be patient with the failings of our parents, to honor them and obey them even when we don't think they are deserving of our respect and authority.

Remember what happened to Noah after the flood waters resided. Noah-who the Bible commends to us as a righteous man, mind you-- did a very unrighteous and dishonorable thing. When the vineyard he planted produce grapes, he made wine. But one night, he drank until he was drunk, and lay uncovered in his bed.

Remember what happened to Noah after the flood waters resided. Noah-who the Bible commends to us as a righteous man, mind you-- did a very unrighteous and dishonorable thing. When the vineyard he planted produce grapes, he made wine. But one night, he drank until he was drunk, and lay uncovered in his bed.

At least Noah had two sons who honored their father. Shem and Japheth came to their father's tent, and walked in backwards with a blanket, covering over their father shame. In the end, Ham was cursed because he dishonored his father, but Shem and Japheth were blessed.


3) Its Blessing

Congregation that brings us right to the third and final point of our sermon this evening. The call to obedience brings with it a blessing-a promise. We heard that promise mentioned in the commandment itself, and it's also repeated in Ephesians 6. 1-3 Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother-which is he first commandment with a promise-that it may go well with you, and that you may enjoy long life.

The words of this promise call to mind the harsh penalty that was leveled against a son who cursed his father-he was to be killed. This also calls to mind the passage in Leviticus 26 which speaks about the blessing for Obedience to God's law, and the curses for disobedience.

The blessings included rain in due season, fruitful fields and vineyards and orchards, freedom and peace from their enemies, their households would be blessed with children, and best of all, the Lord Himself would dwell with His people, and He would be their God.

You can imagine the curses for disobedience. The Lord would remove His protective presence and blessing from, and they would be consumed by famine, and disease, and pestilence, and the sword of their enemies. Man and beasts alike would come and destroy all that they had. Their disobedience would drive them to eat the flesh of their own children, and they would wind up serving other gods, until the Lord ultimately drive them from the land and scatter them as slaves amidst the surrounding nations.

It's just like we said at the outset of the sermon. Obedience was the avenue to peace and prosperity and freedom. Whereas disobedience and rebellion was the pathway to slavery and death. We can see that in the lives of so many around us-even our loved ones. We see what happens to a rebellious son who will not heed the careful instruction of his father, or the Word of his loving God.

Instead he insists on leading a reckless and godless life, partying on the weekends, abusing drugs and alcohol, indulging in the sinful desires of the flesh--whatever they may be. Living the kind of life which the world admirers and considers the 'free life'. But as he does, his life is continually spiraling downward, and his very life is being consumed. Sometimes, a person like this gets so out of control, that death is the ultimate end.

But thankfully, it doesn't have to end in death. God has sent His Son into this world to free us from the grip of sin, to free us from the rebellious tyranny of Satan, so that no matter how hard and firm His grip may seem to be on our lives, God's grace in Jesus Christ is greater.

And He can free us from Satan's grip, He can break Satan's hold on our hearts, and by the ministry of His Word and Spirit, Christ can call our wayward hearts back to Him, so that once again we, or our loved ones, might hear and obey the call of obedience.

Beloved, the blessings of obedience are real, and they await us. We might not always see those blessings in this life to the fullest extent. But we know that they are guaranteed to us in the heavenly Canaan that Christ has secured for us. So beloved, let us dedicate ourselves to the call of obedience.

Let's recognize and honor the fact that God's authority is the sole authority in heaven and on earth, and learn to respect the honor the laws and rules, as we would respect and honor God Himself. And let us continue to pray that our families would be strong.

Parents, let's fulfill our God-given roles in raising our children. Children, pray that you may submit yourselves to the instruction and discipline of your parents, being patient with their failings. Then we can expect that our faithful lives, our obedient families, will not only be a blessing to us, but a blessing to God, and others in this world around us. Amen.



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Pastor Keith Davis

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