Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: This sermon seeks to encounter false views on how to understand the will of God.

“The What For of the Wherefores”

(A general message on finding the will of God)

Ephesians 5:14-17

I am preaching to you today on the subject of “The What For of the Wherefores.” There are two “wherefores” in the scripture that I read to you today. Both of them sandwich a fool in the middle. You will see what I mean in a moment. Have you ever had a child that every instruction you gave them they said back to you “what for?” When I was growing up you might have had the luxury of asking one time if you were brave, never twice “what for.” We just didn’t question the wisdom and authority of our parents. You just did or were expected to do what you were told to do. The reasoning behind it was so you wouldn’t be a fool in life. Parents of old took it seriously to teach responsibility, creativity, and dedication. They didn’t want their kids to grow up to be fools. If we asked “what for” too many times they gave us the right hand of Christian fellowship in a place we least desired it if you know what I mean.

The Bible uses the words “fool” or “fools” 104 times and so it is not a forbidden word in God’s vocabulary. We are just carefully warned in Matthew 5:22 not to use that term in derogatory and hateful speech against a fellow human being. But it is not wrong to declare the characteristics of the man whom God calls a fool. Nabal was a fool in the Old Testament and God didn’t mind saying it in 1 Samuel 25. The rich man in Luke 12, the one who built bigger barns to hold his riches, a party animal indeed who thought he had so much stored up for years and didn’t need God was clearly called a “fool.” Now Paul says in Ephesians 5 by implication that if a man doesn’t wake up, walk circumspectly, and redeem the time he becomes a fool. Here it is now, don’t miss it! “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.” That is verse 15. Now on the front side and the back side of that are the two “Wherefores”. The “Wherefores” are stay awake and understand what the will of the Lord is. So, my friend, may I just tell you that the “What for” of the “Wherefores” is so you won’t be a fool. If you don’t stay awake and redeem the time because of these evil days you will become a fool. You may not think you’re a fool. You may not hear anybody call you a fool but God clearly says in Ephesians 5:14-17, “don’t miss your light to guide you in the will of God, walking circumspectly and redeeming the time” or you will turn out to be a fool.

Last Sunday we made a crucial decision about a strategic step in our ministry at our church. Before us was the decision to purchase a piece of property for our new building. Regretfully we could not reach a consensus of support. This has discouraged many. It was a disappointment to me as pastor but I have been affirmed this week that God is reinforcing my mandate to be an earnest prayer warrior for our church. We need prayer in the worst way. I don’t believe any of us are praying enough. I believe few of us are truly sensitive to the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit at this time in our lives. I furthermore believe that God wants us to wake up and walk in God’s light before it is too late. It has also been revealed to me this week that few of us really do know how to discern the will of God in our lives and in our church. At least two possibilities exist in that arena. It is possible that we can be stubborn and refusing to obey God, listening to our own will. Then secondly, it is entirely possible as I believe that there are a great number of us that just do not know truly how to discern the will of God. I say that because some of the things you’ve voiced to me I know beyond a shadow of a doubt reflects your misunderstanding about how to know the will of God. Because of that reality God has called my heart into the Word to preach to you for a while as the Spirit leads on how to determine the will of God. Paul was quite adamant with the believers in Ephesus: “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”

Verse 17 of Ephesians 5 is a commandment to the believer. It is a present tense command meaning that we are to be continuously and constantly doing everything possible not to be “unwise” but instead continuously and constantly discovering the will of God in our lives and for our church. God says that folks who are obedient to this command are wise church members. But He says those who are disobedient to this commandment are unwise church members. Now, let me spell it out for you a bit more specific in the specific language of the Bible. A study of the Greek language of verse 17 finds the word “unwise” coming from a compound of two words in the original text. The word is aphron. The first part “a” in aphron means “no” or “not having”. If you put an “a” in front of some English words it negates the word. Atypical means not typical. Atheist means “not a believer in God.” Apathy means “no passion.” The word phren in aphron means your mind or your cognitive faculties. Paul is saying if you don’t put everything you’ve got into discovering the will of God in your life you are aphron, no mind, mindless. This word in Paul’s day also meant that the person was egotistical, rash, unbelieving, ignorant, and stupid. God doesn’t have many compliments to pass on to those who are content to stumble around without knowing the will of God. What percentage of believers in the church does God expect to be understanding His will? One hundred percent - nothing less will satisfy the Lord who commands us to know Him and His will at all times.

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